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Blogs as Text: Technology & Science

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It’s easy to think that all blogs are gossip driven.  Perez Hilton rules supreme.  But most major news publications today run a significant amount of blog based content. And this content is well written.  Whether these are blogs from The Chronicle of Higher Education or The New Yorker, the goal is always the same: find good writing on interesting topics that can reach a high school audience. Consider your goal with using blogs as supplemental texts as twofold.  First, you want to provide students choice and engage otherwise unwilling readers.  Second, you want students to practice assessing and evaluating textual arguments in a variety of mediums.  Don’t forget to examine yesterday’s post in order to peruse lesson plans for writing and annotating ideas in regards to reading blogs as “texts” in the classroom.

In an effort to help “jump” start this process I’ll highlight science and technology blogs today, current events/popular cultures blogs tomorrow.  My “picks” are simply a starting point for you as you make the decision to implement more blog as supplemental reading.

The New York Times is an amazing resource for blogs.  Be sure to checkout their index before beginning any blog reading assignment.

Science & Technology Blogs

The New York Times

Bits

From apps to cyber security to the online presence of celebrities, this blog has a little bit of everything for the student interested in technology, business and policy.  Often posts even discuss big picture implications and the role of technology in society. 

 

The Washington Post

Faster Forward

This blog focuses on stories about technology, specifically “gadgets.”  The writing is easy to read and posts include video and image which allows students the challenge and satisfaction of working in different textual mediums. 

 

Wired Magazine

Geek Dad

These posts are written by parents about everything from poetry to film to tech. Since the posts are written by a variety of authors, studying voice throughout is a great focus. 

Wired Science

Videos and image populate this blog.  Posts range from nature to outer space offering a variety of lenses through which students can read and experience any element of science blog writing that might engage them. 

Danger Room

A personal favorite, this blog deals with national security, technology and current events.  Interested in safety at the London Olympics?  Concerned about how military technology adapts? The posts are incredibly engaging even for an English teacher. 

NPR

Krulwich Wonders

We’ve highlighted Krulwich Wonders before.  It’s a great blog of just about everything you could ever want including, but not limited to, the science of language, architecture, nature, etc.  It will easily become a student favorite. 

All Tech Considered

Posts about tech on this blog range from information about start-up companies to the ethics of tech in modern culture.  Very readable and engaging for any student. 

13.7

All of the contributors for this blog are comprised of professors with science specialties, as well as one philosopher.  The posts are engrossing and deal with a variety of big picture arguments that are rooted in science and philosophy. 

Weekend Pop Culture: Thanksgiving

Welcome to our pre-Thanksgiving pop culture bash.  Looking for something in the spirit of Thanksgiving?  Something still rigorous?  Something that could stop the tedium of the days before a holiday break?  Look no further.  Today we review blogs, articles and infographics with all of that in mind.  Think about it as a mini Thanksgiving buffet.

Infographics

What’s Cooking on Thanksgiving Infographic-The New York Times

Even though it’s from 2009, this infographic is still interesting commentary.  It reviews the most searched Thanksgiving recipes and then provides state statistics.

Questions for Discussion:  

  • Identify the argument about the intersection of technology and Thanksgiving.
  • Identify the argument made about location and food preference.

Articles

Restaurants on Thanksgiving: 14 million Expected to Dine Out this Year  The Huffington Post

A short article with visual about the reasons behind dining out for Thanksgiving in 2011.

Questions for Classroom Discussion:

  • Identify the argument(s) about modern Thanksgiving celebrations.
  • What does this suggest about American culture and dining out?
  • Does dining out change the Thanksgiving experience?

Note to Self: You may even want to use The New Yorker’s cover from this past week since it’s a Thanksgiving meal inside of a cafe.

Read more

Weekend Tech: Occupy Wall Street

Yesterday we offered Transcendentalism and image analysis in conjunction with with the Occupy Wall Street Movement.  Today we examine All the King’s Men and satire.  See our ideas below!

Teaching All the King’s Men & Huey Long with Occupy Wall Street

Willie Stark makes multiple speeches throughout All the King’s Men, but most of them deal with being a regular, small town, average joe.  Examining Huey Long, Willie Stark’s flesh and blood counterpart, is where Occupy Wall Street comparisons become more direct.

These two clips have shades of the Occupy Wall Street Movement.  Both suggest a certain level of dissatisfaction with current government.  It would be easy to use Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog Primer about Occupy Wall Street, as well as his Q & A witth anthropologist David Graeber from 10/3/11, to give students a basis for linking Huey Long to today.  Even just using the Q&A on its own is a great way to incorporate media literacy into the classroom. See our other post on the NBA lockout and Q&As.

 

Teaching Satire with Occupy Wall Street

As I said on Saturday, The Onion has been on fire this week with humorous tweets about Occupy Wall Street.  All of them can easily be used to discuss satire, voice, diction, syntax and argument.  We like tweets and using them in the classroom as “hooks” or quick diction/syntax analysis.  See our post about tweets remembering Steve Jobs from several weeks ago.

 

The cover of The New Yorker is also a great resource for both teaching satire and image analysis.  See their recent cover on the “occupation.”

And while it isn’t satire, I would be remiss not to mention this list from what else but The New Yorker.  John Cassidy hosts the blog Rational Irrationality and his list of “Top-Ten Unlikely Occupy Wall Street Supporters” links to great arguments from big names about the movements.  It’s useful once again for point of view, voice and argument analysis.

If all of this isn’t enough for you, checkout The New York Times Learning Network’s extensive Occupy Wall Street post with classroom resources.  You can’t go wrong!

Weekend Tech: Steve Jobs

There were three apples that changed the world: Eve's, Newton's and Steve's.

Yesterday we talked about Steve Jobs and how to use public outpourings of grief as a way to teach everything from argument to media literacy.  Today we continue by looking at some other choices.  I know that the below link don’t do justice to what exists. They do however provide varied points of view.  Click around and let us know if you have other resources/ideas.

Mourning Steve Jobs: The Purpose of Public Grief

Leave it to The New Yorker.  While I profiled their Back Issues Blog yesterday, the quality of their articles is undeniable.  Today we look at an article from the News Desk.  It’s perfect for student use in class.  They can practice annotating for SOAPSTone and evaluating O’Rourke’s argument.  What’s useful about this article is that it also includes links to other memorials which means a “multi-layered” media literacy strand.  Read more