Yes, that does sound a little like hyperbole, but it is actually true. Epochs are subdivisions of Earth's geologic timescale. The progression from one to another is marked by some easily distinguishable, global stratigraphic 'event' such as mass extinction or shift from one climate regime to another. Scientists are currently moving toward the formal declaration of a new epoch - the Anthropocene Epoch.
The event that distinguishes this epoch from the previous (Holocene Epoch) is the arrival of mankind as an agent of change on a global basis. James Syvitski, IGBP Chair, explains this in his 2012 article "Anthropocene: An epoch of our making" (pdf). His report describes broad changes since the Industrial Revolution spanning dramatic alterations in eco-systems from coastal zones, loss of rain forests, domesticated land, ozone depletion and water use. Syvitski states, "By any unbiased and quantitative measure, humans have affected the surface of the Earth at a magnitude that ice ages have had on our planet, but over a much shorter period of time".
The impacts of these global changes aren't reported in doom and gloom, end of the world terms - in fact the report ends on a hopeful note. Sustainability is simply a goal to be achieved to keep improving human wellbeing. Says Syvitski, "Our strength as humans is the capacity to recognize problems, to understand them and to develop solutions". Let's hope so. At Lizard Point, we're encouraged by the emerging recognition of the degree to which mankind is actually influencing the world we live - and we have faith in new generations of globally aware and sensitive humans.
Students were creating a human skeleton using a variety of pastas. They could break them and shape them pretty much any way they needed to in order to complete the skeleton. I noticed something odd on one students skeleton and stupidly decided to ask about it…
Me: "Hey Ashley…why do you have that piece of fettuccine stuck to the pelvis?“ Student: "Well he’s a boy so…it’s a penis.” Me: "Oh! Uh…well just so you know there isn’t actually a bone…there.“ Student: "Oh my gosh really?! …Wait…then why do they call it a….” Me: "NO! Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. No more talking.“
I backed away and never questioned another pasta skeleton the rest of the day…
I recently asked a student where his homework was. He replied, “It’s still in my pencil.”
—Larry Timmons, Surprise, Arizona
My sixth-grade class would not leave me alone for a second. It was a constant stream of “Ms. Osborn?” “Ms. Osborn?” “Ms. Osborn?” Fed up, I said firmly, “Do you think we could go for just five minutes without anyone saying ‘Ms. Osborn’?!” The classroom got quiet. Then, from the back, a soft voice said, “Um … Cyndi?”
—Cyndi Osborn, New York, New York
"Yeah, I want to go to college! I really want to go! I have lots of money to pay for college!" [Later on in conversation] "Wait, college is school? I don't want to go to college! I didn't know college is SCHOOL!!"
On the last day of the year, my first graders gave me beautiful handwritten letters. As I read them aloud, my emotions got the better of me, and I started to choke up. “I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m having a hard time reading.” One of my students said, “Just sound it out.”
Sigh... I thought I was doing all right with knowing about 65% of African countries... but little Max here seems to have me out-paced by some margin. The video was originally posted to the Tony Kroukamp YouTube Channel and shows 3-year-old Max rattling off names to countries while his father points them out on the map.
Now we just have to get Max onto Lizard Point and let him loose on the rest of the world. (Here`s a link to Lizard Point`s Africa quiz to test yourself against Max.... )
We're always thankful for teachers who contact us and let us know what features they need. Big thanks go out today to Dean H, who asked about how to print the class results, or save them to a CSV file.
We realized, upon reading Dean's question, that the basic browser print of the class results included the site navigation, and was not exactly printer-friendly. So we got the print version cleaned up. We hope you'll find the printed version of the My Classes: Students scores and results much more usable now.
New and improved Print my classes: student scores page
As for saving to a CSV file, we don't have a function for that yet, but, it's actually pretty easy to do with just basic cut and paste, from your laptop or desktop.
We've made a quick video to show you just how easy it is... and here's your first opportunity to meet Bill, the other half of Lizard Point.
We announced a quiz of the whole world the other day (see our Oct 19 blog post), and feedback told us, there were just too many navigation clicks required to answer the questions. So we put together a new quiz - based on work we had already done for that one as well as the much older one with the slider bar - and we came up with what we hope is finally a solid solution.
In our latest quiz, you can answer many of the questions without leaving the world map. And if you can't answer on the world map, you can click a magnifier to get to an enlarged continent or region map.
As with the previous version, once in a continent map, you can use one of 3 ways to return to the world map, and there are no points lost for moving around.
The use of technology by teachers is an subject of great interest to the Lizard Point team. Obviously, we would like to make Lizard Point Quizzes even better; easier to use for teachers and students, more engaging and able to impart real learning about our world. But beyond that, we strongly believe that our kids are going to be increasingly living in a 'digital world', and their experience in the classroom should reflect and prepare them for that reality.
In researching this post, we came across several articles about the use of technology in the classroom that were rather disappointing. Several of them were summarized in Why Ed Tech Is Not Transforming How Teachers Teach by Benjamin Herold in Education Week in June, 2015. We took away a couple of key points from this article:
By and large, we have gotten past 'first order' challenges with adaption of educational technology such as lack of internet connectivity and access to technology. As evidence, the report mentions 75% of high school students reporting regular use of smartphones or tablets in the classroom.
However, 'second order' challenges are significantly hindering progress. These are reportedly mostly concerned with teacher attitudes, training, administrative support and knowledge.
"The introduction of computers into schools was supposed to improve academic achievement and alter how teachers taught..", according to Stanford University education professor Larry Cuban, ".. neither has occurred". The article goes on to describe technology adaption in the classroom as incremental and more likely to be related to helping teachers teach (ie. powerpoint vs. overheads) than in how students learn. Some good counter-examples are also cited, involving early adapters that have managed to create student-driven, collaborative learning opportunities. But these are definitely presented as the exceptions.
Based on the feedback we receive at Lizard Point, we are convinced that many, many teachers have found ways to use educational software to help students learn (and hopefully not create more work for themselves). We would love to hear from any teachers about their approaches to technology and how they have overcome challenges. Please send us a note or leave a comment. Perhaps we'll find some approaches that we can feature in a later post.
Also, if you have thoughts on ways that software could improve - we'd love to hear that as well. What if we had educational software that engaged kids the way that their video games do? What if they could collaborate and compete with their classmates in a visually stimulating way? What would that look like, feel like?