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TL;DR Newsletter by Ian O’Byrne
Letter sent on Oct 9, 2016

Too Long; Didn’t Read (TL;DR) newsletter #65

Welcome to issue 65 of the TL;DR Newsletter. In TL;DR I’m synthesizing what I read and learned this week in literacy, technology, and education. If this is your first time here…स्वागत हे

This week we talk about gateways to healing when it hurts.

If you haven’t already, I’d recommend that you subscribe to make sure you don’t miss out next week’s issue. You can review archives of the newsletter here. Alternatively you can also check out TL;DR on Medium.

This week I worked on the following:

The Verge on Space X’s plan to colonize Mars

This past week, Space X CEO Elon Musk gave a one hour address detailing his plans to send people to colonize Mars. You can watch the whole address here.

The goal is to send the first group to Mars by 2024. One million people living on Mars in 40 to 100 years. It’s interesting to think about colonists heading out to Mars in our lifetime. There are a lot of questions that still need to be answered and a lot more science & tech.

Still, I think Musk should be praised for setting such an audacious goal. He has done this in the past and usually moves the needle. It’s something to keep our eyes on.

How mindfulness and storytelling help kids heal and learn

This week in class one of my students indicated that she wanted to focus her unit plan assignment on having elementary students be a bit more mindful and perhaps meditate in their learning activities. This brought about a longer discussion about the value of mindfulness and meditation in our schools and the role of the teacher in this.

We have several schools near our campus that are beginning to bring mindfulness activities into their daily repertoire. This post by Juli Fraga in MindShift details some anecdotal evidence of the benefits of this practice on individual students and the school climate.

Specifically, the post shares the text, Master of Mindfulness as a possible gateway into discussing this topic with your students.

On a personal level, I have been meditating for a little over a year now and it has had a definite impact on my life. I plan on sharing more in a coming blog post.

Talking to kids about protesting: Things I want my kids to know

A post from the excellent St. Louis based We Stories website. This post is inspired by the recent protests in Charlotte, NC. The authors present a nuanced look at discussing protests in your classroom with your students, or in your home with your children.

The provide a series of talking points and a series of readings that you can use as a gateway to open up these discussions and help young adults make some sense of the current climate.

Bias isn’t just a police problem, it’s a preschool problem

Post from Cory Turner on NPR-Ed sharing vignettes on some of the implicit bias evidenced in pre-school classrooms.

This is all centered around a recent report from the Yale Child Study Center titled Do Early Educators’ implicit biases regarding sex and race relate to behavior expectations and recommendations of preschool expulsions and suspensions?

The results suggest that teachers shift standards and expectations of students based on stereotypes and implicit bias. As an example, if they were presented with the name of a child that would be stereotyped as being black (DeShawn, Latoya) they would assume that the child was more likely to behave badly and would be less surprised by bad behavior.

There are many layers to this research report, and I recommend reading the piece to make up your own decisions. I also recommend reviewing the piece on shifting stereotypes and stereotype-based judgements also shared in the post.

Where words are stored: The brain’s meaning map

A great post by Simon Makin on the Scientific American Mind blog looking at the neural connections that exist as our brains store and retrieve meaning in language.

Previous studies have identified several brain regions, collectively identified as the semantic system, that are responsible for processing and archiving meaning. Recent research from the University of California, Berkeley has generated an “atlas” of where the brain collects and connects these meanings and representations.

Interestingly, the researchers played two hours of stories from the Moth Radio Hour podcast and recorded participants’ brain activity with a functional MRI scanner. The results identify an area that covers most of the cortex, the outermost brain regions controlling higher cognitive functions. This is a much more extensive area that previously identified as language centers. Also, every meaning appears in multiple locations, and every location contains a cluster of related meanings. Some areas selectively respond to words related to people, for instance, whereas others respond to places or numbers.

10 tips for global collaboration projects

Comprehensive post from John Spencer examining strategies and techniques necessary to help students connect and collaborate online.

I most appreciate that the post identifies the differences between cooperation and collaboration through the use of this video. I’ll have more on the creation of John’s “sketchy notes” down below in the “make” section.

As an aside, I really like the layout and design choices John has folded in across his site. I’m always looking for exemplars as I review and improve my sites. This space moves to the top of my list. I see many similarities between my main site and his space. I’ve also been wondering lately about branding and the use of my name as the title of my main space. John’s site has me feeling good about my choices.

How I create sketchy videos, by John Spencer

In the post above, I linked to the video on the differences between cooperation and collaboration by John Spencer. Not only does John’s site have a nice simple aesthetic to the space (IMHO), but the videos on his YouTube channel also have a specific style as well.

In this post John indicates that he writes and records a script for each of his videos. He then storyboard and sketches out “doodles” of the main action in the sketches. He scans these elements and then pulls everything together in to iMovie.

I’m really interested in playing a bit with this to make videos. Usually I focus on PPT slides and narration. I’m thinking this would require a lot more work…and my lack of skill in drawing. But, as John suggests…you need to work and just “find your own style.”

Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.

- Soren Kierkegaard

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