Monthly Archives: September 2018

Revisiting a Favorite Game: Zoombinis

I cleaned up my iPad and found Zoombinis. This game was one of my favorites long ago, an I’ve written about playing it more recently.

I started up a new game and, thanks to a bit of vacation, got up to the more difficult levels pretty quickly. I decided to enlist an expert and found this great resource from Miss Norledge that links Zoombinis to maths. For now, I’m working through her advice about the Sneezing Cliffs and set theory, but I am looking forward to reading the rest of her tips.

Defining Plagiarism

A long holiday weekend and today was my day off to read. I finished Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War. Author Karen Abbott uses the stories of four women to tell the larger story of the Civil War. I was familiar with Belle Boyd and Rose Greenhow, Conferederate spies, but did not know the extent of their work. I had not heard of the Northern women: Sara Emma Edmonds who served as a soldier and Elizabeth Van Lew who ran the Northern Underground from her mansion in Richmond.

The book was longer than it needed to be: Abbott provided lots of extra details about the war that only mildly touched on the four women. Some of the phrases seemed familiar to my ear: I have watched Ken Burns’ Civil War series many times since it aired. But I didn’t investigate until I finished earlier today.

It turns out that Abbott has had issues with plagiarism, forcing The New York Times to acknowledge instances in two articles she wrote for them in 2015. The charges related to several sentences that were directly copied from other sources. Abbott, according to the Times, argued that she had cited the articles at the end of the articles. The Times, however, quoted the American Historical Association’s definition of plagiarism: “Writers plagiarize, for example, when they fail to use quotation marks around borrowed material and to cite the source, use an inadequate paraphrase that makes only superficial changes to a text, or neglect to cite the source of a paraphrase.”

The Times ends the editor’s note by saying, “Had The Times known about the copied language in both essays, it would not have published them.”

The Washington Post review seems to give her a break on being lax with her quotation marks, considering the breadth of her work and her bibliography. I suppose it is possible that she simply lost track of where phrases came from.

Abbott is no shrinking violet. She responded to another Post reviews that criticized her for crossing a line from fact to invention (scroll down for her comment) with a wonderfully snarky commentary of her own and at least one editor at Melville House backs her up, suggesting the issue lies with the reviewer’s own bias.

Green Screen Practice

For Tuesday’s class, my students are thinking about leadership, vision and the standards. As part of the class, they will work in groups to create a slide about one of the Education Leader standards and how it relates to the other sets of standards. Once they create their slide, they will use Do Ink to narrate the slide in front of a green screen either using video of themselves or paper avatars. I have two green screen stations: one with a table cloth and one with a pizza box. Both items came from @gemilltime  who gave them to me after her presentation about using green screens in the classroom.

My sample was for the ISTE certification course and featured a paper doll of Emily Dickinson talking about flipgrid and how I use it as a check in tool for the genius project. Pretty dull stuff…it was proof of concept to make sure I had a basic understanding of how it works. I’m relying on at least some of my students being familiar with it. I think, as an exit ticket each week, I need to see how familiar students are with the coming tech activities. It will help gauge how far we might go and who might need extra support. I have some pretty techy folks this semester.

We are going to do a “stations” approach next week. There will be five groups–one for each standard–and all of them will spend the first 20 minutes planning their slide and their video. Then, two groups will work on their videos in the classroom while the rest of the students head out to the library to work independently on developing the twitter PLN, part of their passion project. They will find and follow experts in the area they want to pursue, identify potential twitter chats and then spend some time just interacting with Twitter. I feel like I used to as a reading teacher: if I wanted you to read, I needed to give you time. If I want you to use Twitter, I need to give it class time and priority.

As groups finish their videos, the other groups will rotate through with the goal of being done in time to watch them in class. If not, I’ll post them to the course site later.

My own attempt is not for prime time but I may play a bit tomorrow. I have these great paper dolls of famous American writers along with props that would make fun tableau. Maybe Shakespeare, Jane Austen and Mark Twain spend some time chatting.