Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured 4-17-2014: Operation LAPIS

Operation LAPIS is a two-year game-based introductory course in Latin and in Roman culture. It may be used on its own, or as a supplement to other materials.
Over the course of this two-year epic adventure to find and to interpret the LAPIS SAECULORUM, students will learn to read Latin with fluency and understanding. They will also discover why their learning was important, and how they can use it.
Operation LAPIS covers the same content to be found in a very wide variety of Latin textbooks, for example the Cambridge Latin Course, the Oxford Latin Course, and Ecce RomaniOperation LAPIS can take the place of a traditional textbook, or serve as a supplementary set of materials, to help students reach the learning objectives that are standard in first and second year Latin at both the high-school and the college levels:
  • Read and write Latin
  • Identify key products, practices, and perspectives of Roman culture
  • Summarize key events of Roman history
Google Drive and Edmodo support most of the activity in Operation LAPIS. All the story elements take place on the Edmodo platform, which serves as the bulletin board. Use Google Drive to share your students’ Operative Dossiers as well as a few other documents, like worksheets and character descriptions. All participants are required to create free accounts on both of these platforms in order to access and utilize the materials.

What the #@*% is a Ditto Machine?

In the 1984 film Teachers, Royal Dano played a teacher named Ditto Stiles. Ditto was known for having virtually no interactions with his students. He had established a system by which students automatically distributed "ditto" worksheets that would be collected at the end of the class by other students. Throughout the class, Ditto would hide behind a newspaper. Ultimately, Ditto dies in the classroom, but isn't discovered until the end of the day as his students continue to follow the standard routine. In the following clip, Ditto gets into a confrontation with the school psychologist over the use of the Ditto machine.

If you are an educator of a certain age (as am I), you likely have many memories, both good and maybe not so good, of the “Ditto machine."
In North America, "Ditto" is a brand name which was commonly used for a spirit duplicator (referred to as a Banda machine in the UK, a Roneo in France and Australia). Spirit duplicating is a printing method invented in 1923, by Wilhelm Ritzerfeld and commonly used for much of the rest of the 20th century. The term "spirit" refers to the alcohols which were a principal ingredient in the solvents used as inks in these machines.
Ditto machine
The spirit duplicator is sometimes incorrectly referred to as a "mimeograph," which was a different, but not dissimilar process. Mimeograph machines predated the spirit duplicator. Despite lower cost per copy and better print quality, they fell out of favor because they required the handling of messy ink.
Because of the limited number of copies that could be made from an original (usually 500 or fewer), spirit duplicators were most often used by schools, churches, clubs, and other small organizations that didn't require mass printings. The initial cost of the machine was relatively high (between two and three thousand current dollars), but the relatively low per copy cost of spirit duplicating offset the fairly poor quality of the output.
Introduced by 3M in the late 1960s, the thermofax machine could generate a spirit master from an ordinary printed, typed, or handwritten sheet. Not withstanding the horrible print quality, the machines were still popular because of their convenience.
Ditto ad
The usual print color, purple, provided good contrast, but masters were also available in red, green, blue, black, and a few other colors. Spirit duplicators had the useful ability to print multiple colors in a single pass. In my first year of teaching, I astounded several colleagues by printing sheets with multi-colored diagrams!
Spirit duplicator use began to wain starting with the availability of low-cost, high-volume xerographic copiers in the 1970s. The use of spirit duplicators today is very rare. They do remain useful where electrical power is unreliable.
Spirit duplicators owed most of their popularity to their relative ease of use. Even the least technically-minded teachers could make use of them.
The dominant manufacturer of spirit duplicators in the US and the world was Ditto Corporation of Illinois, while copiers available in the UK were commonly manufactured by the Block & Anderson company, under their "Banda" brand.
More Ditto in Pop Culture
The aroma of pages fresh off the spirit duplicator is a memorable feature of school life in an earlier era. A scene referencing the smell can be found in the 1982 film Fast Times At Ridgemont High. At one point a teacher distributes duplicated copies, and every student immediately lifts it to his/her nose and inhales deeply. It was a common myth among students that inhaling the distinctive vapors given off by fresh spirit duplicator copies could provide a “high."
The song "School Teacher's Blues,” by blues band Saffire-The Uppity Blues Women includes the lines:
     My fingers have turned purple,
     My master's like I chewed it,
     My mind is getting warped,
     From inhaling Ditto fluid.

April 17, 2014

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured 4-16-2014: Facing History and Ourselves

Facing History
Facing History and Ourselves encourage teachers and students to think critically about history and to understand the consequences of choices.

Facing History 1
Facing History and Ourselves provides ideas, methods, and tools in support of educators who share the goal of creating a better informed and more understanding society.
The goal of Facing History and Ourselves is to counter "racism, antisemitism, and prejudice and nurture[s] democracy through education programs worldwide.” With the aim of inspiring and innovating, Facing History and Ourselves works with educators around the world throughout their careers to improve their effectiveness in the classroom and their students’ academic performance, historical understanding, and civic learning.
Educator Resources
Facing History and Ourselves offers educators resources, training opportunities, and professional coaching, and guidance for administrators. These resources include Holocaust and Human Behavior, Race and Membership in American History, Elie Wiesel's Night Study Guide, and Choices in Little Rock.
Founded in 1976, by educators who wanted to develop a more effective way to engage students, Facing History and Ourselves has grown from a single innovative course to an organization reaching classrooms across the US and around the world.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Featured 4-15-2014: 21Things4Teachers

21Things4Teachers is a free web-based professional development resource to educate teachers in the use of technology
The intention of 21Things4Teachers is to provide Just-in-Time training for K-12 educators through an online interface based on the ISTE Standards for Teachers, the basic technology skills every educator should possess.
21things4teachers 1
21Things4Teachers covers a large variety of digital applications in the context of different educational practices, issues, considerations, and environments. The 21 modules, or things, include such topics as Cloud Initiation, Collaboration Tools, Visual Learning, Copyright and Creative Commons, Differentiated Instruction, and Flipping the Classroom.
With learning activities structured around the NETS•T, the modules provide an opportunity for participants to learn how to use various technology tools and how technology can support an educator’s professional development. Participants will broaden their own skills and discover what students need in order to meet the ISTE Standards for Students.
21Things4Teachers began in 2008, with four friends who were instructional technology specialists looking for a way to train teachers on technology in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Featured 4-14-2014: Quizdini

Quizdini allows you to create fast, customized, entertaining activities that will help your students learn more while having fun with bright colors and a playful feel.
Quizdini was created by teachers for teachers to be an alternative to the costly and restrictive choices that currently exist in the online educational game market. Quizdini is a still evolving tool designed to allow you to create the material your students will use.
Quizdini 1
The games are referred to as quizzes. There are two multiple-choice game types, Quizdini and Vocabulary, question and explanation boxes in the multiple-choice games support the use of HTML, and as such, support links to online content.
Quizdini 2
Another game lets students drag-and-drop matching tiles together, an activity nicely suited to interactive whiteboards.
Quizzes can be shared with colleagues or students by copying and sharing the game's unique URL from your browser's address bar.

 Go to the Quizdini YouTube channel
Quizdini doesn't advertise or store sensitive information on your students. They have committed to providing teachers with a simple easy-to-use, easy-to-control system that helps students.
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