Collaboratively evaluate websites!

May 12th, 2014 llcowell Posted in literacy No Comments »

Check out Bounce! This online tool lets users look at the elements of any webpage and make comments, highlight a specific area, and share with others. Consider the potential of this in your classroom.  Collaboratively evaluate information encountered, modeling critical thinking.

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You Do the Fact Check!

September 24th, 2013 llcowell Posted in literacy, uncategorized No Comments »

 

Open your mind!
Each of us approach news from a point-of-view that has been formed by our backgrounds and our experiences.  Naturally, we are attracted to those stories that support the way we already perceive the world. You’ll need to make a conscious effort to look at things “from the other side.”
Ask lots of questions!
This is just as important when we are listening to arguements that we tend to agree with , as it is when we listen to those with which we tend to disagree.

  • What is the reporter’s political bias?
  • What is interviewee’s political position?
  • Who is paying for the message?
  • Does the story present alternate points-of-view? How are these characterized?
  • Does the interviewer present an arguement? Is the story editorial?

 

Cross-check the facts!
Are there sources or statistics cited?  Are these verifiable?  Look up “facts” that are used to support any arguement.  Are these consistently reported across sources, both conservative and liberal. If not, they may be spin.  Look for agreed upon information. Ask yourself, can this information be checked against public record?
Consider the source.  
Do the authors or speakers have known or suspected biases. This can bring credibility into question. Don’t be afraid to think for yourself!

Learn more here!

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The Art of Paraphrasing

May 5th, 2013 llcowell Posted in literacy No Comments »

Ever sit down to put something in “your own words,”  thesaurus in hand.  It’s a common trap.  Students (and sometimes other writers) misinterpret the concept of parapharasing as one that involves “reworking” and “replacing” words so that they appear “new.”

Paraphrasing is, in fact, a process that, when done well, allows a writer to both credit the original author, while speaking out with their own voice. Learning to paraphrase the ideas of another is a skill that is developed with practice.

The following steps will help you practice careful and considerate paraphrasing.  After repeated use, these steps will become habitual.

1.  Read the resource through, writing down bullet points on the facts or opinions presented.  Do NOT copy down even phrases “word for word” without using quotation marks.

2.  Set the resource and your notes aside.  Breifly explain, in complete sentences, the information your have learned from the resource.  Use paraphrase indicators to identify the author of the ideas you recall (see list on right).

3.  Check your explanation against your notes and make any factual corrections necessary.

4.  Compare your explanation to the original.  Place quotations around any unique ideas or wording that you directly recalled and quoted.

5.  In all cases, include an in-text citation to the original resource.

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Using Paraphrase Indicators to Avoid Plagiarism

April 13th, 2013 llcowell Posted in literacy No Comments »

Paraphrase indicators allow an author to indicate an upcoming paraphrase through text. Through this device, it is clear that the writer is citing another’s ideas. This is particularly important when a paper will be presented aloud to an audience who does not have access to the written text. I developed the following list of examples years ago.  In the time since, students and I have discovered that this tool does more than simply indicate ownership.  It actually allows a student to “borrow credibility” from authors who are established in their field. By including these indicators, the student’s writing becomes more academic in nature.  Credibility (and confidence) rise.

A List of Paraphrase Indicators

Hatton believes that…
Fisher accepts this argument, adding…
According to Moberg …
Fisher accredits this to the fact that….
Miller acknowledges these findings…
Marchese admits that while….
Anderson advances the idea that…
Boone advises…
Moberg advocates…
Brothers affirms…
Gard agrees…
Marsden ascertained that…
Reif appeals to his readers by….
Anderson argues…
Romanelli asserts…
Fisher assumes…
Eastman attests to this…
Hatton claims that…
Ramirez conceived…
Fisher concludes…
Stried considers…
Paulson contends…
Gard contests this, stating that…
J. Scott credits Smith with…
Hilbelink deduces…
Anderson defends these ideas…
Holmquist demonstrates…
Eastman denies the effects…
Loizzo describes…
Bauer disapproves of this approach…
Fisher disputes…
Cowell enumerates the causes…
Gard establishes…
Erickson estimates that…
Kemp expects…
Hatton explains…
Herpst expresses his concern…
Stillman echoes these concerns…
Perry favors an approach where…
Pokel feels that…
Gard finds/found that…
Kracjo furthers these arguments by…
Moberg hypothesizes…
Hatton implies…
Fisher indicates that…
Douglas infers that…
Gard interprets this as…
Erickson judges these beliefs to be…
Kealy justifies his reasoning…
Moberg maintains that…
Masterson is of the opinion that…
Whitt posits…
Douglas postulates…
Van Berkum predicts…
Erickson persuades his readers that…
Hatton presents convincing evidence that…
Peterson promotes the concept that…
Lynch proposes a different idea based on…
Taylor presumes this to be true when he…
Fisher puts forth…
Amundson reacts to these claims by…
Fisher reasons…
Cowell recommends…
Moberg recounts his own experiences in…
Westenberger regards this fact as…
Jensen refutes this…
Erickson relates additional evidence…
Bates remarks that…
Paulson reports the findings of…
Jenkins responds to this by…
Moberg says…
Ward sets forth…
Brovick shows…
Cowell speculates…
Brothers states…
Butterfield suggests…
Anderson supports…
Phillips surmises that…
Fisher suspects…
Carey tells of…
Eckert testifies…
Boone theorizes…
Brothers thinks…
Jones understands that…
Diers upholds…
Cowell urges…
Elsen voices his concerns…

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Media Literacy Appeal

January 11th, 2012 llcowell Posted in literacy, LiteracyRemix, media, uncategorized No Comments »

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2010 Gatsby Celebration in the Library

February 3rd, 2011 llcowell Posted in just for fun, literacy, reading No Comments »

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Information At-a-Glance or More?

January 3rd, 2011 llcowell Posted in design theory, information graphics, literacy, LiteracyRemix, multiple literacies No Comments »

I fret with personal frustration over the public’s tendency to ignore facts in favor of sound bytes and trite analysis offered by fevered commentators.  Too often dialogue disintegrates as someone expresses their agreement with the ideas of a given opinion-maker based on some vague (or crudely drawn) graphic presented in tandem with biased claims. And, of course, this happens on both sides of the political aisle.   It seems as if individuals can’t see, for themselves, what the graphics do/don’t say…that the value of the graphic is based simply on it’s composition of arrows and lines (perhaps numbers) and the commentator is believed simply because he USES graphics to make his point.

And isn’t that a sad point to make.   That perhaps people are more impressed with graphics than they are with the information they reveal.  It leaves me wondering if the underlying problem lies in a level of illiteracy we too easily ignore. What if people don’t bother to read the graphics for themselves because they can’t.

Google Public Data Explorer offers “data visualizations for a changing world, and yet it  (and a myriad of other information graphic resources) remains a mostly untapped resource in secondary schools.  I’ve noted that while we may teach students the basics of  create graphic information (i.e. a bit of MS Excel), I have to wonder if we take enough time teaching them to READ it.

As reported in the the UK-based Guardian’s  introduction to it’s new data site,  Tim Berners-Lee, MIT professor and director of the W3C credited with inventing the World Wide Web, recently said regarding the future of journalism:

[Journalism is] going to be about poring over data and equipping yourself with the tools to analyse it and picking out what’s interesting. And keeping it in perspective, helping people out by really seeing where it all fits together, and what’s going on in the country.

“Helping people see where it all fits together?”  Already media moguls are focusing on multi-modal delivery models that include the creation of sophisticated information graphics.  How could they not?  The medium appeals to our visually centered society and succinctly presents both information and analysis in an environment where digital publishing has reduced the size of the reading plane from that of a newspaper spread to that of a laptop screen…and even smaller (think iPad or even phone screen!).

So, if more of our news and information is being presented in this format, why aren’t schools devoting more serious time (curriculum) to decoding and re-using this information.  During research projects, to0 often, I see this type of information skimmed (or simply skipped) over by students in search of the proverbial “quote” on which to hinge their own ideas.  What if these graphics were to be the stuff from which new ideas spring?  The possibilities for deep analysis are…well…deep.

So how do we compel our students to use these rich sources of information. The first step is necessarily moving teachers to see that these are more than “data representations”–that information graphics do, in fact, require analysis, interpretation and creativity in their production and deserve the same in their consumption. We then need to encourage students to use both original and found info graphics to illustrate their thoughts and arguments.  And of course, we need to teach them to cite these as authentic sources of information, rather than a simple addendum.

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Disruptive Thinking: Not the Standard

July 4th, 2010 llcowell Posted in literacy, multiple literacies, observations, teaching & learning No Comments »

“You can’t write an essential question about Pokemon,” one English teacher told her 9th grade students. What fun we had learning otherwise. “Wow…how do you think like that,” one student asked after we settled on the provoking question: What social skills does playing Pokemon teach? She had that certain light a kid gets in his eyes when he realizes that he can ask deeper questions…critically consider…those things he’s truly interested in.

I had this discussion with my own teen daughter today. She is feeling less than thrilled about her own ACT scores at the moment. Being ranked 9th in a class of around 400 she’s simply convinced herself that her standardized scores should fall in a more impressive range. “I get so mad at a world that tests me and says that there is only one right answer,” she cried. “I think differently. I’m not a robot.”

Since her first foray into standardized tests in the 4th grade, my daughter has performed proficiently, though generally not as advanced as her sister or those peers with whom she shares high honors in the classroom. It is ironic, then, that she absolutely LOVED her AP Stats class last year…the very back bone of the data-driven world that demands standardized testing. She explained, “When Mrs. D asked us to identify research flaws…Mom, I could list 10 factors the researchers hadn’t taken into account. I love doing that…rethinking about each question DIFFERENTLY.”

As an educator, this would be the defining moment…the aha…when I knew my student could not only formulate an essential question, but that they had begun to think in this way as a matter of course.

Each year we are challenged with rethinking education. I have to wonder how we can possibly succeed in changing how we teach if we ONLY reconsider how students learn and never explore the many ways in which students express how they think, what they know, and when they imagine new ideas.

All I could do for my daughter was to help her identify the essential question…has she been a successful learner?…and then remind her to apply her thinking…this gift she has for seeing problems in a different way and imagining unique answers…to her assessment of herself.

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A look at “the Future of Publishing.”

March 24th, 2010 llcowell Posted in digital publishing, literacy, reading No Comments »

Be sure to watch this all the way through.  It certainly illustrates how we need to turn our thinking around to re-imagine the future, rather than simply toss aside the past.   

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Newspapers 2.0

November 12th, 2009 llcowell Posted in literacy, micro blog, observations No Comments »

Sharing “Newspapers 2.0 … where we should be going in high school journalism,” blog entry addressing the future of journalism from the point-of-view of a 16 year old high school journalist …  http://kenleilenae.com/?p=18 (via @kenleilenae / Twitter).

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