Thursday, April 29, 2010

Technology (revisited)

     In my last entry I was struggling with my lies and the students’ ability to fact check me online. Last time I decided I was going let my students use technology to fact check me. To give a quick summary, I formulated great lies in which my student debunked using Google in .15 seconds a million times over, leaving me in a position to rethink my approach. (Fast forward to the present) Over the last week and a half since my last entry I’ve been working on how to challenge this generation while they fact me online. I turned to a resource that has been reliable to me and most of you, I imagine, throughout our academic careers…BOOKS! Yes, the media responsible for replacing the scroll many years ago. I turned to some book resources and started to read more about the topics I would be teaching in the coming days and found a great deal of great information I had not known myself before taking this adventure. Whether or not it would hold up to Google and its amazing search capabilities, remained to be seen.

     My class is doing the Middle Ages and my challenge as a teacher was to find something not only relevant to the time period but it needed to be interesting. Monday, we started class by talking about the Power of the Monarch and traditions of Parliament in England. Now while doing me own research on Parliament I read an interesting story about a Parliamentary tradition in which members of Parliament turn and face walls during prayer, that is true I just had to add my twist. We first discussed Parliament and its similarities and differences between it and Congress. With Parliament fresh on their minds, it was time to set up the lie, so I stated, “Okay, story time”. When I announce “story time” the class will tend to lock on to what I tell them because they realize it isn’t in their textbook (or is it). I proceed with the story about traditions and practices in Parliament and the lie was now out to be scruntized. All the while the students are typing away on their laptops, anticipating a student finding my lie before I could start my next sentence I paused and asked any questions? Nothing! I proceed with the rest of the lesson and as the end of the period neared, students ask “Mr. H did you lie to us today?” to which I answered, “Yes!” From there the guessing started because they realized their homework list just got longer and this time it was graded. Stumped someone asked, “Did you lie to us about Parliament?”, to which I answered “Yes, good luck finding it!”

     The next day came and one of my students came up to me and said, “Mr H I couldn’t find your lie, I searched on line for 3 hours last night and I couldn’t find anything that didn’t check out.” (class is going to be interesting) My class came in 4th block and as expected no one was able to find the answer, anticipating this would be the case. We talked about Parliament traditions and I told them the lie at which point one student remarked, “I looked on line and couldn’t find anything about that on line.” To myself I thought, “Awesome!” I continued this practice the rest of the week and this week, in fact, I even started to record my discussions and post them on line so the students could hear what I said giving them a better chance in finding my lie…


Books are still king. The information about Parliament I found in my book (teachers edition) and it did appear online but wasn’t easy to find even for me. I saw this as the opportunity to tell my class that though the Internet is a good resource for quick information books are still the best resources they have for doing research. Internet should supplement not replace books as the major resource for research.

Next entry: Turning the tables

Tuesday, April 20, 2010



Technology is being promoted heavily in schools and students are using it for research more now than ever, so how can a liar use this to his advantage? I decided since my cart of laptops is working I would expand my lies to include materials from the Internet.  My mission was to find sites and resources which would fall into the category of not so good and use information from them in class. This essentially ups the ante for me, since my students are quickly becoming better researchers.

Recently, I started using my laptops so that students could take reading quizzes but rather than put them back in the cart why not have them fact check me using the Internet with resources they feel are reliable. In using the Internet, they have a broader scoop of information to pull from challenging not only them or so I thought. It, also, challenges me to be more deviant as well. The risk I run by doing this is students will use any Internet site without so much as batting an eye on the validity and reliability of the information. Knowing this I went forward because I see this as something I can build upon for later lessons on validity and reliability in research from the Internet. I found reliable and valid information to use for creating the lie and proceeded.

Recently, we did a unit on Islam and we were looking at the similarities and differences between the Sunni, Shiite, and Sufi, so throwing out a lie in this one would be pretty easy, or so I thought. I threw out my lie and within seconds, literally, they identified the lie. I thought I did a great job formulating this lie and they got it without even blinking an eye. I did this for a couple of days and haven’t been able to get one past them as I had previously; it seems technology has made this too easy for them. So, what do I do? How can I get past the fact the Internet and Google can give them the correct answer in a million different pages/ways in .15 seconds? How do I overcome this obvious advantage my students have in this realm? Trust me (an oxymoron I realize) these were good lies. My task as the teacher now has to be how do I use the technology and still challenge them to find the lie even with the obvious speed of Google…


Under estimated  student’s ability as researchers: This lesson is for me, I seriously underestimated their ability to find information as stated above I have a lot of work to do bring the challenge back to my lies. Granted I could just put the machines away and the challenge is back, but what will that teach them?

Next entry: Technology (revisted)

Friday, April 9, 2010


     In recent months I’ve seen a great deal of heated debate, on tv, on a number of hot issues in government and in every instance the same scene seems to play itself out! You know the one, where a person with an opinion contrary to the larger group is being shouted down by the masses, basically quelling any further argument or debate. Recently, I had a similar situation play out in my class only I was the “shouter” and a student of mine would be the one who would lose his voice.
     Recently, I assigned a map exercise to my students and towards the end of the period I decided to bring up a copy of the map on the whiteboard to go over it. I started with the first location called on a student to give the answer and had the student write the answer on the board. I did this a couple of more times when I called on one of my more outgoing students, who we will call “Mr. Wrong”. I asked “Mr. Wrong”, “where is Macedonia, he came up to the board and wrote the answer right where it needed to be. After he wrote the location, I quickly turned and asked the class, “Is this correct?” I had one person from the peanut gallery say "no", and I said, “Right this is supposed to be up here” and moved his answer up further than would be reasonable for the location of Macedonia. He quickly jumped in and said “no its suppose to be lower” and at that point other members of the class said, “No, Mr. H is right it should be higher” Immediately other voices chimed in and quickly all argument ceased.. Had I pulled it off?( I thought to myself). The remainder of the exercise, he sat there quietly just watching and listening. At one point he started to look through his book, but still not a word. I got through the entire map and the end of the period was upon us, so I asked, “Any questions on the map?” Well of course “Mr. Wrong” had something to say, “Mr. H, you are wrong. Here look at this map. Here is Macedonia and it’s in a pretty straight line with this sea which is where I had it. Not up there where you have it..” I looked at his map gave him a smirk and told him to write it up on the board. I then announced to the class on your maps you will need to change Macedonia from here and write it here (pointing to the map as I gave this instruction). I announced, “That was my lie!”

     This unlike other lies was group a effort though they didn’t know it. I got this idea from a psychology experiment where people in a group will give blatantly wrong answers to convince the subject to go along even if they knew the answer was wrong. I varied this of course, rather than the group give the wrong answer I hoped they would side with the “expert” and in doing so pressure “Mr. Wrong” into giving up his argument. If it didn’t work he still caught my lie.


The “expert”. The whole idea of me being an expert is absurd. Many students don’t challenge me for various reasons, the most common one I hear is, “Well you are the teacher”. In a democracy we need to speak up and have our voices heard no matter how unpopular our ideas may be to others. Example, Health Care Reform… (Next time I do this, it will be with one of my more introverted students)
Next Entry: Technology