Common Core Critics: Just Calm Down, OK?

the digital ageGrowing up in what was – and still is – a burgeoning digital age, I am familiar with words being taken out of context.

It happens every day.  The media are famous for it; I’ve been guilty of it; and I’ve certainly accused my parents of it in moments of hormone-driven teenage angst.  In fact, I often used it to really push their buttons just for fun.

And then there’s the whole issue of texting and sarcasm (almost making the case for that silliest of ideas, the sarcasm punctuation character…). How many arguments have started or relationships ended over a misunderstood/misinterpreted sentence delivered via text I wonder?

Ignoring the texting difficulties for a moment, the issue of intentionally taking words out of context for my own gain or entertainment is something I grew out of.  As I suspect most normal human beings do.

So what is it about public figures, be they politicians, pundits, or whoever, that stunts their growth on this point?  Which part of their brain failed to develop beyond the logic of ‘if I say this everyone will get angry and I will get all the attention’?

I ask because of an article I saw recently in the Huffington Post about ‘13 Extreme Statements Made About The Common Core Standards’.  Have a quick look, you will be shocked but probably not surprised by the vitriol spewed over every medium about the changes taking place.

Change can be scary, I understand that.  Not everyone will benefit from change, I get that. But where do people get off associating supporters of the Common Core with Hitler Youth? It absolutely boggles my mind that a person’s perspective could be so clouded by their steadfast obedience to the status quo that they’d make such ludicrous assertions. Do they not realize just how ignorant they appear when hateful statements like that are attributed to them?

At the end of the day you have to make up your own mind. The only best way to do that is by being as informed as you can be. Do your own research and your own thinking.

Start with Common Core facts. Take a look at some Common Core lesson plans that have been created by teachers.  Keep up to date with the conversations in your district and State. And just be a grown up about it. I’m tired of reading hateful things about education.

Common Core is not a road to nowhere

Jobs Are Scary, This Will Help

A timely detour on the interwebs this morning took me to the LinkedIn blog about recent changes to their terms of service. I don’t always read these when they pop up, mainly because every big company whose products I consume seem to be changing their terms of service on a near daily basis (looking at you Apple…Google…Facebook!).  But for whatever reason, this morning I was interested enough to read on.

Nothing shocking in there, just that they’re now allowing students/children as young as 13 to join LinkedIn.  Fine.  Happy with that.  I haven’t heard of any predators looking to expand their professional networks while creeping on kids.  But obviously let’s stay vigilant on that one, sadly goes without saying these days.

Then another LinkedIn blog about their recently launched University Pages, with a short, well-produced, snappy video about how they can help the college-bound or first-jobbers (embedded below).

Now, I’m not saying I’m a sucker for a good sales pitch.  But I am a sucker for short snappy YouTube videos that show me how easy it is to gather information or learn something new.

[ Quick digression: I’ve just seen this great article on what makes the best instructional videos. Credit to Kyle Pace for tweeting it and the author for penning it.]

Anyway, back to University Pages.  I know how stressful/daunting/discouraging/sometimes inspiring/always time consuming/often expensive job hunting can be.  Any tool that will help you focus your search or give you some direction from the off is, in my view, certainly worth exploring.  Especially if it’s provided free of charge (as it is for now…I’m watching you LinkedIn).

So, for high schoolers looking at potential colleges I think these University Pages will offer you some quick and dirty insights about how your college might serve you down the road.

For first-jobbers, start making use of your alumni network!  Reconnect with those acquaintances you made in freshman year, find out who your professors are connected to in industry, start sending out requests.  Don’t be shy.  Now is the time to be bold, be recognized, stand out from the crowd and be your awesome self.

Tips and Tricks

Some days are reserved for learning the big stuff, others the little things. Mondays I try to hold free for the little things.

In that vein, here is a neat little time saver.  If you use Google URL shortener (goo.gl) or Bitly, and you want to track the statistics associated with the links you create – ie clicks, browsers, locations – all you have to do is copy/paste the short link to your address bar, add a plus sign ‘+’ to the end, and Hey Presto, stats!

You can also add ‘.info’ to the URL to achieve the same effect.

I looked this up because I use a third party Chrome extension for goo.gl.  It’s pretty handy, but the links it generates don’t always show up in my Google account for tracking (annoyingly).  This .info info is thus quite handy.

Credit to a nearly three year old article from The Next Web for this tip.

Milestones

Milestones are important to document, especially if you might forget them over time, or they if they might seem insignificant compared to expected future achievements.

For example, I don’t remember the first time I got a perfect score on a spelling test, but my Mum does and still has the piece of paper to prove it.  I similarly don’t remember my first steps, first, hug, or first words, but I bet my Mum remembers those too.

At a later stage, other firsts were embarrassingly recorded for posterity (read: bragging rights) by yours truly, across various adolescent diaries/journals.  Mercifully, my teenage years pre-date the elephantine memory of social media/internet/NSA archives).

So, what inspired this little digression down memory lane? The great George Takei, course. Or at least, his noting the importance of marking NASA’s Voyager 1 embarking on the final frontier…again.  Thanks George, I find your internet musings important, enjoyable, and often enlightening.

Yesterday NASA confirmed that Voyager 1, first launched in 1977, has become the first man-made object to break free from our solar system.  How exciting!  They estimate Voyager 1 is now 18.8 billion kilometers from earth.  It has now reached inter-stellar space, the space between stars, a vast expanse so great it will be 40,000 years before it reaches another star.  Amazing!!

Yesterday NASA also confirmed the authenticity of the frog photo (above). That little guy was blown clear off his lily pad by the blast-off of ‘Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer’ (LADEE??? I guess the days of Discovery and Endeavor are well and truly over).  NASA tweeted this instagram pic.

At time of going to press, the frog’s condition remained uncertain…

The company I work for has some cool Lesson Plans that relate to this historic moment (no, I won’t be cruel and post a biology dissection tutorial… I meant about Voyager 1!).  You can check out these teaching resources related to astronomy if you’re as interested in the stuff as I am.  The first lesson plan covers the history of the science, the second lesson plan is a fun one posted by NASA about space telescopes and how they capture images and communicate with earth.

Have a great weekend.  Never stop looking up.