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image of bulletin board with index cards that have common stereotypes

Ending Stereotypes Begins With Us

Although I don’t spend as much time on Facebook as I do on Twitter, I do belong to a few Facebook groups that include a lot of creative educators with great ideas. One of these fabulous groups is the Distance Learning Educators Facebook Group. When I recently saw a post from Shannon Nicole about a bulletin board that she and her 9th graders created, I asked her permission to share the idea and the pics on this blog. As some of you know, I’ve committed to doing regular anti-racist posts, and I’ve been collecting them in this Wakelet as a resource for educators. I hope that some of you will also be inspired by Shannon’s idea and find a way to discuss and combat stereotypes in your own classroom.

Here is Shannon’s introduction to the pictures below: “I asked my 9th graders to write one stereotype they wish they could get rid of, and this is what they said. The last 5 minutes of class, I pull a few off the wall for us to discuss. This has been an amazing lesson for all involved, including myself!” Click on each image to see it more clearly.

photo of young girls looking through microscope

Microbe Art

I have long been fascinated with the intersection of math, nature, and art. From Fibonacci to fractals, I find it intriguing to recognize patterns and similarities in natural objects and animals that also appear in those created by humans, and that we can imagine wildly creative innovations from very logical, patterned, or symmetrical visions. When I came across this video of the “Art of the Microcosmos” by Emily Graslie, I had a feeling that it would lead me down a rabbit hole of Fibonaccian proportions, and I was correct. Her interview with James Weiss made me wish I had him as a Biology teacher in high school, or that I had even once gotten the chance to observe the incredible microscopic animals shown in the video. Of course, I’ve known about the tardigrade (also known affectionately as “water bear”) for a few years, so I definitely have no problem imagining it or any other of the strangely beautiful creatures in this video as artistic inspiration.

Following Emily’s film, I had to look up Klaus Kemp, who creates diatomic art, and then I made the mistake of Googling “art made with microbes” and found an entirely different branch of scientific art grown in petri dishes.

After a couple of hours of being transfixed by so many things I had never seen or even known about before watching Graslie’s video, I finally had the wherewithal to drag myself away and try to do something somewhat productive (though not even minutely creative). I started a new Wakelet of “Math, Art, and Nature,” and I even used Wakelet’s new layout option of columns to attempt to organize it a bit. (You may need to scroll horizontally to see all of the columns, and scroll vertically within a column to see all of the links.) This is, of course, separate from my “Math Sites That Won’t Make You Fall Asleep,” collection, but I went ahead and added a link to it in that one, too.

Just a reminder that, even though fancy microscopes might be nice, you can always get your students started with observations of that microscopic world with an inexpensive Foldscope. You might be surprised at the incredible images you can view with this simple tool.

microscopic shot of a virus
Photo by CDC on Pexels.com

red leaf trees near the road

October 2021

I’m a bit behind in blog posts, but the good news is that a little prep work from last year will pay off for this year! You can find all kinds of links for October activities, including Powers of 10 Day (October 10th) and Halloween, in this Wakelet I started last October. I’ve added a few new links that I got from MakerEd, TCEA, and Ditch That Textbook, and will continue to add more throughout this month. I also recommend that you check out the “Holiday Ideas” page on Big Ideas 4 Little Scholars, as Donna Lasher has a nice monthly list of activities that she keeps. If you find any broken links or want to recommend a resource I’ve missed on my Wakelet, please comment below!

green and white pumpkin on brown wooden table
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com
MC Hammer

Jon Stewart, M.C. Hammer, and Data

I spend a lot of time curating random things that interest me (see my NEO post on my curation methods here) , and I sometimes find obscure connections that inspire me to group them together into a blog post. As I was browsing my “Blog Ideas” Wakelet after my morning dog walk, I rediscovered a couple of resources I’d saved that correlated quite well with the podcast I’d just been listening to, Smartless. First, I’ll share a screen shot of this tweet from @AlvinFoo:

Next up, I have the updated Interactive Media Bias Chart, which has also been included in my Wakelet for “Evaluating Online Information.” (My daughter had originally shown me this site when she was taking a Journalism class last year, and I found it fascinating.) Whether you agree with its findings or not, it’s definitely worth discussing with older students when talking about current events and/or the reliability of news sources.

And, lastly, I have a quote from Jon Stewart that he attributes to M.C. Hammer (beware an expletive near the beginning) — and it is something we should never forget when looking at any data, including standardized test scores in education (click here if the embedded audio does not appear below):

There is nothing quite so satisfying as finding a way to tie together so many seemingly disparate topics in one post, so I consider my work done for today 😉

clouds

You Are Not the Storm

A few weeks ago, someone I was close to committed suicide. She was a former student, friend of my daughter’s, and a beautiful person in so many ways.

I’ve talked about depression on this blog before, and I’ve been candid about my own battle with it. The truth is that I often feel like the world would be a better place without me. There are many days that I make myself go through the motions of appearing “normal” because I am afraid that I would be locked up forever in a rubber room if anyone knew the level of self-hatred that engulfs my brain.

Sadly, when I have medical issues that can be explained using x-rays or blood tests, I am relieved that there is a socially acceptable reason for my pain or discomfort. But when I experience extreme sadness or complete contempt for myself, I feel that I can only attribute it to my own failure.

Though we will never know for certain, I imagine that is what this incredible child of 19 years old must have felt – the hopelessness, the aloneness, the conviction that she could never be “enough,” the fear that admitting these feelings to anyone would horrify them or, worse, make them act differently around you in a clumsy attempt to pity something they just don’t understand.

I have been so fortunate to have the means, the awareness, and the resources to get professional help. Many do not. And that’s a tragedy. But the far larger problem in our society is that even the attempt to get help for mental illness is often viewed as a weakness or failure. Unlike an appendix that bursts or a cancerous tumor on the brain, depression is too often portrayed as the fault of the one suffering from it.

In 2018, I published a post on another blog about the sobering statistics of teenage depression. It also includes suggestions for parents on signs to watch for and ways to discuss depression with their children. And while it’s important for parents and students to be educated about depression, I want to make it clear that it is not the fault of any survivor if a loved one decides to take their own life. Our society as a whole needs to destigmatize this disease and offer resources for coping and living with depression. We don’t want your pity, fear, or accusations. Just accept that we are fighting a battle that you don’t quite understand but are willing to support.

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Here are some ways you can help.

Here is the National Suicide Prevention Hotline for the United States: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ (1-800-273-8255)

And if you are someone who has difficulty getting up in the morning because it’s hard to imagine any reason worth leaving bed, here is a lovely thread I found on Twitter with good suggestions:

I want all of you to know that the world is a better place because of you. Your contributions, no matter the size, make a difference. We lost an incredible soul this month, who — perhaps for just an excruciating moment — forgot the positive impact she made on this planet. Please don’t lose sight of that, no matter how much your brain tries to persuade you to the contrary. Consider the quote below from one of my favorite authors who also deals with depression, Matt Haig.

burning campfire with bright flames in nature

Battle of the Banned Books

How about that Central York School District in York, Pennsylvania where the all-white school board has “frozen” forty books and multimedia materials from being circulated in the district “until they can be reviewed?” This process began in October of 2020, yet in a virtual meeting that was held this past week on 9/13/2021, the board has doubled down and continued the prohibition of these resources. The list includes incendiary items such as a Sesame Street town hall episode about racism and biographies of Rosa Parks and Malala Yousafzai. According to parent Matt Weyant in a quote for The Hill, “I don’t want my daughter growing up feeling guilty because she’s white.”

Students in the district, which is 82% white, according to this article in the Daily Mail, seem oblivious to this horrific threat to their psyche, and are actually (how dare they!) saying things like, “‘I want to hear all of it. I don’t want everyone to be worried about how we feel because no one was worried about how BIPOC members of the community felt.’ Olivia Pituch said.”

Those naive youngsters! Don’t they know that adults are so much wiser than them? Especially white adults who have experienced the crushing tyranny of guilt all of their lives?

Fortunately, the American Library Asociation knows how to combat these gullible teenagers and any ignorant adults opposing these actions that are being taken for their protection by scheduling a Banned Books Weeks from Sept. 26-Oct. 2. Now we can celebrate the eradication of all of the evil books like the one below.

While you are holding parades in honor of the Book Banners protecting our freedom, be sure to avoid any routes with Free Little Libraries because they are about to be inundated by these nefarious books after author Brad Meltzer started a Twitter campaign so he could earn himself millions of dollars.

And be extra vigilant so your teenagers don’t surreptitiously enter the contest to join author Jason Reynolds on Facebook Live on September 28th where they can ask him anything about banned books.

If you are avoiding this battle, don’t you dare call yourself an All-American racist. You and that blue-furred illegal alien who has somehow managed to avoid imprisonment despite all of these years of blatant cookie stealing can go back to where you came from. Otherwise, get those backyard bonfires going and start raiding the libraries for tinder. It’s time to pretend America is great again!