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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Just What is the Big Picture? From Galileo to the James Webb Space Telescope

Once again, a running theme this year has been how science and technology helped to shape history. It is more than new inventions and innovations making things easier or more efficient. We learn how technology shapes the mind of society- it changes how we think, and what we think about.  Perhaps no time in history was this more evident during the Scientific Revolution.

We learned how the ideas of Copernicus and Galileo did more than challenge traditional authority. Their sense of inquiry changed the way people viewed the world, and their places in it. Tools like the microscope and telescope literally opened new worlds to us, from the very small to the very distant.

We have now spent a few classes learning about the James Webb space Telescope. Attached below are some websites and videos on it (you may have seen these previously on our Diigo site or Blendspace.)

Share your responses to any these questions: Can the JWST change society in a similar way to the telescope that Galileo used ? How change it change how we view the world or our place in it? Are the researchers and scientists working on it "modern day Galileo's" - or something different completely? Explain!

Please make sure your answers are not repetitive of your classmates, and that they show an understanding of the resources provided. Please be specific as possible and avoid generalities.

NASA link to the JWST

The Holocaust and Human Dignity: Holocaust Memorial Day at The United Nations

On January 27th, 2007, I was honored to attend the Holocaust Remembrance Service at the United Nations. I have attended this every year for about five years now. This year I noticed that there were more speakers than usual, with many being survivors. As time marches on, giving the survivors opportunities to speak at such occasions are of the utmost importance.

Also, the Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, was in attendance this year and addressed the audience. In prior years, he recorded a message that was played instead.

Every year at the conference, current events are brought up.  The stories of these  events are almost always  followed with , "Have we learned nothing?" Speaker after speaker made references, indirectly or directly, to the recent terror attacks in Paris, Holocaust denial in Iran, the Syrian refugee crisis, and the response by some politicians to help (or not help) them.

It is important to note why the ceremony is held on that day every year. January 27th was the day that Auschwitz was  liberated. This was the 71st anniversary- and we were lucky to have survivors and veterans in attendance.

View the various websites, video, and tweets below before viewing the question(s) at the bottom:

Holocaust Remembrance Link (United Nations)

Guardian article on Barbara Winton's father:

NY Times article: How the World Remembered the Day:

Videos above: From Susan Pollack, a survivor, and from the Secretary General

Below are tweets in response  the various speakers, including Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, Ambassador Samantha Power, and Barbara Winton.  Ms. Winton's father died last year at the  age of 106, and he was responsible for saving over 600 children during the Holocaust.  

Storify Link to Read Tweets
  1. Assignment:    Read the sources and tweets above. Find a quote from a survivor or speaker and relate it to a current issue of national or international concern today. Be specific in your comparison and avoid generalities.  Your response should show you read the sources and tweets.  Please be original in your responses, and feel free to comments on the posts from your classmates. 

Challenger, 30 years later

This morning, on the 30th anniversary of the loss of the Challenger and its crew, we spent a few moments discussing this historical day in class. With students born in 2000 and 2001, 1986 seems like ancient history to them and many have not seen the footage, and some have not even heard of it.

After seeing CNN footage from the launch, we then moved towards the address from President Reagan.  This year we have spent much time analyzing how technology shapes history, and an example is how it shapes politics. We discussed FDR's fireside chats on the radio, JFK's first live press conference in 1961, and how President Obama utilizes social media. President Reagan was know for his speeches, and the one on this sad day is amongst one of his most famous.

This past unit we have compared the Age of Explration to current space exploration in many ways: making Venn Diagrams, current events, comparing Galileo and his telescope to the James Webb Space telescope, etc.  Yet when Reagan remarks about Sir Francis Drake, and extends his them of exploration to what the mission of NASA was at the time, we see that the comparisons are endless.  " No statement," I told the class , " better summarizes our best unit, or why we learn what we do than that you just heard."

As we continue our mission of blending science and technology with the humanities, watch his speach below. Learn about why it was significant to send a teacher into space. Put into words what we have put in charts and diagrams this unit: how did the themes of exploration reflect in the mission of the Challenger? Be specific in your response and avoid generalities. We also discussed the idea of exploration vs pioneering. Reagan called them pioneers, refer to his speech, their mission, and explain why.

Website on Challenger Missions

NASA's Mcauliffe biography

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Martin Luther King Day: What Will You Do?

Before teaching at the amazing school we call Morris Tech, I taught at a few other schools in New Jersey. Each school treated Martin Luther King Day differently, but the sad truth is that most of them gave the day very little consideration. True, each school suggested lesson plans or mentioned a quote during the announcements, but does that give this day justice?

I began my student teaching at Franklin High School. I eventually subbed full time and coached there before migrating down to the Jersey Shore. The way we honored the day there was amazing. First there was a school wide "breakfast" in the cafeteria. Yes, that means you didn't go to your normal classes. They actually modified the schedule for that day! During the breakfast they invited various community leaders to speak and talk about the legacy of Dr. King as well as how they serve the community.

For the next part of the day, the students and staff boarded busses that took us to various parts of the community. Depending on where the busses took us, they each volunteered in a various way to make their community better.

Note: This happened on the Monday- on the holiday- this was not a day "off" of school!

I'd like to hear a few different things from you guys. I already heard that some students will be attending an inter-faith service in regards to the holiday. If you are doing something to honor the legacy of Dr. King- please share! If not, I welcome suggestions from you below. Who knows, maybe some of these suggestions can be put into place!
(Hint: please read the comments before posting to ensure you are not making the same suggestions as another student. Also, comments should reflect that you viewed some of the resources on this page. Further, consider incorporating the quote at the top of this page in your response. I encourage you to respond to classmate comments as well.)

If you are looking for ideas on what to write about, I've added some resources below:

editorial: When Schools Stay Open on MLK Day

Volunteer Opportunities for MLK Day

Above: Video clip on how one elementary school in NJ honors the holiday.