Last week, I went to my local polling place and participated in the democracy that we call the United States of America Mid-Term Elections, and now I wait with eager anticipation for the results on Tuesday. While I love the feeling of voting, it is with every election season that we are bombarded by a litany of advertisements. Over the past several elections, the attack ads and general negativity seems to get worse and worse. In North Carolina, it has been estimated that in the race for U.S. Senator over $100 Million has been spent on advertising alone. I wonder what impact that money could have had if it had been spent on something a little more worthwhile like education. According to CNN, one 8 year old admonished Senate Candidates in North Carolina to be nice. With election day nearly upon us, I wanted to take today's blog post to share some Election Day Internet Resources.
However, should not limit yourself to just ONE resource. Why not try to compare the findings with resources from the Tampa Bay Times' politifact.com and the FactChecker from Washington Post.
LIVING ROOM CANDIDATE
While this is not a Presidential Election year, by far my favorite election related resources comes from the Museum of the Moving Image and is called THE LIVING ROOM CANDIDATE. This site offers a collection of Presidential Campaign Commercials from 1952-2012. The site presents not only presents the commercial, but provides and explanation and historical context. In addition, the site also has a collection of lesson plans in the FOR TEACHERS section including What Makes An Effective Ad, Developing Critical Analysis, and Playing On Emotions.
REMIX A POLITICAL AD WITH AD MAKER
While this is a great content resource, I think that the really interesting part is the AdMaker. Here you and your students can re-edit a commercial from a presidential campaign or create a new one using historical footage. The site features a web based video editing interface complete with historical video, audio, and images. I think that it is exactly this type of tool that can help students develop a much better understanding or the power of the advertising to manipulate and aid them in becoming more critical consumers of the information that they encounter.
"If we don't have an informed electorate, we don't have a democracy." - Jim Lehrer
So, in the past, I have been pretty much the world's worst blogger. On numerous occasions, I have told myself that I need to start blogging, but there has always been an excuse as to why I could not possibly do this. Well, enough with excuses. This is now a PRIORITY!
One of my biggest excuses for not blogging was that I was writing the UNTANGLING TECHNOLOGY column for NAGC'S Teaching for High Potential. After stepping down from that responsibility, I no longer have that as an excuse. A real reason for becoming more involved with the blogosphere is that I am organizing a NAGC Pre-Conference Session on November 13, 2014 called BUILDING BETTER BLOGS TO PROMOTE THE 4 C'S: CREATIVITY, CRITICAL THINKING, COLLABORATION, AND COMMUNICATION. I am very excited to be presenting alongside Ian Byrd, Tamara Fisher, Krissy Venosdale, and Maria Selke, but in this crowd of "celebrity" bloggers, I am definitely the low man on the totem pole. So, I really need to up my game.
To increase my digital footprint, I am challenging myself to blog everyday for the month of November. I am calling it BLOG-VEMBER!
To get started, I have decided to go back and review my very first column for Teaching for High Potential. Published in early 2007, Blah, blah BLOG! What's All the Fuss About Blogging? is admittedly a bit of a time capsule. Here is an excerpt:
As I look back through all of the technology tools and ideas that I have written about over the years, blogs are one idea that seems to consistently remain relevant. While the 2007 column touted the virtues of Google's Blogger and Edublogs, it also presented the now defunct Blogmeister as a viable platform. One of the challenges of writing about technology is that it is always evolving. However, what should remain constant are good ideas.
The heart of the THP Column was FOUR STEPS for Getting Started with Blogging. These steps remain good advice for me or anyone who wishes to get started with blogging for themselves or their students.
1. PROVIDE A PLACE
Choosing a blogging service is a big step. You should choose something that is going to be easy for you. I have looked at WordPress a number of times over the years, and while it does offer the most power and customization, it is also seems unnecessarily complicated. I have been using Weebly for a while as my web design tool of choice. I like it because it has clean design templates and an easy to use drag and drop interface. Weebly also allows you to create a blog as I have done here. The key here is to find what is going to be easy for you to use and that you are not going to spend a great deal of time trying to make it look pretty.
2. PROVIDE A PURPOSE
This is really going to vary widely. If you are blogging personally, then talk about what you are interested in. I plan to use this blog as a way to try out new ideas or to share lessons, tech tools, random geeky things, all in the name of promoting creativity. If you are blogging with your students, you may need to narrow the focus a bit. By providing some constraints, you can actually help your students to be more creative and productive in this environment. As I have been contemplating BLOG-VEMBER and how I am going to ever accomplish it, I have come up with a few reoccurring ideas that should help me along such as Mobile Mondays, Ted Talk Tuesdays, Web Resource Wednesdays, and Throwback Thursdays.
3. GIVE IT TIME
In the 2007 THP Column, I wrote, "As when introducing any new technology, don't expect immediate results. Also, be sure to allow students time to play with the idea of blogging before placing serious expectations on the students' use." This seems like good advice. Never underestimate the value of play. For me, and this current and long lasting endeavor into blogging, I need to be sure to put the time in so that I can get to STEP NUMBER FOUR.
4. WATCH IT GROW
"By creating structure and support for the use of blogs, you may find that students are motivated at all new levels." This is certainly my hope. Also, blogs allow continual asynchronous discussions which is one of the things that I have always loved about learning online. Blogs force us to take a stand and let our voice be heard. This is true for me. This is true for you. This is true for your students. We have the power to let our voices be heard.
Thanks for reading. I hope that you will consider joining me for BLOG-VEMBER!