North Carolina Digital History Jun 30, 2010
A “digital textbook” for North Carolina history — or for United States history told largely through a North Carolina lens — designed for middle, secondary, and college students, built by LEARN NC. I conceived the project and served as editor and lead historian during its development from 1997 to 2010 (and also designed and built the content management system on which it’s built).
Does my vote count? Teaching the electoral college (LEARN NC) Oct 1, 2004
Students will learn about the electoral process and its history through reading, research, and discussion. They will then convene a constitutional convention to debate altering this process. Includes a tutorial for students explaining how the electoral college works, the origins and development of the electoral college as some controversial elections, and how much any one vote actually “weighs” in an election.
The story of a B-17 crew Jul 1, 2013
This is the audio and transcript of a speech given by my grandfather, J. Marvin Turner, a flight engineer on B-17 bombers during World War II and flew fifty missions in the Army Air Corps between January and July, 1944. Born in 1921, he was 22 years old at the time these events occurred. I developed the commentary and additional materials to accompany it for secondary students as part of the World War II module of North Carolina Digital History at LEARN NC.
A snapshot in time: How to study a photo (Tar Heel Junior Historian) May 1, 2009
Photographs from the past can teach us about important events and help us solve great mysteries, but some of the most interesting images show people doing everyday things. They’re the kind of photographs that you might find in old albums or in your grandparents’ attic, and they reveal details of life that we might never have thought to ask about.
Map skills and higher-order thinking (LEARN NC) Mar 25, 2010
This series of articles looks at map skills as a kind of visual literacy, considering what maps are, how they’re made, and the higher-order thinking skills students need to move from simply decoding maps to fully comprehending them.
Think for yourself! Media literacy every day (LEARN NC) Mar 31, 2009
Information, like air, is everywhere, and we breathe it in whether we mean to or not. If we want our students to be rational, responsible citizens and consumers, we have to help them develop a filter they can use all the time, not just when they’re doing research.
Higher order thinking with Venn diagrams Mar 1, 2007
Graphic organizers are powerful ways to help students understand complex ideas. By adapting and building on basic Venn diagrams, you can move beyond comparison and diagram classification systems that encourage students to recognize complex relationships.
Evaluating multimedia presentations (LEARN NC) Jan 30, 2005
A PowerPoint presentation is just another form of communication, and the same rules apply to multimedia that apply to writing or verbal communication. This article offers guidelines for using and assigning multimedia presentations in the classroom and includes a rubric based on the Five Features of Effective Writing.
Bluets, adverbs, and education (Front Porch Republic) Jun 18, 2012
On a gorgeous April Wednesday I am filling in as substitute homeschool teacher. We do arithmetic; we do a language lesson about adverbs and Emily Dickinson. Then—did I mention the day is gorgeous? That the air through the window is crisp and fills the lungs with hope and delight? That the cardinals are courting round the bay tree and a wren is chirping from the buckthorn? That the sky is blue, the dandelions gold, the violets… er, violet? All this is so, and the substitute teacher, less inspired by whatever lies in the plan book before him than by the season swiftly unfolding outside the window, calls an audible….
Keep home economics in the home Sep 6, 2011
In today’s New York Times, Helen Zoe Veit argues that America’s public schools ought to revive the teaching of home economics. That simply isn’t going to happen, not given the state of public school funding, the priorities of education reformers, or the inexorable march towards core curriculum. And that knowledge, frankly, is a relief to me, because I’d be deeply worried about the effect the schools might have on what little there is of American home cooking. By all means, teach children to cook – but not in school.
Of scientific misconceptions Nov 10, 2010
I was looking today through the National Science Digital Library’s “science literacy maps,” a sort of graphic organizer for science concepts, showing what concepts are related to what other concepts. Even more valuable, at first glance, are the lists of student misconceptions: the things students think they know about science and have trouble unlearning. But then I started wondering about the wisdom of framing that as “misconceptions” and, in fact, about the value of this idea of science “literacy” itself.
Maybe it is magic after all Apr 24, 2007
Then — and this was the part I especially liked — he would speed it back up so that you could see what the technique looked like in the hands of a professional. “In cooking school you would do it three, four hundred times,” he would say with a shrug, “and then it will look like this.” This looked like magic, but because I’d seen it step by step, his expectation that I would emulate him at home seemed perfectly reasonable.