It might not feel like spring in the northeast and midwest United States, but we’re still Hacking Spring, with an amazing Hack Learning Twitter share contest!
We gave away more than $5,000 worth of books and T-shirts at Empower18 Conference last month, in in effort to spread the word about Hack Learning–a movement aimed at helping teachers and learners easily solve some of their biggest problems.
We’re still solving problems and giving stuff away
Spread the word about Hack Learning, and win!
All you have to do is share a cool, funny, unorthodox, amazing, hacky picture or video on Twitter, get plenty of engagement, and you’ll have a chance to win our Grand Prize!
Keep reading, because this starts TODAY and ends Saturday, April 7, 2018.
Take a picture or video of you or a friend or family member with your Hack Learning T-shirt, Empower18 Hack Learning booth pic, and/or a Hack Learning Series book.
Share the pic/video on Twitter.
In the share, mention @markbarnes19 and add #HackLearning. (NOTE: all shares MUST contain both @markbarnes19 and #HackLearning to be eligible to win.)
Ask for likes and retweets (optional but helpful).
The three Tweets with the most engagement (combined likes and retweets) win!
3rd place — $50 Amazon Gift Certificate
2nd place — $75 Amazon Gift Certificate
GRAND PRIZE — 15 Hack Learning books, 1 coffee mug, 1 tote bag ($500 value)
When is the contest?
Start posting to Twitter NOW: Thursday April 5th
Contest ends:Saturday April 7th at 8 PM ET
Winners announced: Sunday April 8th at 11 AM ET
Tweet your pic NOW!
Hack Learning Ambassador at Empower18 Conference
Tweet a pic with you, a Hack Learning T or book, and/or our banner for a chance to win
What’s the purpose?
Simple: We want people to see Hack Learning books, so they’ll be inspired to check out one of education’s most powerful problem-solving movements. And we’re not afraid to enlist your help and incentivize sharing with cool prizes.
We give away more content than anyone–over $100,000 in FREE content to educators around the world in 2017 and 2018! After all, Hack Learning is not about making authors or publishers rich; it’s about making educators better!
Share your pic or video on Twitter now. Tag @markbarnes19 and #HackLearning. Promote your Tweet, so you can win!
NOTE: Hack Learning authors and team members are ineligible to win.
Let me begin with full disclosure: Before I learned about Unanswerable Questions in Hacking Mathematics, by Denis Sheeran, I thought just about everything math related was unanswerable. Admittedly, math has always been pretty elusive to me.
After reading about Unanswerable Questions, though, I’m looking at math and pedagogy differently.
Rather than talk around Denis Sheeran’s concept, I thought I’d just share it straight from the mathematician’s mouth–or at least from his book.
I get frustrated when I’m asked to do something irrelevant. Don’t you? And yet, many teachers dread when students ask, “When am I ever going to need to know this stuff?” It’s a rather obnoxious way of asking, “Is this lesson relevant?”
Now, picture this. You craft a lesson that is so relevant that you hope some kid inquires! This episode is designed to help you create such a lesson. To help in this mission is an awesome primary source.
Mitchell Charles is an articulate young man destined for academic brilliance.
In World Civilization, we were meandering through a unit on the Industrial Revolution. This topic typically leaves some students cold. My challenge was to make it relevant.
I did this with the help of Elon Musk and Peergrade. Below is the lesson that Mitchell evaluates. Please feel free to commandeer some of it, or all of it!
Applying the Industrial Revolution via Elon Musk
History students often complain that what they study doesn’t seem relevant. You may have heard the cliche, History repeats itself. You may, or may not be persuaded by this idea, but hopefully you’ll concede that the study of history at least gives us templates through which we can better understand the present, making a lot of subject matter relevant.
Technological changes that are at work today have the potential of reshaping the world along the lines of the changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution. Studying how that unfolded has the potential to make a young person more adaptable.
Elon Musk is one of the world’s most interesting and perhaps most impactful citizens. Musk is determined to improve the way you live. He also is determined to help the USA win back it’s manufacturing advantage.
This man has the potential to create products and systems that are as impactful as anything we’ve studied so far. He was born under the yoke of Apartheid in South Africa and as soon as he was able, he migrated to Canada and then the USA. He’s now a US citizen.
I first became interested in Musk when I saw him appear on the Big Bang Theory years ago.
We’ll focus on 4 of Musk’s objectives:
The Boring Company
Job 1: Make it relevant: Become familiar with your topic by reviewing the links and conducting online research.
Job 2: Meet with other students who’ve been assigned the same focus. Dialogue about the company. You certainly don’t have to agree, but consider the views of your classmates.
Job 3: Individually, Respond to the prompts on the appropriate doc on Google Classroom.
Build your responses based on your research. Each prompt is worth 10 points. Elaborate on your ideas. Don’t just give 1 word, or 1 phrase answers. Compose a narrative for each prompt.
Pretend that you are Elon Musk. You’re appealing to a number of venture capitalists with the goal of having them invest. Provide your audience with a sales pitch. This has nothing to do whether you…as in you personally, not as in you pretending to be Elon Musk…think the venture will be successful.
Indicate whether you think this venture is feasible. Don’t just respond yes or no. Explain why, or why not, you think it’ll work.
The inventions of the Industrial Revolution changed people’s lives in fundamental ways. Do you believe this venture will change lives and if you do, in what way and if you don’t, why not?
Pretend that you’re in this class and it’s 200 years in the future. Your instructor, who is a remarkably improved version of yours truly, asks you to describe Elon Musk, place him in context, and describe his significance.
Indicate something that you would like to see invented. This needs to be an innovation that will dramatically improve life on earth. Describe it, explain how it works, and predict how it will improve life.
click image to learn more
Apply the Hack Learning Formula
Students often feel lessons are not relevant.
Craft lessons where kids are challenged to apply what you’re teaching to their lives.
What you can do Tomorrow:
Brainstorm real world applications for tomorrow’s lesson
Break your students into 4 topics or problems and then challenge them to respond to provocative prompts
Have kids submit their work to Peergrade and then watch a virtual Socratic Seminar unfold before your eyes
Teaching relevance is the responsibility of every educator. Teaching relevance will empower you to embrace the question, “Why do we have to learn this?”
School must get all kids to comply. School must organize large quantities of children, manage them, sort them, quiet them and control them. For a lot of kids it may not be a big deal. For some, it’s like stealing their soul. — Anonymous
Some weighed in by raging against the machine:
😢helping my 9 yr old grandson w/ his hw. 2 teachers & a para in the clas. No one checks hw. No feedback. He said “Gram, this is so boring & stupid & no one cares about his!” Last night-synonyms antonyms 10 words. 2018 with 1960’s homework. We need to get back to the future!
One regular commenter in this Facebook group had this initial response:
No, you can’t. You can advocate, you can argue, and you can encourage him in a variety of ways. But you can’t change the school or the teachers–it’s not in your power. You can help him to find satisfaction in other ways/venues and maybe within the school or within certain classes. Teach him to hack his own way, eh?
After all of these incredible comments and suggestions, I kept coming back to the previous quote.
And I wonder, is this right? Is school change out of my control? Is it out of our control?
Or, is it possible that we have all the power, and we only have to choose to exercise it?
At the very least, one expert, New York Times bestselling author Jessica Lahey, believes that we need to keep showing the evidence of what’s best for kids to educators. Here’s what the author of Gift of Failure tweeted:
So sorry, Mark. I left a school yesterday with a teacher SERIOUSLY pissed at me for criticizing “teaching” methods that don’t actually teach. Stick to the evidence and keep speaking up for kids and their learning.
Talk about best practices: Create discussions on social channels and at your school about best practices. Ask, “How can we eliminate old school methods and replace them with progressive pedagogy that inspires student engagement?”
Share stories like this one: Share podcasts, blog posts, and Facebook statuses, in which parents and educators discuss their experiences about kids who hate school and what they’re doing about it.
Encourage participation: If a kid hates school, encourage her to join a club, go out for a sport, or try out for the play. The more kids participate in things related to school, the more likely they are to start enjoying it.
Be present: Talk to teachers, school leaders, and parents in your own school district–especially where you kids attend school–about making learning fun. Don’t let them tell you it’s not about the fun; that’s a load of crap and simply not true.
So, what’s my final take on all of this? I’ll continue to advocate for my son, and I’ll continue pushing his teachers–and all educators–to be the absolute best they can be.
With your help, I believe we can make a difference.
If you’ve taught a humanities class, you’ve probably recognized how frequently Adolf Hitler comes up. Unfortunately, many kid’s understanding of Hitler and Fascism doesn’t expand much past the Holocaust, and some students can’t spot a Fascist from across the room.
In fairness to kids, though, lots of adults also struggle with this, because, like students, they haven’t been exposed to the characteristics of a Fascist (see list below).
Scott Elliott teaches 9th Grade World History with me. Right before Christmas Break, we were yakking about how we could teach Fascism, our first unit in January, in a more engaging and impactful way.
Scott found a wonderful resource which formed the backbone of the assignment. The article is by Laurence W. Britt and is entitled Fascism Anyone.
The assignment we created challenged kids to rate WWII leaders on the 14 Characteristics Britt articulates and also to apply them to current leaders with authoritarian traits. Here’s a link to the Hyperdoc we posted on Google Classroom.
Britt’s list of 14 Fascist Characteristics
Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism
Disdain for the importance of human rights
Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause
The supremacy of the military/avid militarism
A controlled mass media
Obsession with national security. Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite
Religion and ruling elite tied together
Power of corporations protected
Power of labor suppressed or eliminated
Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts
Obsession with crime and punishment
Rampant cronyism and corruption
This turned into a solid activity in our World History class, but the lesson can be applied outside of the humanities.
Perhaps, there are misunderstandings about important concepts in other subjects. I can certainly think of examples in science.
Applying the Hack Learning model
Students freely use words like Fascist, Nazi, and Hitler with limited knowledge of these label’s broader meanings.
Expose kids to what Fascism is and then challenge them to apply it, and challenge them to apply agreed-upon standards to a set of contentious circumstances.
What you can do Tomorrow
If you teach a humanities course and Fascism is a topic, please steal our lesson and morph it to fit your needs.
If you teach a non-humanities class, take a controversial or misunderstood topic, expose students to some agreed-upon standards and then challenge them to apply that knowledge.
Please inspire your kids to pursue objective truth relentlessly. Assignments such as this will nurture this essential disposition!