So I have been thinking about technology … and invisible gorillas

At some point in this post I wanted you to watch a video demonstrations called simply, “The Monkey Business Illusion.” But instead of risking you scrolling down, playing right away, and missing whatever else I’ve written between here and there, let’s get the video out of the way now. But come back and read what I have written after the video plays.

One of my students(Kevin C.) brought “The Monkey Business Illusion” video to my attention during a discussion of the materialist philosopher, Democritus. How did we get to talking about gorillas? I’m not certain, but that we were talking about how our perceptions of nature – not just the little things, but the big things too – can be tricked. Until our attention is focused on a particular change or transformation, we do not see it occurring. If we are only looking for the material causes in nature, we will find them, but our perceptions will be limited by our attention span. Just as in the video, we miss not only the altering of little details, but huge events are occurring and we simply miss them – yet they are right there, like the invisible gorilla – mocking us when we discover our foolishness in not noticing changes the first time around.

Now, at almost the same time I was typing up a couple creative writing ideas on the topic of technology when another student(Cassandra O.) came to to tell me about her Dad and an email “faux pas“. Her dad had almost sent an email without spell-checking it and to his chagrin discovered he came close to sending out a message to his staff in which he had a “u” where he should have had “you”. We both agreed that in the “old days” before email/texting, a handwritten or typewritten memo would have never contained such a trivial but monumentally embarrassing typo. But the “u” was there, he had typed it and it bothered him when he saw it – like the invisible gorilla – mocking him.

So, here are the topics I have been thinking about when I put these ideas into collision:

  1. Read and write a response to The Chimney Sweeper
  2. Write a response to any other prompt I have on technology

Whatever topic you write about please take some time to address the following question as well: Is technology making us more perceptive of the world around us or is it just getting in the way of seeing the things that matter most?

Piano Mirror Illusion by Shigeo Fukuda
Piano Mirror Illusion by Shigeo Fukuda

2010 English 10 Final Exam

Consider the “Equality–Pain and Pride” focus questions.

He drew a circle that shut me out —
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in.
– Edwin Markham

We want to be judged by who we are–our words and actions–not by mere appearances or social standing. Yet our world is filled with inequalities. In this course, students examined the issues of equality and rights recognizing that, in our society, we need to balance personal needs with responsibilities and demands required of citizens. There is both pain and pride in being human.

Make connections in your discussion to a book(s) you have read this term, personal experiences, and/or current world events.

What ideas(s) does the author of your chosen text(s) reveal to you about the need to balance personal needs with responsibilities and demands required of citizens?

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Video Advertisement Group Project

“Rocks are metaphors.” – D. Sader

“They are just piles of rocks.” – K. Lumayko

In ELA 10 we have been discussing gender inequality: particularly as inequalities are portrayed in advertisements.

We think it would be interesting to create our own TV advertisements. So here is what we are going to do:

  • write a script and storyboard for a 30 second TV commercial (2 days)
  • reinforce gender stereotypes, take advantage of bias to sell the product
  • use iMovie and export to youtube and embed in a post (3-5 days)
  • oh, the product is 500g of parking lot gravel

I have 5 digital video cameras, so a maximum of five groups makes sense.

Let me know what groups you’ve made in a comment below.

Post a link to your script/storyboard for approval before you begin filming.

Gender role reinforcement in children’s toys

I have three boys aged 9, 7, and 4. It should be no surprise that we all like Star Wars. Well, we were all watching another episode of “Clone Wars” last week when all three of us reacted to a couple of toy commercials.

The first commercial we reacted to was for a Mommy Look I Can Swim Doll. The image of a 3-6 year old girl tossing a lifelike baby doll into the pool was horrifying to me. Doesn’t the product description at Amazon sound horrifying to you?

For ideal balance, the manufacturer recommends holding the doll underwater until all the air bubbles disappear through the holes in her back.

My boys and I struggled to make sense of why girls would want a swimming baby doll. Perhaps you can help abate my fears.

The second ad we reacted to was for a Barbie Totally Real House, complete with a toilet with “flush sounds” and a mechanical spinning washer and dryer. The commercial actually featured a barbie sitting on the toilet with a flush sound. The boys, and I, thought that was “totally” gross.

I asked the 4 year-old if Santa should bring him a Barbie for Christmas to which he replied, “Boys don’t play with dolls, Daddy.”

My boys didn’t detect the irony of the dozens of Star Wars Action Figures littering the living room floor.

At any rate, my boys are learning, defining, reinforcing gender roles from the advertisements on TV. Sigh.

What do boys learn about girls from watching the advertising aimed at girls? What are the girls learning about boys from products advertised to boys?

Your Task:

Consider the gender definitions portrayed in advertising directed at children. Pay particular attention to gender role reinforcement in children’s toys. Write a blog post in which you critically analyze 3-5 examples of toys (and their ads) directed at young children.

At the same time, discuss the “Gender Inequality in Children’s Toys/Ads” issue with your classmates in the STJ Forums.

Hint: Pay particular attention to your course focus questions as they relate to gender-based inequality.

[rsslist:http://forum.stjschool.org/rss.php?tid=445]

Poetry Contest for Grades 9 and 10

A while back I received the following invitation:

A Panacea of Poetry East Central is having a poetry contest! It will be positively poetic and panoptic!

The first phase we undertook in Grades 9 and 10 was to explore Ladders to the Dark. The first poem was published, April 21, 2009. And today 38 students have written over 350 poems, fragments, and musings.

Links to all published poems can be found at our Queneau blog, aka Random Poetry, in the comments section following each exercise.

Now, here’s what I would like to see from students, today:

  1. Write a post that contains links to three of your best poems and/or links to three of the best poems written by your classmates
  2. Submit a comment below with a link to that post.
  3. Return to this blog later today to find out who I’ve seleted to advance to the next phase

Today, three poems in Grade 9 and three poems from Grade 10 will be entered in the next phase of the contest.

Winners(and prizes???) of A Panacea of Poetry will be announced June 15, 2009.

Good luck.

UPDATE: 3:30PM May 6, 2009
The Finalists:
Grade 9
My Mind Is High
Ivory
In the Midst of the Fire
Grade 10
Unique
Reflection
Turning Back

English 10: Final Essay 2008

Choose one of the following:

  1. Write an essay based on literature you have studied in which the author examines Life Pressures. What idea(s) does the writer develop regarding Life Pressures?
  2. Write an essay based on literature you have studied in which the author examines Values. What idea(s) does the writer develop regarding Values?
  3. Write an essay based on literature you have studied in which the author examines Consequences. What idea(s) does the writer develop regarding Consequences?
  4. Write an essay based on literature you have studied in which the author examines Career Decisions. What idea(s) does the writer develop regarding Career Decisions?
  5. Write an essay based on literature you have studied in which the author examines Apathy versus Action. What idea(s) does the writer develop regarding Apathy versus Action?

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