The Keys to the Engaged Essay: Sharing and Caring (E-Prime version)

Read in regular English (sqrt(E)) right here.

Papers. Essays. Research Papers. Compositions. These act as an important part of any school education, but they lack something. Students almost unanimously hate essays, find them hard to work on and finish, and struggle to take them seriously except for the fact that they attach themselves to a large part of the student’s grade. The missing links here present themselves as sharing and caring.

The current essay-writing system looks like this: 1) Teacher assigns essay. 2) Student writes essay. 3) Teacher grades/comments on essay. And then what? You’re given an essay back with, let’s say, a “B-” on it. What do you do? Keep it in a folder? Frame it on your wall? Burn it? (Sometimes you find steps 6 and 7 which look like “Student revises essay” and “Teacher re-grades/re-comments on essay” respectively, but that doesn’t really change anything.) Because of this lack of completion of the essay-writing process, motivation to write a good essay solely depends on the reward/punishment feedback system of grades which, let me tell you, breaks down under a surprisingly small amount of intellectual pressure.

If we, taking more than a few pages from the Agile Learning process’ book, make the essay have inherent value it turns from an excuse for someone to either castigate you or pat you on the back into something much more powerful. Let’s say we implement a new system. Here’s how it works: 1) Teacher assigns essay. 2) Student writes essay. 3) Student and teacher work together to make the essay ready so that 4) Teacher and/or student shares essay in a relevant online community or another place where it would have value or use for others. Using this method, every essay-writer becomes accountable to other humans who value what the essay-writer has to say. The motivation problem becomes addressed, if not solved, and the system fosters the idea that children and teenagers can, and should, contribute in real ways to the larger community, an idea that conventional schools entirely disregard and even deny.

As an add-on to this system, students should write about things that they take a genuine interest in. The reader can hear the tone of the writer through the writing and it affects how much the reader engages while reading. The reader will enjoy a piece of writing as much as the writer enjoyed writing it. A good essay never comes from apathy. It stems from enthusiasm for the subject at hand. Students must care about what they write about for anything valuable to unfold.

Interested students writing and sharing useful pieces that have intrinsic value will create the best work possible and will learn the most.

The Keys to the Engaged Essay: Sharing and Caring

Read in E-Prime right here.

Papers. Essays. Research Papers. Compositions. These are an important part of any school education, but there is something missing here. Essays are almost unanimously hated by students, hard to work on and finish, and hard to take seriously except for the fact that they are attached to a large part of the student’s grade. The missing links here are sharing and caring.

The current essay-writing system looks like this: 1) Teacher assigns essay. 2) Student writes essay. 3) Teacher grades/comments on essay. And then what? You’re given an essay back with, let’s say, a “B-” on it. What do you do? Keep it in a folder? Frame it on your wall? Burn it? (To be fair, sometimes there are steps 6 and 7 which are respectively “Student revises essay” and “Teacher re-grades/re-comments on essay” but that doesn’t really change anything.) Because of this lack of completion of the essay-writing process, motivation to write a good essay is solely dependent on the reward/punishment feedback system of grades which, let me tell you, breaks down under a surprisingly small amount of intellectual pressure.

If we, taking more than a few pages from the Agile Learning process’ book, make the essay have inherent value it turns from an excuse for someone to either castigate you or pat you on the back into something much more powerful. Let’s say we implement a new system. Here’s how it works: 1) Teacher assigns essay. 2) Student writes essay. 3) Student and teacher work together to make the essay ready so that 4) Teacher and/or student shares essay in a relevant online community or another place where it would be of value or of use to others. Using this method, every essay-writer becomes accountable to other humans who value what the essay-writer has to say. The motivation problem is addressed, if not solved, and the system fosters the idea that children and teenagers can, and should, contribute in real ways to the larger community which is an idea that conventional schools entirely disregard and even deny.

As an add-on to this system, students should be writing about things that they are genuinely interested in. The tone of the writer can be heard through the writing and it affects how much the reader is engaged while reading. The reader will enjoy a piece of writing as much as the writer enjoyed writing it. A good essay never comes from apathy. It stems from enthusiasm for the subject at hand. Students must care about what they are writing about for anything valuable to unfold.

Interested students writing and sharing useful pieces that have intrinsic value will create the best work possible and will learn the most.

The Ultimate Altimeter

Last day of Butthouse!

OK. I signed up for an online Secret Santa thing with redditgifts, and my giftee was into RC planes and such. I made this Altimeter for him, and published how I made it. Check out the Instructable: http://tinyurl.com/UAInstructable

Also, you can vote for my post (top right corner of the post) if you think it is worthy. If I win we get free stuff!

Bye.

3D Printed Gear Cubes Flashback/Update

Remember when I posted this?

Photo Sep 26, 6 32 35 PMA gear-y cube (it doesn’t turn yet, but it will!)

I just returned to a similar design and decided to print that! The designer of this made a new version in which the pins are better designed for many different printers so they work better for everyone. Here is a video of the new and improved version:

Open Source: Sketchy but Awesome

First some definitions:

sketchy, adj., not thorough or detailed.

Most people take sketchy to describe, for example, a bad neighborhood — dark, shady, dangerous, etc. When I use the word “sketchy” I use it as its literal meaning: not thorough or detailed; unpolished; rough, etc. For example, this is sketchy:

The iPhone -5(A very early iPhone prototype)

This is not:

 

The iPhone 5(The iPhone 5)

So, speaking of phones, I made my own cell phone! Here is a picture:

cf81f411-3b07-4558-8e32-ccae7e0f7c77(It doesn’t have a case yet, but it’s coming!)

I saw this project in an issue of MAKE Magazine, and decided to do it. I needed a cheap, basic phone anyway for my visits to NYC. With the help of this guide, and a forum that goes along with it, I now have a fully functioning cell phone (it can do texts and calls, and store contacts–that’s about it).

It is ALL open source as well, so I can go into the code of the phone, and tweak anything I want. I’ve already added some new features such as a brightness indicator, and I’ve started on being able to save and view old text messages. While building it I learned that it is possible to solder surface mount components by hand (they are usually done with a machine and a large oven all at once). I had some challenges with soldering the speaker though, since it is a fragile part, and it was awkward to solder.

This phone is SUPER sketchy. It looks very home made at the moment, with all its parts out in the open, and it is not as reliable as a cell phone you could buy. In spite of this, it is still awesome. I can modify anything about the phone that bugs me and customize it to my liking!

The magpi is here!

Hello people!

The magpi is here! The Micro Arduino Gaming Platform Interface (magpi) has been released to Instructables, and the rest of the internet! My dad and I have been working on it for a while now – coding games, printing cases, designing hardware, etc. – and we wanted to get it out there!

You can see the instructable here: http://tinyurl.com/lu65w3r

If you’d like to take the time, you can vote for us in the Arduino contest (“Vote” button in the upper right hand corner). You will have to make an account. If we win we get free stuff!

Thanks!

MFS Gameteam Charges Ahead

Students at Manhattan Free School, a Free School in Manhattan, plan to create an arcade video game for the school.

Inspired by Killer Queen Arcade, a multiplayer arcade game featured at the Museum of the Moving Image, a parent at the school, Geva Patz, asked some of the students if they would like to make their own game, and was met by an uproarious enthusiasm.

On a Tuesday, the four people making the game sit in a chilly room. This is the first meeting of the group dubbed the “Gameteam.” They begin to throw out ideas and get a shape of what the game will be. One student takes notes. The room is buzzing with energy and by the end of 30 minutes, the Gameteam has pretty much designed the entire game. It will be an arcade game wit platforms. Four to six players will participate on two teams, controlling either aliens or astronauts. With goals to destroy the opponent’s base, kill the opposing team all at once, or capture a central Beacon, each team will embark on an epic journey to conquer a little bit more of the galaxy.

The group is powering ahead, already having done 85% of the artwork and 95% of the game design. Who knows what lies ahead in one school’s quest for a homemade arcade game.

Follow along with this story to hear more exciting updates from the MFS Gameteam.