Celebs Gettin’ Schooled by 8-to-12 Year Old “Grammar Cops”

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Red Balloon is a private school in Brazil designed to help Portuguese and Spanish-speaking children become fluent in English.  The faculty came up with an innovative idea to engage kids AND help them learn. They encouraged the children to follow their favorite celebrities on Twitter and then tweet them back,  correcting their often egregious spelling errors.

Here are a few of the best recent Celebrity Shamings:

1.  Rihanna

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2.  Daniel Radcliffe

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A Shakespearean Mash Up

This summer the Los Angeles based Troubadour Theater Company is reprising its role as masters of the Shakespearean mash up. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you A Midsummer Saturday Night’s Fever Dream.

You may have guessed it, though you might not believe it: one theater company has poured all the funk, bellbottoms, and embarrassing dance moves of 70s disco into the world’s most timeless romantic comedy ever to be written in iambic pentameter. But lest you think this is a joke, you should know that the Troubies (as they’re affectionately known round these parts) are old hands at the genre. After all, these are the folks who brought you…

OthE.L.O., Fleetwood Macbeth, As U2 Like It, and every actor’s dream Hamlet, the Artist Formerly Known as Prince of Denmark

                      

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A Class on the Art of the Final Farewell

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(George Eastman‘s (co-founder of Eastman-Kodak) suicide note. Eastman shot himself in the heart after suffering from chronic spinal pain which left him partially disabled.)

When someone makes the decision to take their own life, often the first thing many people want to know is whether they left a suicide note. Some people, like Eastman, leave just a few words the living are left to ponder; others leave long, detailed letters of regret, pain, and loss. Whatever the method, there is no denying that the final, written words of anyone who has made this decision are compelling.

Taking a class on the composition of suicide notes though…well, that’s definitely new. But philosophy professor Simon Critchley of New York’s the New School  believes there is much to be learned, artistically and rhetorically, from suicide notes. He recently hosted a course called the  “Suicide Note Writing Workshop.” One of several classes offered in month-long series of programs called “The School of Death,” Critchley came up with the idea after hearing about a program called “The School of Life” in London.  Critchley (my kind of guy) called it ” “a particularly nauseating philosophy of self-help.”

Critchley realizes it is a dark subject and also a “way of mocking creative-writing workshops.”  But, in the workshop’s defense, the professor explained to The New York Times,  “We’re not mocking suicide. We’re doing this as a way to understand it. And why not be a little insensitive? People are terrified in talking about death.”

Fifteen students signed up for the workshop which looks closely at suicide ethics from antiquity to present-day. Suicide notes themselves, Critchley says, are a relatively recent innovation. “In antiquity, there was no need to leave a note,” he said. “It would have been obvious why you killed yourself.”

Notes examined include those left by  Adolph Hitler,Virgina Woolf, Kurt Cobain. After analyzing a variety of suicide notes, from both the infamous and “ordinary” people, the class was asked to write their own last words. They were given just fifteen minutes to do so and the goodbyes had to be contained to a 4″ x 6″ index card. One woman wrote this for her children: “When you inevitably discover those things I kept secret, let these not diminish the reality nor the magnitude of my love for you.”

It is an interesting way to think about communication, especially since these last words, when not a classroom exercise, come from people who largely failed at communicating.


Top Ten Totally Embarrassing Teachers

Your education is in their hands… their totally shameless hands. Meet ten teachers who definitely had the last laugh. At you. In the teachers’ lounge. With all their friends.

1. This teacher who totally went there

2. This teacher who just shattered your dreams

3. This Chemistry teacher who refuses to give Gaga the artistic respect she deserves

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Social Media and the Classroom: How to Use Vine

Social media is already transforming classrooms. If you teach, there’s a good chance you’ve used Twitter, Facebook, and even Pinterest to draw your students’ attention to their work in exciting new ways. But now there’s a new app on the scene: Vine. Luckily the blog at OnlineUniversities.com was on hand to help us all become a little more familiar with this new social forum and figure out how to implement it in our ever evolving classrooms. Take a look and let us know what you think!

What is Vine?

Vine, a mobile app created by Twitter, allows users to create and share short video clips. Like Twitter, brevity is valued and video clips can’t exceed six seconds in length, so users have to be quick about getting their point across. Vine is a pretty new addition to the social media canon. The service was founded in June of 2012, but just launched to the public in January of 2013 as a free app on the iPhone and iPod Touch. In this time, Vine has seen amazing growth, with users tweeting an average of 2,300 Vine videos every hour. Below is an example of the creativity one can bring to the app.

Why Vine is Special

Just like Twitter, Vine imposes limitations on how much content users can generate. While this might seem constricting at first, if Twitter has proven anything it’s that it’s easy to say a lot with very little. Limitations, in this way, aren’t always a bad thing. In fact, the constraints may actually force users to get to the point more quickly and to be more creative and innovative about how they present their content.

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Like Free Stuff? Like Science? Here You Go!

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One of the most exciting things to happen to knowledge is the increasing amount of free information, available to anyone, for any reason.  A recent entry into this new market comes from PhysicsDatabase.com.

There are over 150 titles available for free download, covering a range of science-related topics for students, professionals, and amateurs as well.  Here are just three of those selections. Find the entire list here! 

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Happy 87th Birthday, Harper Lee!

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Last night, I found my sixteen-year-old daughter in bed  a full hour early. In her hands was Harper Lee‘s classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird. “I want to see what is happening with Scout. I’m worried about her,” she explained.

My daughter, like millions of other readers, has become enthralled by the coming-of-age story of Scout Finch as she navigates the racially-charged world of Alabama in the 1930s.

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Yesterday, April 28, 2013, marked the 87th birthday of Harper Lee, the novel’s author. To Kill a Mockingbird was immediately popular and has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide. It was an instant critical success as well, winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1961. In 2008, London’s The Telegraph named To Kill a Mockingbird “the greatest novel of all time.”

The novel, Lee’s only published work, may not have ever been.  She was struggling to make ends meet in New York, working as a ticket agent for Eastern Airlines. While in the city, she became friends with the composer and lyricist Michael Brown and his wife, Joy. The three became very close. In December, the Brown’s gave Lee an astonishing gift: a years’ salary with a note that read, “You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas.” Within a year, Lee had completed the first draft of  Mockingbird. 

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Hot on the heels of Lee’s Pulitzer was the film being made of her work. The movie was released in 1962 starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch. To Kill a Mockingbird won three Oscars and was nominated for five more. In 2003, AFI named Atticus Finch the greatest movie hero of the 20th century.

Want more? How about some trivia?!

Five Quotes from To Kill a Mockingbird

  1. Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I’d have the facts.
  2. I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.
  3. Before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself.
  4. Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.
  5. You really never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.

Seven Quotes: On Reading & Writing

  1. More than a simple matter of putting down words, writing is a process of self-discipline you must learn before you can call yourself a writer. There are people who write, but I think they’re quite different from people who must write.
  2. There’s no substitute for the love of language, for the beauty of an English sentence. There’s no substitute for struggling, if a struggle is needed, to make an English sentence as beautiful as it should be.
  3. I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career, that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.
  4. Any writer worth his salt writes to please himself…It’s a self-exploratory operation that is endless. An exorcism of not necessarily his demon, but of his divine discontent.
  5. It was like being hit over the head and knocked cold. I didn’t expect the book to sell in the first place. I was hoping for a quick and merciful death at the hands of reviewers but at the same time I sort of hoped that maybe someone would like it enough to give me encouragement. Public encouragement. I hoped for a little, as I said, but I got rather a whole lot, and in some ways this was just about as frightening as the quick, merciful death I’d expected.
  6. Now, 75 years later in an abundant society where people have laptops, cell phones, iPods, and minds like empty rooms, I still plod along with books. Instant information is not for me. I prefer to search library stacks because when I work to learn something, I remember it.
  7. You must come to terms with yourself about your writing. You must not write ‘for’ something; you must not write with definite hopes of reward. (Source).

Still want more?? Test your knowledge of Harper Lee or her classic novel!  Take our fun, interactive quizzes!

To Kill a Mockingbird Quiz 

Harper Lee Quiz


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