Monthly Archives: May 2017

Sequencing DNA in High School Science Classes

Back in the early 1980s, while living in my hometown of Madison, Wisconsin, I fell in with a group doctoral candidates in the genetics department of the University. I was and remain no genius when it comes to science At that time, the lab in which these scholars worked, under the direction of a man named Fred Blattner, was on the cutting edge of genetic research. So perhaps only initiates into that world really understood what was going on in the Blattner Lab, as it was known.

The old friend who introduced me to this circle, Tim Durfee, remains a close friend of mine. So I was delighted this week when he sent me a PDF from the Genome Web on a new technology, developed at Columbia University, to bring what was once the arcane science of DNA sequencing into middle school and high school classrooms. Tim will develop the analytical software for this endeavor, and he is clearly excited about it.

For this is, in fact, exciting: bringing real-world scientific inquiry into the high school classroom can only be a good thing. If this interests you, you may want to have a look at this PDF: PlayDNA Works on Bringing DNA Sequencing, Big Data Analysis to Secondary Schools.

Rotten Reviews: Moses and Monotheism

“The book is poorly written, full of repetitions, replete with borrowings from unbelievers, and spoiled by the author’s atheistic bias and his flimsy psychoanalytic borrowings.”

Catholic World

Excerpted from: Barnard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.

Patrician (n./adj.)

Just below this post, you’ll find a context clues worksheet on the noun and adjective plebeian. Here is a context clues worksheet on the noun and adjective patrician to accompany it. Once again, I’ve combined two parts of speech in this worksheet, again because they are the same word with the same basic meanings. Maybe the two parts of speech require separate worksheet, but I haven’t found that to be the case so far in using this. This worksheet might present teachers with an opportunity to help students gain an understanding of basic English usage.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Plebeian (n./adj.)

This context clues worksheet on the noun and adjective plebeian might take your students part of the way to understanding social class. I’ve set it up as both a noun and an adjective because the words are the same, and because they mean the same thing. Perhaps these two words in their two parts of speech require separate worksheets, but so far I haven’t thought so. If nothing else, you could use this to assist students in developing their own understanding of how the parts of speech function in sentences.

The next context clues worksheet I post will be patrician to complement this worksheet.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Monsoon (n.)

If your global studies curriculum includes a unit on the Indus River Valley, or the Indian subcontinent in general, here is a context clues worksheet on the noun monsoon that you might find useful.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

A Writer Checks Out Betsy DeVos’ Quack Brain Training Center

(Here’s more essential reporting from Diane Ravitch’s Blog on Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. You know, as a fan of cheap comedy, I loved the Dumb and Dumber movies; that doesn’t mean, however, that I think they should inform federal education policy.)

Diane Ravitch's blog

When Betsy DeVos became Secretary, she left the board of Neurocore but did not give up her multimillion dollar financial investment. Ulrich Boseris, a journalist, signed up for Neurocore services in Palm Beach, Florida.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2017/05/26/betsy-devos-neurocore/?wpisrc=nl_rainbow&wpmm=1

He describes what happened to him, then concludes:

SO WHAT DOES IT SAY that our education secretary is backing Neurocore?

For one, it seems that feeble science doesn’t bother DeVos. The budget document released by her department on Tuesday emphasizes that education decisions should be informed by “reliable data, strong research, and rigorous evaluations.” But like her boss, President Trump, DeVos apparently isn’t one to let evidence get in the way of what she wants to do. A recent study of school vouchers by DeVos’s agency showed that one program dragged down math scores by as much as seven points. Still, DeVos champions voucher programs, dismissing her opponents this past week as “flat-earthers.”

We don’t…

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George Orwell on Commercial Speech

“Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket.”

George Orwell

Excerpted from: Winokur, Jon, ed. The Portable Curmudgeon. New York: Plume, 1992.