Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Silliness Continued: a.k.a. The Internet is So Awful, I'm Just Gonna Have to Blog About It

Here's Todd Seal's full response to my previous post about the silliness with not being able to find anything useful on the Internet.

Not sure what bookstore you're going to, but I don't see any high-quality lessons, handouts, or audio/video resources there. I also think you're interpreting my words a bit literally when you suggest that I Google for "lesson plans for ________." That's not where I stop my search. It's rarely where I even begin my search.

When I'm asked to point out sites that relate to my subject area and to specific units I teach (in essence, to share that very grab bag you say the Internet was never promised as), there aren't such sites because I'm still just trolling the Internet/TV/discussions/movie theater/magazines/novels/comic books/etc. in that effort to find enough to mash together. But there's no set of sites where I always find reliable material.

As far as sites that are targeted at providing such things, there is a paucity of quality. Sure, the quality is out there in separate pieces, but it's up to the teacher to put it together. That's just like saying that anyone can build an atomic bomb: the pieces are out there, all you have to do is put it together.

Nothing does that for me and just about every places that tries does the job horribly -- not because it's necessarily impossible, but simply because they don't do it right.

1. I get most of my books online. But when I do go to the bookstore, my favorite by far is the Museum Book Store at the Baltimore Museum of Art. I don't know if you've ever heard of, but you might start there.

2. You 'troll' Internet TV discussions? Really? No wonder you can't find anything useful.

3. I'd suggest maybe Googling a few major museum websites. Or PBS? Or History Channel? Anything? I trust you'll find something worthwhile. Of course, there's some folks for whom there is no satisfying.

4. And yes. 'Putting things together': if you are a teacher, that's part of your job. Deal.


  1. I never said that I can't find anything useful on the Internet. I am saying that pre-packaged resources are poor. That seems to be exactly what you're saying, too.

    1. Most of the books in bookstores that I see are full of either obvious essay topics, meaningless activities, or simply comprehension questions. I'm talking about a lot of CFL units, Novel Unit guides, most textbook ancillary materials, and the like. Again, it's not that I'm unaware. It's that the resources are poorly designed.

    2. By "troll," I mean scavenge. And I used slashes between all of those items because I troll all of them, I don't visit Internet TV discussions (what would that be, anyhow?). What do you mean by that word that it would be such a horrible thing that I prowl around with my eyes always open to anything that could be used in class?

    3. PBS's site is generally very helpful. Specifically, Bill Moyers materials are put together by some good folk, though his materials are generally far more useful in social science classrooms. Frontline materials are OK, but again with the social science caveat.

    4. We agree there. I don't have to "deal" with that fact. I accept it wholeheartedly. I never meant to suggest otherwise. To use my own metaphor, I build educational atomic bombs as often as I can. See #2.

    I don't have a problem with the fact that I can't find ten sites. Unless you want me to tell you that,, and various other blogs (both edu and design) are on my list, I'll tell you that there are not sites that I can reliably go to to help me teach any specific thing.

    I'm also not sure where your hostility is coming from. You seem rather angry and insulted at my suggestion. I look around the Internet at resources designed for teachers and see that they are mostly low quality, those sites specifically aimed at teachers. I'm upset about that, not because it means more work for me, but because we can do better, create better resources.

    For some credibility about those educational atomic bombs, I throw this link your way:

  2. Down boys. Teachers have a lot of pride! Sometimes, a little too much...

    Oh my...wikipedia has a nice definition:

    "An Internet troll, or simply troll in Internet slang, is someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum or chat room, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion."

    I think that in order to understand Tom's argument, I need to know what he considers a "good lesson plan." From what I've been able to gather, such a written, published, universally and beyond-simply-effective lesson plan does not exist...this holy grail of lesson plans!

    In a way, I see being disappointed that there is no free, readily available teacher lesson plan resource as analogous to our students finding out that there isn't a website with free and easily copied essays for them to plagiarize.

    Oh, and:
    Symbol: Schindler's List - the girl with the red coat; Pirates of the Caribbean I - the idea of the "ship"
    Flashback and Foreshadowing - The Prestige (I show it with The Great Gatsby)
    Allusion - House, MD. - Episode with Moby Dick reference, about obsession
    Understatement - anything with Ben Stiller

  3. By Tom, did you mean Todd (me)?

    Definition of troll (since I'm using it as a verb, not a noun and I'm not using slang in this case) from Princeton's site (
    circulate, move around

    And c'mon. If I have a great way to introduce Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken," you should use that intro, too, if you like. I don't see the two as analogous at all. But, again, that's really not what I'm saying anyhow. I'm not upset over the fact that most sites dedicated to such things are garbage. I'm just pointing out that that's the case. The holy grail you suggest, Ms. Chow, that's my point and so I can't come up with a list of ten sites because I don't go to any specific places to find what I need; I go everywhere.

    I don't think Shelly got that from what I wrote.

    Really, I think my argument has been misread. Do you think my response unwarranted? I'm trying my best to keep an even keel here, actually. I just want to make sure I'm clear and that I'm involved in a discussion about my ideas so they aren't taken out of context or misconstrued.

    And about the video clips I listed, short pieces are really key. It'd be a pretty bad use of time to show all of Schindler's List just to get the symbol out of it, but not a bad use of time to show a 2-minute clip that makes the same point. The idea is to get a concept across quickly. I appreciate your suggestions and will look into pulling small segments from those. Zoolander probably has a few clips waiting for me. If you have others, post 'em!

  4. Great response. Piecing together parts that serve the goal is something we also did when those of us who first started teaching did not have computers and used mimeograph copiers/textbooks. Now you have more to choose from (and yes, to wade through) but it still requires imagination and critical thought to craft a great assignment. Nothing new here except especially in science great simulations, information, and data that kids can use to develop conclusions/statements.

  5. Ooops! Yes, Todd. Sorry about that. And, it was "down boyS," directed to Shelly as well.

    Trolling is a verb: You can check out the wikipedia entry, for other words that might be interpreted differently, by those of us who are more familiar with internet-speak. Just be aware of how many of us read it, especially given the context.

    Thanks, but your perfectly good introduction could be great for your students, but I would need to take the general idea and modify it to accommodate mine. I "should" not and could not take that intro, word for word, just like we can't take lessons straight off the net/curriculum book. Just as a student might get an idea from an online essay or resource, but needs to write their essay on their own.

    I think we all see eye-to-eye on the synthesis of materials and curriculum development. We're just having an argument about finding "it" (whether it be the holy grail itself, or the top ten spots where various holy grails are deposited) on a website (or several). Shelly says it is, you say it isn't, and Louise and I say something in-between.

    I think we're stuck defending ourselves too much in these comments, instead of being productive.

    I wouldn't show all of "Schindler's List" either! The girl in red only appears twice, so those two clips can be extracted and edited, back to back, to show the re-occurrence of the symbol. Symbolism under 2 minutes is a bit tough. And sorry, I was thinking Ben STEIN, as understatement! Ben Stiller would be better for overstatement. Dodgeball...if you can dodge a ___, you can dodge a ball. :)

  6. Yeah, I know about the use of troll, I'm familiar with it too, and probably should have picked a different word given this context, but that wasn't where my head was at that time. Suffice it to say that I look everywhere and bring in everything as often as I can.

    I still say that you might find yourself looking at an introduction that works perfectly well for you and your students. How do you know that it doesn't fit? That does happen from time to time. Sure, not as often as things need to be modified, but I don't call that plagiarism and am happy when it happens. I don't consider myself a hack when I find something that hits the mark and don't change a single thing about it. I always make things mine just by the way I deliver it.

    Fair enough. This has been productive for me and these are exactly the kinds of sites that go on my list of ten (if I had such a list) because these are the things that let me do what I do better than I did it yesterday. But these aren't the kinds of sites that most people think of when they think "sites that are good for my class."

    Good one. Clear Eyes commercial, that would do it. And certainly, some of the terms I listed are tough to get that quickly. But I bet some cheesy commercial about a 9/11 commemorative plate will have a truckload of symbolism. Just occurred to me...


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