Content Curation Creation?

Curation of content can be a confusing and difficult process.

Determining why you are curating is easily the hardest part of the process. Considering this is a blog more skewed towards fellow educators here are some, truly random sources and sites that I use to figure to learn new stuff, strategies, and lessons.

reddit.com: One of the most visited sites in the world, if you aren’t using this tremendous community then you are behind the times. There is literally a subreddit for anything. And I mean everything (seriously, make sure to turn off all NSFW content if you value your job). 1024px-reddit-svg

With that in mind, I can nerd out on any history or social studies topic there could possibly be. I also love science too and there are too many subreddits to list for that as well. In no particular order:

r/history, r/historyteachers, r/technology, r/futurology, r/teachers, r/todayilearned, r/askhistorians, r/askreddit, r/politics, r/documentaries just to name a few.

socialstudies.org: As the famous philosopher Notorious B.I.G. once said, “if you don’t know, now you know.”

Handy standards AND some free lesson ideas. What’s not to like? The paywall? Yeah, that’s a bummer, fair point.

sheg.standford.edu: Despite my anger with ‘Furd and their consistent ability to ruin an Oregon Duck football season and then go on to completely stink it up. Stanford actually does something well.

Full lesson downloads w/ a free account. Promotes student-led learning but has DI lessons as well.

voiceofwitness.org: As a PoC, (the non-AVID kind, but also the AVID kind). I love bringing in perspectives that are different from the typical textbook, WASPy viewpoints. Big focus on social justice (I’m a self-professed social justice rogue because party diversity is important) and human rights.

newvisions.org: US and Global History for daaaaaayyyyssssss. For me, a great starting point to adapt or create from.

newsela.com: Another popular one but has to be included for the simple fact that selectable leveled-reading articles from a ton of topics can adapt to ELL or below-level readers.

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Wikipedia.org: The bane of educators really isn’t so bad. All the information is cited (except when it isn’t) and that alone can be a great exercise for both teacher and student alike. Does this entry on the magic beans the guy on the corner just sold me seem legit? Let’s scroll to the bottom and find out.

Youtube.com: Commence the gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair. How could we (I) stoop so low as to think youtube could ever seriously be considered reliable and accurate content to show or use in a classroom?

Aside from all the random documentaries, news segments, and historical footage on the platform. There are some seriously entertaining and amazing content creators regarding all kinds of topics. And yes the memes are plentiful. But hey if my students can understand that Germany was repelled back by Russian forces at Stalingrad and eventually all the way to Berlin because of Tom and Jerry, then best believe I’m going to continue using that stuff. It’s gold, Jerry! (HIstory Buffs, Simple History, Crash Course, Kurzgesagt, 10-minute history, Extra Credits, John D. Ruddy for specific channels to check out)

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Books: Unfortunately, I can’t link to tangible objects in our 3D plane (yet), so I’ll just have to tell you about them. Howard Zinn’s People’s History of America and Empire are fun regardless of what you think on the viewpoint. Guns, Germs, and Steel is one of my all-timers. The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers is also endlessly fascinating and provides another great, non-racist-y explanation for European domination of the world. Literally could continue for paragraphs but if you’re reading this you probably have others you swear by.

 

dc_hh_itunesPodcasts: Hardcore History, single-handedly led me to develop a semesters-worth of content on The Great War. Seriously, I’m just waiting for the right moment/staff/administration to pitch it to. True Crime and the legal system are another area of mine that I can spend hours geeking out about so Serial, Last Podcast on the Left, Sword and Scale, and Criminal are morbid and gruesome but I’m totes into that.

And all this content gets filtered into this site, my google classroom, my slideshows, and my activities. Hopefully, you found something new or interesting to draw content from. If not well, hope you didn’t mind the 8-10 minutes it took to read all of this. Sorry, not sorry.

Truthiness, lies, damned lies, and statistics.

“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to put its pants on.” – Winston Churchill.

We are facing an epidemic. Never before have people been able to access the totality of human knowledge as easily as now. Not only is the access readily available but the sheer amount of information available is truly staggering. Yet, it appears that the shadow of ignorance has only grown whilst the light of truth has waned.

Heavy-handed metaphors aside, it is disheartening and at times, terrifying how just flat- out wrong, misinformed, and ignorant our fellow citizens can be. On a personal note, I deleted my facebook a month ago and it has been the most liberating experience. No longer am I constantly exposed to absolute cancer that is facebook comments. And that is not just solely due to people being jerks.

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As you can see people being jerks online isn’t anything new or novel. (Photo Credit: Penny Arcade)

It would be one thing if people were correct in their assertions but came across as snobbish or rude. Obviously, no one can be 100% correct all the time, mistakes happen but what happens in our online discourse and has seeped into our real life discourse is what is killing civility and our ability to see other perspectives.

That thing is Truthiness. Coined by current Late Night host Stephen Colbert, truthiness is something that feels true or seems to be true, regardless of whether it actually is.

This was already an issue well before the era of “fake news”, but this new era (#darkesttimeline) has only exacerbated this existing issue. Add in some tried and true logical fallacies (confirmation bias, sample size, etc.) and you’ve suddenly had, otherwise thoughtful, people believing that these images or stories are true.

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Like this picture of George W. Bush (to whom I must thank for the name of this blog) is seen holding a children’s book upside down. Regardless of your ideology and political beliefs/party. This should set off all kinds of alarm bells. But many gobbled up this photoshop and presented it as just another reason why W. was “too stupid” to be President.

The Trump photo is so outlandish I can’t even begin to express how frustrating it is to imagine anyone believing it was real. Yet, some did and it spread across email forwards and Facebook pages last year like wildfire. Finally, we have President Obama taking public transportation next to a sleeping commuter. I’m sure Secret Service was fine with the Head of State riding a busy train. Certainly, there couldn’t be any security threats to contend with. He rides the train just like you and me!

My students, our students are having just as hard of a time as our grandparents from discerning the real news stories and photos from the fake. Russian and former Eastern Bloc countries spend thousands of dollars and man-hours on spreading fake news. Their goal is simple, sow discord and further drive a wedge between Americans. As teachers of history, we have to recognize that propaganda and fake news aren’t new. The only thing that has changed is technology. If the Gutenberg was a smoothbore musket, then the internet is an AK-47. Faster firing, easier to use and in some parts of the world more than others: deadly.

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The Rohingya probably don’t appreciate the fake news spread about them on Facebook. (Photo Credit: Cbc.ca

What is to be done? Well, first we need to form a political party for workers to unite under and become the vanguard of the revolution! Sorry, Lenin was at the keyboard for a second. As educators, we must bring our own biases. We should recognize that first and foremost and inform our students that we, like them, aren’t infallible. Second and more importantly, we must give them the tools they need to spot fake stories and pictures.

FactCheck.org has a great checklist for students to consider especially regarding news stories. All educators should take make lessons for our students to determine if stories are real or fake. Is the source credible? Who wrote it? Is it sponsored-content? Are other outlets reporting it? These are all good questions to ask, but there is something more we need to do.

An often overlooked aspect for fakery is images and video. Without technical knowledge of photo and video editing, it becomes much harder to discern what was real and what is fake. Do some pixels appear out of focus? Is there blurring around edges? Do proportions look off? Lighting is a major issue and very tough to fake but if you don’t view it with a skeptical lens, you may gloss over it. Does the audio sound too good for the environment the video takes place? Are there any obvious cuts or edits to the audio? Is the big “gotcha” moment preceded by a jump cut or other edit? Why were they filming in the first place? Even for the less tech-capable among us, we should learn how to spot these issues, because if we cannot, how can we expect our students to?

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Students should know what this is, even if they won’t use one. (Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com)

Thankfully, history has so many journalistic lessons and activities that can help students learn what actual journalism entails and teach them the questions they should ask of their local, regional, and national reporting outlets.

Film-making can help students learn those technical skills but also let students’ interests take them to their destination. In global studies class, students can develop a video guide to traveling to a different country. This requires that they do research, learn customs, and speak with people that come from different backgrounds.

In history class, the members of the civil rights movement are still alive. What personal and emotional stories do they have to offer? Such rich personal histories are untapped, begging for an audience. The hardships and horrors of wars both old and new are waiting to be told to a new generation.

Civics classes can explore the nuances of local government and how it affects those more proportionally than many national and state policies. Why are certain rules and regulations in place? Who creates them? What recourse does the average person have to combat policies they feel are unjust? Are there policies at school that should be reconsidered? If so, how can that change be brought about?

Economics, a journalistic approach can be taken to explore popular consumer items among their peers. Why did “x product” become so popular? Was it just a fad? Who profited from its popularity? Has there been a product in the past that resembled this one? If so, what was its path to market and is it still around today?

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Lazy. Is what we are. (Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com)

Finally, we just have to stop being lazy. We have to put in the work to verify something is accurate. Yes, we don’t want to start questioning every news story or event like a tinfoil-wearing loony, we still must do our due diligence. Or we become part of the problem we’re seeking to solve.

So if you believe that Winston Churchill said, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to put its pants on.” then I have bad news for you: He didn’t.

Johnathan Swift said something similar around 200 years before Churchill was battling in the Gallipoli Campaign. Then in 1855, 19 years before Churchill entered the world, Charles Haddon Spurgeon a London preacher popularized it.

“You can’t believe everything you read on the internet.” – Abraham Lincoln