I disssssss-like crakin’ cold Tuesdays!


One second. Hold on…

Something first, before the emergency… Let’s try a little template action on “Mr. PantyBomber SquarePants,” that totally weak  dude who tried to bring down a plane over poor old Tiny-Tim Detroit on Christmas day. Arrrggghhhhh! As if Detroit didn’t have enough problems with General Motors!

Let’s run a class discussion about that fool and the way the press handled the story using our famed template (below). Remember, we live our lives swimming in media, and “if man were a fish, the last thing he would discover would be water.” So, with that in mind…. Then, in a bit, when we have a moment, we’ll get back to our class room EMERGENCY!!!

Here it is again: Mr. Template!

1.  Research. First you  must do your research in order to understand any medium or event. Today, in this class, we can skip the research because we know a lot about our subject:  Mr. PantyBomber SquarePants.

And this…

2.  Description. Once we’ve completed our research — and maybe while it is still in progress,  we can describe the subject and the substance of our media inquiry.

3.  Analysis. Here, in this phase, we want to examine the information that we have collected through our research and in our description. It is important to work methodically, to separate information and data into its parts, so they may be arranged, rearranged and considered. As well, we should then think of other similar instances we know about that we can use for comparison. Here is the key to critical thinking: compare and contrast. We must think critically about relationships between the events we are considering and other events that we already know about. This sort of comparison (SAT word: “juxtaposition,” meaning “placed side by side often for comparison,” source wordnet on ww.wordnik.com) is a way to gain perspective, which leads us to the next element of our template: interpretation.

4.  Interpretation. The idea here is to think critically about the things you’ve described.  In some cases analysis can take the place of interpretation; and in other cases interpretation can come about as a result of analysis. You may remember that earlier in the semester we described interpretation as explaining what happened; whereas we described analysis as why something happened. When you engage in analysis, you are considering information for yourself. When you engage in interpretation, you are preparing to present your efforts to others.

5.  Evaluation. It may be the case that any one of these elements — analysis, interpretation, evaluation — can be used interchangeably or grouped together for added synergy (SAT word: “synergy,” meaning “The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.” source: American Heritage Dictionary). However, when we talk about evaluation, we might want to think about summarizing our ideas, to consider our conclusion, and make a determination about how the media operates, how it treated the subject at hand. And why. In this case we want to end our work by evaluating why the “Mr. PantyBomber SquarePants” story reminded us about why our nation is at war.

And now… at last… the EMERGENY!!!

Two very good students brought to my attention the problem of finding and contacting sources for their weBLAB. Here’s the way to get in touch with contributors outside your group, the school, etc. Here’s how to find  and contact an expert:

1. Google a news article on your subject. Look at the sources they have quoted. The New York Times is always good for this: http://www.nytimes.com. Or Google. Let’s try a couple of examples, topic by topic.

a. Droids in combat. Machines fighting wars. Google search terms: machines and drones replace soldiers. Result: http://singularityhub.com/2009/06/01/war-20-rise-of-the-robots/

In this and the example below, you will find a strategy to follow. Try this: Search for people named in the article and who commented for the writer. Search for names of their organizations, or any organization mentioned in the article. Next, Google the organization and get their email. Then, email the organizations, explaining that you are working on a school project, that you need answers quickly, and that you will cite them correctly. Then, politely ask them a question on your topic. Here are some efforts by me on topics we are working on in our weBLABs.

b. Legalization of drugs. NY Times search terms: Legal pot. Result: http://bit.ly/81FIWV

c. Cheating in baseball. Steroids. NY Times search terms: baseball steroids. Result: http://bit.ly/4yjnj8

d. Prejudice in sports. Google search terms: Prejudice in sports. Result:http://www.h-net.org/announce/show.cgi?ID=134133source right in the story, with email!

e. Erosion of privacy and individuality. Google search terms: Erosion of privacy and individuality Result: http://bit.ly/4o9p1Klong list of sources

f. Controlling the cost of health care. NY Times search terms: health care cost Result: http://bit.ly/7HYFbA

g. Sexting. NY Times search terms: sexting Result:http//bit.ly/4NYYeJ n

h. The future of schools, education. NY Times search terms: future education Results: http://bit.ly/8Fn89c lots of sources!


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