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Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming

Neil Gaiman tells us why books matter: When you watch TV or see a film, you are looking at things happening to other people. Prose fiction is something you build up from 26 letters and a handful of punctuation marks, and you, and you alone, using your imagination, create a world and people it and look out through other eyes. You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you…

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SAT essay section: Problems with grading, instruction, and prompts.

In my freshman writing courses I work hard to convince students that many of the strategies that helped them get by in high school simply won’t lead to college-level work. For instance, I actually read their drafts, ask probing questions about their goals, options, and strategic choices, and then expect their revisions to follow up on that feedback. I had high school English teachers who worked some drafting and revision…

A teacher’s troubling account of giving a 106-question standardized test to 11 year olds

All of that test-taking robs students of real learning time. This teacher reports that her students lost four class periods alone taking the GRADE. Even worse, her students are about to take another round of tests, the CDT’s, which are given on computers. Because the school’s classes are too large to fit in the computer lab, and there are so many classes that need to schedule testing, the lab won’t…

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Computer grading will destroy our schools (says a humanist whose appeal to the humanities will be ignored by technologists)

Sadly, the people who are spending (and receiving) the huge sums of money to support the dehumanization of essay-grading are not the ones who will be swayed by an appeal to the humanities. Once the use of automated essay grading becomes common knowledge, the implicit message will be hard to miss. For any self-aware, warm-blooded American teenager, the conclusion will be all but inescapable: Nobody cares what you have to…

Amish Newspapers Thrive in Digital Age

Mrs. Miller doesn’t read the entire newspaper. “Some people put in things that don’t interest me, like who is going to host church next time,” she said. She reads letters from former hometowns and from her older sister, 89-year-old Ada Coblentz, who writes for the Budget and recently noted she had a chest cold. Both papers like variety—and letters about interesting, if benign, events. Included on Die Botschaft’s recent Worth…

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6 Creative Uses of Sentence Diagramming

My father was a little distressed to learn that diagramming sentences was not a big part of my education. Learning Latin in high school was the best grammar education I ever got. After that, nothing about English (or, later, German and Old/Middle English) ever worried me. Most kids hated it. But for the kids who loved it, it made language into an orderly puzzle, complicated but solvable, where words clicked…

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A Beginner’s Guide to HTML & CSS

Filing this wonderful resource for the next time I introduce students to the subject. Before beginning our journey to learn HTML and CSS it is important to understand the differences between the two languages, their syntax, and some common terminology. As an overview, HTML is a hyper text markup language created to give content structure and meaning. CSS, also known as cascading style sheets, is a presentation language created to…