Tag Archives: Civil War

COMBAT DIARIES #5: WHAT HAS AMERICA DONE FOR ME?

Image courtesy of emptyglass / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of emptyglass / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This is a guest post by Dana Casey.

It has been so many years since I taught in a school where the Pledge of Allegiance is a normal part of the morning procedures that can’t even remember how long it has been. This year the Pledge was made a part of daily morning announcements at my current school. I do not have a first period class; nonetheless, when the Pledge came over the intercom, I stood with my hand over my heart facing the flag in my empty room and pledged along with Mr. K who leads the school. The flag in my room is one that I purchased, because, just like so many other things, my school does not supply flags for classrooms. I think my room may be the only room in the school graced with the stars and stripes.

One day Mr. K was late getting to the announcements and so he delivered them during second period. I was taken by surprise and was in the middle of doing the drill. I scrambled to prepare the students and to give them quick instructions on my classroom policy. I admonished, “Here is my policy on the Pledge. You don’t have to stand or say the Pledge, but you must respect the moment and sit quietly while others pledge.” Mr. K started the Pledge; I stood with my hand on my heart and said it along with him, and not one — not ONE — student stood up with me.

When the Pledge was done, I looked at my students in disbelief. I said to the class that I was ashamed. I could not believe that not one student had enough pride in America to stand and say the pledge, but the more I thought about it I was not really surprised.

I completely respect someone’s right not to stand for the Pledge if he feels it goes against his beliefs. The freedom not to do such a thing is an important part of American freedoms. Actually, way back in 1973 when I was 12 years old, I alone in my class refuse to stand in protest of the Vietnam War. One wise teacher challenged me in way that I never forgot. He said that though he respected my right to refuse, he wondered if I actually understood exactly what I was protesting and whether I was sure I was making appropriate protest in response. I never forgot what he said and, after giving it some thought, I once again joined my classmates in stating the pledge.

In 1996, decades later, I remembered that intelligent encounter with that teacher when I had a few students who wouldn’t stand. I presented them the same challenge. One young man replied, “What has America ever done for me?” The first response that I gave to him was John Kennedy’s famous quote “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” Then I told him that he should go visit many other countries of the world and he would realize that our poor are their middle class and their poor were always going to be poor unlike in America where a man like Ben Carson could go from dire poverty to being an extremely wealthy and nationally admired man. He would then discover what America had to offer him. His only response was to snort in disbelief.

My current group of students didn’t care at all; they didn’t even throw out a challenge like that young man from earlier in my career. They didn’t refuse to stand up, they just couldn’t be bothered. But it is even worse than that. The students that I teach have no American identity at all. In fact, for most of their school career they have been given a decidedly anti-American education. Common Core will continue that anti-American indoctrination nationally (as I will be further revealing in an upcoming article).

Many of my high school students can quote from Malcolm X, “We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock; Plymouth Rock landed on us.”, but they couldn’t give you a single quote from a single U.S. president, not even from Obama. Neither can they tell you when the Civil War, the Revolutionary War, or any other war took place, why it was fought, or who it was fought against. They cannot say what is in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. Most of them do not even know that the Emancipation Proclamation was over 151 years ago and think that it happened only a few generations ago. Most of them cannot tell you the reason for celebrating the 4th of July, Veteran’s’ Day, or Memorial Day. They have no pride in being American, because no one has ever taught them why America is an exceptional nation and what freedoms and opportunities America affords them.

Instead, my students have been specifically taught that America has done nothing but cheat them. One of my students from Honduras insisted that all white people have five bedroom homes with two car garages. I told him that I had nonesuch and lived just up the street in a three bedroom row house in a neighborhood with many of my students. He refused to believe me. My students also believe that minorities are a majority of the country (I know, it is oxymoronic). When asked to estimate the percentage of African-Americans in the country, the answers that I get are 45% to 90%! My students have told me that life for African-Americans in this country just as bad as it was at the beginning of the twentieth century. The national leaders of these minorities like Jackson and Sharpton and even the Clintons perpetuate these lies to stir up race hatred and keep us divided, while they line their own pockets with impunity.

America had better re-educate our children soon on why she is such an exceptional country. We must teach the real history of America, her failings and her successes. Currently, most urban students are only taught an exaggerated and biased analysis of her failings and only in relationship to their minority population giving a deeply skewed perception of what America really is. We must emphasize the opportunities America offers which are unique and exceptional. This is why so many want to come to this great land. We must embolden the rugged individual, unlike Obama who has declared him dead. We must once again instill a sense of pride in our country so that my students proudly stand with me, their fellow American, and voluntarily pledge allegiance to the United States of America.

Thanks for stopping by! What are your thoughts on the pledge? Consider commenting below. If you liked this article, please share it with a friend and on your social media stream of choice? 

Dana R. Casey is a veteran high school English teacher of more than two decades in an East-coast urban system.  She is a life-long student of theology, philosophy, and politics, dedicated to the true Liberalism of the Enlightenment, as defined by our Founders and enshrined in our Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights. You can find out more about Dana over at http://www.candiddiscourse.com/.

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Filed under American culture, Guest Post, Speaking Out

Augmented Reality In The Classroom: Aurasma

Submission by Charles Cooper and Jill Compher

The simplest and most fundamental of elements in any sphere of knowledge seem to be the most difficult to explain.  The fundamental may be basic, but it is also the foundation upon which more complex things rest upon.  The atomic is difficult to qualify or quantify because qualities and quantities are based on those essentials.  Most of us can’t imagine, for example, our classrooms without certain crucial tools like electricity, our computers, or that bottle of Tylenol taped to the bottom of our desks. We would like to introduce you to your next crucial tool…Enter: Aurasma (key dramatic music).

Aurasma BB

Aurasma is a game changing app for Apple and Droid products that we absolutely LOVE.  Once you see it in action, ideas will fly out of you so quickly you may want to stop reading now and get something to write with.  The complexity of its application is completely up to how much you want to integrate this app in your lessons.  It is simple to use, but adds so much to your classroom experience.

Originally, Aurasma was developed as an advertising app to add POP to boring paper media advertisements.  If you go to their “campaign” site you’ll see the various companies involved with this project.  Because it was developed first in England, Aurasma is hitting its stride in Europe.  Organizations like the Tottenham Hotspur and Mercedes are using this app to really hook customers.   It has slowly been making its way into the United States.  Recently, Marvel Comics, GQ, HP, and the Rolling Stones have incorporated this augmented reality app into their arsenal of marketing efforts.

Aurasma is a free app that allows the user to tag an image with additional layers of information.  These additional layers can consist of audio, video, or image files. Just like the advertising efforts mentioned above, this app can really draw students into any upcoming or current lesson.  For example, a poster of Abraham Lincoln can be brought to life by layering audio of the reading of the Gettysburg Address, a scene from a Civil War documentary, or a still image related to the Lincoln Presidency.  At this point you may be thinking isn’t that what a “QR Code” does?  Nope!

QR codes are disembodied portals to a destination.  A QR code usually distracts from the image it is layered upon.  Aurasma, however, IS the image.  It allows the operator to use a picture, already useful and full of information, as the portal itself.  This picture then leads to additional information, examples, or interactive documents (via Google Docs, to name one source) that continue the lesson or open it up to higher level prompts or assignments.  A QR code is essentially limited to a single destination point.  With an Aurasma “studio” account (free) you can layer a video on top of ol’ Honest Abe.  Double tap the screen of your device while the video is playing to make it full screen.  Then, with a single tap to the screen the app can send you to a second destination like another video, a website, or an educational platform like Moodle, Angel, or Blackboard (or your very own blog).

Watch this video to see the process in action.

There is only one minor limitation to this app from our experience.  You must establish a “channel” and have other users follow you in order for outsider to have access to your “auras”.  If you tag a political party’s logo with a video of how off-base their political views are, Aurasma will pull up only the tagged video you uploaded.  This delivery system is similar to Twitter in the sense that you only get the messages from people you follow on Twitter.  If multiple people or companies layer a video on that same image, only the videos of the channels you are following will appear.  We’re not sure what happens when multiple channels tag a single image with their own videos, but up to this point, this has not been an issue.

We have incorporated the many uses of Aurasma into a bulletin board that demonstrates its power.  We used Bloom’s Taxonomy as our frame and attached multiple examples from various disciplines.  So, if you are a newcomer to technology in the classroom use Aurasma on Bloom’s Knowledge Level, but if you’re a pro looking to put some pop in your lessons you may want to use Aurasma to target Bloom’s Synthesis Level.

There are two options when creating auras via Aurasma.  You can create and store them in the “private” section or the “public” section.  You will find below instructions for making a “public” aura.  Auras must be public and connected to a channel students are subscribed to for classroom use.

  1. Once you download Aurasma (for free) and register it.  You will press the “A” icon at the bottom of the screen.
  2. You will see a “+” icon at the bottom of this screen.  Press this to create a new aura.
  3. There is a library of preloaded 3-d images and videos you can use or you can create your own.  Let’s assume you want to create your own.  So, next press “device”.
  4. In the upper left hand corner you’ll see a large purple “+”.  Press that.
  5. You can take a new video or image by choosing “Camera”, you can upload a previously taken image or video by choosing “photo album”, or you can upload images or videos from the internet by choosing “blinkx”.  Just for brevities sake, let’s choose a still image you already have on your device.  Press “photo album”.
  6. Once you pick your image or video, you will be given the option to name it.
  7. You will then be prompted with the question “Would you like to create an Aura?”  Choose “ok”.
  8. The “Aura” screen will appear.  The next image you capture will be your “trigger image”.  When Aurasma sees this image, your overlay will appear.  So find something around you that has enough detail for the spectrum indicator at the bottom to move to the “green” side.  This lets you know that Aurasma can “see” it.
  9. Take the picture and Aurasma will give you a preview of your final product.  Push the “>” button to move on.
  10. Name your project.  You have the choice to make it public or private here as well as whether you want to add it to a channel or not.  Remember, channels are how your followers will access your “Auras”, otherwise these are accessible only to you on your device.  For classroom use, choose “public” and add to your classroom channel.
  11. Finally, Aurasma will let you know when your “Aura” is ready to go!  All that is left is to try out your new Aura.
  12. Follow our pre-established channels to see some examples of this in action.  First, in Aurasma, search for and follow Northwest High School, #CoopGovt, and Compher Social Sciences channels.  Next, follow this link to our list of images that will then trigger the overlays (don’t forget; double tap the screen to make the video larger and single tap to go to the next part of the assignment).

http://thrasymakos.wordpress.com/2013/01/27/aurasma-trigger-images/

Aurasma Trigger Images

  1. Or, if you already have Aurasma loaded onto your device, focus on the above “Aurasma Trigger Images” to immediately be sent directly to the multiple other Aurasma examples.

*Charles Cooper (@Thrasymachus) works at Northwest High School in Justin, Texas.  He teaches college and regular ed. government and was awarded the 2012 Humanities Texas Teacher of the Year Award.

*Jill Compher (@JillCompher) works at Northwest High School in Justin, Texas.  She teaches AP Psychology and Sociology.  Jill is an AP Psychology reader for College Board.

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Filed under Education Technology, Professional Development