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BOOK REVIEW: Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims by Rush Limbaugh

rushrevere2/5 Stars

Suggested Audience: Upper elementary

Up front note, it pains me to have to do what I am about to do to this book. I want books like this to be a huge success, and I don’t have a problem with Limbaugh putting it out there. But…a good book is a good book and a not-so-good book is a not-so-good book.

Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims has been on the New York Times Middle Grade Best Sellers list for eight weeks as of the January 5, 2014 Best Sellers list. I had high hopes for the book, but unfortunately I was not impressed.

The book is a strange mixture of science fiction and American history. The basic premise is that Rush Revere, a substitute teacher at Manchester Middle School (he also works at the Two if By Tea factory), and his time-traveling, talking horse, Liberty, takes students back in time to the Pilgrim’s trans-Atlantic voyage and subsequent landing in America.

I’m a big fan of historical fiction. And I’m a big fan of narrative non-fiction. Those two genres work and make sense. They are outstanding ways of exposing young kids to history as story. A sarcastic time traveling talking horse and his owner are not the best way to expose kids to history.

The time traveling elements of this book do not work. The constant appearing and disappearing of Liberty, Revere, and the two students into the timeline of the Pilgrims is odd. They are not passive observers of history. Revere befriends William Bradford, and throughout the story Bradford seems to have a respect for Revere. So much so, that one would expect Rush Revere to end up in the historical record. This creates problems because they are becoming active participants in recorded history, and as science fiction fans know, this is a big no-no. This may seem nit-picky, but science fiction has rules and when you bend those rules you create problems.

Another major problem with this book is the prose is not very good. I genuinely believe Limbaugh wrote this himself based upon the author’s note at the end of the book. He seriously should have considered a ghost writer for this book. The word choice is limited, and Limbaugh overuses dialogue tags to the point of pain. I hate to admit this, but I fell asleep twice reading the book and couldn’t count the amount of times I lost track of what was happening.

I listened to Limbaugh as a teenager quite a bit, and I still turn him on from time to time. As Limbaugh has often said, you can’t just turn his show on once, you have to listen to a little bit to get him and his voice. This rule seems to apply to this book because the first person narrative and Liberty the horse both remind me of Limbaugh’s sarcasm and typical rhetorical flair. I really thought it didn’t belong in this book. Limbaugh tries to hard to be funny with his characters, and by the end of the book I was literally scoffing at some of the annoying, sarcastic quips in the dialogue.

The book is short on history and long on other components of the story. The body of the text is only about 200 pages. If I had to put a percentage on it, I would say that at most the book was 60 percent historical story. Every time I got interested in the historical elements, it was time to teleport back to the present.

I found nothing wrong with the historical aspects of the book. I just wish Limbaugh had sourced where he was pulling historical fact from. There should be some kind of source notes in the back of the book. Critics of the book, and especially critics of Limbaugh, have footing to stand on because he omitted this part. This is something that has to be corrected in later books in this series.

There were a couple of positives about the book. First, it is an attractive book, and I did enjoy some of the photos that were included with the book. Second, I also appreciated that Limbaugh included how the Pilgrims struggled when their community was set up as a collective with community property. Collectivization has always failed throughout human history, and it is an important part of the Pilgrims story. This is an idea that today’s youth need to be taught.

Realize that I am an adult reader of what is intended to be a middle school book. In fairness, I may be a little too critical of some components, but on the other hand, some middle school readers are quite astute. I believe that many seventh and eighth grade readers would easily find similar faults with the book. Part of me wonders if the target audience for the book is too high. It may be more appropriate for upper elementary readers instead of the intended middle grade audience. I fear that the book does not find much of an audience outside of conservative households that listen to Rush Limbaugh. The goal of literature like this should be outside of our conservative echo chamber.

Have you read this book? Did your child read this book? What do you think? Have a book that you think ought to be reviewed? Comment below, I would love to hear your thoughts even if you completely disagree with me.

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Conservative Youth and Parents, It’s Time to Ask More of Ourselves!

by Andrew Palmer

I maintain two search terms on Twitter, and I check them constantly. One of them is “conservative teacher,” and the other is “liberal teacher.” I have noticed some trends on them, and I would thought it would  be interesting to share them with you.

First, conservative students (both high school and college) and parents often lack courage in defending their values. I see this on a regular basis. It usually goes something like “my teacher is such a liberal I almost…” Well, that’s real tough, isn’t it? Once in a while I will engage the young person with some form of positive encouragement asking them to respectfully challenge the teacher. The responses are sometimes even more discouraging. They often rationalize their actions as not wanting to affect their grade, or it’s just too much trouble to worry about.

I dealt with the same problems in college, but I never once backed down from a liberal teacher or professor. I still remember the battles in my freshman civics class and many of my classes with liberal college professors. I survived, and I passed everyone of their classes.

If you think grades really matter that much, you know little about the job market. Any employer worth their salt cares little about a high school or college GPA. I do understand the concern about failing. The reality is if you are meeting the expectations of the course, and you can prove you were given a failing grade because of political ideology, I think you might have some  legitimate grounds for legal action.

Anytime a conservative student is in a classroom with a liberal teacher that threatens or insults their values, that teacher has to be challenged. The challenge must be respectful. Parents should be involved in their child’s education and encourage this challenge.

Throwing a fit about liberal indoctrination, then acting without courage when provided the opportunity to actually do something about it, makes you part of the problem. Remember, all educators are supposed to operate inside of a professional code of conduct. If they violate that code of conduct, they all have supervisors who should be immediately contacted. These teachers should be made to fear for their financial livelihood. Either act professionally, or get out of the classroom. At the K-12 level all teachers and principals answer to a school board, and that school board answers to a voter. It is time for us on the right side of the political spectrum to stand up and expect more out of teachers.

Second, conservative youth must start acting with more respect. I am often surprised at how disrespectful some on the right can be. I figured when I first set up these searches that I would see more vile tweets from the left. Don’t get me wrong, they are there, but the reality is it is about equal. Name calling is not necessary, and it makes you look foolish. I get the frustration, but this doesn’t solve the problem. Knock it off!

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Filed under Liberal educators out of control in the classroom, Parents standing up, Speaking Out, Teachers Going Too Far

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