January 2013
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Month January 2013

Interleaving Impossible Problems

In an earlier post I discussed the potential benefits of interleaving problems and questions in homework assignments.

Another interleaving-related idea came to me as I was reading a chapter from the National Research Council’s How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School (2000). Chapter 2, “How Experts Differ from Novices” discusses the different ways that novices and experts approach problems. The chapter quotes a study by Paige and Simon (1966), in which experts and students were asked to solve algebra word problems like this one:

A board was sawed into two pieces. One piece was two-thirds as long as the whole board and was exceeded in length by the second piece by four feet. How long was the board before it was cut? (Paige and Simon, 1966, quoted in How People Learn, p. 41)

It turns out, of course, that this problem is impossible. Experts realize that quickly, while students try to figure out and apply the right procedure to get the answer without realizing the logical impossibility of it all.

What if students had to deal with impossible problems interleaved into their homework assignments, quizzes, and tests? Would we think that cruel? Or would it help prevent students from going on math-procedure autopilot while they work? What if they were told that one or two of the problems in their assignment were impossible? Would having them be on their guard and encouraging them to really read the problem help them or discourage them?

I think teachers could use impossible problems in a fun way that encourages students to work for a deeper understanding of what they’re solving. It might be all in the way things are framed. What do you think?

NuVU Mapping Central Square


he Nuvu City Mapping project has taken off. Despite the cold weather for walking, students in the studio have set off on their own derives inspired by Guy Debord. A derive as Debord defines it is “a mode of experimental behavior linked to the conditions of urban society: a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiances.” [1] The derive is a walk in which “one or more persons during a certain period drop their relations, their work and leisure activities, and all their other usual motives for movement and action, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there.” Students read Dubord’s work and used his theory to guide their own derive planning.

Students wrote invisible city narratives inspired by Italo Calvino, the Italian authors, imaginary cities based on the travels of Marco Polo. Students studied a slew of maps, including maps from the Situationalist tradition, mapping the tangible and intangible, and begun to sketch and journal about the types of maps they might take on.

NuVu is a design lab for highschool students and is based MIT, Cambridge, MA. The students come from public and private schools in the area. Please see the earlier rethinkED blog post for background details. At its crux, the lab is based around giving students advanced theories and tools to build out pre-defined projects called Studios. The City Mapping studio came out of the tradition of mapping city spaces through memory and personal experience. It draws from architecture, literature, urban theory and the post modern theory to name a few influences.

The first two days centered around exploration, both on the streets and in the studio, of the type of mapping that has been done by the likes of the situationalists and others. The students have brainstormed a host of subjects to be mapped, including their own memories and experience and have explored ways to represent the data. They have looked to poetry, music and interviewing as a way to supplement the maps. At the onset of the course they have been reading the poetry of the likes of Jorge Luis Borges and watching video projects mapping people’s responses in Cambridge in past NuVU projects. The next step will be for them to create their own poems and interviews.

Stay tuned for more in the following week! The second step will be to build out the maps into collages. The following step will be to add an augmented reality dimension to the map as well….

Friday Link Fest…*

Friday Link Fest...* (January 18-25, 2013}











Firearm Disposal: Designed by Luis Prado, adapted from NPS trash symbol, from The Noun Project


How to Have a Year that Matters ~ Why are you here? Do you want this to be another year that flies by, half-hearted, arid, rootless, barely remembered, dull with dim glimpses of what might have been? Or do you want this to be a year that you savor, for the rest of your surprisingly short time on Planet Earth, as the year you started, finally, irreversibly, uncompromisingly, to explosively unfurl a life that felt fully worth living? The choice is yours. And it always has been. via Harvard Business Review, published January 22, 2013.

Study Shows How Classroom Design Affects Student Learning ~ New study shows how color, lighting, and other classroom design choices can have a huge impact on student progress. via FastCoDesign, published January 18, 2013.

Why All High School Courses Should Be Elective ~ Very few of us could pass the subject matter tests we once took, or would agree that being unable to do so significantly handicaps us. How can we ignore the implications of that fact? Marion Brady asks what’s worth teaching and what’s worth learning to rethink student disengagement and institutional inefficiency. via The Washington Post, published January 22, 2012.

Bio Design In The Home: The Beauty of Bacteria “Bio Design” focuses on the growing movement to integrate organic processes in the creation of buildings and household objects so that resources are conserved and waste is limited. via The New York Times, published January 16, 2013.

The Rhythms of Work vs The Rhythms of Creative Labor ~ Work is what we do by the hour. It begins and, if possible, we do it for money. Welding car bodies on an assembly line is work; washing dishes, computing taxes, walking the rounds in a psychiatric ward, picking asparagus–these are work. Labor, on the other hand, sets its own pace. We may get paid for it, but it’s harder to quantify… Writing a poem, raising a child, developing a new calculus, resolving a neurosis, invention in all forms — these are labors.  via 99u.

The First Rule of Brainstorming: Suspend Disbelief ~ interview with Kon Leong, co-founder, president and chief executive of ZL Technologies, an e-mail and file archiving company. via The New York Times, published January 19, 2013.

Collaboration Across Borders Through Artist Workshops ~ Triangle is a decentralized global network of artists and arts organizations that recently celebrated its thirty-year anniversary. It was founded by artists and continues to be run largely by them. Its objective from the beginning was to connect artists across borders in order to challenge their regular studio practices, engage them in their processes, and foster an intense dialogue about why they’re doing what they’re all doing in their corners of the world. via Hyperallergic, published January 22, 2013.


Wicker-Covered Car By Ojo Obaniyi ~ ‘I wanted to prove a point that it is not only the educated elite that can make positive changes in society. We, the artisans also have talents to effect change and make a positive impact in the society.’  via Design Boom, published January 18, 2013

Space Blogger: Chris Hadfield’s Photos from the ISS ~ Colonel Chris Hadfield is  blogging from perhaps the most exclusive place around: the International Space Station (ISS). Hadfield’s Tumblr and Twitter accounts have been very active lately as he treats us with a large selection of photography from his many orbits around the earth. Often shooting from the space station’s famous cupola, he has been getting fantastically beautiful – almost painterly – images of our precious earth. via Visual News, published January 21, 2013.

Korean Students Speak Their Mind Through Written Signs ~ ‘STOP printing out students as if they’re ROBOTS. Let them be humane’ ~ Korean Students Speak tumblr. via My Modern Met, published January 18, 2013


TEDxTalks Roundup: 4 Fascinating Talks on Education ~ four talks examining advancements in education: Preventing forgetfulness after the test: Jamshed Bharucha at TEDxCooperUnion; Where is the research and development in education? Jim Shelton at TEDxMidAtlantic; The impact of desegregation on learning: Rucker Johnson at TEDxMiamiUniversity; An end to age-grouping in the classroom: Mary Esselman at TEDxSarasota. via TEDx

Printing 3D Buildings: Five tenets of a new kind of architecture / Neri Oxman ~ 1. Growth over Assembly; 2. Integration over Segregation; 3. Heterogeneity over Homogeneity; 4. Difference over Repetition; 5. Material is the New Software. via Archdaily, published January 18, 2013.

Big Hugging ~ Giant Bear Hugging Video Game ~ Big Huggin’ is a game played with a 30 inch custom teddy bear controller. Players complete the game by providing several well-timed hugs. It is an experiment and gesture in alternative interface. Instead of firing toy guns at countless enemies or revving the engines of countless gas guzzling virtual cars, why not give a hug? A hug is simple gesture. It is one of the first physical expressions of affections a child learns. It is a gesture for the familial through the romantic. It is a gesture of mutual benefit. The game is designed to offer reflection on the way we play and cultural benefits of alternative play. via Kickstarter.

This Airplane’s Been Repurposed Into a Classroom ~ Creating a “kindergarten where the children would not want to go home.” via GOOD, published December 5, 2012

School Security… What Can We Do To Obtain It?

In the wake of the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting it comes as no surprise that school security has become a constant topic of discussion. The political discourse has centered on the topic of gun control. Gov. Cuomo recently signed a gun control law, touted to have the toughest restrictions in the country. Similarly, President Obama has begun pushing a package of gun regulation initiatives at the federal level. These may very well be important pieces to the greater issue of school security, but many educators and school administrators around the country already realize the expansive array of topics that comprehensive safety and wellbeing truly entail. Recently many educators have signed an open letter on gun violence, which can be found at http://hosagv.org/. Personally, I have been thinking about both the safety procedures and the types of safety and health curriculum that schools can implement to better protect students. The more I think about these issues the less I am convinced that a one-size-fits-all approach can truly work.

When discussing institutional school safety, it is important to differentiate between general safety procedures versus crisis management plans. The former deals with the daily norms used on school campuses and the latter deals with pre-scripted immediate reactions to emergency situations. When thinking about daily procedures I believe context plays an important role in finding the right balance between providing an open and warm educational environment while ensuring order and security from worldly dangers. The context of each school’s community and environment may mean that necessary precautions at one school might be construed as grave oppressive missteps in another.

In graduate school, I interned at a school that kept every door locked mainly because the school was located adjacent to several busy storefronts in a high traffic area. Since these students lived in New York City building complexes and were used to having to buzz into buildings, they were not disturbed by this locked-door procedure.  My many months of interning left no doubt in my mind that the school was a safe and nurturing place. Yet before graduate school, I worked at a school that had a long-standing tradition of supporting students’ independent exploration of the over 200 acres of campus property. Locking all the doors would have greatly changed the school culture. But the school did have video cameras monitoring of all the entrances and exits. In this particular instance both institutions have arrived at an acceptable norm that accounts for the realities of their environment, while also fostering welcome environments.

Crisis plans may include a school’s outreach to emergency responders, its lockdown procedure, or its communication protocol to parents and guardians. It seems clear that the environment and make-up of a school community would have to dictate individual crisis plans. The response time of first responders affect calculations of other needed campus safeguards. I personally have never worked in a school environment where the administration felt comfortable having security personnel patrol the halls of the school with guns. And even after the latest of these horrible school tragedies I don’t believe that arming school personnel with lethal weapons is the right direction to go. But maybe a non-lethal alternative like Tasers might be more acceptable. If the daily schedule allows students to have free periods or to go off campus, then any lockdown plan would have to accommodate the fact that all students might not be in a classroom when an emergency erupts. School communication protocols to guardians should adapt to ensure that information is getting to parents as quickly as possible. That might mean blast emails, or automated calls to the child’s home or guardians’ workplace.

Yet, I think it is also vitally important to focus on how schools are educating our students on the issues of physical and mental health, even as schools take the necessary steps to create, adapt, or simply reaffirm their current safety protocols and crisis management plans in the context of their environments. Providing age appropriate instruction positions students to make individual choices that may have personal and group benefits when they’re faced with real-life situations. As cliché as it may sound, knowledge is empowering and in a world where information is plentiful and often unmonitored, schools must do their part to battle misinformation. This might occur in several forms or in combination. Though a non-exhaustive list, it seems to me that directed and informative conversations, structured training sessions, and workshops are all viable options.

These trainings need to address potential physical and mental health risks. News reports in the aftermath of Sandy Hook detailed how even the youngest elementary school students knew the serious danger the intruder posed. I will not delve into the appropriateness of violent video games or movies but will take a moment to point out that many young children have direct access to these materials and subsequently provide indirect access to their peers. Schools should take an active role in the responsible dissemination of information on the dangers of intruders, real-life weapons, and other hazards. It is equally important that students develop an understanding of mental health issues. This is a difficult task given the large amounts of misinformation and stigma often associated with mental health issues and, as with all education, the curriculum must be age-appropriate. Yet I would venture to guess that even our youngest students deal with instances of personal emotional issues or those of their friends, and these struggles often occur under the radar of teacher and administrator attention.

I am not stating that students should be tasked with solving or even diagnosing mental health issues. I do think that increasing awareness and providing safe outlets for students to share potential concerns should be part of any full-spectrum approach to protecting school age students. My intention behind placing an explicit focus on the need to strengthen widespread understanding of mental health issues extends beyond the specific case of Sandy Hook. I do not claim to know enough about this particular incident to state the role mental health issues shaped the outcomes of the events of December 14, 2012. But as an educator I do know that alerting proper personnel about mental health issues adds another layer of protection to prevent students from inflicting harm on themselves or others.

The issue of school safety is complex, and even though government action may help increase security, I believe that taking into account context or school-system situation plays a vital role in ensuring security. I certainly do not claim to have all the answers. Frankly, I don’t claim to be the authority on even the slivers of the issue that I tackled in this short piece. But I would love to read feedback and hope this piece may start a string of conversations around the issue.


Debbie Millman on Taking Risks, Chance Encounters, Failure, Design & Avoiding Compulsively Making Things Worse…*

This past Tuesday, the online journal The Great Discontent published a deeply inspiring interview with the great Debbie Millman. Millman, a Renaissance-woman if ever there was one, is President Emeritus of AIGA, a contributing editor at Print Magazine, and Chair of the Masters in Branding Program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She also hosts the fantastic (seriously, check it out) podcast, Design Matters, the first weekly radio talk show about design on the Internet and has authored five books on design, including Look Both Ways: Illustrated Essays on the Intersection of Life and Design (HOW Books, 2009). Below are some of my favorite insights from the interview, which I strongly urge you to read in its entirety over on The Great Discontent.

Enjoy & rethink…*

“My first ten years after college were experiments in rejection and despair. I knew that I wanted to do something special but, frankly, I didn’t have the guts to do anything special. When I graduated, I didn’t feel confident enough, optimistic enough, or hopeful enough to believe that I could get what I really wanted. I wasn’t living what I would consider to be my highest self—in fact, I was probably living my most fearful self.”


“My whole life has been one thing leading to another, leading to another, and then another. It has been completely circuitous and mostly unplanned. Lately, I have been thinking a lot about these chance encounters: those elusive happenstances that often lead to defining moments in our lives. But what if one of those defining experiences never occurred? What if something wonderful, something that we have come to depend on, that serendipitous bit of luck that provided us with a big break or a big deal or the Big Time never happened? One of those “if I hadn’t been eating a gigantic McDonald’s breakfast on the 7am flight to Vancouver in the middle seat, I wouldn’t have apologized to the beautiful, elegant woman sitting next to me on the plane; we wouldn’t have started talking and I wouldn’t have found out she was an important editor of a cool design magazine; we wouldn’t have become friends and so on and so on” type of moments. I call this “six degrees of serendipity”—the quintessential recognition that if this didn’t happen, then that wouldn’t have happened, and we wouldn’t have ended up right here, right now, in this way.”


“A moment that I thought was a complete and total failure—this takedown of everything I’d done to date—ended up turning into the foundation of everything I’ve done since. I’ve just created a lecture titled “How the Worst Moments of Your Life Can Turn Out to Be the Best” because the worst professional experience I ever experienced turned out to be one of the most important professional experiences of my life.
I was really ashamed of all my failures for a long time. Now, I feel it’s important to share these experiences. I am hopeful that it can give other people hope and context to see things a bit differently. It’s not a failure until you stop trying.”


“Honestly, I feel like everything I’ve done has required some risk. I don’t think you can achieve anything remarkable without some risk. Risk is actually a rather tricky word because humans aren’t wired to tolerate it very much. The reptilian part of our brains wants to keep us safe. Anytime you try something that doesn’t have any certainty associated with it, you’re risking something, but what other way is there to live?

The first ten years of my career were very much organized around avoiding failure, but my inadequacies were completely self-constructed. Nobody told me that I couldn’t do something; nobody told me that I couldn’t succeed; I had convinced myself and lived in that self-imposed reality. I think a lot of people do this. They self-sabotage and create all sorts of reasons for not doing things under the misguided assumption that, at some point, they might feel better about themselves and that will finally allow them to take that risk. I don’t think that ever happens. You have to push through it and do it as if you have no other choice—because you don’t. You just don’t.”


“I want very badly to make a difference with my life. I’d like to make a difference by contributing to the world conversation about design.”


If you could give a piece of advice to a young person starting out, what would you say?
“I would provide five bits of advice:

Do not be afraid to want a lot.

Things take a long time; practice patience.

Avoid compulsively making things worse.

Finish what you start.

Often people start out by thinking about all the things that they can’t do. Once you take that path, it’s very hard to get off of it. Shoot high and shoot often.


“I feel happier and more a part of the world when I feel connected to others through likeminded communities. I feel really, really happy being part of a design tribe.”

Go Forth & Learn, Knowmad: Two Great Resources For Hacking Design Thinking…*

Whether you’re a programmer, startup or average joe trying to make your everyday more human-centered and empowering (i.e. yours truly), Startups, This Is How Design Works created by Wells Riley, product designer at Kicksend, and Hack Design, a co-creation by Riley, Alex Baldwin, Kevin Xu and Larry Buchanan, are treasure troves of resources and starting points to further your exploration of design. Created as platforms to establish a common language between designers and entrepreneurs and programmers respectively, these two websites break down the ‘grammar’ of design and give you the tools to adapt this grammar to the language(s) of your own discipline(s). Both websites are packed with curated resources, interactive content and tangible takeaways to get you started right away. So without further ado, go forth and learn, knowmad.


Companies like Apple are making design impossible for startups to ignore. Startups like Path,AirbnbSquare, and Massive Health have design at the core of their business, and they’re doing phenomenal work. But what is ‘design’ actually? Is it a logo? A WordPress theme? An innovative UI?  It’s so much more than that. It’s a state of mind. It’s an approach to a problem. It’s how you’re going to kick your competitor’s ass. This handy guide will help you understand design and provide resources to help you find awesome design talent.


Go Forth & Learn, Knowmad: Two Great Resources For Hacking Design Thinking…*




We know tons of hackers. They’re the modern-day Renaissance men and women who love to learn, explore, build, and take things apart. A hacker can make software do anything. We know design can seem nuanced, subjective, and inaccessible sometimes, but we’re working on this project to help change that. We’ve asked some of the world’s best designers to help us curate the best and most useful blogs, books, games, videos, and tutorials that helped them learn critical elements of design. We’re organizing them all into a digestable and iterative lesson plan so you can apply this knowledge to your own projects.

Go Forth & Learn, Knowmad: Two Great Resources For Hacking Design Thinking…*



Mitch Resnick, Head of MIT’s Lifelong Kindergarten Group, on Coding To Learn…*

Mitch Resnick, head of  the  Lifelong Kindergarten group at MIT’s Media Lab, rethinks and expands the notion of ‘fluency’ in today’s digital landscape. Resnick observes that while young people are very comfortable ‘reading’ new technologies, very few of them have the ability to ‘write’ in new technologies. Resnick makes the claim that computer programming, far from being only useful to those who intend to become computer scientists or programmers, is beneficial to everyone, from young children learning to code using MIT’s Scratch–a programming language that is easy (and enjoyable!) to learn–to Resnick’s own 83 year old mother. Resnick makes a powerful analogy between learning to read which allows one to read to learn and learning to code, which, according to Resnick, allows one to then code to learn: “we become fluent in reading and writing. It’s not something that you’re doing just to become a professional writer, very few people will become professional writers, but it’s useful for everybody to learn how to read and write. Same thing with coding: most people won’t grow up to become professional computer scientists or programmers but those skills of thinking creatively, reasoning systematically, working collaboratively–skills you develop when you code in Scratch–are things that people can use no matter what they’re doing in their work lives. ”

 Enjoy & rethink…*

Reading, Writing, And Programming: Mitch Resnick At TEDXBeaconStreet

(TEDXTalks via YouTube, published January 17, 2013)


 Kids should learn programming as well as reading and writing {Boing Boing}


On Action & Imagination: When You Move Differently, You Think Differently…*

“Because imagination and action are actually integrated and engage the same neural pathways, practicing one actually influences the other.”

A close friend of mine, who has trained as a dancer for most of her life, once told me: “when you move differently, you think differently.”  I was struck by the notion that physical movement and thought would be intertwined to such a degree as to be able to affect tangible changes on one another. But because my own dancing career ended rather abruptly– at the hands of a dreadful, retired ballerina, who never tired of repeating “Miss Fridman, you have the grace of an elephant”–I was forced to take my friend at her word. This short video on the scientific power of thought, brought to you by ASAP Science, reminded me of my friend’s pronouncement and brought some interesting scientific backing to her insight. At a neuroscientific level, it turns out that “imagination and action are actually integrated and engage the same neural pathways”. So that, “practicing one actually influences the other.” This relationship is so strong that mentally practicing an activity can yield tangible physical results comparable to those of  control groups assigned the physical practice of the skill. “So while your thoughts don’t have some mystical or magical power, mental practice is an effective way to prepare for a physical skill. Each thought actually changes the structure and function of your brain by affecting the neurons at the microscopic level.”

(ASAPScience on YouTube, published January 17, 2013)

Friday Link Fest {January 11-18, 2013}

Friday Link Fest {January 11-18, 2013} photograph by Elsa Fridman



The 11 Most Generous Designers ~ This is an innovative group (co-curated by Ric Grefé, the executive director of AIGA) who are using design to make the world a better place. Whether creating a compelling graphic to raise money or developing a cause awareness campaign or producing a never-before-seen-product that improves an infant’s livelihood, these creative thinkers are impacting our society in ways that are hard to forget. via FastCo.Exist, published January 14, 2013.

Must-read report on maker-driven education ~ This report is a synthesis of ongoing research, design, and implementation of an approach to education called “connected learning.” It advocates for broadened access to learning that is socially embedded, interest-driven, and oriented toward educational, economic, or political opportunity. Connected learning is realized when a young person is able to pursue a personal interest or passion with the support of friends and caring adults, and is in turn able to link this learning and interest to academic achievement, career success or civic engagement. This model is based on evidence that the most resilient, adaptive, and effective learning involves individual interest as well as social support to overcome adversity and provide recognition. via Boing Boing, published January 16, 2013.

How Are You Using the Collective Action Toolkit? ~ The toolkit is being deployed far more broadly than expected, such as in our new Chinese language edition. People are finding new uses for it, from local education to entrepreneurship in global organizations. And we’ve embarked on our first educational pilot, working with SCAD’s Design for Sustainability program. How did this happen? And in what ways can you use the CAT that you may not have considered? via Frog Design, published January 14, 2013.

Innovation Pessimism: Has the ideas machine broken down? ~ The idea that innovation and new technology have stopped driving growth is getting increasing attention. But it is not well founded. via The Economist, published January 12, 2013.

Should 3-Year-Olds Learn Computer Programming? ~ Can 3-year-olds learn enough computer programming to be able to build their own games or animate a story? That’s the theory behind Scratch Jr, an MIT project set to launch this summer that wants to teach preschoolers creativity, design thinking, and problem-solving through coding. via GOOD, published February 27, 2012.

Sitting Is the Smoking of Our Generation ~And ‘walking meetings’ are the antidote. via Harvard Business Review, published January 14, 2013.

Ideo’s Albert Lee On Innovating Ideas ~ Creativity is only the beginning. Here are proven ways to find, filter, and shape the best thinking–whether it’s yours, your team’s, or your customers’. via Fast Company, published January 15, 2013.


Allen Ginsberg’s Hand-Annotated Photos of the Beat Generation ~ Beginning January 15, New Yorkers can visit NYU’s Grey Art Gallery‘s Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg to peruse a selection of 110 photos taken (and often captioned by hand) by none other than Allen Ginsberg. From a shot of Jack Kerouac’s muse, Neal Cassady, and “his love of the year” snuggling under a cinema marquee advertising a Brando triple feature to a solemn photo of William S. Burroughs at the Met, the annotated images provide a personal, visual scrapbook of Ginsberg’s life in the 1950s and beyond. via Flavorwire, published January 11, 2013

How To Be A Minimalist, In Design & In Life ~ Comic artist behind Incidental Comics, Grant Snider produces amusing and surprisingly insightful comics on his blog and for many websites across the internet. via Design Taxi, published January 16, 2013.

Complex Natural Spider Webs Preserved on Glass Plates ~ Artist Emil Fiore, also known as Rocky, collects whole spider webs and preserves the natural works of art behind glass. Based in New Jersey, Fiore first learned about catching a web in a children’s craft book and, ever since, the idea has stuck. In his 20’s, he finally started experimenting with web collection. He has used all kinds of sprays and varnishes to master the preservation of each web in its entirety and his hard work has certainly paid off. Spray painted with silver paint and set behind glass, these striking, silky designs are unique and captivating representations of the wonders of nature. via My Modern Met, published January 12, 2013.

Kumbh Mela: The Largest Gathering on Earth ~ Tens of millions of Hindu pilgrims are now descending on Allahabad, India, joining an estimated 8 million already there for the Maha Kumbh Mela. Held every 12 years at one of four places in India, the Kumbh Mela lasts nearly two months and is considered to be an especially auspicious time to bathe in the holy river for purification from sin. via The Atlantic, published January 14, 2013.

World Design Guide ~ World Design Guide is the first ever online guide to the best international architecture and design events. Created and curated by Dezeen, the guide offers a quick way of finding out when and where key fairs, conferences and festivals take place. The first edition of World Design Guide lists events taking place in 2013. In the future we’ll be adding more layers of information and updating our listings.


Susan Cain’s breakthrough research on introversion has been turned into another live animation video series. via The Lavin Agency.

(dwlFilms on YouTube, published November 27, 2012)


‘In the future, design thinking is going to be called emotionalism’ ~ Roger Arquer ~ via Dezeen, published January 14, 2013.

(Roger Arquer at Designed in Hackney Day from Dezeen on Vimeo.)

Concept Turns Video Gaming Into Full-Body Exercise ~ Intellect Motion has introduced the ‘GameCube’, which makes players get physical during video games. via PSFK, published January 15, 2013.

(Alexander Khromenkov on YouTube, published January 1, 2013)

rethinkED Math Workshop: Topics in Teaching Math

On Friday January 11th a group of math teachers and administrators stayed after school, the first week back of school no less, to participate in a math workshop.  The workshop was led and organized by the rethinkED team with a guest presentation from Jed Silverstein, upper school English teacher, a session led by the tech integration team and a sessions designed by the rethinkED team.

The workshops came out of interviews with a handful of the math faculty at Riverdale. Through in-depth interviews, the rethinkED team captured a few themes they then developed drawing on some design thinking techniques. The team shared a list of proposed topics with the math faculty and administrators asking for feedback and to rank the workshops. The top-ranked workshops were chosen based on the math teachers’ feedback.

With the dusk falling, teachers sustained themselves with cheese and wine as they listened to TED talks, participated in debates, and designed prototypes of ideas. Cross-grade and cross-subject collaboration was encouraged.



The first session was called the Creating the You-Can-Do-It Problem.The workshop involved an introductory TED talk, a discovery phase, and ideation and prototype phases with time for reflection. Out of the conversations, teachers brought up the question of transferability of a real life problems into the classroom. At times a real life problem may be difficult to talk about in terms of the specific math terms being developed. On the plus side, real life problems were seen as being high on the the relatability scale–something that greatly increases student engagement. Another issue raised was the engagement and fun of real world problems as being antithetical to the pressure of the college tests and preparation for next year.

The second session involved two workshops, one on Guided Student Teaching, with an intro from Jed Silverstein on some of the work he has done in his humanities classes. Jed often has students teach portions of his humanities classes so that they can learn and ask questions about the material as a teacher might. Well aware of the difference of content between humanities and math, Jed sought to find similarities across disciplines. The other workshop occurring simultaneously was led by the Tech Integration Team, who offered a tour through iPad apps geared towards middle and upper school math courses. A highlight was the ipad version of wolfram alpha which allowed students and teachers to see various different ways of solving a single problem.

The workshop ended on a high note, with buzzing energy past 6 pm on a Friday and plans to implement ideas and keep the conversation going. The rethinkED team will follow-up individually with math teachers, both through interviews and observations. There is talk of organizing a similar workshop in the spring. Stay tuned!

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