The Future of the Classroom

Despite (or perhaps because of) the sales push, many educators are still skeptical of tablets in the classroom—and Amplify seems designed to put them at ease. Its operating system gives teachers and schools an unprecedented level of control over the devices in students’ hands. There is no home button, for example: Students can’t just exit out of a math program the way they can close Angry Birds on an iPad. Instead, if a teacher hits her eyes on teacher” button, any or every student’s tablet in her classroom suspends; a message tells the student to look up. Or the teacher can call on a student randomly, and a message pops up on her screen. Or with just one click, a teacher can pose a multiple-choice pop quiz and see instant results, set a five-minute timer for an activity, or divide students into discussion groups. Or she can automatically give individualized homework assignments based on the day’s performance.

-Anya Kamenetz, News Corp. Introduces A New Kind Of Interactivity To The Classroom”

I was reading a print copy of this month’s Fast Company (not my subscription, mind you)—which solicited this tweet—and came across an article entitled, News Corp.’s Big Test”. For whatever reason, the online version has a different name, but the sentiment of the above blockquote is the same: the future of the classroom is awesome!

At a previous job, I did a lot of work with online educational software—Blackboard, Angel, and Moodle, in particular—and I was often dealing with the cutting edges of what such software could do at the time; it is amazing to me that the iPad had only just begun to make an impact on the classroom at that time. Looking into the future, I can see a real boon to teacher productivity and effectiveness due to tablet hardware and software technology movements. Being that my wife is a teacher, such improvements sound great to me.

In addition, my mother has been heavily involved in the movement for inclusion of special education students into general education classrooms in Chicago Public Schools; the above quote smacks of the future of inclusion in ways that my mother could only dream of a few years ago. Being able to cater curriculums to specific children to insure that those who are gifted in a subject are properly challenged and those that need help are similarly accommodated is a future in which I want to live.

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The Challenges of 2020

TL;DR: Follow this link.

One of the craziest things about Christianity during the protests of the last few weeks is the fact that there are churches out there not discussing the issues honestly, not taking the time to have the hard conversations, not devoting their Sunday services to betterment of the world and people around them. If you’re church isn’t talking about racism right now, if they don’t mention that black lives matter, instead focusing on platitudes that equate to the all lives matter” sentiment, it is time to start looking for a new church.

My wife and I meet with my home” church virtually via Zoom since the pandemic is still a thing. Kimball Avenue United Church of Christ & La Iglesia Episcopal de Nuestra Señora de las Américas (KANSA, together) combined in a collaborative way to create a single denomination focused on the needs of their community. They follow Christ together toward the vision of love, reconciliation, peace and justice. The justice looks like the demolition and rehabilitation of an old church building and its grounds into a community garden and labyrinth open to all who seek peace through contemplation.

I give this elevator speech to mention that COVID has not been kind to faith communities in general. Budgets have been slashed, funding and grants have been cut, and congregations in need are also working to serve those in need, who are less likely to be able to financially support their church in these times. KANSA in one of the good ones. They speak truth, they have the difficult conversations, they preach in a loud voice every Sunday that black lives matter, that racism has no place in the church, that the LGBTQ community deserves respect and support, and that Jesus was a social justice warrior, who fought for the least of these no matter who they were, where they were from, what they looked like.

In fact, Jesus was most harsh to those who had the means to help and decided not to answer the call.

These systems of oppression we are protesting have been around a long time; they have screwed up a lot of lives, they have been the reason for revolution and the downfall of entire civilizations, they don’t work. We need to find a better way to live by supporting each other. And support has to come in systemic, social, financial, and political ways, both national and local.

I am not local to KANSA anymore, but I support their mission, the way that mission manifests in the world, and the simple fact that they follow Jesus no matter how ostracizing that position can be at times. Which brings me to the point:

Thanks to a $10,000 matching gift’ from an anonymous donor, the challenge has become an opportunity. Over the next two months, we plan to raise at least $10,000 to meet the challenge. Through August 31, 2020, every donation we receive toward our 2020 Challenge” no matter how small or how large will be doubled by the matching gift.

KANSA is hurting financially and needs support, they do good work and are unabashedly progressive in their approach to our world. Donate now and see your contribution matched to keep one of the good ones fighting the good fight.

Thank you for your consideration.