Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Wiki. A What? A Wiki!

We have a wiki. It's a collaborative webpage (like Wikipedia). We can all post and respond, so posts won't be limited to teachers only there. It's going to take some learning, but I think we can really use it creatively.

Go check it out. It's at <>. You have to "join" to participate, so go do that, too.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

UnSpun reading guidelines

21st Century Symposium

UnSpun reading guidelines

Fall, 2008

As a class, we will be reading and discussing UnSpun: Finding Facts in a World of Disinformation by Brooks Jackson and Kathleen Jamieson during the first few weeks of school. In doing so, we are hoping you can build a critical thinking foundation related to media use and advertising, particularly as we begin to discuss issues such as truth, credibility, and accountability in public information.

We would like for you to do the following:

Read carefully! Take notes, annotate, outline major ideas and concepts, note unfamiliar words, and document your reactions to the text. Keep in mind anything you find interesting, significant, revealing, or strange.

Make sure you are ready to discuss your thinking by completing the following tasks and making notes of the insights you’ve found for each chapter on the dates listed below.

Reading schedule:

By Tuesday, September 2:

Read Introduction and Chapter 1: Note 3 important points for discussion.

By Tuesday, September 9:

Read Chapters 2, 3, and 4: With these chapters, please find an example of an advertisement, promotional, or other piece of public information that employs one of the techniques illustrated in that chapter. For example, you should find a “warning sign” for Chapter 2, a “trick” for Chapter 3, and a “trap” for Chapter 4. You may want to make note of the technique used, the source of your example, and a justification as to why the example is representative of the technique.

By Tuesday, September 16:

Chapters 5, 6, and 7: For Chapter 5, note 3 important points for discussion. For Chapter 6, from some form of media communication find an example of an appeal or logical fallacy outlined in this chapter. For Chapter 7, find a faulty web source or hoax email, then find the facts; be prepared to explain the difference and your process. Again, you may want to make note of the techniques used, the sources of your examples, and justifications as to why the examples are representative.

By Tuesday, September 23:

Reach Chapter 8 and outline 3 important points. Read the conclusion and be prepared to write a final reflection on your reading (further guidelines for this will follow).

Friday, August 22, 2008

Summer Post - Zoning and Residential Cluster Developments

This may sound like an extremely boring topic, but it is a topic that our community is currently facing and may affect you in the future. Therefore, I am curious about your reactions to it. First, a couple of definitions:

Zoning - Zoning is the way the governments control the physical development of land and the kinds of uses to which each individual property may be put.

Zoning laws typically specify the areas in which residential, industrial, recreational or commercial activities may take place. For example, an R-1 residential zone might allow only single-family detached homes as opposed to duplexes or apartment complexes. On the other hand, a C-1 commercial zone might be zoned to permit only certain commercial or industrial uses in one jurisdiction, but permit a mix of housing and businesses in another jurisdiction.

Residential Cluster Development is a means of permanently protecting open space, rural character, and important environmental resources in new housing developments, while providing homeowners with good housing and landowners with the opportunity to develop their property.

Here in Morgan County, a large cluster development is being proposed to build 1200 new homes in the area that was once known as Coolfont. The company planning to build is the Carl M. Freeman Company. The company plans to build a lake and golf course as well. The company has many built many cluster developments along the east coast and periodically holds public informational meetings to inform citizens of their plans. They have also invested in the community by providing funding opportunities for community projects.

Most residential cluster developments are built in areas where there is a zoning ordinance in place, but here in Morgan County we do not have a zoning ordinance. Any building plans must be reviewed by the Morgan County Planning Commission prior to approval. Other than those restrictions, and some rules established by individual developments, residents may do what they wish with their property. Morgan County residents have expressed concerns about this development for various reasons ranging from traffic concerns to water quantity concerns.

I am interested in what you think. Read the following article about residential cluster developments and let me know what your thoughts are. Do you have any questions or concerns this type of development.

Then read some of the articles in the Morgan Messenger ( about what Freeman & Company plan to build. Write a reflective paragraph about what some of your concerns might be should this development be approved by the local planning commission.

Friday, August 8, 2008

SUMMER PROJECT: The Art of Thinking Clearly

Logic is about clear, effective, and efficient thinking. It is a science and an art. It is not something that we either have or lack when we are born -- it is something that we must study and practice.

We all know intelligent people who do not always express themselves logically. The likelihood is that their ability to think logically has not been properly developed.

Logic (which in no way excludes emotional feelings, by the way) is certainly helpful in overcoming deception, both from without and within. Please read a well-written (and short!) introduction to the basics of logic, published by the "OWL at Purdue":

Logic in Argumentative Writing

Be sure to read carefully all 5 sections (access found at bottom of page).

Based on your reading, address the following:

According to this article, what is logic?

List seven important logical vocabulary words and their definitions.

List 12 types of logical fallacies, along with quick descriptions of each.

Write two premises that lead to a true conclusion, and two premises that lead to a false conclusion (for ideas see "Reaching Logical Conclusions" examples C , D, and F, and "Does Logic Always Work?").

Any other comments on the piece?

Have a wonderful and clear-thinking rest of the summer!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Global Water Supplies: Are They Sustainable?

Summer Reading Post: Global Water Supplies: Are They Sustainable?

We are having one of the most glorious summers I can remember in a long time. Our days have been mild and our rainfall has been above average. It is July and we are only now seeing about 90 degree days. I hope you all are enjoying your break as much as I am. I have had the opportunity to work on some interesting projects this summer, one of which is to help collate some information on our county’s water quality and quantity. Get this:

The natural origin of the fresh water we use on a daily basis is limited to only one percent of the world’s water. Nearly 97% of the world’s water is salty or otherwise undrinkable, and the other two percent is locked in ice caps and glaciers:

• If five gallons represented all the water in the world – 34 tablespoons would represent water that was not ocean;
• Of the 34 tablespoons, 26 tablespoons would represent ice caps and glaciers;
• The remaining 8 tablespoons would represent water we can use for agricultural, residential, manufacturing, community, and personal needs.3

Water makes up almost two-thirds of the human body and 70 percent of the brain. The average daily requirement for water in the United States is about 341 billion gallons. We use one percent (3.4 billion gallons) in our homes and yards each day. On average, each of us uses almost 100 gallons of water a day including bathing, toiletry, cooking, cleaning, laundry and other non-drinking purposes. Americans drink more than one billion glasses of tap water per day. If we think of water as a precious resource, necessary for our survival as organisms, our focus on conserving water is emphasized.

This information above is from a brochure published by the Environmental Protection Agency called Source Water Protection: It’s In Our Hands. It made me start thinking about global water supplies. Will we always have adequate water supplies?

Consider these questions while reading the following article:

• How much water do people need?
• How abundant are world supplies of clean water?
• How much water is used in agriculture?
• Who provides the world’s water?
• What effects will population growth and development have on water supplies?
• How could disagreements over water lead to conflicts among nations?
• What effects will climate change have on water supplies?

One in six of the planet’s 6.4 billion people presently lack access to safe water, and a least 2.4 billion do no have access to adequate sanitation. Water demand is projected to grown by 40% over the next twenty years.

Answer one or all of the following questions:

1. How has climate change impacted global water supplies?
2. Why is it so important for individuals to have access to clean water supplies?
3. In your own words, put together a brief plan of how you might assist impoverished countries develop a program that ensures access to clean safe water?

Be thankful you are living in Berkeley Springs this summer. You could live in California, the state is literally on fire or you could be living in the Sudan.