A Critical Thinking Exercise About Studies

Every year at TEACHAPALOOZA educators share stories about how they are trying to find ways to get students thinking more critically about the information they hear and read. Here is a great case study.

The University of Maryland released a study that suggests a particular brand of chocolate milk may help young athletes who suffered concussions to recover. The questions arise whether the study makes any scientific, let alone logical sense. Then we learn that the milk company helped pay for the study.


Why the First Five Minutes of Class is Crucial

Here are strategies to help you get every class off on the right foot:

Open with a question or two.

What did we learn last time? 

Asking students to tell you what they already know (or think they know) has two important benefits. First, it lights up the parts of their brains that connect to your course material, so when they encounter new material, they will process it in a richer knowledge context. Second, it lets you know what preconceptions students have about your course material. That way, your lecture, discussion, or whatever you plan for class that day can specifically deal with and improve upon the knowledge actually in the room, rather than the knowledge you imagine to be in the room.

Reactivate what they learned in previous courses.

Write it down.

Frequent, low-stakes writing assignments constitute one of the best methods you can use to solicit engagement and thinking in class. You don’t have to grade the responses very carefully — or at all. Count them for participation, or make them worth a tiny fraction of a student’s grade. If you don’t want to collect the papers, have students write in their notebooks or on laptops and walk around the classroom just to keep everyone honest and ensure they are doing the work. Limit writing time to three to five minutes and ask everyone to write until you call time — at which point discussion begins.


Crowdfunded Journalism Rises

During TEACHAPALOOZA 2015 we heard predictions that crowdfunding for journalism would rise. It has.

Poynter.org reports:

In the first nine months of 2015, crowdfunding projects devoted to journalism raised more than $1.74 million on Kickstarter, according to the report. That’s up from $49,256 in 2009, the year Kickstarter launched. The amount of crowdfunding projects has also increased, growing from 17 to 173 projects over that same period.

Likewise, the contributor base to journalism projects on Kickstarter has also expanded, increasing to 25,651 people in 2015 from an initial 792 people in 2009.

An Ethics Lesson: Why CBS Aired Graphic Death Video

In August 2015, CBS’ 60 Minutes re-aired some of the most graphic video it has ever aired. (It first aired in April 2015.) The program included video of victims from Sarin gas attacks in Syria.

Scott Pelley explains the decision. Watch the interview, which includes clips of the video in question:

“If you don’t see it, I don’t believe the impact truly hits you,” Pelley tells Silvio. “Even though people will be disturbed by what they see, it has to be seen.”

Eyewitness cellphone videos, broadcast on 60 Minutes, show the aftermath of the 2013 sarin gas attack and the horror that victims of all ages suffered — including seizures, vomiting, and respiratory failure.


Ask your students, what would have happened if Jews in Germany and Poland had cellphones and could have posted their plight on the Internet?

“That’s not the kind of thing you want to report on for a couple of days and then walk away and never remember again,” Pelley says. “You want to never forget that that kind of thing happened — and that’s where 60 Minutes comes in.”

Google Tools for Educators


Our TEACHAPALOOZA friend Vanessa Schneider at Google shared amazing tools with us including:

Storytelling with Google’s Geo Tools – Tutorial site:


Getting started with Fusion Tables – Tutorial site:


Movie Making with Google Earth – Tutorial site:


Teachapalooza Demo Data (for practice!):


Google Media Tools:


Google Media Mailing list:


Let’s take a closer look at  Google Public Data .
This powerful search tool makes it easy to look at thousands of data sets from around the globe.

Click on the image to go to the website

Click on the image to go to the website


Google trends can help you find out what people are searching for.
Not only can you find out what’s hot, you can find out what is hot where you are.

Google Trends can also tell you WHEN people search for certain topics.

Click on image to go to website

Click on image to go to website

Google Trends Visualize
See what his hot in a constantly updated visual.

The constantly changing screen shows you what people are searching for on Google.

The constantly changing screen shows you what people are searching for on Google.

Vanessa Schneider's constantly updated blog : click on image to link to site

Vanessa Schneider’s constantly updated blog : click on image to link to site

Google Charts
This is a way to visualize data 

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