🙋‍♂️ Inquiry vs direct instruction, writing by hand, the trouble with spreadsheets, and more – Of bits and bytes for February 5, 2024

Internet Travels

‘Of Bits and Bytes’ is my weekly roundup of fascinating finds and ideas from the internet, published every Monday to recap the previous week.

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There are some online games where you wonder about the point and then there is Infinite Craft. It comes across very simple, there are some “elements” on the right: water, fire, wind, and earth. You drag these elements out onto the playfield, but they just kind of hang there. That is, until you drop one on top of another. Then you get something magical, although in hindsight it’s pretty obvious.


I could see this being a group or class activity, discussing what might happen when you combine the different “elements”. But, whatever you do, don’t click on the Neal.fun logo in the upper left unless you want to see several hours of your life disappear.


Let’s settle this right now, which is the best way to teach, inquiry or direct instruction? Congratulations, how ever you answered it isn’t wrong. However, it might not be totally correct because it’s a trick question.

Research came out that said that writing by hand may increase brain connectivity more than typing on a keyboard. That’s good to know, but after I clicked on the article I was left with more questions than answers. I went to school and college before laptops, so my notes were all handwritten. The problem I had was that my writing couldn’t keep up with what I was thinking, a problem that was solved with the release of the laptop.

This research had me question whether I am taking notes wrong since I do them on the computer. However, the research methodology was flawed. I don’t have a problem with the researchers using a digital pen to mimic handwriting, and their research showed that the extra movement required for handwriting improved connections in the brain.

The typing portion of their research has be baffled. Participants ”used a single finger to press keys on a keyboard“ when typing. So they purposeful restricted typing, no wonder they got the results they did. I’d like to see the research re-done allowing participants to type with both hands, and as many fingers as they want.

I believe students should still learn cursive, which is making a comeback in California. As mush as I would rather type, there are times when I still need to write out text by hand. Now where’s my EraserMate (one of my favorite inventions, the EraserMate was released when I was in 5th grade and it was a game changer for me).

How do you handle deadlines with students in your classes? I don’t mind when students don’t complete work on time and give them extra time if they need it. However, I learned that if I wasn’t careful, student’s would procrastinate and wouldn’t get it done before the end of the 9 weeks or they would turn in a ton of work right before grades needed to be turned in. My solution? We used an online grade book, so I entered the grades as a 0 for any work not turned in. This kept the pressure up on the students since they could see exactly how their lack of work completion was affecting them, and more importantly, their parents would see it to.


Deadlines are good. – Cozy in Miami


A phrase I seem to use a lot is “when the only tool you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail”, and that’s how we’ve gotten into a pretty bad place with spreadsheets. The researchers found that “90 percent of spreadsheets containing more than 150 rows have at least one major mistake”. I see a lot of problems with spreadsheets for the simple fact that databases are too difficult to use. Since I haven’t seen any work on easy, web based databases, this is a problem that will continue for the foreseeable future.

Google has added their image generational AI tool to Bard, ImageFX, SGE, and Vertex AI. The results look pretty good, but I’m becoming disenchanted with the inability to produce consistent looking images. I want to have a character (or characters), either created by me or AI, and be able to place them into a consistent looking world.

Googles “help me write” tool is coming to Chrome and could have dire consequences on the internet as a whole. I always believed that the human touch is important, but Wal-mart has taught us that a majority of people will take “good enough” over good every time.

OpenAI has updated its ChatGPT-4 Turbo model hoping to reduces cases of ‘laziness’.


Ai essay writing software – Imgflip


Wondering how to talk with your students in middle and high school? Here’s a Tween and Teen Slang Dictionary. I like to use their slang just to mess with them, but I also like to throw out 80s slang such as “grody” or “grody to the max”. (Some of these 80s terms are NOT inclusive, so use with care. If you don’t know if a word is appropriate or not, ask someone. Not me, of course, because I have a tough time staying inside the lines.)

By the way, grunge is making a comeback along with the clothes, so maybe I should be looking at 90s slang. Every wonder where some of these grunge terms came from? A lot of them came from an over caffeinated writer being interviewed by The New York Times.


#grunge #memes #music #altrock #indierock #punk #alternative #indie #rock #nirvana #soundgarden #pearljam #templeofthedog #screamingtrees… | Instagram

Pop Culture

Let’s travel down the path behind the history of Comic Sans. There is a lot of hate toward the font out there, but I think it’s misplaced. I’m not a fan of the font because it’s overused, not for how it looks. Fortunately, there are a ton more fun fonts you can use nowadays that simply weren’t available when Comic Sans was released. My favorites are Sniglet, Happy Monkey, and Gloria Hallelujah.


10 Hilarious Comic Sans Meme to Light Up Your Day


Extra Credit

Here are extra links that I found interesting that may or may not be education related or interesting to you and I didn’t want to lose them.

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