Film Screening: “Dyslecksia: The Movie”

Come check out this great event next Tuesday in Palo Alto! — PMK

Dislecksia: The Movie!


Dislecksia: The Movie
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Athena Academy, 525 San Antonio Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94306
7:00pm (doors open at 6:45pm)
Tickets $10.00 available online or in person at Athena Academy during school hours
The filmmaker will moderate a community forum panel following the screening.


Time to celebrate: it’s Marie Curie’s birthday!

Perhaps my favorite test question I’ve ever written is the following:

Name two achievements of Marie Curie. (Nota bene: “marrying Pierre Curie” is not an acceptable answer.)

Marie Curie is one of my intellectual heroes. She was brilliant, she was creative, and she was collaborative–and she won two Nobel prizes to boot. It’s been one of my stealth agendas as an educator to bring her into the curriculum whenever I can: at least two days of my History at Art, Music, and Science (HAMS) class at STES were devoted to the Curies and their innovations, and I convinced our English faculty here at CSH to put a graphic novel about her life and work on the school’s summer reading list.

I admire Marie Curie not necessarily because she’s the “token lady scientist” (see below) and that I can’t otherwise relate to male scientists. (Don’t get me started on my affection for Nikola Tesla.) I admire her because she worked incredibly hard and pursued her intellectual passions to the n-th degree. She was wholeheartedly committed to her work and was a person of integrity and generosity for her whole life. That’s the kind of person I aspire to be in my work, and I hope it’s what my students aspire to as well.

I leave you with one my favorite web comics of all time, from the inimitable XKCD. Happy birthday, Madame Curie!

English to non-native speakers

Happy summer to all! I hope you’ve had a relaxing, restorative summer so far. I’ve been traveling a lot and I’m looking forward to lots of reading and relaxing for the last three weeks of summer!

As you continue to enjoy your break, check out this video that I came across: it’s an Italian television show’s parody of what American English sounds like to non-native speakers. While it sounds vaguely like words that we should know in an American-sounding accent, the whole song is gibberish–it’s just a catchy, wacky, disco song.

I enjoyed a lot of things about this: the spastic dancing, the fact that the teacher looks like the Fonz, and the ways that this might connect to learning differences. Try listening to this and try straining to understand what’s being said: I wonder if that’s not unlike what some classroom situations and learning experiences can be like for some students. It’s as if you have an urgent sense that something important is going on but there’s an obstacle preventing you from getting that information. An interesting thought to consider in an otherwise very silly video.

Happy summer to all! 

Learning at the Oscars

I’m a huge fan of the Academy Awards, and I hosted my annual Oscar Party this weekend with some friends. I always love to cook a menu that reflects the Best Picture nominees, so we had pork ribs (Winter’s Bone), polenta (True Grit), skewered heirloom tomatoes (The Kids are All Right) and black-and-white flourless chocolate cupcakes (Black Swan). Learning and education blogs were abuzz with Oscar fever over the last week, too, and there were two cool articles worth checking out.

Natalie Portman, Oscar Winner, Was Also a Precocious Scientist. The New York Times had a great article this week on Natalie Portman’s scholarly efforts while she was a student at Harvard. I love that this article focuses on other young women in film (television stars Danica McKellar and Mayim Bialik, classic film star Hedy Lamarr) and their own exceptional academic work. It’s a neat article both for reflecting on the impressive accolades of these women and the broader implications for what it means to be a successful woman in our time. It’s exciting to know that these women are celebrated for their performance work but also for being bright leaders in science.

The Science of Stuttering: Speech Therapy. The Economist also focused on the debilitating condition at the center of The King’s Speech: a speech impediment. This is an interesting article about the science behind interventions like the one shown in the film. Just a cool read.