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Review: Antiracism and Universal Design for Learning: Building Expressways to Success

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Antiracism and Universal Design for Learning: Building Expressways to Success by Andratesha Fritzgerald My rating: 4 of 5 stars Fritzgerald proposes a tall order in tackling both antiracism and universal design for learning in one book--at least that might be the initial reaction for readers. But in truth, the two are a strong overlapping Venn Diagram when to comes to thinking about teaching, learning, engagement, and inclusion in our classes. Using a mixture of personal experiences, classroom situations, analogies, and reflection prompts, Fritzgerald moves through the primary pieces of universal design for learning to illustrate how each is mapped onto ideas and practices of anti-racism. Her book is not a polemic or a how-to with lots of supporting materials or exercises (for classes) per se.  Rather, she provides an earnest, well-grounded, and genuinely caring exploration of why thinking of UDL and anti-racism in tandem is so central to the success of all

Review: Writing for Audio

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Writing for Audio by Katie O Connor My rating: 2 of 5 stars This was a quick and dirty exploration of the topic that doesn't go into a lot of depth. It felt like a throw-away work for Audible ultimately that could have a lot more potential but seemed to just be put out to be put out.  Is it worth the listen?  Sure, there are a few tips and insights to consider if you are looking to write for a listening audience (or even if writing text but anticipating an audio adaptation of some sort). Some of it is to be mindful of the speaking tags (he said, she said) or think about how to make the sound more evident in your writing or how actions, personalities, etc can be translated into sound.  O'Connor interviews a handful of authors who have written Audible Originals, sharing brief snippets with each and while entertaining, I feel like it served more as a teaser than getting into a deeper conversation amongst the different writers about their

Review: Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know

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Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know by Adam M. Grant My rating: 4 of 5 stars Grant takes a deep dive into the disconnect between human confidence and human knowledge; particularly how humans grapple with the Dunning-Krueger effect.  This dynamic, found in many founds, leaves us to be way more confident about what we know about something, especially, if we have only a basic understanding of it. In many circumstances, we assume we know more than we do and we live in a society that often encourages that. Thus, many of us believe we're all above average on a variety of things, but have no real basis to come to that standpoint.  So Grant explores how this happens in individuals and in groups, while then identifying ways of undoing the potential harm such views can have on us as individuals and throughout society. His goal is not to prove any individual or group wrong but to give them the tools and mechanisms to check to se

Review: We Had a Little Real Estate Problem: The Unheralded Story of Native Americans and Comedy

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We Had a Little Real Estate Problem: The Unheralded Story of Native Americans and Comedy by Kliph Nesteroff My rating: 4 of 5 stars Nesteroff challenges the stereotypical depiction of Native Americans in the US and Canada as being stoic and serious with this history of comedy among Native Americans over the last few hundred years.  The book proves this fascinating slice of history, humor, and cultural exploration that many will find interesting.  Nesteroff works hard to draw the parallels of Native Americans and other marginalized groups that have leveraged humor to navigate their trauma and also re-introduce it to larger audiences, including the Black and Jewish experiences in North America. In particular, he draws out the mixture of violence, theft, and cultural destruction that US and Canadian governments and companies have exerted on Native Americans while simultaneously, considering how such things both influence many Native American come

Review: Don't Panic: The Official Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Companion

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Don't Panic: The Official Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Companion by Neil Gaiman My rating: 4 of 5 stars I'm a bit surprised that it took me this long to pick up this book.  Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was the book that turned me into an audiobook listener and I have read almost all of his work (ok, Last Chance to See, still doesn't grab me).  He was the first author death that I really felt and was sad about--and all that was before I even started enjoying Neil Gaiman.  A biography of Douglas Adams by Neil Gaiman should have been a book I read a long time ago and well, since "time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so," I finally got around to listening to this and I am overall, happy with what I heard. It's not a particularly deep biography but Gaiman does bring a share of insights and connections about Adams' work that I enjoyed.  Starting with his early life in school and t

Review: The Anthropocene Reviewed

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The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green My rating: 5 of 5 stars In general, John Green is a thoughtful and engaging writer of fiction and a highly amusing and fascinating YouTube star with his brother, Hank Green (seriously, the videos back and forth between these two are amazing, amusing, and authentic that demonstrates a positive form of white masculinity that is so needed today) and in this book, Green takes on an interesting idea; what would 5-star reviews look like if one were to review artifacts of the Anthropocene age (the time in which humans are impacting the Earth in clear--and somewhat irrevocable ways). The book is wide-range of reviews from songs to psychological states to geographic locations to events to food and beyond but it's so much more than that. Each review is an essay that reflects on the human nature embedded into the things that are being reviewed.  They can sometimes be deeply personal and connected to Green's

Recent Publication: The New LMS Rule

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Image source: Tobias Tullius on Unsplash Last week, a very cool thing happened.  An essay that I wrote got published in the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy was published.  The title, link, and abstract are below: The New LMS Rule: Transparency Working Both Ways This piece reflects on the asymmetrical power balance between students and instructors in any given learning management system by considering what it would look like if students had the same level of data access as instructors and how that might impact instructor practices. The piece also explores how the author as an instructional designer and instructor has perpetuated some of the more problematic LMS practices when it comes to data tracking. Finally, the article proposes that it is in higher education’s best interest to rethink LMSs by rethinking access and open the ability for students to have more control of their data as one means of improving the overabundance of surveillance in modern society. I have been

Review: Distracted: Why Students Can't Focus and What You Can Do About It

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Distracted: Why Students Can't Focus and What You Can Do About It by James M. Lang My rating: 4 of 5 stars I approached this book with some hesitancy. I'm familiar with and have read other works by Lang and generally like his writing in the Chronicle of Higher Ed and previous books. But I have a bias towards works that frame students as the problem and this book's title does that to some degree. However, overall, it was an insightful book, for the most part, exploring the challenges of distractedness and pedagogically approaches to keep students engaged in the classroom. Early on, Lang does what I think is not done enough and that is, contextualized distractedness as something that has been a concern for society for millennia. He calls out the idea that there was some mythic "before" when we all concentrated perfectly but then technology came along and ruined it for us and now youth is stupider as a result. He largely throws that out t

Review: Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019

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Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 by Ibram X. Kendi My rating: 5 of 5 stars A beautifully collective work of writers capturing the past to reflect back on the present moment. Keisha N. Blain and Ibram X. Kendi bring together scores of writers to write essays about different people and different moments within Black history in the United States from 1619 (the first year Africans were taken from their homes and enslaved in the British colonies) until 2019. Most authors write about a particular figure during a given 5 year period while every 9th piece (every 40 years), is a poem by a Black writer. The work in its totality is a powerhouse of Black history that captures both known and lesser-known aspects of the Black experience in American history; some heartbreaking, some inspiring, and some that are equal parts both. Meanwhile, the author list is a fantastic collection of Black writers that readers interested in this book,

Review: The Final Girl Support Group

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The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix My rating: 4 of 5 stars Hendrix's novel is an intriguing romp through slasher films of the 1980s-1990s seen through the eyes of the final girls (the "girls" that survived the slashers). It's decades later and they run a closed support group, processing everything that has happened to them (the incidents themselves and also, the media circus that continues to haunt them).  But now, a slasher has arrived on the scene and is attempting to pick off the women one by one. Lynnette, an outsider, even among the "final" women is the only one who can see it coming but none of the others seem willing to believe her--and it doesn't help that she was largely discredited when her computer was hacked, the others find out that she's possibly betrayed them.  It's a fun narrative that keeps you guessing about who is the slasher, who is the prey, and how it is all going to end.