Saturday, July 14, 2012

on habits of mind: Montaigne #4

NFL coaching legend Vince Lombardi once said, "Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing."

As you reflect on your own habits of thinking, read the following passage about Montaigne's view of the topic and ask yourself: do your habits of mind help you achieve your goals, or do they get in your way? Answer in a comment to this post.

montaigne4 habits of mind -

Monday, July 9, 2012

summer notes etherpad

Hi Everyone,
I've created an etherpad here for anyone who wants to upload their summer reading notes and collaborate with others.  So, you've got some choices about how to document your summer reading.  You can:
  • write them out by hand
  • post them to your course blog
  • post them to the etherpad
Each of these media has advantages and disadvantages.  The act of writing engages your brain and "teaches" you as you go by actively reinforcing ideas as you write them down.  (This is why you're more likely to remember everything at the store if you write a list, even if you forget to bring the list with you.)  Posting notes to your course blog establishes your digital identity and gives you a way to start drawing traffic and engaging thinkers on your online turf.  Posting notes to the etherpad gives you a chance to see your work right next to your peers', which enables us (literally) to compare notes.  And there is a benefit to doing all three: as my mentor Coach Wooden liked to say, "Repetition is a key to learning."  For those practical/self-interested types, rest assured that the more value you create for this learning community (by becoming knowledgeable and sharing ideas with others) the more credit you will accrue on Project Infinity.

NOTE: Ashlie's already commented to the etherpad and expressed some reservation about using the platform for the purpose.  This is fair game.  I'm genuinely curious about your perceptions of these tools because I want to optimize the learning experience.  So I will often ask you about what you're using, how, and how well it works for you.  Over the summer you're forced to learn tools by trial and error, but next month we'll be learning about them as we go.  As we explore new tools we will have some discussion about the tools themselves and not just the content we're using them to explore.  In the meantime, if you have questions, criticisms or suggestions about any of the tools, please send me an email, or comment to a post like this one, or (when we get back) bring it up in class.  Let's reserve the actual platforms for their intended purposes so that we can evaluate how well they work.  We can always hack the tools and the tool-selection process later.

Friday, July 6, 2012


Although there is some disagreement as to where the phrase, "A picture's worth a thousand words" originated, these pictures are worth at least ten times that much. I'll sum them up with one:
Whoa. (source)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

On Reading: Montaigne #3

It's amazing to me how personal and unique the experience of reading really is. Reading can be a concert, a nuclear explosion, a torrid love affair, a journey to exotic locales (including outer/inner space), or even Marvin Gaye singing the Star Spangled Banner at the 1983 NBA All-Star Game. But mostly, reading is an imagined conversation. A short text is like passing someone in a hallway and getting a snippet of information ("Hey, how ya doin'?" "Fine.") or entertainment ("Dude, you wouldn't believe what happened last night!"). A longer text can feel like a relationship; when I finish a really good book I feel a little wistful saying goodbye to characters who have managed to take on lives of their own and become "people" in my imagination. Experiencing all this without leaving my couch still surprises me with all sorts of thoughts and feelings I wouldn't have if I didn't read.

How do you feel about reading? [*Besides disliking school assignments. I think we can agree that none of us like being made to do anything-- I'm asking about the reading you've sought out on your own. And if you haven't, it's time to start. Email me at if you need help getting started.] How have your reading experiences (or lack of reading experiences) influenced the way you think and feel about reading? As you read Montaigne's ideas, think about how we can choose texts and design reading experiences this year that will make you a happier and more effective reader. I look forward to your comments.

montaigne3 reading

Monday, July 2, 2012

early bird special: etherpads

First person to correctly explain what an etherpad is wins!  Once you see the comment and the contributor is lavished with well-deserved praise (and Project Infinity tributes, more on that later), ask this person why it makes sense for all of us put our summer reading notes on an etherpad instead of hoarding them in our notebooks or even on our blogs.