What Happens as the Cost of Hating Pigs Approaches Zero? Focus, Literacy and Angry Birds

The Angry Birds app for my iPhone cost me $.99. I just checked my app stats and it appears I’ve won a “medal” for playing the game for more than 15 hours. (Disclosure: I’ve owned the program for about two months.) The next medal comes after 30 hours of play. Thus, my cost of Angry Birds is somewhere between 3 and 6 cents per hour – and dropping. 

Where did I find the 15+ hours to destroy those evil pigs? What’s the opportunity cost of vengeance?

The price of information is rapidly approaching zero. Normally as cost of a commodity drops, we consume more of it. But unlike all the other cheap stuff we buy, and then later discard, cheap information demands our attention. Despite all the claims of multi-tasking, we are stuck with a finite attention span. Thus the ability to selectively filter out unwanted information and stay focussed on a task is emerging as the most significant digital literacy.

And it appears I’m not the only one distracted by green pigs. Peter Verterbacka, of Rovio (makers of Angry Birds) estimates 200 million minutes of play per day across the globe. Expect to see that number grow. Rovio recently surpassed a million downloads a day. 

200 million minutes less to accomplish _________  

…. I can only hope it comes at the expense of lolcats.

My One Day of Fame at SlideShare

Slideshare Received a nice email from the folks at SlideShare this morning. 

"Hi peterpappas, Your presentation "The Student As Historian – DBQ Strategies and Resources" is currently being featured on the SlideShare homepage by our editorial team. We thank you for this terrific presentation, that has been chosen from amongst the thousands that are uploaded to SlideShare everday."

Cute baby photo – tough competition!

The Student As Historian – DBQ Resources and Strategies

New woman-wash day Over the last few weeks I’ve been guiding teams of teachers on reflective classroom walkthroughs. During the course of one of our “hallway discussions” I asked a social studies teacher, “who’s the historian in your classroom?” After a bit of give and take, we concluded that in the traditional classroom, the students get to watch (and listen) to the teacher be historian. 

That’s certainly what you would have seen early in my teaching career. I was the one doing most of the reading, reflecting and synthesizing of historic material. I thought my job was to distill it all and simplify for consumption by my students. It took me a few years to realize my job was to get the students to do the thinking.  I have spent my career developing teaching strategies and assembling resources that foster the student as historian. 

This downloadable SlideShare accompanies my workshop in “Teaching with Documents.” Don’t think of it as a presentation. It’s a online guide to resources and includes strategy illustrations from my workshop.

Link to presentation at SlideShare The Student As Historian

Image “The new woman – wash day”(1901) 
Library of Congress  cph 3b22851

Humanities Conference Smackdown! AHA vs MLA Twitter Visualizers

What a weekend for humanist scholars – two big annual conferences under way – the American Historical Association (AHA) Boston and the Modern Language Association (MLA)  LA. I thought it would be interesting to create two visualizers to follow the key words being used in Tweets from both conferences. Watch the memes emerge! The first shows the word frequency of tweets using the hashtag #aha2011 and second follows the hashtag #mla11

(1/13/11 Note) Since these visualizations are time sensitive, I have posted screen shot versions of each. For the next few weeks you can click on link to live versions.

AHA Twitter Visualization
Direct link to a live visualization


MLA Twitter Visualization 
Direct link to live visualization


Hat tip to Twitter StreamGraphs – @JeffClark

Work, Culture and Society in Industrial America: Teaching History With DBQs


Questions feature a selection of primary and secondary documents, graphics, cartoons, tables, and graphs. Each is keyed to a historic theme and focused on an essential question of enduring relevance. They provide students with the exciting opportunity to move beyond the passive absorption of facts and enter knowledgeably into a managed archive where they can bring sound historic perspectives and analysis to bear on the challenges of the past and opportunities for the future.

More DBQ blog posts
My site Teaching with Documents.  

The Industrial Revolution began in Western Europe and eventually spread across much of the world. It transformed humanity’s age-old struggle with material scarcity by using capital, technology, resources, and management to expand the production of goods and services dramatically. In the United States, the period between the Civil War and the end of the nineteenth century was one of tremendous industrial and commer cial expansion. Americans have long had faith in the idea of progress, and many people viewed this dramatic economic growth as evidence of the superiority of the American system.

But while increased production did improve the American standard of living, industrialization concentrated great wealth and power in the hands of a few captains of industry. For the thousands of Americans who actually worked in the new factories, however, this economic revolution often meant long hours, low wages, and dangerous working conditions. As economic growth increasingly touched every aspect of American society, it created both new opportunities and new social problems. 

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Rural Americans Move to the Cities: explore the world of the rural men and women who moved to the cities in search of a better life. (pdf format)

Progress and Poverty in Industrial America:  explore the impact of an economic revolution on rich and poor Americans. (pdf format)

Re-Defining the Role of Women in Industrial America: explore the ways social and economic progress impacted the role of women. (pdf format)

Election Day by CW Guslin, 1909
Sears Catalogue 1908 

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