Resource Highlight: War Poetry

For war poetry of the First World War (and information about its poets), plus poetry about Iraq, Afghanistan, Falklands, Sierra Leone, Palestine/Israel, the Holocaust and Vietnam go to The War Poetry Website.  It’s British editor David Roberts’ website, and includes poetry submitted by readers as well as collections by well-known published authors.

You’ll find not only poetry, but audio and video readings, author biographies, contextual backgrounders, and footnotes explaining obscure phrases.  For example, Wilfred Owen’s Dulce et Decorum Est is there, and the first footnote reads:

1.  DULCE ET DECORUM EST – the first words of a Latin saying (taken from an ode by Horace). The words were widely understood and often quoted at the start of the First World War. They mean “It is sweet and right.” The full saying ends the poem: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori – it is sweet and right to die for your country. In other words, it is a wonderful and great honour to fight and die for your country.

There’s also an introduction to the type of jingoistic pre-World War I poetry to which this poem directly responds.  Textbooks (even digital textbooks like ours) are great at providing context, but they can only provide so much detail.  This site is a great resource for teaching war through the eyes of poets: small details as well as emotions and sweeping themes.

This Veterans Day marks the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended “the war to end all wars.”  Hopefully none of your students have experienced war firsthand and hopefully none ever will.

Resource Highlight: PennSound

Looking for audio of contemporary poetry — possibly spoken by the author herself? PennSound at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing is “an ongoing project, committed to producing new audio recordings and preserving existing audio archives.” It is an online archive of poetry audio recordings that makes tens of thousands of digital files available to the public for free. PennSound also has an internet radio station, podcasts, and videos (and a small selection of classics).

PennSound is all about making audio files that can be played universally, with all metadata intact. Its manifesto in short:
1. It must be free and downloadable.
2. It must be MP3 or better.
3. It must be singles.
4. It must be named.
5. It must embed bibliographic information in the file.
6. It must be indexed.

You can use poetry to introduce or summarize a section or topic, or to illustrate a point.  For example, do you have juniors and seniors making plans for life after high school?  Why not play Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” and have them dissect its meaning?  Thanks to Penn Sound, they can also ponder the improbable path the recording took to get to them: from aluminum platter to reel tape to digitization!

Screen capture of Robert Frost page on PennSound

Resource Highlight: The CORE Project e-textbook

The CORE Project e-textbook is an online textbook in Economics for college students created by economists from all over the world.  It’s a bit advanced to use as the sole text for high school students, but teachers should be able to use this resource in many different ways.

John Cassidy in The New Yorker writes:
The project is a collaborative effort that emerged after the world financial crisis of 2008–9, and the ensuing Great Recession, when many students (and teachers) complained that existing textbooks didn’t do a good job of explaining what was happening. In many countries, groups of students demanded an overhaul in how economics was taught, with less emphasis on free-market doctrines and more emphasis on real-world problems.

Of course, that criticism doesn’t apply to WorldView Software’s Economics — we’ve had the comprehensive Tutorial: Global Financial Crisis for years!

page explains CMOs, includes graphic
A page from the WorldView Software “Economics” Tutorial: Global Financial Crisis

Resource Highlight: Libraries+ Network

Had enough of “big data”?  Check out the consortium effort to rescue “small data” created by the U.S. federal government data at the site Libraries+ Network.

The Libraries+ Network is a nascent consortium of research libraries, library organizations, and open data communities with a shared interest in saving, preserving, and making accessible born-digital federal government information upon which researchers, citizens, and communities rely.

The effort is particularly focused on federal agencies who’ve had their funding cut (or are proposed to be eliminated altogether).  Their videos and blog are a terrific way to introduce students to the issues in data gathering, storing, and accessing.

Resource Highlight: Fragile States Index Data

Data used in the Fragile States Index from The Fund for Peace can be used to create many different kinds of visualizations and explorations: scores and rankings, country dashboards, comparative analyses, trend analysis, FSI heat maps, and so on.  Use it to see which indicators FFP says are getting better or worse in a country, to argue over the political importance/relevance of those indicators, and to spark discussions about methodology.

For example, the United States is a stable country, but according to the index it has been worsening over the years:

Data from the U.S. country dashboard

(One irritating thing about the site is that it’s not responsive, so you will have to enlarge the window until the whole thing fits if you don’t want to continually scroll side-to-side.)

Resource Highlight: the IT History Society

The IT History Society http://www.ithistory.org/ is an international group of over 700 members working together to document, preserve, catalog, and research the history of Information Technology (IT). One of their most useful things for students and teachers on their site is an International Database of Historical and Archival Sites, where you can look up and research everything from pre-Apple history to ZZT-oop (an early in-game scripting programming language). The databases are listed alphabetically, and can be sorted by institution or country.

Resource Highlight: Hip Hop Sheet Music

If your class is researching issues in contemporary American society, you could create a soundtrack using already-recorded music — or you could get the sheet music and play it yourself.  To that end, believe it or not, there is a site that has sheet music for hip hop: http://www.hamienet.com/Hip-Hop/  The featured image above is an electric guitar track from Notorious B.I.G.’s “Mo Money, Mo Problems.”

And if there’s a song to which you want the notation, try creating it with Transcribe!, ScoreCloud, or TwelveKeys software (and remember to share it).