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Ridiculously Cute Halloween Costumes: Pet Obsessed!

Ridiculously Cute Halloween Costumes: Pet Obsessed! | Cultural Trendz |
Twenty five awesome Halloween pet costumes. Check them out! ~ V.B.   (Click on the image or title above to view original post.)
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You are a rogue device

You are a rogue device | Cultural Trendz |

If you're walking around downtown Seattle, look up: You'll see off-white boxes, each one about a foot tall with vertical antennae, attached to utility poles. If you're walking around downtown while looking at a smartphone, you will probably see at least one—and more likely two or three—Wi-Fi networks named after intersections: "4th&Seneca," "4th&Union," "4th&University," and so on. That is how you can see the Seattle Police Department's new wireless mesh network, bought from a California-based company called Aruba Networks, whose clients include the Department of Defense, school districts in Canada, oil-mining interests in China, and telecommunications companies in Saudi Arabia.

The question is: How well can this mesh network see you?

How accurately can it geo-locate and track the movements of your phone, laptop, or any other wireless device by its MAC address (its "media access control address"—nothing to do with Macintosh—which is analogous to a device's thumbprint)? Can the network send that information to a database, allowing the SPD to reconstruct who was where at any given time, on any given day, without a warrant? Can the network see you now?

The SPD declined to answer more than a dozen questions from The Stranger, including whether the network is operational, who has access to its data, what it might be used for, and whether the SPD has used it (or intends to use it) to geo-locate people's devices via their MAC addresses or other identifiers.

Seattle Police detective Monty Moss, one of the leaders of the mesh-network project—one part of a $2.7 million effort, paid for by the Department of Homeland Security—wrote in an e-mail that the department "is not comfortable answering policy questions when we do not yet have a policy." But, Detective Moss added, the SPD "is actively collaborating with the mayor's office, city council, law department, and the ACLU on a use policy." The ACLU, at least, begs to differ: "Actively collaborating" is not how they would put it. Jamela Debelak, technology and liberty director of the Seattle office, says the ACLU submitted policy-use suggestions months ago and has been waiting for a response.

Detective Moss also added that the mesh network would not be used for "surveillance purposes... without City Council's approval and the appropriate court authorization." Note that he didn't say the mesh network couldn't be used for the surveillance functions we asked about, only that it wouldn't—at least until certain people in power say it can. That's the equivalent of a "trust us" and a handshake.

His answer is inadequate for other reasons as well. First, the city council passed an ordinance earlier this year stating that any potential surveillance equipment must submit protocols to the city council for public review and approval within 30 days of its acquisition and implementation. This mesh network has been around longer than that, as confirmed by Cascade Networks, Inc., which helped install it. Still, the SPD says it doesn't have a policy for its use yet. Mayor McGinn's office says it expects to see draft protocols sometime in December—nearly nine months late, according to the new ordinance.

Second, and more importantly, this mesh network is part of a whole new arsenal of surveillance technologies that are moving faster than the laws that govern them are being written. As Stephanie K. Pell (former counsel to the House Judiciary Committee) and Christopher Soghoian (senior policy analyst at the ACLU) wrote in a 2012 essay for the Berkeley Technology Law Journal:

    The use of location information by law enforcement agencies is common and becoming more so as technological improvements enable collection of more accurate and precise location data. The legal mystery surrounding the proper law enforcement access standard for prospective location data remains unsolved. This mystery, along with conflicting rulings over the appropriate law enforcement access standards for both prospective and historical location data, has created a messy, inconsistent legal landscape where even judges in the same district may require law enforcement to meet different standards to compel location data.

In other words, law enforcement has new tools—powerful tools. We didn't ask for them, but they're here. And nobody knows the rules for how they should be used.

This isn't the first time the SPD has purchased surveillance equipment (or, as they might put it, public-safety equipment that happens to have powerful surveillance capabilities) without telling the rest of the city. There was the drones controversy this past winter, when the public and elected officials discovered that the SPD had bought two unmanned aerial vehicles with the capacity to spy on citizens. There was an uproar, and a few SPD officers embarked on a mea culpa tour of community meetings where they answered questions and endured (sometimes raucous) criticism. In February, Mayor Mike McGinn announced he was grounding the drones, but a new mayor could change his mind. Those SPD drones are sitting somewhere right now on SPD property.

Meanwhile, the SPD was also dealing with the port-camera surveillance scandal. That kicked off in late January, when people in West Seattle began wondering aloud about the 30 cameras that had appeared unannounced on utility poles along the waterfront. The West Seattle neighborhood blog ( sent questions to city utility companies, and the utilities in turn pointed at SPD, which eventually admitted that it had purchased and installed 30 surveillance cameras with federal money for "port security." That resulted in an additional uproar and another mea culpa tour, much like they did with the drones, during which officers repeated that they should have done a better job of educating the public about what they were up to with the cameras on Alki. (Strangely, the Port of Seattle and the US Coast Guard didn't seem very involved in this "port security" project—their names only appear in a few cursory places in the budgets and contracts. The SPD is clearly the driving agency behind the project. For example, their early tests of sample Aruba products—beginning with a temporary Aruba mesh network set up in Pioneer Square for Mardi Gras in 2009—didn't have anything to do with the port whatsoever.)

The cameras attracted the controversy, but they were only part of the project. In fact, the 30 pole-mounted cameras on Alki that caused the uproar cost $82,682—just 3 percent of the project's $2.7 million Homeland Security–funded budget. The project's full title was "port security video surveillance system with wireless mesh network." People raised a fuss about the cameras. But what about the mesh network?

Detective Moss and Assistant Chief Paul McDonagh mentioned the downtown mesh network during those surveillance-camera community meetings, saying it would help cops and firefighters talk to each other by providing a wireless network for their exclusive use, with the potential for others to use overlaid networks handled by the same equipment. (Two-way radios already allow police officers to talk to each other, but officers still use wireless networks to access data, such as the information an officer looks for by running your license plate number when you've been pulled over.)

As Brian Magnuson of Cascade Networks, Inc., which helped install the Aruba system, explained the possible use of such a system: "A normal cell-phone network is a beautiful thing right up until the time you really need it—say you've just had an earthquake or a large storm, and then what happens? Everybody picks up their phone and overloads the system." The network is most vulnerable precisely when it's most needed. A mesh network could be a powerful tool for streaming video from surveillance cameras or squad car dash-cams across the network, allowing officers "real-time situational awareness" even when other communication systems have been overloaded, as Detective Moss explained in those community meetings.

But the Aruba mesh network is not just for talking, it's also for tracking.

After reviewing Aruba's technical literature, as well as talking to IT directors and systems administrators around the country who work with Aruba products, it's clear that their networks are adept at seeing all the devices that move through their coverage area and visually mapping the locations of those devices in real time for the system administrators' convenience. In fact, one of Aruba's major selling points is its ability to locate "rogue" or "unassociated" devices—that is, any device that hasn't been authorized by (and maybe hasn't even asked to be part of) the network.

Which is to say, your device. The cell phone in your pocket, for instance.

The user's guide for one of Aruba's recent software products states: "The wireless network has a wealth of information about unassociated and associated devices." That software includes "a location engine that calculates associated and unassociated device location every 30 seconds by default... The last 1,000 historical locations are stored for each MAC address."

For now, Seattle's mesh network is concentrated in the downtown area. But the SPD has indicated in PowerPoint presentations—also acquired by The Stranger—that it hopes to eventually have "citywide deployment" of the system that, again, has potential surveillance capabilities that the SPD declined to answer questions about. That could give a whole new meaning to the phrase "real-time situational awareness."

So how does Aruba's mesh network actually function?

Each of those off-white boxes you see downtown is a wireless access point (AP) with four radios inside it that work to shove giant amounts of data to, through, and around the network, easily handling bandwidth-hog uses such as sending live, high-resolution video to or from moving vehicles. Because this grid of APs forms a latticelike mesh, it works like the internet itself, routing traffic around bottlenecks and "self-healing" by sending traffic around components that fail.

As Brian Magnuson at Cascade Networks explains: "When you have 10 people talking to an AP, no problem. If you have 50, that's a problem." Aruba's mesh solution is innovative—instead of building a few high-powered, herculean APs designed to withstand an immense amount of traffic, Aruba sprinkles a broad area with lots of lower-powered APs and lets them figure out the best way to route all the data by talking to each other.

Aruba's technology is considered cutting-edge because its systems are easy to roll out, administer, and integrate with other systems, and its operating system visualizes what's happening on the network in a simple, user-friendly digital map. The company is one of many firms in the networking business, but, according to the tech-ranking firm Gartner, Aruba ranks second (just behind Cisco) in "completeness of vision" and third in "ability to execute" for its clever ways of getting around technical hurdles.

Take the new San Francisco 49ers football stadium, which, Magnuson says, is just finishing up an Aruba mesh network installation. The stadium has high-intensity cellular service needs—70,000 people can converge there for a single event in one of the most high-tech cities in America, full of high-powered, newfangled devices. "Aruba's solution was ingenious," Magnuson says. It put 640 low-power APs under the stadium's seats to diffuse the data load. "If you're at the stadium and trying to talk to an AP," Magnuson says, "you're probably sitting on it!"

Another one of Aruba's selling points is its ability to detect rogue devices—strangers to the system. Its promotional "case studies" trumpet this capability, including one report about Cabela's hunting and sporting goods chain, which is an Aruba client: "Because Cabela's stores are in central shopping areas, the company captures huge quantities of rogue data—as many as 20,000 events per day, mostly from neighboring businesses." Aruba's network is identifying and distinguishing which devices are allowed on the Cabela's network and which are within the coverage area but are just passing through. The case study also describes how Cabela's Aruba network was able to locate a lost price-scanner gun in a large warehouse by mapping its location, as well as track employees by the devices they were carrying.

It's one thing for a privately owned company to register devices it already owns with a network. It's another for a local police department to scale up that technology to blanket an entire downtown—or an entire city.

Aruba also sells a software product called "Analytics and Location Engine 1.0." According to a document Aruba has created about the product, ALE "calculates the location of associated and unassociated wifi devices... even though a device has not associated to the network, information about it is available. This includes the MAC address, location, and RSSI information." ALE's default setting is anonymous, which "allows for unique user tracking without knowing who the individual user is." But, Aruba adds in the next sentence, "optionally the anonymization can be disabled for richer analytics and user behavior tracking." The network has the ability to see who you are—how deeply it looks is up to whoever's using it. (The Aruba technology, as far as we know, does not automatically associate a given MAC address with the name on the device's account. But figuring out who owns the account—by asking a cell-phone company, for example—would not be difficult for a law-enforcement agency.)

Geo-location seems to be an area of intense interest for Aruba. Last week, the Oregonian announced that Aruba had purchased a Portland mapping startup called Meridian, which, according to the article, has developed software that "pinpoints a smartphone's location inside a venue, relying either on GPS technology or with localized wireless networks." The technology, the article says, "helps people find their way within large buildings, such as malls, stadiums, or airports and enables marketing directed at a phone's precise location."

How does that geo-location work? Devices in the network's coverage area are "heard" by more than one radio in those APs (the off-white boxes). Once the network hears a device from multiple APs, it can compare the strength and timing of the signal to locate where the device is. This is classic triangulation, and users of Aruba's AirWave software—as in the Cabela's example—report that their systems are able to locate devices to within a few feet.

In the case of large, outdoor installations where APs are more spread out, the ability to know what devices are passing through is useful—especially, perhaps, to policing agencies, which could log that data for long-term storage. As networking products and their uses continue to evolve, they will only compound the "legal mystery" around how this technology could and should be used that Pell and Soghoian described in their Berkeley Technology Law Journal piece. Aruba's mesh network is state-of-the-art, but something significantly smarter and more sensitive will surely be on the market this time next year. And who knows how much better the software will get.

An official spokesperson for Aruba wrote in an e-mail that the company could not answer The Stranger's questions because they pertained "to a new product announcement" that would not happen until Thanksgiving. "Aruba's technology," the spokesperson added, "is designed for indoor (not outdoor) usage and is for consumer apps where they opt in." This is in direct contradiction to Aruba's own user's manuals, as well as the fact that the Seattle Police Department installed an outdoor Aruba mesh network earlier this year.

One engineer familiar with Aruba products and similar systems—who requested anonymity—confirmed that the mesh network and its software are powerful tools. "But like anything," the engineer said, it "can be used inappropriately... You can easily see how a user might abuse this ability (network admin has a crush on user X, monitors user X's location specifically)." As was widely reported earlier this year, such alleged abuses within the NSA have included a man who spied on nine women over a five-year period, a woman who spied on prospective boyfriends, a man who spied on his girlfriend, a husband who spied on his wife, and even a man who spied on his ex-girlfriend "on his first day of access to the NSA's surveillance system," according to the Washington Post. The practice was so common within the NSA, it got its own classification: "LOVEINT."

Other Aruba clients—such as a university IT director, a university vice president, and systems administrators—around the country confirmed it wouldn't be difficult to use the mesh network to track the movement of devices by their MAC addresses, and that building a historical database of their movements would be relatively trivial from a data-storage perspective.

As Bruce Burton, an information technology manager at the University of Cincinnati (which uses an Aruba network), put it in an e-mail: "This mesh network will have the capability to track devices (MAC addresses) throughout the city."

Not that the SPD would do that—but we don't know. "We definitely feel like the public doesn't have a handle on what the capabilities are," says Debelak of the ACLU. "We're not even sure the police department does." It all depends on what the SPD says when it releases its mesh-network protocols.

"They're long overdue," says Lee Colleton, a systems administrator at Google who is also a member of the Seattle Privacy Coalition, a grassroots group that formed in response to SPD's drone and surveillance-camera controversies. "If we don't deal with this kind of thing now, and establish norms and policies, we'll find ourselves in an unpleasant situation down the road that will be harder to change."

The city is already full of surveillance equipment. The Seattle Department of Transportation, for example, uses license-plate scanners, sensors embedded in the pavement, and other mechanisms to monitor individual vehicles and help estimate traffic volume and wait time. "But as soon as that data is extrapolated," says Adiam Emery of SDOT, "it's gone." They couldn't turn it over to a judge if they tried.

Not that license-plate scanners have always been so reliable. Doug Honig of the ACLU remembers a story he heard from a former staffer a couple of years ago about automatic license-plate readers on police cars in Spokane. Automatic license-plate readers "will read a chain-link fence as XXXXX," Honig says, "which at the time also matched the license plate of a stolen car in Mississippi, resulting in a number of false alerts to pull over the fence."

Seattle's mesh network is only one instance in a trend of Homeland Security funding domestic surveillance equipment. Earlier this month, the New York Times ran a story about a $7 million Homeland Security grant earmarked for "port security"—just like the SPD's mesh-network funding—in Oakland.

"But instead," the Times reports, "the money is going to a police initiative that will collect and analyze reams of surveillance data from around town—from gunshot- detection sensors in the barrios of East Oakland to license plate readers mounted on police cars patrolling the city's upscale hills."

The Oakland "port security" project, which the Times reports was formerly known as the "Domain Awareness Center," will "electronically gather data around the clock from a variety of sensors and databases, analyze that data, and display some of the information on a bank of giant monitors." The Times doesn't detail what kind of "sensors and databases" the federally funded "port security" project will pay for, but perhaps it's something like Seattle's mesh network with its ability to ping, log, and visually map the movement of devices in and out of its coverage area.

Which brings up some corollary issues, ones with implications much larger than the SPD's ability to call up a given time on a given day and see whether you were at work, at home, at someone's else home, at a bar, or at a political demonstration: What does it mean when money from a federal agency like the Department of Homeland Security is being funneled to local police departments like SPD to purchase and use high-powered surveillance gear?

For federal surveillance projects, the NSA and other federal spying organizations have at least some oversight—as flawed as it may be—from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (also known as the FISA court) and the US Congress. But local law enforcement doesn't have that kind of oversight and, in Seattle at least, has been buying and installing DHS-funded surveillance equipment without explaining what it's up to. The city council's surveillance ordinance earlier this year was an attempt to provide local oversight on that kind of policing, but it has proven toothless.

It's reasonable to assume that locally gleaned information will be shared with other organizations, including federal ones. An SPD diagram of the mesh network, for example, shows its information heading to institutions large and small, including the King County Sheriff's Office, the US Coast Guard, and our local fusion center.

Fusion centers, if you're unfamiliar with the term, are information-sharing hubs, defined by the Department of Homeland Security as "focal points" for the "receipt, analysis, gathering, and sharing" of surveillance information.

If federally funded, locally built surveillance systems with little to no oversight can dump their information in a fusion center—think of it as a gun show for surveillance, where agencies freely swap information with little restriction or oversight—that could allow federal agencies such as the FBI and the NSA to do an end-run around any limitations set by Congress or the FISA court.

If that's their strategy in Seattle, Oakland, and elsewhere, it's an ingenious one—instead of maintaining a few high-powered, herculean surveillance agencies designed to digest an immense amount of traffic and political scrutiny, the federal government could sprinkle an entire nation with lots of low-powered surveillance nodes and let them figure out the best way to route the data by talking to each other. By diffusing the way the information flows, they can make it flow more efficiently.

It's an innovative solution—much like the Aruba mesh network itself.

The Department of Homeland Security has not responded to requests for comment. recommended

This article has been updated since its original publication.


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Researchers show how mindfulness and thoughts change your genes

Researchers show how mindfulness and thoughts change your genes | Cultural Trendz |

With evidence growing that training the mind or inducing specific modes of consciousness can have beneficial health effects, scientists have sought to understand how these practices physically affect the body. A new study by researchers in Wisconsin, Spain, and France reports the first evidence of specific molecular changes in the body following a period of intensive mindfulness practice.

The study investigated the effects of a day of intensive mindfulness practice in a group of experienced meditators, compared to a group of untrained control subjects who engaged in quiet non-meditative activities. After eight hours of mindfulness practice, the meditators showed a range of genetic and molecular differences, including altered levels of gene-regulating machinery and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper that shows rapid alterations in gene expression within subjects associated with mindfulness meditation practice,” says study author Richard J. Davidson, founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds and the William James and Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“Most interestingly, the changes were observed in genes that are the current targets of anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs,” says Perla Kaliman, first author of the article and a

researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Research of Barcelona, Spain (IIBB-CSIC-IDIBAPS), where the molecular analyses were conducted.

The study was published in the Journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.

Mindfulness-based trainings have shown beneficial effects on inflammatory disorders in prior clinical studies and are endorsed by the American Heart Association as a preventative intervention. The new results provide a possible biological mechanism for therapeutic effects.

Gene Activity Can Change According To Perception

According to Dr. Bruce Lipton, gene activity can change on a daily basis. If the perception in your mind is reflected in the chemistry of your body, and if your nervous system reads and interprets the environment and then controls the blood’s chemistry, then you can literally change the fate of your cells by altering your thoughts.

In fact, Dr. Lipton’s research illustrates that by changing your perception, your mind can alter the activity of your genes and create over thirty thousand variations of products from each gene. He gives more detail by saying that the gene programs are contained within the nucleus of the cell, and you can rewrite those genetic programs through changing your blood chemistry.

In the simplest terms, this means that we need to change the way we think if we are to heal cancer. “The function of the mind is to create coherence between our beliefs and the reality we experience,” Dr. Lipton said. “What that means is that your mind will adjust the body’s biology and behavior to fit with your beliefs. If you’ve been told you’ll die in six months and your mind believes it, you most likely will die in six months. That’s called the nocebo effect, the result of a negative thought, which is the opposite of the placebo effect, where healing is mediated by a positive thought.”

That dynamic points to a three-party system: there’s the part of you that swears it doesn’t want to die (the conscious mind), trumped by the part that believes you will (the doctor’s prognosis mediated by the subconscious mind), which then throws into gear the chemical reaction (mediated by the brain’s chemistry) to make sure the body conforms to the dominant belief. (Neuroscience has recognized that the subconscious controls 95 percent of our lives.)

Now what about the part that doesn’t want to die–the conscious mind? Isn’t it impacting the body’s chemistry as well? Dr. Lipton said that it comes down to how the subconscious mind, which contains our deepest beliefs, has been programmed. It is these beliefs that ultimately cast the deciding vote.

“It’s a complex situation,” said Dr. Lipton. People have been programmed to believe that they’re victims and that they have no control. We’re programmed from the start with our mother and father’s beliefs. So, for instance, when we got sick, we were told by our parents that we had to go to the doctor because the doctor is the authority concerning our health. We all got the message throughout childhood that doctors were the authority on health and that we were victims of bodily forces beyond our ability to control. The joke, however, is that people often get better while on the way to the doctor. That’s when the innate ability for self-healing kicks in, another example of the placebo effect.

Mindfulness Practice Specifically Affects Regulatory Pathways

The results of Davidson’s study show a down-regulation of genes that have been implicated in inflammation. The affected genes include the pro-inflammatory genes RIPK2 and COX2 as well as several histone deacetylase (HDAC) genes, which regulate the activity of other genes epigenetically by removing a type of chemical tag. What’s more, the extent to which some of those genes were downregulated was associated with faster cortisol recovery to a social stress test involving an impromptu speech and tasks requiring mental calculations performed in front of an audience and video camera.

Biologists have suspected for years that some kind of epigenetic inheritance occurs at the cellular level. The different kinds of cells in our bodies provide an example. Skin cells and brain cells have different forms and functions, despite having exactly the same DNA. There must be mechanisms–other than DNA–that make sure skin cells stay skin cells when they divide.

Perhaps surprisingly, the researchers say, there was no difference in the tested genes between the two groups of people at the start of the study. The observed effects were seen only in the meditators following mindfulness practice. In addition, several other DNA-modifying genes showed no differences between groups, suggesting that the mindfulness practice specifically affected certain regulatory pathways.

The key result is that meditators experienced genetic changes following mindfulness practice that were not seen in the non-meditating group after other quiet activities — an outcome providing proof of principle that mindfulness practice can lead to epigenetic alterations of the genome.

Previous studies in rodents and in people have shown dynamic epigenetic responses to physical stimuli such as stress, diet, or exercise within just a few hours.

“Our genes are quite dynamic in their expression and these results suggest that the calmness of our mind can actually have a potential influence on their expression,” Davidson says.

“The regulation of HDACs and inflammatory pathways may represent some of the mechanisms underlying the therapeutic potential of mindfulness-based interventions,” Kaliman says. “Our findings set the foundation for future studies to further assess meditation strategies for the treatment of chronic inflammatory conditions.”

Subconscious Beliefs Are Key

Too many positive thinkers know that thinking good thoughts–and reciting affirmations for hours on end–doesn’t always bring about the results that feel-good books promise.

Dr. Lipton didn’t argue this point, because positive thoughts come from the conscious mind, while contradictory negative thoughts are usually programmed in the more powerful subconscious mind.

“The major problem is that people are aware of their conscious beliefs and behaviors, but not of subconscious beliefs and behaviors. Most people don’t even acknowledge that their subconscious mind is at play, when the fact is that the subconscious mind is a million times more powerful than the conscious mind and that we operate 95 to 99 percent of our lives from subconscious programs.

“Your subconscious beliefs are working either for you or against you, but the truth is that you are not controlling your life, because your subconscious mind supersedes all conscious control. So when you are trying to heal from a conscious level–citing affirmations and telling yourself you’re healthy–there may be an invisible subconscious program that’s sabotaging you.”

The power of the subconscious mind is elegantly revealed in people expressing multiple personalities. While occupying the mind-set of one personality, the individual may be severely allergic to strawberries. Then, in experiencing the mind-set of another personality, he or she eats them without consequence.

The new science of epigenetics promises that every person on the planet has the opportunity to become who they really are, complete with unimaginable power and the ability to operate from, and go for, the highest possibilities, including healing our bodies and our culture and living in peace.


Vilma Bonilla's insight:

These findings are amazing! #mindfulness #meditation

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The difference between instructivism, constructivism, and connectivism

The difference between instructivism, constructivism, and connectivism | Cultural Trendz |

We spend so much time in education trying to make things better.

Better policies.

Better technology.

Better standards.

Better curriculum.

Better instruction.

Better assessment.

Better response to assessment data.

And too with research, teacher collaboration, school design, parent communication, and so on. In fact, many of the “fads” in education that ebb and flow are simply micro-experimentation with this macro and general notion of “better”–zooming in on one thing–whole child education, whole language reading, or gender-based classrooms, and so on.

So while viewing a presentation from Jackie Gerstein recently (that we’re going to share in full tomorrow), I was stopped at the very simple distinction she made between instructivism, constructivism, and connectivism. These differences dovetail behind broader differences between pedagogy, andragogy, and heautagrogy–fundamental assumptions about how and why people learn that have to be considered if our end goal is not to make students better at school, but rather to improve literacy and critical thinking for global citizens everywhere.

So as you focus in your PLC or staff meetings on better “research-based instruction,” you’re looking at ways to improve how to better deliver instruction–more to understand how to better “give learning” than to cause it.

The Difference Between Instructivism, Constructivism, And Connectivism

Instructivism is definitely more teacher and institutionally centered, where policy-makers and “power-holders” create processes, resource-pools, and conditions for success.

Constructivism sees the teacher step aside to a new role as facilitator, pairing students with peers, learning processes, and another another at key moments based on data and observation while the students create their own knowledge and even early learning pathways.

Connectivism is similar to constructivism–in fact, a learner participating in connectivism would likely do so at times with an constructivist approach. The difference here lies in the central role of relationships and networks in connectivism. Rather than supplemental, they are primary sources.

Gerstein’s definition’s appear below. More tomorrow.

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Via TeachersWithApps, Suvi Salo, Ivon Prefontaine
Vilma Bonilla's insight:

I love to see adults learners learn from each other. I favor constructivism and connectivism respectively

Ivon Prefontaine's curator insight, July 9, 7:47 AM

Learning to be is interesting, but might not go far enough. One way to interpret being is as a noun which is always the jumping off point for becoming, a verb.


Having a teacher involved is important.

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Why readers, scientifically, are the best people to fall in love with

Why readers, scientifically, are the best people to fall in love with | Cultural Trendz |

Ever finished a book? I mean, truly finished one? Cover to cover. Closed the spine with that slow awakening that comes with reentering consciousness?

You take a breath, deep from the bottom of your lungs and sit there. Book in both hands, your head staring down at the cover, back page or wall in front of you.

You’re grateful, thoughtful, pensive. You feel like a piece of you was just gained and lost. You’ve just experienced something deep, something intimate. (Maybe, erotic?) You just had an intense and somewhat transient metamorphosis.

Like falling in love with a stranger you will never see again, you ache with the yearning and sadness of an ended affair, but at the same time, feel satisfied. Full from the experience, the connection, the richness that comes after digesting another soul. You feel fed, if only for a little while.

This type of reading, according to TIME magazine’s Annie Murphy Paul, is called “deep reading,” a practice that is soon to be extinct now that people are skimming more and reading less.

Readers, like voicemail leavers and card writers, are now a dying breed, their numbers decreasing with every GIF list and online tabloid.

The worst part about this looming extinction is that readers are proven to be nicer and smarter than the average human, and maybe the only people worth falling in love with on this shallow hell on earth.

According to both 2006 and 2009 studies published by Raymond Mar, a psychologist at York University in Canada, and Keith Oatley, a professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto, those who read fiction are capable of the most empathy and “theory of mind,” which is the ability to hold opinions, beliefs and interests apart from their own.

They can entertain other ideas, without rejecting them and still retain their own. While this is supposed to be an innate trait in all humans, it requires varying levels of social experiences to bring into fruition and probably the reason your last partner was a narcissist.

Did you ever see your ex with a book? Did you ever talk about books? If you didn’t, maybe you should think about changing your type.

It’s no surprise that readers are better people. Having experienced someone else’s life through abstract eyes, they’ve learned what it’s like to leave their bodies and see the world through other frames of reference.

They have access to hundreds of souls, and the collected wisdom of all them. They have seen things you’ll never understand and have experienced deaths of people you’ll never know.

They’ve learned what it’s like to be a woman, and a man. They know what it’s like to watch someone suffer. They are wise beyond their years.

Another 2010 study by Mar reinforces this idea with results that prove the more stories children have read to them, the keener their “theory of mind.” So while everyone thinks their kids are the best, the ones who read have the edge as they truly are the wiser, more adaptable and understanding children.

Because reading is something that molds you and adds to your character. Each triumph, lesson and pivotal moment of the protagonist becomes your own.

Every ache, pain and harsh truth becomes yours to bear. You’ve traveled with authors and experienced the pain, sorrow and anguish they suffered while writing through it. You’ve lived a thousand lives and come back to learn from each of them.

If you’re still looking for someone to complete you, to fill the void of your singly-healed heart, look for the breed that’s dying out. You will find them in coffee shops, parks and subways.

You will see them with backpacks, shoulder bags and suitcases. They will be inquisitive and soulful, and you will know by the first few minutes of talking to them.
They Won’t Talk To You… They’ll Speak To You

They will write you letters and texts in verse. They are verbose, but not in the obnoxious way. They do not merely answer questions and give statements, but counter with deep thoughts and profound theories. They will enrapture you with their knowledge of words and ideas.

According to the study, “What Reading Does For The Mind” by Anne E. Cunningham of the University of California, Berkeley, reading provides a vocabulary lesson that children could never attain by schooling.

According to Cunningham, “the bulk of vocabulary growth during a child’s lifetime occurs indirectly through language exposure rather than through direct teaching.”

Do yourself a favor and date someone who really knows how to use their tongue.
They Don’t Just Get You… They Understand You

You should only fall in love with someone who can see your soul. It should be someone who has reached inside you and holds those innermost parts of you no one could find before. It should be someone who doesn’t just know you, but wholly and completely understands you.

According to Psychologist David Comer Kidd, at the New School for Social Research, “What great writers do is to turn you into the writer. In literary fiction, the incompleteness of the characters turns your mind to trying to understand the minds of others.”

This is proved over and over again, the more people take to reading. Their ability to connect with characters they haven’t met makes their understanding of the people around them much easier.

They have the capacity for empathy. They may not always agree with you, but they will try to see things from your point of view.
They’re Not Just Smart… They’re Wise

Being overly smart is obnoxious, being wise is a turn on. There’s something irresistible about someone you can learn from. The need for banter and witty conversation is more imperative than you may believe, and falling in love with a reader will enhance not just the conversation, but the level of it.

According to Cunningham, readers are more intelligent, due to their increased vocabulary and memory skills, along with their ability to spot patterns. They have higher cognitive functions than the average non-reader and can communicate more thoroughly and effectively.

Finding someone who reads is like dating a thousand souls. It’s gaining the experience they’ve gained from everything they’ve ever read and the wisdom that comes with those experiences. It’s like dating a professor, a romantic and an explorer.

If you date someone who reads, then you, too, will live a thousand different lives.


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Quick breakfast ideas for your workday – To go!

Quick breakfast ideas for your workday – To go! | Cultural Trendz |

Did you start your workday right? If you’re like most busy professionals, most mornings you’re rushing to get out the door, and sitting down to breakfast is the last thing on your mind. The most important meal of the day suddenly takes a backseat to everything else that seems, well, more important.

But whether you’re a teacher, attorney, or financial advisor, with a little planning you can have a healthy breakfast every morning that doesn’t come out of a package.
Overnight Oats

The thought of cold oatmeal might not sound appealing at first, but mixed with yogurt and allowed to sit overnight, the oats get soft and chewy and just plain delicious. Mix a yogurt with ⅓ cup of dry oatmeal and put it in the fridge overnight. In the morning, add some fruit, and you’ve got a complete, filling breakfast! Vanilla yogurt with some cinnamon and banana is a great combo, or strawberry yogurt with a spoonful of cocoa powder stirred makes for a great chocolatey treat!

A scoop of protein powder gives smoothies real staying power. With up to 25 grams of protein in each serving, your smoothie will keep you full all morning long. The night before, just add a scoop of your favorite flavored powder and a cup of milk to your blender. In the morning, add a frozen banana or some berries, and blend ‘er up! Pour it into a travel cup, and you’re good to go – in under five minutes!
Homemade McMuffin

A much better alternative to fast food, a homemade McMuffin is a great go-to quick and easy breakfasts. It just requires a little night before prep work. Spray a small bowl with nonstick cooking spray and crack an egg or two into it. Scramble ‘em up and add some cheese, salt and pepper, and torn spinach leaves. In the morning, put an English muffin into the toaster, and microwave your eggs, covered, for 1.5-2 minutes. Slide the egg patty onto your toasted muffin and top with a slice of tomato.

Sitting down to homemade waffles is practically laughable on a workday. But if you can toast, you can have your waffles and eat them, too! Just take two frozen waffles and toast ‘em up. Then, spread peanut butter on one waffle, top with sliced bananas, and pop the other waffle on top. Magic waffle-wich! Better yet, add a sprinkle of chia seeds on top for an extra energy boost- they’ll help you stay full longer and give you a healthy dose of omega-3s.
Breakfast Burrito

Wrapped in a tortilla with a little salsa, eggs are just more fun. Scramble two egg whites with ¼ cup of cottage cheese and microwave for two minutes or until cooked. Spread the eggs onto your favorite tortilla, top with salsa, and wrap the whole thing together into a burrito. If you have an extra minute, up the ante with a few slices of fresh avocado for some heart-healthy, flavorful fats.

With just a little planning, any busy professional can have a delicious, healthy breakfast in no time!

Melissa Woodson is the community manager for @WashULaw, one of the premier LLM degree programs offered through Washington University in St. Louis. In her spare time, she enjoys running, cooking, and making half-baked attempts at training her dog.



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Most important meal of the day. Make time for it! ~ V.B.

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