Join the Internet Boycott April 22, 2013 to #STOPCISPA

Dear readers,

I am in support of Anonymous’s internet boycott. However, at this time I do not know how to install the code to make my site go dark; in fact, I may not be able to unless WordPress, my blogging platform, makes it available.

In the meantime, I leave you this letter, I urge you to watch the video, and please make the call. CISPAcat

Dear citizens of the internet,

We are Anonymous.

The United States Government is again attempting to control and censor the internet. The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act has just recently passed the house.

This bill would allow major internet entities such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google to voluntarily share your personal information with the U.S. Government. This will not only affect users in the United States, but also anyone with an account with these companies.

This upcoming Monday, April the 22nd, we invite you to join Anonymous in an internet blackout. We encourage all web developers and website owners to go dark on this date. Display a message as to why you are going dark, and encourage others to do the same.

We hope, just like the successful protest over the Stop Online Piracy Act, we can encourage the senate to stop this bill.

Spread the message, and inform the world. We are Anonymous. We are the people. We are the internet. Knowledge is free.

“GMO–Your Right To Know” Kicks Off Ventura College Holistic Health Week

It’s in Your Food!  
GMO – Your Right to Know!

Monday, Oct 8th, 7 pm (doors open at 6:30)
Dynamic talk about health risks of genetically modified (GMO) food by
investigative writer and educator Jeffrey Smith.
Ventura College Performing Arts Center (PAC) *newly remodeled and state of the art!
PAC is located in the North Central area of the campus on Loma Vista between Ashwood and Day Rd 
Main campus: 4667 Telegraph Rd, 93003 Map
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Key Note Speaker:  Jeffrey Smith 
Executive Director, Institute for Responsible Technology, author of the best-selling book Genetic Roulette newly released as a documentary film.

Other local speakers:
Dr. Robin Bernhoft:  Fellow and Past President of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine and Director of the Bernhoft Center for Advanced Medicine (Ojai).

Catie Wyman-Norris:  Researcher, national tv and radio wellness advocate, and formulator of whole food supplements, who was inspired by her own family’s health problems to find a natural cure.

Steve Sprinkle:  Co-owner, Ojai’s The Farmer & The Cook, all organic farm, cafe, and marketplace and member of the Boards of Directors of Ojai’s Center for Regenerative Agriculture and The Cornucopia Institute.
Sponsored by: 
Ventura College Health Education Department and
Institute for Responsible Technology.Don’t miss this timely event! Bring lots of friends! 
You can RSVP here:
Friend the campaign on Facebook
This is the first event of Holistic Health Week at Ventura College  See details on VC Facebook

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Additional screening of Genetic Roulette 
Wed, Oct 10, 5:30 pm
Performing Arts Center on Loma Vista Rd. 

This new documentary presents powerful evidence of potential harm from eating GMOs. Hear physicians tell why they prescribe nonGMO diets for their patients with predictable beneficial results. 

There are more events every day during Holistic Health Week! My students can attend events and write a thought paper for extra credit or to make up an absence.

Even the smallest act of service, the simplest act of kindness…

Even the smallest act of service, the simplest act of kindness, is a way to honor those we lost, a way to reclaim that spirit of unity that followed 9/11.

~ President Barack Obama, 2011

Today is Tuesday, September 11, 2012. On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, I wanted to get some painting done on my house before I headed midday to the college where I was teaching. I called my dad, an early bird, and asked him if he wanted to come over and help. He declined, saying he had some other projects to work on. Then he called me right back with the news about 9/11–and said he’d be right over to help me paint. School was cancelled the next day, and again I spent it painting; it was calming to do something outside, normal, physical. I didn’t watch any of the news footage but listened on the radio for more news. Once that I heard that twin sisters, close friends of mine since 7th grade, who worked for United and American often flying from their home base in NYC to LA, weren’t on those flights, I was greatly relieved. I know many people lost loved ones that day. It changed us all.

I wrote this poem the morning school was back in session as I tried to negotiate going back to “normal” life.

What are your 9/11 memories? How did that day change you?

art predator

In Friday’s Ventura County Star, Karen Lindell wrote about “how seven local residents – two painters, two sculptors, a digital artist, a songwriter and a poet-artist – channeled their particular variation of mad, sad and overall helplessness after 9/11 into creativity.”

And Art Predator is the poet-artist featured in the article:

In March 2011,  en theos press published my 3:15 experiment poetry collection Middle of the Night Poems from Daughter to Mother :: Mother to Son,in print and ebook; it’s also at, and in stores including The Best of VC Marketplace in Santa Paula where I will be signing books Thurs. Sept. 29.

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Fight Student Debt’s Infographic

student debt loadAccording to this Washington Post article dated an hour or so ago, it looks like Senate leaders have come to an agreement about freezing the interest rates on student loans.

While this is better than the rates increasing as threatened, as you can see from this infographic, something is going to have to give.

The current system is clearly unsustainable. Continue reading

Stepping It Up at Community Colleges

In the article “Stepping It Up at Community Colleges,” Fawn Johnson reports that “Higher education is the name of the game in the Obama administration these days” and that “the president is focusing on community colleges as one of the best ways to create the skilled workforce that he says will save the economy.” Last Monday, Obama proposed an “$8 billion fund to help community colleges work with local businesses to train their students in high-demand areas.”

For three years, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. has been pushing a job training bill to revamp the nation’s workforce investment system. At the American Association of Community Colleges last week, Murray said “community colleges are the key to giving Americans from all walks at life a chance at high-skilled and good paying jobs.”

Read more about “Stepping It Up at Community Colleges.”

Stories & a Poem or two from Nikki Giovanni: It’s Black History Month

For nearly 30 years, UC Santa Cruz has recognized Martin Luther King Jr with an annual convocation.

Last month, UCSC invited Nikki Giovanni to speak.

According to Wikipedia, “Yolande Cornelia “Nikki” Giovanni (born June 7, 1943) is an American poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator. Her primary focus is on the individual and the power one has to make a difference in oneself and in the lives of others. Giovanni’s poetry expresses strong racial pride, respect for family, and her own experiences as a daughter, a civil rights activist, and a mother. She is currently a distinguished professor of English at Virginia Tech.[1]

And wow, did she have a LOT to say! I wish I could have been there. She presents so much history with so much heart and humor that I am scrambling to figure out how to fit this into my already full syllabus. I can certainly make it an extra credit or make-up assignment, so if you are one of my students, you can watch and listen to this and write about it.

Happy Black History month!

“Whisper” Goes Quiet 1/18/12 to Protest SOPA & PIPA

Protest The “Protect IP Act”

Many websites are blacked out today Weds. January 18, 2012 to protest proposed U.S. legislation that threatens internet freedom: the Stop Internet Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA).
From personal blogs to giants like WordPress and Wikipedia, sites all over the web — including this one — are asking you to help stop this dangerous legislation from being passed. Learn how this legislation will affect internet freedom and please take action.

According to Gizmodo,  “The momentum behind the anti-SOPA movement has been slow to build, but we’re finally at a saturation point. Wikipedia, BoingBoing, WordPress, TwitPic: they’ll all be dark on January 18th. An anti-SOPA rally has been planned for tomorrow afternoon in New York. The list of companies supporting SOPA is long but shrinking, thanks in no small part to the emails and phone calls they’ve received in the last few months.”

So what is SOPA? or PIPA? At first, it sounds like a good idea–it is supposed to protect content providers. But Gizmodo argues that “SOPA is an anti-piracy bill working its way through Congress that would grant content creators extraordinary power over the internet which would go almost comedically unchecked to the point of potentially creating an “Internet Blacklist” while exacting a huge cost from nearly every site you use daily and potentially disappearing your entire digital life while still managing to be both unnecessary and ineffective but stands a shockingly good chance of passing unless we do something about it.”

So call. Or email. If you’re a subscriber, go see the site for yourself–there’s plenty posted today about ways you can show your protest. Then boycott the internet yourself.

After I post this and publicize this, by 930am I am planning on joining in as well and staying off the internet today. This site will be “dark” from 8am-8pm and post a flag and info about the issue until January 24, 2012.

Which Presidential Candidate Should You Support?

On the USA Today website, you can play the “candidate match game” to see which candidate’s views are closest to your own:

You might also want to check out:

Do you know of others ways to evaluate how well your opinions match with the candidates? Please share!

Is There Life Beyond The Lecture?

“Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.” Chinese Proverb

Some faculty are wonderful, engaging lecturers. Some are not.

Regardless, the classroom lecture continues to be the dominant form of instruction in the college classroom today–even though all the pedagogical research I have read shows that this is NOT the best way to teach–if you want students to remember what they are learning after the class is over.

In his article “Exploding the Lecture,” Steve Kolowich examines the example and strategies of a charismatic lecturer who has turned to creating online videos. Students watch Mike Garver’s lectures on their own time and as often as necessary then come to class where they have time to discuss, engage and apply the ideas in large and small groups. Kolowich writes:

Garver remembers his supervisor affirming the young lecturer’s confidence — before blowing it apart. “He basically said, ‘Mike, that was a great lecture. Have you ever heard of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning?’ ” Garver had not. His supervisor explained Benjamin Bloom’s 1956 formulation, which divides learning into higher and lower orders and emphasizes the importance of putting learned ideas to work.

“Even though your lecture was spectacular,” Garver recalls his mentor saying, “you’re down here at the bottom of Bloom’s Taxonomy.” He challenged Garver to infuse higher orders of learning into his teaching methodology. “I have been chasing that dream ever since,” Garver says.

I too have been chasing that dream. I knew from my own educational experience that most lectures made me sleepy and that even taking good notes didn’t mean I didn’t retain the material. I learned best and most deeply by “doing” something with the material: talking about it in groups, presenting it to the class, writing about it, applying it in a service learning context, using it for problem solving.

Until recently, it was relatively easy for my students and I to hold seminars in class to discuss material by moving our desks into a large circle or smaller groups. Unfortunately, new buildings at the college where I teach cram as many students as possible into the classrooms using tables that go from one end of the room almost all the way to the other making it very difficult for us to do anything other than sit in rows at the long tables.

And I am finding, when students are in those rows, it is easy just to stay on the stage.

What teaching strategies work for you to retain information from classes beyond the final exam? What classes do you remember the most? What information from a class have you used and how did you attain that information?

(Note to my English 2 students: you can read and respond to this blog post and to the article referenced for one of your 20 reading responses. Remember to use quotes and cite your sources.)