Learning Signs

Our Family Learning Blog

Learning Signs header image 1

Oarfish Can Be Huge

October 16th, 2013 by Dad · No Comments

Rachel, since you’ve been very interested in the Loch Ness monster lately I thought you would like this article. It is about a very large “oarfish” which was discovered dead off the coast of California. The article explains fish like this might be some of the reasons we hear stories about giant sea serpents in the ocean.

20131016-062533.jpg

→ No CommentsTags: littlesister · nature · science

Slug in my Backyard

October 15th, 2013 by Rachel · No Comments

My dad and I were just eating French toast in the kitchen when I saw a slug on our window! I knew it was a slug because it had no shell. I thought it was pretty gross at first. But then we did research and found out that it was a Dark face arion slug. We took pictures of it and now I am writing a post about it! 

20131015-093628.jpg

→ No CommentsTags: nature

Sarah as Chargee at Chisholm Elementary in Edmond, Oklahoma

October 10th, 2013 by Dad · No Comments

Flashback to May 2010 when Sarah was a 5th grader at Chisholm Elementary in Edmond, Oklahoma. Sarah was chosen to be “Chargee” (the school mascot) at a PTSA pep rally after an all-school fundraiser. I shot some video clips on a camera that we FINALLY (3.5 years later) took the media off the memory card! I combined these clips together with iMovie and exported it as a single video. Flashback!

→ No CommentsTags: school · sister

The English Rose is The New Girl (cereal box book report)

October 10th, 2013 by Dad · No Comments

Rachel created a cereal box book report for 4th grade that is due today, and recorded a summary of her project this morning.

Cereal Book Report

→ No CommentsTags: books · littlesister

Shep and Hachi

October 3rd, 2013 by Rachel · 3 Comments

Just the other night, my dad and I read a book on my bookshelf called Shep. It is a very sweet book about a dog. A while ago, my family watched a movie called Hachi. It was almost exactly like Shep!

Shep

→ 3 CommentsTags: dogs · littlesister

Science Love Note

September 24th, 2013 by Dad · No Comments

Rachel wrote this note to me last night about YouTube.com/ASAPscience. Coincidentally, she discovered it as a related YouTube video on her sister’s account, and I discovered it today via Richard Byrne’s post.

20130924-194234.jpg

→ No CommentsTags: littlesister · technology

Switch Zoo

September 11th, 2013 by Dad · No Comments

Rachel: The website Switch Zoo looks like a great one you would have fun playing on!

Switch Zoo - Make New Animals

→ No CommentsTags: games

Dragons

August 30th, 2013 by Rachel · No Comments

Just a minute ago, I read an amazing article on yahoo about dragons. I am that kind of person who loves science fiction. Sometimes I watch stuff about ghosts, the Loch Ness Monster, and other mystical creatures. I want to believe in them, so I do. It doesn’t matter how old you are. You can still believe in that stuff.

20130830-175244.jpg

20130830-175258.jpg

→ No CommentsTags: littlesister · science

Rachel’s “Me” Cube

August 22nd, 2013 by Dad · No Comments

Rachel created this “Me Cube” this week in school. These are four of the sides she decorated.

20130822-215920.jpg

→ No CommentsTags: littlesister · school

School Homework

August 13th, 2013 by Rachel · 1 Comment

This is my homework. It is pretty basic. Just drawing cells from the text book. Where are the experiments?

20130813-205816.jpg

20130813-205829.jpg

20130813-205845.jpg

20130813-205900.jpg

→ 1 CommentTags: littlesister · school · science

Howard Zinn Book Review

August 10th, 2013 by Alexander · 2 Comments

Here is a book review I did for my AP US History class on Howards Zinn’s A Peoples History of the United States.

 

Zinn Book Review

Howard Zinn’s book, A People’s History of the United States, tells a story of United States history not often heard in textbooks. While a very interesting read, you must read it objectively as many of Zinn’s views are extremely liberal. The book provides many troubling topics that make you think and consider the truth about what we have always heard in school.

From my reading, it seemed Zinn mainly wanted to focus on the struggles between capitalism, the United States people and the world. He states his purpose is to inform people of the untold, and often unwanted, history of oppression, racism and class struggles. This being said, the book is less a history of the United States and more about “A People’s Struggle Against the United States.” I think the book does not include a full history, but it includes the history that Zinn wanted told. He wanted this history told because it was not the history he learned while in school and is still not in many textbooks today (Zinn 687).

I do not believe Zinn states an explicit thesis, but he does state that the purpose of the book and what he wants to accomplish with it. That is, as I previously stated, to provide a full story of the United States told by the people who were oppressed by capitalism and the government. He says he wanted to do this because it is the history he never know about but may be more than that. Zinn grew up in an Irish-American, working-class family in New York. Later he worked in a shipyard for three years. Growing up in the northeast part of the United States, as well as being an immigrant, gave him a predisposition to tell of the oppression there more than in other places. Zinn states this and how he ignored struggles of the large number of Latinos in California for justice and the fight for gay and lesbian rights in the United States (Zinn 687).

This book presents a more extreme view of history than what I have grown up hearing. My father graduated from the Air Force Academy and enjoys discussing the history of the US and the world. From him I have acquired a distaste of oil companies and imperialist wars as in Iraq and Afghanistan. This book supported much of what I have heard before, but looking at it critically I believe the book has portrays things out of balance. Zinn criticizes how Samuel Morison, who wrote a biography of Columbus, focuses briefly on the bad aspects like genocide but then goes on to talk a lot more about the good side of Columbus’s endeavors (Zinn 8). Ironically, Zinn points out this fault in Morison’s text, but writes in the same style about capitalism in his own book. Overall, this book has helped me in understanding better the history of the United States but at times it seemed too subjective and out of balance.

The book, for the most part, includes secondary sources that are other historians’ collections of facts. However, it does include an occasional primary source (Wineburg 2). In addition, Zinn includes many statistics of people who were involved in strikes, riots or other protests. It is hard to accept some of what Zinn writes because in some cases he does not always use multiple sources. For example, when supporting chapter 16, about views of distaste among African Americans for WWII, he only cites three pieces of evidence that all came from a single secondary source (Wineburg 3). That being said, there are a lot of other examples of good documents being used. Zinn not only shares the facts but his interpretation of them and makes you question them. This is good although Zinn tries to instill in you a viewpoint that is anti-capitalist by doing this and seems to cherry pick the facts.

This way of asking questions first then giving you the facts later is used often by Zinn. In this way it is almost more of a narrative of the story with facts thrown in to make it seem more like a history. While working well to make his points, this practice of using either-or questions deviates from standard “professional historical writing” (Wineburg 3). When Zinn was writing on how Roosevelt lied during WWII, he accused him but did not explain specifically what Roosevelt said (Zinn 411). Zinn’s tone throughout this chapter more ambiguous and less definitive. This is different from when a history book will interpret the facts clearly and tell them to you. Zinn tries to lead you to a conclusion but its like he doesn’t want to commit himself to that conclusion in the book. Overall, Zinn writes in a way that advocates his points well but you have to be careful to still read it objectively because Zinn is very subjective.

I enjoyed reading this book even though it could be a bit dry and did not have the same kind of “hook” as a fiction book might. From previously being in debate it was fun to read because in most debates we would be arguing something that encompassed capitalism or over militarization of our government. It was funny because I even recognized some of the authors Zinn referenced from reading their evidence in debate rounds. The main difference was that in a debate round everyone knows you can find an author that says exactly what you want, hence many arguments ends in global nuclear war even though most debaters really do not believe that would ever happen. When reading some of these same authors in Zinn’s history book, it makes me realize that Zinn can do this same thing that we did in debate and that he is presenting the best sources that support his positions. Even though he presents this information as if it is the only true explanation of what happened, that is not the case. His desire to persuade you gets in the way of objectively portraying the facts. Throughout the book he gives the view that the United States has no redeeming qualities. I know that while we certainly have some big problems that we have a lot of good things happening in our country.

Starting from Columbus to the 21st century, A People’s History of the United States gives an account of the struggles many people faced at the hands of the government and capitalists. It does not tell, however, of the hardships people faced going west. It instead focuses on their troubles with income and rights. In chapter 11, Zinn goes more into the strikes of the Industrial Age and even implies that we were close to another revolution with as many protests among the low-income population. Zinn goes on to tell about how the US entering the World Wars had more to do with large corporations and politicians figuring out that getting behind a war effort was a good way to increase imperialism and to avoid economic trouble and class struggles at home. So as the US came into WWI we came out of the Great Depression. After the war however more strikes were continuing to take place. Large unions as well as the communist political party were causing trouble for the US government to deal with. Even though the large corporations and politicians knew how war could help the country, it could not last forever as seen in Vietnam when due to anti-war efforts they had to end the war. Overall the book gives a good picture of what is not often included in most history books.

I am glad to have read A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. It has led me to become more enlightened about many more things, like the darker side of Columbus and the amount of strikes that took place before WWII. While some parts may have been stretched, in most cases I believe it proved to be true to its point: To tell of the suffering and hard times people have had at the hands of capitalists and the government. This book provides many questions but also a different outlook upon our history worth reading.

 

Works Cited

1. Zinn, Howard A People’s History of the United States. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2003. Print.

2. Wineburg, Sam “Undue Certainty: Where Howard Zinn’s A People’s History Falls Short.” Rev. of A People’s History of the United States, by Howard Zinn. American Educator Summer 2013. Online.

→ 2 CommentsTags: books · brother · history · review · school

The Story of My Dad’s Photo with President Kennedy

June 5th, 2013 by Dad · 2 Comments

My dad, Tom Fryer, graduated from the US Air Force Academy on June 5th of 1963. As a distinguished graduate, my dad was given his degree and commission in the US Air Force by President Kennedy, who was the graduation speaker that year. Seven short months later, President Kennedy would be shot and killed in Dallas, Texas.

In the fall of 1988, when I was a freshman at the Air Force Academy, I found a box of original photo negatives taken at the 1963 USAFA graduation ceremony on the 6th floor of the Cadet Library. I found a negative in the box I thought might be my father with President Kennedy, but since it was a negative and not a print it was hard to tell for sure. Dad had never seen a photo of himself at graduation with President Kennedy. There weren’t (relatively speaking) that many official “distinguished graduates” in the Class of 1963, so I figured someone HAD to have taken a photo of dad with JFK. It turns out someone did. After confirming with family friends this photo was my dad, I had a framed enlargement made and presented this “surprise” gift to my dad for Christmas in 1988. He hung it in his office at Union National and later Commerce Bank in Manhattan, Kansas. After the movie “Forrest Gump” came out in 1994, visitors to his office would sometimes question if the photo was authentic. Yes, it was. That is President John F. Kennedy. And that is my dad.

President Kennedy and Thomas A. Fryer

Today, on the 50th anniversary of my Dad’s graduation from USAFA, a classmate sent him the following YouTube video which includes an original audio recording of President Kennedy’s 18 minute address to the USAFA cadet wing and families on June 5, 1963. I’d never heard this before tonight.

Listening to these words from our late 35th President, I’m reminded of how far we’ve come, so quickly, with respect to changes in global communications and technology. Our nation’s need for moral, courageous leaders who recognize (in Kennedy’s words) the non-military as well as military dynamics of our relationships with other nations is still vital. I was born seven years after President Kennedy was killed, and I’ve heard some of the words from his 1961 Inaugural address many times. “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” I’d never heard the words from this particular graduation speech, however, and it’s nothing short of MAGICAL to be able to hear them today, fifty years later.

Wherever and whenever you live in space and time, I challenge you to record and preserve the voice of someone in your family who is still alive today and able to tell stories. If you do, perhaps fifty years hence in 2063 someone you don’t know today will have a magical moment of listening and learning thanks to the time you spent in 2013 creating a digital audio recording.

The sounds of human voices can be both magical and priceless, and we all have roles to play in preserving those voices for future generations.

Thanks to Ken Kopke, USAFA Class of 1963, for sharing this YouTube audio flashback.

A variety of iOS apps and other software programs for audio recording are linked on the “Radio Shows” page of Mapping Media to the Common Core.

→ 2 CommentsTags: granddaddy

2nd Grade Celebrates Spanish Music

April 18th, 2013 by Dad · No Comments

Cleaning up my laptop hard drive tonight I found this video my wife told me about last year but I’d never seen… I’m so glad it wasn’t deleted!

This video shows my 2nd grade daughter’s class celebrating Spanish music listening to Juan Luis Guerra (from the Dominican Republic) while donning sombreros and dancing the conga. A very memorable party… yes, that is Rachel leading the conga line!

→ No CommentsTags: littlesister · music · school

Inspired by the First All-Female USAF Boeing E-3 Sentry Air Crew

March 16th, 2013 by Dad · 1 Comment

Rachel and Sarah had a wonderful opportunity yesterday to visit Tinker Air Force Base by Oklahoma City and tour a Boeing E-3 Sentry (AWACS) aircraft with the first all-female crew in the history of the US Air Force.

USAF Women in the E3 AWACS

The girls spent about ten minutes in the cockpit checking out the controls and asking questions of both female pilots and the female flight engineer.

Sarah & Rachel in the E3 AWACS

Then they learned all about the mission and roles of the air crew in the AWACS, which serves as the “eyes and ears” of the US national command authority worldwide. I’ve wanted my girls to get a better understanding of what officers and NCOs in the US Air Force do and what careers they could potentially have in the military, and yesterday was absolutely the PERFECT opportunity to help them do that! MANY thanks to my friend and classmate Vern Conaway, who let us know about this opportunity.

Oklahoma City’s Fox 25 News interviewed Rachel and Sarah during their tour and featured some of their comments in a video news segment which aired on March 15th.

Rachel recorded a 2.5 minute narrated slideshow, “Inspired by Women in the US Air Force,” using the app SonicPics on my iPhone, sharing some additional thoughts and reflections about the impact of this experience on her.

Thinking and planning for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers starts early! Many thanks to all the officers, NCOs, and civilian employees at Tinker AFB who made these experiences possible!

Inspired by USAF Women

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

→ 1 CommentTags: littlesister · sister · trip

OM Team at Yukon (March 2013)

March 2nd, 2013 by Dad · No Comments

This is an audio recording of Sarah’s division 2 (6th – 8th grade) team OM performance on March 2, 2013, at Lakeview Elementary in Yukon.

OM Team

→ No CommentsTags: scouts

This Video Will Make You Want to Go Into Space

February 18th, 2013 by Dad · No Comments

Watch this.

OVERVIEW from Planetary Collective on Vimeo.

→ No CommentsTags: science

Are Aliens Out There? Of Course!

February 17th, 2013 by Dad · 4 Comments

This afternoon I watched the TEDx talk, “Seth Shostak: ET is (probably) out there — get ready.” I totally agree with what Seth says about the statistical probability / near certainly of extra-terrestrial life and intelligence being “out there” in space. I also agree with his point that we need to focus on getting kids between age 8 and 11 both excited and interested in science, because ideas they encounter at that age can have a MAJOR impact on their life studies, interests, hobbies, profession, and “trajectory.” Check out the talk, it’s excellent. I told my 9 year old about this, and she watched it on my iPhone. Woo hoo for videos which encourage STEM interests!

→ 4 CommentsTags: littlesister · science · technology

Club Penguin Tweets to Rachel About Her Video

February 11th, 2013 by Dad · No Comments

I just showed Rachel this exciting Tweet from Club Penguin! She’s excited to create more!

Twitter _ clubpenguin: @wfryer What a great video! ...

If you didn’t see the video Rachel made over the weekend, check it out: “How to make an igloo in Club Penguin.”

→ No CommentsTags: games · littlesister

How to make an igloo in Club Penguin

February 9th, 2013 by Rachel · No Comments

I just made a 10 min. screencast today using Screenflow. It’s a ‘how to’ video for Club Penguin. It’s so cool!

→ No CommentsTags: games · littlesister · technology

Marie Curie

February 3rd, 2013 by Dad · No Comments

This is a book report Rachel wrote for Ms Moore’s 3rd grade class this year.

Marie Curie changed the world through science. Marie and her husband discovered two new elements, polonium and radium. Marie and two other scientists won the Nobel Prize in physics. In 1910, she isolated radium in the form of a metal. Marie won a second Nobel Prize, this time in chemistry.

Some of her main struggles were that her husband was killed in an accident right after they won the prize. Marie’s main struggle was that people treated her differently because she was a woman.

Her accomplishments inspire me to work harder in science. She proves that women can be as good as men in science. One of my favorite quotes of hers is:

“You cannot hope to build a better world without improving and, at the same time, share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think can be most useful.” -Marie Curie

Her research into radiation helped others discover the structure of the atom. Even though radiation is very dangerous, it helps save lives even today through X rays, cancer treatments, and creating electricity.

→ No CommentsTags: books · littlesister

A Tour of Club Penguin (February 2013)

February 3rd, 2013 by Dad · 1 Comment

In this screencast, 10 year old Rachel takes us on a guided tour of Club Penguin. I asked Rachel to do this because this morning, she shared how she had created an igloo to be like a funeral scene for a puffin in the game. The father of one of Rachel’s older sister’s friends died suddenly from a heart attack two weeks ago, and 3 of us attended the funeral last Saturday. Rachel didn’t attend, so I wasn’t sure if this “virtual encounter with death” was a way she was dealing with those feelings. It’s not clear to me that she is or was… She describes how she saw someone else doing this with their igloo, and she thought it was a clever way to get people to come to your igloo in Club Penguin where they can click “like” to show their approval.

This is an interesting dive into the the virtual world my youngest daughter plays in every week.

→ 1 CommentTags: games · littlesister · technology · youtube

A Personal Tour of the International Space Station

January 29th, 2013 by Dad · No Comments

This morning before school I shared the start of this video with Rachel, who is VERY interested in science, space, and all things NASA. It’s a 25 minute tour of the International Space Station by Sunita Williams, who was the commander of the station until this past November.

Rachel, YOU could be recording a tour like this from space in 15 or 20 years!

(I’m posting this here so Rachel can watch the rest of this after school or another day, and you can too!)

Hat tip to Mike Gras who shared this video on Facebook last night.

→ No CommentsTags: science

An Interview with Fred McPherson

January 21st, 2013 by Dad · No Comments

This Friday I’m going to share a presentation at TEDxOU in Norman, Oklahoma. I’m planning to talk about the importance of storychasing the voices of our families, and am going to tell a story (among others) about Fred McPherson. Fred was like a grandfather to me, and a father to my mom and uncle who also spent some wonderful summer months with him and his wife, Alice, in Itasca, Texas.

1977 - Alice, Trudy, Wesley and Fred

In October 2005, my parents interviewed Fred about his life. This is the 78 minute audio interview they recorded with Fred.

[display_podcast]

I am going to share a 92 second edited excerpt of that interview in my TEDx talk on Friday, which I’ve shared to SoundCloud using the title, “Remembering the Early Days of Radio.”

Rest in peace, beloved Fred. My how you’d be amazed to see how your family members are communicating now around the world.

1992 - USAFA Graduation with Alice and Fred

Alice and Fred McPherson's gravesite in Itasca, Texas

photo.jpg

→ No CommentsTags: dad

If That’s How It Is

December 8th, 2012 by Dad · No Comments

Sarah gave two wonderful performances last night at the Poteet Theater in Oklahoma City last night for her winter vocal audition. Way to go Sarah!

Her vocal instructor and coach, Jay Prock, wisely scheduled a short vocal audition prior to the musical performance of “The Wizard of Oz.” as a result they had a nice audience for the recital!

→ No CommentsTags: sister · youtube

Alexander’s Cake Model of the Cell (narrated food)

December 2nd, 2012 by Dad · No Comments

Alexander made a model of an animal cell for his 9th grade biology class this weekend. I asked him to take a photo of it, and (although he protested) he recorded a short AudioBoo describing his project and some of the cell parts. This media reflection is therefore an example of “narrated food,” as opposed to “narrated art.” :-)

Alexander's Cake Model of the Cell

→ No CommentsTags: brother · school · science

Locations of visitors to this page