Posts filed under ‘DIY’

Learning Activity: Underrepresented Peoples in U.S. History

The following is a learning activity I crafted for a class I was teaching on U.S. History. It was designed for teenagers, but I think it could be easily adapted for slightly-younger folks and adults.

Download it in PDF form here.

Activity: Underrepresented Peoples in U.S. History

• Goal of this activity: For the students to engage United States history by discovering what peoples go underrepresented in traditional tales of U.S. history. They will do this by interviewing community members, their peers, and themselves. This is both an individual and (can be a) group effort.
• Materials Needed: Community members to investigate, pens/pencil, paper. Optional: Note cards.
• Participants: 1-20 (or more, depending on your needs/ability).
• Time Needed: 45 – 90 minutes.

1. First, designate a community of people to interview: i.e. a school, a downtown, a class, a library, or etc. Give the following questions/guidelines to the participants (recommended on a piece of paper):

Who were important [your group] in American history? How did they impact the world that we know today? What lessons can we learn from them? (REMEMBER: important people don’t have to mean good people)

Go ask people in the area if they can identify any of the following groups of people in American history and ask them the questions specified above (and any other questions you think are important). Record their answers and think about why they gave the answers they did.

The students will fill in the [your group] bracket with one of the following possibilities:

• People of color
• Women
• Women of color
• Gender queer folks
• Lower-class folks
• Differently-Abled folks
• People of non-Christian faiths
• Immigrants
• Political dissenters
• [Add more that you see fit]

(You might want to lay these different options out on a table on note-cards for the students to choose from.)


September 20, 2008 at 2:48 pm Leave a comment

Quick Hit: Reproduce & Revolt

A collection of over 500 political graphics, Reproduce & Revolt/Reproduce Y Rebélate contains original art granted by the creators to the public domain, to be freely used on political posters, flyers, and campaigns. A bilingual (English & Spanish) book, it also includes a history of the reproducible political graphic and a design how-to for anyone interested in using the images in this book to help change the world. A powerful collection of graphic work by some of the world’s most active and interesting political propagandists, street artists and socially conscious graphic designers. Over 100 artists from over 25 countries are included.

Check it out at Just Seeds. This is a very cool DIY/DIT tool and resource if you can afford it.

Also, I apologize for the lack of posting this week. Things have been a little hectic – but I’ve got three large posts almost ready for next week to make up for it.

Posted in DIY.

August 1, 2008 at 8:35 pm Leave a comment

Your Handbook for Building and Running a Young Writers Program

This is an awesome tool and handbook for developing and running a young writers program. While it is specifically designed for a free after school program (basically-free to run and free for the participants), it also has some very good lessons and advice for free schools and free school-related programs. I could sum it up, but instead I’m going to quote the document itself:

This handbook is written to help you to get involved. It is a tool that you can use to build your own writing program for under-served youth in your area.

You’ll start small, but have a meaningful impact. With time and experience, the program will have the potential to grow. In the beginning, you don’t need many resources. It takes a small amount of free time, which is a privilege that many people take for granted. My program runs two days a week for three hours, with an hour of travel time for me—the students come straight from school. Planning encompasses another two to three hours, if I’m on top of things. If you work part time, if your employer is supportive, or you can set your own hours, you can do this. My total investment has been between $100 and $200 over five months, but I haven’t been very active in finding donations. You can do this at no personal cost in anything but time.

In these pages, I offer tools I’ve used and others I’ve discovered. In this guidebook I share my philosophies, processes, failures and and successes. I will guide you in developing an educational philosophy and framework for the program or workshops you develop. I also offer you the advantage of my hindsight to help alleviate the challenges you will undoubtedly encounter and provide assurance that you are not, in fact, alone in facing these challenges.


July 30, 2008 at 6:02 pm Leave a comment

Good DIY/DIT Website: Open Source Food

So, Open Source Food is a really good website for learning how to cook on your own or sharing recipes communally. It kind of abuses the term “open source,” but the point is there none-the-less.

Some Goods

  • You can use this to learn on your own about cooking or with others!
  • You can develop recipes with other folks communally.
  • Free! Free! Free!
  • You can help shape other people’s recipes with opinions or advice, and others can do the same for you.
  • As far as I can tell, very little to no trolling.
  • Easy to use website structure.
  • Learn how to cook things and teach others! Granted, some folks are labeled “pros” – but besides that, very little hierarchy.
  • Wide range of food from all different backgrounds, very easy to search and find what you’re looking for.

Some Bads

  • Some folks are labeled “Pros.”
  • The site offers competition for you to be the best cook (Although you can easily ignore that and use it communally, but the competition aspect is built into the site’s infrastructure).
  • A few pretty crappy sizeist advertisements (but for the most part the advertisements, as I’ve noticed, aren’t as bad as other social-websites – cough facebook cough).

Overall, the website can be used as a great learning, teaching, sharing, and communal tool.

Posted in DIY.

July 24, 2008 at 2:00 am 1 comment

On the Intersections of Workplace Democracy and Learningplace Democracy

I’m part of a DIY, not-for-profit, and collective record label. Through this, I am also part of the Valley Alliance of Worker Cooperatives – and, as I mentioned in a previous post, I’ll be visiting Mondragón in Spain (one of the largest worker-cooperatives in the world).

This blog is about free schooling and democratic, cooperative, and collective learning. But I sincerely believe that the democratic learning movement is completely interlinked with the workplace democracy movement. I think that in order for the workplace democracy movement to be successful the learning place democracy movement must be successful – and visa versa. They go hand-in-hand and those concerned with one movement or effort should be concerned with the other.

I’m going to go over this briefly now, but over the next few months I’ll be doing some studies on this exact topic, and I plan to post them here. (more…)

July 21, 2008 at 6:39 pm Leave a comment

Teaching Social Justice Book; and NY Youth Collective Does Counter-Recruitment Training

If you can’t read what it says on the picture, here it is:

Planning to Change the World is a plan book for educators who believe their students can and will change the world. It is designed to help teachers translate their vision of a just education into concrete classroom activities. This unique resource has all the things you would expect in a lesson plan book plus:

  • Weekly planning pages packed with important social justice birthdays and historical events
  • Lesson plans and resources related to those dates
  • Tips from social justice teachers across the country
  • Inspirational quotes to share with students
  • Thought-provoking essential questions to spark classroom discussions on critical issues
  • Reproducible social justice awards for students
  • and much more (more…)

July 15, 2008 at 2:46 pm Leave a comment

Sustainability, Free Schooling, and Play

Below is a partial post taken from the blog AfriGadget (about technological advancements by and for Africans):

The BBC is running a story on a young inventor, 23-year old Daniel Sheridan, who has designed a teeter-totter (see-saw) that can be used to power school classrooms in Africa. His ultimate goal is to see a whole playground of energy-creating equipment.

“The current need for electricity in sub-Saharan Africa is staggering. Without power development is extremely difficult. The potential for this product is huge and the design could be of benefit to numerous communities in Africa and beyond.”

The idea came about after travels to East Africa, where he taught at a school and was inspired by the students. Daniel developed the see-saw power design as part of his final year at Coventry University. He has calculated that five to 10 minutes use on the see-saw could generate enough electricity to light a classroom for an evening.

Some Thoughts
What would be more interesting would be to see this idea built out with local supplies, as Daniel is going to be doing soon in Uganda. […]


July 11, 2008 at 2:44 pm Leave a comment

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