Monday, December 17, 2012

Flipped [flipt], (adj)

I told the students who are doing my online CALL course to keep a running review of at least three Technology in Education blogs. One of my students, Moriya,  chose to follow the following blogs: Free Technology for Teachers (which has received its fifth Edublog Award for the Best EdTech Blog),  Edudemic (which, among many other interesting items, has a list of the 20+ apps to know about in 2013) and Flipped Learning (which focuses on flipped classrooms or, as the blog writer prefers: flipped learning)

The idea of a flipped classroom/ flipped learning is quite fascinating. And not just because of its revolutionary educational idea. I feel the name is well chosen. What does flipped mean and where does it come from?

To flip can mean to throw or toss (usually imparting a spin) e.g. flip the hair out of your eyes or flip a coin. Flipping out means to go crazy while flipping over something means to get very excited about it. A flip is also an alcoholic beverage often including beaten eggs. Flipped is the name of  a 2001 young adult novel and the 2010 movie based on it. 

But in education, Flipped Learning basically means that students study at home and practice in class instead of the traditional other way around.

While trying to research the etymology of the word "flip" I was stumped by the fact that it was called an imitative or an abbreviation of flippant which itself is held to be an imitative. I was stumped because I did not know (and could not find) the difference between an imitative and an onomatopoeia. In the end, I sent out a request for help to the ETNI mailing list (English Teachers' Network of Israel)  which was answered by Izzy (Israel) Cohen . He forwarded my quest to James Harbeck who runs a daily blog on sound-symbolism called Sesquiotica. James promptly sent the following reply stating that apparently onomatopoeia is a sub-category of the more encompassing  "imitative" concept :

"Well, I'm not so used to seeing "imitative words" used per se as a concept in linguistics -- it seems to me that all onomatopoeia is imitative, but depending on context a person could make a case that a word can be imitative of something other than sound (the kind of sound symbolism and ideophones you get that may use high front sounds for small things and low back sounds for large things, for instance), or may be imitative of other words and thus not onomatopoeia per se. But for the most part I would expect to see "imitative words" used to refer to onomatopoeia, I'd think.

Ciao, James."

Thank you James.

Anyway, for all interested in learning more about flipped classrooms which most definitely do NOT imitate the traditional way of teaching :) take a look at the following links:
Flipped classrooms
vodcasting and flipped classroom

And just as a final note:
lɯʇɥ˙dılɟ/ɯoɔ˙pɐɟʌǝɹ˙ʍʍʍ ʇɐ ʇno ʇı ʎɹʇ ˙noʎ ɹoɟ uʍop-ǝpıs-dn ʇı dılɟ llıʍ puɐ ʇxǝʇ ɹɐlnƃǝɹ ɹǝʇuǝ noʎ sʇǝl ʇɐɥʇ ǝʇısqǝʍ lnɟɹǝpuoʍ ɐ uǝʌǝ sı ǝɹǝɥʇ

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Animals [an-uh-muhz ], (n)

One of my uncles once told me that he always compares the people he meets to animals. He explained this by pointing at people around us stating that to him "that man standing there" was an owl while "that woman sitting over there" was more like a bat. This concept was strange to me at the time but I must admit that nowadays I sometimes look at the people around me and imagine them as animals. A cuddly teddy bear, a rattlesnake or an okapi which is one of the strangest animals around as it has not yet made up its mind if it wants to be a donkey, zebra or giraffe!
The Okapi

The official name for the Okapi is "Okapia Johnstoni"  in recognition of the explorer Harry Johnston, who organized the expedition that first acquired an okapi specimen for science from the Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In English a dog barks, a cat mews, a cow moos, a horse whinnies, a sheep bleats, a donkey brays, a pig grunts, a cock crows, a duck quacks, a hen cackles, a mouse squeaks, a bull bellows, a snake hisses, a craw caws, an owl hoots, a parrot screeches, a lion roars, a bee hums, a bear grumbles, a frog croaks, a pigeon coos and a bird whistles. But do animals in all languages make the same sound? Just like the Okapi has difficulties deciding on its appearance, so seem all animals confused as to what language they should speak.

Just take a look at the following wonderful ESL Languages website which compares animal sounds in different languages. A pity Hebrew is missing. Anyone volunteering in sending them the Hebrew soundbytes?

Animal Sounds – Badge

 And if I have already mentioned the teddy bear, I can't stop myself from giving the etymology for that name too.

The Teddybear is named for U.S. president Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt , a noted big-game hunter, whose conservationist fervor inspired a comic illustrated poem in the "New York Times" of Jan. 7, 1906, about two bears named Teddy. That year, two bears presented to the Bronx Zoo were given the name Teddy, as a follow up on this poem and cartoon. The name was picked up by toy dealers in 1907 for a line of "Roosevelt bears" imported from Germany. The meaning of teddy bear as a "big, lovable person" was first attested in 1957, through the song popularized by Elvis Presley - "Let me be Your Teddy Bear"

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Smart [smahrt] (adj.)

astute, clever, bright, quick, witty are all synonyms for "smart" but where all these have stayed pretty much within the bounds as adjectives describing people or animals, "smart" has gone digital and is one of the most "high-tech" words around. We use smartphones, smartboards, etc. But was smart always that smart? As it turns out, smart has a painful past.

The word smart started out as a verb from Old English smeortan "be painful," from W.Gmc. *smert-  originally "to bite". This led in late O.E. to the adjective smeart "sharp, severe, stinging". In c.1300 smeart became smart meaning "quick, active, clever", probably from the notion of "cutting" wit with words, etc. The first mention of smart devices, "behaving as though guided by intelligence" (e.g. smart bomb) was made in 1972. 

So from 1972 on wards "things" started to become smart and this is how we got smart phones and smartboards. The fact that smartphones are really smart can be seen from the fact that NASA uses android smartphones to power an economical new line of satellites called PhoneSats. And there is no way of knowing which object will turn "smart" next! Smart cupboards? Smart glasses? Smart desks? 

As a matter of fact, it turns out that smart desks already exist: NEW TECHNOLOGY PROMISES TO TRANSFORM CHILDREN’S SCHOOL DESKS INTO GIANT TABLET

Could we get some SMART CHILDREN next please? That would make teaching so much easier...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

challenging [chal-in-jing] (adj.)

Setting up an online course on Moodle is quite challenging. In the past, I worked with Highlearn (and was quite good at it) and this is the first time on Moodle for me. On the one hand it is going quite well, on the other hand I am having a lot of trouble getting everything to work the way I want. This course is taking me far more preparation time than a regular course battling with Moodle (and hopefully winning).

The word "challenging" comes from "challenge" which nowadays means a figurative invitation to a fight. This word underwent many changes. The figurative meaning came after the literal meaning "to challenge someone for a fight" which originated in the 1520s. This was based on the earlier meaning of "to accuse someone or to dispute something" from the Old French "chalone" (late 13th century). Chalone came from Vulgar (=ordinary) Latin "calumniare" , meaning "to accuse falsely" which in its turn came from the Latin  "calumnia" meaning "trickery". 

So although the word "challenge" started off with quite a negative connotation - trickery, falsely accusing-, it has made a remarkably positive turnaround now having a positive connotation - of something that invites you to battle it but that will usually let you win in the end.

Let's just hope that my feelings towards Moodle will evolve in the same positive manner. The battle continues... 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Begin [bih-gin], v

Last time I wrote in this blog, I was a student learning about technology in education (online course University of Oregon). The tables are turned now. I have been asked by the college to teach my students about this topic and have thus become the teacher. It is quite exciting. I have set up an online course and my first student has started working this week .

As I require my students to write blogs, I decided it's about time to update my own. Not sure if I will be able to manage doing this weekly but at least here I am making a beginning.

The word "begin" comes from Old English "beginnan" meaning "to begin, attempt, undertake," from "be" (meaning "thoroughly, completely") + W.Germanic *ginnan, of obscure meaning and perhaps "to open, open up". Cognates in German and Dutch "beginnen".

On February 11, 1861, President-elect Lincoln made his departure from his home in Springfield to begin the rail journey to Washington, where he was to be inaugurated a month later. Lincoln himself felt a premonition that this was the last time he would see Springfield. Standing on the rear platform of his railroad car, he bid the townspeople farewell, closing with these words: "Today I leave you. I go to assume a task more difficult than the which developed upon George Washington. The great God which guided him must help me. Without that assistance I shall surely fail; with it, I cannot fail."

Let us, with G-d's help, begin this endeavor. Be'ezrat Hashem (with G-d's help), it will not fail.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Etymology [et-uh-mol-uh-jee], (n)

I love to find out and teach about the origin of words. Knowing the etymology of a word helps you remember it better and gives a deeper insight on the development of the English language. I therefore teach the origin of interesting English words to my student teachers as well. Here an example of some of the etymology they study:

Current meaning Etymology
1 Steeplechase A horserace across open country or over an obstacle course. Steeple = high tower. Originally a horserace with a visible church steeple as the goal.
2 Cardigan A knitted jacket, that opens down the full length of the front After the Seventh Earl of Cardigan, James Thomas Brudenell (1797-1868), British army officer who liked wearing such jackets.
3 Drawing-room A room appropriated for the reception of company Short for withdrawing room, a room into which ladies would withdraw after dinner.
4 Maverick An individualist, an unconventional person (master-less) After Samual A. Maverick, Texas, a cattle owner who was negligent in branding his calves. Therefore a calf found without an owner's brand was called a Maverick. Later, anyone ownerless was called this way.
5 Matinee An entertainment, such as a dramatic performance or movie, presented in the daytime, usually in the afternoon From French Matin=morning
6 Tar macadam Also called Tarmac = pavement created by spraying tar over crushed stone. From tar + McAdam. John L. McAdam was the person who invented this method of paving roads. 
7 Canter Gentle gallop of a horse During Middle Ages in England the pilgrims going to Canterbury used to ride at a gentle gallop known as the "Canterbury gallop"
8 Gerrymander To divide (a geographic area) into voting districts so as to give unfair advantage to one party in elections. 1813 Elbridge Gerry, a former governor of Massachusetts. Gerry was immortalized in this word because an election district created by members of his party in 1812 looked like a salamander. "Gerrymander" soon came to mean not only "the action of shaping a district to gain political advantage" but also "any representative elected from such a district by that method." 
9 Ambulance A motor vehicle designed to carry sick or injured people From French, based on (hôpital) ambulant mobile or field (hospital), from Latin ambulāre to walk
10 Boycott To abstain from or act together in abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with as an expression of protest or disfavor or as a means of coercion Charles C. Boycott was an Englishman and estate agent in Ireland. Even though the  Irish wanted better treatment Boycott refused to charge lower rents and ejected his tenants. Boycott and his family found themselves isolated without servants, farmhands, service in stores, or mail delivery. Boycott's name was quickly adopted as the term for this treatment.
11 Corduroy A durable fabric, usually made of cotton, with vertical ribs often made into trousers. Corde du roi (F) = "the king's cord"
12 Mesmerize To spellbind; enthrall; hypnotize 1802, from Fr. mesmérisme, named for Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815), Austrian physician who developed a theory of animal magnetism and a mysterious body fluid which allows one person to hypnotize another.
13 Foolscap A large size of paper for writing or printing. Traditional paper size in Europe before adaptation of international standard A4 (which is slightly smaller). Nowadays called folio. This size paper used to have a watermark with a fool's cap on it.
14 Sadism The (sexual) joy of afflicting pain or cruelty on others. From French, named after Comte Donatien Alphonse François de Sade, known as the Marquis de Sade (1740-1814), French soldier and writer of works describing sexual perversion
15 Funny-bone A point on the elbow where the ulnar nerve runs close to the surface and produces a sharp tingling sensation if knocked against the bone. This name is a pun, based on the sound resemblance between the name of the bone of the upper arm, the "humerus" and the word "humorous" (=funny).
16 Sandwich Food placed in between two slices of bread. After the 4th Earl of Sandwich who had no patience to stop his favorite pastime for a meal and therefore asked his servant to place some meat between two slices of bread.
17 Honeymoon A holiday or trip taken by a newly married couple. From honey in reference to the new marriage's sweetness, and moon in reference to how long it would probably last – one month. German version is flitterwochen (pl.), from flitter "tinsel" + wochen "week."
18 Wellington High boots covering the knees After the 1st Duke of Wellington who used to wear such boots.
19 Santa Claus The personification of the spirit of Christmas, usually represented as a jolly fat old man with a white beard and a red suit, who brings gifts to good children on Christmas Eve. Alteration of Dutch Sinterklaas which is alteration of Saint Nicholas
20 Shrapnel Fragments from an exploded artillery shell, mine, or bomb After Henry Shrapnel (1761-1842), British army officer who invented a hollow cannon ball filled with fragments which burst in mid-air.
21 Tenterhooks To be on tenterhooks means to be uncertain and anxious about what is going to happen Late 15c., "one of the hooks that holds cloth on a tenter," from tenter + hook. (Tenter = A framework on which milled cloth is stretched for drying without shrinkage) The figurative phrase on tenterhooks "in painful suspense" is from 1748
22 Silhouette A drawing consisting of the outline of something, e.g. a human profile, filled in with a solid color. After Étienne de Silhouette (1709-1767), penny-pinching French finance minister. His policy was considered cheap so the cheap so the cheap silhouette art form which was growing in popularity at the time was named after him. 
23 Derrick machine for hoisting and moving heavy objects, consisting of a movable boom equipped with cables and pulleys and connected to the base of an upright stationary beam. Originally a derick was a hangman, gallows, after Derick, 16th-century English hangman.
24 Panick A sudden, overpowering terror, often affecting many people at once. From Gk. panikon, lit. "pertaining to Pan," Pan was the Greek god of woods and fields who was the source of mysterious sounds (>Pan Flute) that caused contagious, groundless fear in herds and crowds, or in people in lonely spots
25 America USA Named after Amerigo Vespucci (1454-1512) who made two trips to the New World as a navigator and claimed to have discovered it. His published works put forward the idea that it was a new continent, and he was first to call it Novus Mundus "New World."

Next time 25 more.

All the best,