Trending September 2023 # 2023: The Awesome, The Painful, And The Viral # Suggested October 2023 # Top 10 Popular |

Trending September 2023 # 2023: The Awesome, The Painful, And The Viral # Suggested October 2023 # Top 10 Popular

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History tells us that battles often continue to be fought after the end of a war. Did you know there were six Civil War battles fought after General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox? In a similar manner, Hiroo Onoda defended the island of Lubang in the Philippines for 30 years after World War II ended. Assuming that leaflets he found announcing the end of the war were just propaganda, Onoda fought on. Eventually, he surrendered when his old commanding officer, then a bookseller, came back to the island to relieve him of duty officially.

In the final analysis, wars carried on because we didn’t have an easy way for news to travel. Previously, it took time for news to spread, but this is not the case anymore.

Ironically, for all of our instantaneous global communication technologies, it appears that best practices in teaching are actually staying the same faster than ever. Best practices are traveling like the leaflets drifting down on Onoda, with many educators seemingly not believing what is written.

What We “Like”

Today a teenager flips a bottle in a talent show, and tomorrow he’s the next viral sensation. Today a mom gets a Chewbacca mask and laughs at herself. Tomorrow that same mom is on a late night TV show with some of the most famous people in Hollywood.

What drives all of this fame? And how are these any different from “Do the Harlem Shake,” “Gangnam Style,” or that gold and white/black and blue dress?

Fame today is nothing more than the multiple millions of “likes”—yours and mine—that propel people to stardom. But you really have to wonder: Are we liking things that really matter? Just two years after the Ice Bucket Challenge, we now have groundbreaking research to push us toward a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Were there any trends for social good in 2023?

Things stay the same faster than ever. More funny videos, faster.

Pain Goes Viral

At the same time, we saw the rise of the viral protest this year: Something happens in one city to trigger a protest in another, and another, and another. To cope with the heartbreak of senseless death, possible discrimination, or needless violence, we feel helpless and want to do something. So we forward on these horrific stories to our networks, which then do the same to theirs.

Similarly, the superhero funeral epitomizes the senselessness of much of the violence in the U.S. This was the tragic funeral of a precious 6 year old named Jacob Hall, who was shot at school. He was laid to rest dressed in a little Batman costume, and all the mourners dressed as superheroes for his send-off. I watched the video, as did millions of others, sobbing at this and the other tragedies of 2023.

On the negative side, pain goes viral, too.

Things stay the same faster than ever. More pain, faster.

The Election

Speaking of controversy, perhaps the hottest viral trend of 2023 was the U.S. presidential election. Each political party had its memes and rants. And certainly when society rolls with rancor, we have to deal with it in our classrooms.

As a teacher of a diverse group of students, I have students who supported each presidential candidate. For this reason, I intentionally keep my political views to myself. However, not all educators feel this way. Some educators share their political views and those of their students far and wide.

Remarkably, we saw hatred, injustice, unkindness, and lies go viral in many ways. But as a teacher, I must ask myself yet again—how can we see love, justice, kindness, and truth go viral?

Things stay the same faster than ever. More rancor, faster.

The Viral Lesson Plan

I know that many teachers are too busy to care about these big trends. But at a minimum, every teacher should care about classroom best practices. Those should be like gold. If I find something bottle-flippingly awesome in my classroom, shouldn’t I share it with my networks? Shouldn’t it go viral just as fast and far as Chewbacca mom?

To be fair, lesson plans are being shared in some places. There are bubbling communities of educators at Teachers Pay Teachers and on many OER websites, where people are excitedly sharing and iterating on great educational resources. Amazon even entered the space earlier this year. Although many rush to condemn these efforts, and mainstream education media generally ignores them, I predict that one day education best practices will go viral.

Things stay the same faster than ever. With a few exceptions (noted above), we’re seeing more irrelevant materials, faster.

Have Buzzword, Will Travel

Quality teaching may not be viral, but buzzwords sure are. These words spread from conference to Twitter to the next conference like lightning. Here are the hot buzzwords from the 2023 International Society for Technology in Education conference in Denver:

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