Slice of Life: Pictures of the Band

(This is a Slice of Life post, in which we share out the events of the day. It runs through March and then every Tuesday throughout the year, and is facilitated by the folks at Two Writing Teachers. You write, too.)

Kevin with Duke Rushmore March2015

Our bass player is also a videographer and at our last gig, he invited a friend to shoot video of our gig in order to make some cool videos. He’s still working on the editing and mixing of it all, but he shared out some snippets that sound and look cool.

I grabbed a few screenshots of myself (selfie alert) to make this collage. I play saxophone and do back-up singing (and write songs for the band, too). It’s a blast.

The band is Duke Rushmore. And I am happy to say that we are more than bandmates — we are very good friends. This is us, off the stage, chatting about life and music.

Duke Rushmore relaxin'

Peace (in the pic),
Kevin

Slice of Life: I Was a Paid Food Tester

(Each day in March, a whole bunch of educators are writing Slices of Life — capturing the small moments. It is facilitated by Two Writing Teachers. You write, too.)

Ice cream blues

I never thought I would ever say this but I hate ice cream right now. I suspect that strong emotion will soon pass. Not yet, though. Right now, my stomach is still aching from being part of a market-research, paid-taste-testing group last night for a regional family restaurant chain (I don’t know if I should name them … I didn’t sign any confidentiality agreements … let’s just say they were very, eh, friendly to us tasters … if you live in the Northeast, you can figure it out.)

My wife signed us both up for the session, as parents of children (their target audience) which we joked was our way to have a date for free and leave the kids behind. But we could not sit near each other nor talk to each other during the 90 minutes of food and ice cream tasting. So, not much of a date night ambiance. But they paid us in the cold hard cash, so the real date will come later …

We began with half-sized portions off the dinner menu, with a turkey burger (yum), a salad (yum), and some bbq steak sandwich (not yum). We used ipods to give our impressions, and then the leader of the market session led a discussion.

When we got to the ice cream part of the night, we were all giddy and ready … I mean, free ice cream? … but after the fifth cup of ice cream (small portions, true, but they were all sundaes), I was ready to retire from the ice cream business. But then a sixth cup came. And then a seventh. Ten cups of ice cream to be consumed after a long day at school, and the adults around the room were all in a bit of a sugar rush. There were some good cups to taste (anything with peanut butter is OK with me) and some not-so-good ones (one blue ice cream had cake bits in it, with sprinkles and other gooey things and it was if someone dumped a cup of sugar down my throat … gross).

It was definitely an interesting experience to be a Professional Taste Tester for a night but I am going Ice Cream Cold Turkey for a stretch. I’ll probably change my mind when the warm weather finally arrives. When is that, exactly?

Peace (on the taste buds),
Kevin

 

A #Walkmyworld Denoument/Digital Portfolio

Walk My World Curated Links

For the past several weeks, I have been intermittently involved with the Walk My World project, which is a series of learning events designed around reflective practice on the themes of identity, composing with digital media and connected learning. It’s been a blast, and I appreciate the work and support that Ian and Greg (in particular) do to invite people in and keep them active in the Walk My World spaces. I’ve mostly tinkered around in the #walkmyworld hashtag.

And now, as we near the end, we are asked to consider pulling together our various “makes” and reflections into a single digital portfolio. Some folks are using Storify, which I used last year, but I wanted to keep trying out the Diigo Outliner tool and dig into something new. It’s merely an online collection of links and notes, organized in an outline format, which can be shared out.

Check out my Walk My World digital portfolio, organized by Learning Events and assorted categories.

On one hand, I like the organization of this Diigo tool. On the other hand, it seems rather bland as an experience. I’m feeling mixed about it, particularly when you consider how best to share a range of digital media projects. In many ways, if I were doing this right, I would create a website, linking and embedding media right into the experience of the reader (that would be you). With this tool, you need to follow my links out, moving into different spaces to experience what I made.

That’s not good design.

But it’s what I have for now.

Peace (in the walk),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Testing Meerkat to Stream a Corner Concert

(Each day in March, a whole bunch of educators are writing Slices of Life — capturing the small moments. It is facilitated by Two Writing Teachers. You write, too.)

Corner concert

I have been curious about the live-streaming video app called Meerkat. It’s pretty simple to use. Download the app. Hit the play and you are live on Twitter and the Web. I guess Twitter itself is nearing a launch of its own app — Periscope, I think it is called — but I wanted to try out Meerkat myself.

So, I figured, maybe I will play and live-stream a song. I have this idea for “corner concerts” — short, one-song streams of playing live for a few minutes, maybe on a regular schedule, and see if anyone cares to listen.

I set up my iPad yesterday, grabbed my guitar and hit the play button and … well … played a song of mine, called Ease Your Mind. It was interesting because for the first part of the song, no one was watching. Little icons pop up in the corner when folks have opened your live-stream video. Then, I started to see a few visitors (in the video, you can can see me look at the screen and smile a bit), so I extended the song an extra verse and chorus before signing off.

Meerkat saves the video to your device, so I uploaded it into YouTube easily enough. I’ll keep tinkering and playing around, and thinking about the possibilities of your mobile device being a live-stream possibility (good for conferences, maybe?).

Thanks for reading. And if you were one of the icons in my stream, much thanks.

Peace (in the stream),
Kevin

 

Playing with the ParaPara Animation Tool

Check this out:

I stumbled into an open source, online animation tool that is simple to use and pretty nifty way to teach animation to kids. ParaPara is a Japanese animation tool that allows for simple animation (and apparently, there is a way to collaborate with others … looking into that feature …) Mozilla’s Webmaker hosts a tutorial on how to use it, with links to the ParaPara site.

Once you make your animation, it kicks out a link and then an embed code, so that you can embed like I did with my Happy Friend animation that I created in just a few minutes.

What are you waiting for? Get making!

Making Animation with ParaPara

Peace (in the frame),
Kevin

PS –

Slice of Life: Mix and Remix (and Remix again?)

(Each day in March, a whole bunch of educators are writing Slices of Life — capturing the small moments. It is facilitated by Two Writing Teachers. You write, too.)

Write, Share, Give

Sometimes, opportunity presents itself. Yesterday morning, I was checking out the Twitter hasthag for #walkmyworld (a series of media-centric activities around the theme of identity and creation — see more here) when I noticed that Shawna had posted a digital poem. Of course, I was curious. And she was looking for feedback. I went there, at her blog site, to see what she had been up to.

It was a lovely rendition of a Georgia Heard poem about school and conformity and “straight lines” that we expect our students to fall into when they come into school, instead of the crazy zig-zag of life outside of school. I’m not philosophically opposed to imposing order on the day – and plenty of kids need that consistency, given the chaos of their lives at home. But Shawna did such a nice job.

Take a look.

I left her a comment (including a request to share out the “how she did it” at her blog) and then decided to go one step further — I decided to honor her poem by remixing it, via Webmaker Popcorn Maker. If you have not used Popcorn, it allows you to layer in various media and do other interesting things with online video. The remix does not affect the original. It only borrows it. Remix is a way to honor the original, and in this case, I was hoping to add a layer of my own art to Shawn’s art.

Check it out.

And of course, one of the beauties of Popcorn is the ability to remix the remix. So, why not give it a try? You can either click on the “remix” button at the top right of my Popcorn Project, or you can just click here and get started (no account needed to play around with the remix.)

See what you can make. And then maybe write about it.

Peace (in the share),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Without Hot Water

(Each day in March, a whole bunch of educators are writing Slices of Life — capturing the small moments. It is facilitated by Two Writing Teachers. You write, too.)

Write, Share, Give

Some things we take for granted in life. Like, hot water.

Yesterday morning, we heard a loud noise in the basement as we took showers. “Just a cold pipe or something,” we told ourselves. “It will go away.”

It didn’t.

By night, when my wife was using some hot water and the noise seemed like some monster living in our basement, I finally grabbed a flashlight to get a closer look. The water heater was banging away on the wall and a small drip of water was coming off one of the hoses. The floor was wet. There was a faint smell of something electrical in the air.

Uh oh.

We unplugged the whole shebang, called the plumber (who promptly returned our call at 8 p.m. and is coming over today — we love our plumber!), and began to fret over the fix-it bill. This morning, I did a cold shave with freezing water — it reminded me of my time in the military, out in training in the woods, where the only water for shaving and cleaning was cold canteen water.

We’re roughing it this morning and hope the hot water is back by this evening …

Peace (and warmth),
Kevin

Transformed into a Robot

My youngest son has a sketchbook where he is creating a whole menagerie of robot designs. He showed he this one recently: The Daddy-o-Tron. I feel honored to have been made robotic. Notice how he gave me a side-kick robot — the Book-o-Tron.

Daddy-o-Tron Robot

Peace (with them ears),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Charting the Listeners

(Each day in March, a whole bunch of educators are writing Slices of Life — capturing the small moments. It is facilitated by Two Writing Teachers. You write, too.)

Write, Share, Give

 

In another writing space, in which connected friends from the National Writing Project write regularly and different folks take on different writing prompt hosting each week, my friend, Fred M., posed the question this week of nurturing active listeners. Fred, citing Peter Elbow’s work, used the launching idea of: “Listening is NOT waiting for the other person to stop talking.”

It’s a great topic, and one my colleagues at school and I talk about a lot, mostly from the deficit viewpoint: “Why isn’t he listening?” or “She was staring out the window again” or “He never participates in class discussions or raises his hand.” Maybe we need to think more of, what I am doing to bring her back to the classroom? Or how I am engaging him in something he is passionate about? That’s another day, another time.

I wrote to Fred’s prompt about some story activities that I do that encourage listening skills and then started to think about a typical class. I had this idea to use one of my four sixth grade classes, and to break it down (very unscientifically) along categories of listeners.

Here is what I came up with:

A Class of Listeners

Fred suggested I share the chart back with my sixth graders and get their input and perspective. I just might do that.

Peace (I’m listening),
Kevin

Slice of Life: When We Used to Fill the Book Bags

(Each day in March, a whole bunch of educators are writing Slices of Life — capturing the small moments. It is facilitated by Two Writing Teachers. You write, too.)

Write, Share, Give

I took my youngest son to the public library yesterday and it was there that I had one of those memory moments. Years ago, when all three boys were younger, I used to bring them to the library regularly, and we would spend at least an hour or so in the children’s section, reading stories, playing blocks, watching fish, and choosing books to bring home. It was not unusual for me to lug home a bag filled with 25 or more picture books. I’d drop the bag on the floor, and let the books spill out, and the kids would sit in the midst, reading or looking at the bounty of stories.

Now, when the older boys join me at the library, they go upstairs to the adult section or the video section (or the adult graphic novel section). My youngest is still content to sit on the floor, and I found him yesterday reading some Garfield books while I perused the shelves of the Young Adult fiction novels. I then wandered into the picture book area, and listened furtively as a father read a book to his toddler son. I said hello to the fish. I remembered.

Of course, we grabbed a few books to borrow but nothing like the past, and I guess that’s OK. Still, I often have those pangs of remembering how the library used to be our regular place for literacy (particularly on those rainy days), and now as I think about the three boys and their abilities in reading and writing (all very strong), I like to think that our visits to the world of books and the regular stacks of stories we brought home to read together have had an influence on them. I know that to be true (and worry about my students whose families never entered their library or brought books home or read aloud to them when they were younger.)

I’m being wistful with this Slice of Life, but I am also grateful that we live in a place that has such rich public spaces for anyone to borrow all kinds of books. Libraries remain the rich heart of literacy, and even though our visits are less frequent, I know my boys realize the library is there for them, whenever they need something to read or something to explore, and I know they value our library as much as I do. Of that, I am certain.

Peace (in the stacks),
Kevin