My Day in A Sentence

Even though I put my sentence on the VoiceThread for this week (see post down below), I missed seeing it as part of my blog archive, so here it goes:

I got an article published in the local newspaper about my new XO, leading the other newspaper to interview me for their own article on the XO, and my hope is that both articles help advance the ideas of technology and education in the developing world.

Peace (in sentences),


Day in a Sentence: VoiceThread Experiment

I want to invite you into this week’s Day in a Sentence feature, and I am adding yet another twist to the equation. I have created this very simple VoiceThread and I want to invite you to post your sentence in my VoiceThread.

You can do it as text, as audio, or talking into a webcam. VoiceThread makes this so very easy to do. Here is the link to VoiceThread for the homepage, where you can set up an account in minutes.

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="500" height="600" wmode="transparent" /]

If this is impossible for you, then, by all means, leave your Sentence here as a post, but I really do hope folks will try out VoiceThread.

Peace (in threads),


Ben, over at the Esoterium, had been wondering why there were not more collaborative teaching blogs where many voices from the teaching of English and writing can come together to share knowledge and interact. There are some models of this out there (including Lifehacks, which is how Ben got inspired to think about this idea) in other fields.

Well, Ben is now launching a site called and he is looking for a wide range of English teacher-bloggers who may want to get involved.

If you are interested, Ben asks that you drop him an email at ben(at)esoterium(dot)com.

Peace (in further collaboration),

My Day as a Video

Bonnie has released this week’s Day in a Sentence to the world. I tried something a little different this week — taking my podcast and putting it together with some file photos for a video Day in a Sentence.

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

It was only after I started looking at and playing with new acoustic guitars that I realized how much of a faithful companion my old guitar has been in the 20 years that I have had it and how many hundreds (yep, hundreds) of songs I have composed on its tender strings.

I am hosting again this week and then it is off to Ben B. for a co-hosting venture the following week (right, Ben?).

Peace (with guitars),

Survey says …. YouTube Educational Videos

(This has been in the back seat of my blog for a month or so)

Curt Bonk is part of a group doing a research project on YouTube and they are looking for folks to take a survey. You can find more information about their work at Curt’s site (one incentive for folks who take the survey is to get 90-day trial of a survey machine called SurveyShare, which I have not heard of).

They have different categories, but here are the educational videos they have provided as part of their research analysis of why people create, share and comment on the web-based video systems:

. Did You know; Shift Happens – Globalization; Information Age

2. Did You Know 2.0

3. Voices from the New American Schoolhouse (trailer)

4. A Fair(y) Use Tale

5. Pay Attention

6. Wikis in Plain English

7. Video: RSS in Plain English

8. Education in Second Life: Explore the Possibilities

9. The Wire: Education

(I have to include this one — The Wire is on the way out, but not in the DVD world)

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

(But if you want to see a troublesome virtual conversation, follow the comment links to this video on YouTube — this is why schools ban YouTube — racist remarks, profanity and lack of respect for other people)

10. Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Speech 2005

Peace (in viral videos),

Two Million Minutes in the Flat World

The Flat World is on my mind these days, as I just finished the book by Tom Friedman, and then I came across this trailer for a documentary about the emergence of math and science in China and India and, the concern about lack of these skills in the US, and the future for our children. Friedman makes the same point although he remains optimistic that our creativity and ingenuity will give us a competitive edge. He does warn that the increase in funds and government interest in technology-related fields in India and China, along with a lack of support here, could forebode some shifting of global power in the future.

Friedman calls on the next president to galvanize the country to invest in the future, through technology. We’ll see, won’t we?

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Education Week also profiled the documentary, which you can order as a DVD from the creators of Two Million Minutes (I did, because this idea of the world getting smaller and more competitive as technology comes into play both excited and worries me as a teacher and a parent).

And then there was the Frontline special this week — Growing Up Online — which I missed but found online via another blogger, Kate — and I have only watched the segment on education and technology/social networking in school environment. It was interesting and seemed fairly balanced between teachers and the pros and cons of using technology as a means of engagement of students. It was kind of depressing that one teacher feels she that is “outmoded” because she does not embrace technology and is not ready to give up the traditional classroom — discussions, reflection, writing.

It is disheartening when one boy says he never reads books anymore and uses only online activity as his “reading,” zipping through sites with summaries (such as Sparknotes). Then, in a moment of reflection, he admits that he is cheating himself (and blames lack of time). Also, the aspect of”collecting friends” in places such as MySpace and Facebook bubbles up and shows it for what is: just another social status tool and not what it should be: creating a sense of interconnected communities.

Peace (in smaller spaces),



I mentioned this ebook site (called WOWIO) the other day as part of my examination of the XO computer as an ereader and each day, the options for new books grows. It is still mostly second-tier books, but they are loaded with interesting graphic novels and comics, and that could appeal to kids (and me). The books are donated by various companies and are free to any US resident who signs up for the service. You get three free books every day and they are downloaded as PDF files.

Here is the book that I downloaded today that had me cracking up:

Yep — a graphic novel bio of The Beatles. I am waiting for the KISS one to come next (just kidding, I think, but I do remember KISS comics when I was a kid)

Peace (in graphic novel form),

Flickr and the Library of Congress

Bain News Service, publisher. [1911] [Germany Schaefer, Washington AL (baseball)]

The Library of Congress has now put thousands of photos from its archives up on Flickr for viewing and use by us, the people. This is a treasure trove of materials and I am already thinking of ways to use them in the classroom.

What is interesting is that the folks at the Library of Congress folks (see their blog) are opening up the door in Flickr for comments and tags by people. And they are using the “no known copyright” designation, too, which allows for more use by students, I think. Somebody in that federal office clearly gets it — the photos are going to be viewed and used.

My boys are going to love this: A flickr slideshow of photos of old baseball players.

Peace (in picturing history as it was),

Day in Sentence on the move: Bonnie’s House

This week’s Day in a Sentence is brought to you by the fine makers of BLK1, whose owner and caretaker — Bonnie — offers up rich conversation, a sense of community and a wealth of kind words for anyone who has ever wanted to feel connected.

Contribute today to Day in a Sentence and you will also receive this additional complimentary bonus: a nice introduction by Bonnie.

Day in Sentence Icon Yes, Bonnie is your host this week, so please follow this link to her blog site and post your sentence. She may also add a little creative twist as an option for us, too.

Peace (in truth/false advertising),

Quickfiction: chapter 3

I am continuing to explore the world of Quickfiction, reducing down a narrative to its essentials and creating characters and motivations as concise as possible. It’s quite a challenge.

But here are my latest stories:

The week there was no email, Chantel almost killed herself. Later, she would joke about it and laugh about it with her colleagues. Susan, who worked in the cubicle next to her, was astounded. “Come on, Chantel, you wouldn’t really kill yourself just because no one emailed you for a week, would you? That’s just ridiculous.” Karen cultivated the social gossip at the water cooler every day and she offered, “I wish I could go a week without email. I hate weeding through that junk.” Another one, Sam, who fixes the copier when it breaks down, added, “What did you do before email?” There was no life before email. Although Chantel played along with them, and even made detrimental remarks on her own sanity in order to feed the laughter, inside her head, she was, indeed, quite serious. Her lifeline had somehow come to rely on short missives on her computer from family and acquaintances. Friends might be too strong a word. She didn’t really have friends, just acquaintances. An empty inbox was some sort of coded message: she wasn’t important. She wasn’t needed. It had come to the point where she was now finding herself reading Spam, just to convince herself that someone out there was trying to communicate with her, even if the garbled words did come from some computer farm somewhere in the world. And so the week with no email was traumatic and it was only later that Chantel even thought to look behind her computer. That was when she realized that an Ethernet wire had come undone — it just dangled there like a noose — and she had been physically disconnected from the world the whole time. She breathed a sigh of relief as a flood of messages entered into her inbox, giving her a sense of relief not felt in many days.

He watches me from just outside the window, nose pressed against glass. I stare back. He opens his mouth to make a sound and yet, I hear nothing. It’s not cold outside today, not if you are wrapped up in a fur coat as he is, and I know he is in no danger of freezing. I find myself entranced by this creature that depends so much upon me for survival that I wonder, if the tables were reversed, would he keep me on the outside looking in? I smile at imagined acts of feline revenge against me. The cold nights. An unreliable source of food. Long hours of disappearance. No respect for gifts on the doorstep. None of this is likely, though. If I were the pet, and sometimes I think this may be true anyway, he would no doubt rush to the door, let me in and curl up on my lap just to keep me warm. He would understand that I just don’t have the stomach or fortitude for the world of rodents and Mother Nature. He has a different kind of spirit than I do. Me? I just stare back through the glass and write a story about him looking in at me and do nothing more. I have a story to write. He’ll just have to wait.

No one noticed me. They never do. I was dressed impeccably in my best suit, hands in my lap, a mournful gaze on my face. I was respectful and in a funeral, no one questions those who are properly contained in the skin of emotional reserve. The body looked handsome, given the circumstances. How it is that they can prepare such things is beyond me. Perhaps we would be better off if this weren’t the case, if we had to look at the dead as they are and not as we imagine they should be. The mother was weeping in the corner, being held together by what looked like one of her other children. The father was in the back of the room, drinking coffee with other men. All of them removed from action. I nodded silently to a few other people in the seats near me. We were in this together, our collective nods seemed to say, acknowledging the loss. The service was short and to the point. Life lived. Too short. Grief. I waited for the tears and again, they didn’t come. They never come. Two years gone and still, I could not shed a tear for her. What was wrong with me? I made a slow route around the room, drawing in as much of their sadness as I could and silently offering to be the one to hold it all in for them, to feel the weight of loss for them, to give them a moment’s reprieve. Such sadness and yet, for me, nothing. I left as I had come, with stealth and beyond the field of vision of anyone in the room. The obit crunched as I fingered it in my pocket. There was another up the street. A woman, age 52, cancer. I was already dressed and ready and hopeful, truly hopeful, that I would find some tears where tears had not naturally come for me two years ago this very week.

A life in miniature. That was the answer Stephen would give when asked why he spent so much time with his trains. It’s true that by the age of 32, he should have outgrown them, placed them in a box for storage in the attic and be happy with the memories. Still, here he was, crouched down low with a piece of broken track in one hand and a blue engine in the other. Curtis looked on, almost antsy with anticipation but respecting his uncle’s request for both silence and stillness. Not easy for a seven year old. Spread out before them in the basement studio was the largest railroad track that Curtis had ever seen. It seemed to go on for miles and miles, twisting through tunnels and moving over mountains and careening around buildings, slicing off at various junctures to create two trails out of one and then one out of two. Stephen ignored the boy. He was angry at Karen for allowing his nephew to come down here. The boy had no business here. So Stephen kept at his task of restoring order through repair. A life in miniature and also, a world completely under his control. Curtis, though, could feel something rising inside of him. He kept it contained, whatever it was, and continued to eye the tracks. Everything seemed so perfect. Everything in its place. Curtis’ world was never this neat and ordered and despite his love for his uncle, the only thing Curtis could think about was ripping up this entire world and feeling the power of destruction. It would be like King Kong! Or Godzilla! Stephen remained patient with the track. A small screw was coming loose. “I need to get a screwdriver, Curtis. Upstairs. Don’t touch a thing.” Curtis nodded and watched his uncle go up the stairs. It was the moment. The moment when Godzilla came alive and wreaked vengeance on an unsuspecting world.

Peace (in stories),