An Extended Blogging Vacation

Hi

I just wanted to let you know that I am taking an extended Blog Vacation for at least the month of August and so, I won’t be posting anything at My Meandering Mind during that time.

I hope you will continue to participate in the Day in a Sentence, which is being guest hosted at other places for the coming weeks by some wonderful bloggers. This week, Stacey is hoping you’ll join her at the Two Writing Teachers site for Day in a Sentence.

Have a great month of August.

Peace (in restful intent),
Kevin

Slice of Life, Chapter 18

 Slice of Life, Weekly Challenge, Chapter 15

(This is part of a weekly feature called Slice of Life Project)

This is a musical Slice of Life, as I have been working on a new song, possibly for my band The Sofa Kings. It’s pretty rough now and the bridge in the song is going to have to go (it doesn’t work), but that’s what making a demo is all about — what to keep and what to remove.

Anyway, here is the song called Dance the Dance.

Listen to Dance the Dance (or click on the little blue arrow for the flash player)

Peace (in songs),
Kevin

Memoir Mondays: The SI Experience

I am so jealous.
I wander into the computer lab at UMass and see all of these teachers connecting and chatting and laughing at inside jokes and it brings me back to my Invitational Summer Institute with the Western Massachusetts Writing Project. My role now is technology support, but I remember that summer as clearly as if it were, well, this summer.
I was incredibly nervous about the four week program, even though I had an inkling of sorts of what to expect, given that my wife had already done the Summer Institute a few years before me. But I was a brand new teacher and these would be veterans. My biggest hope is that I could pilfer some ideas from them and maybe offer a thought or two.
The writing time was wonderful, and I used every minute. I wrote a collection of poems. I wrote an essay. I wrote a short novella that I turned into a musical play (that was later put on stage when it won a contest) about a little musical note that gets lost in a masterpiece.
And I learned for the first time what a blog was, and used it every single day. We all shared writing, made comments on workshop presentations, shared our research and found ways to use the technology to connect with each other. It was an eye-opening experience that moves me into technology in ways that I did not think possible at the time.
But I saw “a moment” and I pushed into it.
This summer, I am helping the Summer Institute folks learn about social networking (using a Ning site), Google Docs, and other technology that I hope will give them a glimpse into the moment right now and think about the potential for their classrooms.
But I am jealous because although I am part of the experience, I am an outsider to the strong connections being built among them through their long days of writing, sharing, and talking. I know what that feels like and I am grateful that I still have five or six people from my Summer Institute still as part of my personal network.
I am jealous, but I am grateful, too.

Peace (in networks),
Kevin

ReConfiguring My Comic Strip

I am in the midst of reconfiguring my comic strip. There are a couple of reasons for this:

  • I don’t like having to rely on an online site for creating the comic;
  • I don’t want to navigate copyrights if I can get my comic published, since the artwork was not mine but the property of the online comic creator site;
  • I wanted to add some color;
  • I wanted to change the name of the comic from Outerworld Web (which was fine when I first conceived the project but now has little to do with the characters) to Boolean Squared (which allows a focus on my main character);
  • I want to see if I can do this all alone.

And so, I went into MS Paint and made my own version of my characters. I also have begun using ComicLife for PC to see if that is a workable platform. It’s not perfect and I need to tinker some more. I am having trouble, for example, getting two images into a single frame, which is strange.

But:

And

What do you think? I really would appreciate some feedback here, as I am moving into some unknown territory.

Of course, if the local newspaper shows an interest, things may change again. I’ll keep you posted.

Peace (in comics),
Kevin

The Release of the Days

As I began to gather up this week’s Days in a Sentence, I realized that I had not written my own (which I usually do with my call for words). So, here is my Day in a Sentence:

I’m seeing the world in frames and punchlines this week as I develop and continue to tweek my new comic strip adventure about teaching, technology and kids in a digital age.

And without further ado, here are your words:

My friend, George, with whom I have followed on a few projects (including the Darfur and the Space initiatives), shares not only a sentence, but also a picture as he writes, “Taking care of Marisa’s brain-injured father.” — See the picture (our thoughts are with you and your family, George)

Janice went looking for books, but found a few empty spaces on the shelves. It must have been those library elves again. “My (voluntarily undertaken) paperback fiction inventory is almost complete and depressingly, hundreds of books are missing from the middle school library collection of the school I start working at in September.”

Bonnie had another jam-packed week of teaching and family, and still, she finds a way to balance it all with joyfulness. The sun always shines on Bonnie. “We officially ended the third week of our Summer Institute with flowers, stipend checks and the sun and I begin a weekend of family celebration: our first wedding from the next generation and the sun is still shining.”

Mike is digging deep into video editing (always a fun but slow process, in my opinion) and at least thinking of getting into shape. Or maybe he already is in shape. That’s the problem with virtual community — I can’t see him. 🙂  “Most of my week was spent editing a wedding video that I shot last week, and I also bought a new weight set off Craigslist, which is pretty fun.”

Michaele is back in the classroom this week. She wrote down her sentence in the short time when kids were going home for lunch. As you see, she has some mixed emotions about her new position. “Returning to the classroom this week after a one-year hiatus has been fulfilling, social, busy, and deeply reflective due to my employment circumstances: I’m replacing a teacher whose husband was killed in the war overseas last spring.” (Good luck — we are sure you will do great)

sara smiles (cue music from hall & oates). i can tell. she writes, “i love summer, when my greatest concern is balancing out the wicked farmer’s tan i’m getting from my nursery job!” (sara is determined to keep everything lower case in her online persona, so i am following her suit here)

Gail D. continues her various quests for knowledge and new ideas and now she returns back home to reflect on the experience. “I’m back home in California after an amazing two weeks in New York City, during which most days included a stroll through Strawberry Fields – Imagine!

I think I saw Jenny yawn. Time to pull the shades and take that cat nap. “Not enough hours in the day; I need at least 8 hrs more to get that much needed sleep.

Amy sees some light and some clearance. Possibly.  She certainly gets more than the allotted sentence. “The sun breaks though the clouds as my master’s project nears completion. –Maybe. My project advisor approved the project, but after a brief look my grad advisor thinks it needs more writing. Hopefully, she will change her mind before my committee meeting next week. ;-)

Nina poses the question that has long plagued the minds of every teacher everywhere. “Back to work a week from today–why is it that no matter how long one’s vacation is, it is never long enough???

Tina teaches, but she also golfs, and she is great at both. “I didn’t win the Club Championship, but had way too much fun trying — and celebrating afterwards with my pals!

Jane provided me with plenty of purposeful alliteration and, bonus, she created a comic for her Day in a Sentence (see it over at her blog). “The Petal Pounding Presentation at the Garden Walk proved to be a great success as all the people proclaimed that the petals they pounded provided the perfect past time.

Lynn is overseas, in England, taking pictures and breathing in the history. “10-day AP Lit tour of England concludes—Alas. 700 pix to sort—egads. London, Canterbury, Bath, Oxford, Stratford, Howarth, and Lake Country. Students were great, guide—delightful. Pace just challenging enough. Will post Flickr links when pictures are sorted and duds removed.

Vacation is almost a memory for Karen. Sorry about that. “One more week visiting family out of state, then one more week of summer vacation; where did it go?

Mother Nature reared her beautiful head for Delaine. And for us, too, in New England. “After days of gloomy overcast, the sun finally made an appearance this morning, although slowly, over the Bay Bridge.

I want to welcome Gail P., who teaches kindergarten at my school and who submits her sentence for the first time (but hopefully, not the last). As always, her focus is on kids. “The four year old twin boys are bouncing, racing, riding, laughing, sneaking, sometimes whining, and often testing their old aunt as we freewheel our way through the adventures of summer.

Rick revels in the sun and in being with the energetic kids of his clan. “The best day of summer was filled with playing whiffle ball, running through the sprinkler, and stepping on each other’s shadows. Grandkids keep me young.

Susan has been thinking and writing about “power” these days. “Reflecting on my work last week, I can’t stop thinking about the barriers schools put up between secondary teachers by separating content areas in a system of hierarchy; when we’re battling each other for power there’s little time or energy left for collaboration and change.” She invites you to add your thoughts to this discussion over at her blog.

And Stacey, who will be our guest host this coming week, has been knee-deep in planning a session for the fall conference. “I’m ready to spend hours working hard, and having fun, with Ruth preparing for NCTE.

Thanks to everyone who submitted a sentence this week and thanks to those of you who are just reading the words and thinking, I should do that, too. You should. And you are welcome with open arms to participate in this Day in a Sentence.

Peace (in community),
Kevin

Reflecting on Creating a Comic

boolean by you.

I’ve been fully immersed in creating my new comic, Outerworld Web, and I thank everyone who has been giving me some feedback. It’s been mostly positive, which indicates to me that I am on the right track with my characters and my angle. Even my older son liked it, although he commented that he thought it could be funnier and that most comics have original art. Sure, kid.

On a whim, I wrote to the local newspaper and asked if they would be interested in an original comic strip from an area teacher (me) and I got a response back yesterday from the top editor, saying he was intrigued but would need to speak to the online editors. He also voiced concern that it might be difficult to keep a comic stip going over the long haul. I told him that I already have more than 20 of the Outerweb World comics done (it’s true), so we’ll see what happens.

As a writer, it has been interesting process. Three frames are barely enough space to get a character set up, a story moving and then the punch line that should come at the end. While I seem to have a lot of ideas, how to narrow and condense down into the structure of the comic strip genre has been a challenge — and quite enjoyable, actually. I think working with Six Word Stories and Day in a Sentence has been helpful, as those two activities force the writer to focus on the essentials.

At first, I thought that Mr. Teach would be a very central character, but he is not. Boolean and Urth are the centerpins of the comic, so far. I also thought that I would be Mr. Teach, and that is the case to some degree, but I am finding myself thinking more like Boolean and identifying with his urge to tinker and mess things up. I’m finding myself channeling parts of my personality through the characters in an interesting way. Mr. Teach allows me to introduce a concept, but Boolean allows me to poke holes in ideas and voice an off-kilter view of the world. I like that. Urth is Boolean’s friend, and literary foil, and his odd take on things helps spice up the story.

I am purposely narrowing down the cast of characters at this point, but I suspect that if I keep it up, I’ll have to bring in some blood to liven up the strip. I think I can do more with Boolean’s pet, Funk, but I haven’t figured it out yet.

Finally, I am liking the minimal nature of the comic art design, but I wonder if others think there is not enough going on. Since I am viewing the comic primarily as a writer, I am focusing in on what is being said, and not said. Art has never been “my thing” and I would love to find an artist who could do the artwork for the comic strip (know anybody? Let me know). I even put out a call on Classroom 2.0, but nobody responded to the post.

Anyway, here is another installment of Outerworld Web (and you can always go to my home site). This may be the last one until I figure out what might or might not happen with the newspaper, as I am not sure if they will republish comics that I have already put on the Web.

Peace (in three frames),
Kevin

Comics and Bears for PhotoFriday

It’s time for PhotoFriday (the collective Flickr photo sharing group started up by Bonnie) and I am sharing out two photos this week.

The first photo is related to my Slice of Life story the other day, as I captures a bear going through my trash:

The second one is another installment of my new comic series called Outerworld Web. (You can also catch up on the series at my new Google Sites home of the comic):

Peace (in pictures),
Kevin

Making My Own Comic: Outerworld Web

I am beginning a foray into the world of comics, somewhat inspired by a friend in the National Writing Project who does create his own comic strip for his local newspaper. I am no artist, so I have turned to a site called StripGenerator, which I like for its relative simplicity and strangeness.

My comic is called Outerworld Web and it features a kid character named Boolean, who is a student. The stories will be based loosely on my own teaching experiences and stories that I have gathered from others here and there. A theme will be technology in the classroom, but that won’t be exclusive. I am also hoping to create a Google Site to collect all of my comics as they come to fruition.

As a writer, I am hoping this experience will allow me to create some lesson plans for both comic creation and comic publishing.

Here is my introductory comic:

(click here or on the comic to go to large view of the comic)

And the first installment of Outerworld Web:

(click here or on the comic to go to the larger view of the comic)

If you have stories or ideas that you want to share with my newly created comic mind, please let me know. Also, any feedback on the comic would be most appreciated, as I am in new terrain here.

Peace (in frames),

Kevin