Humor: Commencement Address for Preschoolers

Over at our National Writing Project iAnthology writing space this week, our writing prompt host (Jeanne) asked us to consider Commencement Addresses, and she urged us to write what we would say if we were chosen. Well, I decided to spoof the concept, with an address to the younger set: preschoolers.

Hello preschoolers!

I know you are jumping over the seats and crawling under chairs, but if you could just take a moment to listen, I’d appreciate it, because I have important things to say, and you won’t get to the snack table until I am done. Thank you. Parents! That goes for you, too.

Preschoolers, I am honored to be here tonight, dressed up as Big Bird, in order to give you some advice on your journey into kindergarten. No doubt you have had a delightful year here. You’ve had snack times, nap times, read aloud times, play time, and plenty of time to build towers, knock them down, just like David did a few minutes ago — we all saw you, kid — and build them up again. This rebuilding of your ideas is going to be important in the long run. You’re going to fail a lot. It’s OK. You don’t need to cry about it. Instead, see the crumpled blocks as potential for building something even better.

I understand you used a lot of crayons this year. That’s good. Your vision for the future is going to be important. In fact, your parents and teachers and I all expect you to save the world. I know, it’s a lot to ask of a four year old. But we have faith in what you will be able to do. Those crayons make you visionaries, and I urge you to move beyond the colors of the rainbow when you create the world. Don’t be afraid of the names you can’t pronounce. Sometimes, the most unimaginable ideas are the most wonderful. So, grab that Maize and Raw Umber and draw, draw, draw!

Now, I know, you’re thinking: why is Big Bird here, talking to us? One reason is that we wanted to get your undivided attention during this Commencement Address. But, also, can you find a more gentler, kinder soul than Big Bird? I don’t think so, unless you happen to catch re-runs of Mister Rogers on YouTube. Which brings me to another point, preschoolers. Don’t spend all of your time staring at a screen. Oh sure, your parents’ iPads and iPhones and other devices make nifty sounds and have interesting animation. And what your little fingers can do — other than smudging the screen with crumbs from snacktime – is pretty amazing.

But you need to live life first, in the moment. Preschoolers, the one thing I can give you is this: imagination. Invent new worlds. Imagine new places. Create invisible friends and head off on adventures. Talk to yourself. Don’t be afraid of taking chances, because just like that tower we built earlier that David kicked over, there are always ways to improve upon what we’ve done, and sometimes, it takes a setback to move forward.

Now, I know you are all a little antsy, so I will end by saying this. Believe in yourself and find strength in your family. And leave at least one brownie for me, will you? Thanks, and good luck in Kindergarten.

And you can even listen to the address:

Online recording software >>

Peace (in the Big Speech to Little People),

The iAnthology Prompt: A Fake Awards Ceremony

This week, my friend Janet is host to our weekly writing prompt at our iAnthology writing space (where National Writing Project teachers hang out and write). She suggested we create fake acceptance speeches for awards. I decided to go the funny route, using Voki to accept an award for most blog posts in a single day (I do write a lot, I know).

Thanks, Janet, for the great prompt. And while I am not a big fan of Voki, it worked for what I wanted for this prompt.

Peace (in the words),


Check This Out: A Computer-Created Movie Script

Have you heard about Cleverbot? It’s a computer program that answers questions and has a pretty advanced algorithm (for a machine). Sort of like Siri’s cousin but with more of an attitude. Filmmaker Chris Wilson used Cleverbot to create a script for a short movie, and then created this amazing (and funny) video.

Peace (in the share),

My Fake Commencement Speech: You’re All Hyperlinks Now!

Over at our National Writing Project iAnthology space, this week’s writing prompt (we write every week there) asks us to consider what we would say if we were giving a commencement speech. I decided to add a little humor, and cultural references, to mine even as I thought seriously about what I would say in that situation.

You can listen to my podcast of what I wrote, too.

Dear graduates

First of all, thank you for letting my holographic image speak to you today. I was busy elsewhere, and I figured, if Tupac could do it, so could I, right? You all know what I’m talking about. Your parents? Probably not. I suspect you learned about it from a friend on Twitter, or on Facebook, or through a txt msg telling you to chk ths lnk. If you don’t mind, I’d like you all to take out your cell phones right now and tweet a few lines from my speech. Use the hashtag “hesstilltalkingtous” so I can check it right now from home as my holographic self talks to you. Heck, I may even retweet you even as I am talking to you.

I was thinking about what kind of metaphor I could use for today’s speech. But the more I Googled “Commencement Speech,” the more I realized that all the good metaphors have been used up by the real famous people. I later had to go on eBay to bid on a few left-over metaphors, and this is what I got:

You’re all hyperlinks now.

I know that sounds odd, but think about it for a second. You’re moving into a world that is full of connections, whether it be global or local, and the more the Internet and wired world develops, the more it is apparent that the infrastructure of the Internet — the backbone of it all — is the hyperlink. One thought connected to another thought; one person connected to another person.

If it hadn’t already been taken, I might even pull out the quilt metaphor at this point. But, let’s face it: quilts are the past. Fiber optics is the now. The future? Who’s to say? But if we cast our lives in the role of a hyperlink, of ways to find similarities and differences between us in a cohesive package of intelligent links, then maybe understanding, compassion and development of ideas will be nurtured in us all.

Just think of what the Web would be without links. It would be a land of dead ends. It would be static pages that lead to nowhere, and would be difficult to find. It would be ideas set only in isolation. It would be horrible, don’t you think? So, I think we all need to give a little shout-out to Tim Berners-Lee, the main (but not only) visionary who understood in the early days of the Internet that linking ideas together would be a powerful way to use information.

So, what does it mean to be a hyperlink? It means you have an obligation to the world and it means you have a support system and it means that your ability to grow and prosper is unlimited. Still, don’t be hemmed in by my metaphors or my definitions. Break free of tradition as you see fit. The world is always a better place for the innovators, visionaries and those brave folks who saw something as it is and decided they would rather see something as it should be.

I see my holographic is shimmering a bit, so I want to wrap up by saying, it was a pleasure not being here today. If you lost track of my ideas because you were too busy playing Angry Birds beneath your gown, it’s OK. I’ll be sending you my link later.

Have a good life.


Peace (in the talktalktalk),


The Making-Fun-of-Standardized-Testing Video Playlist

Thank you, Video Amy (from Edutopia), for sharing out your collection of videos that poke fun at standardized testing. We’re in a little lull right now — we’re past the ELA state test and next week, we move into Math — but these videos lighten the mood a bit. I’ll be sharing this collection with my colleagues.

When I was doing my Boolean Squared comic, I had a storyline about testing in education, too. Here is one of the comics from that story.


Anyway, you have to find ways to laugh, right?

Peace (in the funny stuff),


Top Ten Things I Heard People Say About My Nerdy Book Club Sweatshirt

Yesterday was dress-down day at our school, where staff can dress casual and donate money into a fund to support families and staff of our school who might need a little extra help. Normally, I just wear jeans and a dress shirt. But yesterday, as we were about head into February break, I decided to put on my Nerdy Book Club sweatshirt. (For those not in the know, the Nerdy Book Club is an online collection of teachers, librarians, writers and others who like books. There is a blog website and a #nerdybookclub hashtag on Twitter. You can join, too. You just did. That’s how simple it is.)

I got a lot of interesting reactions to wearing the sweatshirt, which I had hoped would generate some conversation. Here are some of them — from students and colleagues.

  • What books are they reading? They don’t really have titles.
  • Nerdy Book Club? Where does that meet? In a library?
  • That’s my husband… right …. there. (points to the Nerd in image)
  • Let me get this straight. You’re all teachers. You love books. And yet, you are nerds? That’s so weird.
  • Those kids look pretty happy on your shirt, Mr. H. Must be good books.
  • I think my mom is part of that Nerdy Bookie Club. Or, she should be. She reads, like, all the time.
  • Do Kindles count for your club?
  • No offense, Mr. H, but I don’t think I’d want to be in that club. Sitting around, reading? No thanks.
  • I get the nerd part. That’s you, Mr. H. But how do books fit into it?
  • There’s a stain there, Mr. H. Looks like you spilled juice or something.

Peace (in the nerdiness),