Slice of Life: Another Firefly Fanboy (A Dad’s Role, Done)

“I’m going to show you Firefly,” I told my youngest son the other day. He is 11 1/2 and has been completely taken over by the recent Star Trek movies, which we finally let him watch this year, and so I knew he would be ready for Firefly.

“Ooooh,” his older brothers teased, as they are apt to do. “Firefly. Now you get to watch a real show.”

Which isn’t a fair statement at all. We’ve been watching The Flash together, my youngest and me, and I think that show is fine entertainment. And he has watched some of the older Star Trek: Next Generation series with me, too. And he is and remains a massive Star Wars fanboy.

Still, the older ones can’t resist a chance to poke fun at the younger one. You know how it is.

And Firefly IS sort of a rite of passage, at least in our house. Not only is it Joss Whedon’s great remix of space and westerns, it is legendary as the television show that launched a protests when it was cancelled after only one season (but later, those growing fan protests led to the creation of the movie, Serenity, which I had to see in theaters alone when it came out because my wife is not a fan of sci-fi and my kids were too young.)

He knows Whedon’s name now from those loud (and I think, overwrought) Avenger movies. (Joss Whedon and JJ Abrams are household names here, as my sons are all deep into movies and moviemaking).

One of the pleasures (there are many) about having kids to show things like this to is that you get to sit with them and experience it all over again, too. It has been some years since I last watched Firefly (now streaming on Netflix, thankfully), but I still enjoyed the set-up of the pilot, the introductions of characters, and the strands of the story that Whedon spins. A few scenes were a little adultish for the 11 year old, but nothing too bad. (Cover your eyes, I said during one scene, and he did.)

We watched the pilot show (and the older boys stayed, too) and I could tell he was hooked. I sort of feel bad about it, because when the season ends … that’s pretty much it (except for the movie). But, I can say, I did my job as a dad here. I’ve got another fanboy in the house.

Now, if I can just get them interested in Lost

Peace (in space),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Planetary Leap


flickr photo shared by Hubble Heritage under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

My youngest son’s elementary school hosts an annual Science Fair. It’s a voluntary thing, with showcases during the day for students and at night for parents. My son, who has done entries in the past but only half-heartedly, wasn’t all that interested this year, even though it is his last year at his elementary school.

“What about designing and showcasing a video game that other kids can play during the fair?”  I asked. “With a science element?”

That got his attention, and we chatted about getting him back into Gamestar Mechanic to design a game that he could put on display, for kids to play. I reminded him that it would have to connect with science, and he brainstormed the idea of the Solar System.

His game is called Planetary Leap, and involves the “story frame” of an explorer going to check out Pluto but who has crash-landed on Neptune, and now needs to find portals to come back home to Earth. He’s sprinkling researched information about some of the planets within the story itself.

So far, so good. I am acting as technical director only, and a bit of an editor on the writing. He’s in a bit of a crunch because Friday is the Science Fair, and we sort of waited until the last minute to get on board (due to hemming and hawing). Just like a game designer with deadlines looming, right?

Meanwhile, he is interesting in building his video game even further after the Science Fair for the National STEM Video Game Challenge, which runs through August. That sort of motivating factor is interesting to see and witness, and I am enjoying watching him as a fifth grade video game designer coming into his own.

Peace (in the game),
Kevin

PS — this is my site for video game design in the classroom. Steal and use whatever might be helpful.

Slice of Life: Poetry and Image Collecting

I’ve been using primary source images from the Library of Congress to write poetry for the past few days and it’s been pretty interesting to get inspired by history. I gathered them all up here in a Storify as a way to curate the poems and images and reflection points.

Peace (in poems),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Art on a Large Scale

Polar Vortex Quidditch

On Thursday, we hold our annual (17th annual, apparently) Quidditch Tournament. The other day, all four sixth grade classes were hard at work on posters. There were kids and posters and paints everywhere in the cafeteria. It was pretty cool to see the floor turned into a colorful art gallery. We don’t do enough of those kind of large-scale art endeavors like we should. The banner posters (our team name is Polar Vortex) will hang up on the gym walls on behalf of each of the four teams that will play all day long before crowds of younger students and parents and others.

I gave my blue t-shirt to some students to paint for me (they are working on their own, too). They gave me a nickname and a number, and I am just about ready to coach, and have a blast.

Then, on Thursday night, after a full day of running and jumping and competing, the students get to team up and play against us teachers (our team name: Pink Fury). I’m tired just thinking about it.

:)

Peace (in the art),
Kevin

 

Slice of Life: Are You Listening, Mother Nature?

Every Tuesday, the crew at Two Writing Teachers invites educators and others to write about the small moments of the day. It’s called Slice of Life. You write, too.

grass in snow in april

We shoveled the driveway three times yesterday. That’s a good indication for how much snow fell during an April day when, really, it should have been all sun and flowers. Right? April? Look at that poor tuft of grass from our backyard. It looks confused and out of place. Instead of sun, we had snow, totaling about five to six inches, and a whole day off from school.

The boys, of course, were happy to have an expected long weekend (and we streamed the Star Wars movie, so it wasn’t all bad).

But I see now that our last day of the school year is set on a Friday. If we have any more of these Spring Snow Days, it pushes the final day to the Monday, and that impacts a wobbly balance we chanced on this year when booking an early vacation week up in Maine in late June (normally we go later in the summer but with the oldest son going off to college for the first time in August, we moved our vacation back and then took advantage of the pre-summer-vacation rates. Seemed like a good idea at the time.)

So, now, more snow, please. Are you listening, Mother Nature? It’s me, Kevin.

Peace (in the think),
Kevin

Slice of Life: The Mosaic Project — Imagine and Create

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge for March, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We are writing each day about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

School Mosaic

I was not part of this project. Our art teacher and a visiting artist worked with students in our school to create this amazing mosaic project on the theme of “create” and “imagine” and it hangs right outside my classroom right now. I am one lucky teacher.

Every time I wander by, I see stories emerging from the tiles of this mosaic. Students in the upper grades worked during a week on this, designing the images and laying out the tiles. The closer you get, the more detailed it becomes. But even from a distance, there is creativity in bloom.

School Mosaic

This is what school is about. Where else would most of these kids have a chance to do a full mosaic art project like this? And what a gift to the school for years to come. Did I mention it is right outside my classroom?

<grin>

Peace (in the imagination of creativity),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Something Windy This Way Comes

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge for March, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We are writing each day about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

11454297503_e27946e4ff_h

We have a pretty solid house. It’s not going to fall down anytime soon (God willing). But the wind at 3 a.m. in the morning shook us at our very foundation. It didn’t last long, this wicked wind that came from nowhere, but the windows were rattling and the walls were moaning.

Eyes closed as I kept sleep close enough to fall back into, I could envision the world outside as the fury increased, the landscape rushing by on the gusts of the changing weather front. No doubt, it is winds like that which inspire writers to create strange winds of change in stories. I am reminded of Something Wicked This Way Comes for some reason. I don’t want to be.

It was that kind of wind. Not a kind breeze. But a gust that could move you into something strange and unknown. I huddled closer to the blanket.

The dog got up from one of the kids’ rooms, clicking his paws on the hardwood floor in the hallway. No doubt, he was wondering: what the heck was that? And then he disappeared again, finding comfort downstairs in his crate. He knows a thing or two.

So does the wind. I wonder, though, where that wicked wind went when it left us at 3 a.m. in the morning? Did it find you? Did it leave you with a story, too?


flickr photo shared by Annadriel under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

Peace (in the shakerattleroll),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Open Air Easter Song

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge for March, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We are writing each day about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

sol16After our Easter Sunday Church Service, in which I was asked to play a Greek hand drum on the anthem (even though I was upfront with the fact that I do not play the drums nor can I read drum music … we have a very inclusive and forgiving church .. I just kept to the beat, with a few extra rhythmic whacks now and then), I was home, playing around on my guitar with some open tuning.

Easter drum

As I played my guitar, I had this lingering sense of the flowers and a quiet thoughtfulness on my mind, and while the song here is not really an Easter song, not one of forgivingness or of unexpected possibilities or of belief, it is inspired by Easter morning. Funny how the Muse comes to us at odd angles.

Peace (in the music of life),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Synchronized Car Dancing

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge for March, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We are writing each day about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

sol16I was out, alone, driving on some family errands, with the car stereo up sort of loud. It was a funky, bluesy, bluegrassy song by Shawn Mullins — a tune about a love gone bad, with bitter revenge and then terrible regret — and my head was bobbing up and down to the beat, even though my heart could not stomach the violent story Mullins was unfolding in my ears. My fingers were dancing on the steering wheel.

You know what I’m talking about, that sense in the car that it’s just you and your music. The world can wait. Your soundtrack is on and it won’t be denied.

I arrived at a four-way stop sign, with the song still midway to its conclusion, when I noticed a local cab opposite me. A woman, with long blond hair, was car dancing, too. Her head was going up and down. Her whole body was in movement. Her lips were moving to the lyrics of her song, and her dancing was in near complete sync to mine.

She looked up, and I looked over, and we both smiled in one of those social encounters that only last a mere second, and yet in that moment, we both were in complete tune to the same world, even if it was a different song. We were dancing partners on the streets of the city.

Headbanging (Wayne's World)

We didn’t even have to wave or anything as we rolled our portable motorized dance floors forward. Our eyes told of the connection. We locked in, danced. Then I took my song one way, and she took her song the other way, and we both just kept right on dancing our way into the day.

Peace (in the car),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Clockstoppers and Timetellers

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge for March, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We are writing each day about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

sol16Friday mornings, we do our fluoride in the classroom. About half the kid grab their cups of stuff (the other half don’t participate) and, at this point in the year, I tell them to time themselves for a minute. They stare at the clock on the wall, in a sort of trance, watching the second hand tick the seconds away.

Interestingly, it is one of the few times they make note of the analog clock in the room.

In almost every other occasion other than fluoride time, when they have to pay attention to the minute mark, they squint at my active board for the small digital clock in the upper corner. Sometimes, they don’t notice that I have the board on “freeze” mode (so the screen stays frozen and I can work on my computer) and they become lost in time. I had one student yesterday, signing out for the bathroom, who kept looking back and forth from the screen to the wall clock, trying to figure out why they were not in sync.


flickr photo shared by Bennett 4 Senate under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

On some mornings, like yesterday, right around 9 a.m., our wall clock sometimes … stops. Just pauses. Takes a break. It’s the building clock system adjusting to “real time,” I guess, but when it happens — when the hands of time come to a complete and full stop — all the swishing-spitting kids’ eyes bulge out, as if they can’t believe it. As if it hasn’t happen many Fridays before. They point with dramatic fingers at the clock, and try to get my attention. As if I can fix it.


flickr photo shared by bibendum84 under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

I nod, as if knowingly, and say, “Well, I guess your teeth get a little extra protection this morning,” to which their reply is as predictable as mine: a shake of theirs head in a dramatic “nooooooooo” shake and then relief when the clock starts up again.

The more attuned kids have realized by now that the second wall clock in the room — the one I brought in from home, with a saxophone on it — may be “off time” a bit from the world of Time, give or take five minutes, but it never stops working. Therefore, it’s a much better device for fluoride. I think the other just like the idea of watching time stand still.

Peace (in the seconds),
Kevin