Why I support Good Guy with a Gun

I only periodically contribute to Kickstarter campaigns but I was happy to become a small supporter for a documentary film, Good Guy with a Gun, that will explore the tension of arming teachers in schools with guns. If that sentence has you thinking — What? — then you and I are thinking the same thing. What?

My reasons for backing this documentary film are:

  • what the heck is wrong with our country that we are even thinking about bringing guns into schools on purpose?
  • my neighbor and friend, a documentary filmmaker who has done wonderful work, is one of the producers of this independent film.

I’m actually a little uncomfortable even thinking of what they are going to discover in their inquiry about the move to arm teachers with guns — just the shots of teachers at firing ranges as part of some professional development makes me squirm — and in some locations, those guns can be hidden away by school staff as part of policy. Maybe it is some East Coast, liberal bias kicking in, but this all seems like a reaction too far. I think we must be going crazy.

So, yeah, I am supporting Good Guy with a Gun, and I was happy to see they just received enough funding support from crowdsourcing on Kickstarter to get the production of the documentary up and running, with a possible release this coming fall. I’ll let you all know.

Good luck, Kate and Julie.

Peace (please),

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),

Zeega Music Demo: I Fall Apart

This demo song is one I wrote quite a long time ago, and only recently pulled it back onto my guitar. It was first written in the aftermath of the devastating Haiti Earthquake. I tinkered a bit more with it in the last few days, adding a new section, and then recorded this as a spare song. Don’t worry — it’s thankfully not about me. I am happy. I am fine. The narrator of the song is not. (I always feel the need to write that for these kinds of songs.)

I am still making with Zeega until the doors close …

Peace (in the fall and recovery),

Hey Terry, It’s Your Birthday

Nothing like some collaborative energy to celebrate a friend, and that’s what Maha, Simon and Susan and I have been up behind the scenes for our friend, Terry, whose birthday is today. We recorded a song, and then some thoughts — all via on online collaborative audio tool called Soundtrap (I’ll share out more about it later).

For now … Hey Terry, It’s Your Birthday!

And here is a bonus that I made for him, too. A comic series about our journey into the rabbit holes of technology.

Peace (in friendship),

Put the Message of 2014 in a Box

Message in the box

I was inspired by my friend, Terry, to create a podcast as we ring out 2014. He talks in a post of his the other day about the power of podcasting, and the improvements podcasting needs to stay pertinent in the blogging world, and then pledges to do more podcasting himself. He and I, and others, have talked about the power of voice, and how podcasting brings voice to the front and center, and yet, how many of us don’t do it.

So, here is a podcast to ring out 2014.


Let me say for the record: This podcast is a second, edited attempt at this podcast. I actually had one all planned out, all recorded and even ready to be shared. I had layered my message perfectly on top of a song by World Party, my words sifting in and out of the song. I spent quite a bit of time on the recording, and I thought it worked nicely.

But then … the internal copyright infringement police walked into my brain and asked: Can you do that? Can you use someone else’s full song for your podcast that you want to publish to the world? I asked for advice on Twitter, did some research and realized … I could not do that, not without permission from the Record Company and/or the band, World Party.

Dang it. Foiled by the law … again. And it was back to the mixing board (eh, app) and the result is a much lesser version of the original. But it’s what I have and the message is still there.

But, hey, here is the song on YouTube:

So long, 2014. Hello, 2015.

Peace (in the share),


Infographic: Screen Time

Hmm. I like this graphic in that it forces us to consider the consumer vs. creator concept when we put technology and digital media into the hands of our kids. This ran in the Boston Globe recently. While I like the visual, I am not sure I like the title on it so much. I don’t see it as a defense of screen time so much as the possibilities of digital media creation.

Peace (in the sectors),





Oh, The Irony of It

If you have some time, watch this video about language immersion. It’s well-done, if bent to a certain political view.

This “Immersion” video is a required part of a state-sponsored Sheltered English Immersion course that I am taking part in right now. All teachers will eventually need to get a certification around teaching students whose primary language is not English. This course will fulfill my requirement, but I have to say that, even with the boatload of work, it is valuable information and discussions for all of my students.

Back to the video … we are required to watch it and then write about it in our online community space.

I find it very ironic that the very same state Department of \Education that is ramping up state testing into the PARCC while ramming data of student growth models down our throats for how it will judge how we are doing — as schools, as educators (the state wants student test scores as part of our evaluation/accountability process) — wants us educators to watch this video in which the systematic push towards standardized testing — and no accommodations for students learning English — hurts and hinders a child who wants to do well.

I mean, that is the message of this video, loud and clear. What am I to make of that tension between the video and the reality of our state’s educational system? (Note: we banned bilingual educational services a few years ago after some California right-wing moneybag came into our state and funded/pushed a referendum on us. Then, he left us with the mess to figure out. Later, the Department of Justice stepped in, which is where the push for Sheltered Immersion is coming from)

Do the state folks feel for the young child in this short movie? If so, why do we have the same restrictions here in our schools that are featured there in that video?

I suspect there is tension in any administrative system, so then I wondered: Is the sharing of this video some subversive act by a technocrat in the state Department of Education?

I’m down with that.

Peace (in the vid),

In Knowledge Quest: Educator Advocacy

Advocating Advocacy KQ
I had the pleasure of being asked by Melissa Techman, a guest-co-editor of the September/October 2014 edition of the Knowledge Quest journal, to write a piece about educator advocacy. My aim was to share some of the work that our Western Massachusetts Writing Project has done with regional teachers around getting published in local newspapers and to showcase practical advice on how to hone a message that is both positive and focused on supporting teachers in the classroom.

My piece — Advocating Advocacy: Raising Voices to Make Change — did not make it into the paper version of the Knowledge Quest magazine (darn, and we get it at home, too, as my wife is an administrator and a librarian) but the piece is available as an online exclusive for viewing and sharing. I owe a debt to my networking friends Steve Zemelman and Menoo Rami, who answered some of my questions about work they do to support educators in finding their voice through writing. And I need to give a a shout-out to a local teacher, Michele Turner Bernhard, for allowing me to use her story as a teacher-writer as my lead-in to the piece.

You can find the article through the American Library Association website or just go here to the article itself, as pdf file. And it is always worth checking out Steve’s Teachers Speak Up website for what he has been up to. And for inspiration, read Menoo’s book, Thrive.

Peace (in the raising of the voice),


App Review: Hyperlapse

It’s no secret that I am not a big fan of Facebook and Instragram, mostly due to Zuckerberg and company’s shifting feet on privacy issues. But a new video creation app put out last week under the Instagram umbrella (but it is its own app) called Hyperlapse is pretty nifty. (and it does not seem to have any place for privacy invasions, other than what you might film as video).

The free app allows you to easily shoot a scene that then gets converted into a timelapse video. The controls are simple to use and you have a few options when you are done around speeding it up or slowing it down, and then saving it to your device or sharing it to, eh, Instragram or Facebook. Projects don’t save in the app, as far as I can tell, so when you are done, you are done. It sort of feels like a neat cousin to Vine (but don’t tell Twitter I said that).

(don’t blink … it’s over before you know it)

I’m still thinking about how to use Hyperlapse more, but here, I composed a shot of a ceiling fan, from below, and I think it looks pretty artistic. I’m wondering if I can get a shot of my son playing baseball …

Peace (in the app),