Two Cool Things

Here are two neat things that I found this morning in my RSS reader.

First, I went to a site called Create Your Own Snowflake. I know. A waste of time. But a fun waste of time and something that kids might get into. You create the snowflake by clicking in the circle and it makes symmetrical patterns. Nice enough. But here is the thing that was fun: you can then put the snowflake into motion in either 2D or 3D (which is very cool).

(go to Build a Snowflake)

Next, this video from the Google Docs Weblog (which you should put into your reader if you use Google applications at all) is just an amazing thing to watch, as some Google-ites collaborate in a Google Spreadsheet on the creation of a holiday picture. I was fascinated by the movement and wondered: how could we replicate this somehow? (pushing that to the back of my mind for now)


Peace (in sharing),

Edublog Awards … and me

There is considerable debate in the blogosphere about the value of any online awards system and I can see both sides of the coin. It is strange to narrow a vision to just a few sites in a sea of millions, and yet, I find that award systems allow me to discover many new places that become valuable parts of my network. If someone has taken the time to nominate a site, it must have some value.

I say this because the finalists for the Edublog Awards for 2008 have been announced, and so I went there, searching for some new RSS feeds. I am always looking for new voices and new resources.

And, there, in the category of Best Teacher Blog was my own Kevin’s Meandering Mind. I want to thank any and all of you who may have submitted this site forward to the nominating committee. I am honored to think that there are folks who find what I sprawl on about useful.

Again, thank you.

Peace (in recognition),

What Writing Means … to me

One of the workshops I attended at the National Writing Project’s annual meeting in San Antonio was about a new venture called the National Conversation on Writing. A group of mostly college professors is trying to change perceptions of writing in the public mind and one of their ideas to collect vignettes from people about what writing means to them. In particular, they would like to have a collection of short videos, in which teachers and students and others talk about writing.
I decided to give it a go, sort of as a rough draft approach, and recorded some of my own thoughts.

What about you? What does writing mean to you?
Peace (in reflection),

Digging Into Google Sites

Maybe I am just lazy, but I am liking how easy it is to create websites with Google Sites. They really get the simplicity down for users. And my list of sites keeps growing, as I added a place for all of my book and graphic novels reviews that run elsewhere first but needed a home under one roof. I have used Google Page Creator, but that seems more and more clunky and I think Google is phasing it out (although I may be wrong about that).

Want to see some of the Google Sites I have created?

And here are a few that I have created for my classroom or with students in other programs:

So, why does Google do it? Their philosophy, from what I have read, is that the more people who are online, the more people who may click on their advertising links in their Google Search, and the more money they get. I understand all that and I can live with that, as long as my sites don’t become home to a barrage of advertising.

Do you use Google Sites? (And see her for information from Google on using its tools for the classroom)

Peace (in building footprints),

You Days in a Haiku

Some wonderful syllables came my way this week as we transformed Days in a Sentence into Days in a Haiku. Thanks to everyone who took the plunge. And here is a gift for all of you: a GeoGreeting, which spells out words based on images from Google Earth.

And now — your haikus:

Paul is seeking some company.

Found a hotel room
To NECC and DC I go
Split the cost with me?

Wow. sara actually had a student wonder about what is it like to teach (actually, I have a group of students planning a teach the teacher day(s) event and it has been interesting to listen to them talking about how a kid takes over the room).

twelve-year-old students…
“what’s it like to teach 6th grade?”
“like herding kittens.”

Ken gives us the gift of imagery. I imagine he thinks in poetic thoughts.

sun high in the blue
water sparks and squints past green
fields this is our land

Liza needs some respite. So do I. How come I doubt neither of us will be getting it anytime soon?

Crisp and cool fall air
Insane deadlines and too much work
I long for a break

Crazy busy people … all of us, right? Anne captures that in her haiku.

My week was crazily busy,
Simulating and fun,
Yet wearying and energy zapping.

Ahhh. Report card time? (We moved from trimesters to twice-year report cards, but I remember this time of filling out report cards all too well). Good luck, James.

Forever marking
Never finishing the job
Report card time’s hard

I love the sounds here in Eric’s poem.

Pitter, patter, rain
Overcast shrinking daylight.
Winter is coming.

Stacey feels as if she has gone overboard, but hey … it’s for the kids.

After school I went
to Attleboro and bought
too much for my kids.

Thanks to everyone who participated!

Peace (in syllables),

Bird’s Eye View of Rome

My gosh … this is cool. Google Earth with an entire replica of Ancient Rome. Man, just think of the possibilities if you teach this unit. And, if you are ambitious (which my math teacher and I hope to be later this year), you can even use Google Sketch-Up to build your own 3D buildings and place them on your Google Earth.

Here is some info about the Google Earth Rome Project.

And here is a snazzy video:

Peace (in exploration),

Wordle to Wordle: the two speeches

I was interested to see what would happen if you Wordled the two political speeches: Obama’s acceptance and McCain’s concession. So, what the heck, I did it.

This is Obama:

I like how change and hope and world and new are out front (wordle takes text and recasts it based on frequency). I guess you can’t give a political speech when you win the presidency without saying America over and over again, right? But notice some of the smaller words and how they seem to capture details of ideas and policy. Interesting.

Here is McCain’s (which I had to edit the various “boos” and chanting from the text version that I was using):

Country is certainly front and center, and notice how differences is pretty prevalent, too. And, to give McCain credit, he noted the achievement of Obama in his speech. And of course, he mentioned Obama by name more than a few times (as opposed to Obama, whose reference to McCain barely registered in Wordle).

McCain should be commended for this line: “…he (Obama) managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving.”

What do you think?


Get out and vote!

And here is a video and song that I wrote back in February as Obama was in the midst of his primary against Hillary Clinton. I think the message still rings true for me.

Peace (in change),