Days in a Sentence, slightly delayed

I’m going to try this for a second time …. I am not mad at Edublogs, but their upgrade scarfed down my last collection of Days in a Sentence, and no draft post was saved anywhere. Ack. So, anyway, I noticed that when I put out the call for last week’s reflective Days in a Sentence, I forgot to add my own. Here goes ..

Days of humid, hot days transformed into a cold, wet one today, and we are just fine and dandy about that.

And now for you and you and you …

Amy writes of a milestone. Or will it be manymilestones? She writes, “A proud moment as my daughter declared, “I passed!”: now we have a new driver on the road!” Good luck!


Lynn is happy to be back where she belongs. She writes, “After a long week of travel through hot desert countryside, home looks really great to me.”


We are hoping Cindy and her son are feeling better. She writes, “My son’s ears aching and my head throbbing have lead us to the same wish – for a quiet space with the comfort of being alone together.


Jen had two sentences that are questions and I don’t have an answer for either. Sorry, Jen. First, she writes, “An unexpected text from Stephen, the mysteriously kind and handsome man with green bedroom eyes that entrance me, leads to invitations to come and see him at 10:42 at night, but I have been up since 4 in the morning, and just can’t get myself to go – will this be the last invitation?” and then she adds: “My sister, with whom I only really get along via text, email, or the occasional phone call, lets me know she is in Virginia Beach and if I want to spend 2 1/2 hours in rush hour traffic, she’ll consent to see me for dinner – and am I paying in the literal sense, too?


Bonnie is writing and loving it. I love that! She writes, “How is this July different from the last 11? I am not racing to New Paltz every morning. What a wonderful way to spend the morning. I just wrote morning pages with YES!


Gail is already getting herself ready for September. I’m not. ‘Enuff said. She writes, “Looking back on all the work I’ve accomplished readying the new classroom and forward to my first real week of vacation.”


I’d say Denise is pretty darn busy. She writes, “My plans for this week (and the past six) included cleaning off the catch-all corner cabinet in the basement, gardening, blogging, reading, relaxing, exercising, and photographing; I’ve done the important things, and the cluttered cabinet waits.


I’m pretty intrigued by Ari‘s sentence. Just a hint of mystery … He writes, “Creating a fantasy to experience more of reality.


And my friend, Brian, is the first to post a Day in a Sentence on Google Plus. He writes, “In the deepest heat of the summer I find myself thinking backward, trying not to panic, wondering how in the humidified air to move forward.

And that’s it for now. Be on the lookout for a call for new sentences in the coming days, and feel free to add yours to the comment section here, too. We love having you part of our collaborative sharing.

Peace (in short bursts),


Book Review: The Information


It seems like a long time ago that I started The Information:  A History, A Theory, A Flood, by James Gleick. It was. I kept picking it up and putting it down, again and again.  Week after week, there it was. It was stubborn, and so was I, and yet, we found some way to finish our dance. Finally.

I loved the beginning of this book, in which Gleick tracks how primitive cultures used talking drums and other means to disperse information over long distances, and how those methods slowly made their way into such advancements as Morse Code. Information leads to knowledge, perhaps (this isn’t always clear because we don’t always make sense of the information we have or even know it is information), and the more disperse the information, the more likely the possibility that knowledge will also spread. I also loved the ending sections, where Gleick brings us into the modern age of technology and social networks, and the conundrum that we have of having so much information that we don’t know what to do with it. Very interesting.

The middle of the book … I got bogged down with the science of genomes carrying information, and other obscure mathematics that I know are important but I just could not sink my teeth into. I mentioned in a post on Google Plus the other day that here is a book I wish I could remix for myself, so that I could create a powerful tome of ideas. But of course, I would need to know what to leave out, right? I would need more … information.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, for the first few chapters and the last few chapters, and for skimming in the middle. I don’t often skim, but here, I had to. I didn’t give up, either, because I know Gleick is on to something important here, giving our concept of “information” a biography of its own as we try to find some ground to stand upon in this age of boundless and seemingly endless information and data. Gleick gives us one way to at least begin to understand it all.

Peace (in the info),

Using Fakewall for Webcomic Character Facebook

Booleans Fakewall Page
A participant in our Western Massachusetts Writing Project Summer Institute asked me to help her find some resources for a project that she hopes to do this year, using fake Facebook sites with her students to create posts for characters from various novels. She also wondered if there was a place to do this where kids (as literary characters) could interact (in character). That gives the idea a little wrinkle.

After a little research, this what I wrote to her:

First of all, here are some possibilities for creating your own “social network” concept in your classroom:

  • Edmodo is a free networking system for schools. I have not used it but plenty of teachers swear by it and love it. It is closed system, and designed to at least resemble the idea of Facebook within a teacher-monitored framework
  • Edublogs — You could set up blogs for your students, or a single classroom blog (which is what I do) where students contribute to the site. (now ad-free, by the way).
  • Kidblogs — Another free site that popped up last year. I have not used it but other teachers have said they like it. It’s for elementary and middle school students, so there are some limits to what they can do as bloggers. That may not matter, though.
  • Ning — here, you create a real social network, and you can make it private or public. They do have a free service for teachers, sponsored by Pearson (which makes me wary), or paid services. The lowest is about $20 a year, I think. I believe users need to be 13 or older to use it.
  • WordPress — another free blogging platform.

But, if you are looking to replicate Facebook for literary characters, you need to check out:

I hope that all helps. I’d be interested in knowing how it goes for you. If you are at the University level, the Ning platform would be the way to go, if you want my opinion. You could also use some of the Fake Facebook Templates and then embed them into Ning, where conversations could take place.

But I knew I needed to show her, too, and since I had no experiences with this, I decided to use Fakewall to set up a fake Facebook page for my webcomic character, Boolean from Boolean Squared. To be honest, he is not the sort who would stay long on Facebook — too mainstream for a hacker like him. But still …

I found Fakewall very easy to use, and it seems like a simple way for a teacher to bring the concept of social networking around literary characters into the classroom setting. The only downside is that others cannot comment on a page, so the entire fake page is really the work of one person.

See Boolean’s Fakewall Page

Peace (on the fake page),

Ad-Free Edublogs


This is good news. Edublogs — which is where my blog and my blogs for my classroom are hosted — has announced that is now advertising-free. In the past few years, you had to pay for the premium service to remove ads (and get a host of other cool tools but it was the advertising that generated criticism) and to be honest, I have gladly paid for it for this blog and will continue to do so. I have been a huge fan of Edublogs through the years, even during its various growing pains, glitches and more. I have stood with it because I have valued the service and sort of feel like Edublogs is part of my virtual home.

And now I can recommend Edublogs more highly ever to other teachers.

I always warned folks of the advertising because if you are using sites with kids, you should avoid shoving ads into their eyeballs. And not all teachers want or have the resources to pay the $40 a year to get a premium service. With the announcement, that roadblock is gone. In reading the press announcement, it seems like the company has finally reached a critical mass to become profitable enough to go without ads (they are seeking their one millionth blog — wow).

Thank you, Edublogs.

Peace (in the ad-free world),

Ernest Morrell: Urban Sites Keynote

I know this video is long (an hour — for the web, that is an eternity) but I was at this National Writing Project Urban Sites Conference in Boston where Ernest Morrell gave this passionate speech about nurturing all of our students and acknowledging the multiple literacies of their lives. He’s someone worth spending an hour with.

Peace (in the sharing),

Simple Diagrams is Simple

I saw a few folks talking about Simple Diagrams, a software platform that runs on Adobe Air. It can be used to make, well, simple diagrams and it works quite nicely. The diagram gets outputted as an image file. There’s a playful essence to it, I think, which might come in hand with kids in the classroom. There is a free version and a paid version of Simple Diagrams, but the free version gives you quite a large toolbox to work from, although one limitation is the inability to save a diagram in progress. I created this one for Day in a Sentence in a short bit of time.

Peace (in the play),

On the Lookout for Days in a Sentence


What’s been going on with you? Share out your week or a day in your week with Days in a Sentence. Here’s how it works:

  • Think about a moment, or a day, or the entire week.
  • Boil it down into a single sentence.
  • Share it out as a comment to this blog post.
  • Over the weekend, I will collate the submissions into a single post.
  • Be part of a reflective writing community.

I hope you can join us.

Peace (in the collection),

Days in a Sentence, Released

dayinsentenceiconI relaunched Day in a Sentence last week and honestly, I wasn’t sure if anyone would come along for the ride. Thankfully, a few folks did, and I have something to share this week. I’ll be posting a new call for this coming week tomorrow (I think), so if you didn’t get a chance to add your reflective sentence this past week, no worries. We’ll gladly and happily make room for you in this coming week.

And now, this week’s Days in a Sentence.

Tracy and her boy are doing some exploring where it is cool, a respite from the heat. She writes, “Jack and I are celebrating his first attempts at crawling by camping out at his grandparents…thoroughly enjoying the air conditioning that we don’t have so he doesn’t work up too much of a sweat with his movements.”

Nancy seems swamped with kids, but lets the caffeine kick in to help control the ruckus. She writes, “I have four kids this week and I wasn’t sure I was up to the challenge but I’ve found a Mother’s Helper in my 7 year old niece, so that, along with coffee, is keeping me alive!”

Bonnie has been working hard with teachers learning about learning in the digital age. She writes, “On this hot morning for a second day of our digital teacher lab I’m blasting up north on the NYS Thurway!”

If our lesson were imagery this week, Lynn would get a shout-out of praise. Heck. I’m going to do it anyway. Her sentence is so vivid. She writes, “Here in Northern Mexico I am sweltering beside the Sea of Cortez, yet can’t get enough of the watery horizon alongside the desert landscape, the huge brown pelicans diving for fish and the bathwater-warm sea.”

And Cynthia’s sentence reads like family poetry. You can even hear the music of her accent. She writes, ““MyMy, it’s ‘morn din’; time to go to the playroom for coffee” is music to my ears each morning during our stay in Dallas as we get ready for Tommy LaRue’s fourth birthday party on Saturday, music even when it’s morning before the crack of dawn.”

And finally, Debbie writes of her son, home from college. That’s still a few years down the road from me as a dad, but it feels like another world on the horizon. She writes, “Spending time conversing and “being” with my son, as he visits from college for the weekend, planning and envisioning his future.”

Meanwhile, over at our iAnthology Writing Space (for National Writing Project teachers), I posed the same query and received these wonderful reflections:

  • “Should I do some work, hell no, it’s Saturday.” — Martha
  • “A day of reading, wiki making, and yard work. What might be the connections?” — Rita
  • “Today my mom is 93 and my 90  year old dad will be honored for his commitment to the Democratic Party; they still live together in our first and only house. Yes, they are both fragile and need more help(that they continue to refuse) but not a morning goes by without a call to them to begin my day.” — Bonnie
  • “The day began with sun and ended with darkness.” — Jim
  • “I woke to a dream where my dog Siegfried was cueing me with terms from teaching ELL’s, and we were putting them on post-it’s for a workshop, my colleagues Callie and Christineand I, and as the dream faded I held tight the truth that ideas can come from anywhere (while gardening) and everywhere (dreams of talking dogs) and there are also waking dreams we shape, often with words.” — Susan
  • “I should model better what I want from others.” — Dixie
  • “Strangers become friends, workshops inspire, and community grows enveloped in the magic that is the U of MdWP Summer Institute 2011.” — Cory
  • “Last night our room was too quiet without him; we’ve hardly spent a night apart in 31 years, and I’m so glad he’s home.” — Rita C.
  • “Hard work, dedication, and perseverance all learned from my father who served 40 years on the fire department!” — Jeremy
  • “As I swing my leg off my bike, unclipping from my pedals, pulling myself out of the ride that almost did me in, one thought surfaces in my foggy brain, “That was a close one.”” — Alicia
  • “Too many hidden, changed, altered agendas take my breath.” — Peg
  • “t has been a blessing sharing your thoughts and ideas with the Writing Project folks.” — Hector
  • “I can create success tomorrow by knowing that opportunity is always just a breath away and is often uncovered by what seems to be failure, but I must make my heart believe it first.” — Peg
  • “Siblings diving into mom’s old chest freezer and examining the fruits and layers of her life.” — Joanne

Thanks to all of you writers and friends. I appreciated your Days in a Sentence.

Book Review: The Internet is a Playground

coverJesus — David Thorn must have a lot of time on his hands. Actually, he admits it. He had tons of time on his hands as he worked at a design company, so he began visiting chat rooms and created a website where he wrote for the sole purpose of enraging people and engaging them. Thorn then unleashes his own wicked sense of humor that comes at the expense of any fool who emails him or mentions him (wait a sec — that could be me) in his uproarious book The Internet is a Playground.

This collection of his actual correspondences (from his website:  with nincompoops and fools willing to engage him in an email battle of wits had me laughing out loud, and then hiding the book when my older sons asked what was up.  The chapters that are “profiles” of assorted idiots weren’t as entertaining to me. Yeah, this is not a book for kids. And it may not be a book for most adults either, particularly if your radar for vulgar and non-PC writing is on high alert. You will be offended. That was fine with me, but it may not be with you.

Thorn skewers so many people, and unfolds such incredibly funny fake narratives and cutting jibes, that you just have to dive into his head and go with him. I found myself uncomfortable with what he was writing on more than one occasion, but what the hell … that’s what books are supposed to do, right?

Still, you buy this book at our own peril. And you write about him at your own peril, too. (gulp — I liked the book, David. I did.)

Peace (on the playground),

Dipping Toes in the Data “Stream”

I have been toying around with Google+ and for the first few days, I felt lost. OK, so I still do. But not as much as the first few days, which inspired me to write and share this poem on Google+

Another Network

Streams seem
to find me
if only because I leap so suddenly
into currents
only to find myself drifting in circles
in search of a rock to use as anchor
to hold onto before I get too lost in the new world
and so
here I am …. reaching for stones ….

Peace (in the poem),