Student Video Game Review: Cut the Rope

Norris Gamers Icon
As part of our game design unit, my students explored games they liked to play and then reviewed them through a critical lens of a game designer. I’m going to be sharing out a few podcasts that my students did around their reviews, giving voice to them as players and creators.
Here, Abby reviews Cut the Rope, which continues to have a wide appeal among gamers.

Peace (when you’re falling),

The Nerdlution: 40 Days Down; 10 More to Go

The view from Day 40
As I was writing the title of this blog post on Day 40, I realized that it seemed like a football play announcement (OK, folks, the team is back on the 5 yard line and still needs a first down. With the clock running down, Dogtrax steps back to find a receiver of his comments. The line of scrimmage is crazy right now and perspective is out of whack. He sees an open blog. He releases the pass and ….).

While the #nerdlution has not been a race nor has it felt competitive, 50 days still seems like a long stretch of time to keep up with a resolution. In fact, the start of the whole thing way back in early December is like some distant memory. Yet, here I am, still finding blogs every day to write comments on as I do my 50 comments on 50 blogs over 50 days idea. I created the infographic as a funny way to show how the final stretch seems larger than the last part. I know that is not true. But it feels that way right now. Plus, I am enjoying playing around with infographics.

I have also been keeping track of where I’ve been and will share that out at the end. It’s been a cool visual way to curate my wanderings and comments and words. I have not yet had time to return to those blogs and comment back to any replies left to my original comments (brain twister there) but that will be part of my post-nerdlution writing. For now, my biggest struggle has been … finding blogs that I have not yet commented on. I’ve tried to keep a focus on other folks in the #nerdlution effort but some days, it has been difficult to find a blog that I have not yet visited (in the past 39 days, I have only inadvertently repeated a visit once, and I only realized that when I was curating my comments).

One thing becomes clear as I do my blog-skipping, though. A lot of folks are writing powerful reflections about teaching, learning and reading. This effort on commenting has forced me to visit spaces that I might otherwise have overlooked, and I am appreciative of that.

And now, it’s off to find a bloc to comment on ….

Peace (in the final stretch),


Video Game Spotlight: Ryan

This student of mine has been deep into our game design unit. I think Gamestar Mechanic might soon to be limiting for him but he has enjoyed learning and playing with games, and this version of his science-based video game project shows a lot of good thinking, planning and game design. (If you are viewing this post on a mobile device, it might not embed.)

Peace (in the game),

Book Review: Super Graphic

This is a book that my older boys were fighting over to read when I took it out of the box, and then I had trouble getting it back from them to read myself. Visual artist Tim Leong, from Wired, has put together a fascinating look at the Comic Book Universes (in all their brands and trajectories and offshoots) in a series of infographics that will blow you away with the detail, humor and design. As an example of how to represent information in a graphical format, Super Graphic is an exemplar text.

It really is one of those books you have to read to get full enjoyment out of.  (Even the credits are done in infographic mode as are the reviews of the reviews of the book. You get the sense that Leong lives in an infographic world.

Not everything in here is child-friendly, just as in comics, but there are enough cool infographics that you could pull out (well, photocopy, in color) to share as how to hone your interest in a topic and share out your knowledge in interesting ways. Super Graphic is a wonderful ode to comics and visual design.

No wonder my kids were fighting over it. Super Dad always wins, though!

Peace (in the panels)



#WalkMyWorld: A Social Media Experiment

I’m a sucker for ideas, particularly ones that seek connections between people and their lives and technology. So consider me intrigued by a project by friends Ian o’Bryne and Greg McVerry (and a few others) called #Walkmyworld, where, as they describe it:

Over the next ten weeks, we would like you all to share (once a week) with us a “walk” in your “world.” There really are no rules to this challenge. The only real “rule” to this challenge is that we ask that you share this publicly on Twitter, and include the hashtag (#walkmyworld) in your post. We also ask that you share an image or video that captures this “walk” in your “world” once a week. The beauty of this challenge is in what you decide to share.

This is part of an ongoing, multi-year venture Ian, Greg and others have been working on, and sharing out at NCTE each year, around digital media and writing. Poetry is often at the heart of it, and Ian writes in his post that he anticipates a shift towards poetry in Walk My World at some point.

I’m still trying to think how I might get my students documenting their world, but this morning, I opened up Vine and shot this very humdrum video of what I do (after I walk the dog) — which is get my java and get writing. I wanted to keep the coffee mug front and center each time, as the frame for the video (and well, my morning).

What’s your world like? Join/follow the #walkthisworld hashtag on Twitter.
Peace (in the walk),

Playing with Fragment and Photos

I have an app called Fragment that does all sorts of odd things to photographs. I used it this week for two Daily Create assignments over at DS106. The first was to “app up” a silhouette, but I abandoned the shadow idea in order to play around with the “app up” part of things. I took a shot of some art on our walls and created this:

Then, yesterday, the call was for a Cubomania Self Portrait. Alan Levine reflects on how he did his here (using Big Huge Labs). But I realized that I could use Fragment again for mine.

It’s intriguing to play around with composing with images.

Peace (in the camera’s eye),

Some Warmth on a Cold Day

Yesterday, I received this in the mail (and recorded it in Vine):

It is from my friends Franki and Mary Lee over at A Year of Reading. It’s actually been eight years of reading/sharing for them, and as a celebration, they are planning to spend each month donating to charity in the name of a blogging friend. It turns out that I was the first on their list (humbled and honored), and they donated to a group known as Birthday Wishes, which helps ease the lives of homeless children.

Thank you, Franki and Mary Lee. It’s a pleasure to be in your community and network and more. And such projects remind me of the human interaction behind the digital conversations, too. While I have met both Franki and Mary Lee (at various conferences, including their own Dublin Literacy Conference), most of our time “talking” is online at our blogs and at Twitter. But friendship blooms in all sorts of places.

It’s a frigid day outside (hello, Polar Vortex) but there is some warmth in here.

Peace (with sincerity),

Book Review: Attack of the Killer Video Book

How’s that for a title, eh? Attack of the Killer Video Book. Along with a new video camera under our Christmas tree, my younget son received this fantastic book resource on how to make movies on the cheap. Written by Mark Shulman and Hazlitt Krog, with great illustrations from Martha Newbigging, this book is a perfect fit for any 9-year-old filmmaker. (I have the revised edition — Take 2 — but I am not sure what has been revised from the first edition.)

Told with a sense of humor and various illustrations and diagrams and cartoons, this book really gets at the heart of shooting a movie, from the initial storytelling, planning, technical aspects of setting up the camera and microphones, right through to editing software on the computer and publishing, and kicking back to enjoy the fruits of the labor. Plus, the book reminds you to bring along snacks for any friends who join you in making the movie. Snacks are important.

The writers even provide a sample script at the end of the book, as both a model and inspiration. I was very happy to see how much time is spent on the “good story” aspect of the moviemaking, which can be the most difficult element. For many young people, the whiz and bang of the shooting of video (bloopers anyone?) overtakes the desire to spend time on a good story to tell, but here, the writers push home the idea that a good story is at the heart of every good movie.

This book would be a good addition to any classroom, as I suspect there are budding filmmakers in our rooms, probably even students we would never suspect of it.

Peace (in the flick),