Comics Collection Review: Zits (Sunday Brunch)

(Note from Kevin: A few years ago, I was a reviewer for The Graphic Classroom. I really enjoyed the way we look at graphic novels with a lens towards the classroom. The site got taken over by another site, and then … I guess the owner of The Graphic Classroom stopped doing what he was doing. Which is fine. But I still had some reviews “sitting in the can” so I am finally digging them out to share out here.)

Story Summary: With all of our focus on graphic novels, it is easy to lose track of the power of the daily comic strip. The connections between art and words and character coupled with the confines of just a few panels is something magical when done right (and painful when done wrong). SUNDAY BRUNCH: THE BEST OF ZITS SUNDAYS by the partnership of Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman is a massive collection of comic strips featuring a the growing teenager, Jeremy, and his two befuddled parents, Walt and Connie, as they weave their ways around life. The comics have perfect pitch (at least, to me, as a parent of a teenager) but what sets this collection apart from some others are the guest narratives of other comic strip writers and artists as they talk about their own inspirations. These short narratives are interspersed throughout the book by comic strip colleagues, and the personal writing provide a wonderful lens into how comics played a part in nurturing writers and illustrators. It’s interesting to see how subversive comic strips were for so many of them – tales of flashlights under covers abound. Add to that the little annotated notes that Scott and Borgman put beneath most of these comics to explain where the ideas for the jokes and art came from, and you have an insider’s view into the world of newspaper comic creations. And you can laugh while you learn.

Art Review: What sets the comic strip Zits apart from most of its brethren is the art, and I was really fascinated by the explanations for some of the experiments that Borgman (the primary illustrator, although the book gives some nice insights into the partnership between the two collaborators) provides as he works all sorts of echoes of modern art into a comic strip. There’s also some nice commentary on the impact of the shrinking comics sections on artists, and what that has meant to how an illustration perceives their canvas.

More Information:

• Paperback: 256 pages
• Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing; Original edition (November 1, 2011)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 1449407978
• ISBN-13: 978-1449407971

In the Classroom: I have lots of comic collections in my classroom. Calvin & Hobbes remains a hit. When we talk about having variety of reading materials, we should consider comic collections as another way to draw kids (particularly, boys) into reading. SUNDAY BRUNCH: THE BEST OF ZITS SUNDAYS is a great collection that would fit nicely in the bookshelves of a middle or high school classroom. From a teaching perspective, the narratives around the impact of comics on writers and readers might open up doors of discussion around the kinds of reading and writing that your students do outside of school. What are they reading that we never see? It’s worth finding out.

My Recommendation: I highly recommend SUNDAY BRUNCH: THE BEST OF ZITS SUNDAYS for middle and high school classrooms, and for the teacher with teenagers in their lives – either sitting there in that desk or lounging around at home.

Peace (in the frames),
Kevin

The DS106 Board Game Idea

Today’s Daily Create is to invent a Board Game for DS106. Here’s what I came up with:
DS106 BoardGame Idea
I created it with Coggle If the image is a bit fuzzy, you can do right to the project on Coggle itself and zoom around.
Or do it here with the embedded version:

Peace (in the play),
Kevin

Free Comic Book Day is Today

Hey — Today is Free Comic Book Day! (And tomorrow is Star Wars Day — May the Fourth be with you). Find a store near you that is giving away free comics and get a few, if not for yourself then for your kids or your students. The Free Comic Book Day website has more information, including a handy “store locator” tool.

Good luck!

Peace (in the comics),
Kevin

 

Keeping on with the Daily Create

The Daily Create with DS106 keeps me on my toes. Even on days when I don’t do the Daily Create, I find myself thinking about it during odd moments during the day, as if I were creating in my head. It’s strange. But that’s the power of a good idea, right?

Here are a few Daily Create assignments I’ve been tinkering with in the past few days:

This morning, the assignment was to create a persona poem. It could be real or fictional, and I went with a poem about Charlie Parker (see my blog tagline).

Bird
Musical, Inventive, Groundbreaking, Addicted
Pioneer of jazz saxophone soloing
Who loves riffing off a melody, making music on the stage in a dark bar and escaping from banality of the ho-hum
Who fears rejection of lovers, uninspired moments that lead to boredom, and lost notes played at midnight
Who wants to see all music transformed by creativity, an end to racial inequality, and the acceptance of Jazz as an authentic original American art form
Parker

Sometimes, I share out this old digital poem about Charlie “Bird” Parker.

Bird: a video poem from Mr. Hodgson on Vimeo.

One of the strangest Creates in some time was something known as the PetSwitch. We went into a site that allows you to superimpose your image on your pet’s image, to create … this odd thing. The assignment was to write the story, but I could not get past seeing my dog Duke with my mouth and eyes, and so I went with a simple six word story.

What was in that kibble anyway?

And here is the image:
Dad and Duke
Weird, eh?

And finally, the other day, we had a Prime Number Poetry assignment, where we had to use five different prime numbers as part of poem where the numbers were the rhyming words of couplets. That’s not as easy as it sounds (or maybe it doesn’t sound easy).

Here’s what I wrote:

At the ripe old age of 89,
I came to the realization of something left behind
in a house whose address was 643
on Main Street, near the post office, by the big ol' tree,
and so if you would like to earn a reward of 109
dollars, I would be most appreciative if you took the time
to gather my stuff, including my pets, all 5,
if they happen to still be living there, and if they happen to be alive.
Give me a call -- my area code is 367
unless I've gone away, then you can text me in Heaven.

And how could I forget? The other day, in honor of my fellow dawg’s birthday (Alan Levine, aka @cogdog), the Daily Create theme was creating a dog-themed photograph for Alan, one of the minds behind DS106. I went into webcomic mode, riffing on a periodic cat vs. dog idea.
CogDog Party Time

Peace (in the creative spirit),
Kevin

 

Bringing Voice Front and Center: Student Haiku Podcasts

I don’t know of a better format for class podcasting than the haiku poem. It’s a theme that is short, focused and allows for easy sharing of words as a group. We continue to work on poetry, even after April ends, and yesterday, some students shared their poems as podcasts as National Poetry Month came to an end. We used our class Soundcloud account to share out.

Peace (in the poems),
Kevin

 

A Navigable World Map of Wonder Poems

Map of Wonder Poems(Click on image to go to interactive map of poems)

April is over, and so is our daily poetry writing about Wonders of the World. One of tasks I started to give myself midway through April was to create a map, where I began linking my poems to the geographic locations that inspired the poems (with topics provided daily by Mary Lee at A Year of Reading – thank you, Mary Lee!). A few of the topics at the end — like chocolate — are not located on the map because I didn’t have coordinates for yumminess. Maybe I should!

Anyway, click on the map or use this link, and you can explore the world through poems that I was writing all month. (Thank you for taking time to hang out with me and my words. They, and I, appreciate it.)

And yesterday’s sound poem, about the wonder of people, didn’t make it, either, so I decided to make a sort of digital story with the audio. This is yesterday’s poem, with audio brought into Zeega as way to layer in some images.

Peace (in the world),
Kevin

The Wonder of People (A Sound Poem)

The last “Wonder of the World” poem for this month is the theme of “people.” Most days, I did not peek ahead to the themes coming up each day, and waited for Mary Lee Hahn to share her poem and inform us of the key word at A Year of Reading.  But one day last week, I did get an accidental peek at the last word on her list, and saw “people” and thought, hmmmm.

I decided I would try my hand at a “sound poem” in which I would use sound effects from FreeSound to layer in audio with the words and phrases of a poem I began writing.  I was trying to get at the strange connections we have to people around us — the good and the not-so-good — and make the poem “listenable.” I hope it works as I wanted it to work.

Take a listen to The Wonder of People.

The Wonder of People

The world wonders of People:
mostly generous;
sometimes mean;
often finding some middle ground
in-between.

Maniacs about some things;
passive with others;
and when you least expect it:
Friends
becoming
Family
becoming
Community
coming together.

Colleagues, whose talk
enlightens our days
with surprise and virtue
and utter understanding;
Colleagues, whose talk
darkens our days,
with rumors and innuendo
and utter misunderstanding.

A word here;
A word there;
Each sentiment tilts us on our axis,
and shapes our interactions
with everyone we meet;
wandering here, and there,
everywhere,
day in
and day out.

We share these footsteps
with the big wide World
in hopes that our thoughts and actions
might lock us in
and transform us all in ways
that connect us as
People walking these spaces
together.

 

Process Notes: I wrote the poem and revised it a few times, trying to get what I wanted to say in poetic form. Then, I identified key phrases that I wanted to layer in sounds.

wonder poem notes

 

I then searched on FreeSound for what audio might work. Once I found something, I downloaded the file. I used Audacity to gather up the audio files together, and recorded the poem, moving and shifting the sound effects to the right places in the poem.

Wonder Poem audio

Finally, I mixed it together and shared it out on Soundcloud. Feel free to remix it, or use it for whatever might work for you.

Peace (in the found sounds),
Kevin

Should you #CLMOOC? You Should.

I’m in a flowchart kind of mode these days as part of creating teasers for this summer’s Making Learning Connected Massive Open Online Collaboration (that’s a mouthful, so we just say CLMOOC). Last year, we had fun. This year, we’ll have a blast. And you are invited — all of you.

We’re still in a “soft launch” mode — just getting started and we will be ramping things up in the coming weeks. You can sign up for news already at the CLMOOC main hub site. But if you need some help thinking it through, here are two flowcharts for ya.

First:
Pathway into the CLMOOC

And then (adapted from a teaser from last year):
2014 Making Learning Connected flowchart

And now? Come sign up for the CLMOOC experience, which kicks off in June and goes for six weeks of making, learning, playing, exploring and connecting in ways that will have you think closely about your own learning experiences.

Peace (in the CLMOOC),
Kevin

 

Wonder Poem: The Spark of Imagination

We’re nearing the end of our month of writing poetry about Wonders that Mary Lee has so graciously conjured up for us, and it’s been interesting to move to less tangible wonders the last few days. Today’s theme is “imagination” and I decided to go simple again, with a haiku.
Imagination Haiku

Peace (and creativity),
Kevin