My Google Homepage keeps changing as I experiment with the various Gadgets (or are they widgets?) that are available. I like the idea that I can add and delete programs as I see fit. One of the cooler items I came across is something called MapMyWords dictionary, which visually connects daily words with other words through common connections. It is very visually and interesting to think about the connections.
I couldn’t help map out two words of interest to me: Writing and Music.
Peace (through connections),
At a site called Make Beliefs Comix, you can create your own little comic strip. So I created this comic about my blogging practices. If you click on the comic, it will take you to flickr and the bigger picture (I had trouble fitting it on the blog):
Peace (in frames),
I took part in another Skypecast conversation lastweek with other teachers who are using blogs, wikis, podcasting and other technology through Teachers Teaching Teachers site (which is wonderful — check it out!). The conversation is now being podcast through the site, too.
Take a listen.
The conversation was a bit crowded for a deep and rich conversation but it is still very empowering to be part of a larger community and I appreciate the efforts of Paul and Susan to keep this forum alive and thriving. Their topic was reflecting on how the school year has been going and what is ahead for us.
One interesting aspect was a visitor to the conversation from China, who is not a teacher but still had some things to say about education in China in comparison to education as we were discussing on the skypecast.
Peace (with multiple voices),
Did you know this is De-Lurker Week?
Me, neither. (Hell, every week is a holiday on the Internet, right?)
But, you are required as a reader of this blog to leave a comment, a breadcrumb, a trail of words … please. And I will do the same. My goal is to leave six comments on six different weblogs that I read regularly.
(Steal your own De-Lurker banner at I Speak of Dreams or Paper Napkin)
Peace (with conversation),
Here is another poem for my OnePoemEveryMonthForaYear adventure. It’s about my younger son and how his feet are starting to pop out of his pajamas.
Shrinking Clothes (January 2007)
Listen to Shrinking Clothes
I know you grow
Because in the foot of your pajamas
I can see your toe
Poking through the fabric
and so, your toe shows
how unbound you are by your shrinking clothes.
Peace (with warm pajamas),
There is no easy way to teach young people how to understand the experiences of others, but writing is at least one avenue for such investigation. This past week, my students studied the Underground Railroad in preparation for reading the book, The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton. We talked about the history of our country and how skin color still seems to create walls between people. It’s difficult because the town where I teach is small, very insular, and mostly white middle-class. My students eyes are barely open to the real world.
Our inquiry into ways that slaves found the courage to escape and the people who helped them along the way led to a project in which we created paper quilts using patterns that represented messages for those making their way to freedom. I then had them write a first-person narrative of someone running away and using patterns from quilts as a guide.
Here are their stories, told in a digital story format:
Peace (I mean it),
PS — here is just the audio version of their stories.
In my Bloglines account, I have a number of humorous feeds (I hope you all do, too) and one that continues to make me think is called Indexed, and it uses Venn Diagrams and other charts to make simple, yet intriguing, insights. It is as if the artist has a few minutes to spare, doodles some cool idea, and then graphs it out (I am thinking math concepts as a storytelling device here).
Here is the post from the other day:
This morning, the Indexed site had a link to a very neat movie that uses some of the same concepts in a very intriguing way, drawing connections to thoughts through lines, diagrams and other concepts of math.
Check out the movie from Le Grand Content
Peace (in numbers),
The singer-songwriter Tom Chapin (with help from John Forster) has written a very insightful (and funny) song called “Not on the Test” about all the things that you won’t find on standardized test.
You find the song at National Public Radio’s site.
I particularly liked a few verses, such as:
“Each box that you mark on
Each test that you take
Remember your teachers –
Their jobs are at stake
Your score is their score
But don’t get all stressed
They’d never teach anything
not on the test.”
” Debate is a skill
That is useful to know
Unless you’re in Congress
or talk radio
Where shouting and spouting
and spewing are blessed
‘Cause rationale discourse
was not on the test.”
Peace (in multiple choice options),
The Student Council, which I helped form a few years ago for fifth and sixth graders, recently published its second edition of a student-centered newspaper at our school. Students do all of the writing and illustrations, and Student Council leaders lay out the newspaper and then deliver it around the school.
But the newspaper is also available online (that’s my only real job with this project).
Click here to view the December 2006 edition of Tigger Talk!
Today was our monthly staff meeting and our principal surprised us with popcorn and water, and showed us this documentary from PBS called The Hobart Shakespeareans, which is about a teacher in Los Angeles who uses Shakespeare with his elementary students as a way to foster collective spirit, literacy and understanding of self. It was amazing not just to watch the kids perform, but to listen to them reflect on the meaning of the words and language.
The movie was well-done and offered an uplifting insight into the power of a single teacher (which is a familiar story, I know, but powerful all the same) who sees a light in some kids that others have ignored, or not raised the bar of expectations high enough for them to push, reach and succeed.
It was the best use of staff meeting time in many a year. 🙂
Peace (to be or not),