Picturing Obama’s Words

I watched the Inauguration Ceremonies with my sixth graders (on as new interactive board in a colleague’s room — great big screen experience) and the discussion we had afterwards was quite interesting, as they picked up on Obama’s messages of sacrifice, willingness to lead into the future and tying the present and future to our past. A number of them also “heard” Obama directly criticizing former (wow) President Bush for his policies, although we talked about how Obama did such criticism indirectly, thus — a discussion about the power of language and persuasion.

I came across this image via Frank’s blog and it is a wonderful artistic expression of the themes of Obama’s speech. It comes from Brandy Agerbeck’s site. You can download a PDF from her site of this image (as I have done) to share with students.

And, of course, someone over at Readwriteweb popped Obama’s speech into Wordle and came out with this cloud:


Perhaps this is also a good time to re-share a song that I wrote for Obama when it was clear he was going to garner enough votes for president. It is about our expectations of him and my worry that he might succumb to Washington inertia and disappoint me.

Listen to Don’t You Go Disappointing Me

I’ve lived a long life
Oh, the stories I could tell
I hope you don’t go disappointing me

The path is paved
with empty words that they will sell
I hope you don’t go disappointing me

Four years ahead of us — The future’s in our eyes
My baby’s getting old — and the world is compromised

They’d tell you anything
to fill your heart with fear
I hope you don’t go disappointing me

I’d like to take you
for a walk around my town
I hope you don’t go disappointing me

Just stop and listen
to the people all around
I hope you don’t go disappointing me

Four years ahead of us — The future’s in our eyes
My baby’s getting old — I hear it in his cries

You’ve got the power
to change the world that we know
I hope you don’t go disappointing me

Peace (in words),


Puppets, Puppets, Puppets, part one

At long last, the unit on theater writing and puppet shows has ended (it stretched into the new year when usually, it is over before the holiday break). While the focus of instruction and activities is all around the writing of a play script (with attention to theme, character and plot), the culmination is the performance of student-originated puppet shows for younger students in our school.

Last week, we spent one day videotaping all of the shows (21 in all — over four classes) and then two other days were spent performing for students from kindergarten through second grade. I think we had about 13 different visiting classes (some were combined).

I’ll write more this week about how I set up the online video site, but here is a link to all of the puppet shows. Feel free to leave comments for my students. I will be taking them to the site in the classroom on Thursday (hoping the videos will all stream fine).

Peace (in crazy little puppets),

Guest Blogging at Learn Me Good

(Note: I tried posting this yesterday and something strange happened and it went out blank. So, here I go again. Kevin)
I have never tried guest blogging before. This is when someone else opens up their blog to readers, who then move from the one making the comments or doing the reading to the one who is doing the main writing on a blog. But when John Pearson, who runs the blog Learn Me Good, put out the call for guest bloggers a few weeks ago, I put my name into the mix. John wrote a fictional book called Learn Me Good about teaching and it is a funny tale.
Yesterday, John ran my guest post, which is all about the realization that I had that some students whose experience with technology were far beyond me, the so-called expert in the classroom. I came to understand the techno-lives of some of my students is richer than I had thought. The post is called “Who’s the Expert, Anyway?” and it also notes how the story later helped me think about my webcomic, Boolean Squared.
John goes by the handle, Mr. Teacher, and now I wonder if his book wasn’t in the back of my head as I created the character of Mr. Teach. Hmmm. (Shhh. Don’t tell John.)
Peace (in the guest house),
PS — John also writes a column called Mr. Teacher for Education.Com that is worth a read.

Postrank says …

Last week, I jumped over to a site called PostRank, which puts the most “clicked” posts from a blog in order. The method is supposed to identify which posts on a blog are getting read and used the most. Here is what popped out when I plugged in my blog:

A few of the posts are from the start of this school year but I note that my song about Obama not disappointing us is there in the mix, too.

Peace (in a hierarchy of clicks),

This Blog is a Butterfly Net

Some folks struggled with this week’s Day in a Sentence, which was converted into Day in a Metaphor. I certainly want to keep the hurdles low for participation, and yet, it seems worthy to add some twists and turns here and there to ikeep us on our toes, right? Using yet another metaphor, this blog becomes a sort of butterfly net when I put out the call for sentences and I am always astounded by the beautiful array of colorful and unique words that come my way. Most important, we never pin them down beneath a glass box. Instead, we release them back into the world and let them fly into our minds.

So, without further ado, your colorful, floating Days in a Metaphor:

  • An electronic banking disaster with my son’s university payments, a permanently locked stove due to a power failure, and news of my sister’s mandatory trip to Afghanistan were huge hailstones in a week that has already been a blizzard of activity.Janice
  • Monday was the Boris and Natasha to my moose and squirrel intentions for the week.Angie (who notes that she was inspired by her 25-year-old son).
  • This sizzling pizza, hot from the oven of summer’s kitchen, cools in the humid glow of the afternoon.Ken
  • Coming back from Christmas holidays, my first day was a three toed sloth; everyone seemed to be alive but nothing actually moved.James
  • my january schedule is a sack of cats – hectic, overwhelming, and yowling. i can’t wait for things to become routine!sara
  • My week has been like a balloon, carefree, easy, flexible with no purposeful direction, coloured with the magic of 5 weeks of summer holidays.Anne M.
  • My week has been a raging, tireless, flaming dragon of a cough that refuses to let me sleep.Lynn J. (Note from Kevin: Gosh, I hope she is on the mend)
  • The work of catching up from the holidays is a snake that bends this way and that with jobs past forgotten and new ones to complete, oh so slick and hard to hold on to; where will you lead me if I follow your tail? Illya
  • On Monday I stood at the base of the beanstalk known as The First Week Back After Break, and looked up into the unknown with excitement and anticipation…and then the foot of the giant known as Reality stepped out of the clouds and smushed me with his monstrously big boot sole of routines and meetings and grading and planning and…Mary Lee
  • Week 3 of our winterbreak is an oasis, a respite, a meditation while the rest of the world cedes into the work flurries of a new year.Lynne C.
  • Working hours for an English teacher are those tiny, so-called “standard” paper clips; they never stretch nearly enough to clamp together all the to-be-graded papers of one kind from one class.Jo
  • A Half consumed cup of coffee at 4pm is the punch line of the joke that I forgot this morning reminding me that I can’t get everything done when it’s due and that’s okay.Mary F.
  • Our neighborhood is wrapped in a blanket of soft, beautiful snow but my “to do” list keeps me prisoner at my desk . . . for now.Amy K.
  • My mind is a cluttered desk badly in need of organizing but I’m an absent-minded professor whose files are bursting with ideas and dreams.Nancy
  • Thursday was a whirlwind, scattering my emotions all over the place when I heard the Pastor-Parish Relations committee at my church had requested the District Superintendent to remove our minister NOW, and he complied.Cynthia (who notes she is digging to get more information about the situation)
  • And Bonnie, who added her non-metaphorical thought: School closings this week and I watched from my window and remembered my treacherous journeys out and off in my car, dealing with slippery roads. I’m glad I was able to light a fire, sip coffee and write away. Good thing that most schools were respectful to their teachers and canceled.

Peace (in capture and release),

Snow … in six words

Sometimes, you stumble upon interesting things in the networked world. A few days ago, I noticed on Twitter that @roswellgirl was seeking collaborators from her various wired networks for a collaborative Google Presentations project on the concept of snow. Using a photograph, participants added a slide to her presentation, write a six word narrative about snow, and passed the show on to the next person.

How could I resist?

On this day, with sleet and freezing rain descending upon us, I decided to open up the screen of our window in the dining room and take a shot of an old and decaying snowman (featured on PhotoFridays a few weeks ago), and then added six words about the fate of snowmen when the freezing rain arrives.

I believe that the project is still open for contributors (email Martha at t56linc(at)gmail(dot)com to get invited into the Google Docs presentation).

Here is a direct link to the presentation (I had trouble embedding the presentation here — it kept doing strange things to my blog). Here is my picture:

And my sentence was: Sloppy snowfall means death to snowmen

Peace (in pictures),

Skyping through the world

I saw this call for schools and jumped in. Sylvia, over at her Langwitches blog, is hoping to connect her classroom with 80 other schools through the use of Skype, the online phone/video platform. She has put some great thought into the project and now she is searching for schools to participate. The Skype calls can be fairly short but it seems like a great way for schools to connect and for teachers to try out Skype. (If you need to get a sense of what Skype is, a good starting point is Sue Water’s post about skyping with other classrooms)

Sylvia has started up an Around the World With 80 Schools Google Map to visually show the locations of the school. I just added the mascot and picture of our school (Gail P., our intrepid kindergarten teacher, realized that the two of us had both signed up — our paths are now crossing left and right, in hallways and in virtual spaces).


As of a few days ago, these countries were represented:

  1. USA
  2. Canada
  3. Peru
  4. Argentina
  5. England
  6. Spain
  7. Estonia
  8. Israel
  9. Thailand
  10. Malaysia
  11. China
  12. Australia

I like, too, how Sylvia has laid out the rationale for the concept.


  • geography
  • cultural awareness
  • global awareness
  • global collaboration
  • technology integration
  • social studies
  • math
  • writing

National Educational Technology Standards (NETS•S)

2. Communication and Collaboration

Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others. Students:

a. interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media.
b. communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats.
c. develop cultural understanding and global awareness by engaging with learners of other cultures.
d. contribute to project teams to produce original works or solve problems.

There is still time for classrooms kindergarten through sixth grade to sign up. The easiest way is to use the Google Form that Sylvia has set up. Once you have done that, she will contact you with the Google Spreadsheet and the Google Map, and you are on your way.

Come on in and Skype and connect.

Peace (in connections),

The Origins of Funk (the llama)

The last couple of episodes of my webcomic, Boolean Squared, have been all about Funk, Boolean’s new pet. He wanted a dog or a cat, but his mom got him a llama. Funk digs the music of James Brown and loves to dance. Heck, who doesn’t?

Check it out:

More of Funk will be published next week.

You can always grab the RSS for the webcomic with this link. And the home for Boolean Squared is here.

Peace (in funky comics),