Eponyms, Schneponyms

In our study of the English Language and the origins of words, my students did some work on the concept of Eponyms, which are words that take on the name of a person (such as Ferris Wheel or Saxophone). Students then got some time to use Powerpoint to develop a slideshow that markets a product that has their name — an eponymous product. A few students (and myself) donated work for this video (I converted PP to video with some software that I have).
One of the side reasons for doing this work is that I want to bring them deeper into powerpoint so that when we do our Digital Book Project later in the year, the technology is in the background as much as possible and the writing and creativity work is in the forefront. They need multiple sessions to understand the platform and to think and imagine the possibilities of a book that is not “flat” but “multimedia.”

Peace (in Kevinland),

Off to Japan

My family and I are taking a vacation next week … to Japan. Not a virtual one, but a real one. We have family on a naval base outside of Tokyo (my brother-in-law commands a battleship), so the opportunity was too great to pass up. I showed my students the basic path we will be taking with Google Earth yesterday (which gave me a chance to talk about the features of the new version of Google Earth — we did some exploring of Mars yesterday before zooming through the galaxies).

In case you are wondering, the trip from here to there is about 6500 miles and it takes about 14 hours. And we have three kids with us. Now is the time I could use some new-fangled technology that beams you from one side of the planet to the next in less then a few seconds.

Has any of my readers been to Tokyo? Any suggestions?

Here is a map of our journey:

View Larger Map

Peace (in travel),

The Red Sled

This photo is from my backyard and it reminded me of the imagery from the William Carlos Williams’ poem, Red Wheelbarrow. (The photo is part of the Photofridays project, too)


so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

What about:

so much depends

the red plastic

covered with white

beside the children’s

Peace (in a poetic mood),

Your Days on a Virtual Bulletin Board


This week’s Day in a Sentence explores a new online application called Stixy, which is sort of like a wiki but looks and feels like a bulletin board. I am hoping it is easy to use. You just need to drag a text widget up into the white space, write your Day in a Sentence, add your name, and save.

Would you care to join us this week? You are invited.

Head on over to my Day in a Sentence site on Stixy and use another collaborative tool. I’m not sure of the applications for the classroom yet for Stixy but I would love to hear from you if you have ideas. You can do that by leaving me a comment here.

The way Day in a Sentence works is:

  • Reflect on your day or your week
  • Boil it down to a single sentence
  • Share it out

Meanwhile, I look forward to your words.

Peace (in collaboration),

Working with Crazy Words

crazywords wordle by you.

As part of our unit on the Origins of the English Language, my students work on creating their own words that they hope will someday become part of the English Language. We talk a lot about how words come and go through time, and how language is always alive and taking new shapes. In this vein, a few years ago, I started to use a Wiki to have students add to a dictionary of made-up words. It is now in its fifth year and the number of words exeeds 400 at this point. It’s quite a thing and my students love to add their words to it, knowing they are creating something unique.

We use a wiki (Wikispaces) because it is so darned easy to use and to archive. The simplicity of the platform is perfect and it occurs to me that our wiki is a collaboration over time, as this year’s crop of writers are really working with my young writers from each of the last five years, and with the future in mind, too. That is interesting (for a sci-fi nut like me anyway)

Here are some of the words from this year, and I am including the podcast, too, since they read their words and definitions so that their voice gets archived with their words.

If you want to see the full dictionary:

Peace (in collaboration over time),

Now I know who to blame …

Appetite for Self-Destruction

For years, my pet peeve was that darned packaging around CDs. First of all, it would tear at my fingers trying to get it open. Second, I was left with more plastic and cardboard than CD case, and so every purchase of music felt as if I were germinating the local landfill.

This week, I finally found the name of the guy credited with this entire packaging idea. It is Jerry Shulman, who was director of marketing at CBS at the time. In the book Appetite for Self-Destruction by Steve Knopper (an excellent look at how the music industry has again and again shot itself in the foot as the digital revolution took hold …. Napster, anyone? Or now bit torrent?), Shuman admits to the idea. “It was me,” Shulman is quoted saying by Knopper. “It cut everyone’s fingers to shreds when you cut it open.”

Yep. That’s probably why they were known as blister boxes in the industry.

Now, Shulman did not invent this contraption just to cause pain to music customers (although Knopper does an excellent job of showing how us music lovers are often farthest from the minds of the record company executives at so many turns in the road over the last 30 years). The tomb-like plastic and cardboard casing was invented so that record store owners would not have to build new shelves for CDs; they could just use the old LP shelves and fit two CDs in the spot where one LP used to go.

Now, who is the hero of this story of the old CD cases? Raffi. That’s right. Raffi — the children’s singer who has always earned my respect for refusing to license any of his recordings for marketing that might influence a child to buy a product. He just wants kids to love music.

According to Knopper, Raffi refused to put out CDs in the so-called longbox. Good for you, Raffi.

Meanwhile, the industry realized they could save a bundle of money by eliminating all of that packaging, and appease other artists like U2, Peter Gabriel and others who were worried about the environmental impact of the packaging. It is nice to see that CDs (if you still buy them) are mostly without the plastic sleeves.

Of course, the digital versions require no packaging at all.

Peace (in laying the blame),

The New Google Earth (and Mars and Oceans)

Google released the new version of Google Earth and it looks like another winner, allowing you to move through time in certain locations, head down under the oceans and up into the stars and planets. Amazing stuff and a wealth of possibilities for the classroom, don’t you think?

Here is the link to download Google Earth 5.0.

And here is a neat teaser video:

Peace (in the worlds above and below us),

Visually Piclit-ed Days, Released

(I created this week’s sharing using PicLits)

Here are this week’s contributions to Day in a Sentence. I want to note that we have a bunch of new people contributing and that is wonderful. Thank you and I hope you spend some time wandering through your links (Maybe it is time to do another Jog the Web one of these weeks):

Stacey is writing again. She’s always writing. And she is a terrific writer, so that of course makes sense. And then add in that her website is The Two Writing Teachers, well, then, it comes as little surprise that she, ahem, writes:

Gail P. says what was on my mind. It is almost as if we work together. (pssst. We do — on far ends of the building).

Writing is on Susan’s mind, too, and her sentence is deep and rich.

Glenn, my comic/graphic virtual mentor from across the country, has an exciting appointment this week. (Krugman is an award-winning economist — I suggested that Glenn ask him about investing in education, particularly science, math and technology)


The colors of the world … ack. I hope the reinstall went well, David.

Fred is new to Day in a Sentence (welcome, Fred and be sure to visit Fred’s relatively new blog — he offers a nice take on Malcolm Gladwell’s article on identifying teachers) and he delivers a wonderful reflection on the week in which balance is a key to sanity.

Josh is also new to Day in a Sentence (if memory serves me, which it doesn’t always do) and he notes an unexpected twist to one of his meetings.

Mary Lee sends her regrets that she didn’t try out the Voicethread from last week (It’s OK, Mary Lee — sometimes, I throw out tools that people can try if they have time or inclination, and I am just happy to have you back here this week). For Mary Lee, the snow was a good thing.

Tom, also new to Day in a Sentence and a thoughtful new member in the Western Mass Writing Project technology team, offers up about exploration and integration of technology.

Mary (also new this week but see my note above about memory) wants to read … blogs. Unfortunately, the other things in life keep clogging up her plate.

sara … sara .. sara … thank you sara for making me laugh just about every time you add your thoughts here. it reminds me of why we became friends so many years ago in the summer institute for the writing project. and now, i can’t stop writing in lower-case letters …

Wait a second. Matt had his refrigerator right in his living room and now he is moving it back! Matt, are you nuts? You could just reach over, grab a snack and watch the incredible movies that you make. No need to move or anything. OK, I get it: renovations are ending and the home may get back to normal, right? (I’ve been there, done that, and I know how you are feeling to have some semblance of order on the horizon)

Lynn J. saw me posting on Twitter about using Piclits, so she did one herself (you did great, Lynn).

Ken started off his new school with, on a very optimistic note. Good luck, Ken.

Amy K. is deep into blogging with her students. And it has been a learning experience for everyone.

Cynthia bravely pushes herself and her students into new terrain. She may be swamped but I suspect it is worth it in the end, right?

Mr. Mansour … I hope you are feeling better. There is nothing worse than the rapid spread of illness in the classroom and at home. Drink fluids, man, drink fluids … and get some rest.

And here is a slightly late entry from Bonnie, as she thinks about spring.

Peace (in networks),

PS — I tried to find photos that would emotionally connect with the words, with mixed results. Sorry if the picture background befuddles you. But I did try. Here is my own day:


here are all of the photos as a slideshow: