Ants Marching

My oldest son received a very cool Ant Farm during the holidays. It has blue gel and was designed by NASA for space experiments. The first delivery of ants were … not moving. The second delivery took a few weeks. But once they arrived, the ants were the hit of the house. I tried to capture their work with pictures and video.

Here are the ants:


Peace (through tunnels),

Saxophones on the Brain

In the course of 10 minutes yesterday, I ran across two mentions of the saxophone (my main axe) in both Newsweek and Time magazines that are worth mentioning. And the Muppets were on my mind, too.

The first was an obituary for Peggy Gilbert, who was one of the first female jazz saxophone players to make a true impact on the world. Gilbert, who died at the age of 102 (see what music can do for you?), shared the stage with such greats as Benny Goodman and Louis Prima, and she didn’t subscribe to the notion that men are better musicians and band leaders than women (and you shouldn’t either). The obit reminds us that Gilbert took on Downbeat magazine when it ran a commentary that seemed to detail how men are better than women. Thanks, Peggy, for being brave and creative!

The second mention was a bit stranger. The article on comedian Jim Carey and a new movie called The Number 23 features a striking picture of Carey, with tattoos and muscles, holding a saxophone like a weapon. I couldn’t find the reason why his character has the saxophone but it doesn’t look good (for him or his saxophone). Maybe the muse plays a supporting role.

Finally, I ran across this video that I just love from the Muppets that I just had to share because, frankly, we all need a good Muppet laugh once in a while:

Peace (with pioneers, players and puppets),

Inside the Inner World

Over at New York Magazine, writer Emily Nussbaum has written a lengthy look at why in the world young people would want to blog their lives out to the world. It’s an interesting examination of the rationale that some 20-year-olds are using when they write personal stories or post personal pictures. As an educator, the stories from her interview subjects also give me some perspective into where my sixth graders are going in the years ahead and how I can think about getting them to ask questions of themselves and others before they plunge into the Webbed world of information.

Nussbaum ends the article on this thought:

“Right now the big question for anyone of my generation seems to be, endlessly, “Why would anyone do that?” This is not a meaningful question for a 16-year-old. The benefits are obvious: The public life is fun. It’s creative. It’s where their friends are. It’s theater, but it’s also community: In this linked, logged world, you have a place to think out loud and be listened to, to meet strangers and go deeper with friends. And, yes, there are all sorts of crappy side effects: the passive-aggressive drama (“you know who you are!”), the shaming outbursts, the chill a person can feel in cyberspace on a particularly bad day. There are lousy side effects of most social changes (see feminism, democracy, the creation of the interstate highway system). But the real question is, as with any revolution, which side are you on?”


Why do we always have to take sides?

Peace (with understanding),

Map My Words

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),

Graphs, diagrams, number lines as language

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),

A Writer is …

In a touching memoir of his relationship with his father (and the suitcase of writing that his father bestowed upon him and asked to read after he died) that was delivered as a Nobel Lecture and then published in The New Yorker, Orhan Pamuk tries to get at the heart of what a writer is. (Pamuk won this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature).
Here is one section of his description of a writer, as he sees it:

“A writer is someone who spends years patiently trying to discover the second being inside him, and the world that makes him who he is. When I speak of writing, the image that comes first to my mind is not a novel, a poem, or literary tradition; it is the person who shuts himself up in a room, sits down at a table and, alone, turns inward. Amid his shadows, he builds a new world with words.” — Orhan Pamuk, in The New Yorker (Dec. 25 2006/Jan.1 2007 edition)

I like that description because it touches a deep chord with me and my own personal writing process. I know it is not the same for everyone and Pamuk even acknowledges that for his father, the writing process was completely different — more social in nature.

Peace (with words),

Edublog Awards: the winners

The winners of the 2006 Edublogs Awards were announced this week and although TeachingTeachingTeachers (one of my favorite group sites) didn’t win, the range of sites across the board.  And the organizers did post the voting breakdown, if you are interested in seeing that information.

Meanwhile, if you are just starting up an RSS aggregator, this is a good place to begin to create your own Blog community. Click through the various links and add the sites to your aggregator. You will be inspired, entertained and educated.

Head to Edublog Awards 2006

Peace (with RSS),

Vote for Blogs

If you want to find some good blogging, you can’t go wrong by checking out this list and casting your vote for some of the best educational blogs out there. This site is the home of the Edublog Awards for 2006 and, if you are anything like me, you’ll be stealing some ideas left and right. And I would like to put in a plug for Teachers Teaching Teachers, which is a wonderful venture to have teachers talking and podcasting and writing about their work in the classroom. It is a collaborative venture all around and well worth your attention.

Head to the Edublogs Award Site and cast your vote!


Innocent Boy

I recently discovered Photo Story software by Microsoft and have been tinkering with it as a real alternative to MovieMaker as a digital storytelling device. It seems simple to use, has some built-in music features and allows you to get the Ken Burns effect with relatively short learning curve.

As an experiment, I created two stories: One is about my childhood, using old pictures that I converted to digital by using my digital camera to take pictures of pictures and the other story is about my three young sons.

I also recorded a song I wrote about my kids called Innocent Boy ( I used Audacity, so the quality is OK but not great) and inserted that song into the digital story as background music. The results were pretty nice, I have to say, and I can see introducing Photo Story to my sixth graders later this year (they are already tinkering with MovieMaker).

You can listen to my song, Innocent Boy song

Peace (in pictures),

School Site of the Week

I’ve been following (through Bloglines) a feature of called School Site of the Week that provides a wonderful glimpse into the web presence of schools.

The archive page goes back to 2002 and is a great resource for any teachers or administrators seeking to gather ideas about a meaningful web face in the world of increased interactivity.

The most recent feature is Rockburn Elementary School, which is located in Elkridge, Maryland. The description says: “Originally designed as a fifth grade student project in 1996-97, this site continues to reflect student contributions in every area and serves as a place for them to showcase a variety of work.”

Head off to the Techlearning school website archives.