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),
Kevin
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),
Kevin

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),
Kevin

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),
Kevin

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).

participating-schools-google-maps-1-8-09

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.

Objectives
Integrate

  • 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),
Kevin

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),
Kevin

Dave Eggers says … Get Engaged

Here is another great video from the TED conference. It is a talk by Dave Eggers, whose writing both inspires me and sometimes frustrates me, but I am always willing to dive in with Eggers and see where he will take me as a reader (and if you have not read What is the What, you should … one of the best books about the Lost Boys of Sudan I have ever read).

In this talk, Eggers discusses his project for young writers, called 826 Valencia that is spreading into many cities in the country. I also want to push the Non-Required Reading collection that Eggers and a group of high school students pull together and publish every year. I am always anxious for the collection to come out — knowing that treasures that will be within — and then I am told by my wife to wait until the holidays and not buy it EARLY (thus, thwarting the elves).

I love this quote about Eggers’ work in Time Magazine:

“Many writers, having written a first best-seller, might see it as a nice way to start a career. He started a movement instead.” — Time


In thinking of ways to engage young people in the art of creativity, Eggers’ talk here is both humorous and also insightful as he meets them on their own level (I mean, a storefront that is a pirate booty store … how can one resist?). And his website — Once Upon a School — is another way to engage adults in helping to improve schools in their community.


Peace (in inspiration),
Kevin

Day in a Metaphor

Here’s an old twist to Day in a Sentence. Turn it into Day in a Metaphor.

Think about a day or your entire week, and use the power of metaphor to share out your reflection. The way in which you use the metaphor is completely up to you. Just use the comment link on this blog post to submit your metaphor, and I will collect them all and publish them over the weekend.

If you are new, you are cordially and warmly invited.  If you are returning to Day in a Sentence, welcome back.

Here is my submission, also as a podcast:

The winter weather is my Voldemort, thwarting my efforts to complete a big project and weakening the magical powers I use to keep my students engaged in a sustained activity.

Have a great week.

Peace (in snow, ice, and wind),
Kevin

To Obama: A Poetric Thought

Wishing on a star: Senator Barack Obama speaks at a town hall meeting in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

(photo by Getty images)

Here is a poem for President Elect Obama.

To Obama
(listen to poem as a podcast)

I don’t know who they think they are
carrying on about Change
when the reality is that change comes so fast to us
that it’s never visible until the aftermath
when the shadow of reflection is cast upon the landscape
and we understand how everything is different now
and the old order,
come and gone.

Yes, I am one of those,
the guilty many who is doing all of this carrying on,
with hopes in my heart that the course will be altered
by fresh ideas and fresh faces and the intellect
that guides you
even as I refuse to let my dreams shackle you
to my own expectations.

No, it is my children who speak through me
to you
and whose nightly whispers you must heed
in your head as you sit through briefings
and meetings and dinners with dignitaries
and consider the World from your seat up on top of the mountain.

Will others do the same?
Will they temper their expectations
and accede to reality?
Or will they claw at you with visions
of how it should be, how it could be,
how will it never be
even as you hold them off with a misplaced word
to soothe the lions outside the fence
whose only instinct is for blood.

Change us, perhaps, but don’t change yourself
and let us look back in ten years time
to finally understand that our path was forged amidst all of this chaos
in such a way that we never even knew
we were moving.

Here’s hoping for the best in the next four years ..

Peace (in the world),
Kevin