Boolean in the WebComicCollage

My webcomic, Boolean Squared, has been added to a new site called WebComicCollage, which is a visual indez of various webcomics. I’m pretty excited to see him there in the mix.

Remember: Boolean Squared gets posted to the newspaper site every Monday and Thursday now (see today’s comic) and then are also archived over at my Home for Boolean Squared. The RSS Feed for Boolean Squared is right here for you, if you want it.

Peace (in funnies),
Kevin

The Desks Will Hover

I like to pose some tech-related questions to my students each year, just to get a sense of where they are at with their own use of technology. I usually tack on this question: What will a classroom of the future (say, 50 years from now) look like? The answers are always amusing and interesting. This year, a big theme — floating chairs and desks.

Check out some of the student responses:

  • The desks will hover
  • Floating desks and robot teacher
  • High-tech pens.
  • A bunch of jet packs.
  • Exactly the same, but all electronics smaller.
  • The same
  • It might have floating desks, electronic chalk boards,and other things like that
  • I think they wouldn’t have chalk boards anymore; they would have the kind of board we have in the library — the “Alive” board or whatever; and they would have a computer attached to every desk and an electric pencil sharpener. The children would have personal white boards so they could envision what they’re learning. They would also have better heating and Air conditioning. 😉
  • A classroom in the future will have a robot teacher. Hmmmmm, maybe we can break it.
  • Cool with hats that tell you stuff
  • The walls might be made of slate and instead of desks we could have the teachers desks.
  • The desks will float, the chairs will have rockets on the bottom of them, and everything will be chrome.
  • robots take over the world
  • An old cob web place like very haunted house
  • There will not be school so there will not be one (classroom of the future)
  • There would be lots of Mac’s and no chalkboards. (there would be no chalkboards so teachers couldn’t write down homework :D:D:D)
  • It might be all white, have solar panel windows and desks and chairs that hover in the air
  • Flat screen computers that hang on the wall, floating desks, and animated teachers
  • Who knows what it could look like? It will be surprise. Hopefully the fab Mr.H will still be teaching.
  • White walls — fake windows — robot teachers —  smart-boards in every classroom —  all desks will also be computers
  • I hope Dr.cool is still teaching!!

I also took all of the answers and threw them into Wordle:

It’s nice to know that teacher will still be needed, although a few of them have converted us into robots.

I wonder what your kids think if you pose the same question.

Peace (in a robotic voice),
Kevin

Moving my Hero Journey into Google Earth

I knew this was possible (and thanks, Sheryl, for reminding me) but I had not done it, but … wow — moving my Hero’s Journey from Google Maps into Google Earth was very cool. And so simple: download the .kml file from my Google map and open it right up in Google Earth. So simple, and yet, being able to move across the globe like that, and to zoom down into the terrain … pretty amazing.

Want to give it a try? Here is the kml file from my Hero’s Journey sample. I am hoping you can just open it up and it will launch your Google Earth application (if you have it and if you don’t or need the Earth update — as I did — it will walk you through the process).

And thanks, too, to Sheryl for reminding me of the LitTrips site, in which teachers map out stories with kml files right on Google Earth. I found the one for the Odyssey interesting.

Peace (and safe journeys),
Kevin

Mapping out my Heroic Journey

So, I had this idea … (don’t these  projects all begin like that?). We have just finished reading The Lightning Thief, which is a fantastic book set in Modern Day against the landscape of Greek Mythology that has as its main character a boy (Percy Jackson) who is considered dyslexic and ADHD, but who finds out he is really a half-god and must avert World War III by returning the stolen Lightning Bolt of Zeus. The kids eat this book up and many were borrowing Greek Mythology books from the library. I had parents saying their kids were reading, on their own, more than I had assigned — for the first time that they could ever remember. Honest.

So, too bad we had to end it, right?

Next up: the graphic novel version of The Odyssey. I convinced my team to invest some of our shared resource funds into a set of the novel, which is going to be a perfect companion to The Lightning Thief, and should allow them to see how the travails of Odysseus (and his hubris) are alive and well in Percy Jackson. Plus, it has cool monsters and stuff. And it allows me to teach a bit about image and text and the dynamics of a graphic novel (this is another first for us).

So, I was trying to think about a project after we read The Odyssey and it occurred to me that a great project would be for them to create their very own Heroic Journey Home. It would be a creative journey, but how best to show it? Why not use an online mapping program, I realized, that would allow them to learn more about the technology and create something interesting. I thought about CommunityWalk — too many advertisements. I searched around for some others. Interesting, but nothing outstanding. And I kept returning to Google Maps and so, that is where I stand right now (but still searching).

And as it turns out, in writing class, we have been doing an entire descriptive writing project around monster, so there are illustrations of almost 90 monsters that they can draw upon to “encounter” on their way back home. Are you with me so far?

If so, can you give me some feedback on this sample Heroic Journey that I created?


View Larger Map
Thanks and peace (with as little hubris as I can muster),
Kevin

Wordle to Wordle: the two speeches

I was interested to see what would happen if you Wordled the two political speeches: Obama’s acceptance and McCain’s concession. So, what the heck, I did it.

This is Obama:

I like how change and hope and world and new are out front (wordle takes text and recasts it based on frequency). I guess you can’t give a political speech when you win the presidency without saying America over and over again, right? But notice some of the smaller words and how they seem to capture details of ideas and policy. Interesting.

Here is McCain’s (which I had to edit the various “boos” and chanting from the text version that I was using):

Country is certainly front and center, and notice how differences is pretty prevalent, too. And, to give McCain credit, he noted the achievement of Obama in his speech. And of course, he mentioned Obama by name more than a few times (as opposed to Obama, whose reference to McCain barely registered in Wordle).

McCain should be commended for this line: “…he (Obama) managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving.”

What do you think?

Kevin

Get out and vote!

And here is a video and song that I wrote back in February as Obama was in the midst of his primary against Hillary Clinton. I think the message still rings true for me.

Peace (in change),
Kevin

Dancing Chickens? You bet.

One of my running gags in my Boolean Squared comic is that the boys want to see a legendary “dancing chicken” video on YouTube (or MeTube, for them). But all the firewalls block it and their teachers sees no value in a dancing chicken (do you?).

Anyway, my series on The Flat World continues this morning over at the webcomic home at MassLive, the online home to the large regional newspaper. Take a look if you get a moment. (And I believe the comic will start running on Thursdays starting this week, too. Here is the RSS feed if you want automatic updates)

Peace (bawk bawwwwkk),
Kevin

Days Gone By, Days Ahead

Greetings

I was greeted almost every day with some new sentence and thought for the Day in the Sentence activity and there was a mix of messages, too. Some of us are looking ahead to the United States presidential election and others are looking at the moments of our lives, both in the classroom and in the home. That’s what I love about Day in a Sentence — the variety.

So, thank you to all who contributed.

Here are your Days in a Sentence for this week:

Gail P. and I teach in the same school and this week, we were both immersed in parent-teacher conferences, but not before we had dinner with some friends from online communities (Liz and Maureen). And now, Gail is on Twitter, ready for another adventure. This week, she writes: This week has been full of important and interesting conversations with family, friends, students, and their parents.

Liz is new to Day in a Sentence, but she went at it in great style. If you head over to her blog, you can see how she made her entire thinking and editing process transparent as she moved from a long piece of writing to the very concise: My mind jumps, I wonder, am I learning less than I would if it were still, is ADD another word for the 21st century brain?

Janice took a step back and listened to the voice of her mom. Perhaps that is something we should all be doing more regularly, don’t you think? (Maybe the world would be a more peaceful place). Anyway, Janice realized a lesson in perspective. This week provided several examples of what my mother often said when I was complaining about my state of affairs; there’s always someone worse off than you.

Chaos? Yep, we know about chaos. And when Lynn J. finds the right tool to rein it in, she will share it with us. Right, Lynn? Lynn? Can you hear me? (hey, pipe down, you there, in the back of the room …) Lynn writes, Chaos reigns at the middle school again this week, and as I look for what will calm and engage my students, I wonder whether we will ever get our footing this year. (Good luck, Lynn)

Michaele has voted and hoping for the results. Me, too. It took a week to hit me, but the delayed surprise was still intense when I realized that I had signed, sealed, and hand-delivered my absentee ballot to the post office with as much care, determination, and HOPE as I did with each of my letters to my husband when he was last depolyed overseas to Iraq.

Yeah for reading! Sara, who is new to Day in a Sentence (I believe — welcome), shares this wonderful moment when the light goes on for a child. And when it is your own child, all the better. This evening I proudly listened to my six and half year old daughter read Ten Apples Up On Top! BY Theo. LeSieg for the first time ever.

Lynn C. (my other Californian Lynn) worked on the Day of the Dead this week and found a couple of cute C words to capture her thoughts (I added a few C words of my own). Comics, calacas, and can’t think of another “c”-word to describe prep for Day of the Dead this week. (Yeah, comics!)

sara p. had some venting this week, so I will just step out of the way and let her go: mike had back surgery on tuesday. it’s wednesday morning now. i slept on the floor last night, my emotional tolerance is, um, low. so here’s my sentence –
note to the nurses of the world: trying to catheterize my husband without a numbing agent makes me want to punch you in the face. don’t ever do it again.

Delaine has gone, and come back, and now contemplates the work on her desk. I think I know that feeling. After taking 34 seniors to visit University of California, Merced, on Tuesday, I returned to a pile of yearbook proofs to check.

Perhaps Liza needs a breather. You have our permission, Liza. There is stress all through her words this week. Feeling overloaded is starting to feel normal and I’m pretty sure that’s not a good thing.

Lori (also new to Day? I think, so welcome) had one of those weeks where the pieces don’t always seem to fit in place. But I hope it turned out all right for her in the end. Here I sit my school’s media center, surrounded by books, overwhelmed by it all, attempting to puzzle out what to do with Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this fragmented, out of order, falling behind week.

I love the poetry of Lisa’s sentence this week. I’ll leave it at that. Normal days only exist in my imagination.

Bonnie is all in with the election, making calls this weekend (hey, don’t hang up on her) for her candidate and excited about the possibilities. We are coming to the end of a very long presidential campaign and I am holding my breath, hoping for the best and looking forward to next Wednesday, the morning after. Life goes on of course, but I think we need someone like Barack Obama to take the reigns away from Bushwacker. Here’s a great polling site:http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/ for updates.And for bit of diversion, here’s yet another writing challenge, the National Novel Writing Month that begins on Friday. Write a novel in the month of November: http://www.nanowrimo.org/

Cheryl engaged them, with complaints. Now, how in the world did she do that? (through wonderful mentoring, I am sure). I spent an afternoon in a training with educators about using the online reading resources we have available to us. With purpose, there wasn’t one complaint about using technology.

Stacey needs a new light. Now, this could be metaphorically, I suppose. Or not.  I’m sitting in darkness because my desk lamp, which has had the same fluorescent bulb for the past five years, just blew out.

Joe (another new friend here) made some discoveries just below the surface that has him thinking of many possibilities. Way to go! This half-term week I’ve leapt far further into the future of teaching than I thought possible, discovering that what I have been imagining is actually happening and all in between digging the garden!

I want to get on an airplane and head to Anne M.’s classroom. She describes a possible project that would have engaged me to no end as a kid. Where were all the musicians when I was in school? Had a meeting with a Melbourne Symphony Orchestra member who wants our school to be involved in a music classroom that will be a virtual one, next year, term one where our students work with two other schools and will be taught how to make compositions of their own and save them for digital use, with the orchestra providing any sounds or effects that they need.

Nancy read a book! (which is not so easy to do when juggling an newborn child). I wonder what she read. Nancy?  This week was all about trying to get back into my pre-mommy groove by reading an actual book; so far, so good!

Nina did the impossible: she beat the clock and got things done earlier than usual. I hope she relaxed a bit. Instead of staying at work until 7 pm on Friday as I usually do, I managed to plan next week’s lessons by 11 a.m. today, so why can’t I do this every week???

Gail D. had a well-deserved respite and found a way to rejuvenate herself in the hills. I had the week off – and savored every moment of the last days of October in the Sierra foothills.

Amy has a sentence and a request (which I just did for her): I thought I was crazy to try to do anything academic on Halloween. I decided to have the kids create their first blog posts on our brand new classroom blog. They got out the laptops and you could’ve heard a pin drop in my room. They were engaged and focused, even in full costume! Click here to visit our 3rd grade page. The kids would love to have adult and student comments on their work.

Thanks to everyone for sharing out this week.

Peace (in words),
Kevin

Off to a Writing Conference

Today, I am attending and presenting at a conference called “Re-Envisioning Writing Assessment” that centers on how we assess writing in this era of standards and curriculum alignment. It should be interesting and I am presenting with two friends from the National Writing Project (Mary and Christina) on how to address the integration of technology into writing for students of all needs, and still find ways to suitably assess that work.

My part of the workshop centers around the digital picture books that my students do each year.

We’ve been working on our presentation via Google Docs, first as a document to plan and then in the slide show element to develop the actual workshop. I am going to embed a version of the presentation here, although the movie links and audio files won’t come through in this version. But I haven’t embedded a Google slideshow, yet.

So:

Peace (in writing),
Kevin