Recognizing Some Friends: The Fantastic Commenters

As part of the 31 Day Comment Challenge, we were asked to consider a visitor to our site who exemplifies the concept of a “good commenter.”

I have so many wonderful visitors and so many great contributors, that this is difficult, so I will have to narrow it down to two folks.

First up: Matt Needleman, who always has a constructive thought or words of praise or a link to some great resource. He has been a bit quiet lately due, which I attribute to a combination of factors. But I always look forward to Matt and his comments. Thanks for being a visitor here, Matt.

Second: Bonnie Kaplan (who, I should admit out in the open, kindly gave me this very award at her blog, so it feels a bit strange). Bonnie and I have been on a few tech adventures together through our friendship with the National Writing Project. We push each other, and we help each other, and we are regular visitors and contributors to each other’s blogs. I always know she is at least one reader out there. Thanks, Bonnie: you get a badge, too.

Here is your badge (created by Scott McCloud). Wear it with pride!

Peace (in recognizing the network),

I invited You and You came in: Thank you

Yesterday, I posted a request for folks in my “network” to help me welcome participants in a Technology Across the Conference being held tomorrow. I wasn’t sure what I would get, but I should have known so many thoughtful and wonderful voices would come through. My hope is that the participants in the conference (many of whom are new to the Web World and technology) will see the power of connecting with others.

This file has been created and published by FireShot

Here are just a few comments that jumped out at me:

  • Bonnie reminds us that, “You have your passion and your great work to move the group along with you.”
  • Michele provides a crucial axiom that I try to follow: do it yourself first. “These tools are incredibly powerful for learning, but it definitely helps when we start with using them for our own learning first.”
  • Cheryl gives a rich portrait of her work with students in all of its global facets and then encourages folks further. “The Web 2.0 offers so many rich possibilities for learning! Grab ahold and hang on for the ride of your life! Once you are hooked, you are there for life!”
  • Sue reminds us to move slow, but steady, forward. “Don’t stress at not knowing it all — just focus on one step at a time.”
  • Tracy puts great faith in us presenters and also notes an important element: learning can be a good time. “Relax and get ready to have FUN: you’re in excellent hands.”
  • Janelle says she will come back to our conference site and hopefully get our folks to return the favor of discovery. “I think reading your blog will inspire me to be more diligent with my own site! So thank you for that!
  • Bud frames his thoughts with the reason for all of this: our students growing up in a global world of virtual connections. “We’ve a big responsibility to learn how to navigate that and to share our learning and guidance with our students.
  • Somewhat new to the blogging world, Ann gives some of her own advice: “Try to make the time to really learn and use these new ideas and tools. They will take you to places you never imagined possible!
  • Rod draws connections between writing and technology. “We write to process that learning. There is no better way to excel learners into the thinking process than by using web 2.0 tools.
  • Mary also wants our folks to enjoy the creative process. “Like the others have said, ‘Have fun yourselves with the technology.’
  • Claire puts the focus on learning new classroom practice. “When I started blogging I had no idea how powerful it was going to be for my own professional development. I am learning so much from so many talented people.”
  • Christine (who is not all that far away, it turns out) also encourages the sense of exploration. “I hope you discover just how fun learning technology can be.”
  • Peter encourages patience. “I know that you will have a great day learning about the many tools available to you. Don’t worry if you feel overwhelmed–it’s completely normal.
  • Kate knows the adventures that are ahead. “You’ll pretty soon get a feel for the whole Web 2.0 adventure and start thinking about how you can use these great tools to get your students up and running headlong into the digital literacy challenges of the 21st century.
  • Joe moves slowly and carefully into new tools and suggests that all teachers do the same. “Getting started with this can be overwhelming because there are so many choices and so much to learn.

It’s not too late for you to help out, either. You can visit our Tech Conference Blog and leave a comment, too.

Thank you to everyone who has helped. I deeply appreciate it.

Peace (in networks that work and play),

Running a Conference on Tech Across the Curriculum

On Saturday, my Western Massachusetts Writing Project is hosting a half-day conference at my school on using technology across the curriculum. Our hope to is have conversations and hands-on activities around the topic of integrating technology and writing into the various content areas (math, science, social studies, etc.) The model for this event was inspired by a similar conference put on by Bonnie and the Hudson Valley Writing Project last year (I had the pleasure of being the keynote — see the article that Bonnie wrote for the National Writing Project).

We have about 25 people signed up (we had set a limit at 30) and we are all feeling a bit antsy, I think, about the event. (The technology better work! he says with anxiety) I was lucky to have my friend, Mike Flynn (the Massachusetts Teacher of the Year) sign on as keynote speaker, and he will be talking about video production in the elementary classroom.

Our other sessions are:

  • Connecting with the World: where we will be exploring the benefits and possibilities of social networking for teachers and students. The hands-on activity will include joining Classroom 2.0 and beginning some interactions with other teachers on the vast and growing network (7000 members!).
  • Audiocasting in the Classroom: where we will be listening at and looking into the use of audio recording and podcasting in the classroom. The hands-on work will be a group Day in a Sentence podcast (be sure to listen for it) and then we are either going to show them Audacity or the online podcasting site called Odeo Studio. Our intention had been to use PodcastPeople, but we just found out you know have to pay for its services (bad bad bad).
  • Digital Storytelling Across the Curriculum: where we will try to show some examples of digital stories and then move into using VoiceThread to post to a thread that I created and then, hopefully, have them create their own threads. I also have PhotoaStory on our laptops, so we can shift to that, too, if necessary.

Our new WMWP Technology Team has been using a Ning site to do some planning for this event and they are a great group of teachers who are interested, but not all quite experienced, in the use of technology in the classroom. I think this will be as much a learning event for us as for our participants. And isn’t that what makes a conference so interesting? (I hope so)

If you want to look at our Technology Across the Conference weblog, where we will launch our workshops, you can do so by going here: Any feedback or suggestion from you is most welcome.

In fact, it would be very cool if some folks went to our Conference Blog and left a comment for folks coming in on Saturday. Maybe a welcome to the Web 2.0 World or a piece of advice on how you use technology or links to cool sites or just about anything. If you do so, please leave where in the world you are located, so they can see the connections that are possible.

(consider this part of the 31 Day Comment Challenge’s task of turning over a blog to readers through the use of comments — please use my conference blog to do so.)


Peace (in connections),

Your Days/Week in Six Words

This week’s Day in a Sentence returns to a popular format — the Six Word Variation. I had been thinking of this for a few weeks now, but then Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach (at her blog, 21st Century Learning) used the technique this week on Twitter, asking folks to submit their Six Word Memoir.

Once again, I was moved by how powerful the writing can be within the six word limit (and see the book called Not Quite Was I Expecting for a collection of six word memoirs — great stuff).

So, I ask you to consider joining us this week with a six word recap of either a day from your week or your entire week. Here is how Day in a Sentence works:

  • Boil down your day or week into six words
  • Use the comment link on this post to submit your six words
  • I collect all of the comments and then post them all as a collection on Sunday
  • Feel free to use podcasting, video, plain ‘ol writing, hand signals (no wait, that won’t work)
  • Everyone is welcome!

And since one of the tasks of the 31 Day Comment Challenge is to use comments and submissions from visitors in a blog post, this works out nicely. So I am tagging the challenge here, in hopes that some new folks will wander in and take part in the activity.

Here is my Six Word Week, and I am experimenting with Odeo Studio for a podcasting workshop this weekend, so let me give it a try with my words that relate to some state standardized testing this week that has kids and teachers on edge:

Math testing stresses us all out.

powered by ODEO

Peace (in minimal words).

Slice of Life, the weekly series, Chapter 7

(This is part of a weekly feature called Slice of Life Project)

Both Larry and Nancy tagged me to be part of this Meme that seeks to get a little deeper into who we are as people (yep, I am not a blogger-‘bot … yet). And I was thinking how much that is part of the Slice of Life adventures, too.

So here, goes:

1. What was I doing 10 years ago?

Ten years ago, I was ending a ten-year stint as a newspaper reporter, going back to school to become a teacher and beginning a two-year journey as a stay-at-home dad (which I loved).

2. What are 5 things on my to-do list for today (really, yesterday):

  • Go to post office to mail off present for niece (already late)
  • Go to Staples and makes some copies (hear strange SNL voice in my head)
  • Read with son, who is home sick today (and I am home with him)
  • Work on getting ready for Tech Across the Curriculum workshop on Saturday (crap — it’s right around the corner)
  • Remember to get other kids from school (very important!)

3. Snacks I enjoy…

Bananas, apples, yogurt, cookies.

4. Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

Fund an innovative school for inner-city kids; buy a new guitar; build a recording studio; become a professional writer.

5. Three of my bad habits:

Act too quick on impulse; am better at writing mind then voicing my mind on emotional issues; and sort of messy at times.

6. 5 places I have lived:

  • Connecticut
  • Massachusetts
  • New York
  • Georgia (in military)
  • my mind

7. 5 jobs I have had:

  • Third shift gas attendant
  • Handyboy for dentist (and he had me shovel coal, if you can believe it)
  • Newspaper reporter
  • Sax player in Portuguese wedding band (when I was a teen and not for long)
  • Teacher

8. 6 people I want to know more about:

Bruce Springsteen (and his songwriting process)
Sonny Rollins (and his saxophone ideas)
Barack Obama (is he for real?)
ee cummings (for his style of poetry)
Frank Lloyd Wright (for imagining something altogether different)
Georgia O’Keefe (because my mom was fascinated and I wonder why)

I will offer to pass this along, and like Larry, say that you can pursue it or not, depending on your time and energy and interest.

Peace (in bios),

The Lost/Found Generation Video

Stay with this one, as the narrative first moves forward with one message, and then backwards with the real message. It is simple in production, and yet the simplicity of it makes it powerful. Just voice and words.

But think of the writing that went into this — knowing that it would have multiple meanings when read forward and then backward. Very cool.

Peace (in the found generation)


And now … crazy warnings

Language is a funny thing.

Just check out these warnings found on products. Is it just because we, as humans, are generally stupid? Or is it fear of litigation? Or maybe something got lost in the translation from the place where things were made to the place where things are sold.

In any event, have a laugh on me and the folks over at Crazy Warnings.

Disposable razor:
Do not use this product during an earthquake.


Furniture Wipes
Do not use for a baby wipe.

Stickers to put on the seat of a potty training toilet
This is not a toy. Stickers require adult supervision.

Warning: When Motor Is Running – The Blade Is Turning

Instructions on the bottom of a grocery store pizza
Do not turn upside down.

Bottom of a Coca-Cola bottle
Do not open here.

Oh, there is plenty more at the Crazy Warnings site, too.

Peace (in instructions),

Auditing My Blog Atmosphere

I am bit behind with Comment Challenge tasks (isn’t everyone?), but the last query had us thinking about how welcoming our blog is to visitors and how inviting it is for people to comment at our blog. I decided to go the video route again, using Seesmic, and talk through my reflective stance.
Meanwhile, the next task is to develop a comment policy for visitors. Michele Martin provides a pretty comprehensive piece for her blog. I don’t feel the need to go into such depth, although it was interesting to read hers.Here is a draft of what my Comment Policy might look like:

Welcome to my meandering mind!

This blog is a place where I explore writing and teaching and technology. But I don’t like to go on such a journey by myself and I want you to come along as a companion. Although I am doing the writing of posts, I am hoping you will feel comfortable enough to join the conversation and enrich my experience. Teaching can be an isolating experience, but it does not have to be.

If you feel the urge to join the discussions, you should search for the comment link at the bottom of each post. If you are the first, you will see the words: “no comments.” That means I’ve been waiting for you! (If others have posted comments, the link will indicate how many comments are there). This comment link will bring you to a comment box, where you will be asked to fill out some basic information (unless you are logged in as part of the Edublog Community and, therefore, are already known by my blog).

I do have the comment moderation switched on at this point. It is not intended to muffle your voice. Instead, it is intended to keep out unwanted Spam. But I am rethinking the use of moderation, so that may change in the future. For now, though, you should know that your comment will appear only after I approve it. A little note should indicate that your comment is being moderated when you submit it. Rest assured that I do check my blog regularly, so it won’t be a long wait.

I do not edit comments nor change comments. Your thoughts are your own and I respect that. And the voice of dissenters are as welcome as those in agreement, as long as we are all civil in our discussions.
Thank you for visiting and I hope you join the digital dialogue with me.

— Kevin

How does that sound? Any thoughts?

Peace (in policy),

Seeing Your Days in Different Ways

I was interested in exploring some different ways of showcasing this week’s Days in a Sentence other than through the regular posting (which works fine, of course).

Here are snapshots of all of our blogs as remixed in Animoto (with a song called “Days” by the group, Bears).

Here is a Flickr Slideshow of our blogs.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

I wonder if these format detract or enhance the experience. What do you think? I would love to have your feedback. I have my own ideas but I will add them to what others are thinking.

Peace (in different angles),


Days in a Sentence Get Released

This week, we returned to the traditional format of Day in a Sentence and again, my comment box overflowed with your words. Some were celebratory. Some were full of sadness. All of them were heartfelt and I thank you for being part of this reflective community. This month, I have been part of the Comment Challenge and it occurs to me that our Day in the Sentence project (now a few years old) is one way that we are using blogs and comments to connect with each other.

In the spirit of the Comment Challenge, which seeks to encourage more thoughtful interaction among bloggers, might I suggest that you follow the links to one of the other writers here and post a comment on their blog? It would be a nice way for us to connect outside of the Day in a Sentence community.

Here, then, are your sentences:

Jo had the great pleasure of watching learning happening naturally as her students took charge with words and worked together.

At my desk cutting out stacks of freshly laminated writing-prompt pictures (printed for free as a site’s treat for Teacher Appreciation week), I had to force myself not to stare agape, not to gush, as my tenth-graders helped each other discover through snaps and claps and finger pointing the actual ease of blank verse (”no, listen, ’success’ is two syllables: ’suck’ ‘cess’”); those moments of realization, of lights being switched on (or even perhaps undimmed a bit), are some of the sweetest morsels at the teaching table.

Elona had a difficult week in which her doctor’s orders took a wrong turn. Luckily, it was only temporary, and we are glad that she is back to feeling better.

Oh my goodness, I’m glad the week is almost over because I had a bad reaction to some medication I was taking and ended up in bed for a couple of days, although thankfully I’m fine now. )

Anne M. is reminded, and reminds us, that although our circles of bloggers may be immersed in the realm of Web 2.0, there are more teachers in the world who are not aware of it than teachers who are.

Reflections on 10 months of my personal and classroom use of web2.0 tools, enabled me to put together a presentation for our regional teachers, on “where I would start with web2.0″ at a local conference, instigating an awareness that many teachers had not even heard of web2.0, including podcasting. So, where do we start?

Cynthia (she is probably not alone) was happy to have Day in a Sentence back in its traditional format. In a note to me, she calls herself the “prodigal child” who is returning. Hey, Cynthia! You never left! But it is great to have your voice here again, and you’re given some freedom to extend your sentence as long as you need it to be.

Friday I got up at 5:30, saw Larry off to work, Adair and her family to Dallas, before going to school where we worked on our Oral Interp mask poem presentations; then it was off to Baccalaureate practice for an hour and back to school for English II–but not before two students brought me limeades from Sonic; thank goodness I was really thirsty–finished Julius Caesar, took up Macbeth projects, said goodbye to the seniors, played Murder Mystery with the eighth graders, after which it was on to the Catholic Church for a wedding rehearsal and to Natchez for the rehearsal supper; finally, around 9:30 I was home again just in time to fall into the bed so I could wake up and start all over again.

I have had the great pleasure of conversing with Diane in the Comment Challenge and I was so happy to see her submit a sentence as part of this week’s Day in a Sentence. She is a bit cryptic in her sentence, which is very cool.

Putting the puzzle pieces together – the picture underneath starts to emerge.

The prospect of the weekend was looking awfully nice for Delaine. I hope it was fun and rejuvenating, because Monday is staring right down at us.

As we get closer to the summit, the climb gets harder, and I am thankful for the restcamp of the weekend.

Alice seems to have some conflicts going on and determined that bringing things out in the open is always the best way to deal. Keep quiet and the tension and frustration only grows. Bring it out into the open and maybe something gets resolved.

Although this week had it’s ups and downs, it was an improvement over last week, as the conflicts were in the open, and not festering in our minds and souls.

Nina decided against her own sentence and instead, found a great sentence from one of her favorite authors, John McPhee, who writes in the book Uncommon Carriers: “He became the editor-in-chief of Screw Machine Engineering, a magazine whose name a hyphen would have improved.” (p. 25)

She then asks us: “How could I do better than that?” Well, why even try? That sentence carries the day, in my opinion.

Bonnie found light this week and a reminder of the passion that some teachers have for their students, even when their own life interferes.

I enjoyed visiting a middle school this week, watching my student teacher work with a very pregnant, passionate teacher who is only leaving because her doctor demanded it, and this is a district with it diversity challenges. Makes you feel optimistic.”

The number referenced here by Cheryl just boggled my mind, as her district moves on with standardized testing. We do the same next week (it’s Math Time, baby).

This week was week one for our NWEA online testing. We uploaded over 1200 completed tests this week. One day of glitches, problem solved finally! We still have 2 weeks to go. Students take this seriously and try and do a great job.

Larry could use a field trip to recover from the field trip. If he does plan one, can we come along? Hey, I drove down that crooked street once, many years ago. But a video game museum? Interesting. Do you have a link?

Another insane field trip with 100 students to San Francisco — submarine tour, chocolate factory, video game museum, the crookedest street in the world (among other things) — and a day (or two) to recover.

Stacey, who has helped guide some of my writing with her own Slice of Life and Poetry challenges, noted that, on the day she submitted her words, the day had barely begun. I hope it got better and not worse.

My great-aunt, the matriarch of our family, is ill and I’m not quite sure what’s going to happen next.

Spring fever hits Sara P. hard. Does that mean summer is around the bend? Uh Oh. Lots to do and not much time to do it.

I call firsties – first to point out how quickly the end of the school year is approaching (just 21 days for me!), first to admit early summer-ish weather shouldn’t be followed by late winter-ish weather (55 degrees and torrential rain – are you kidding me?!), and first to notice i no longer need to hassle my kids about wearing hoodies and hats into class (though i’ve just switched to the new line “no, if you don’t put leggings under your mini-skirt, you *can’t* wear it.”) – Ah, May!

Ben B. writes about another way in which he is not afraid to stand by his beliefs.

Bloom’s Taxonomy, although convenient, has lately faced pretty strong scrutiny in my world and yet I still stand by it.

Google, Google, Google for Janelle, as she sets off on a Big Explore.

The downpour of rain is not the only thing that pounds down on my head as I mull over mounds of TELPAS files and experiment with Google Apps & Google Sites—forecast is clear for the weekend!

Matt mourned an emotional loss of someone close and dear to him, and I believe I speak for everyone when I say that our thoughts are with you, Matt (who wrote a powerful eulogy at his blog this week).

After 97 years and a couple of appearances in my previous sentences, my grandmother died this week. My heart is heavy but I know that I have learned from her and am a better person for having had her as a part of my life.”

Liza, like Cheryl and myself, is in the storm of testing, and it is clear she does not like the feeling.

Recovering from state mandated testing leaves me feeling unfocused and at loose ends.

And Sue, who is one of the organizers of the Comment Challenge and a wonderful resource for all bloggers, had her battles this week with Technorati as she tried to make sure bloggers in the challenge were connected via their tags. She found hurdles, but not dead roadblocks. And no doubt her optimism kept her going. (yeah for Sue!)

Technorati mocked me, drove me crazy but I defeated it for now.

Please visit each other and tell them that Kevin sent ya on a mission. Leave a comment. Say hello. Make a connection.

And it is not too late to leave your own sentence either. Just use the comment link on this post and your words will be added in. You are invited!

Peace (in our community),