Sue Says: Build Your Network


Sue Waters (whose Edublogger site is a must-read, I think) has put together a great wiki site around the concept of the Web 2.0-based Personal Learning Community. Using the results of a survey from folks in her PLC, she established a one-stop resource for folks thinking of dipping their toes into the, eh, waters.

Ideally, a supportive PLC will help guide you along in your reflective stance as an educator, writer, explorer and then provide the framework for you to be a mentor to others. Also, a good PLC provides some guiding questions about your journey: where are you going and why are you going there and what are the outcomes.

I like how Sue also included a quick set of pointers that she gathered from her own network and experiences as you begin to consider your own PLC:

  1. Start slowly and find mentor(s) to help you.
  2. Use the same username across tools
  3. Share as much as you take
  4. Ask as much as you answer
  5. Try new TOOLS before you decide they’re not worth the time
  6. Comment on other people’s blogs
  7. Life long learning is the key!

So, get your network connected! Head to Sue’s wiki for more information.

Peace (in sharing),

Review: The Man Who Walked Between the Towers

I try to regularly submit reviews of picture books over at Just One Book, which is a fantastic site for learning about the art and literature of picture books. They recently published an audio review I did on the book, The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein. It’s a fantastic read about Philippe Petit’s daring escapade between the Twin Towers that no longer stand (after 9-11).

Here is my podcast review of this wonderful story.

(And here is a link to my collection of graphic novel and picture book reviews, if you are interested).

Peace (in books),

All Join Hands (kids sing)

I have mentioned before that I wrote a song called All Join Hands for the Christmas Pageant at our family church. This year, they decided to do something a bit different and they brought in someone from New York City who works with schools and organizations to develop original theater productions. Lloyd (the guy) worked with the kids, and then asked the entire Congregation to submit original songs and lyrics, which he took and wrote some songs for the Pageant, which had a theme of a “journey.”

In the Pageant, some folks with local connections but historical roles were sung about — including Sojourner Truth (the strong black woman who lived in a part of the town for some time); Lewis Tappan, who helped make sure the slaves from the Amistad ship had freedom after they landed in Connecticut; and Jonathan Edwards, famed leader of the religious revivalist movement who preached at the same church where we now go — and my song was sung towards the end of the Pageant. I had my father use my voice recorder to capture the songs, since I had been asked to play guitar on the songs. The song seemed to call for some sort of video, so I went and did that, too.

Here is my song, All Join Hands, with the kids chorus.

And here is the video:

Peace (in joining together),


When the Snowman Melts

In the days leading up to Christmas, we had substantial snow (and then, sleet, and then, rain) and the conditions were ripe for building a snowman. So, my youngest son and I went out and built a good-sized snowdude, put a baseball helmet on him and added a bucket for collecting snowball. I should have taken a picture right then and there, but I forgot. On day two, the weather turned warm and the snowman began to … droop.

Here are some pictures that are part of the PhotoFriday collective (you can join in, too).

Today … might be another rebuilding day.

Peace (in construction and deconstruction),

Happy Stopmotion Holidaze

In between some creative sessions in which my sons were creating stop-motion movies, I grabbed a moment to make my own holiday short. It’s called “All I Want is a Saxophone” and I grabbed an ornament off our Christmas tree for a prop.

Happy Holidays to all of my readers and may you find peace and love with your family and friends.

(if you are having trouble viewing this video, you most likely need to upgrade your Shockwave software. You can do that by going here.)
Peace (in the season),

Doling out the Dollars for Days in a Sentence

Thank you to everyone who contributed their Six Word Day in a Sentence this week. They were wonderful to read. A number of you took my challenge to use alliteration and as promised, I am presenting those folks with the first virtual printing of Day in the Sentence Dollars. I don’t recommend you use it for holiday shopping but please let us know if eBay or Amazon accepts them.

And so, without further ado, here are your six word collectives:

  • local diner mac’n’cheese – oh so delicious!Sara
  • Christmas is coming, no more illnesses? Amy
  • Lavishing Lots of Love on Liam.Jane
  • sunshine sensuous Scottsdale sansstudents sanswork seriously Lynn C.
  • Grades done, snow falling, Christmas begins.Troy
  • Countdown to vacation; three, two, one!Liza
  • Ice and snow assault our senses.Gail P.
  • ill, work, havoc, innovate, tiptoe, holiday!Joe
  • Twitter, Twitter, Twitter, work, sleep, TwitterDavid
  • Summer floods the fast folding year.Ken
  • The sun always shines on wwwShaun
  • snow
    lots more snow
  • Mission Failed: No Chanukah Wrap AroundStacey (who created a wordle of her words)
  • (A) Weekend Winter Wallop Wrecks (A) Chanukah CelebrationBonnie
  • Winter wonderland enchants Alice, and us.Nancy
  • Pushy parents pervasively prevent positive perceptions.Tdawg
  • Holiday break brings rest, relaxation, rejuvenationKaren
  • Tired teacher seeks comfort food fast. Lynn J.
  • It’s wonderful to be on vacation! :-)))))Nina
  • Exhausted, satisfied, excited….. holidays are here. Anne M.
  • Soft snow slowly secludes someone seeking serenity.Mary F.
  • And Gail D. added: Note to Self: This is the last year I head off the post office to mail gifts only days before Christmas – totally cuts into my time to wax poetic with alliterations;-)

Thanks to everyone who added their sentences this week. What the heck … you all get Day in a Sentence Dollars … I am feeling generous and infused with the holiday spirit.

NOTE: I AM GIVING DAY IN A SENTENCE THE WEEK OFF THIS COMING WEEK, but be ready for a Year in a Sentence (our annual feature) as we close out 2008. Happy holidays to all of you and your family and friends.

Peace (with sincerity),

    Traveling in Imaginary Lands

    My students recently finished up a project around expository writing in which they create travel brochures for imaginary lands. The criteria includes: a brief history of the place, three distinct descriptions that make the land so special and a map. I love the creativity that comes through in this project and the connection between art, writing and informational text is important.

    See some of the work for yourself:

    (if you are having trouble viewing this video, you most likely need to upgrade your Shockwave software. You can do that by going here.)

    Peace (in other worlds as well as here),

    Cell Phone Novelist

    This week, I was skimming through my New Yorker magazine and came across an intriguing article about the rise of cell phone novelists in Japan. Mostly composed by young women who are writing for publication for the first time in their lives, this phenomenon has not yet crossed the world but is gaining some traction outside of Japan. The novels are written line by line on cell phones, in episodes, then put up on websites, and then some (the irony here) are published into best-selling books.

    The article by Dana Goodyear (read an excerpt of it here) gets at both the views of the writers but also the criticism the cell phone novels are getting from literary circles. People argue against calling these pieces “novels” and scoff at their importance, while others see the popularity as a signal that literacy, even in the wired world, is not quite yet dead, even if the depth of the stories remains fairly simplistic. Perhaps this is just the start of something bigger?

    Anyway, the article got me thinking and inspired this poem, about a cell phone novelist who feels under the cultural gun for publishing stories in this new-fangled way.

    The Plight of the Pajama Novelist
    (listen to the podcast of the poem)

    I stand accused of being nothing more than
    a pajama novelist
    padding about in bare feet
    with fingers twitching on my cell phone
    as I unleash yet another sentence, word by word by word,
    into this text-ural world.

    My accusers use their diplomas for prosecution
    as if a piece of paper
    might yield some artifact from the past
    to determine the present state of affairs
    when words are so cheap that anyone is a poet;
    anyone, a novelist;
    anyone, a composer.

    Locked into the ribbon of their old punch-key typewriters,
    they don’t imagine that writing can ever be different than it was,
    that it might change with the pulse of the times
    and become stories scribbled out on the thumbpads
    during the afternoon commute back home.

    Odysseus remains lost in the mire
    but Genji is alive and well,
    immersed in the politics of the palace
    of internal intrigue which we — the denizens of Keitai Shosetsu —
    pick and choose from of the remains of the skeletons
    of the past.

    Yet who am I to defend myself as I sit in anonymity,
    disguised as a woman of heartache
    whose lover is in chains;
    whose past remains broken;
    whose heart is in flames;
    with passions, spoken: all for public consumption
    as I sip my beer and imagine the possibilities.

    A million hits can’t be wrong — a million eyes on the screen —
    as they wait with eagerness
    while my accusers stew in their discordant certitude
    that this signal the End of the Novel.
    So yes, I plead guilty to charges
    and wait for the jury of my peers — one million strong —
    to come to my defense so we can write this new tale of ours:

    Peace (in new forms),

    A Holiday Animation for You

    Tinkering with some new software, I created this:

    Enjoy your families and friends this holiday season and remember to keep in the back of your minds the folks who are struggling.

    Peace (everywhere, all the time),

    A Gift of Giving from Students

    A group of students surprised me and the rest of my teaching team the other day by presenting a holiday gift that beats all the candies, candles and other assorted things that seem to make their way to my desk this time of year.

    This group of students banded together and went out to the main drag of the town where I teach (and where they live) and collected trash and garbage as a clean-up effort (and they adopted the slogan: Yes We Can, even making t-shirts with the slogan). They took pictures of their effort, and then they all wrote letters about why they were doing what they were doing, and pulled it all together into this beautiful scrapbook.

    They presented the scrapbook to us and let us know that they had done this deed — on their own — as a holiday gift to us, their teachers. Isn’t that so cool? And so thoughtful? And so meaningful? I am so proud of them and so honored that they have done this project with us in their minds and hearts.

    Peace (in the giving),