Your Days in a Sentence

Greetings and here are this week’s collection of sentences.

I want to start out with a podcast that I did with a roomful of teachers at the Prairie Lands Writing Project in St. Joseph, Missouri, on Saturday as part of a talk about Web 2.0 and the ability to use the Net for connecting with a community of other teachers (and a keynote address about writing my webcomic). I asked them all to write out a Day in a Sentence, and volunteer to podcast their sentences.

Here we go:

Listen in to Prairie Lands teachers

And now, the rest of this week’s wonderful submissions:

  • I am currently reclining lazily on my leather sofa, watching television, while in the back of my mind, I realize that, because of parent-teacher conferences next week, I have papers to grade, interims to fill out, conference forms to write, and children’s work to gather in an organized fashion to share with their parents. — Karen
  • god, i love friday night football in pennsylvania – it’s a mania unparalleled by anything else i’ve experienced, and the vinegar french fries just take to the next level. — Sara
  • I am convinced of the need for more than 24 hours in day–at least if I want to include enough sleep to avoid feeling constantly fatigued. — Art
  • Today learned from my kindergarten teachers that everyone knows a David or if they don’t, at least their father does. — Eric
  • lately i’ve begun having serious vocab shortages: i know the word i want exists, i’ve used the dang-blasted thing a million times, it’s a perfectly beautifully crafted word that’s hugely better than “hugely” or “normal” or “thing” or “get” or whatever…but it eludes me. it’s not even on the tip of my tongue or the precipice of my brain…it’s lurking in deep depths, far beyond my scanty influence or gravitational pull. and it’s annoying. worrisome. irritating. laughable. (Ok. I’ve abused the concept of a sentence or the idea of a period. But, well, that’s been my week!) — Alex
  • As we head out for our daughter’s birthday celebration at a Malaysian restaurant, I wonder to myself, “how did I become the mother of a 30 year old?” — Delaine
  • Looking back, it’s as if I have been visiting a delightful foreign country over the last few years with all my class digital work; what I must remind myself is that most people I work with haven’t been to that country, and I have to place more focus on being a graceful and inviting diplomat. — Connie
  • Note to self: Lake George Friday, personal day, fun with darling husband, good weather forecast, Fort Ticonderoga! (Apologies for the fragmentation but those have been my thoughts all week long, like a countdown!) — Gail P.
  • I’m ready to unveil my new digital story today at our SI08 retreat. Almost a full hour, it celebrates the work of the community and everyone will take home a DVD copy. I wonder how many will actually pop their disk into a dvd player to share it with others? I wonder if who from this community will move into our larger HVWP community? (It’s 6 AM, pitch black still and I’m up and filled with questions….and of course, Joe is up tonight as the world watches Sarah show her stuff.) — Bonnie
  • Chronic feline illness has afflicted our household with a terrible melancholy, he’s old and not in pain, but barely touching his food and probably on the way out…but we don’t want to send him through the great catflap in the sky just yet. — David

Thanks to everyone !

We’re going to have a guest host this coming week so be on the lookout for that call for words.

Peace (in connections),

Kevin

Before the Digital Days

This video is interesting, as it reminds us that before the digital revolution, there was an underground community seeking out art, music, books and movies that fell outside the view of the common culture. The theory of the “long tail” sort of ruins that sense of backroom discovery, I guess.

The ease of digital downloads and digital uploads means we do this kind of discovery from our own home, and we don’t fall into serendipity when uncovering that band or movie or book that will completely shake your world. And it is the hunt for the art, and the process of discovery, that makes the effort even better. (Kind of like the experience of reading a physical newspaper and coming across an article that you would never otherwise have ever seen if you were narrowing your focus).

Or, at least, this is the premise of this video.

And yet, ironically, if not for the digital world, I would never have seen this video in my life, I suspect. There are some strange ironies that go on all around us.

Peace (in discovery),
Kevin

Simply Sentences

Please consider joining us for this week’s Day in a Sentence. No fancy themes this week. Just good ol’ fashioned sentences. How does it work? Boil down your week or a day in your week to a reflective sentence and share with the comment link on this post. I will collect all of the sentences and publish them (probably on Monday, at this point).

As for me, I am heading off to the Prairie Lands Writing Project in Missouri this weekend to give a keynote talk about writing in the online world, with a focus on my webcomic, Boolean Squared. I will show how I used the Web 2.0 and other technology as part of a writing process for the comic strip, and then, how you might move some of those ideas into the classroom. The conference looks very interesting and I am very excited about being asked to present as the keynote speaker (this is the second time this has happened – Bonnie hosted me last year at the Hudson Valley Writing Project).

My hope is to create an online version of my presentation in the next week or so.

Meanwhile, one of my activities for the crowd in the morning (where I focus on Web 2.0 and education) is to write out a Day in a Sentence and then podcast some of their words as part of our own Day in a Sentence collection. It will add some new voices into the mix and bring Day in a Sentence out a bit further.

I look forward to your words!

Peace (in connections),
Kevin

Moving Comics into Movies

My friend, Glenn, is an inspiration to me for his work and thinking around comics. As another member of the National Writing Project, Glenn has published a regular webcomic with his regional newspaper that looks at local politics. It was called Nota Bene. I say “was” because after 100 comics, he is now moving on to a new comic strip project.

But he continues to think about ways to push the medium, and this week, he shared an experiment that moves comics into video, with narration. He has taken an issue — Merit Pay for teachers, and the possibilities of competition over students — and crafted this video. The voices are sort of creepy, which is the point.


Peace (in mixing mediums),
Kevin

Don’t Go Disappointing Me

The elections are fast upon us, and like many, I am keeping an eagle-eye on the developments of the economy, the wars in the Middle East, and the leadership qualities of the two presidential candidates seeking to get my vote. I guess I haven’t made too many bones that I am mostly independent, leaning left on most issues, and I have been impressed by Sen. Obama. (But I also once voted in a Republican primary for Sen. McCain when he was facing off against Bush.)

I was thinking of Obama and McCain the other night, and how they seek our allegiance and then, all to often, abuse it with the whispers in their ears from lobbyists and advisors and others. I always worry they will just disappoint me again.

And so, with some taste of bitterness, I suppose, I offer up this song:

Disappointing Me
(Listen to the song)

I’ve lived a long life
Oh, the stories I could tell
I hope you don’t go disappointing me

The path is paved
with empty words that they will sell
I hope you don’t go disappointing me

Four years ahead of us — The future’s in our eyes
My baby’s getting old — and the world is compromised

They’d tell you anything
to fill your heart with fear
I hope you don’t go disappointing me

I’d like to take you
for a walk around my town
I hope you don’t go disappointing me

Just stop and listen
to the people all around
I hope you don’t go disappointing me

Four years ahead of us — The future’s in our eyes
My baby’s getting old — I hear it in his cries

You’ve got the power
to change the world that we know
I hope you don’t go disappointing me

(You can hear my youngest son in the background, talking and singing his own song and then at the end, asking me to play it again. Very funny).

Peace (in presidential promises),
Kevin

Here a poem, there a poem, everywhere a poem poem

I say,
These days are crazed;
hectic, perhaps, but OK —
we still find time to sit back and think
and find our place here among this virtual space
with words and thoughts and ideas
and the satisfaction of the act of connections
through collectively shared reflections.

Without further ado, this week’s Days in a Poem:

Mr. Mansour got me right at the first line.

Bacteria, viruses, rockets, and rocks.
6th graders still challenged by lockers with locks.

Two student teachers and some nurses to boot.
The best rocket maker might win some loot.

Friday detention is a bit of a pain.
This poem is confusing, let me explain.

It’s my week in a poem, the life of a science teacher.
I’m armed only with my cunning, a computer, and a beaker.

Anne M. came back from behind the Great Firewall of Asia.

Being lost without my blog
In China where it would not log
Then again when back home on the farm
Due a quirk, I felt I’d lost my arm.

Sheryl provides us with a rush of words in her freestyle poem, which she says is “prompted by needs for teacher literacy in technology”:

21st Century is no time to be a wallflower as the dance moves on without you.

Ken continues his wonderful stylistic writing that captures more than a moment:

Fleet stepping figures in oilskin array,
scattered reflections a constant foray,
city street buskers with rhapsodic song –
happy together –
the lyrical chorus delighting the throng,
mocking the weather.

sara (she of the lower case world) mulls over love:

he brought me
a cheesy bagel today
at my second job
at the plant place.
wrapped in a paper towel,
with two string cheeses
on the side.
“you need a snack,”
he smiled.

the mums do their mumming,
the late-summer bees gather pollen,
i count the days of marriage
in the crumbs.
and it’s like the stars.

but better.

I’m hoping Liza made it through, even though a new week now begins:

I think that I will survive this week
Abundant with colds and meetings and chaos
I think that I will survive this week
Where life and work cross swords with one another
I think that I will survive this week
With stinky skunks and dirty hands on kids
I think that I will survive this week
but can I survive the weekend?

Gail P., who gave me the idea of last week’s Day in a Question (and then her question got lost in transit somehow), captures so nicely the richness of her teaching environment and philosophy:

The natives are restless.
They’re eager to go.
They’ve found the right path
But what they don’t know
Is what lies before them,
Around every last turn,
Are the carefully laid challenges
That bring them to learn.

Like Liza, David was looking forward to the weekend. Perhaps the sniffles are gone?

Snuffles and coughing, but deadlines to meet
Still, dogs to walk and children to feed
Poems and blog posts, but
Still, deadlines to meet
Thankfully, in sight: the end of the week

And Lisa C. added her poem called Late September to her blog site, capturing a hectic week.

The week started off without a hitch
We learned how to start stories,
Worked out more than one glitch
We worked on a project, or maybe two,
Finished a couple
And started a few that are new.
A novel was finished, all in one day!
The weekend was coming
With more time to play.
One last thing, before we go
We ended our week
By honoring a hero.
I sigh with relief
Now that it is over
And start make plans for another great week!

Sue W added a haiku to our mix:

Student blogging comp
Read, comment, post, drink milo
Midnight again, BED!!

Thanks to all of the poets here.

Peace (in wordplay),
Kevin

Getting Them to Think, Write, Create

Yesterday, in hopes that it would draw my sixth grade students’ attention to the first presidential debate, we did some work around thinking about the elections. Our school will be doing a Mock Election for the first time (ever?) and I am determined to provide my students with enough information to not only make a good choice but also to filter out the influence of parents, teachers and others (yeah — this is going to be tough).

I started out the lesson with this great video from Common Craft and we talked about the complicated voting system in this country and why that is important (and the day before, we chatted about the balance of power among the branches of government).

Then, I had them brainstorm issues that they consider important and hope to be addressed in the campaign. Our list included:

  • Global Warming
  • Protecting Animal Habitats
  • The War in Iraq
  • Fuel Prices
  • Offshore Drilling
  • Health Care
  • The Economy

Next, my students did some stick figure drawing for a comic strip in which they, as a comic character, ask a question of the candidates. We then moved onto the computers and headed off to Make Beliefs Comics, which is an easy and isolated comic strip making site. They loved it! The comic site is limited in scope, but you can email the link to the comic and I intended to take all of the comics and use Google Sites to create a little website of their comics.

Here is my example:

BUT — the Make Beliefs site has something strange going on with scripts (I emailed the creator, Bill, and he is working on it — he is very responsive). So my web idea will have to wait and I hope they get it all resolved out very soon.

Peace (in the election campaign),

Kevin

Looking for Days in a Poem

The themes for Day in a Sentence continue, with this week focusing on poetry. (I know it’s not April and that is the point — poetry should be enjoyed in all forms all times of the year). I ask you to consider reflecting on a day of your week in the form of a poem. It could be a couplet, a haiku, a freeverse or any style of poem that suits your fancy.

Just add to the comment section of this post and I will collect and publish over the weekend.

I look forward to the rhythm (and maybe rhyme) of your words.

Here is my week, in a Haiku:

Behind: Biopoems
Ahead: short story fiction
Young writers emerge with words

Peace (in poems),
Kevin