Your Days, Words and Thoughts

I was pleasantly surprised to see the rush of words come after I put out my first call for Days in a Sentence in about seven or eight weeks. The break was nice for me and I wondered if Days in a Sentence would still be on people’s radar screens. It surely was. And boy, folks can pack a lot of punch into just a few words.

Here, then, are this week’s Days in a Sentence, Six-Word-Style:

  • My colleague, Gail P. (whom I ran into on the beach in Maine while we were both on vacation) teaches kindergarten at my school. Her year got off to a good start. It’s all working according to plan.
  • Connie continues to innovate with energy and enthusiasm, with positive results. Successful with class redesign, I’m exhausted.
  • Delaine also moves into new territory and then crops out the things she doesn’t want. If only life were like that. Surprise! I am effectively teaching PhotoShop.
  • Liza is another one who found that some thoughtful planning is paying off. Routines are making a difference — Hurray!
  • David‘s six words remind of a day in my class this week, when my sixth graders came in talking about the new supercollider, and asking if the world were soon to blow up. So I talked science with them and also talked Media Exposure, too. David writes: Hadrons, hadrons, hadrons: subsidized, overhyped, uncollided.
  • Sara made the rounds, checking in with students and making connections. conferring with every kid is hard!
  • This was great. My Writing Project friend and colleague, Tina (who ran a claymation camp with me this summer) already has some students tinkering with tech. Moviemaker and microphones made students ebullient.
  • Stacey was thinking of country, perhaps as part of the 9-11 ceremonies. I’m proud to be an American.
  • Ben is no longer on the same pins and needles, thanks to longevity and experience. Open house feels different when tenured.
  • I wonder if Janice feels like she’s on the narrow end of a time funnel? Three weeks work, crammed into one!
  • Bonnie had Barack on her Brain. Barack is back, and me too.
  • Ken, the wonderfully creative Ken, gave us a six word poem:
    • Full sky, beckoning spring,promising rainbows.
  • Sheryl has some sort of construction going on. I hope her foundation is strong. Technology helped me communicate with contractor.
  • Jeff had the tables turned on him, with students becoming the teachers (although I wonder what words he learned?). Students taught me some Portuguese slang.
  • OK. I admit I had to look up the last word of Lynn‘s submission. And then it made sense. My mind is overflowing with ephemera.
  • Larry has both words and important lesson for all of us. First, his words: Raised my voice & a student cried. And now, his lesson that he wanted to share, too:
    Kevin, along with my six (sort of seven) words, I’d like to add a quote from Marvin Marshall, an extraordinary writer on classroom management, who wrote that before we act, we should always ask ourselves this question: “Will what I am about to do or say bring me closer or will it push me away farther from the person with whom I am communicating?” Needless to say, I didn’t do that in this instance.
  • Anne continues to push into new terrain. Established new friends for online projects.
  • Nancy experienced that frenzy of the week where it is gone before you know it. What did I do this week?
  • From the mouths of the little ones comes this gem from Eric: Kindergartner asks me,
    Where are we?
  • Amy K. had success by digging into the news. Literally. Newspaper number hunt messy and FUN!
  • Cynthia is fighting off the Lovebugs (not Herbie!). Darn it! Lovebugs also survived Gustav. She explains: Those of us who live in the Gulf Coast states are cursed each September by an invasion of lovebugs, small black insects whose only purpose in life, as far as I can tell, is to procreate. They are nasty, disgusting, smelly, and invasive. They are supposed to be attracted to white houses. Someone forgot to point out to them that my log cabin is not white because I spent all Saturday morning vacuuming up these disgusting insects, but they just keep coming in.
  • Gail W. is bringing some students into a meaningful project between the National Writing Project and Google regarding Letters to the President as the election in America gears up. Started 90 seniors on Google/NWP project:-)
  • Nina is a decade old. Sort of. I’m celebrating the webheads’ tenth anniversary.

I could not resist taking our words and pushing them into Wordle and create this collaborative image:

Thanks to everyone who participated.

Peace (in brevity),

Six Words — One Reflection


The Day in a Sentence returns here this week with a request that you consider boiling down your busy lives — either as a day or the week — into a single reflective thought. This week, I am returning to the concept of minimalization: the Six Word Sentence.

Here’s how it goes:

  • Consider your week or a day in your week
  • Reflect on it
  • Write a sentence that captures the spirit of the week or a day
  • But use ONLY SIX WORDS
  • Post your sentence here by using the comment button on this post (note: comments are kept in my moderation bin)
  • I will gather all of the sentence and release them to the world over the weekend
  • You will get great virtual applause. 🙂

Everyone is invited (yes, even you) so please consider joining us.

Here is my sentence:

I defended technology before reluctant mom.

Peace (in words),

PS — Thanks to the folks who hosted Day in a Sentence over the past few weeks, including:

My Tech Song

A number of weeks ago, Scott McLeod (over at Dangerously Irrelevant) put out a call for a contest for poems and songs about technology. I rehashed an old song and updated the lyrics, recorded it quickly and then sent it along to Scott. It turns out he chose my song as runner up. Neat. (Here is his post, with the winners).

Here it is — composed as I was thinking of the overload I was feeling at the time.

Digging Out of the Digital World
(listen to the song as MP3)

Take your Macs and mainframes and toss them into the sea
There’s no PC compatible with the likes of me
I’m living up in the clouds — I surf a data storm
When the world goes wireless — nobody’s at home

I’m a cell phone connection and a blackberry man
I’m on call 24/7 — I’m always on demand
I need voice recognition to lighten up my days
so you can take all my power cords and toss ’em all away

Microsoft, Apple, chip, bit, byte, ram
I’m digging in the information highway, I hope it ain’t a scam
You can find me on Twitter, My Tumbler is alive and well,
I’m moving out of MySpace into the Second Life hotel

Somewhere out on the horizon – something new comes along
Something strange that will change the way we think we belong
Information to the left of me – Innovation to the right
I’m so connected now — I can’t tell day from night

Microsoft, Apple, chip, bit, byte, ram
I’m digging in the information highway, I hope it ain’t just a scam
You can find me on Twitter, My Tumbler is alive and well,
I’m moving out of MySpace into the Second Life hotel

Peace (in song),

Collecting Their Dreams

I wanted to share the Dream Scenes that my students have been creating in the first days of school this year, using PhotoStory and MS Paint to capture their voice and vision for themselves. (They have loved this project, much more than when we did the paper version — they have been so fully engaged in what they are doing).

I used the new Edublogs TV as host of the video, since it now integrates pretty nicely with regular Edublogs and has not advertising or outside questionable links.

Here is the video:

This text will be replaced

Oh, you can see my dream at the very end of the video.

Peace (in dreams),

First Days … Wordle

I experimented with a Google Docs Survey Form this week with my students. It allowed me to gather some interesting information, although I am still struggling with how to look at it in a meaningful way. One thing I did was take all of the student responses from a question on things they are looking forward to this year in sixth grade and popped them into Wordle.

Here is what came out:

We play a game of Quidditch at our school, which is very popular, and I like that writing is pretty big, too.

Peace (in word games),

And so, the year begins

Our school year began today and although I had a fitful night of sleep (which included a middle-of-the-night inspiration for an opening day activity with tech), I have to say: I have a wonderful class of sixth graders. Wow. They seem wonderful in so many ways that I figure I am a lucky duck.

So, what was my inspiration?

As with most teachers, I try to do opening activities in which students identify their goals and dreams for their lives and then think about why those dreams are important and how they might be achieved. These activities give remarkable insight into our students. In years past, I had my students create a Dream Scene —  an illustration of levels that lays out elements of their dreams for themselves.

But, what, I wondered, if we could do it on the computer. What would it look like? And how hard would it be to introduce? My insight was this: have kids illustrate a picture of their dream, or a symbol, in MS Paint with at least three complete sentences explaining what the dream is, why it is important and how they will achieve it.

After completing the illustration, students could move that picture into PhotoStory 3 and narrate their picture as a video, with some “sweeping” across the illustration. I could then bundle them together and share out at our classroom blog.

And it worked. My kids LOVED working with technology on Day One of the school year and many are already moving into PhotoStory. They were helping each other with the programs, and giving advice on using Paint, and showing each other how to use PhotoStory. I walked around, but let all of this unfold around me, quite pleased with my idea.

Here is an illustration for a movie that I made as a sample (which is too small to upload in either YouTube or Edublog TV or Flickr, I guess). But I wrote about my dream of playing with my band on the stage of the local music hall.

Peace (with breaking the silence),

PS — This week’s Day in a Sentence is over at Deb’s Blog. Come on over and participate. We know you have deep thoughts to share.

An Extended Blogging Vacation


I just wanted to let you know that I am taking an extended Blog Vacation for at least the month of August and so, I won’t be posting anything at My Meandering Mind during that time.

I hope you will continue to participate in the Day in a Sentence, which is being guest hosted at other places for the coming weeks by some wonderful bloggers. This week, Stacey is hoping you’ll join her at the Two Writing Teachers site for Day in a Sentence.

Have a great month of August.

Peace (in restful intent),

Slice of Life, Chapter 18

 Slice of Life, Weekly Challenge, Chapter 15

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

This is a musical Slice of Life, as I have been working on a new song, possibly for my band The Sofa Kings. It’s pretty rough now and the bridge in the song is going to have to go (it doesn’t work), but that’s what making a demo is all about — what to keep and what to remove.

Anyway, here is the song called Dance the Dance.

Listen to Dance the Dance (or click on the little blue arrow for the flash player)

Peace (in songs),

Memoir Mondays: The SI Experience

I am so jealous.
I wander into the computer lab at UMass and see all of these teachers connecting and chatting and laughing at inside jokes and it brings me back to my Invitational Summer Institute with the Western Massachusetts Writing Project. My role now is technology support, but I remember that summer as clearly as if it were, well, this summer.
I was incredibly nervous about the four week program, even though I had an inkling of sorts of what to expect, given that my wife had already done the Summer Institute a few years before me. But I was a brand new teacher and these would be veterans. My biggest hope is that I could pilfer some ideas from them and maybe offer a thought or two.
The writing time was wonderful, and I used every minute. I wrote a collection of poems. I wrote an essay. I wrote a short novella that I turned into a musical play (that was later put on stage when it won a contest) about a little musical note that gets lost in a masterpiece.
And I learned for the first time what a blog was, and used it every single day. We all shared writing, made comments on workshop presentations, shared our research and found ways to use the technology to connect with each other. It was an eye-opening experience that moves me into technology in ways that I did not think possible at the time.
But I saw “a moment” and I pushed into it.
This summer, I am helping the Summer Institute folks learn about social networking (using a Ning site), Google Docs, and other technology that I hope will give them a glimpse into the moment right now and think about the potential for their classrooms.
But I am jealous because although I am part of the experience, I am an outsider to the strong connections being built among them through their long days of writing, sharing, and talking. I know what that feels like and I am grateful that I still have five or six people from my Summer Institute still as part of my personal network.
I am jealous, but I am grateful, too.

Peace (in networks),