Skip to main content


Showing posts from October, 2008

Thing 6

Why did you choose a particular photo? What is it about the photo that you found interesting?

My criteria was "fall" and "Michigan." At first I chose some copyrighted works (without noticing they were such) and uploaded some blank spots. So, I bounced over to the "creative commons" and found "The Great Pumpkin King" by sgs_1019. This wasn't my first choice, but since there remains about 1 hour of Hallowe'en 2008 I found this to be appropos. I like the texture and the rich orange found here. This doesn't necessarily make me think of Michigan, but it certainly captures an image of fall. Now I want to make some pumpkin pancakes.

Thing 5

RSS can be a difficult concept for some to grasp right away - what questions do you have? What didn't work or doesn't make sense? How might you use RSS in your personal or professional life? Find anything in your searching that you'd recommend to others?

I don't find the concept of RSS difficult, I merely had technical problems in trying to get the last method of subscription to work--I still haven't got that icon in the toolbar. So, I'm a D student on this one, I mastered two out of three. The advantage of using this facet is convenience. One E-Button pushed can bring you to your favorite blogs. I think I'd rather use the "favorites" button built into windows--you have a full-screen view, rather than the shrunken one from Bloglines. All in all, shortcuts are a good thing. Except in airplane construction.

"Into the Wild" and away from community

Having read Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild shortly after it appeared in paperback made me wonder how well the book would translate into a film. So I watched the movie last night with a positive report for you. The movie, while far from perfect, does aid in understanding Chris McCandless' foolish journey to his death. My comments, however, are more about McCandless than the movie or the book.

I sympathize with McCandless' urge to "find" himself in the wilderness, to lose the noise and baggage from his upbringing. That in itself is not a bad thing, one could argue it is a virtue of wilderness and a cogent reason for preserving such places. However, trying to understand your own identity and solving deep problems is best done in some form of community. Young Chris, much like Holden Caulfield, saw his life and his society as lacking authenticity and sought to avoid it and purge its influence by fleeing to the Alaskan wild. That is what killed him however. Had h…

Thing 4

It's easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of blogs out there - how do you handle information overload and how do you think RSS might help with that?

Information is next to useless without context and wisdom. We boast that this is the information age, but human beings are finite creatures, not computers, and an unending stream of information--urgent, titillating, personal, trivial, shocking, informative, and whatever other adjectives you can think of to apply--is not going to improve our lives at all; in fact, it probably leads to diminishment.

RSS might--and I stress, MIGHT--act as a filter giving a thumbnail summary for us to decide whether we want to read the information posted or not. Still, RSS will not train us to be critical thinkers nor wise stewards of our time, but it may aid in those necessities.

Fall is a slow polychromatic necrosis

Note: All photos taken at Lola Valley Park along the Upper Rouge River

A Risk: Blog publishing

OK regular readers, something for you. I just finished in the previous post talking about allowing creative writing students to use blogs to "publish" their work and I have previously posted a couple of essays (see Incarnational Theatre and Wish for Eden posts) and now I'll put up a story of mine. The first children's story I wrote ( I have another one for my daughter and I'm working on one for my son); I've sent this out to publishers a few times and the fact that I'm posting it here should tell you what its fate was. The risk, I suppose, is plagiarism--I can handle the comments that tell me the story blows--it doesn't because what would you know anyway. Here in the ether known as cyberspace people will have access to it and, who knows, may want to snip a taste for their own story about body parts. All right, enough blather--and if you happen to be a publisher of fine children's books, please, let's do lunch.

Now, A big I Am Not Hamlet w…

Thing 3

How might you use a blog with students? How might they respond to a blog assignment? What concerns about blogging with students do you have? How might you use a blog for other educational purposes (other than with students)?

I like and dislike the democracy of the web. I like the fact that nearly anyone (those with the means anyway) can publish music, poetry, or even run a business on the web. I hate the web for the very same reason--some of the foulest tripe, both morally and from a craft perspective find a residence on the web.

Blogs are the same way--they allow an avenue of writing previously only available to those with either lots of capital or a sympathetic editor from a publishing house or magazine. If I could employ blogs in my district I'd probably start with my creative writing class because then their writing has the possibility of being critiqued by someone other than me. Of course, there are probably more people out there who would write "Nice" (see orig…

Thing 2

I've operated this blog for about 1 1/3 years now. It came about because I used to send out some gigantic E-Mail at the beginning of every year listing my favorite reads, listens, and views from the previous year. That became so unwieldy to write so I thought I would keep up a blog to regularly comment on my choices as well as any other ridiculous thing that crossed my mind.
I haven't used this for any sort of classroom connection (other than occasionally mentioning to students that I have a blog) because sometimes I post a rant or two and I don't want to be screened by my district for off-hours comments. Not that I criticize my workplace or anything of that nature, but I have been known to drop an Anglo-Saxonism or two (though I strive to limit those).
Essentially, the blog has taken the place of my journal--though I occasionally write noodlings of a non-public nature in my journal.
I'm not sure how to make the connection of my blog (or anybody's fo…

Thing 1

(Note to my three regular readers (or is it two?) this post is part of a project I am involved in at Wayne RESA (sort of a consulting firm for school districts and teachers) concerning learning and incorporating electonic technology in the classroom. If it doesn't sound interesting skip this post).

Both David Warlick's A Day in the Life of Web 2.0 and the YouTube post of "Pay Attention" are, shall I say, enthusiatic about electronic/digital technology and its application in the classroom. And I can say--OK, I won't mind some bells and whistles in my classroom too. What troubles me, however, seems to be the uncritical acceptance of this technology in the classroom plastered with the Biblical fiat "And it was GOOD!"

I don't doubt that we can harness some of this tekhne-gnosis , literally knowledge of a skill, craft, art, or system, for our students' good. Conversely, I do almost all of my banking online and have done so for at least five years. …

The power of Praise

I taught a retread of a Creation stewardship class yesterday at my church for adults. The session went well, I thought. But the best part came at the end when three or four students complimented me on my teaching. Funny thing is, as a professional teacher I NEVER hear that. Sure, one could argue that some of my students (the ones that fail especially) would never say that, and I can accept that. What isn't acceptable is the lack of appreciation from students (it doesn't have to be every week, mind you) and especially from the administration. We get little generalized bits like "Oh, what you do is so important and we thank you so much," but how can I accept that as sincere when the administration has no idea what I'm doing in my classroom--except when there's a complaint, of course.
Sigh, anybody have a job opening that replaces gratitude with monetary renumeration?

Addendum: I should point out that over the years some of my students (teens) have been grat…

21 years later

Sometime in the late 1980s I started to watch Terry Gilliam's Brazil

It was either on VHS (the kids say "Huh?") or cable I don't remember which. I thought the trailer looked cool. For whatever reason, hormones, late-adolescent ennui, I soon lost interest (after 30 minutes maybe) and started making-out with my girlfriend, never to watch the progress of the dystopian North American story.

So, last night, after two decades--I watched the whole thing. It holds up very well, the story is interesting, the 40's style to the costume and the technology keeps it from dating itself. My only disappointment was it's Orwellian ending. Sure, it's dystopian, but I just wasn't prepared for the downer ending. I suppose my teenaged self would have thought it cool and authentic. My 39-year-old self wants some justice for the protagonist. There's too much injustice in the real world to find it where you least expect it in the celluloid world and be satisfied wit…