Monthly Archives: February 2007

FlashFace (aka the Literary or Historical Persona Creator)

flashface screenshot

My title makes it sound much more academic so use it in the lesson plan and flashface with your kids.

A fun way to get kids thinking about the characters in a novel or history. Send them to flashface and have them create their characters for use elsewhere (as icons for blogs). Bonus points for aligning them to the descriptions used in the work.

site found thanks to-
Ideas and Thoughts

Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia – Quotes for Education

I listened to Net@Nite today. They interviewed Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia and it was pretty interesting but had nothing to do with education. That did not stop me from applying some of these quotes directly to what we do.

“This idea of- it’s not really about the software, it’s about the people. It’s about helping people find resolutions to problems and being supportive and loving and at the same time being firm with people who are trying to disrupt things. That’s really what it’s all about.” – Jimmy Wales
“Ask anyone who’s every tried this. This is a very difficult balance to strike.”- Leo Laporte

Leo’s preaching to the choir here. That line is very hard to walk and it sounds an awful lot like good classroom management- but with voluntary students. I always wondered would my students stay if they didn’t have to. Did I make their experience that good? Sometimes I did. I know I also failed at times and that’s where the next quote came in-

“A long term project of learning, experimenting, you know trying things.” – Jimmy Wales

To me that’s teaching. A long term project of learning, experimenting and trying things. If you aren’t changing and experimenting and learning right along with your students something is wrong. Several of my disaster lessons led to my best teaching ideas. You can learn a lot from falling down.

“The most important thing is that it is fun. Just the fact that you can come in and meet other smart people who are interested in what you are interested in, get into to interesting dialogs and debates that are hopefully a little less contentious and flame-warish than most places on the Internet and really kind of seek the truth and I think people really enjoy that.” – Jimmy Wales

That’s the goal isn’t it? Imagine students grouped by interest, conversing and debating on topics they care about. Seeking truth and really enjoying it.

Trying to create that kind of community of truth seeking learners motivated by joy is what drives me to change our school.

-These quotes are based on my dictating ability so assume there are some mistakes. I am not a stenographer.

Creative Communication

I’m going to be co-teaching a class for our county’s administrators on creative communication. The idea is basically that email is boring and often ignored so spicing things up really helps for important communications. You can check out some of the work of my co-teacher, Jen Maddux, below (a few more of her movies to follow later).

A Moment of Zen

I’m watching the Grammys and was moved to tears by Ludacris and Mary J’s performance of Runaway Love. It was about the hard life for girls in the ghetto. There was so much truth in the lyrics. I see it in my classroom. Their performance was followed immediately by James Blunt singing You’re Beautiful. Blunt’s ballad about a girl he sees once and immediately falls in love with is pure romantic fantasy. I could see nothing but two very different worlds in these songs. Placed back to back, they flooded my head with the faces of my students. These two worlds collide in my classroom everyday. We sit on a fault line where some students take a week for vacationing while others take a week for fighting. The dynamic is both exhilarating and exhausting.

This week I was found by a former student. She is 25 and thinking about a life of teaching. She wanted to know the truth, so I told her about the planning. The days where I never see the sun. The inspirational speeches. The glimmering eyes. The students failing because of their homes–not their heads. The rigged-up, shower curtain projection screen. The conversations about which foreign language to take or what it means to be a real man. The first time they laugh at my stupid jokes. The way they change when they realize I’m not going anywhere, and I deeply care about them. The parents who don’t return calls. The days where I remember why I show up each day, followed by the days where I pine for a job in retail, or fast food (usually as the “fry guy”).

I wanted her to understand that educators have to be the most forgiving people in the world, because students need someone who will give them a fresh start each day. She needed to know that we are justice workers. Our job is to help these kids realize they have value in a world that sees them as a commodity. In the end, educators walk the line between “the haves” and “the have nots,” and their ability to maintain equality in the classroom and a love of learning are their most effective tools.

She asked if she could call back from time to time, so I must not have scared her away.

Happy Monday. Keep fighting the good fight.