Monthly Archives: April 2007


Students Explore Poetry Through Hyperlinks


I was trying to find a new way to make poetry more engaging last month. As I searched for intersections between poetry and technology, I found the genre of poetry that, along with innovative web comics, inspired this experiment. I created a website with a couple poems peppered with hyperlinks. The links point to clues both informative and intriguing. My hope was make exploring a poem more of an adventure than a chore. It seemed to be successful. My students were able to articulate the concepts and themes of the poems. The discussion was more informed and, therefore, more interesting.

“My Maps” from Google (an actual example)

My Google Maps Example

I figured after being so gushy about the My Maps option from Google I ought to make a good example.

So here is a good start on a territorial acquisition map of the United States of America. I did it free hand based on a number of different maps I found on wikipedia and a few other places- so it’s not perfect and it still needs some work but I think it shows what you can do with little effort. Yes, I promise the writing will improve :).

The map took about 45 minutes or so to make. Most of that time was spent looking at various maps. I also increased my speed after I figured out I could move points in polygons after I finished rather than having to start all over.

I also made a quick screencast covering the basics of the My Maps tools.

Integration Video – It’s ok to be scared

Since the embed isn’t working here’s the link. Thanks for responding, not sure this video was worth this much effort but what’s the Internet for if not wasting time. :)

An attempt at a semi-amusing video that Jim and I made earlier this year. It focuses on the fact that integration is difficult and can be overwhelming but we’re lucky enough to have people here to help (although talking to me can be a hardship in and of itself).

The embed from teachertube doesn’t seem to be showing up for me. I’m not sure why. If you’re wandering by please let me know if you can see the video in the post.


Onomatopoeia- A Hook

The following post is my attempt to clarify how I go about conceiving and constructing lessons. If you’d just like the source files and could care less how I think (which I imagine is the majority), they are linked at the bottom of the page.

This is how I ended up with this fairly interesting introduction to onomatopoeia. Yesterday, I found a tutorial on how to make cartoon style lettering for comics using Photoshop at It looked like fun and I figured since Jim was going to be hitting poetry pretty soon, and I had some time during Spring Break to try things, I’d give it a shot. I think I found it using StumbleUpon which is a great site that lets you find some really odd things and that in turn tends to inspire me to make some interesting lesson. I try to keep the question “Can I use this to teach something?” in the back of my head at all times.

The first thing I did was brainstorm all the onomatopoeia words I could think of. The main one that kept coming to mind was crash and that led to the association with crash course- finally! an excuse to use the crash sound in a presentation. With that title, “A Crash Course in Onomatopoeia” in mind I set out to make my introductory material.

When I became brainlocked, I googled “list of onomatopoeia” and found this site which has a decent list.
tiger roar

So now that I had some good fun keywords in my head, I went over to FlickrCC to see what I could find. Nothing fancy here, I just started typing in the keywords and browsing the photos that came up. I do a lot of image searching initially. Images are key. I tend to open a bunch in tabs, while I keep browsing and then go back and cull the results. I usually download 10 or 20 more images than I end up using.

So, I end up putting in all my pictures and doing the photoshop trick to make comic book style lettering for all the onomatopoeia but it’s not working as a whole. The pictures are neat and the lettering is cool but it’s not there. I realize I have no story, no unifying thread. So I went back and made a narrative that involved all the onomatopoeia and worked in the images fairly well (and the vocabulary is pretty decent as well). It’s a deliberately odd story (view the notes) that involves shorn dreadlocks, tigers, vengeance and narcolepsy. There’s some decent vocabulary in it and it uses alliteration and irony to add some other things to talk about. Use it or create your own.

One of the projects I’d think about having kids do is create three different images with text that represents onomatopoeia (or other poetic devices like personification) and then I’d create a master folder where all the images would go and the students would have to draw out 7 or so images and create three specific types of poems or stories using the image/onomatopoeia combinations.

I wrote this in an attempt to figure out, for myself, how I come up with ideas for interesting lessons. If you’ve made it this far, I salute you.

If you want the file it’s here in Powerpoint and here in Keynote II.

Bad Fortune, Good Writing Prompt

bad cookie fortune

Bad Cookie, a fun site that gives fortune cookie fortunes. It makes a great opening line for a story or set the fortune as the character’s destiny and build the story around making the fortune accurate. It both makes writing the story more difficult and easier. More difficult in that the story now has constraints but it also gives you a starting point which helps defeat that “I don’t know what to write” feeling.

You could also compose a haiku based on the fortune, make it a line in a limerick or translate it into the voice of various characters you’re reading or from the media.