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)

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. Thanks, Tom

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 […]

Bad Fortune, Good Writing Prompt

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.

Personal Google Maps

Google now lets you create online annotated maps with amazingly simple tools. You can add info windows (with html), plot lines and add polygons. It really is the easiest thing imagineable. Go there and try it. This example map has absolutely no point. I just made it on the fly to prove to myself how easy this is. Do you know how long this would have taken to do in the “old” days (earlier this year or yesterday really)? Things really are moving fast. I am so happy, it’s almost sad. via O’Reilly Radar


Density of Gas

Want a way to explain density to your students? This Google video is worth a thousand words and about four thousand powerpoints. Really wild plus you get to say sulphur hexafluoride which is kind of fun. link via Digg

Rollercoasters, Personal Pies and Data

U.S. Housing Prices The first example is an animated roller coaster ride of US home costs adjusted for inflation. It’s a pretty dramatic and entertaining way to look at the data (link from Digg). It makes a graph “real” in a way that I’ve never really seen before. Personal Pies Personal Pies (great title) is even better because it allows your students a lot of flexibility in the product they create and the data couldn’t be any more relevant to them. He’s created pie charts for his life- everything from portion of life with beard to number of states he’s visited (there is one non-school safe “pie” so be warned). This is a perfect project for students dealing with pie charts and percentages. (from Anil Dash) I think these examples are important because they prove that data (or anything else for that matter) doesn’t have to be boring or presented in boring ways. I try to think about two things when creating project/presentation or anything else- Is this going to fun and original? Is this personally relevant to my students? I guess both those really focus on engagement. It always amazes me how little attention the difference between engagement and silent acquiescence gets.