Butcher’s Human Predator Fact Check

I passed on this Wikipedia list of people who mysteriously disappeared 1 on Twitter last night which led to the following reply from Luke Neff. "List of people who disappeared mysteriously" http://t.co/pKTIGesF53 via @twoodwar reminds me of http://t.co/R4mMhWUsz0 — Luke (@lukeneff) April 17, 2014 “Last year in the U.S. alone more than nine hundred thousand people were reported missing and not found… That’s out of three hundred million, total population. That breaks down to about one person in three hundred and twenty-five vanishing. Every year…. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but it’s almost the same loss ratio experienced by herd animals on the African savannah to large predators.” ? Jim Butcher, Dead Beat I actually read this novel at one point and I meant to see whether this was true (it’s a great writing prompt either way). I did’t know how many people go missing each year in the U.S.A. or what the predation rate is on herd animals on the African savannah. The first part seems pretty straightforward. I did a search for missing person statistics us site:.gov During 2013, 627,911 missing person records were entered into NCIC, a decrease of 5.1% from the 661,593 records entered in 2012. Missing Person records cleared or canceled during the same period totaled 630,990. Reasons for these removals include: a law enforcement agency […]

Twilight Zone Titles Poetry

This is the first #ds106 assignment I’ve done in a long while. The challenge is to write a poem using only the titles of Twilight Zone episodes. It’s an easy one for any English teacher to use as is or to adapt to whatever restricted set they want – chapter titles from a book, band names, Top 40 song titles, scientific names for animals etc. etc. I think more and more that a major part of English class ought to be encouraging students to play with language and then to figure out why they like what they like. Maybe that’s obvious. Thanks to Todd Conaway for the assignment (official assignment in the repository) and for the work getting the titles in one place. I also took his Word doc and put it in a Google Docs table to help me see more/most of the titles at once and because I dislike having to open programs on my computer these days. Mr. Denton On Doomsday The Fear The Fever The Last Flight The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street The Four Of Us Are Dying And When The Sky Was Opened I Shot An Arrow Into The Air The Last Flight The Purple Testament Dust Static The Silence


Wolverine Love Poems

I’ve been interested in using this Garfield Minus Garfield site for a while. Here are a few ways I might use it. Instant creative writing prompt- Write a love poem to a wolverine. Or write a love poem from the perspective of a wolverine. Or simply write a love poem using the word “wolverine” at least once1 The image matters. Having images like this always changed the quality and engagement I got from my students. And we have a vocabulary exercise, in this case, for the word consume. Depending on where the student is at, they could match words to provided comics, find their own comics matches etc. I’d probably have them find their own matching comic and create a sentence along the lines of “Though Jon consumed the socks, the meal did not quench the fiery passion in his heart.” If you feel like really making your students work, you might white out all the words and have them use the comic of your choice to explain something complicated or leave the words in and ask them to provide the context that will make it make sense. For instance- this comic re-worded could become . . . a look at King George III’s thoughts on the American colonies2. Part of the assignment would be explaining why your comic makes […]

RSS, DIY, Technology, RSS and Passion

Passive Aggressive Learning and Other Drivel

These things are less techy and more inspired by pop culture once again but I thought they were worth remembering. Scion Crest Generator – While the choices aren’t unlimited, this nice flash interface will help you make a lot of different crests. The real power would be in requiring logic for the various choices and in that way the restrictions almost work for you- less time in building and more time spent on why your choices make sense. You could do this with just about any character or historical figure. The really nice thing is the image sizes are really good- up to 2048×1536 so you could print them out and do other things with them or just use them as a starting point in Photoshop or some other image editor. For instance, I made the crest above for this blog. The wrenches on the left to represent the DIY ethic of much of the stuff I like. The circuit board patter on the right to represent the technology. Then the broadcasting icon represented RSS to me and the fire is for igniting a passion for learning. The wolf is because I like to bite people. I just liked the wolf, a little gritty and banged up from the real world. Corny, I know, but you get the idea. It’d […]

Google Zeitgeist as a Writing Prompt

So the folks over at Google Blogoscoped had a great idea. Use Google trends as a writing prompt. For instance, if the top queries are … 1. subaru impreza 2. priyanka chopra 3. build a bear … and so on … … then your narrative may go like this, to quote from Simon’s try: I went out and bought a brand new Subaru Impreza last week, which was very scary as I have only just passed my test. I took Priyanka Chopra, the Indian film star, with me to keep an eye on me and exert a calming influence as I was pretty nervous because the Impreza is wild beast of car. “Let’s go build a bear”, I shrieked as we weaved through traffic, “an actual live bear that will do our bidding”. “Good idea,” agreed Priyanka, “This bear could drive us around too, anything would (and so on) … Morphs pretty well into a fun writing prompt that uses subjects that are, by definition, things people are interested in. Ways to take it to the next level- write the zeitgeist as a character or historical figure use the words to take the pass the sentence game to the next level see who can make the longest sensible sentence with the fewest additional words (not listed in the trends list) […]

The Cat In The Hat Experiment- A Literary Remix

The Litlab: J. Robert Lennon: The Cat Text I have to say one thing here: it is not fun to be with me. I like books and things. Tame: that is I. I get no kicks, fly no kites, play no games. Hops and pot are not my things. If you are here, I want you to go away. So what should this dish, this fox want out of me? I sat and picked at the fish and looked at those hands, so white. J. Robert Lennon has created a whole alternate story using just words from The Cat In The Hat. This would be a great English lesson. You could remix other things as well- AP news articles, poems, song lyrics etc. It’d be fun to have students use each other’s work. Jill would remix Dre’s paper and they’d talk about the different choices they made. That type of thing. The creativity comes out as a result of the restrictions. from Kottke.org photo credit chinkychongka


Rap for English

I’ve been playing around with the idea of doing a blog for my middle school focusing on using rap lyrics to get at daily oral language and to build vocabulary. I think the potential is definitely there. I’m worried about two things. Can I come up with material consistently enough to make it worthwhile for the students? Secondly, can/should I use an appropriate portion from an inappropriate song? These are middle school students so it gets a little iffy and the county I’m in is pretty conservative. That being said they are having a Souljah Boy dance party at our school and played a clip from the song today on the intercom. So maybe I could pull this off. I’d love to use lyrics like the ones below from TI’s “You Don’t Know Me” You gone make me bring da chevy to a real slow creep My Partner hangin out the window, mouth fulla gold teeth When the guns start poppin, wonder when its gonna cease choppa hitchu on the side and create a slow leak We can end the speculation cuz today we gone see What’s the future of a sucka who be hatin on me i don’t care about the feds investigation on me I don’t care they at my shows and they waitin on me Ima keep […]

The Director’s Bureau Special Projects Idea Generator

So The Director’s Bureau Special Projects Idea Generator generates fairly random three word idea strings like the one above – Do-it-yourself levitating animal. This is one of those things that I’d love to use in the classroom because it’s so simple and fun. It’s also flexible in terms of how big or small you’d like it to be. It could kill 10 minutes or be part of a whole unit. This particular generator isn’t really fit for student use because it’ll throw in “erotic” and some other iffy stuff but the teacher could spin the wheel a few times and come up with a great phrase for each week. I’d probably screen grab it or make something visual for the word results- as the packaging does matter. It can then be use for a variety of things. It’d be pretty cool right off as a creative writing or journal prompt but where things would be neat would be in tweaking it to focus on what you’re covering at the time. For instance- Describe the do-it-yourself levitating animal kit using every word from this week’s vocabulary list Write an ad for the do-it-yourself levitating animal creation kit using the bandwagon technique Write two responses to seeing an ad for the do-it-yourself levitating animal kit. In the first one respond in the […]


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.

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 EEight.com. 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. http://www.flickr.com/photos/46555636@N00/398812150 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 […]