Sunday, October 31, 2010

Shakespeare Zombie Haiku for Halloween

The first one is by Dr. Chris Crowe, the second by Deon Youd, the rest are my own evil creations. Enjoy!

Zombie of Venice
skulks in shadows, hungry for a
juicy pound of flesh

Henry the Fifth speaks,
calling his zombies to arms.
No guts, no glory.

A brain! A brain! My
kingdom for a brain! Richard
revealed as zombie . . .

Macbeth moans, “Is this
a brain I see before me?
Come, let me eat thee!”

“What’s in a brain?” Come 
hither, sweetest Romeo,
and let me find out.

“Alas, poor Yorick!
I ate him, a fellow of
infinite brain mass.”

Come not between King
Lear and a brain, while so young 
and yet so tender. 

Saturday, October 30, 2010


I am always on the lookout for games that I can add to my classroom. My criteria is that they have to involve writing and interaction, support 20 to 30 students playing at once, and take about 20 minutes - the amount of time we usually have when we have an occasional party day (Halloween, the half day before Christmas and the last day of school). It's very hard to find a game that a whole classroom can participate in and have fun with.

We had recently played Scribblish with our married kids, and I thought that it might be a fun game to try in the classroom. Working in groups of 6-8 students, students each write a phrase, then the next person draws the phrase, then the next person describes the drawing, etc., until you have 4 phrases and 3 drawings. Like any telephone game (each person only sees what the person before them drew/wrote) the end result is miles away from the beginning and very entertaining to boot. There is a timer element involved, so the action is fast and furious. I obviously didn't have enough purple rollers to go around, so we used long strips of paper (11x14 cut into 4 strips) that we folded over.

We tried this game at the end of class yesterday (the first 1/2 hour was spent sharing Zombie Haiku and 55 Fiction). It went over great. Add in a little homemade root beer to the mix, and all my students were saying it was the best party ever!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Reading and Writing Across the Curriculum

There is a very interesting article in today's NY Times about a huge school with a large number of free and reduced lunch students that has dramatically improved it's test scores by focusing on teaching reading and writing (Their terminology is "reading, writing, speaking, and reasoning.") in every class -- including PE and math.

It's interesting that instead of teaching to the test, they got the best results by doing what they call "getting back to basics."
"The committee put together a rubric to help teachers understand what good writing looks like, and began devoting faculty meetings to teaching department heads how to use it. The school’s 300 teachers were then trained in small groups.

Writing exercises took many forms, but encouraged students to think methodically. A science teacher, for example, had her students write out, step by step, how to make a sandwich, starting with opening the cupboard to fetch the peanut butter, through washing the knife once the sandwich was made. Other writing exercises, of course, were much more sophisticated."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Animoto - Civil Disobedience

Okay, this is my second try at Animoto. I am going to use this as part of my unit on American Transcendentalism - Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman. This is obviously what I'm going to use to introduce Thoreau.

In the past I've just had the kids listen to the song while I showed the lyrics. I'm hoping that the combination of selected lyrics, pictures, and quotes in the movie with the music will make it a more meaningful experience.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Creating my own Mentor Text

Drawing on the superb example of Penny Kittle, here is an alternate point of view piece. (This is the story of my son's piñata breaking injury episode from the point of view of the piñata.)

The Short, Brief Life of a Cub Scout Piñata
(alternate point of view)

by Denée Tyler

My life began simply enough as a pile of paper pulp in a factory somewhere in Mexico. One day the craftsman took the pulp, wet it down, formed it around a mold, covered it with crepe paper, and voila, I came into being, a small blue boy with a strange-looking blue cap and a garish smile. I hung with several hundred of my brothers as I dried and contemplated my purpose in life.

Before I was able to complete my meditations, I was abruptly packed into a close, dark box with others of my kind. There wasn’t enough room to speak and scarcely air to breathe, and we really thought that this was the end.

Just when I had given up all hope, the box was opened, and several pimply young men wearing shirts that said “Macey’s Groceries” pulled all of us out and hung us crookedly from a flimsy string. I had to endure the staring, pointing, and jeering of many until a large, jovial man abruptly pulled me down from my precarious perch and said, “This would be perfect for our Blue and Gold Banquet.” Then, to complete the insult, he summarily stuffed me with tootsie rolls. Of all the candy in the world . . .

The man took me to a place called a “cultural hall.” This was obviously a cruel misuse of the name, as there was no culture in sight. Instead, a rope was tied around my neck, the rope was thrown over a basketball standard, and I was raised and lowered over a group of rather unscrupulous looking eight-, nine-, ten-, and eleven-year-olds in blindfolds. I could only continue to smile my vapid, painted-on smile as these same children proceeded to hit me all about the head and body with a four-foot length of PVC pipe. Oh, the cruelty of man to man!

I endured their blows for at least a half an hour while the parents and leaders of these little heathen stood around the circle and cheered them on. Despite the fact that I was only made of paper, I held firm and determined not to let them break me. Even as a piece of my foot and a part of my sweet, sugary innards fell, I remained strong.

Unfortunately, once the small torturers lost interest, the adults around the circle took over. A brawny man, who professed to be the parent of one of the yapping children, declared that he would finish me off. He took hold of the PVC pipe and gave a mighty swing.

I could feel the force of the blow coming, and although I tried to brace myself, my strength was spent at last. I could only stare and smile in amazement as my neck separated from my head, and my blue-clad body dropped on the savage crowd below. They fell on my sad remains like a flock of ravening vultures, snarling and grabbing with abandon and extreme bad manners.

But what was this? Could it be? As I gasped out my last, I felt the glory of sweet revenge. As the deathblow was struck, the PVC object of my pain broke in two, and the severed end flew forth like the arrow of justice and took out two of my tormentors. One was merely grazed, but the other, one Caleb Tyler, received the force of the pipe full on in the middle of his forehead, causing a huge ruckus, raising an enormous goose egg, and resulting in a trip to the emergency room. And thus, my glorious end is a lesson to all who would meddle with . . . Cub Scout piñatas!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Secondary Language Arts Textbook Evaluation

I've been asked to serve on the Secondary Language Arts Textbook Evaluation board for the next session. I will be up in Salt Lake on October 19th and possibly 20th doing this. I'm hoping it will be a good networking opportunity for me, and since it's something that I've never done before--I'm also hoping that it will be fun and educational at the same time. Has anyone ever done this before? What can I expect from the experience?