Post #302 – Where We’ve Been

In case you’ve not noticed, it has been a while since I last posted. Forget March Madness as it was May Madness this year! There was much to do to wrap up the school year and to prepare for Summer Gym 2016 — starting Tuesday!

As I resolve to post more frequently this summer and beyond, I’d like to take a moment to share links to ten of my favorite posts from the last year and a half (and 301 entries).

The primary focus of this blog is to share tips and tech which support learning. Here’s a few of my favorite posts specifically about educational technology:

Lots O’Links on the Future of Tech

Use Flubaroo to Auto Grade and Report Student Assessment

Apps You Should Know: Ten Ambient Sound Makers and Other Meditation Aids

8 Little Known Video Resources Popular With Teachers

70 Practical Things Teachers Should Know

So those are the serious ones. But we all know that teachers need levity too. So here’s my five favorite fun ones:

50 Small Things to Make Up a Perfect Day…

Friday FunLink: Beautiful, Fantasy GIF’s

18 Country’s Flags Made From Their Most Famous Foods

Snakes? No…A Turkey on a Plane

A Mind Blowing Simpsons Search Engine

Enjoy! I’ll be back again soon with some new posts…

 

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Friday FunLink – “On This Day” Podcast

Happy Friday! I hope your day is as bright and warming as mine is here in Central Ohio.

I’ve written a number of times about how much I enjoy listening to podcasts. And I’ve shared a number of ones that I particularly enjoy.

I’m walking at least 13,000 steps a day for health and enjoyment and a good podcast or two to stream on my smartphone makes all the difference. As I mentioned previously, I really, really, REALLY like streaming via Pocket Cast on my Android device. I paid a few bucks for it, but it has been well worth it!

The podcast I recently found that I listen to daily is “On This Day.” Each day of the week, Dave Schultz posts a 10 minute or so look at the major historical events which happened on this day. The podcast is no frills – respectable production, decent music and reliable posting. So far, I’ve heard only Dave – no dramatic involvement by others.

And this is fine, because Dave can certainly pick interesting, relevant and clever events to highlight each day. He’s an engaging storyteller who shares details and an occasional audio clip to supplement the historical stories of the day. For example, on April 4th, as he told of the final hours of MLK, he played tape of a sermon Dr. King preached about a year before. In this clip, which I’d not heard before, King speaks of how he hoped he’d be memorialized. This sermon has historical relevance as it was played at MLK’s funeral in early April of 1968.

While I enjoy this podcast on my own, I could easily see how a middle or high school history teacher might assign his or her students to listen to it. All of the content that I’ve heard (since I started listening a few weeks ago) is appropriate for teens and the subject matter seems non-controversial.

Enjoy the weekend and this day on which Jackie Robinson became the first African-American Major League Baseball player.

 

Sun(Fun)Day Night Post – Feel-Good Music by The Hunts

As I end a full and short (by an hour) weekend, I am feeling grateful for Spotify. This isn’t an add for the streaming music service, but rather an acknowledgement of how much it has expanded both my ability to enjoy music and especially to discover singer and bands who make music I like to listen to as much as I can.

Flannel Graph was the band I wrote about recently – particularly their song “Apple Pie” which I find both catchy and moving. Another great “indie” song which has been streaming on my devices and in my head is this one:

In addition to the quirky and playful music, I like the lyrics as well:

I could see,
I could see your heart, through your eyes
On that night from the balcony
How could we ever
Make this leap?

You and I,
Caught up in wind like we were parachutes
Oh how we’d fly until we hit the ground
How could we ever
Make this leap?

We were young,
I used my paper telescope,
To show you the stars and then win your heart
How could we ever
Make believe?

I can see, I can see, I can see a sunrise
Call me out from the dark, cause I’m broken inside
I can see, I can see, I can see a sunrise
Call me out from the dark, cause I’m broken inside

Up above the static
Up above the racket
I hear your voice calling me out of the darkness
Up above the static
Up above the racket
I hear your voice calling me out of the darkness

Caught up like parachutes, Caught up like parachutes
Oh how we’d fly
Caught up like parachutes, Caught up like parachutes
Oh how we’d fly!

You called me out from the dark, and brought me into the light,
You called me out from the dark, and brought me into the light,
You called me out from the dark, and brought me into the light,

It clearly fits into the category of popular “God Songs” in which the “you” could possibly be God. Seems to work here, especially with “you called me out from the dark, and brought me into the light.”

I’ve come to appreciate this band, The Hunts even more after I Googled them tonight and discovered they are all family – five brothers and two sisters – ranging in age from 16 to 24. Their official bio notes this about them:

While getting seven strong-minded brothers and sisters to agree on every last note and lyric can sometimes be chaotic, The Hunts note that the synergy born from that chaos is what makes the band so strong. “I like to look at our hectic way of writing as actually really helpful to us as songwriters,” says Josh. “Each one of us is a filter, and after going through all seven of those filters, each song is so much better than it could ever be if we each just wrote on our own.” Now heading out on tour in support of Life Was Simple, The Hunts are thrilled to harmonize for a bigger audience than ever before. “One of our favorite things is for all seven of us to sing together at once, and I think people really like to see the special camaraderie that comes from brothers and sisters creating something together,” says Jessi. “Growing up, we didn’t really have much,” adds Jenni. “But we did have music, and that was the thing that always brought us together. I can’t think of anything better than growing that relationship even deeper, through making more music that comes right from our hearts.”

And, for even more listening enjoyment on this not-yet-Spring Sunday evening, check out the strings in this song by them:

 

 

50 Small Things to Make a Perfect Day w/#51- Use Interesting Weather Apps

What makes a perfect day for an educator like me (and you too?) – A SNOW DAY (sort of)!

Well, I went to bed last night suspecting the possibility and woke up at 5:30 am confirming it. Lately though, here in Central Ohio, we’ve had more “calamity days” the past couple of school years due to sub-zero temps with wind chill rather than because of the more traditional – ice/snow covering the streets in the early morning.

On a day such as this, I’d much rather be either creative or lazy rather than productive. In other words, I’d rather write or read instead of grade (the 50+ freshman mid-term essays from before Christmas Break). So, I’m going to create a few posts here and also over at my personal blog too. And I have until Tuesday of next week to get those essays graded!

What makes your perfect day? One thing high on my list is echoed in this great list from Lifehack at #11 – “Take a walk in nature.” I’m hoping to do this today – so that I can meet my Fitbit goal of 10,000 steps for today. But, my WeatherUnderground iPad app tells me that it’s currently 15 degrees, but it feels like 7 degrees. Ugh – I may have to go for a walk indoors at a nearby mall instead.

BTW: Now that it may or may not feel like winter in your neck of the woods, you might want to update your weather apps. In addition to the aforementioned WeatherUnderground app, I’ve also begun enjoying on my Android phone – 1Weather (which has great widgets with it), Weather Timeline and the social-media inspired Sunnycomb 

Oh yeah, here’s the list from Lifehack:

1. Once you wake up, just stay in bed for a couple of minutes and relax.

2. Always have a book with you, we never know when boredom might decide to appear.

3. Set mood playlists on your device of choice.

4. Close your eyes and breathe deeply.

5. Smile to a stranger and see what happens!

6. Have a quick fresh shower first thing in the morning.

7. Show your love to someone else.

8. Before you go to bed, say thanks for everything you have and don’t have.

9. Connect to yourself, by using a journal: write, draw, make collages, let your mind wander.

10. On your nightstand, put something that makes you smile.

11. Take a walk in nature.

12. Do yoga.

13. Make a to-do list to help you achieve your main goal for the day. And stick to it.

14. Eat healthily and accordingly to your own taste.

15. Take an hour and do as you please.

16. Write 3 good things that happened to you and what you can do to see it happen again.

17. Put some fresh flowers in the room you spend time in the most.

18. Take a long and warm shower before going to bed.

19. Get out of the house and explore your neighborhood.

20. Sleep naked to feel sexier.

21. Boost your confidence by engaging in your favorite hobby.

22. Act crazy, put the music on loud and start dancing like there’s no tomorrow.

23. Take a 30 minute nap after lunch; as an alternative, engage in a different relaxing activity.

24. Giggle with your friends– make time for them in your day.

25. Read an inspiring quote and incorporate it into your day.

26. Declutter you life by asking “Do I really need this? Why?”.

27. Be kind anytime you can and don’t expect anything back.

28. Meditate and write down everything you’ve found out.

29. Learn something new, even if it’s just a different way of doing stuff.

30. Have some sweat and exercise. Do it mindfully by choosing an activity you enjoy.

31. Sleep a bit more if you feel tired or you’re in the middle of a situation that you can’t solve.

32. Smile. Smile. Smile. And smile some more.

33. Walk barefoot.

34. Experience flow by working at something you’re passionate about.

35. Make your surroundings a little bit better: declutter, reuse and recycle.

36. Plan a trip, even if you can’t travel right now.

37. Be aware of your emotions, but don’t control them: understand them.

38. Remember your accomplishments every time you feel like a failure.

39. Lower your expectations, little by little — most of them are unrealistic.

40. Be offline for as long as you can.

41. Enjoy the now.

42. Challenge yourself!

43. Don’t worry about your problems, but work toward a solution.

44. See everything as an opportunity to learn and grow.

45. Forgive yourself and forgive others.

46. Don’t quit: make baby steps.

47. Do your best.

48. Slow down.

49. Put everything you are into everything you do.

50. Follow your heart.

Sun(Fun)day Early Morning – Vending Machines for Short Stories

Although it’s not actually Sunday early morning yet, I have a few interesting items I hope to post on this pre-Post-Holiday Return Day. I figure we all need a bit of extra levity as we complete everything we planned to do over the long weekend.

How did you do with your Thanksgiving Reading? I resumed reading a novel (which I started a while ago) – The Bone Clocks – which was one of the top fiction picks of 2014. We’ll see how I do staying with it over the packed next three weeks before mid-terms and then Christmas Break.

I also started reading a short story collection by one of my favorite fantasy authors – Jeff Vandermeer – who wrote the mind-bogglingly singular and creepy Southern Reach trilogy. For obvious reasons, I find that reading a 15 to 20 minute short story is more manageable during my busy days and evenings.

What about reading a one, three, or five minute short story? And how about one that I could quickly print out as I prepared for a daily commute? What if it came out of a vending style machine?

Hand it to the French for creating an actual device to do all of this. Open Culture brought this to my attention and you can learn more about it via this short clip:

Interested in some of the details about how they pull this off? Open Culture tells us:

The Short Édition vending machines, currently only available in eight locations in Grenoble, France, draw from a database of 600 stories chosen by the community atShort Édition’s website, which counts 1,100 authors as members. Presumably, all these stories are in French.

While new, the machines have gathered enough media attention to attract inquiries from Italy and the United States. So look out, you might find one in your area soon.

As the title of the Open Culture post observes – it’s far better to feed your mind with short fiction than your body with empty junk food.

Sun(Fun)day Noon – Congrats to Hawks & Supercut of Motivational Coaches from Movies

It’s early on this Sunday, but I have a few fun posts in mind for today. So, I thought I’d get an early start (and I’m not quite ready to settle in to my grading/planning for the day).

Congrats and kudos to the @hartleyfootball team for winning last night and making it to the semi-finals for their division in the state of Ohio.

Hawks Football

Coach Birchfield is exceptionally skilled at motivating his players, students and colleagues. But just in case he needs some inspiration from legendary movie coaches, here’s a great supercut of all-stars:

In case you’d like some more movie coach fun, check out the results of this recent “tournament” determining which coach is the most motivational of all time.

 

Happy 1 Year for Us! – Birthday Wishes from Stephen Colbert

It’s hard to believe it’s one year ago today that we launched this blog! During those 365 days, it has grown to nearly 215 posts and hopefully educated, entertained, and inspired our readers.

One thing you’ve likely learned is that I’m a big fan of Stephen Colbert. A week or so ago, he offered a birthday song and video to his awesome band-leader Jon Bautiste. And it is a birthday song for almost everyone as it is customized at a special YouTube channel. Here’s the generic one (in case the person of your birthday wishes is not represented in their extensive playlist of videos):

In case you’re wondering why I chose the name above – my wife (Erin) celebrates her birthday on Monday. If she reads this, I guess I now can’t surprise her with it!

Friday FunLink – Images: Stars and Star Wars

It’s Friday again and most exciting event of the week was the release of the full Star Wars VII trailer:

As of this posting, it has only 38,331,374 views. And I’ve contributed at least ten of those!

Less noticed this week was the release of the biggest, widest, largest high-res photo of the universe ever taken. One of the 268 combined sections:

Star Image

The special on-line site to scroll through an interactive version of the full image can be found HERE.

Soon after I posted the Sun(Fun)day link on the new Star Wars poster, I discovered a great companion site. Here you can “watch Star Wars evolve through its spectacular history of posters” It’s worth a look. Aside from the original teaser poster (above) here’s a few of my favorites:

Star Wars Class - 9

Hey – I have a T-shirt with this on it!

Star Wars Class - 8

Ahh…so gloriously low tech. And check out those action figures!

Star Wars Classic - 5

I’ve always thought this was the most dramatic and gripping of the main three posters. And only 55 days until Star Wars VII hits the theaters!

 

 

 

Friday FunLink – Beautiful, Fantasy GIF’s

Although this is a somber date for remembrance, I thought it would be a good day to bring back the semi-frequent Friday FunLink.  I believe faith leads us to bring light where there is darkness. Therefore, levity is appropriate here today too.  Plus, I found a link with cool images which I wanted to post sooner rather than later.

I’m not one to seek out GIF’s to post on this blog or other social media.  Yet, this site has such lovely, beautiful images which are truly enhanced by the magic which makes GIF’s come to life.

Along with the one above, here’s my favorite:

Fantasy GIFs 2

To fully appreciate this, you need to see the GIF animated version.

 

 

5 Best Times to Use Technology in Class

Before posting a list of links to many ed tech tools, I share this post as a refresher on the instructional opportunities which are enhanced via the use of technology.

This list comes from a blogger at MiddleWeb:

Technology is the right tool when:

  1. It helps students visualize concepts
  2. It allows students to be creative, innovative and personalize their work
  3. It makes work easier for students (and often teachers)
  4. It promotes collaboration, provides students with a larger audience for their work, or connects them to peers or experts in a new way
  5. It enables more students to participate, better engages them, and makes learning FUN