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…

 

Sun(Fun)day Night – U.S. Presidential Candidates as Shakespeare Characters

Happy May! I hope that it has been a fun day for you on this Sunday.

Just a quick post tonight as I still have much to do before bedtime.

With the recent celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death  , I thought it would be fun to share this clever article observing a connection between each of the U.S. presidential candidates (current and withdrawn) and familiar characters from Shakespeare’s great works.

I won’t spoil the fun for you by listing any of the connections here. I will say that discovering which character Donald Trump connects to is well worth the read!

Have a great week!

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.

 

Friday FunPost: Great Music Genres Video and A Clever Book on Music

It’s been quite a few weeks since a true Friday FunPost. Lent is over, I’m not on break and I found something quite appropriate for this feature.

Spend a few minutes (less than 6 actually), enjoying this creative and educational medley by a young band from Europe:

Not only am I impressed by the precision in cutting from one genre to the next, the costumes are pretty awesome. And I learned about a few genres which haven’t (yet?) caught on in the U.S.

I’ve been thinking about musical genres lately as I discovered a really clever book which seeks to explode the whole concept. The thesis in Every Song Ever: Twenty Ways to Listen in an Age of Musical Plenty by Ben Ratliff invites the reader to move beyond genres which are based more on commercial categorization rather than structural similarities from piece to piece.

In a new era where most any listener can easily access almost any song ever recorded, Ratliff proposes a new methodology for creating digital playlists. He presents and discusses twenty playlists with themes related to the underlying elements of the music rather than its often arbitrary “type.” Some of these themes are “Slowness,” “Virtuosity” and “Density.”

I’ve only read the first chapter on “repetition” entitled “Let Me Concentrate!” After defining this concept, the author analyzes a diverse set of musical pieces which illustrate it in a wide variety of ways. I really like how he uses thought-provoking metaphors which stretch my understanding and subsequent appreciation of works with which I was unfamiliar.

For example, he uses a piece called “Four Organs” composed and performed by Steve Reich in 1970. On page 20, Ratliff writes:

This aspect of “Four Organs” – its “repetition” – is like playing a peekaboo game with a child. You’re going to do it over and over: that’s the repetition. But you’ve got to keep changing the way you do it, otherwise he’ll expect it and will not be surprised. And at some point in the game – it doesn’t take very long to get there – you and the child understand each other; you know each other’s reaction time, range of facial expressions, sense of humor, degree of patience.

After reading this description, I found the piece within my Apple Music subscription. I listened to it for a couple of minutes before I decided the repetition annoyed and bothered me, so I turned it off. While I won’t likely listen to the piece again, I am grateful to have been directed toward it as an example of an important element of musical form.

And I’m particularly grateful that Ratliff mentions the featured pieces twice in each chapter – in the text and in a handy list (in order of mention) from which a digital playlist can quickly be created. I look forward to more reading and listening and learning via this book.

Wednesday FunLink – The Best Drawings From the “Baltimore Catechism”

As I was Google searching images for my daily post on Twitter at #amcathalm, I stumbled across a great link. I was Tweeting about the “Baltimore Catechism” and how it was today in 1885 that it received an imprimatur.

While I’ve been feeling old lately (I was the age of my Sophomores the last time a Catholic University won the NCAA D. 1 Men’s Championship back in 1985), the “Baltimore Catechism” was not part of my upbringing in the heady, post-Vatican II Catholicism of the 1970’s and 1980’s. A reading of its text today gives an important window into the religious education the generation of Catholics before me received in their parishes and parochial schools.

The website I stumbled across is Church Pop  with the tag line: “Make holy all the things!” I only perused it for a few minutes before posting this, but it seems to be mainly (completely?) Catholic focused. The theme looks to be lists which attest to be accurate, clever, funny, historical and perhaps even instructional.

Specifically, I landed on the page entitled “22 Classic Drawings From the Baltimore Catechism” . It’s worth visiting to see the entire collection. In lieu of that, here’s my favorite ones:

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Not clear as to how one precludes the other one…

04-06-16-Grace Circulation

Does it work the same way with forced-air heating or is it only for radiated heat?

04-06-16-Good and Bad

Quite an involved juxtaposition of symbols here.

04-06-16-Convent

Gosh – those rebellious kids today!

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If all you learn from this post is “Dead People Cannot Eat,” then I consider my work here a success.

Friday FaithPost (Part 2): Psalm 35 and Colbert’s Journey

Tuesday morning, as I was unloading the dishwasher at 5:30 am, I discovered a clip from Colbert’s show the night before. Apparently starting a Leap Day tradition (which won’t have a “2nd Quadrennial” version until February 29, 2020), Colbert’s guest, director Spike Jonze shot a moving opening segment for the show. Before you view it below, read these verses from Psalm 35:

But at my stumbling they gathered in glee,

they gathered together against me;

ruffians whom I did not know

tore at me without ceasing;

they impiously mocked more and more,

gnashing at me with their teeth…

Do not let my treacherous enemies rejoice over me,

or those who hate me without cause wink the eye.

You have seen, O LORD; do not be silent!

O LORD, do not be far from me!

 

Here’s the video. I particularly like the re-imagined version of the show’s theme.

Do you see the “ruffians?” How about the God-figure who frees him and leads him to paradise?

Sun(Fun)day Night – A Mind-blowing Simpsons Search Engine

It’s Sunday night and I remember it well…1989… 27 years ago…I’m a sophomore at the University of San Francisco…8:59 pm on a Sunday…I bolt up from the cruddy couch in the dorm TV lounge and head for the exit…”The Simpsons,” in it’s first season, has just ended…I enter the flow of fellow students heading to the near-by, on-campus St. Ignatius Church…So many of us enter, post-Simpsons, that they’ve taken to delaying the start of the 9:00 pm mass until about 9:10 as the pews are mostly empty at 9 and much fuller by 9:10 — all due to “The Simpsons”

If you’re a fan of this show, you MUST check out this search engine I learned about from io9. It’s called the Frinkiac and the memes you can easily create (see above) are a blast!

Have fun wasting time and busting up as you do it….

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Sun(fun) Night – Farewell Teddy & Meet Fr. Andrew Trapp and His Guinea Pigs

I learned about this story during last summer, but I’ve not gotten around to writing about it until now. I’m choosing to share it tonight because guinea pigs are on my mind.

First, the sad news. Prior to this afternoon, we had two guinea pigs, Jack Black (on the right) and Teddy (left):

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Teddy had been ailing for a while with weight-loss. Last Monday, the vet ran x-rays and found a large, untreatable bladder stone. As he was in noticeable pain from it, the vet gave us pain medicine for him as all we could do for him was keep him comfortable until his condition worsened.

During the week, he continued to lose weight. Today, he was in even greater pain and was making horrible “squawking” sounds. We made the agonizing decision to take Teddy back to the vet to be euthanized.

I had a few moments to hold him, take photos and then to say goodbye.

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I feel quite sad about Teddy’s departure as he was a good friend to the family and his “brother” Jack. We had these pigs for more than five years and they were great companions during some tough times. We’re going to watch Jack to see if he’d benefit from getting a new friend or if he’ll be okay alone. Teddy, I’ll miss you…

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The good news is that there are plenty of cute guinea pig photos and videos on the internet. Perhaps none is as unusual and funny as this one from the saintfactory channel on YouTube:

After I received this video from our great hay supplier: Small Pet Select, I did some exploring. Turns out that the owner of these guinea pigs and video producer is a young, Catholic priest. His website/blog is Saint Factory: God Wants to Make You a Saint. According to the site, Fr. Andrew was ordained in 2007 to the Diocese of Charleston, S.C. He sounds like the kind of priest and person I’d like to meet – not only because he loves his pigs (named Carmy & Claire after Carmelite and Poor Clare habit colors), but just because.

Before I sign off for the night, here’s another one of his hilarious videos:

Okay, okay…one more ridiculously cute piggy video:

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.

 

Friday FunLink – James Taylor & Stephen Colbert Update “Fire & Rain”

Stephen Colbert has been busy singing with his guests and posting videos of it. A couple of nights ago, he had the legendary James Taylor on The Late Show.

They made this funny bit together. The premise is that when Taylor wrote “Fire and Rain” back in 1970 all he knew was, well fire and rain. Today, he knows about much, much more (including calzones) and thus his lyrics have changed. Even if you’re not a fan of Tay-Tay (as Colbert calls him), it’s worth a watch for the sheer randomness (and clever rhyme scheme) of their song.

Happy Friday!