Monthly Archives: December 2008

Which cereal did you eat?

Drawn has plunged me into childhood nostalgia by compiling an archive of cereal boxes. There are 100 of them on this site. I don’t think we had a lot of these in Australia.

cereal

There’s something smile-worthy about the cheery, colourful graphics of cereals past. Even though I don’t recognise many of these, and despite the fact that most of these were forbidden, the happy times of simpler days still shine through these colourful graphics.

I wonder how many people remember a childhood of uncensored cereal-eating? Was it the norm to eat these sugary breakfast treats? My childhood was a mixture of ‘the norm’ and not. Yes, I was allowed sweets, even fags, and no, I wasn’t allowed fairy bread for school lunch, but had to eat doorstopper sandwiches full of ‘disgusting’ fillings that would now be popular in trendy cafes. I wasn’t allowed to watch things on TV that many others were so I couldn’t talk about these shows in the playground. I wasn’t allowed to play in the street. I didn’t have free weekends at a time before children’s lives were so overcommitted, but went to ballet and Saturday Russian school.

I was talking to my 18 year old son about fitting in and standing out. This can be particularly painful in the primary school years. If you had Corn Flakes like everyone else then you didn’t have to feel it. If you had vegemite sandwiches for lunch you didn’t have to feel it. If you could wear Target jeans instead of well tailored handmade ‘slacks’ you didn’t have to feel it.

Different. You didn’t have to feel different. You could walk around in your jeans and miller shirt and talk about Number 96 on TV, you could stay at your friend’s house instead of crying crocodile tears over your Russian homework and going to play rehearsal for The Governor Inspector.

So we were talking about not fitting in during childhood, and I talked about not letting him watch The Simpsons in primary school, not because it was ‘bad’, but because childhood was too short not to savour the innocence of TV, film  and literature written especially for children, and because a very young child cannot understand satire. He said he didn’t understand it then, but he understood it now. I told him that a parent who made the decision to be selective about a child’s early experiences also suffered when it meant that the child couldn’t talk about popular TV shows (Big Brother) in the playground, couldn’t talk about computer games that were out of bounds. It really was hard. And he said he’d survived; he didn’t think there was anything wrong with him, he was his own person, stronger for standing out.

Sometimes when I see parents of young children agonising over choices – wanting to make all the right decisions, but torn between the possibilities, I want to say –  Go with your gut feeling; if you take something away, then replace it with something else that’s wonderful; talk about everything; respect your children’s viewpoints; don’t be afraid for them to be different.

When they grow up, differences become attractive, being your own person is respected, strength lies in being true to yourself.

When we look back at past cereal boxes, none of us ate all of them, but we share the memory of the collective culture.

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Embellish the interior passageways

I know that you would have seen these before – these strangely reworded Christmas carol titles or, as described on the site, obfuscated Christmas carol titles, but I thought I’d pull them out – as one pulls out of a dusty box that’s been sitting in the back of a dark cupboard – as a light challenge for the season.

The website calls them titles of Christmas Carols, rewritten in florid and multisyllabic language!

See how many you can guess.

  1. Move hitherward the entire assembly of those who are loyal in their belief
  2. Listen, the celestial messengers produce harmonious sounds.
  3. Nocturnal time span of unbroken quietness.
  4. An emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good given to the terrestrial sphere.
  5. Embellish the interior passageways.
  6. Exalted heavenly beings to whom harkened.
  7. Twelve o’clock on a clement night witnessed its arrival.
  8. The Christmas preceding all others.
  9. Small municipality in Judea southeast of Jerusalem.
  10. Diminutive masculine master of skin-covered percussionistic cylinders.
  11. Omnipotent supreme being who elicits respite to ecstatic distinguished males.
  12. Tranquillity upon the terrestrial sphere.
  13. Obese personification fabricated of compressed mounds of minute crystals.
  14. Expectation of arrival to populated area by mythical, masculine perennial gift giver.
  15. Natal celebration devoid of color, rather albino, as a hallucinatory phenomenon for me.
  16. In awe of the nocturnal time span characterized by religiosity.
  17. Geographic state of fantasy during the season of mother nature’s dormancy.
  18. The first person nominative plural of triumvirate of far eastern heads of state.
  19. Tintinnabulation of vacillating pendulums in inverted, metallic, resonant cups.
  20. In a distant location the existence of an improvised unit of newborn children’s slumber furniture.
  21. Proceed forth declaring upon a specific geological alpine formation.
  22. Jovial Yuletide desired for the second person singular or plural by us.

If you reach saturation point guessing these, scroll down past the picture for the answers.

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  1. Oh Come All Ye Faithful
  2. Hark the Herald Angels Sing
  3. Silent Night
  4. Joy to the World
  5. Deck the Halls
  6. Angels We Have Heard on High
  7. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
  8. The First Noel
  9. Oh Little Town of Bethlehem
  10. Little Drummerboy
  11. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  12. Peace on Earth
  13. Frosty the Snowman
  14. Santa Claus is Coming to Town
  15. White Christmas
  16. Oh Holy Night
  17. Winter Wonderland
  18. We Three Kings
  19. Jingle Bells
  20. Away in a Manger
  21. Go Tell It on a Mountain
  22. We Wish You a Merry Christmas

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Newsmap – attractive news

newsmap

What is Newsmap?

Newsmap is an application that visually reflects the constantly changing landscape of the Google News news aggregator. A treemap visualization algorithm helps display the enormous amount of information gathered by the aggregator. Treemaps are traditionally space-constrained visualizations of information. Newsmap’s objective takes that goal a step further and provides a tool to divide information into quickly recognizable bands which, when presented together, reveal underlying patterns in news reporting across cultures and within news segments in constant change around the globe.
Newsmap does not pretend to replace the googlenews aggregator. Its objective is to simply demonstrate visually the relationships between data and the unseen patterns in news media. It is not thought to display an unbiased view of the news; on the contrary, it is thought to ironically accentuate the bias of it.

So, in a way, Newsmap is an interpretation of the news, allowing patterns and biases to be visualised.

I think this needs to be viewed over time to get a feel for it. Meanwhile, it stands out as being a very attractive way to get world news.

Has anyone explored Newsmap? What are your thoughts?

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Filed under news, Web 2.0

PicLits

piclit-1

I thought I’d try out PicLits: inspired picture writing.

PicLits.com is a creative writing site that matches beautiful images with carefully selected keywords in order to inspire you. The object is to put the right words in the right place and the right order to capture the essence, story, and meaning of the picture.

I wasn’t that pleased with my first effort, so I tried another one.

piclit2

Well, unless I’ve missed something, the list of words is limited. Then again, I haven’t read the instructions, just had a go.  I think there’s something to be said for adding text to a picture from a limited supply. The challenge is to work with what you’ve got, thinking about the position of the words, whether you want a sparse message or story, or whether you want a more crowded and descriptive text. 

Definitely much to play with either in English, foreign language or English as a Second Language classes.

I almost forgot to thank Tom Barrett for this application, and if you go to this post you’ll find 9 other digital writing opportunities.

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Filed under art, creativity, language, photos, play, technology, Web 2.0, writing

Christmas carols wordle quiz

I thought a wordle quiz with a Christmas carol theme might be fun. Try to guess these 10 traditional carols.

1.

awayinamanger

 

2.

doyouhearwhatihear

3.

iheardthebellsonchristmasday

4.

joytotheworld

5.

godrestyemerrygentlemen1

6.

harktheherald

7.

itcameuponamidnightclear

8.

comeallyefaithful

9.

oholynight

10.

olittletownofbethlehem

 

I think this may be a fun end of year activity for students of all ages.

Can you guess these Christmas carols?

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A limerick for all occasions, but in a dictionary?

spaceodyssey

In the spirit of holidays, I thought I’d tone down the intensity of my posts – seriousness interfering with the holiday spirit…

Reading through Articulate, I found The Omnificent English Dictionary In Limerick Form (OEDILF).

The goal of The OEDILF, our online limerictionary, is to write at least one limerick for each and every meaning of each and every word in the English language. Our best limericks will clearly define their words in a humorous or interesting way, although some may provide more entertainment than definition, or vice versa.

Look up a word, browse by author or topic/genre, or join the project to submit original limericks.

There’s an impressive list of topics/genres.

Here’s an example of what you’ll find:

If you look up the word anticlimactic, you find this limerick:

In picking up women, my tactic?

I promise adventures galactic

We watch Lost in space

When we’re back at my place

Which they find to be anticlimactic

 

Here is one result for genres: science fiction:  

asphyxiate by mephistopheles (Limerick #8004)

Though you’re weightless and moving with grace,

You’ll asphyxiate here, out in space.

Is your very best pal

a computer named Hal?

You could die here and leave not a trace.

 

And some background is included:  In Stanley Kubrick’s classic 1968 film, 2001, a Space Odyssey, an astronaut, Dave, was famously locked out of the spaceship by a malfunctioning computer named Hal. If Dave had not succeeded in getting back onto the ship, he would have died when he ran out of air.

Lots of possibilties with this dictionary, both educational and recreational. For the sake of holidays I’ll abstain from the usual heavy-handed instructions.

One more under ‘ballet’

Her willowy arms flutter slightly,
Her feathered white head drops down lightly.
Alas for Odette,
Men who love soon forget.
Thus, she’s dying in Swan Lake once nightly.
…Except on Mondays, and twice on matinees.

There.

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Filed under 21st century learning, creativity, Education, humour, play, poetry, writing

Winding down

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The school year is over for me. I know that many poor souls are still fronting up until the end of this week (is there a point?) but for me it’s the long stretch ahead, the one I’ve been waiting for. Time to wind down.

It’s been a strange end to the year for me in that I missed the last 4 days, and am now recovering from spectacular oral surgery, looking less like a hamster every day, and still turning sickly shades of yellow and blue (wish I had less yellow, more blue) down my face and neck. And now that the fear of losing feeling in the lip has been put to rest, I can think about the year, looking both back in time at events and learning, and forward to next year, planning new projects for 2009.

Funny how you don’t realise the extent of change until you stop to measure it. It was only May this year that I began this blog as part of a State Library of Victoria Web 2.0 PD initiative. During the course of the following 6 or so months I’ve learned many things – lots of how-tos and bits of technology – and I’ve acquired an online presence on Facebook, Twitter and NINGs.  Most  importantly, I’ve learned what it’s like to be part of a community of learners and educators, a community that never sleeps, always on the lookout for new ways of thinking, doing and sharing.

 

So, winding down…

Well, actually, it’s easier said than done. I know that I’m not as tired as many teachers, having escaped report writing (as a teacher librarian), and not having the exhausting face-to-face of constant classes, and that may be one of the reasons I’m not finding the winding down easy to do. Although, I think the main reason is the feeling of excitement which comes from new discoveries, possibilities and connections. Already I’m thinking about what I want to do next year (and I’m lucky to be co-teaching with two wonderful teachers), already I’m planning new ways of doing things in class, ways of engaging and challenging students, using technologies which will inspire creativity and authentic learning. And I’m reading, reading, reading other people’s ideas and experiences.

The best thing about holidays – if you still have any energy or brain capacity left, and amongst all the Christmas and New Year bustle – is the unregimented  time for exploration. The joy of investigating new blogs,  discovering people, and making connections, branching out and connecting those connections around the world, until gradually the world starts to shrink as your map is filled with people you know  and relationships amongst these. How can you wind down when people ‘out there’ are posting great links, new ideas and articles which inspire and challenge?

Yesterday, I started looking at the Edublogs Awards 2008, and here are the categories for nomination:

1. Best individual blog

2. Best group blog

3. Best new blog

4. Best resource sharing blog

5. Most influential blog post

6. Best teacher blog

7. Best librarian / library blog

8. Best educational tech support blog

9. Best elearning / corporate education blog

10. Best educational use of audio

11. Best educational use of video / visual

12. Best educational wiki

13. Best educational use of a social networking service

14. Best educational use of a virtual world

15. Best class blog

16. Lifetime achievement

As you  browse those 16 categories, you’ll come to know a group of people you’ll admire and want to keep in touch with. These people have spent the time making transparent their learning journeys and acquired skills, not keeping these things to themselves but sharing with the world. I’m having difficulty in unwinding because there’s so much to read and enjoy!

Merry Christmas to all. Happy, safe holidays, good family and friend times, and take the time to do what nourishes you.

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Filed under 21st century learning, Education, networking, Teacher librarians, teachers, teaching, technology, Web 2.0