5 Ways In Which Living With a Four-Year-Old Is Like Living With a Stereotypical Drunk Frat Boy

  • They have one volume – loud
  • You will need a hazmat suit if using the bathroom after they did
  • If there is a way to spill a drink, they will find it
  • Clothing is apparently optional
  • They love you one second, then hate you the next

 

*Find me on Li.st @ScottWFoley

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Use AnswerGarden To Grow Your Class

As you’ve heard me discuss before, our school has recently initiated a One to One program.  The idea is that every student has a laptop on loan to them by the district.  They are expected to bring this laptop to every class and to take it home with them every night.

Personally, I love it.  So far it’s gone wonderfully and is exceeding my expectations.

One activity I really like to initiate with the students is real-time word clouds.  They get to plug in a word or phrase and the word appears in a bubble.  The more the word is repeated, the larger it becomes within the bubble.

I wanted my students to visit our class’ “Recommended Readings” page, click on titles that sounded interesting, explore those titles further, then list the final three choices in a world cloud.  I hoped they’d get to see the word cloud formulate in real time while noting what books looked good to their peers.

But, of course, I know that all classes have a few comedians, so I also wanted to retain the ability to remove any irrelevant additions to the word cloud.  After a little bit of research, I settled on AnswerGarden.  (Full disclosure: I was one of those “class comedians” and still am, even as the teacher.)

AnswerGarden does not require students to log in, it can be used by a simple link you give to the students, and it allows the teacher a great deal of editorial abilities.  No, it cannot tell you who exactly posted what, but it does allow you to remove anything you want in real time as soon as any malicious material appears.

I tried it out yesterday and it worked perfectly.  In fact, here’s the word cloud of books my students were most interested in reading …

AnswerGardenBookPicksCloud

(Note: they added a few not actually suggested, but that’s okay.  And yes, I totally recommend Fight Club.  Great book.)

If you’re looking for a simple way for students to experience real time word cloud building, I recommend AnswerGarden.  You will need to open an account to access the editorial control, but it is completely free with no strings attached.

 

Black Science: The Beginner’s Guide To Entropy by Rick Remender and Matteo Scalera – A Book Review

This beautiful hardcover collects issues 1-16 of the Black Science comic book series.

You may remember I reviewed a collected edition of Black Science encompassing issues 1-6 back in 2014.  At the time, I loved the art, I loved the concept, I loved the colors, I just didn’t love the characters – I never felt connected or invested.  If you’re unfamiliar with the book, rogue scientist and terrible father Grant McKay creates a machine called “The Pillar” which allows travel between planes of reality.  The machine activates unexpectedly, though, and Grant, his team, his two children, and two corporate malcontents are taken on an unexpected,and possibly fatal, trip through realities.

I do have to say that this edition, which I got for free through Amazon Vine, included 10 more issues than I’d read before.  I must admit that it introduces an entirely new concept, one that is absolutely riveting.  Somewhere between issues 6 and 16, Remender moves beyond simple interdimensional travel and delves into string theory, parallel dimensions, and even multiple versions of people destined to repeat cycle after cycle.  It adds a layer of depth to both the story and characters that I didn’t pick up on in the first 6 issues.

The book itself is gorgeously produced.  It’s over-sized which amplifies the already magnificent art.  It’s got great weight, and the hardcovers are solid and resilient.  The back of the book includes alternate covers from the single issues, sketches and designs, and actual scripts.

With a $49.99 cover price, I imagine you’ll need to be a huge fan of the book or the creators to purchase on your own.  However, this could make a great gift for the serious comic book fan in your life or the science fiction aficionado.  It will definitely be considered an appreciated luxury item by book lovers.

 

5 Items I Need To Remember When Meeting My Freshmen For The First Time Tomorrow

  • These are people’s children – treat them as I expect my own to be treated
  • I could be the only positive male role model they encounter – act accordingly
  • Everyone learns at different speeds and in different ways
  • Some of these kids are dealing with things I can’t even fathom – keep an open mind and a kind heart
  • No matter what, I have to remember I’m the grown up (even though it’s sometime’s really hard)

 

*Find me on Li.st @ScottWFoley

A Safer Way To Show Video Content In the Classroom

If you’re like me, there are times when  YouTube proved vital in showing necessary video content in the classroom.  Frankly, though, there have been times when the video in question ended and something inappropriate appeared in the little thumbnail previews they offer pertaining to other content.  I would close it down typically before any students noticed, but it still agitated me that this could be an ongoing problem.

We all use video in nearly every aspect of our lives.  Want to see the hot new trailer for a cool movie coming out?  Go to YouTube.  Want to know how to bake chicken ?  Go to YouTube.  Want a refresher on how to raise your kid’s handlebars?  Go to YouTube.  I love that when studying literature, we can now watch video content that relates to topics introduced by the novel.  I love that my students can go and watch interviews of contemporary authors.

But with my school’s students going One-To-One and each having their own laptop, that ever-present inappropriate preview may prove too tempting for some.  Yet, I want them moving at their own pace through modules and links.  The Internet is fertile with information and provides limitless learning opportunities, but I need a way to make sure students ONLY see the content I intend when I post video links.

That’s where SafeShare.TV comes into play.  I happened across this site when researching resources for the blended classroom.  The idea is that you take a link to any video anywhere on YouTube, run it through their site, and they eliminate advertising and get rid of those distracting buttons everywhere that you tend to see on YouTube.  Is it 100% effective?  No, but any extra level of protection makes me feel better when linking to online video.

You can visit SafeShare.TV by clicking HERE.  Be sure to then click on the FAQ link to learn how it works and how it can bolster your teaching.

I’ve also provided a quick video I made with YouTube then filtered through SafeShare.TV.  You can view the origional YouTube version by clicking the below link …

You can now view the same video through the SafeShare.TV filter …

safeshare.tv/w/fom-BP1LyVQ

Unfortunately, SafeShare.TV does not yet provide the opportunity to embed video within a post.

I hope you found this information useful and feel free to offer feedback in the comments.

 

 

All Star Batman #1 by Scott Snyder and John Romita, Jr. – A (Comic) Book Review

I’m the first to admit that Scott Snyder is a gifted writer.  His take on Batman the last seven or so years has been innovative, captivating, and high-quality.  His talent doesn’t end there, however.  You need to read his seminal series, American Vampire, as well as his excellent short story collection, Voodoo Heart.

All Star Batman is a new series in which Snyder will team up with the most gifted of artists for each story arc.  The first couples Snyder with industry icon John Romita, Jr.  The inaugural issue introduces a new conflict with Two-Face, a character Snyder has never tackled before (to the best of my knowledge).

I’ll be honest — the $4.99 price tag turned me off almost immediately.  It’s a little longer than the average comic book, and the cover is a little thicker, but otherwise there is no discernible difference.  It struck me as a cash grab on the part of DC.  Trust me, I looked through all the variants to see if any were priced regularly — there weren’t.  I settled on the awesome Jock cover you see below.

The book is made up of two different story lines.  One features Batman forcing Two-Face on a “road trip” of sorts; the other focuses on Duke, his new partner, and the on-the-job training Duke must undergo.  Frankly, both are overwritten and needlessly muddled.  Snyder has always shown a penchant for putting too much on the page, but this issue set a new precedent.  I don’t mind lots of dialogue, numerous time shifts, or even differing narrative techniques, but only if it works to the benefit of the story.  Snyder did all of these things in All Star Batman #1, but it only served to distract and confuse me.  I’m sure by the arc’s end all will make sense, but I think writers need to also honor the fact that these titles are released monthly and a single issue needs to stand on its own to some degree.  A fantastic example of doing it well is this week’s Superwoman #1.

Also, if I’m being totally truthful, I’ve never been a huge fan of John Romita, Jr.  I find his figures squarish and I just don’t find it pleasing to the eye.  I understand he’s considered among the best of comic book artists, but I personally don’t find his angles or panel placement all that creative or his drawings pleasurable to perceive.

With the inflated cover price, convoluted story, and overwritten dialogue, I really can’t recommend this issue.  It would perhaps be a better idea to wait for the collected edition.  You’ll save both money and frustration in doing so.

Superwoman Issue #1 – A (Comic) Book Review

I’ve been anxiously awaiting Superwoman #1 because of all the Rebirth titles, this one seemed the most creatively ambitious.  If you’re unfamiliar with the premise, Lois Lane now has the powers of Superman. How did this happen?  When did this happen?  Trust me, the book answers all of these questions.

In fact, Superwoman is probably among the best–if not THE best–of all the Rebirth titles thus far.  It is dense with story, yet Phil Jimenez executes the tale fluidly, organically, and creatively.  He actually plays with the narrative style quite a bit, but it works perfectly.  In truth, the technique he chooses enhances the overall quality of the book and makes it very engaging.

But Superwoman not only proved interesting to read, it was also fun!  With no less than two MAJOR revelations, Superwoman kept me on the edge of my seat throughout.  It’s one of the few Rebirth books that actually made me think to myself, “I can’t wait to find out what happens next!”  (And generally speaking, I’ve enjoyed most of the Rebirth titles.)

Of course, Jimenez’s art is always exquisite.  It’s so easy to take his talent for granted, but we need to really recognize not just his ability to draw very well, but also the masterful layouts he develops with each panel leading to the next to keep the story moving quickly.

It should also be noted that Superwoman is very well written.  The plot proved absolutely unpredictable and I’m already truly invested in #2, but he also displayed great characterization in not just what characters said, but how they said it.  We knew Lois Lane would be featured in the book, but Lana Lang also ended up having a very large role.  I won’t divulge any details, but I did not see Lois and Lana’s dynamic coming at all, and I loved it.  Honestly, I’ve been reading comic books for 35 years and this is the best depiction of Lana Lang I’ve personally ever read.

Superwoman #1 is fun, unpredictable, well written, expertly drawn, and everything I think a comic book should be.  After the issue’s cliffhanger, I can’t wait to see where Jimenez takes these characters next.