Category: Threads

Just a quick note between wind storms – those gusty fustilarians leaving all sorts of leanings, vandalizing our privacy fence with an unhealthy bend (now fixed – thanks, Ace!) and leading more than a few freshmen into cabin fever, cannibal-inclinations.

Being National Poetry Month, I’ve been studiously reading poems each day and writing a few in my spare time.  While the last effort is always rewarding, the second has also been beneficial.  Not only is my emotional state more settled, but I have also been accepted for publication!   The debut, summer edition of the Crow Literary Journal, a new print literary journal here in eastern Wyoming, will include three poems by yours truly.  My contact with their team has been invigorating, and I think there will be some very talented writers making a name for themselves.  While I hold no such high hopes for me, I do appreciate being included.

In another note on summer fortunes, I have also been offered a panel at Denver Comic Con this year!  I’ll let my description speak for me, especially to remember what I promised to do:

Illustrated Education: Drawing on Comics in the High School Classroom

An educator will describe the elements of design, text selection, metacognition, and publication that inspired reluctant readers into avenues of creation and abstract thinking – all through the use of the comics medium!  The presentation will include: the steps of identifying high school classes with a need for reordered thinking/reading, implementing visual and comics texts into curricular needs, naming foundational texts of a graphic novel classroom, examining concepts and pedagogy that suit higher-order, 21st-century thinking, and inviting participants in the session to communicate, collaborate, and create opportunities to use the valuable media in their own classrooms.

I don’t know the specifics yet, but such information will be posted when available – that is, if I don’t flee from my own hubris into a summer cycle of seclusion and self-doubt.

Happy trails!

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You know that video – the one with the two red foxes screaming at each other, at arm’s (foreleg’s) length away?  Just staring and screaming, occasionally looking around to see if anyone has commentary or choral aspirations for their love/antagonism?  February was a bit like that.  In the last month, since a whirlwind Jeopardy! appearance and an incredible outpouring of affection and support, the air became thick.

Peer reviews, illness, professional quirks, insanity on the television.  Bullish weather, armed teachers, book selection challenges, advice from the uninformed.

At least there was chocolate.  I’m lucky to have a lighthouse at home – in fact:

There’s no time in which I feel more at peace than in the winking daylight when I pull up on the curb.  In a car now, and sometimes by foot, but hopefully on a bike soon.  The lighthouse in my home is a port in the storm and a part of my form.  Mental health days were taken, if only to make you breakfast and stick lavender incense in every cranny.

At times, I pursue reading above all physical concerns or obligations.  In preparation for potential panels in the summer and reimaginings (forced and unforced) of the texts for next year’s classes, it’s been heavy on graphic novels and comic collections.  These days I dream and breathe sequential art – it’s in every fiber and thread of the tenuous classroom strings.  Despondency over the pre-spring doldrums hit hard this year, and my reading has been similarly contemplative.  I’ve been checking out graphic memoirs, with varying lenses of trauma and redemption (eating disorders, abuse, neurological/mental illness, etc.), investing deeply in the Mignolaverse (splatty bug creatures and fun with ectoplasm), and revisiting Sandman with the collection of Death (Gaiman always rights the perspective-ship).  Amid monsters and shadows, it’s life on every page.

The spring cleaning I need to do (besides the actual mountains of housework, writ in lists that, laid out on the floor, not only circumnavigate the whole domicile but also define the safe pathways that won’t result in stubbed toes or “TIMBER!” of assorted organized chaos piles) is of the mind.  Minimize the day to day, focus on the big picture.  Get back to one of those three writing projects.  Beat back the block and decorate my world with a mantra splashed on the wall space, as Neil would have it:

The first step out.

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        Be’er preperred

Up in the Morning Early

Cauld blaws the wind frae east to west,
The drift is driving sairly;
Sae loud and shrill’s I hear the blast,
I’m sure it’s winter fairly.

Up in the morning’s no for me,
Up in the morning early;
When a’ the hills are cover’d wi’ snaw,
I’m sure its winter fairly.

The birds sit chittering in the thorn,
A’ day they fare but sparely;
And lang’s the night frae e’en to morn,
I’m sure it’s winter fairly.

Up in the morning’s no for me,
Up in the morning early;
When a’ the hills are cover’d wi’ snaw,
I’m sure its winter fairly.

– Robert Burns

        Dedication of the Robert Burns statue in Cheyenne, Wyoming, on November 11, 1929
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12th Grade: European Literature Threads

Women are awesome!  Some people aren’t aware, apparently.  With today’s redux of the women’s marches across the nation (and perhaps the world!).  It wouldn’t be a bad thing at all if someday we can collectively remember that history has been made by women, too – so you can do your part by checking out the titles below!

The Princess and the Pony. Kate Beaton. Arthur A. Levine Books. 2015.
The Princess and the Pony. Kate Beaton. Arthur A. Levine Books. 2015.

Kate Beaton is the magnificent wit behind the webcomic series Hark! A Vagrant, which has been printed in a few best-selling books (and also isn’t appropriate for all ages, especially because some killjoys detest constant giggling).  The Princess and the Pony, great for kids and adults, tells the story of Princess Pinecone, who wants a noble warhorse to ride into Viking-style violence.  For her birthday she gets instead a flatulent, rotund pony.  What happens next is funny and feminist.  Available from Scholastic Book Orders for $4!

Rad American Women A-Z. Kate Schatz & Miriam Klein Stahl. City Lights. 2015.
Rad American Women A-Z. Kate Schatz & Miriam Klein Stahl. City Lights. 2015.

Revolution begins at home!  America may be relatively young on the world stage, but its women have radically changed history.  The 26 women profiled in this book represent science, entertainment, athletics, innovation, exploration – basically all the walks of life that make our country what it is.  Kate Schatz writes the profiles, and Miriam Klein Stahl provides each illustration.  Available from Scholastic for $7, this pocket-sized guide is perfect for bite-sized, yet larger-than-life, world-widening.

Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science - and the World. Rachel Swaby. Broadway Books. 2015.
Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science – and the World. Rachel Swaby. Broadway Books. 2015.

Rachel Swaby was inspired to write this informative, invigorating collection of women inventors, scientists, and explorers after seeing too many get short shrift in their obituaries.  Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron’s daughter and – more importantly – the world’s first computer programmer (in the 1840s!), is included.  As is Hedy Lamarr, scintillating movie star and also pioneer in radar technology.  And those are just the most famous faces.  This book captures the sentiment of the women’s history movement succinctly: the stories have been there all along, but someone *forgot* to tell the whole truth.  We owe it to ourselves to fix that.  Read well – it’s the best provision for changing your life.

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Reading Picks Threads

Christmas Memories
Christmas Memories

The number one request in wishlists sent to Mr. Earnshaw’s North Pole Classroom Blog?  More videos from Bob’s Buskers (from Bob’s Burgers)!  So here you go – the National, a Christmas Tree, and a message we can all get behind.  Stay warm, students and friends; happy holidays!

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“Hello, world!”  That’s the sign-on now famous, or infamous, to CS50x students who bump into such messages in their adventures through coding.  We’ve been working on completing the rigorous course requirements in Scratch, C, computational thinking, and algorithmic problem solving, with more to come before the early-December end-date.  Add to that the Google Classroom transition and WebQuests, TurnItIn, and Voicethread projects, and it’s not hard to see that September was a digital dive.  As such, this corner of the internet has gotten a little dusty, for which I apologize – if anybody but me pays much attention at all!

As a small sampling of my work in the course, and as a convenient segue into freshmen short stories and senior Old and Middle English, here’s a recording of my Scratch fable.  Deep thoughts there.  Follow the link to fall into fable (as 30 sec clip)!

The Bat and Crab at the Garden Gate

Thanks, and here’s hoping for an awesome October!

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Thank you so much, students, who have already signed up for Remind and other digital class notifications.  Today would’ve been the first day of school, but the powers that be wisely moved it to the side so that the real show – Total Solar Eclipse! – can take center stage.  I’m looking forward to seeing all of you tomorrow, and many of you on today’s Eclipse field trip, to start the academic year!

Diagram of a solar eclipse from a 13th-century illuminated manuscript. The New York Public Library Digital Collections – via BrainPickings

Those of you on the bus today will have hours to be regaled with eclipse myths, like the frogs who swallow the stars, or passages from Annie Dillard’s classic essay on 1979’s offering, or even jam out to Mr. E’s favorite eclipse playlists.

Space.com has the broadest collection, in my opinion:

If you won’t be on our trip, please make an effort on your own to see what Mabel Loomis Todd observed as: “A vast, palpable presence overwhelming the world. The blue sky changes to gray or dull purple, speedily becoming more dusky, and a death-like trance seizes upon everything earthly.”

Grab those special, approved viewers’ glasses and maybe read up on some of the political and cultural impacts of this eclipse in a particularly dramatic moment in American history at The Atlantic.

You should make every effort to live in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, what Emily Dickinson, who saw the eclipse in 1875, immortalized in the lines:

It sounded as if the streets were running —
And then — the streets stood still —
Eclipse was all we could see at the Window
And Awe — was all we could feel.

By and by — the boldest stole out of his Covert
To see if Time was there —
Nature was in her Opal Apron —
Mixing fresher Air.

Happy stargazing!

See you soon.

-Mr. E

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Admin Field Trips Playlists Threads

Kitchener, from: 'Your country needs you' advertisement in London Opinion, Vol. XLII No.546, 5 September 1914. British Library.
Kitchener, from: ‘Your country needs you’ advertisement in London Opinion, Vol. XLII No.546, 5 September 1914. British Library.

The following links are for the 1st and 4th Hour British Literature classes, but anyone should feel free to follow them to education (or emptiness).  It may be said that no retelling can ever truly capture the horrors and mindset of warfare.  But artists and authors have to try – sometimes only poetry or paint can communicate the senses and worst fears made real.

WNB#1/2 URLs:

World War Pictures hosts a variety of visual media pertaining to the conflicts: http://www.world-war-pictures.com/

The British Library, again, gives us great multimedia and perspectives on our class content.  The first link, on propaganda, should be used to answer prompt 13.  The second link is extra reading, if you are looking for more perspective on the poems for your posters.

http://www.bl.uk/world-war-one/themes/propaganda

http://www.bl.uk/world-war-one/articles/reframing-first-world-war-poetry 

If you are curious, you could also follow-up with two perspectives on the ubiquity of the “Keep Calm and Carry On” slogan, by Dr. Henry Irving and Owen Hatherley, respectively.

The US National Archives has a YouTube playlist of war films from 100 years ago:

Finally (because why not), here is a trench game from the UK’s National Archives.

Hurrah for the Scarlet and the Blue, and may we never again find ourselves in a war to end all wars.

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12th Grade: European Literature Class Resources Threads

This year, I hope to share with you a set of video traditions that have already taken a special place in the hearts of my family, as I’m sure they will in yours.  Of course, they are mostly about food, but be sure to set time aside for that family talking and activities kind of stuff.  There are only so many Thanksgivings.

Now back to food.  Eat it, even if you don’t like it.  Put it on your plate.  Thank you food bringers for caring enough to bring anything.  Bob’s Burgers says it best:

And it’s been covered by the National!

That turkey should not die in vain.

Maybe it’s the gravy that really sets your family Thanksgiving apart.  Bob’s Burgers and The National are here to help us again!

And if you’re still needing to satisfy your family’s quirkiness or willingness to try it all, go Ron Swanson.  If you’ve already satisfied yourself with “the Swanson” – a turkey leg wrapped in bacon – maybe try one of Nick Offerman’s home recipes:

Enjoy!  Best of luck today, tomorrow (for the bold fools who will Black Friday), and this weekend.  See you Monday!

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Image belongs to Lucasfilm/Disney (please don't sue) and some Santa-happy stock photographer.
Image belongs to Lucasfilm/Disney (please don’t sue) and swivel-zimber (props to you, internet artist).

It certainly has been a busy month, and I think we are all looking forward to the well-deserved break.  Before we go, however, I’ve got an opportunity to be not-so-secret Santa to one or two good boys or girls who check out the class website!  It is the holidays after all, and one of the best presents was Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

In my possession are two different t-shirts (sized large) that I’m gonna give to the first two students who find the Golden Ticket.  “The Golden Ticket?!” – you may well ask.  It looks like this:

Yep. Solid gold.
Yep. Solid gold.

It is hidden in one of the previous posts (from Halloween on, let’s say).  Using your mouse and some keen detective skills, you can find the magic stub!  Follow the directions that show up with it, and you’re on your way to the best-styled Christmas this side of the galaxy.

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