Posts tagged “technology

June, July, August

Posted on June 9, 2014

Summer is here! I’m basking in the glow of few responsibilities and playoff basketball. In the popular vernacular, I “survived” my first year of teaching. If you have friends on Facebook who are similar to the friends I have on Facebook, you might have seen them post THIS specious “news” article about a Chinese miner who supposedly survived 17 years buried underground, surviving on a diet of rice and rats and painstakingly burying 78 of his colleagues, only to be rediscovered and escape his subterranean purgatory. Well, the story is a hoax (check your sources, students), but the experience of reemerging into the daylight of human civilization is similar to how I feel. I have time to read for pleasure? I can pursue hobbies…

Minecraft Part Deux

Posted on October 1, 2012

Soooo I’ve been a bad blogger.  A poor pontificator.  A sorry soliloquizer.  I can offer up all the usual excuses, such as “I’ve been busy,” or, “Life gets in the way,” or, “I stepped in a really big wad of gum on the sidewalk, got stuck there for approximately one month’s time, and was finally rescued by the derring do of Scooby Doo and his goofy troop of teenage sleuths.”  But all those would be mistruths, half-truths, or deliberate efforts to disguise my sense of shame with glib humor.

But good news!  I have been hired!  As a substitute teacher at several schools!  And it is the pursuit, achievement, and fulfillment of this grandly exciting thing that has occupied much of my time.  I am literally pleased as punch to be in the classroom in whatever capacity (as long as it’s not as a human Kleenex dispenser).

The rest of this post will be dedicated to a bit of Nerdom that I find particularly enjoyable.  If you read my previous post on Minecraft, you are familiar with how much of a fan I am of it.  Well, today I bring you a video of a multiple choice question I made in Minecraft using circuitry and all kinds of other things unfamiliar and intimidating to an English major.  When I become a bonafide, dyed-in-the-wool, card-carrying teacher of English, I’m going to try to implement some sort of game mechanics in my classroom similar to this in order to teach grammar concepts.  Think of it!  Making grammar kind of fun!  And exciting!  Pie in the sky you say?  Well, I beg to differ:


Apologies for the snuffly bits and weird throat-clearing; I’m battling something akin to a head cold.  But yay!  Conjunctions!  I’m thinking of building entire levels that would test students’ knowledge of grammar, vocabulary, and even literature.  Levels could even be book-themed.  Imagine a Harry Potter level set in Hogwarts.  Or a Lord of the Flies Level set on a deserted island.

If you’re interested in all this stuff, I suggest you check out  It’s a really cool modification of vanilla Minecraft that allows teachers to do some awesome educational things with the game.

And FYI: I am aware there is some debate over whether “therefore” is technically a conjunction, but for the purposes of this video I didn’t consider it a conjunction.

Have any ideas of how something like this could be implemented in an English classroom or other academic discipline?  Let me know!  Tell me your ideas so I can be inspired by them and (tactfully) steal them–giving you full credit of course!

On TED, Learning, Legos, and Minecraft

Posted on August 22, 2012

Perhaps you’re familiar with TED.  No, not Ted your next-door neighbor, who, every time he sees you walking your dog, says, with a satisfied look on his face, “He seems to be walking you,” as if he’s offered up for your consideration some fabulously droll insight.  Naturally, Ted’s comment prompts a forced grin of amusement from you even though you’ve heard this observation 72 consecutive times from Ted, and even though it’s apparent your dog is a “she,” as indicated by the purple bandana and hot pink harness she dons wherever she goes.  Not that Ted. The TED I’m referring to is a conference hosted by members of the intelligentsia.  As an acronym, TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design.  A typical TED event…


Posted on August 15, 2012

In lieu of posting anything of literary merit, I’ve made an instructional video.  Have you ever found yourself hauling around various and sundry pieces of paper?  You’ve tried organizing them in folders, but over the course of their rainbow-hued lives, your folders have become ripped, dingy, and pitifully spineless.  How do you cope?  Or perhaps you’re a teacher and you’ve found the perfect short story or poem in a book but don’t have access to scanner/copier/printer.  How do you get copies of that perfect poem or super story to your students?


There is a fairly simple (if a bit expensive) solution to both these problematic scenarios.  If you’ve got access to a smartphone or tablet with a decent camera, you can take a picture of any document and convert it to a PDF.  OR (and this really is a big OR) you can take that same document and convert it to a piece of editable text.  The world is your Word Document!


View on to get an idea of how to do both things.  You’ll pardon the orchestral background music in the video.  Garageband (another outstanding app) was recently updated with strings and I had a little too much fun playing around with it.  🙂


A Riumphant Treeturn

Posted on August 10, 2012

You’ve made an egregious error.  You’re stuck in a difficult position.  You want to apologize, but you also don’t want to come off sounding “aw, shucks-ish” (see Rick Perry’s performance here).  So you think of some excuse, quickly, to mitigate the intentionality of your mistake–some bastion of irreproachable excusedom, which (owing to its plausible voicing and earnest tone) will withstand the flaming arrows of skeptics and the x-ray vision of those gifted with a pristine b.s. detector.  In crafting your apology-come-sycophanticpleaforunderstanding, you decide to take the self-referential route.  Maybe, you think, just maybe, it will have the effect of catching people slightly off guard–making them quizzically regard your words long enough to forget the events that necessitated them.  And when they are sufficiently bemused,…

iPad A Tad Too Rad

Posted on July 16, 2012

In Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, there’s an iconic scene in which a group of apes become alarmed at the sudden appearance of a black monolith in their presence.  Most of the apes anxiously shriek and circle the monolith, but one among them makes furtive attempts to touch it.  Soon, several apes are huddled around the base of the ominous object, curiously exploring its sharp contours with their hands. Oddly enough, this scene approximately parallels the public’s reception of the iPad in 2010.  When it appeared in stores (after first being paraded about on a stage by the turtlenecked prophet) most people thought that it was simply a big iPhone.  Sure, there were the early adopters who saw its potential from the…

Frankenstein . . . The App?

Posted on July 13, 2012

Another app review!  I apologize if  you’re reading this blog for the parts where I talk about reading.  Perhaps I should rename my blog “Cursorily Glancing at Books but Majorly Focusing on Apps!”  Not quite as catchy.


This app is, however, about a book–at least ostensibly.  If you’ve ever read, taught, or been taught the novel Frankenstein, you know it feels a bit cobbled together.  Parts of it seem to crackle along at an exciting pace while other portions seem downright dull.  During the duller moments, it might not be a bad idea to crack this app open (if you can “crack open” an app).  View on to get an idea of what the New York Public Library’s Frankenstein app has to offer:


*Sorry for the “dramatic reading” portion of the review. Because of technical difficulties, it’s more of a “dramatic pause.”