Friday, July 27, 2007

"Love Train"

People all over the world, join hands
Start a love train, love train
People all over the world, join hands
Join a love train, love train

The next stop that we make will be England
Tell all the folks in Russia and China too
Don't you know that it's time to get on board
And let this train keep on riding, riding on through

People all over the world, join hands
Start a love train, love train
People all over the world, join hands
Join a love train, love train

All of your brothers over in Africa
Tell all the folks in Egypt and Israel too
Please don't miss this train at the station
'Cause if you miss it, I feel sorry, sorry for you

People all over the world, join hands
Start a love train, love train
People all over the world, join hands
Join a love train, love train

People all over the world, join hands
Start a love train, love train
People all over the world, join hands
Join a love train, love train

Monday, July 23, 2007

Writing Workshop - "Foreign Country Trip"

Notre-Dame Basilica

"Foreign Country Trip"

As a prompt for writing, create a reason why you must suddenly travel to a foreign country. While there, observe what you can, for example, what kind of money is used, how do the people travel around, what are the public services like, what kinds of food are available in markets and restaurants. Conclude your writing piece by showing what you most appreciate about America when you got home.

Here is an example:

I am an engineer and my company signed a contract to send four engineers to repair a leaking dam on a river in Costa Rica. We were each given our own room in a hotel in San Jose. the money here is called colons but most places will also take American dollars, There are a lot of buses in the city but we had to rent a car to get out to the dam. Sometimes we passed horses pulling carts on the road. This city has a police department and a fire department. Their siren sound funny. The restaurants sell Spanish style food. Black beans and rice are always offered for every meal. I was very glad to be able to order a Big Mac and french fries when we got home.

Make use of Google and other search engine to find items on the country you choose to visit.

Here is another example:

Montreal, Canada

A red number 8 was flashing on the telephone answering machine. Pushing the play button the recorded message began: "You have 1 new message and 7 old messages. New message - Hello Daemon, this is John Cursor, your old college roommate. We are getting together for a reunion and hope that you can join us. Let me know. My phone number is area code (705) 267-1892".

As our plane made its approach to Dorval International Airport, I recalled that Montreal is the largest city in Quebec and the second largest in Canada, with a metropolitan population of 3,359,000.

Although visitors from United States do not yet need a valid passport to enter Canada. The custom officer asked me for proof of my U.S. citizenship. I showed her my birth certificate.

Departing the airport terminal a chauffeur holding sign with a blue block lettered BUSHNELL on a white background caught me eye immediately. On the ride to the John's condominium at the prestigious 333 Sherbrooke address we passed the Olympic Stadium.

The remains of a recent snow storm were evident as we looked through the picture window in John's beautiful residence. From our perch in this summit of luxury we had a great view into the heart of the city.

On the second evening of our visit we used the public STM transit system's subway to go to a restaurant for dinner. We choose the Lebanese cafe, Monsieur Falafel. I ordered the falafel plate. John had couscous with steamed couscous veggies (carrots, turnips, zucchini, chickpeas) and harissa hot sauce. Offering to pay for the meal, I gave the waiter a purple $10 bill and a green $20 bill. My change was two coins, a large gold-colored $1 coin and a large bimetallic $2 coin. I left a blue $5 bill as a tip.

Our reunion was held at the Casino de Montreal. Built inside the pavilions of France and Quebec from Expo '67, this gaming hall provided a place to renew old acquaintances. A roaring, fun time was had by everyone.

As my pilot turned the 747 south towards Syracuse, New York, the spires of Notre-Dame Basilica, one of Montreal's many beautiful churches, glistened in the sunlight. I was glad that I was able to attend the reunion.

To share your "Foreign Country Trip" story- click on Comments and type in your story.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Gene Vincent & Blue Caps from Capitol 1956, courtesy

It took until 1998 for Gene Vincent to gain induction to the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. By then, Joni Mitchell, Pete Seeger, and a hundred or more others had been inducted. It took that long for the rock 'n' roll establishment to admit that Gene Vincent WAS rock 'n' roll. The sound; the fury; the screaming end. The basic bio goes like this. Vincent Eugene Craddock was born in Norfolk, Virginia, on February 11, 1935, and was wracked with pain for most of his life as a the result of a 1955 motorcycle accident. On stage, he looked both tragic and dangerous. He placed his damaged left leg behind him at an oddly skewed angle, and relied upon almost grotesquely exaggerated facial contortions to suggest emotion. The tone and mood of his music was darkly ominous, almost threatening. It was the beginning of rock 'n' roll as theater and first intimation of punk.

Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps

Well be-bop-a-lula she's my baby,
Be-bop-a-lula I don't mean maybe.
Be-bop-a-lula she's my baby
Be-bop-a-lula I don't mean maybe
Be-bop-a-lula she's my baby love,
My baby love, my baby love.

Well she's the girl in the red blue jeans,
She's the queen of all the teens.
She's the one that I know
She's the one that loves me so.

Say be-bop-a-lula she's my baby,
Be-bop-a-lula I don't mean maybe.
Be-bop-a-lula she's my baby
Be-bop-a-lula I don't mean maybe
Be-bop-a-lula she's my baby love,
My baby love, my baby love.

Well she's the one that gets that beat.
She's the one with the flyin' feet.
She's the one that walks around the store,
She's the one that gets more more more.

Be-bop-a-lula she^s my baby,
Be-bop-a-lula I don't mean maybe.
Be-bop-a-lula she's my baby
Be-bop-a-lula I don't mean maybe
Be-bop-a-lula she's my baby love,
My baby love, my baby love.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Rhyme or Reason

This article written by Thomas J. Hanson, superintendent of the Maine School Administrative District 52. It was published in Teacher Magazine, Vol. 15; number 06; page 53,54.

A great deal of time today is spent on the issue of standards in education. The key point of debate in discussion of standards, underway in virtually y state, centers upon identifying the skills and body of knowledge our students must learn to become successful citizens.

When this issue, and specifically the identification of the knowledge and skills fundamental to educating students today, comes up, I always think back to one of my earliest teaching experiences: the class is high school applied mathematics, and students range from 9th to 12th graders. It is exceptionally difficult to get the attention of 25 students at the same time. They all seem to hate math or school — or both. I am trying my very best to interest them in the class by making the subject relevant to them.

The lesson today is on payment schedules. The first question is as basic as payment schedules get: If you purchase a kitchen stove on March 15 and no payments are due for 90 days, when is the payment due? That prompts this response from a young lady in the back row: "How many are there in March?"

I try to hide my surprise, first because of her lack of knowledge and then my own for not realizing these students might not know how many days there are in each month. I soon decide that this is not a real problem — I will be a good teacher.

“There's a nursery rhyme you can learn," I start. "Thirty days hath September. April, June, and..."

I stop. The student is no longer looking at me. Twisting around, craning her neck, she is scanning walls, muttering, "There's gotta be a calendar in here somewhere."

Trying not to get angry, I call out her name and tell her that I had been trying to explain to her how could figure out the problem. "I can teach you how to remember," I say.

She gives me a pained look. "I don't want to learn no stupid nursery rhyme!" she growls. "Geez."

I try again as she crosses her arms and leans back in her chair. "Well, if you don't learn the rhyme, how will you ever know how many days there are in each month?" She rolls her eyes as glances at the other students. Their nods confirm that they are with her and not with me. Reassured, she emphatically makes her final point.

"You can either look at a calendar," she says, "or you can just ask someone who knows."

A month or two later, shortly after Easter had come and gone, I related this story to a good friend of mine. As an engineer at the local shipyard, he was intellectually my superior as well as a trusted confidante for sharing some of my educational frustrations. He simply smiled as I told him what had happened. He did not seem surprised by the student's attitude at all. In fact, he almost seemed sympathetic.

"Let me ask you a question," he said. "What day and month will Easter fall on next year?"

I shrugged. initially puzzled by his query. "I don't know,"I responded.

He immediately recited the month and the date, then added, "I can teach you how to figure it out if you'd like."

I smiled, now following his line of thought. My friend was on a roll, however, and didn't hesitate to add the clincher.

"Course, you can always look at a calendar," he said.

"Or ask someone who knows?" I added.

It was his turn to smile.

I have never forgotten our discussion that day or the powerful effect his example had on me. Those of us in education have a positive attitude toward learning new things, especially if we find them useful to our everyday lives. That, of course, is the very reason we are in the field. But when honestly considering what material and knowledge should be required to become an educated person, the answers are not quite as clear as we might think initially. Though l could never imagine not knowing how many days there are in any given month, I can' t see myself learning how to predict a calendar date a year in advance for a holiday that varies annually. It doesn't seem like practical or useful knowledge. Of course, that was the exact point the young lady was making that day. In her eyes, the specific bit of knowledge I thought critical was not something she saw as useful.

Simply stated, we pay attention to and learn to remember what is important to us; what is not so important, we ignore or learn to discard. As teachers, we need to realize that this fundamental of education is as true for our students as it is for adults. In the era of the standards movement, we ''must realize that reaching high expectations is possible only when students believe the material is worth learning. Through a disenchanted student and the wisdom of a close friend, I learned that ' the greatest challenge lies in making the material relevant for my students.

Friday, July 20, 2007


A 102 year-old, petite, well-poised and proud man, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o'clock, with his hair fashionably coifed and shaved perfectly applied, even though he is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today. His wife of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary. After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, he smiled sweetly when told his room was ready.

As he maneuvered his walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of his tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on his window.

"I love it," he stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.

"Mr. Jones, you haven't seen the room; just wait."

"That doesn't have anything to do with it," he replied.

"Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn't depend on how the furniture is arranged ... it's how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it. It's a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do.

Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open I'll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I've stored away. Just for this time in my life.

Old age is like a bank account. You withdraw from what you've put in.

So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories. Thank you for your part in filling my Memory bank. I am still depositing."

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

1. Free your heart from hatred.

2. Free your mind from worries.

3. Live simply.

4. Give more.

5. Expect less.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Why "Pretty Good" Isn't Good Enough

Here is one of my favorite pieces from the man
who every week says, "See you on the radio".


There once was a pretty good student,
Who sat in a pretty good class,
And was taught by a pretty good teacher,
Who always let pretty good pass.

He wasn't terrific at reading,
He wasn't a whiz-bang at math,
But for him education was leading,
Straight down a pretty good path.

He didn't find school too exciting,

But he wanted to do pretty well,
And he did have some trouble with writing,
And nobody had taught him to spell.

When doing arithmetic problems,
Pretty good was regarded as fine,
Five plus five needn't always add up to be 10,
A pretty good answer was nine.

The pretty good class that he sat in,
Was part of a pretty good school,
And the student was not an exception,
On the contrary, he was the rule.

The pretty good school that he went to,
Was there in a pretty good town,
And nobody there seemed to notice,
He could not tell a verb from a noun.

The pretty good student in fact was,
Part of a pretty good mob,

And the first time he knew what he lacked was,
Whe he looked for a pretty good job.

It was then, when he sought a position,
He discovered that life could be tough,
And he soon had a sneaky suspicion,
Pretty good might not be good enough.

The pretty good town in our story,
Was part of a pretty good state,
Which had pretty good aspirations,
And prayed for a pretty good fate.

There once was a pretty good nation,
Pretty proud of the greatness it had,
Which learned much too late,
If you wanto be great,
Pretty good is, in fact, pretty bad.

"Osgood File"

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Writing Workshop - Newspaper Report

Use this frame to structure your newspaper article report.

Newspaper report frame

Name of newspaper:



Date of Publication:

Complete these starters:

This article was about...

An interesting fact I learned was ...

In addition to this, I learned that ...

In my opinion, ...

To share your newspaper report - click on Comments and type in your newspaper report.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Writing Poetry - a diamante

A diamante is a symmetrical poem. A diamantecan be structured like this:

Line 1: a noun
Line 2: two adjectives associated with line 1
Line 3: three participles associated with line 1
Line 4: two words associated with line 1; two words associated with line 7; a semi-colon separating the groups
Line 5: three participles associated with line 7
Line 6: two adjectives associated with line 7
Line 7: a noun that's an antonym of line 1.

Here's a diamante by a fifth-grader.

white, wet
sprinkling, splashing, dancing
umbrellas, clouds; shorts, shirts
playing, running, swimming
gold, hot

Now write your symmetrical poem.

To share your work - click on Comments and type in your poem.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Writing Workshop - A Story

Maya Angelou

Let’s Write a Story

How to Get an Idea

1. Collect four or more ideas that you could write a story about. Make a chart. Write each idea on the left-hand side of the chart and tell where it came from on the right-hand side of the chart.

2. Pick the idea from your list that you like best. Put a check in front of it. this is the idea you will turn into a story.

How to Plot Your Story

1. Write the big question readers will want answered by the end of your story. This question should be about your main character's big problem.

What will your character be able to at the conclusion of your story?

2. List at least three smaller questions people will guess about as they
read your story.

3. Now make a plot outline that lists the parts of the story. Write it on a sheet.

How to Invent Characters

1. Create a character chart, list each character. The first might a hero or a villain. Tell who each of the other characters are — perhaps the hero's friend, the villain's helper, the victim, a bystander, a foolish person, or whoever.

2. Give the details about each character by completing the chart. Details might include male or female, age, height, weight, eye color, hair color and length. Other Details - friends, hobbies, habits, and so on.

How to Invent Settings

1. In a setting chart, list each place where something happens in your story.

2. In a sentence, tell what happens in that place.

3. List the important details about the place: Is it big, small, light, dark, hot, cold, wet, dry, soft. hard. empty, filled with things, or what?
(Remember: You don't have to make up every place in your head. You can use real places from your life or take details from pictures.)

How to Gather Facts for a Story

1. In a fact chart, write the questions you'll need to answer before
you write your story.

2. After each question, tell how you will find the answer. List the name of
a book, a person, or a place where you plan to look. If you think you
already know the answer, make sure you're right.

3. On a sheet, write the answers you find for each question.

How to Write a First Draft

1. Prepare your writing space.
• Have several sharp pencils.
• Have plenty of lined paper.
• Have your outline handy.

2. Think about the scene you're going to write about. Try to see the action
and characters in your mind. Draw your scenes on paper.

3. As you write, skip every other line.

4. Let your ideas flow. Circle any words or punctuation marks that you
want to check later.

5. If it helps you, speak the lines your characters will say.

6. From time to time, read over what you've written.

7. Put your first draft away for a while before you try to make it better.

How to Improve Your First Draft

1. Gather the materials you'll need — your first draft, some sharp pencils, and a dictionary.

2. Read your paper slowly. You might want to read it out loud.
• Make sure you have an interesting beginning and a real ending.
• Go over the action step by step. Be sure that no important scenes are missing or in the wrong order.
• See if your words make clear pictures. Add details if you need to.
• Read the dialogue (speeches) out loud. Make sure each tag shows who is speaking and how — for example, "Stop," I yelled.
• Look up the spelling of each word you're not sure of. Correct any mistakes you find.
• Check the way you've used capital letters and punctuation marks. Be sure they're right.

3. After you've checked your work, ask a friend to read your paper and give you tips for making it better.

To share your work - click on Comments and type in your story.