Monday, 26 August 2013

Back to School

These three quotes have me thinking about my teaching practice. You?

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Links of the Week: Eliminate Sense Verbs from Your Writing & Books from the Libraries

Here are two articles I enjoyed reading this week. Occasionally, a small change is all you need; at other times, a revolution is required.

Straightforward Techniques to Make Your Writing More Immediate

          Love this blog entry about eliminating the sense verbs to give your writing zing!


The Future of Libraries
          Is it time to get rid of books in libraries? Shock! Horror! Take a look:

Image credits:

David Wilson Library. Photograph. Encyclopædia Britannica Image Quest. Web. 24 Aug 2013.

Writing Desk. Fine Art. Encyclopædia Britannica Image Quest. Web. 24 Aug 2013.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Marvel 1602

Marvel 1602Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Bloody brilliant.

Placing Marvel characters such as Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four and Daredevil at the time of Elizabeth I demonstrates how universal and enduring comic themes are.

The graphic novel could be purchased by schools for pleasure reading, but also to look at character archetypes, dramatic narrative, historical research, and how to visualize a story.

"So what are these fundamental principles...?"

"Stories. And they give me hope.

"We are a boatful of monsters and miracles, hoping that, somehow, we can survive a world in which all hands are against us. A world which, by all evidence, will end extremely soon.

"Yet I posit we are in a universe which favours stories.

"A universe in which no story can ever truly end; in which there can be only continuances."

For more see:

View all my reviews

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The Importance of Visual Literacy

While watching Discovery Channel's pre-Shark Week show, Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives, I thought, 'This can't be true'. Yet, others watching with me were taken for a ride. It didn't help that the mockumentary claimed that it was showing real footage from Discovery Channel teams working on the project.

For me, the Instagram quality of the colour didn't seem like it was legit. The interviews seemed scripted and designed to set up the characters as heroic. The editing was that of a fictional film: build up, tension, action. As well, the timeline moved way too quickly for real life. You mean, they were able to build that lure humpback whale in just a few days? Also, the reaction of the characters when they were firing the chum over the side of the boat - jokes and laughter - highlight the creation of fictional, carefree heroes. This hooting and a-hollering would not be appropriate in real life: neither to the purported victims of megalodon, nor to the dangerous situation the characters were supposedly in.

Here are a couple of other reactions that were published after the program showed:

But it is possible to create such a movie and have others believe that it is true? It has happened before. Remember The Blair Witch Project? At least in both cases, we quickly learned that these were fictional creations. But could we be fooled again by someone who is unwilling to reveal the truth? The powers of propaganda can bite.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Death in Breslau

Death in Breslau: An Eberhard Mock InvestigationDeath in Breslau: An Eberhard Mock Investigation by Marek Krajewski
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Independent described this book “as noir as they get”. I also love some of the other reviews. They give you a sense of the muscle in the book:

“A dark and compelling novel, full of perverse sex and violence as the world begins to spin off its axis.”
-The Mail on Sunday

“The city of Breslau is as much a character in this thriller as the parade of gothic loons that inhabit it...This addictive soup has an air of burlesque about it.”
-The Daily Telegraph

“Krajewski relishes the period detail as takes us from bloody interrogation cells to Madam LeGoef’s sweaty bordello...What’s haunting about Krajewski’s book, however, is the worst was yet to come.”
-Independent on Sunday

There’s something about a corrupt police department still trying to uphold the law and do what’s right. They need devious means to cut through the criminality of others. It’s a power struggle between bad, evil and ultimate evil.

Set mostly in interwar Germany, bordering on Poland, in a city which would become Polish again after WWII, the Machiavellian protagonist, Eberhard Monk, tries to solve the chilling murders of a young girl, her nanny and a railway worker.

What I love about the book is that Mock, for all his dastardly methods, is still the good guy. After all, the ends do justify the means when you’re dealing with the Nazis. Ironically, he still longs to be a “[m]an pure, by crime untouched.”

Breslau is the perfect setting, with its own layers of multiple identities.

There are many dead cluttering the stage by the end of the book. Indeed, for all the blood and gore, it feels as if there are only two people surviving by the conclusion.

The writer sets out clever clues for the reader. We get to understand what is going on just before the characters do. Just, just.

I would have liked the translation to have been a little less melodramatic. It may be echoing the original book, but I haven’t seen the Polish edition.

View all my reviews

Groupwork? Meh.

"I am a horse for a single harness, not cut out for tandem or teamwork...for well I know that in order to attain any definite goal, it is imperative that one person do the thinking and commanding" (Cain 71). -Albert Einstein

"Work alone" (Cain 73). -Steve Wozniak

"Society is itself an education in the extrovert values, and rarely has there been a society that has preached them so hard. No man is an island, but how John Donne would writhe to hear how often and for what reason, the thought is so tiresomely repeated" (Cain 34). - William Whyte

"[I]nsight occurs when we balance direct engagement in a task with a kind of detached insouciance...[T]he left hemisphere of the brain tries to seek answers in the obvious places...,but sooner than later tires of the problem if it is at all difficult. When one gets away from direct immersion in a problem, the right hemisphere can still be, so to speak, working on the problem in subconscious ways. At some point, and in ways that are not easily traceable, the 'answer' seems to come out of the blue and in surprisingly complete form" (Fullan 26).

Quotes from
Cain, Susan. Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking. New York: Crown Publishers, 2012. Print.

Fullan, Michael. Stratosphere: integrating technology, pedagogy, and change knowledge. Don Mills, Ont.: Pearson, 2013. Print.

Image credits
A Woman Reads In Solitude On A Quiet Beach Next To Turquoise Water.. Photography. Encyclopædia Britannica Image Quest. Web. 1 Aug 2013.

Brain. Photography. Encyclopædia Britannica Image Quest. Web. 12 Sep 2013.

The Thinker. Photograph. Encyclopædia Britannica Image Quest. Web. 1 Aug 2013.