Halloweening 2007

Will as knight, againWill had a trip back to the past this year for Halloween, returning to the knight look. It’s an outfit he got at the recent RenFest, by the way– so I guess it’s a multi-purpose outfit. At least I assume he’ll wear it the next time we head out there.

While I have tended to be a bit of a Halloween grinch in the recent past, I was for some reason in rather good spirits about the whole thing. Maybe it was because it was Will’s last Halloween in elementary school. Here’s a picture of Will’s class in costume after this year’s Halloween parade:

Will's 5th grade class, in costume

His teacher, who we really like, is off to the far right dressed as a monk and holding a bag of chips– a chip monk. Get it?

Will’s school had their annual Halloween parade on the 30th and Annette and I had a chance to be here. Here’s a little movie I made with my Flip video camera of the event, one that only a parent could love:

For this year’s trick and/or treating, Will had over a friend who is in his class, Costas. Here’s Costas, dressed as a pirate with ninja head covering, giving the good knight what he had coming:

Just a flesh wound....

As for the trick and/or treating, a good time was had by one and all. I think I have mentioned this before, but ours is a huge trick and/or treating neighborhood. With the pleasant weather, we had hundreds of kids and “kids” who aren’t so much kids. Andre, Pete, Wendy, and assorted kiddies stopped by, along with various EMU and neighborhood folks. I bought over 15 pounds of candy, and I ran out about a half-hour early. We always have some adults double-dipping on the candy, but this year, the element we hadn’t seen before was some parents driving down the street really slow (and playing really loud music) while their kids went for the candy.

But with these minor things aside, it was good trick and/or treating for all. Will and Costas had a good haul:

Oddly, no one wanted the Butterfinger. Yum, Butterfinger….

Icky story about Pedophiles on Second Life

From TechCrunch comes this story, Virtual Pedophilia Report Bad News for Second Life. Follow the link for the full story, though I personally find it kind of icky and unpleasant (which is why I suppose people should know about it). This is the sort of thing that might fit into my English 516 class since I am sure we’ll talk at least a bit about gaming, though I don’t know if we’ll talk much about Second Life and I really don’t know if I want to go down the path of talking about this aspect of Second Life. I have had students in the not so distant past, especially secondary school teachers coming back for their MAs, who see an article like this and then automatically dismiss any possible good things about SL. It’s one of those pieces that motivates a “throwing out the baby with the bathwater” kind of mentality. Anyway, we’ll see.

Innovative Wikipedia assignment kind of smells like comp/rhet pedagogy

There’s a good article in the October 29 Inside Higher Ed, “When Wikipedia is the assignment.” It’ll be good for something like English 516. It’s another report from the Educause conference, and it’s about how a professor teaching a course in the University of Washington at Bothell’s “Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences” program (sounds a bit like a gen ed class to me) has required her students to post their papers to Wikipedia. To quote from the article:

At first glance, a college term paper and a Wikipedia entry appear to have little in common. Term papers are intended for an “extremely limited audience, namely, me,� as Groom pointed out, they have little impact outside of the classroom and are constrained to a specific “time� and “place� in the world of ink-on-paper documents. “That is not a very good model of scholarship, to say that anything you produce [belongs] in this tiny space,� she said.

On the other hand, shared, public online documents have characteristics in common with parts of the academic review process. “The shift to thinking about placing the term paper as a Wikipedia encyclopedia entry allows for another level of peer review,� [Martha] Groom said. Such entries have references and citations; allow for a process of repeated, continual editing; and encourage collaborations between authors.

They also reach a much wider audience, through the Wikipedia site and search engines. “How do you motivate students to do their best work?� she asked — implying that the answer lies in the possibility of others viewing it. The public nature of Wikipedia content also means that, in theory, students would be less likely to reuse others’ material as their own.

In short, Wikipedia is a good place for students to publish their work because it encourages students to write beyond the teacher, it encourages revision/peer review/collaboration, it shows the importance of citation, and it makes writing public. Sound familiar?

Now, don’t get me wrong– I think what Groom is doing here is great, and I think there are lots of reasons why this would be a fantastic activity for fy comp or other research writing classes. But I always have some involuntary eye-rolling when someone in another discipline discovers something about writing pedagogy (e.g., “hey, let’s get students to write something not just for the teacher!” or “hey, let’s get them to collaborate on their writing!”) that folks in my field have known for decades.

This might have been fun…

… and maybe it’s something to think about next year: WikiSym, which just had its annual international conference which it says is the only international scientific conference dedicated to wikis.” I don’t know if that’s true or not, but given that this most recent conference was in Montreal, a city not far away from here and a city I want to visit, it’s a shame I didn’t think of this earlier. We’ll see where it is next year.

Conveniently (and not surprisingly) enough, it would appear that many of the conference panel papers are available through the web site. Might be worth thinking about in some upcoming teaching.

Consumers guide to fighting back

I perhaps should be posting this on my official blog, since I talked about our horrific trip on Northwest Airlines to New York City last March there, and also because I have taught a course in the past where one of the assignments involves writing and answering letters of complaint. But I’ll put it here, anyway: The Ultimate Consumerist Guide To Fighting Back, which has lots of ways to complain and get satisfied when screwed over by a business of one sort or another.

Incidentally, we did complain about the Northwest trip and we did get some coupons for a discounted flight in the future. Not much, but something. Oh, and I found this link via boing-boing.

Does anyone out there speak Finnish?

At least I think that’s the language in question here…

I noticed in the “Incoming Links” part of things on my blog that “ePro SEPPO” has recently linked here and to my article “When Blogging Goes Bad,” which, up to this point of my career, seems to have become my calling card, academically speaking. I’ve seen/read discussion about this article in other places before, but it’s been a while (that article came out a few years ago now), and just the other day, this showed up.

The problem for me is that it is in a language I certainly cannot read that I think is Finnish, so I have no idea what this person is saying. It could be “Krause is the greatest thinker of our time,” or it could be “what a goofball, this Krause guy.” If I was a betting man, I’d pick the second one.

In any event, I might end up emailing the blogger in question here, but if anyone in the meantime has any idea what they’re talking about here, let me know.

Ypsilanti Income Tax: Vote yes, I think

This one goes out for the Ypsi locals….

I have waffled on this personally quite a bit, and I can’t say that I am 100% convinced that this is all going to work out, but I think I’ve been persuaded by some things I’ve read lately that the only decent solution to Ypsilanti’s financial woes is to vote yes on the proposed income tax. More below if you’re interested.
Continue reading “Ypsilanti Income Tax: Vote yes, I think”

Earthquakes celebrate perfect record, sort of

0 and 6!  0 and 6!

Today was the last game for Will’s soccer team the Earthquakes (I guess mine too, since I helped out Jim K. with coaching and kid wrangling), and what a miserable game it was. We had to play the first game (9 am), and that comes mighty early on a Saturday morning. It was in the 40s and rainy and kinda windy. Only sleet could have made it worse. And we lost and lost very very badly, like zip to 10. That caps off an 0-6 season, one where we played two (maybe three) games we really should have won, and three or four games where we just crushed.

But you know what? The kids really didn’t seem to care a whole bunch, and at this age (under 12), I guess that’s a good thing. This isn’t exactly a super-duper competitive league, and the kids all really seemed to get along great. It was a lot of fun working with/hanging out with the kids and with Jim, and I hope I get a chance to pitch in again in the spring. The way I figure it, I have a little more time this year with my “sabbatical lite” schedule at work, and I think Will is right at that age where it’s still “kinda cool” for Dad to be hanging out and one of the coaches.

Incidentally, in the picture above (there’s a bunch more in this flickr set) is the kids goofin’ a bit, holding up the “L is for loser” hand gesture. Good sense of humor, these kids. One of them was talking to Will about how they had this perfect record, that no one had ever lost all of their games like that. Will said “Oh yeah? I haven’t won a game in two years!”

Well, maybe next year….