Amazing art

One of these pieces of art were featured in the past week’s Thought Shrapnel newsletter. I followed the link to the web site of Italian artist Federico Leggio –

The content is copyrighted with “All Rights Reserved” so I’ll respect that and not include any of the original work in this post. A YouTube video highlighting a piece of his amazing work appears instead. It was a contribution to “a word, a week”.

If that inspires you, you need to head over to his website and really dig deeply into his portfolio of work. People who have that skill continue to shock and wow me!

If you look at the comments on the YouTube video, he was asked for a tutorial about how his work is created. He either hasn’t seen the request, or is ignoring it, or maybe working on a response!

But, if you’re working with students and working with digital composition tools, you and your students might be able to make a pretty good guess.

Are there any inspiring artists in your classroom?

OTR Links 01/31/2019

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Snowmageddoon from the other side

After lots of shovelling yesterday, today appears to be business as usual for schools around here. If cold qualifies as business as usual!

As I was typing the post yesterday, I was reminded that there are always two sides to every story. For every fond teacher remembrance, there are lots of student stories.

Here are a few of mine. The context was just a bit different from the teacher side post of yesterday. I grew up in the snow belt of Lake Huron where the municipalities really understood how to handle snow. And yet there were times when it just took everyone by surprise. Schools and buses were handled differently then. There was no scenario where buses would not run but schools would stay open. It was all or nothing. So while we had “town kids” and “country kids”, if the weather was bad, school was cancelled. It did lead to some personal memories as a kid.

  • We lived within walking distance of the elementary school. I was a “crossing guard” which meant I got to leave school five minutes before everyone else so that I could wear my cool badge and get to the crossing point on Highway 8 first. We were able to bring out sleds to school and so mine would come with me. I remember, once I got the traffic stopped, that we would put the kindergarten kids on the sled and pull them across the highway when it was so snow covered that the pavement was just a memory.
  • The reason why we could take our sleds to school? The back yard of the school had some of the best sledding in town. When school was closed, we didn’t stay bottled up at home; we went to the school to go sledding. For a change of pace, the piles of snow that were left in the parking lot of the grocery store by the plough were great as well.
  • And the plough always seemed to leave great big chunks of ice on the side of the road as they went by. All it took were four of them to make two goal posts for our road rink. The only complaint was when the puck “went over the post”. Since we lived on a street that had a slope to it, there was a period when we would have an advantage by going down hill.
  • Snow days were a thing at secondary school as well. There was one year when the “country kids” were storm stayed and ended up spending the night either at the school or at relative/friend’s houses in town. We couldn’t let them be lonely so a few of us who had snowmobiles at the time would join them and the storm stayed teachers at the school.
  • Snow days were not uncommon at university as well. I don’t know if it was a university policy or just the fact that computer science students would pull all nighters, but the Math Building was always open. At the time, I lived off campus, just across the road and so we continued the practice of all nighters to get the programming done. It’s an interesting mix of people that you see in the wee hours of the morning.

Yes, there are definitely two sides to a big hit of snow.

Misery this morning …

Do you have any stories to share from your student perspective? I’d be interested in reading them in the comments.

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If you read it anywhere else, it’s not original.

OTR Links 01/30/2019

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.


This post was written Monday morning so things may have dramatically changed by the time it goes live on Tuesday. We’ll see!

I was up for my early private reading this morning about 4:30 and turned on the television to a Detroit station to see what was up. Given the weather of the weekend and the promise/threat of more, I wanted to know.

Even at that hour, the crawlers across the bottom of the screen were listing the schools that would be closed today. I looked out the window to see the moon shining nicely and there wasn’t a hint of a problem The indoor/outdoor thermometer said -13. Cold, but it sure could be worse. I checked the online information for schools locally and everything was green, as in no problem – schools open, buses running.

Then, I applied my definitive test which is to look at the Misery Map from FlightAware. It’s US only (because there’s no misery in flying in Canada <grin>) , but given our proximity to Detroit Metro Airport, a pretty good indicator of things. If the planes aren’t running, you just know the weather is doing its thing. Green is good; red is bad.

DTW looked OK at this time but MSP and ORD (and the weather around them) told of what was to come. As of this writing, there are 176 delays and 85 cancellations.

Eventually, the local bus website would be updated to indicate that all schools were open but that no there were no buses.

I can’t imagine the pressure that goes into making the decision to not open schools or to not run buses. But the “secret” was revealed this morning – at least from Livonia schools.

In my former district, the standard is pretty much to keep the schools open even if the buses are not running. I remember talking to a superintendent once and he indicated that the administration lives in fear of closing a school but a student dropped off by a parent is left all alone. It’s probably not as big a deal for those of us who are in the secondary panel.

Yet, I still have some stories…

  1. The joys of being a Computer Science teacher – even on the snowiest of days, there were always students who would come to school with their entire project team to work on things. They wouldn’t typically have to fight for computer time like on a regular day
  2. And, I’d be lying if I didn’t confess that it could turn into an arcade for some
  3. One of my principal’s big flashpoints was students wandering the halls. I remember once a student from my homeroom outside in the hallway with an open locker. So, I did the challenge bit and was told by this classroom lawyer that I couldn’t enforce the rules because he wasn’t officially checked in. While wondering how I’d debate that, the vice-principal happened along and helped the student “check in”
  4. Probably the worst thing that could happen would be everyone getting to school safely and then the storm hits and buses show up to take everyone home early. Of course, staff wasn’t allowed to leave until the last student. I ended up driving a colleague (who didn’t drive) home and got stuck in a marina. Fortunately, this country boy had a bag of chicken grit in the trunk
  5. During my first or second year of teaching, the rules were that, even if the buses weren’t running, you had to report for work. And, if you couldn’t get to your school, you were required to report to the closest school. About three or four of us secondary teachers ended up at an elementary school for the day. I still remember the culture shock; still trying to get my head around teenagers but being a helper for a day in a kindergarten class

And, if I think hard enough, I could probably come up with more stories to share. But, you get the point. Education is one job where there are all kinds of personalized memories.

Do you have any snow day stories to share via comment? I’d love to read them. They’re probably better than mine.

Oh, and if the storm does hit and you’re out there doing your best to save your little part of humanity from illiteracy, take care on the roads.

Misery Update!

Just before I schedule this post, I check the Misery Map update. There are now 437 delays and 123 cancellations.

This post appears at:

If you read it anywhere else, it’s not original.

OTR Links 01/29/2019

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

A censor for us?

I spent considerable time exploring and thinking about this last week – Microsoft Edge warns people that visit the Daily Mail news source in the United Kingdom.

Here’s a sample of the story –

Even Microsoft Edge thinks the Daily Mail website is an untrustworthy source of news

I was curious and so tried to replicate it here and couldn’t — at least I went into the settings and turned on NewsGuard. I revisited the Daily Mail website and, sure enough, I was now warned.

That really was a surprise.

I’m a big Formula 1 fan and, when in season, appreciate the efforts that European news sources put into stories and making them available. It gets far better coverage that what we do here.

The Daily Mail is one of my stops when checking things out. It stands out from the rest because there are no short and to the point headline titles. Everything is identified with a paragraph to entice you to read more.

Of course, I had to head over and determine just what gives News Guard the credibility that it has such that Microsoft would want to include the feature in its browser. You can read about how it works here.

It’s not just available for Bing. It’s an extension that’s available for most of the major browsers. Chrome download here.  (Currently ~30K users)

I turned Edge around to look at some Canadian news sites. The Toronto Star was rated green, so presumably OK. The Toronto Sun, Globe and Mail, and Windsor Star have not been rated by News Guard yet. You are given the option to submit that resource for review.

At this point, I can’t really make a really strong opinion based on my personal news scoping. I do know that the tabloid magazines (Red Tops) tend to grab your attention at the checkout line at a grocery store with sensational headlines. I decided to check out some of the other tabloid sources from the United Kingdom and noted that they were currently under review. I checked out the Tabloid that I think we all know of when we think tabloid and it returned the same warning message.

What does this mean – would I use it as a way to validate the site that I’m currently reading? What about schools? Does having this in their browser turn them away from a source that’s red flagged? I suppose the biggest question is about the standards that are used when evaluating a news source. Are certain sources held as credible because of politics or is it purely objective?

Has anyone else read about this and given it some thought? I’d be interested in your thoughts. Please share them via comment below.

This post appears at:

If you read it anywhere else, it’s not original.