Fun


I am a somewhat reluctant reader of webcomics: I don’t really like following ones with extended storylines, but the ones that can be read fairly individually and still make me laugh are my favorites. My favorites are definitely PHD Comics, Chaospet (although it isn’t updated frequently, it’s good philosophical humor), PartiallyClips, and – last but certainly not least – xkcd.

Well, today’s webcomic combines my love of literature and technology (and all most things geeky) into a strip:

Dear Peter Wiggin: This letter is to inform you that you have received enough upvotes on your reddit comments to become president of the world. Please be at the UN tomorrow at 8:00 sharp.

The mouseover/alt text is perhaps the funniest part (and that is often so with xkcd – it’s sort of like a really easy Easter egg): “Dear Peter Wiggin: This letter is to inform you that you have received enough upvotes on your reddit comments to become president of the world. Please be at the UN tomorrow at 8:00 sharp.”

Of course, this representation isn’t quite what happens in the book, but it’s still a funny little commentary on the idea that “essays on the nets” – which is precisely what blogs are – could give a person enough clout that the general population, even one that is in the kind of turmoil that we see in Ender’s Game, would hand over leadership to these bloggers. Why isn’t anyone handing over the keys to their city or state to Andrew Sullivan? (Other than the fact that he’s a Brit…)

[By the way, if any of you are interested in math, science, programming, science fiction, pop culture references, the Internet or its little quirks like 4chan (no, I will not provide a link – I like you all too much for that), or other geeky/nerdy things, you really should be reading xkcd. Bookmark it – now!]

It’s taken me over eight months to add a second part to this, but I finally have something.

Today was a weird day; our chapter of FFA took a great deal of students to a local ag event (not surprising for a rural school), and so I knew in advance that I would be losing a lot of students. So, like all teachers do, I adjusted.

The only problem was that my classes of juniors didn’t lose nearly the proportion of students that the other classes did, so I was left trying to do something without pushing on with new material (because I hadn’t planned to). What’s a teacher to do with a spare day, no material, and the desire to keep an already rambunctious group of students from turning riotous?

A game, of course.

I can’t take credit at all for what I did; in his methods text, Teaching English by Design: How to Create and Carry Out Instructional Units,  Peter Smagorinsky includes a page with a variety of unit ideas and other resources, including a list of vocabulary games. Having looked through them in preparation for today, I set my sights on Pyramid. (Check out the link if you’re curious about the game’s details.)

I’m a big believer in using word roots in order to help students associate meaning with words, which can also help somewhat when students identify these roots in new words and thereby make an educated guess at the word’s meaning in a given context. Pyramid does that pretty nicely, and the students responded well to it. I don’t think it seemed too much like an “educational game,” and there were moments when we were laughing so hard because of how the students were trying to convey the meaning of a word. Some students did better than others, and we ran out of time for it in the larger section, but it was clear from how involved students got that we’ll be doing it again. Who knows? Maybe I can use it as leverage (like my previous idea). You never know.

At any rate, I’m just glad that something worked. Every day is another step closer, and that’s a good sign.

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