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The Design of Character Development

Characters are built from the inside out, that's why it's called "character." This is equally true of puppets, in theater roles and the life we build each day.

Today at GenCon I attended several seminars on puppetry, partially for myself and also on behalf of my daughter. One of the common themes I heard was about the development of the character in addition to the mechanics of the puppet. Just like in life, character takes time to develop and can quickly be destroyed in a moment of poor decision.

One of the seminars was with Steve Whitmire, known for Rizzo the Rat, Wembley Fraggle and tasked with taking over the role of Kermit the Frog following Jim Henson's death. It was good to hear his story about joining the Muppet crew in London and his personal journey as a performer and artist. Throughout his discussion, he would emphasize the role that character plays in the performance.

Finding the heart or kernel of what drives the character provides a center, or focu…
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Book Review: Cardboard

As a father who spent many afternoons building cardboard creations with my younger kids, the idea that those cutouts could come to life is intriguing. This book was a fun afternoon read. Despite being over 280 pages, I finished it in one sitting.

The story is about friendship, moving beyond obstacles of grief and isolation, and building relationships. For those who struggle with magic as a reason for cardboard cutouts to act alive, there is a vague attempt to explain how the cardboard comes to life - but it's even more bizarre so just go with it.

There were no issues with language or sexual innuendo but there is some mild peril and violence as the monster cardboard creations must be prevented from destroying the world. Well drawn with an engaging plot that continues to move, this would be a great book for upper elementary or older readers.

Cardboard by Doug TenNapel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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HHOF Shootout

Shoot out skills at the Hockey Hall of Fame

Understanding Core Values

Every educational tool is designed from a set of values. We need to understand those curricular values and how they align or conflict with an organization's teaching objectives.
This week I came across an Instagram post by McGraw Hill Education (pictured here). The text reads:

"When all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free." -Barack Obama | Happy #PrideMonth to our LGBTQ colleagues and friends!"
Now it does not surprise me that a major education curriculum publisher would identify with the gay rights agenda. Nor do I believe that a single Instagram post negates the quality of their published materials. But it is important to understand that these basic beliefs will impact the message they produce.

Summer PD: The Office At Endor

This summer I'm running a professional development program for staff called the Office at Endor. It's loosely based on the defunct mobile game Tiny Death Star.

The basic premise is that after the destruction of the Death Star off the forest moon of Endor, the rebel Alliance realized they could convert the abandoned shield base into an office outpost. The Ewoks were more than eager to lend their assistance to the cause as it would bolster their status in the economic structure of the new government.

As staff learn new skills, they add levels to their office complex. Each level costs a few credits to maintain and multiplies their productivity score for a total credits earned. These credits can be spent for real world items. So far, the turn out has not been too bad but I'm exploring ways to encourage more participation.