Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Free Flash Card App: Quizlet

​Looking for a fun way students can review vocabulary or definitions? Try Quizlet! The free version is quite robust. Create a study set, then share it with students and parents. 

The mobile app and web versions offer different experiences so students may want to try both. You can also build classes and compare student scores as a way to gauge understanding. Quizlet uses several study modes: 
Flashcards - similar to paper versionLearn - type the matching term or definitionSpeller - type the word you hearScatter - drag terms to match definitionsSpace Race - type answers before time runs outGravity - another race game

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Right Back With Another Drama Poster

Theater posters should tell more than they say. Just finished another promotional poster for Bethesda's fall drama We'll Be Right Back After This Murder. Written by Pat Cook, this "topsy-turvy comedy where everyone suspects everyone" will leave you guessing right to the very end.

With plenty of over the top characters and silly situations, this show should make for a fun evening. Performance dates are Friday and Saturday, October 23 & 24. The show begins at 7pm. Ticket prices are $10 ($8 for students and senior citizens) and includes dessert and a drink. There will also be a silent dessert auction. For more information or to reserve tickets, please call 317-858-2820.

As a newer stage show, this murder mystery/comedy does not sell itself like a Broadway musical. But the phrasing in the title implies a television slogan and the show does utilize a reporter and camera crew. So I decided to use an old style TV set to frame the poster information. Hopefully most people will remember what television sets looked like before the digital revolution.

In addition to designing the poster, I will be dressing the set and hanging lights.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Entertainment is Not Engagement

Vapid screens in church worship and the classroom lack engagement. Dependence on projected media sabotages memory, replacing substance and form for performance and entertainment.

It's Monday, ask any contemporary worship goer what songs they sang yesterday in church. Most will not remember. If they have a favorite contemporary worship song, could they sing it completely from memory?

Young adults and teens, those for whom we have designed big screen interactions, are even worse. Most that I ask cannot even come up with a favorite church song, opting to recall popular songs from the radio.

In another blog post, Jonathan Aigner gives 15 reasons we should still be using hymnals in church. Almost all of them deal with HOW we engage the medium, not the style of music. Large visuals touch our emotions but rarely soak down to our deeper understanding. Books provide permanence in our memory. Hymnals draw congregations into active participation in ways that big screen lyrics never will.

The same problem exists in the modern classroom where screens have begun to replace textbooks. Teachers are tasked with drawing students into deeper understanding and developing critical thinking skills. Simply playing more videos will never meet the challenge. Cutesy games and edutainment have a place on the peripheral. Engaging students in tangible tasks, reading from real books and holding them accountable through written responses is the core of education.

Unfortunately, both our churches and our schools have succumbed to the glamour of big entertainment. Focus has shifted away from depth of meaning to fast paced performance. Worship songs forgo punctuation, allowing congregations to interpret meaning for themselves. Students prefer to post quick videos rather than craft a revised paper. We need greater depth and less glamour if we expect to engage the next generation and see the internalization of the content we teach.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Book Review: Behemoth

Westerfeld's sophomore effort reduces scale to develop characters. Behemoth, the second book in Scott Westerfeld's steam punk trilogy continues where the first book, Leviathan left off. But by confining this tale to the city of Istanbul, Westerfeld can develop the main characters and their tenuous relationship.

Set as an alternative reality for World War I, two unlikely allies navigate a world of subterfuge in an attempt to bring peace. Darwinist Britain, with their fabricated animal war machines attempts to keep the Ottomans from siding with the Clanker German war machines.

Just like the first book, there is plenty of historical accuracy woven within elaborate locations and intense battle scenes. Westerfeld does not depend solely on the same cast of characters, introducing us to the Committee of Union and Progress. This rebel force provides an external plot mechanism to develop the strained relationship between Alek and Deryn.

Overall, I was pleased with this book. The pacing moved swiftly, the plot was cohesive and I feel ready to tackle the third book. The only concern I would point out to parents is that two girls kiss. Deryn continues to hide her true identity, dressing and acting like a boy, but one of the new characters (Lilit) gives her a parting kiss. I'm still not completely sure if Lilit knew for sure or not. Either way, the reader is left with an awkward situation brought on by Deryn's lack of honesty.