Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Snowshoe jones

OK. So we've got the cold weather. Where's the snow?

Since the Patriots gave away the AFC Championship Game to the Indianapolis Colts two weeks ago, I lost a significant source of my extrinsic excitement. There are few things I enjoy more than sitting back on the couch, firing up my HD flat screen, cranking the 5.1 Dolby surround sound, and letting my spirits rise and fall with the weekly fate of Bill Belichick's gridiron boys.

The Pats are done, the Celtics are bottom-dwellers, and the Bruins irreverent. There's still three months to go until Red Sox opening day.

Aside from the Sopranos' final season (eight episodes slated to begin in March), there's not much else in the realm of high-definition entertainment worth getting excited about.

So I now turn toward the skies.

Please, Mother Nature, give me some powder upon which I may tread...

...through valley and field, stream and pond, I yearn for the crunch of white and the calm of crisp cold.

Listen to the chirp and rustle, the little scuttle, of birds and beavers, fox and otter. Behold the glimmer of the orb, undying, strengthening...

...in the blink of an eye the ground shall thaw and green things grow. Rain will yield the sun's full fury. We shall soon be scorched and forced to shelter in the very waters we now walk.

But as it is still cold, I seek a sojourn. 'Tis a placid white, a calming balm, that I do summon. My eyes are open. I await.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Ah Snap!

I just added a feature to the blog called "Snap." It allows you to view a link's content in a small window without having to click on it. Simply move the pointer over a link, and the Snap window will pop up, giving you a glimpse of the site.

If you find it distracting, it is possible to shut it off. So far I like it.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

No time for poetry...

... but exactly what is. I am a Jack Kerouac fan. His spontaneous prose style, his philosophy of "first thought, right thought," inspires me in my own writing.

I think it's possible as a writer to develop a tendency of hesitating, of putting the breaks on, of bringing to a halt an idea before it can develop.

The best place for straight-ahead writing is a personal journal, although Kerouac made a name for himself by unabashedly baring his soul in unapologetic fashion. His strength was his tenderness of spirit.

There is so much I'd like to do with this blog. There's so much I want to do as a teacher, as a writer, as a young American living in an era that's constantly changing and evolving.

Our lives consist of stimulation and pace - an undying march toward an infinite end. If we are fortunate, we find within this procession our column, row, and place to stand alone and together.

Monday, January 22, 2007

How to print to Mr. B-G's HP 1220

Click on the following:







"BGTEACHERCOMPUTER" (located after the “L” section)

'HP 1220"

You will now see the HP 1220 printer icon when you go to the print window. Click on it to print to my printer, which is located on the blue filing cabinet.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


It was with shock and horror that I read this front page story from today's Boston Globe. It was a reminder that schools - for better or worse - are a microcosm of society.

Despite the best efforts of teachers and administrators to provide safe learning environments for students, tragedy can still strike. According to the Globe article, a 16-year-old sophomore stabbed and killed a 15-year-old freshman after an argument broke out in a boy's bathroom.

The article goes on to paint the defendant as a psychologically troubled, "sketchy" young man who wore a trench coat and was on multiple medications.

I know that students at the school where I teach were legitimately concerned for their safety after we received a bomb threat at the beginning of the year. However, three additional bomb threats later and it's amazing how desensitized some of us have become to this legitimate threat of violence.

Reading this article made me think about how fragile life really is, and how one single action can affect thousands. I would hope that I am the type of teacher whom students feel comfortable talking to if they're feeling stressed and pressured and need to vent.

I know my school has a great group of adults who genuinely care and are readily available to lend an ear to students in need. It's sometimes easy to get caught up in the pressures and expectations of the day-to-day and forget about the big picture.

No school staff or student body should have to suffer the plight of Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School.

Friday, January 19, 2007

An invitation

Do you know what's cool? This morning I received an invitation from MLB Bloggers to join their blog group.

Here's an excerpt from their e-mail:

Dear blog author,

We recently came across your site, bgenglish9f.blogspot.com, while searching for bloggers who blog about Major League Baseball. A small group of us have started a new site called MLB Bloggers. Our intent is to bring Major League Baseball bloggers closer together, and make a positive contribution to the Internet community.

Craig Cantin
MLB Bloggers

- Apparently they saw one of my 9th grade English students' stories about baseball. I find it pretty amazing that, as of this posting, our blog has received 3,385 visits. As you can see on the map here, folks from around the world are visiting our site.

Kudos to my students for writing such varied and intriguing stories. They're developing a legitimate audience that enjoys reading their work. Bravo!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Fishing search advice

In addition to using the school's library database to search for information, try doing a refined Google search.

Often the most reliable Internet sites for research projects have a URL that ends in .edu, .org, or .gov. The ending of a URL can tell you about a site's "domain." Click here to learn more about domain names.

The domain .edu means the site is produced by an educational institution like a college or university. The domain .org is used for a non-commercial, non-profit site. A .gov site is associated with the United States Government. These types of sites often have reliable information written by professionals, although there are, of course, exceptions.

To limit your Google search to either .edu, .org, or .gov click here. First enter the subject of your search at the top, then type .edu in the domain box. All sites listed should be limited to .edu.
Here are my results of an .edu search for "deep sea fishing."
Do the same for .org and .gov.

After doing a search for deep sea fishing, I tired to do a limited Google search on "fishing as a way of life," but found few entries. So I expanded to a general search, and found some results.

Remember that we also have books about fishing on the book cart. I can help you make photocopies if you find something good.

Click here to learn about the correct way to cite sources using MLA format.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Old Man and the Sea

Before my freshmen and I begin reading Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, we will do research projects about Hemingway and deep-sea fishing at the library. Click here for the assignment.

One of the tools we'll be using at the library is Infotrac. It's essentially a database of searchable essays and periodicals. Please ask me for the password.

Ms. Stroud said some good "keyword search" words are: saltwater fishing, salt water AND fishing, and fisheries.

If doing a subject search, try: fishing recreation, fishing vessels, marlin fishing, shark fishing, and big game fishing. Here are the results from one of Ms. Stroud's searches.

For those interested in learning more about Hemingway's "masculine prose" writing style, check out this link from Tidewater Community College in Virginia.

It does a decent job explaining the creative choices writers make when trying to write in particular styles. At one point it contrasts F. Scott Fitzgerald's "psychological flourishes" with Hemingway's hard prose.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


What a victory.
The Patriots, arguably over-matched, manage to squeeze out a win over the 14-2 Chargers in their own backyard.

This had to have been one of the
tightest, tensest games I've ever seen. There were about four plays over the course of the game that the Pats had to make. Guess what? They made them.

Clutch. How else can you describe this team? On paper, the Pats lose this game by two touchdowns. But on the field, the Pats' collective play is greater than the sum of its parts.

This is a team that inspires you to work hard, prepare, and give your best day in and day out. What's not to love?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Categories and contests

You may have noticed I started categorizing each of my posts. This means that all entries on any given topic can be found by clicking on the respective blog post category links located in the right-hand column.

I've also created two new link lists. One is called "Essay Contests," the other "Writing Opportunities." I hope to add to both as I become aware of additional contests and seminars for teenage writers.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Get published

I hope that as students are able to receive concrete feedback and encouragement from their peers, some might consider trying to publish their stories elsewhere.

I've posted a few links to sites that publish teen writing. If you know of any others that I should include in my link list, please let me know!

Most students have uploaded their stories to the blog, and have already received peer feedback. I am planning to post a comment of my own for each story. As for students' grades, I will give them each a piece of paper that contains their score for each of the five rubric categories and overall grade.

Eventually, if all students sign up for Google Accounts, it may be possible to privately post individual evaluations to the blog, which could be read only by the intended student.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Commenting on classmates' short stories

My 9th grade students have started posting their short stories to their respective class blogs. One of the requirements for this assignment is for students to comment on three of their peers' stories. Click here for the instructions on commenting.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

The right ingredients

As a teacher, I draw inspiration from successful coaches and players. It's easy to buy into the Patriots' formula because it works and produces the desired results. Yes, more victories will be necessary for the Pats to achieve their ultimate goal this season, but it's easy to appreciate what they've done so far.

Off-season signings and injuries found the Pats without a number of their usual contributors for another postseason run, yet here they are, three victories away from a fourth Superbowl trophy.

Teamwork, preparation, discipline, cooperation, trust, hard work. Mix those ingredients with a little knowledge and talent, and you have the recipe for a successful sports team... and an effective school classroom. Congrats Pats. On to San Diego.

Web-based file sharing server

I've found a free file sharing site that will allow me to save up to 1 GB of files to its servers on the web, and allow anyone to access them. The site is Box.net. The name reminds me of Al Gore's ill-famed "lockbox," which provided writers at SNL countless parody fodder.

OK, see if you can access my Socratic Seminar file. I've uploaded it, and it should be ready to download.

For kicks, here's an Adobe PDF file: Editing and Proofreading Checklist


I've just discovered another free file sharing server, Ripway. It only allows 30 MB of free storage, but might be faster than Box.net. How long does it take to download this file on comma usage?

HFS File Server

HFS File Server is a program that allows you to make your computer into a web server. You are able to have a folder where you can drop and drag files, and each file is assigned a URL, allowing you to share the file with anyone... the only caveat is that because your computer is the server, it needs to be left on and connected to the Internet in order to work.

Saturday, January 6, 2007


I recently added a link list of publishing resources for teenagers. I hope to expand it over time. Also, students interested in writing professionally should check out my journalism blog. There's a variety of sites and resources worthy of exploration.

Tonight I'm off to the Ironhorse to see a great singer/songwriter, Livingston Taylor - JT's brother. Tomorrow afternoon it's Pats v.s Jets, and then in the evening I have an induction dinner to attend with members of the SHHS Leo Club and the SH Lions.

Note: Blogger makes it easy to create hypertext links in its blog posts. Did you check out any of the four links found in the above message?

A visit from Japan

Two days ago my old college roommate, Alex, called to tell me he was back in Western Mass for the night. Given that he's been living in Tokyo, Japan, and that I hadn't seen him in five years, his call was a more than pleasant surprise. He had come stateside for the holidays, and brought his fiancee, Sei (pronounced "C"), with him. We met at a local watering hole for about two hours and caught up. Even though it had been a while since we last hung out, our conversation and rapport was natural and easy.

If we are fortunate, we are able to meet and forge relationships with people who seem to possess a similar cosmic ethos. Alex's visit was inspirational and invigorating. I was glad to see him happy and well.

I don't know how this entry relates exactly to classroom pedagogy, although teaching is largely about cultivating relationships and making connections. I still keep in touch with some of my former high school and college teachers. It feels good to re-establish those bonds from time to time, because they have been meaningful and important to my personal and professional growth.

In an effort to expand and enhance my posts, I've uploaded a picture of Mt. Fuji. Blogger allows me to decide the photo's orientation and size. This is the "medium" size. I like it. What do you think?

Friday, January 5, 2007

Google Docs and Spreadsheets

I would like to thank Sean M. for telling me about Google Docs and Spreadsheets. I had been looking for a way to upload documents to the web and create URLs. Through Google Docs, I am able to create an individual link for any Word or text document I would like. Here, for example, is the link to the short story assignment: Short story blog assignment . This is much better than posting a blog entry containing the entire text. I may even have students upload their short stories to Google Docs, and then post the links on the blog. We shall soon see.

Thursday, January 4, 2007


One of my goals for this blog is to post comments multiple times per week. I would like to focus my responses on content - on what I'm teaching, what I'm learning, what I'm discovering. I'd like to document my process, and the highs and lows prevalent to the teaching profession.

I would like to limit my responses to curriculum and pedagogy as much as possible. As I begin to publicize this blog with my students, colleagues, and friends, word will get out that Mr. B-G has a blog. Unlike some other edu-blogs, I do not plan to share my personal feelings about individual students, teachers, administrators, school policies, etc.

This blog's main purpose is to serve as a virtual extension of my classroom, so what isn't discussed in class won't be shared in the blog. I am comfortable with people knowing who I am and that I am blogging, and as such want to be as professional and objective as possible, knowing my audience could literally be anyone.

That being said, I would be remiss if I did not mention that we had a bomb threat yesterday, that school was released, and that it was disruptive and troubled me greatly. It's a shame, because we just returned from vacation, and are at the point where we're switching gears - the quarter is ending and a new semester is starting. Teachers are wrapping up units and planning great things for the second half. Yesterday's disturbance was a momentum killer.

One of the nice things about working with students, I must say, is their resiliency and ability to bounce back. Their positive energy today was inspiring, and helped me feel better. Tomorrow we'll be back in the computer lab, making edits and revisions in preparation for our short story postings next week.

On a final note, I don't know if anyone but me has yet to read these entries. Eventually I hope to comment on some of the other teacher blogs included in the link list on the right, in hopes that they can learn I'm here and drop a few comments in return.

Monday, January 1, 2007

The blog world

I'm feeling refreshed and excited about this blog's potential. It's fascinating to know that there are hundreds - if not thousands - of teachers using blogging technology. By visiting other teachers' blogs, I gain entrance into other academic worlds and am able to learn how other teachers and students are using blogs to extend the classroom and enhance learning.

It's a new year, and as we stand on the cusp of an educational wave, the future looks bright, albeit pixilated.