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Bored! Here’s a Toy

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Posted on 25th July 2004 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

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Scribbler is fun. It lets you create a simple line drawing from which it uses computer calculations to enhance your work. It also has a profound message for teachers and pedagogues: the chalkboard has become BOOOORRING. The reviewers at the Scout Report (where I found Scribbler and many great websites over many years) explain: Scribbler seeks “to draw what your mind’s eye may be seeing but your untrained hands cannot put on paper. . . ”
Send the chalk to the corner to wear a pointed hat!
We have new tools to teach with and should embrace them. They say it takes fifty years for innovation to become mainstream because the priests of the last wave of innovation have to die off. We risk boring another generation into mental dullness by waiting for all those funerals.
NOTE: Scribbler is hosted by its creator whose website here has a bunch more innovations and ideas, including a few materials not suitable for young children.

When we were children and saw this droll oddity . . .

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Posted on 21st July 2004 by Judy Breck in Terrorism Undermined


Alexander Kushner was born the same year I was, 1936. People born that year are special in a unique way: less of us were born in to the crumbling world of 1936 than in many, many years before and in any year since. We are few. Meet Alexander here in a website from his Saint Petersburg Russia homeland. The site has several interesting sections about the famed city, with the text in Russian or English. Alexander has a page with one of his poems. My first political memory is Pearl Harbor on the radio in 1941. What could his be? Maybe he was taken, as many children were in World War II, to a safe refuge for the duration. Perhaps he saw war which took, as innocents, many born in our year and we became even fewer. Wherever he spent the decades we have shared, his poet’s soul did not lose its droll wink. Most babies of ‘36 I have known are hearty characters.

Sonnet Central

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Posted on 10th July 2004 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler


The wonderful website here was born way back in 1997. I predict it will endure indefinitely. It demonstrates eloquently the primacy of content: the sonnets are here and you can find them, thus the website fulfills its intent. Sonnet Central also reveals the unique capacity caused by the Internet of one (or very few) experts to present a field literally to the entire world – and to do so with very little time commitment. The big web teams build fabulous Internet experiences, yet the poets have a voice too in the grand virtual chorus. Datedness is not a given for old websites. Some like this one acquire mellowness apt for their subjects.

Where Do We Come From? . . .

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Posted on 6th July 2004 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler


A tropical masterpiece by Paul Gauguin become interactive introspection in this digital reflection mosaic. “. . .Who are we?. . .” continues the title, “Where are we going?” The commentary tells us there are parallels perhaps to the Garden of Eden in Gauguin’s garden. Could the boy be eating the apple Eve got from the snake? The webpage is a delicious example of a digital tutor for the visual art of painting.

Bantus And Valedictorians

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Posted on 5th July 2004 by Judy Breck in Schools We Have Now

Today’s New York Times has a story about Bantu refugees who a year after being settled in Tucson are making remarkable progress. People who were in refugee camps last year are excelling as household workers in the hospitality industry. These sort of expectations are terrific, but we should be careful not to expect more. In 1972 I helped resettle a young man from Siagon from a refugee camp in Pennsylvania. He worked as a Wall Street messenger his first year and in less than a decade became a nuclear engineer and settled in Ohio. He and his wife, a fellow refugee, had four children, all of whom are now in college. This June the second of their boys graduated from a large city high school in Ohio as the top student. Both boys were valedictorians. Their father told me a couple of years ago that he could never take his children to visit their grandmother and cousins who still live among the Vietnam rice patties where they hid in 1972. He explained that the conditions were more difficult than his kids could handle. In a decade or two we will have Bantu valedictorians in Arizona because connecting to learning – not origin or genetic heritage – is what counts.

The Myth of Troy

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Posted on 5th July 2004 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler


The British Museum and Warner Brothers combine their Troy assets, old and new, and add a rich mix of literary and historical materials gathered from the ages to create a website here bristling with dimensions. The Flash-based stage marvelously lets time, arts and ideas mix freely. In Tennyson’s words from Ulysses, here we find a venue: “To follow knowledge like a sinking star, beyond the utmost bound of human thought.”