We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that’s all.*

Boing Boing (and Xeni and Cory) has long been one of my favorite daily stops in the corner of the web where design, geekdom, politics, freedom of speech, cute animals, and computers hang out and have adult beverages together. It’s kind of like taking a walk through one’s favorite boho University neighborhood–if it were filled with hackers‘ nooks, steampunk, and used bookstores.

Fairly often, I find something there that I bring to the attention of students, especially when I’m discussing Creative Commons or Lawrence Lessig (or, of course, using Doctorow’s writings in class). And, even though today is in July and I won’t be in front of students until September, one of the finds on Boing Boing today immediately suggested a fabulous first-week-of-school project, perfect for a teacher new to the district who doesn’t know any of the kids.

Boing Boing has a contest for desiging the most boring magazine cover.

The Winning Entry, from Boing Boing dot net

The Winning Entry, from Boing Boing dot net

While I don’t think my upcoming students are boring–far from it–the whole idea of using design and rhetoric (with a healthy dose of humor and pastiche) appeals to me.  I’ve been thinking of ways that I could get to know my students (and they, me) quickly and in fun, that will also incorporate writing and thinking.  This is perfect.

My students do not yet know it–or, well, *me*–but they will be designing their own magazine covers for *themselves*. Not only will I get to know them by the real magazine they might choose (I suspect I’ll see a lot of Seventeen and Sports Illustrated parodies, but who knows), but how they choose to portray themselves.  How they write headlines. What design choices they might make.  What *materials* they choose (as I often do, I’ll leave the digital vs. hard copy up to them, I believe). It will tell me a lot about who the individuals are in front of me, and a lot of what makes them tick (and how they write and complete projects).

It will also provide me with something to hang  up on my massive, bare white walls, right away at the beginning of the first quarter!

My New Classroom

My New Classroom

I’m very excited. And yes, I’ll be having to create my own, of course…I suspect I’ll be using Mother Jones or Smithsonian or Discover for mine.  This. Will. Be. Fun.

Thanks, Boing Boing!

*From John Hughes’s The Breakfast Club, of course…wanted to use the “demented and sad, but social” line, but that was a bit insulting…

Star Wars…um, Sorta?!?

Too hilarious not to share.  From our friends at Boing Boing, here’s a narration of Star Wars from someone who’s neither a fan nor…well…a viewer…

So, after that, I have to ask: What classic movies (or books) have you been hearing about your entire life but haven’t seen or read?  How much of the classic could you actually speak to, however, simply be living in the culture that has produced it?

I just finished The Odyssey with tenth graders, and one of the reasons I teach it is because it’s the foundation of so much of Western literary culture; allusions and references to it are unavoidable.  Even without having read it, many could pick out these allusions and references (without full understanding, of course).

I know that I could tell you the motif song of Casablanca before I ever saw it, and I can pick up on students’ catch-phrases and T-shirts from Napolean Dynamite though I still haven’t seen it (but I want to).

How about you?