Sunday, July 20, 2008

O Folio, Folio! wherefore art thou Folio?
Ten years ago someone stole a rare 400-year-old Shakespeare First Folio from a display case at the Durham University library in England. On June 16, 2008 a man claiming to be an international businessman from Cuba walked into the Folger Library in Washington, D.C. and asked to have it authenticated.
Guess what? Suspicious staff members at the library asked to keep the book while they did research; identified it as the one that had been stolen; and contacted the FBI, which began an international manhunt for the thief.
On July 11, 2008 police in Durham arrested a 50-year-old man for the theft of the First Folio edition of 1623, which scholars consider one of the most important books in the English language.
Nice work, Folger librarians; FBI agents; and members of the Durham, England Police Department. It's comforting to think that the book thief won't find any rare books in the library at his new home in a prison somewhere across the pond.

How Martin Brandt Uses Side-by-Side Photos
In one photo-related exercise that he uses, English teacher Martin Brandt shows his students at Independence High School, San Jose, California side-by-side photos of two women and asks them to respond in writing to the following five questions: (1) What does each photograph show? (2) How is each woman dressed? (3) What do you notice about the environment of each woman? (4) What do you notice about the condition of each woman? What do the two women have in common?
If you have a favorite photo-related writing activity, why not share it with us?

There Will Be No Kellner's Own Highly Coveted Golden Pen Award This Week
That's because I saw Mister Bean's Holiday, which is probably the dumbest, silliest collection of images ever captured on film. What's more, the sound track is truly an abomination. About the only positive things I can say about this tribute to mindlessness is that some of the scenes that were photographed in France were quite nice. Oh, and there was one scene in which Mr Bean sang the aria "O Mio Babbino Caro" from Puccini's Gianni Schicchi.
Instead of a Golden Pen Award, I'm awarding Mister Bean's Holiday 5 1/2 wooden plungers.
Yak, Yak, Yak. Cell Phones Rule the World
Did you know that in mid-2006 there were an estimated 219 million cell phone users in the United States alone? Can you imagine how may there are today? And can you imagine how many of your students suffer from cellphonitis, a disease from which there is no cure?
I'll bet that if you show your students the photo at the left, they'd find plenty to write about. They could, for example, discuss the positive and negative effects cell phones have on their users. Or maybe they'd speculate as to whether or not cell phones help people become closer in their relationships. Maybe they'd discuss a time when using a cell phone got them into trouble. Or perhaps they'd like to tell about one or more interesting conversations they heard while others were using cell phones.

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