I've discussed 'terror of the blank page' and the use of prompts to ease that terror before. Now, I have found some cool dice to do the work. Rory's Story cubes, in a variety of genres, are available at Amazon and a similar App is on iTunes for iPads.
I reached a similar result with a pretty enthusiastic class a few years ago. After four meetings with the class, I would write the major vocabulary words from those four stories on the white board and would collect random numbers from students. We would then select four or five words randomly (or so the students were lead to believe) from the list and these words had to be in the story they wrote that week as homework. For the record, most of the words, most of the time, were randomly chosen but if students had particular difficulty with a word, I was likely to slip it into the short list.
"Trick" was a surprisingly difficult word. The story was titled "A Sick Trick" and was about a child who faked an illness to evade school... on Saturday morning. The students had trouble in their stories separating the "sick" from the "trick".
Anyway, I like the idea of story dice and will shortly send some to my sister for her children to use. I am likely to order a set for myself, too.
Or, I could make a set abusing this website. I can't figure out how these dice are meant to be used. It sure looks like students are expected to include most of the information they need to complete their essays so I don't get the role of randomness normally expected of dice. In the "Bio Cube Creator", section, it sure looks like a summarizing tool rather than a randomizing tool.
Avoid Cliches like my Creationist Coworker!
Nigel Fountain has a book out describing the abuse of cliches. In the UK it is apparently called "Cliches: avoid them like the plague" while in the US it is "The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread: Cliches: What they Mean and Where they Came From". Um, my aforementioned coworker does not noticeably avoid cliches more than other people, but I've seen people avoid conversations with him.
I particularly enjoyed learning where the term comes from:
"The word itself originates in mid-19th century France, where printers would assemble time-saving blocks from the most commonly used word combinations. Fountain [the author of the book on Cliches being reviewed] hews to that broad definition, and his A-Z of shame embraces buzz-words and bromides as well as adages, truisms and idioms. From “affluent society” to “zero-sum game” they are all, he argues, either redundant, vacuous or overused to the point of meaninglessness."
Does this mean that "How are you?" is a cliche? It is overused and typically a vacuous question that nobody ever listens to the answer of.
The cliche that bothers me most, for no good reason, is "having said that...".
For more cliches than you can shake a stick at, see this site.
Ride a tramp to work!
First off, what do you think I am going to write about? Prostitutes, hobos, old steamships or trampolines?
The correct answer is 'trampoline'. I like the idea and the unexpectedness of the transport but I am pessimistic about the usage of this as a fast track to work. The text claims this is only a 51 metre long track as a prototype so I have to give the photographer creative credit for making it look much longer.
Bazsali in the news.
A coworker (I don't know his views on evolution) worked on the soundtrack for a movie that was just released. Pretty cool stuff! He also has a solo album out.