Posts

Showing posts from March, 2015

Care

Care
For if you do not,
I won’t.
I dare,
If you don’t speak,
Walk away from you, not!
But closer to life.
Stare—
If you like,
The colors
In my eyes
Will not change,
And a scene
For you
Might be strange,
When no fear
Shadows my eyes
And no tear.
Bear—
All what you can,
Alone—
For my heart
Is turned
A stone
To start
A journey
On my own,
Where you shadow me
No more.
Wear—
This fake face
And go ahead—
Leave the race;
Life has barely
Made a start.
Depressed,
You may be,
But nothing now
Will stop me
Tearing you prison apart
And be
Whoever I can be.
… But myself,
… I am not.

A Tribute to Maya Angelou

No one act in life
can dictate how life
is destined to be;
a true woman holds all the strings
to her own destiny—
she can pull them all at once,
change whenever she wants,
dance around the clock
to celebrate her femininity—
far from to be or not to be,
to be who she has chosen
is her everlasting legacy.
To learn to stand and fight
not when all at her command,
but when all oppose every cell
in her that yearns to be free.
Then she tells her story out loud;
no shame to have her bound,
no chains to hold that human—
nothing can stop her standing out
amidst all that biased crowd
of men judging women
for not being men,
and men they would not let them be;
of mighty men judging men
for not being mighty—
too many gods on the land;
too many to worship,
yet too few to pray for.
Reincarnated every day
from the blood and ashes of people burned,
forever interred in a multi-masked slavery
trying to catch up with that one day old tyrant,
a new emerges with gnawing teeth—
the monster just finds excuses to eat;
the greed of man is fore…

A Tribute to Martin Luther King

You had a dream
So timeless
That even today
We are still dreaming—
Not only black and white
Not only man woman and child,
But for a simple measure
Of wrong and right.
Here in my dream, I stand
alongside you and fight.
You marched and marched— Some tired feet do need to rest, But to sit and stop at last, A rainbow above arched You saw in the heart of every man When some saw only black And some saw only white; That dream, that vision Cost you more than you would wish, Yet less what you set out Onto the altar of freedom, Ready to sacrifice.
Now you’re gone;
Time has not changed as much
For every glass of fancy wine
Somewhere it weighs the same in blood;
And every diamond necklace shines
There on the other side, a star fades.
The constant greed of man is constant.
I wish the light in your heart was enough
To blind all the greed and selfishness
To put all the trivial possessions aside
And live for once in our history as human,
But it was not enough
To have one Martin in a lifetime
Is not enough.
We need the Kin…

The Old Guitarist

One more tune and the world is gone.
One more tune and everything I have seen in this life is no more a tale to be told.
Let this moment mark the last words I would like to sing on my guitar.
Let this moment be the moment when I, for the first time in my life, go wide and far.
Let this moment be the moment when I tell all the ones that passed, I am coming.
Some have waited for too long and some still wet the sand.

Some left when they were full in control, and some left when everything got out of hand.
Cry those who left or cry those who stayed, or shed no more tears for what tears may bring other than more sorrow and more grief.
My life has been spent while I have been trying to find the tune for this very moment, and here I am and here the moment has come, but nothing has changed, I am still lost whether I have found the tune or not.
Have I spent my life burying my head in the sand?
Trying to look out is easy but keeping my head up held and high to sometimes cry and sometimes sigh?

Mary Magdalene and the Smoking Flame

Have you ever seen me not holding the past in my hand and waiting?
Have you ever seen me not waving to the future with a bleak eye for the present even with that big bright color of dim blue and yellow, the future means nothing to me now?
Have you ever felt that I’m waiting for you no more, I am living you?
Have you seen me not living the moment I was dead and dying the moment I was alive?
Have you not felt that I’m not waiting for you no more, I am living you?

Have you not seen that all the bright and light that I felt would probably make me someday right was in vain and never gave a meaning to my lifelong fight?
Have you not felt that I was through with you, I am living you?
Have you not known that this is the last time I send you a message through a work of art and write about what has kept me mute all this life?
Have you not known that I’m waiting for you no more, I am living you?
Have you felt that the books on my table, the one I read and the other one that I wrote and I read b…

What Will Life Sound Like Without Music

Nothing is more revered than silence and nothing is more celebrated than sound. Although we need both in our lives, yet all the creativity is not in the silence that is just the same anywhere on the globe, but in making sounds and filling the air with a whole range of happy tunes or sad tunes, invigorating or depressing, and just about anything the imagination can reach is playable through music.

Music is all around us; it’s right there in trees, in the songs of birds, through the waves of the sea, and the whisper of the wind. We might all enjoy nature’s tunes, but true music lies in our souls and what we tend to like, react to, create, inspire, and influence the world with. Music is all about what we can give to this world even when we are not composers. When music inspires something in us to do something then music had us give something to the world.

Notes and Beats are about music from different genres and parts of the world. It is not about the science of music, but about the appr…

Why Myths and Legends

Why have we always been fascinated by the too-good-to-be-true characters and stories? At one point in the past, people used to believe these stories and even considered them as their religions. From these stories, they selected gods to worship, rituals to follow, and more importantly, reasons to live for. Everything in nature was to be worshiped as long as it was not understood. We would do what we have always done best, we would make up a story to explain what we could not understand. That is how myths came into being, but myths still exist today not only as a part of our literature but also in some new forms of myths we have today. As long as there are things we cannot explain, there will be myths.

It is a fascinating venue to be exploring and learning a lot from, for the old ways of creating gods are not so different from the new ones. Humans have always believed in things other than themselves and called them gods. It is not the point of which are true and which are not, the point…

Is it Spiritual or Religious

When I write something about my spirit, does it belong to a religion? When I tell what aches my soul and what drives it to keep on this jagged road and fierce battle inside, does my struggle belong to a specifically tailored god? When I try to figure out the ways in and out my psyche and learn to lead it better, do I seek out the means inside my spirit, or do I wait for religion to tell me which way to look to find the answer; anywhere but inside?!

Is my writing spiritual or religious? Although many stories might seem to have come from a certain religion, the reason behind these stories is to search within and try to figure out a place for the spirit to fit in this world of chaos. If it reaches the spirit, it does not matter then if it belongs to any religion; it does not matter which god it worships. All that matters is the journey taken within, for long have we been searching for the light somewhere outside, while life with all its lights and secrets lie right inside our spirits.

I …

Why Have Films Been Fascinating Us

Maybe, it all started with the epics minstrels used to sing across the lands. Then storytellers continued this oral tradition. Later came writing and with more people learning to read and the coming of the printing press, reading became one of the main ways to quench our thirst for stories. However, the visual part has always been inseparable from a good story and that’s what categorized good stories as such. The ability to imagine pictures of heroes rising, kingdoms falling, tragedies happen to characters, and always seeking a place for ourselves in those stories; a place where we fit for the better or for the worse.

Nothing in our history, as a race full of passionate stories, has had a greater impact than films. We did not have to imagine our heroes accomplish the things we would want to accomplish ourselves anymore; we could see all that on the big screen. The picture was enough at the beginning. Then sound effects and talking came next, all the way to the most sophisticated speci…

Differentiated Learning and the Resistance of Teachers

Differentiated learning may be a students’ paradise, but it can be a teachers’ nightmare. I insist on the phrase “can be” because that is never the case with all students or all teachers, and that is, by the way, enough evidence to the fact that we need differentiated learning because we react differently to it.

To illustrate the point of differentiated learning and teachers’ resistance, let me share a conversation with a concerned teacher:
Concerned Teacher: Differentiated learning simply means a lot of work for the same pay, does it not?

Danny: Yes, it does. That’s why you need to discuss with your administration a way to organize work with other teachers to divide the load, and maybe divide the whole approach in different phases. That will take more time at first, but once the differentiated pools are ready, it will be a lot easier. Let’s face it; it is beneficial in the long run.

Concerned Teacher: What do you mean by differentiated pools?

Danny: These are the different places you di…

Shakespeare and Metacognition

The tools we use may be great, but the ideas behind these tools should be great in the first place to shine through these different tools, such as blogs, forums, wikis, websites or social media. If we let our students go at least one step back in the activities we give them; we will have a chance to help them think about thinking rather than just perform a pre-defined task we specify for them.

I will give you an example of learning Shakespeare and metacognition. Here is what a traditional piece of homework on Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 might be like:

1- Paraphrase the first stanza, …
2- Find examples of imagery used in the sonnet…
3- Why is the poet comparing his lover to a summer’s day?
4- Is there any evidence in the sonnet that the poet is egotistical?
5- Etc…

All of the questions mentioned above may be nice and revealing to some of the meaning and the art of the sonnet, but they are all straightforward that students are not at least encouraged to think about what they need to do beca…

Collaborative Intelligence for Better Humans

To simply put it, collaborative intelligence is to use the knowledge, understanding, intelligence of everybody to create one greater result that is celebrated and appreciated as everybody’s work by everybody, and is available for everybody, thus using collaborative intelligence for better humans.

The tools out there to help create an intelligent collaborative atmosphere are too many, and they are getting greater in number and better as we speak. I am sure that all of us are careful about finding the best technological tool to do something, but what I urge us to do is to pick whichever and do something. I know that we have to think twice before we learn a new piece of software because time is limited and you know the rest of the excuses, but I urge us to start with as little information as possible and learn along the way, mostly from our mistakes; that will count for an adventure, and we as teachers rarely have any adventures.

The second time we try to learn a new thing is always easi…

Technology, Recursive Feedback, and Commercial Opportunities

Technology has never been more useful especially in the field of feedback that matters to students as it should to teachers and the whole education society. Today we have the technology, recursive feedback, and commercial opportunities tied up all together in the same place.

How long can we confine our students in the bonds of standardized assessments that at best rule out the real potential of about half of our students? Most of us have been working for a while now, whether in education or any other field, and we do know that some of the least things we have used in our professional lives are the things we were tested in, especially in exams like SAT, IGCSE, etc. I am not saying these exams are useless, but all I am saying is that they are overestimated and overvalued.

I have tested some software, LMS systems, and social media platforms and used them in my classroom, and they proved to be very useful in the formative feedback, especially when they are open-ended and linked to as much…

Should We Be Afraid of Technology?

Let’s face it. Most of the times, our rejection or resistance to new technologies in our classes is not because we are only concerned about the pedagogical value or the academic standards we swore to protect and keep; most of the time, we are afraid what the consequences might be if we fail to learn new technology in time.

Why should we be afraid of technology? I will list below some of the genuine concerns of some of my fellow teachers and myself when we first started using tablets in our classrooms:

“What if the students turned on the camera and started taking pictures of us and post those on some social media site, to make fun of us?”

“Most of the students know how to use a tablet way better than I do, so what happens when I lose my role as ’the expert in class’?”

“Doesn’t that mean that we need to work extra hours preparing material for it? Are they going to pay us to do that? We are already underpaid.”

“It’s all bull***; we have always learned the stuff we know the same way. The…

Active Knowledge Making

Active knowledge making is giving a chance for learners to build their understanding of the topic being taught rather than just telling them what it is. By empowering learners, we help them strengthen certain skills that are far more important than the amount of information they have memorized.

In a real-life scenario, people (at work or anywhere) have to make their points based on some solid grounds, they need to know where to look for answers to any question, but not to necessarily have the answer in mind already, they have to provide kind of evidence for whatever their opinion might be, they have to read or see something with an open mind to accept or reject based on some logical reasons, and the list goes on and on for things we have had to do every step of the way in our lives. Then why shouldn’t our students be treated at the same level of democracy we would like to be treated ourselves? Why don’t we empower the skills that matter the most for their future rather than enlarge th…

The Flipped Classroom and Blended Learning

The flipped classroom is one fruit of the ubiquitous learning opportunities that we have today. In brief, it is to remove the lecturing part from the classroom and put it online, and when the students come to class, they will have seen, heard or read the explanation of a given point online before, so they can spend their time in class practicing, discussing and focusing on the practical aspects of the point being taught.

There are two ways to achieve the flipped classroom:

The first is by conveying the same information through videos, presentations, documents or what have you online to make it available for all students to see. Request that students do read or see these chunks at home, and then come back to class prepared to discuss or do practical work. Very straightforward it might seem, but more or less the same way as the traditional way, except that now the students can access the content anytime. However, this anytime factor is not entirely true if they have a small window of ti…

Controlled vs Open-Ended Learning

When I think about the old didactic pedagogy and the trends that are growing now, I see a lot of control in the old didactic pedagogy, and sometimes no control at all in some new trends. The whole idea, in my opinion, is to find some equilibrium between direction and freedom in education.

The problem with the old didactic pedagogy is that, whoever responsible for deciding what or what not to teach, usually thinks his or her opinion is the only best way to teach all the students. Besides that, no matter how creative and short the way from A to B they would suggest, there is no way to accept that it is the only best way, not to mention that nobody can actually decide those two points as a current level (A) and the desired level (B) for all students just the same. Taking the very personal opinion and subjective views and generalizing them to fit all kinds of students that come from as many backgrounds as there might be sounds very dictatorial to me. The greatest problem of the didactic m…

Spice Up Your Senses

Have you ever thought about your piece of writing as your favorite dish? How many senses do you engage in the process of consuming this favorite dish of yours? Your nose must catch the smell of it the moment you enter the house and then your eyes can see nothing else but the beauty of it, especially if it is served in an artistic way. Then you enjoy this wonderful taste on your tongue as it goes smoothly down your mouth and at this moment you feel that you never want to send this bite away and you want to keep even feeling this magnificent texture sliding through your teeth giving extra taste to the already perfect dish, and finally the sound of it that makes you feel that you might be the only one hearing and enjoying it to the max. I know that most of you will stop reading now and go eat something, but before you do, let us think about a way to make our writing as delicious as that dish and even exotic and mysterious for the different tastes of people to enjoy reading as this delici…

Never Let Them See You Coming

When do we usually have this moment when we are reading a story and, out of a sudden, we stop feeling what’s happening around us; we don’t hear our being called to dinner; we don’t notice it is already four o’clock in the morning and we have just failed to sleep early to wake up at six, just after two hours, which we eventually decide with no hesitation to spend reading and remember this crisis plan to sleep in the office or at school? What book were we reading? Who was the author? What was the story about? Well, at that moment, we usually concentrate on the actual things we were reading and nothing else.

What makes this specific piece of writing so attractive that makes us carry the book along with us even when necessities come? Maybe, it is the charming style of the author, the perfectly woven plot, the extraordinary characters, the out-of-this-world setting, or a hundred other reasons. Well, indeed all of these are reasons to love a book so much that nothing can take it from us unt…

Bring life to Your Tree

What if we think of our writing as a tree? The idea itself sounds creative, doesn’t it? Then we can think of writing with or without branches, so it is not seen from only one perspective, with flowers on so it is beautiful, or with leaves so it is rich and alive; if it is evergreen, so it is not only for one-time occasion but for all time, and even if it bears fruit, so it is delicious and useful, or is it this bare stem that carries no branches, leaves, flowers or fruits and stand in the middle of nowhere giving shade to no one and being remembered by nobody.

However, the stem is the central part of any tree as your writing must have a stem on which you can grow all flowers, branches, and fruits for soon the most beautiful branches fall if not being held by some strong stem.

The idea is when we go for creativity and beautiful language we may sacrifice the meaning; even though people enjoy reading our pieces, our words leave no effect on them and, therefore, our writing won’t be as me…

Write Like Fish

The title of this passage about creative writing might sound somehow philosophical, but it is just creative in a way you would want to think about your own writing. To get straight to the point, let us remember the things we have read over the years. Which passages are still the most memorable to us even though our literary and artistic tastes have changed a lot through the years. There are many reasons for the memorability of specific passages over thousands of others, I may say, beautiful passages. The secret lies definitely in the writer’s genius, yes of course, but there are some hidden techniques under the surface of the natural and indisputable genius of writing.

Why write like Fish? Well because fish are found all over the ocean, fish are found at all depths of the ocean, fish are of so many different colors and fish move smoothly from one depth to the other. If you can imagine the realm of words as the ocean, then definitely you know by now what I mean by writing like fish. I …

There is Nothing to Write about

I spent all of last looking for my muse, begging, waiting, watching TV all night!!! There is no other way to approach writing but saying that it is hard, and unless you have already decided to be alone most of the time writing, chances are that you will never find your so-called muse.

We are humans before we are writers, carpenters or anything else. We tend to choose easy ways to achieve the most in this world. While there might be a story or two of writers who made it to the hall of fame overnight, the truth is that writing is one of the most difficult jobs in the world. We tend to tell stories to ourselves and make up a thousand reasons why we cannot write at the moment. The damn muse has lost my address and left me to struggle all alone. That’s my mind’s easy solution to a tough situation. There is one way to find the muse every day, and that is to write every day.

The easy part is to find an idea to write about, but the difficult part is to actually write. I might not list all the…

Introduction to Educational Games

This might be the new game-changer that is coming our way in education, but how well do we know games. Is it our nostalgic Super Mario Memories, or our obsessive World of Warcraft addiction? Games in education are a lot more than that. Right off the bat, it is not simply changing the way we present content, but it is changing the way we think about education itself.

On one very hot summer day, in one of my last-period-of-the-day Literature session, my students were almost asleep, and all the wonderful figures of speech and very talented uses of language or meaning did not mean anything to them. I was able to relate to that; after six hours of rigorous schooling, their energy was drained. Then I accidentally asked about the good video games there were out there in the market, and all hell broke loose. Arguments were all over the place about the top ten video games at that time, the best way to defeat the Lich King in Warcraft, and the very early fun-or-not-so-fun argument about Candy C…

Building Skill or Building Information

We all have our very different ideas about education, and we have every right to do so. However, the pace of change in life nowadays is too fast to hold on to any educational concept for too long, and that is not a very pleasant fact to any of us, whether we are educators, students or parents.

Before the dawn of personal computers and their crazy fast emergence in companies, lifestyle and work style had not experienced any dramatic change over a concise period, not since the time of the industrial revolution. However, since the second half of the last decade of the last millennium, we have not been able to get used to one style long before it is replaced by another one that is entirely different. An obvious and easy example is computer literacy, which started to be an essential requirement for any job by the end of the 20th century, and now even that is not enough. Computer literacy has become second nature to most people, so more is required today from us and undoubtedly from the nex…

There Must Be War

Everyone says there must be peace only when the fighting is brought close to their cities, homes, and families. They say there must be peace when they have no power to fight; when they doubt their resilience and ability to survive, or only after it has eaten all the sheep, the wolf turns a dove.

It is in the depth of our engineering as human beings to strike back when someone strikes at us as long as we have the muscle. The real peaceful people are not the weak that do not have the muscle to fight in the first place, and thus were forced to become as peaceful as sheep; the real peaceful people are those who can silence their warmongering nature while they are able to bear arms and fight. Strength is not to be strong enough to destroy others; strength is to be strong enough to stop ourselves from destroying those who are weaker than us. We have thrived to be strong all our lives, but only if we can protect the weak, will our strength have any meaning at all.

We say “There must be war” …

They Want to Classify God

Stories about the God of the north are told and how he dealt with his people. Then when all the stories are told, you are asked to believe them and say he is the one and the only god. You agree because of the strength of these powerfully-plotted stories and because of the magnitude of the devastating impact on the non-believers as they say. The next day you travel south and you hear different stories about the same one and only god, only this time he is different – he is the same, but somewhat different; I still cannot differentiate – You listen to the stories with an open mind and heart, but in the end they close down the room of freedom you think you have and tell you about the horrors you will face if you do not declare their god the one and the only. Needless to say, the same happens when you travel to any other direction.

There have always been too many gods since the beginning of time. When people have finally believed there is only one, they have started to kill in his name. Th…

They Tell about Love

They tell you not to fall in love, for that will bring you down to your knees and smite your ruins on the far bank of river oblivion in the land of the neglected that are remembered by no one, except for some nostalgic people who may come to visit the valley, shed a couple of tears on the bones of those who were gone and be gone themselves back to their lives.

They tell you not to fall in love for that will make you weak, and what you remember from your old days of might and power will not survive the fallen flakes of winter snow, and will be hurt by the rays of the first dawn sun, and dampened by the first drops of rain; you will be so fragile that anything can break you, but what’s worse is that you will keep breaking and mending until you can mend no more, and you stay broken till the last of your days.

They tell you not to fall in love for that will steal your freedom from you, and put you in a little cage, where you will feel what must be like a bird locked inside to entertain, t…

Far Has The Ship Drifted

We have sailed with dreams and hopes, filling the earth and the sky with a sense of possibility and an aura of positivity following us around wherever we went, and the ship was keeping up with our dreams and staying the course; it wasn't very fast, but fast enough for us to believe and realize that what we had set out to do was quite possible and within our reach.

Then one day some of us wanted to change things in the ship for it was “too slow,” they said. They made us abandon some of our traditional food craters to replace with some light meals, which made the ship lighter, it went much faster, and so did we. Then our clothes were not designed for quick on-and-off techniques and so slowed us down, so they had us replace them with much lighter and liberating ones, and so the ship went faster with our faster movement at incredible speed. Then it was time to change the old sail which was kind of ragged from being used for ages and ages long. We have replaced it with yet another new …

The Tears of The World

“The tears of the world are a constant quantity. For each one who begins to weep somewhere else another stops. The same is true of the laugh. Let us not then speak ill of our generation, it is not any unhappier than its predecessors.”
from Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Becket
The Tears of the World
Is it true that the world is at balance and that the same amount of laughing and crying has been going on for centuries, and that constant relocation of these has been the only changeable variable in this equation? Is it true that we are whining about our times like every single generation whined about theirs in their time calling the one that had been before the good old days? Well that makes every time the “good old days,” or time has always been like a butterfly’s journey towards the light with everybody standing and weeping on the hill of yesterday’s good old days, the path of today is almost empty, and the future is creating itself on its own. With so few people in the future lane, anybo…