Sicily Trip: Day One

The Baton Rouge Airport is kid friendly.The Baton Rouge Airport is kid friendly. E was thrilled during takeoff but was really enjoying coloring in his new sticker book. E in the Atlanta Airport sharing a secret with his mommy.E in the Atlanta Airport sharing a secret with his mommy. E and I loved watching the planes be “repaired”. Weather delays and we haven’t left the gate. Screens out.


Painting by P.X. Miranda. Woman with red hair covering, pale skin, and bird over her left breast against white background flecked with a few red dashes. to WordPress

For quite some time, I have admired that way that Chris Aldrich has built his WordPress website with the aim of posting all of his writing and other content to his own website. One of the most interesting features of his site is how he has incorporated his use of, the free and open-source annotation tool, into his WordPress site. As someone who also uses for casual and professional reading and within my teaching, I am trying to see if I can accomplish something similar.

David Shanske helped out by referring me to a Github Gist that registers custom post kinds outside of the Post Kinds plugin directory. This will allow me to retain the custom post kind even when Post Kinds is updated. I made a fork of David’s Gist with some changes to define it as kind related to annotation.

Icon Support

Using Chris’s instructions, I was able to include an SVG icon that will display on my posts and within the Post Kinds metabox editor.  Be sure to select the settings for “icon” or “icon and text” so that the SVG icon will display.  I used the highligher icon with appropriate permissions from Font Awesome’s Github collection.


As a next step, I would like to customize the appearance of the kind. As a starting point, it might be good to try out the various types of Post Formats that might work well. I am using the bookmark format at the moment.



Want to read: No Sense of Place: The Impact of Electronic Media on Social Behavior by Joshua Meyrowitz 📚

Via The Convivial Society: Erving Goffman’s The Presentation of the Self in Everyday Life was discussed. Goffman’s theory was used in No Sense of Place.

Man on a beach with withe sand wearing a black hat, sunglasses, t-shirt, and jeans.  Small child in the background.

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park in Florida is a beautiful place to be with your family.

Readwise and Kindle Personal Documents

I finally figured out how to move highlights and annotations taken from personal documents (not items purchased in the Kindle Store) that were made on both my Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Android app. I am usually carrying my smartphone but still prefer reading on my Paperwhite. There are lots of occasions when I’d like to read on my phone but do not have my Kindle Paperwhite handy.

The steps described in the Readwise tutorials below allow me to read, highlight, and take notes on either device while ensuring that I can still easily export those highlights and notes with the book title, author, and location data to Readwise. Once saved to Readwise, I download them as text notes on my computer and phone. Yay!

How to Export Kindle Highlights (Personal Documents Included) : 6 Steps – Instructables
This little guide has some useful information describing the range of options available for exporting Kindle highlights, including a method I hadn’t noticed to export highlights and notes as an HTML file from within the Kindle Android app.

How do I import highlights by emailing them to Readwise? – Readwise
This tutorial describes a range of options for emailing highlights to Readwise from various sources.

How do I import highlights from documents I sent to my Kindle? – Readwise
This tutorial provides what I really needed: Enumerated steps describing how to export highlights and notes from the Kindle Android app and send to the Readwise email address. And it has a handy GIF depicting the process!, OER, and Smart Notes

To get a good paper written, you only have to rewrite a good draft; to get a good draft written, you only have to turn a series of notes into a continuous text. And as a series of notes is just the rearrangement of notes you already have in your slip-box, all you really have to do is have a pen in your hand when you read (Ahrens, 2017, p. 74).

Chris Aldrich shared a great idea the other day in the Liquid Margins Webinar on November 16, 2021Robin DeRosa moderated the discussion and featured instructors who had used with their students to annotate open educational resources (OER) and in some cases to create OER. The chat was lively, fun, and full of great ideas. One of the best meetings of this kind I’ve attended in a very long time.

Recently, I reread a post from Robin DeRosa about her collaboration with students in the development of an open textbook for her American Literature course. If you have any interest in OER, open textbooks, open pedagogy,, or Pressbooks, you may be interested in this post. Although I have never undertaken a project like this, I am interested and this post is full of useful information. And it’s also full of “you can do this” encouragement. For a project with so many technical, pedagogical, intellectual property, privacy, and other issues to consider, I find myself appreciating the spirit she brought to her post.

During the webinar, Chris made a suggestion that intrigued me and seemed to build on Robin’s excellent post. I’m paraphrasing his chat but basically, he suggested that an instructor could use the approach described by Sönke Ahrens in his book, How to take smart notes with students, over time and in a distributed manner. If the approach to writing a good manuscript could be broken down into the steps below, could the same approach be applied to the incremental, distributed creation of an open textbook or OER?

  1. Slip-box notes
  2. Series of arranged notes
  3. Continuous text
  4. Draft
  5. Paper

Consider students who are learning about an area for the first time, Mayer’s (2009) Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning, for example. Could the creation of an open textbook start with the production of so-called “slip-box notes”?

Another presenter during the webinar explained how she used with students to highlight topics, tag them using an agreed-upon list or taxonomy, and the provide some justification for the decision to include said item as part of the collection of resources under that topic. Those students could then discuss whether the decision matched their understanding of the topic. When I think of a first step like this, I imagine replacing the discussion forums in my courses with annotation-driven discussions. And I get excited!

There are lots of other great possibilities to explore. And while I am unsure about the prospect of creating an entire open textbook, I feel much more confident that I can engage students in the process of creating simple notes. And I am grateful to Chris, Robin, and the other speakers and commenters during the webinar the other day!

Ahrens, S. (2017). How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking – for Students, Academics and Nonfiction Book Writers (1 edition). CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Mayer, R. E. (2009). Multimedia Learning (2 edition). Cambridge University Press.

Video(less) Games, Sonification, and Accessibility

Sonification is the use of non-speech sound in an intentional, systematic way to represent information (Walker & Nees, 2011).

Fascinating Twenty Thousand Hertz podcast, Video(less) Games, in which options for games composed mostly or entirely of sound are described.  Gamers and developers discuss their motivations for contributing and the experience of play.  At about 15:09, you hear about how Steve Saylor, a blind video gamer and game accessibility consultant, describes how he developed a rich series of audio cues that can be enabled.  These cues tell players about environmental features and action in the game.  Listen to hear the experience of the audio layer on and off.

Games composed mostly or entirely of sound are not new–the Twenty Thousand Hertz episode describes a text adventure game called Zork II that utilized a text-to-speech engine in the early 1980s.  But the idea of developing a convention for audio cues within a game or even across multiple games, reminded me of the sonification of math equations I first saw in the Complex Images for All Learners accessibility guide from Portland Community College.  The DIAGRAM Center has a wonderful article on sonification with audio examples that can be played back at different speeds.  Sonification is also not new.  But the provision of multimodal data representations does not seem to be widespread in higher education, at least not that I have seen.

Similar technologies are also being piloted in the realm of traditional sports, such as tennis.  The New York Times published a story by Amanda Morris describing aa new technology called Action Audio that aims to make sports accessible to people with blindness or low vision.  Action Audio converts data–such as data from the 10-12 cameras on an Australian Open tennis court–into 3-D sound in less than a second, allowing that audio to be broadcast alongside live radio commentary.  You can hear an Action Audio sample of an Australian Open tennis match.  To get the full benefit, the use of speakers or headphones with both left and right channels is ideal.

These innovations make me think about the materials that I create or make available to my students.  What would educators need to know to become proficient in the use, evaluation, and creation of multimodal data representations?  In the case of sonification, it might take an educator knowing where to find high-quality sonifications that had already been created.  It might require training in how to produce and design sonifications.  In terms of design, how can our existing base of research and theory help guide our decisions?  These are fascinating questions that I would like to explore more thoroughly and bring back to the courses I teach.

Spring in the Subtropics

I with her Magnolia leaf.
I and E with Live Oaks more than two-hundred years old.
I and the sugar kettle. We still have her great-grandfather's thesis on sugar cultivation somewhere at home.
Following the silent hedges.
Only children and cherubs allowed.
Only the continued labor of many human beings will hold back Mother Nature.

Bucket Brigade

Young boy washing a plastic toy car with a sponge.  Young girl next to a red bucket.
E. is dedicated to his car washing practice. His sister follows his example.
Two young children.  One with a red bucket on his head and one with a laundry basket on her head.
Whatever E. does, I. will also do.

Camping at Fort Pickens

We drove five hours and crossed several state lines to camp at the Gulf Islands National Seashore, our favorite camping spot. We had not been away from home for four days in over a year.

We took lots of walks around the Fort Pickens Campground at the Gulf Islands National Seashore. It was chilly but could be warm in the sun.
Young boy walking inside of outdoor cooking and eating space surrounded by pine trees and scrub brush.
We came back to this outdoor cooking and eating space several times during our hikes. It was surrounded by young osprey flying around or nesting and the birdwatchers who came to see them.

We Saw an Alligator

We visited the Barataria Preserve south of New Orleans last weekend. We walked a long trail consisting of an elevated and rickety wooden platform across a Cypress swamp.
We were warned about the alligator by the park ranger and several excited visitors. We kept our distance.
But that didn't stop E from taking several photographs.

Birthday Ice Storm

We had a historic ice storm and hard freeze for days. We ran our heater and spaces heaters. We dripped our faucets. We huddled together in small rooms to share our collective warmth and celebrated W's birthday.

Fig tree care

I tends to E's fig tree while I water the tree with a watering can.
I tends E's (second) fig tree while I water it. The first one dried up over the summer. This one may not make it either.

We bought a pop-up camper

My buddy Z- spent all afternoon and some of the evening driving to a nearby city, checking out the camper, helping me tow it, backing it in. I really owe this guy!
The boy was captivated.
Four humans, four Mardi Gras cups. These were left over from the prior owner.
The wasps have had their fun.


Two young children standing in a crib and looking out a bedroom window at a backyard with a lawn and a man on a riding mower.
My biggest fans.

ISO Banana Seat

Rusty and neglected children's bicycle with white and lavender paint, rainbow accents and banana seat.
We found this beauty on the side of the road during our ride this morning.  Rusty and neglected?  Yes.  But I see potential.  And Kent Bicycles makes replacement parts.  Maybe we will get lucky.

Swamp Walk

This stroller has been around the world and back again.
Only one-way walking allowed during Phase 1.
No socializing or chance of close passage.
A little accommodation for this Cypress knee. It was here first.
Wild berries.