Stranger Portraits


Take a portrait of seven total strangers. Try to capture their image in a way that gives the viewer a deeper understanding of the person. Write a little about how you approached the person and what you learned about them.

Debbie is a checker at Capella Market in Eugene


His name tag says he’s “Robert,” and it was his first day as a checker at Capella Market in Eugene, OR. I asked if I could take his picture, and he gave me a big “thumbs up.”
I asked this homeless woman if I could take her picture in exchange for $8.00. She was thrilled. I said, “You have beautiful long brown hair,” and she gave me this wonderful, complex smile..





I spotted this young woman carrying her roses and was struck by the complement to her fair coloring. I asked if I could take her picture because she looked so pretty with her roses, and she stopped and posed with no further questions asked.














The young woman with the roses was accompanied by her friend, and she was also glad to step right up to the camera. I said, “You have a beautiful, shy smile,” and…as you see!


This glorious, self-confident smile belongs to the young woman at the 13th St Rainbow Optics store out in the University of Oregon District. She lights up the room.





This wonderful Silver Fox is the book buyer at Smith Family Bookstore in the University of Oregon district of Eugene.













This interesting looking man stopped me outside the Smith Family Bookstore to ask me about my iPad2. I gave him a guided tour and demonstrated the camera function by taking his picture at the top of the stair well.


I did this assignment yesterday in about a half hour; it was a LOT of fun, and I got great smiles of a complex variety. I got into a quixotic and spontaneous zone that shoved Resistance aside and got me into a flow where everyone got turned on by the creativity of the moment.

I loved that experience. Interestingly, now that the portraits of these

“Rules” can be stifling if taken to extremes

“Rules” can be stifling if taken to extremes. Break the rules today with focus, composition, etc, and see what happens.


Rule #2 The photographer’s shadow should never be in the picture


Rule #3: Never shoot through Venetian blinds






Rule #4 Never have the point of focus staring off out of the frame.












Rule #5 There should always be a point of focus


Rule #6 Don’t clutter up your shots with too much visual information leading nowhere












Rule #6 Try to hold your camera still–quit dancing with your iPad!


They’re flying paper airplanes in my classroom!

Some teachers just can’t keep their classrooms under control!

Actually, this is my face-to-face Technical Writing class last Monday folding airplanes then seeing if they fly. That takes about two minutes, tops.

Everyone Knows How to Fold a Paper Airplane!
Everyone Knows How to Fold a Paper Airplane!
  • Tricky step one:Now they write out the instructions for folding their planes. The more complicated their plane, the longer this takes.
    Some People Know How to Fold Really Complicated Airplanes
    Some People Know How to Fold Really Complicated Airplanes
  • Tricky step two:Exchange instructions with a partner and use their instructions to fold their plane–without looking at the prototype!
    Sometimes good instructions don't need any words at all.
    Sometimes good instructions don't need any words at all.
  • Tricky step three:Compare the airplane folded by following instructions to the prototype.
    Boeing doesn't want to hear "Close enough!" when that brand new 747 comes rolling off the production line!
    Boeing doesn't want to hear "Close enough!" when that brand new 747 comes rolling off the production line!

We all brainstorm on the white board, “What do we learn from flying airplanes in the classroom?”

Voice from the back of the room shouts, "Sandy can't control her class!" (Sadly, too true!)
Voice from the back of the room shouts, "Sandy can't control her class!" (Sadly, too true!)

Voice from the front of the room observes, “It took me one minute to fold my plane and fifteen minutes to write the instructions.”

“What do we learn from that?”

“Writing takes time!”

“Oh yeah. What else?”


Fold this!
Fold this!

“What about them?”

“They are better than words, and they have to be clear. I had a good drawing, but I didn’t say which way the paper should be oriented, so my user tester got stuck.”

Graphics are cool but they have to be perfectly clear. Fold this!
Graphics are cool but they have to be perfectly clear. Fold this!

“I just asked the person who wrote the instructions to clarify something in the instructions.”

“In technical writing your readers rarely have the opportunity to ask you to clarify, so it needs to be clear and correct before it reaches your readers.”

“How many of you used words like fold an isosceles or right triangle?”

[Discussion of word choice and assumptions about audience ensued.]

Two different interpretations of the term "paper airplane."
Two different interpretations of the term "paper airplane."

“How many of you began by telling your audience what they were building, or how many of you just started with a step instructing the reader to start folding?”

[Talk about organization and goals]

Paper Seaplane from
Paper Seaplane from

“How many of you designed the instructions so that the instructions themselves folded into the plane, using lines and labels to show readers where and how to fold?”

[Talk about material delivery of information]

So is this guy really thinking outside the box, or is he just another smart alecky kid being romanticized by the film maker? HINT: The Death Star was a sphere…

New discussion feature in Google Docs

As of this morning, when you open a new Google doc, you will have a new discussion feature. Docs have always had a commenting feature, but this discussion threads down the side of the page in the margin. You can direct comments at a specific person by putting at @name in front of the comments. You also subscribe to follow-ups via e-mail.

I think all this is good news for teachers. We’ve always been able to comment and give feedback to students, but this really enhances the peer review process.

Check out this fast but clear video:

My DST Beginning!

Digital Storytelling and All the Excitement from iLane 2

I am so happy to be a Lane Faculty Technology (ahem) Specialist at this exact point in time. Lane has fifteen or twenty years of wired world experience under its belt. We’ve got some basic systems in place, but not so many that we’ve built our own cement booties.

Image of Cement Booties ganked from
Image of Cement Booties ganked from

We’ve got the vision thing for Lane, so when we throw one of these big tech parties under the guise of a conference, new ideas pour down on fertile ground. And what with the cement booties and fertile ground, that should be enough mixed metaphors to warrant a wet spaghetti attack from my Englisher colleagues.

Quick overview: All looked normal. One hundred fifty people in the CML (da-yum those CML peeps do a good job!), a guest speaker, a panel of innovators struttin’ their stuff, lunch (oh yeah!), more speakers, lively q and a, Mark Harris wins the coveted i-Pod Touch, and we’re outta there…

Sounds so ordinaire: Hand kudos around to my pals Brad Hinson, Kevin Steeves, make smiley, go home.

So why is my head still spinning?

So why is my head still spinning?


Keynote speaker Brian Lamb from UBC, neighbor to the north. He’s the one. You want to know about this guy, but I don’t need to repeat what has been said elsewhere. Check his affidavits out at the i-Lane Blog or at his own blog called Abject Learning: edu-geek, edu-punk, edu-blogger, “thought-leader in the areas of open courseware, online education, new media, digital storytelling, and overall teaching outside the box”; what’s not to like? I’ll add smart, funny, clear moral compass, and full of great ideas and resources for the likes o’ me.

Our theme was “digital literacy.”

I used to think I was quite digitally literate; now, not so much!

Brian gave me a great model of what digital literacy looks like and lots of tools for getting there. Here is a link to the wiki he set up for Lane with loads of links to classroom-friendly Web 2.0 resources.

Obviously, I am an edu-blogger myself, and I plan on putting all my WR 121 students on blogs in about two weeks. I’ve done it before, but I have lots of questions about how to create cutting edge assignments that are “out of the box” but still meet students where they are. Brian Lamb showed me I don’t need to reinvent this particular wheel. There’s no shortage of Web 2.o tools to intellectually and creatively engage both me and my students.

"Excuse me, I'm texting"
“Excuse me, I’m texting”

For example, Lamb pointed us to Alan Levine’s 50+ Web 2.0 Ways To Tell a Story. I immediately started to play with the first one that caught my eye, 5 Card Flickr.

I am so excited about digital storytelling that I am beside myself. I feel that a whole new world is opening up for me.

“You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. but mostly they’re darked.
But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?”
Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

Department of Things That Make Me Wanna Say, “Hunh?”

I'm not dead yet! Virus: 3 Uber Blogger: 1

Hi, there! I’m your uber-blogger, back from the dead!

The best way to start a Lane Blog is by celebrating something Lane-ish. Here are a few shots from last night’s 2011 Winter Classical Cuisine Dinner entitled “A Feast of Tales” which was a Shakespearean theme.

Check this out: it's a Pickled Herring Platter, both beautiful and delicious. And that was just the appetizer!

Check out the extravagant menu here (clickety click).

It's a digital, digital world. Guest Kat Chinn shows pictures of her grandkids not with wallet shots but with iPhone shots. Her appreciative audience is Susan Carkin, Dean of the feisty Language, Literature and Communications Dept.
Our Merry Crew: Kevin Steeves (birthday boy--33 today--wahoo!). He's a new addition to Lane's IT Team. Beside him is Jamie Guyn, IT's Michael Levick's better looking half. Kevin and Jamie are being regaled by Lance Sparks, English prof extraordinaire and everyone's favorite Eugene Weekly wine columnist.

Yo! Kudos to the entire Culinary Arts Department for a job extremely well done!

Continue reading “Department of Things That Make Me Wanna Say, “Hunh?””