Not Cruel but Tender . . . .  The storms of March give way to a sustaining rain, the welcome soaking rain of a promising early Spring, this one beginning at midday and lingering well past the midnight hour.  April showers tell tales of May in every lustrous drop they bestow upon the sweetening earth — the sighs and tears of April are "the harbinger, the herald, the promise, the prophecy, the foretaste of all the beauties that are to follow it — of all, and more — of all the delights of Summer, and all the 'pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious Autumn.'  It is fraught with beauties that no other month can bring before us," our friend William Hone wrote in The Every-Day Book of 1827.  How can April be Eliot's "the cruelest month" when it encourages and engenders the wellspring of new life in awakening fields, swards, and woods?  Rising like foam at high tide on the warm sea, April is not cruel but tender, not cruel but merciful — infinitely green and swelling, day by day, with abundance.

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The Neighborhood Jungle.

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By Joe Dempsey | Sunday, April 13, 2014

Occasionally we need a reminder
of the miraculous circumstances under our feet or at least within easy eyesight.  You see some cool stuff and save gas and time.  Probably the best time to begin the process is early spring when things are waking up.  A lot of what is there to see is in plain sight, but it's mighty tiny — an underfoot Lilliputian colony of sorts.  The intrepid photographer needs a low stool or the willingness to get some good old soil on the knees.  In either case, the glimpse is worth it.

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The Hercules Club.  Dog Fights.

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By Ebenezer Baldwin Bowles | Thursday, April 10, 2014

A pall wrought by dog fights
settles over and begins to seep into the familial fabric of 3 Dog Acres.  Yes, our three shepherds are not children.  I'm not so foolish as to deny their canine nature by projecting a masque of humanity upon them.  Nonetheless, my four dogs are members of the family in a domestic arrangement between species commonplace to our culture.  Two of them have fallen into a pattern of domestic violence that threatens to break apart our little circle of life.

the crow flies here

Advancing Teacher Education
Is Not a Private Affair.

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By Freddie Bowles | Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Talk Back, Push Back, Hold On....
When the Association of Teacher Educators met recently in St Louis, the hot topic focused on positive solutions for a profession under coordinated attack by private interests.  This conference report by Freddie Bowles includes descriptions of talks by Dr. Marilyn Cochran-Smith, Dr. Diana Hess, and National Teacher of the Year Jeff Charbonneau.  It also addresses the propagandists of reform and their false images of public school failure, which are cynically designed to promote the privatization of public education and turn America's schools into profit centers for corporate capitalism.

Planet Gnosis

Baillon's Crake:
Bird of the Reedy Margins.

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By Andrew Hardacre | Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Our study of the Baillon's Crake
delves into the taxonomy, habitat, and lore of this remarkable species.  John Gould's The Birds of Europe and F. O. Morris' A History of British Birds provide the historical foundation of an in-depth analysis of the several taxonomic and name changes foisted on the species over the years.  We also visit Hong Kong Park to see a beautiful human-made pond that provides a refreshing urban oasis for the occasional straggler crake.  The first winter female of our study was photographed in Long Valley Hong Kong last winter.  Take a look!

Crow's Glossary and Compendium

Majority, Minority, Unity:  Reflection
On an Encounter with a Racist.

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By Freddie A. Bowles | Monday, February 24, 2014

February offers us something
other than the discomforts of wintry weather to contemplate — it provides an opportunity to reflect on our nation’s history from a different perspective.  February is Black History Month, an important time to remember our nation’s once-official policy and widespread societal practice of treating our fellow men and women as chattel — property to be bought, sold, traded, and mistreated for economic gain and social status.  African American history is not all about slavery, but to overlook our time as a slave nation and the legacy it imparts would be an act of historical folly.

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Who Pays?  Reflections of Corporate Intrusion in the Slushy River.

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By Freddie A. Bowles | Friday, February 14, 2014

Up early on Valentine’s Day
to fulfill my responsibilities as board member and conference planning committee co-chair.  Gray dawn reveals yet another round of snow reflected against the great arch of St. Louis.  I open the curtains in my suite to greet the morning and admire the view of the slushy Mississippi River, the Arch park, and the large white flakes falling furiously on the city streets.


Frosted Fading Sacred Lotus.

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By Stephen Gingold | Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I've visited the lotus pond
in our town countless times over the years and, like many, have been drawn mostly to the rich, deep pink of the blooms as they open during the late summer months.  Come October when the warm season ends, the leaves of the lotus fade quickly into a sere brown paper….
But, if you time it right….

Crow's Glossary and Compendium

NCTE Boston:  Using Music
to Teach English from A to Jay-Z.

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By Chris Goering | Monday, November 25, 2013

Chris Goering and colleagues
presented a one-day workshop at the National Council of Teachers of English conference in Boston on November 25.  LitTunes provided online resources related to the presentations at the workshop, Using Music to Teach English from A to Jay-Z.  "Enthusiastic attendees.  Inspiring presentations.  Very powerful day," Chris reported by text late on Monday.  Topics included "Rhetorical Analysis of Lyrics" by Josh Vest, "CCSS and Music" by Suzanne Oertel, "Music for Recontextualized Purposes" by Lindy Johnson, and "Woody Guthrie and Me" by Will Sewell.

play a Tune

The Ideals Are Noble,
But the Children Are Hungry.

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Special to Planet Gnosis | Thursday, August 29, 2013

The term social justice
is frequently invoked but rarely defined.  How, then, do we define it?  What does the presence of millions of hungry children in our public schools tell us about equity and society?  In this essay about multicultural issues, Dr. Freddie A. Bowles identifies ways to help educators and activists transform lofty ideals into effective action.  The essay includes an in-depth report about the June 2013 Symposium on Multiculturalism and Social Justice at the University of Arkansas.

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Writing a Bio Poem
In the Target Language:
The 2013 Poems.

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By Freddie Bowles | Monday, July 22, 2013

The Bio Poem assignment
in Special Methods serves many purposes. For in-service teachers, it provides biographical information about the student and information about the student’s proficiency in the target language — information useful for all of Danielson’s domains. Students can share their poems to establish a sense of community in the classroom. They can peer-edit each other’s poems for an instructional task. They can publish them to share with parents and community.

read MAT Special Methods

A Day among the Fringe Scholars.

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By Ron Fritze | Monday, June 17, 2013

After a day with the fringe scholars
at the Ancient Mysteries International Spring Conference, Ron Fritze is left wondering, "Why?" The answers are "legion, for we are many," and add to our understanding of pseudo-history and pseudoscience. Step inside and hear Stephen Knapp's take on ancient Vedic culture, Frank Joseph's ideas about Lemuria, Gary David's notions about the Orion Zone in the desert Southwest, Wayne May's speculations about ancient Mormons, and fringe superstar Michael Cremo's thoughts about forbidden archaeology.

walk on the Fringe

Smitten by the Native Trees of Arkansas.

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By Ebenezer Bowles | Tuesday, April 15, 2013

A native tree of Arkansas
is right at home on the land that nurtures and sustains it. At White River Nursery in northwest Arkansas, native trees and perennials are front and center in an initiative to provide gardeners, landscapers, and horticulturists with a wide range of indigenous species. Part of a national movement toward the idea of "sustainable wildlife," White River's initiative is finely attuned to the times. For someone who loves trees, it's downright special.

Letter from Crow's Cottage

I Got the Writin' Blues.

new LitTunes lesson plan

By Will Sewell | Wednesday, March 6, 2013

With its emphasis on relating
personal experiences, blues music can be the perfect vehicle to inspire writing for the adolescent experiencing the joys and heartbreaks of growing up. "I Got the Writin' Blues," a unit of three lessons, introduces students to the blues genre through the wit of Conan O'Brien and the lyrics of bluesman Danny Chicago, and then leads them through the process of writing a blues song. For the classroom teacher with an eye toward innovation and the development of new lessons, "I Got the Writin' Blues" also provides good seed for the study of poetry and cultural history.

LitTunes lesson plan
one of three sisters is Sante Fe plus Hiawatha go to Corvus
bottom bar x Joe's Jokes Letter from Cricket Song Writer's Archive Headlong into the Zephyr
This Church Is Plumb
go to Holy Bible
CornDancer in 2000
My Favorite Teacher
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