Forgetting how good Google can be

I went through a phase – and I’m sure I’m not the only one – when I couldn’t help but try every new Ben & Jerry’s flavor as soon as I saw one. Graham cracker swirl and marshmallows? Gotta have that (so good). Peach cobbler? How could I not try it?

But those days are over. It was financial forces that killed that ongoing experiment, which could indeed be ongoing since they don’t seem to be slowing down with the new flavors (Schweddy Balls? Really?). The great thing about cutting those fancy pints out of my budget was that I was reintroduced to the  economical yet outstanding Breyer’s chocolate.

After tasting all those wacakdoo, cluster-filled flavors, regular chocolate ice cream still holds its own. It reminds me that I don’t really need anything else for dessert. Ever.

That’s what using plain ol’ Google was like for me today. I was reading Roald Dahl’s “Man From the South” to my 9th graders. I was guiding them through some note-taking on literary terms, so I had the projector hooked up to a Word document where I was modeling the notes. But that allowed for the quick researching of unknown words and references that may have given my students some invaluable, visual context.

Examples: The creepy old man who shows up at the hotel pool is “immaculately dressed in a white suit” and a “large creamy Panama hat.” Not one student knew what that looked like. So in 5 seconds, we were all able to see.

Since we were working on analyzing indirect characterization, this was incredibly helpful beyond the surface level of visualizing the character. When I prompted them for inferences we might make based on the description, one student offered that he seemed “suspicious’ because the wide brim of the had could be hiding his eyes.

We later learn that he is wearing “white buckskin shoes.” What are those? Here they are.

And his crocodile cigar case? That might have looked something like this:

And I think knowing what that looks like helps you realize just how utterly creepy of a character Dahl created here.

Pretty simple, but pretty powerful. Of course, I still feel like I have  to try that flavor with the fudge covered potato chip clusters, just like there are all kinds of things I’d love to do with iPads that I don’t have. But I’m about to serve myself a bowl of chocolate ice cream, and I have a feeling it’ll be pretty powerful, too.


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