27. A Musical Potpourri


New Visitor’s…Please read the two paragraphs at the end of this column before beginning your explorations in theater, movies, television, books, and the Arts. It will say New Visitor’s Greeting and be in boldface.

Music…There are two Super Bowls this month. The first was completed last Sunday evening when the Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers. The second Super Bowl is this Sunday at nine o’clock on CBS. This one is called The Grammy Awards. Take American Idol, The Voice, and X-Factor and multiply them times ten and you can see how this rivals the first Super Bowl of the month. Everyone thinks the 55th Grammy show is about the awards that are being given in every musical category. It isn’t! It is about the live performances. Their live performance concept is a novel one: pairing musical singles, duets, and groups with someone way out of their comfort zone for a can’t miss musical treat. Mismatched mayhem that works is the theme. How about Elton John and Eminem being paired together for a great music treat? Your local paper has every award category. Check off your predictions and see how your musical tastes compare to America’s.

Thanks readers for sending in your local events. 
I hope my descriptions of your event and write-ups aid in filling your venue.

Music II…If you are in the Philadelphia area on February 22-24, you do not want to miss Hispanic Cabaret at the Prince Theater. It is part of the Opera Theater’s series Landmarks of Creativity. Every seat at the Prince is a good one and the venue is great for music and drama. The Opera Theater website www.operatheater.org is filled with information for their upcoming season. Subscribe to their newsletter to receive ‘first on the block news’ of opera and theater in Philadelphia.

Music III…If you are in Fort Myers, Florida on February 16th, the Gulf
Coast Symphony (www.gulfcoastsymphony.org) is presenting a “Dancing and Romancing” musical theme that is perfect for Valentine’s Day weekend.
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Broadway Show Stoppers follow in March and
April. The symphony is composed community members with and without
professional backgrounds. This diverse group’s presentations will
leave you clapping and singing their renditions all the way home
and through the weekend. You will probably still be singing their tunes until you catch their show next month.

Music IV…Philadelphia has a great tradition of music history from
Marian Anderson to Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell. We support all our
local talent and then we have some adopted talent we enjoy. Bon Jovi
part-owned the Philadelphia Indoor Soccer team and has placed a good
deal of his money and support to local Philadelphia issues. Right
back at you JBJ with our support! Bon Jovi’s new album What About Now
with the roll down your windows and sing along single Because We Can
is a keeper. His last concert in Philadelphia with Cheryl Crow is
still being talked about in local music circles. All the songs I
recommend are on YouTube for free. Bon Jovi has a nice talk about
his current tour promoting his new album and lead single on the
same site.

Music V…I usually put my shout-outs at the end of the column.
However, Brian in Arizona is bringing home his new daughter
after a six-week, after birth, incubator stay in the hospital.
He wanted to know what song he should play for her on the way
home. That request wasn’t even a challenge. The correct answer
is In My Daughter’s Eyes by Martina McBride. Someone Like You by
Adele would have been my second choice. That is a stretch,
though. I like the opening lyrics that define dad’s life
as a new one now. The song, then, goes on to talk about
someone who wants their boyfriend back, not daughters.

Internet Explorations Using Wordle…Wordle is an art and writing technique that will make you look creative and unique in your compositions and projects. Wordle can be found at (www.wordle.net). It is a free ‘word art’ tool that takes creative portions of text and produces a visual representation of the text’s content. The resulting picture or Wordle, very similar to a creative word wall, emphasizes the most common words by magnifying their size based on a mathematical ratio. This site was originally designed to give artistic pleasure and convey messages in interesting ways. Wordle is being used to enrich every area of the English language arts’ curriculum. Those areas include summaries of articles, stories, poems, and speeches and also include a myriad of education ideas presented below. The ideas can be used in a graphic or cut-out program if access to the Wordle site is difficult. Microsoft has a word art tool that can be substituted for Wordle. The national newspaper USA Today uses the Wordle technique

In 2013, I am now seeing many book covers and movie posters in the Wordle like format. ‘The Girl with the Tattoo’ series advertisement is in this form. See the Swedish three pack movie series of these books. It was awesome! Three times better than the American version is my estimate.

For my beginning of the school year (2013) activities with my students, they had to take their favorite sports team and draw a pre-wordle document with illustrations. The boy’s football representations were terrific before placing their ideas in Wordle. My Baltimore students had Raven work all over their room. I only know Joe Flacco, their quarterback and Ray Lewis, their best linebacker. Super Bowl winner is now in each of their resumes. This activity can be completed without Wordle…though Wordle is a great enhancer.

2013 School Year Starters:

  1. Write your school name down in the middle of your page and then link it to words that describe your school, friends, and activities. Include illustrations, charts, cutouts, and graphics to make your work more visually pleasing.
  2. Create an animal category on your page with its characteristics. Place animals in the group around it.
  3. Design a ‘Come To Philadelphia’ poster highlighting our city. The best one that I have seen was a ‘Shape Up In Atlanta’ campaign with gorgeous illustrations and sites from the city featured in it. You can do the same thing for your city and town like the example below.






  1. Many cities have ethnic festivals to attract people to their downtown and surrounding areas. Create an Afro-American, Italian, or Hispanic Festival in Wordle or on a poster emphasizing the best food and entertainment in your region. One of my students reproduced his visit to a Renaissance Theme Park.
  2. Philadelphia’s first casino opened in 2012 on the waterfront. Design a waterfront entertainment complex that would border the casino. Make one of their posters or flyers in Wordle.

Additional Ideas For Wordle themes:

1. Write a haiku or short poem
2. Highlight the main idea or a story, lecture, or speech
3. Create a student interest survey
4. Highlight and archive vocabulary from books, stories, and word lists
5. Create a word collage for the book be presented in the classroom
6. Develop character traits of minor and major characters and represent their characteristics in various size form
7. Design a movie, rock star, or product poster
8. Develop a school motto or slogan and its creative graphic
9. Use word art and Wordle in combination to create journal articles
10. Create lists of attached homonyms, antonyms, and synonyms
11. Connect descriptive adverbs and adjectives to their noun
12. Place the words that would appear on a dictionary page between its much larger guide words
13. Record three, four, or five letter words that start with the same letter but meet the criteria for the category where they will be placed
14. Design decals and logos for mugs, t-shirts, and hats
15. Write words that begin and end with a blend or similar word challenges that you have devised to correspond to your curriculum
16. Create the refrain for a song or a product promo
17. Place the different types of dogs, birds, reptiles, or mammals throughout the graphic
18. Depict family members and their likes and dislikes
19. Make a table of contents or chapters for a book you are reading that has neither
20. Send/create a western union cable from a time in history like the Titanic sinking or WW I starting or from some famous discovery.


Children’s LiteratureSmokey Night by Eve Bunting creates a vivid picture through the artwork of David Diaz of the Los Angeles’ riots. Like her book on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington titled The Wall, Eve Bunting tackles the difficult topics and challenges the questioning reader. She starts with burning, looting, and a neighborhood going out of control. She, then, tells the story of the people, neighborhoods, and animals that come together in this time of fear, panic, and devastation. This Caldecott award-winning book like its book leader says is a “thought provoking book.”


Children’s Literature II…Greater Than Angels by Carol Matas is a well-written follow-up to Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl, Number The Stars, Sunshine of My German Soldier, and Jane Yolen’s vivid Holocaust portrayals. The movies Swing Kids and The Pianist follow similar themes. The story takes place in occupied France as refugees are being hidden, cared for, and transported from town to town to elude the Germans. This is another thoughtful account of the human courage and sacrifice of ordinary townsfolk as protectors of their friends and complete strangers, as well.

New Visitor’s Greeting…Welcome to Let’s Talk, a freewheeling column on movies, theater, television, books, educational practices, current events, and the Internet. If you are a first time visitor to the column, I recommend that you start with the About topic in the Index Bar at the top of the page. Follow About with the Let’s Talk column in archives. It was the first column of the New Year. Proceed to Let’s Talk II and then work your way up to today’s column. These columns will introduce a plethora (a better word choice than myriad) of new ideas and old delights you may have missed. It will give you a foundation for some of the issues we are introducing and following up in newer columns.

New visitor’s comments are welcome, too. They are immediately placed on this page in the contributor’s comment section or are shared with the column’s readers on Sunday. You are welcome, also, to suggest topics for discussion or enlist help from the site’s family of readers. I am a compendium of useless information. Challenge me, please, with great theater, travel, history, books, movies, and educational issues that would interest a wide audience of readers. The “compendium comment” was stolen from Orson Bean. Bean used the quote many times on television talk show interviews. Please recommend my column to your friends, social media connections, and other lovers of discussion.


About tjpalumbo

Tom Palumbo is a nationally known and award winning author, teacher, technology designer, administrator, and grant writer. He has taught for thirty-five years in preschool through 12th grade classrooms throughout the quad state area. His ideas have made a difference in the way thousands of teachers, parents, and children read, write, do mathematics, use technology, and think creatively and critically. Tom’s twenty books on reading, writing, critical thinking, and mathematics have won four national book awards. 5,000 teachers and home schooling parents have matriculated through his graduate courses/lectures. 12,000 have signed up for his website. As Director of Pennsylvania’s Parent Information Center and New Jersey’s Citizen’s For Better Schools Resource Center, Tom received over two hundred commendations for his presentations to thousands of teachers, parents, and administrators throughout the Florida, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland area. Workshop participants receive idea loaded CD’s, access to hundreds of videos, PowerPoints, curriculum links, games, and lessons on his website, and an activity booklet filled with common core curriculum in line with local, state, and national standards. Instruction, on each of these resources, is presented during his presentation. Mr. Palumbo has over two hundred learning centers, bulletin boards, and project developers in reading, writing, poetry, literature, and math in make-it/take it item format that can, also, be part of any workshop program. Call or email Tom to set up a workshop for your organization. Tom Palumbo tjpalumbo@aol.com 215-262-9986 aimtjp.wikispaces.com
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