What’s your favorite Christmas movie?

This is a question one group of students was talking about in class the other day. One said, “Die Hard, of course!” Another said, “The Nightmare BeforeChristmas” A third said she didn’t know any Christmas movies. My favorite Christmas story is “A Christmas Carol” and there are many movie versions.

Here’s a graded (leveled) text from Tween Tribune about why Charles Dickens wrote the story.

“Dickens may not have gotten rich off of the publication of A Christmas Carol, but he did make the world a little richer.”

I couldn’t agree more.

There’s a new movie out this year called The Man Who Invented Christmas, which is about this origin of the story and looks like a lot of fun (unfortunately, no date on when or if it’s coming to theaters in Japan).

Of the many movie versions, I like the one with Albert Finney the best, though the one with Patrick Stewart is good, too, and I always enjoy

There are also other versions, like “Scrooged” with Bill Murray, and the seasonal favorite “It’s a Wonderful Life” is also based on the story.

So have you seen any of these? Have you read the Dickens story? I used to teach at a JHS/HS that would put on this play at Christmas time (it was either that or Les Mis).

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What have you learned this year?

Third year in a row (see 2015’s and  2016’s lists) of reflecting on things you’ve learned this year, inspired by this list: “52 things I learned in 2017”.

Some of the things I thought were interesting (go to the article to find links to the original sources):

#4: Laser Snake is a robotic arm that is used to help decommission nuclear plants.

#30: Some people begging for money in China are using QR codes and smart phones to get it.

#34: People who watch regular TV see up to 160 hours of advertisements a year. That’s one good thing about Netflix.

#38: In just 5 months in 2016, more than 250 people died as a result of drivers playing Pokemon Go.

#41: Men who travel first class are more likely to weigh a lot, but the reverse is true for women.

#45: There are twelve people whose job it is to check and remove abusive comments and spam from Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook page.

#51: A research company in Korea is working on furniture that moves itself, making it easier to clean your room. (see video below)


Students, try making your own list of things you learned this year. It’s a good way to review the year and get ready for end-of-semester tests and assessments.

Seat 14C

This writing competition is already over, but it’s fascinating. It’s called Seat 14C and here’s the intro video:

The contest was to write the story of what happened, as a person sitting in one of the seats on ANA Flight #008, which departs Tokyo in June 2017 and arrives in San Francisco 20 years later.

You can read the stories that were submitted to the contest, including the winner:

The contest offered a prize worth $10,000, including 2 round-trip tickets from SF to Tokyo. Read more about it here: “Seat 14C jets into the future” (from Wired).

It’s too late for this contest, but I’ll encourage students to write their own science fiction stories in your portfolio.

I’m glad I found this *after* a recent ANA flight between Tokyo and the West Coast and not before.