16.9.21

Why I Love TikTok Content Creators (And So Should You) — And a List of Zany TikToks I Found

I have a penchant for the theatrical. 
The dime novel. The beauty in the absurd. The homemade movie. The guy with the camera turned on himself. The take-a-household-item-and-make-a-prop kind of performativity. 

You get the gist.

And where can you find the most beautiful schlock the Internet has ever created? Why go no further than TikTok. It's a platform where content creators put their own identities front and center — and it's a highly satisfying romp.

If you didn't know — TikTok is a mobile video app owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. The first iteration of the app was dubbed Musical.ly, authored by software Engineers Alex Zhu and Luyu Yang. Basically, the app began as a lip syncing app called Musical.ly and its companion live streaming app called live.ly. TikTok was a rebrand of the app that attempted to fold both features of the two social apps into one.

And the rest is history. 

Just as Twitter revolutionized the short writing form of 265 characters, TikTok has ushered in the micro-length video form of 15 to 30 seconds.

The draw of TikTok is twofold — it’s easy to use and to create content with, coupled with its immense sound and music library and its unending filter library. However, the best TikToks have neither — they’re pure spun dioramas of peoples constructed private lives. And it’s why I first was enamored of the platform — peering into people’s live created in a dizzying array of quick action theater of the absurd. 

Here are some gems I’ve collected along the way. 

1. The Smiling, Waving Homage to The Sitcom Montage
This teen has an instinctual appreciation for the visual grammar of the iconic television sitcom montage — ignore the silly tune — and pay attention to how his edits match perfectly something out of American television classics Growing Pains or Family Ties.

2. Antoinette's Casual Use of the Cigarette
It’s easy to dismiss @antoniteegrams because her videos are riffs on soundbytes. But she’s so humble in her mien and I love her casual use of the cigarette. I have no idea what the original source of the soundbyte is but that’s what makes TikTok endearing. Any random noise can be strewn into actor’s gold. Andy Warhol was partly right — in the future everyone will be famous — but not just for five minutes, but for as long as you have working Internet and a smartphone with a halfway decent camera.

3. The Family Dinner Table is Often a Suitable Mise-en-Scene
@eddiepdoyle videos his grandmother’s acerbic comebacks in dozens of video. TikTok has made many folks Internet famous because a cousin, or grandson, or daughter, or someone, picked up a camera and started candidly filming a family member. The immediacy of the moment is right at your fingertips, as if you’ve stumbled into this woman’s cluttered kitchen and she wants to know what you want from her. Classic.

4. A Colorful Edit

It’s possible that this edit is rather basic. But it's relatively early TikTok. I like the use of color and fashion and the sheer fact that the guy is having a lot of fun. And that's quite a mess for one less-than-thirty-second video.

5. Boys Wear Tee-Shirts on Their Heads When They Play a Girl
So teenage boys on TikTok will don a tee-shirt on their head when they're playing a female role. It's sheer schlock. But a testament to the fact that no TikTok star has a wardrobe warehouse or access to MGM studios. Although, it is odd that teenage boys think a woman's hair is well represented by donning a tee on their head. Oh, girl!

6. Sissy That Walk!
If you can't get on the runway, girl you better werk. So does this amazing runway walk that is probably this TikToker's backyard. Sissy that walk!

7. The Five Minute Bathroom Break 
TikTok lends a view into working class jobs — fast food attendants, nail salonists, customer service representatives, and the lot. One thing network television cannot do — even though it has tried with shows like All in the Family and Roseanne — is replicate the experience of an everyday American's day at work. And often that means taking a five minute bathroom break and talking to the mirror. Period.

8. Right?!
I am not sure what to think of this video. Brilliant? Yes.

9. The Smiling Boy
This boy has created an entire fandom over the fact that he is a teenager who enjoys smiling.

10. The Histrionic School Lunch Lady Performance
Again put a piece of fabric on your head and all of a sudden you are a woman. And I wouldn't even call this drag. I call it histrionic performativity. And I didn't steal that from Judith Butler.

11. It's Got To Be the Sweater
It could be ironic that this guy is wearing a Playboy sweater. Right?! Lots of TikToker were born out of the Covid-19 pandemic.

12. The Best Comedian is Probably Your Neighbor, Mr. Pickles
Again — the beauty of TikTok is that it creates stars out of ordinary people. I love this guy's vulnerability and authenticity all packaged into a nice, yellowy color scheme.

8.8.21

Travel Postcard: That Time I Visited a Public Library in Saltillo, Mexico

In this post, I write about finding a photograph of me standing in front of a public library in Saltillo, Mexico.

Greig Roselli stands in front of the Biblioteca Publico del Estado, Coahuila, Saltillo (circa 1998)
Greig poses in front of a public library in the city of Saltillo in Coahuila, Mexico (c. 1998).

On a Trip to Mexico When I was Seventeen and a College Seminarian 
I am guessing my friend Tony took this photograph of me standing in front of a public library in Saltillo, Mexico, sometime in 1998 or 1999. I am about seventeen years old in this picture — and I was on a trip to Mexico with a bunch of seminarians.

Finding Old Pictures of Me (And Why I Love Libraries)
I found the photograph in a stack of pictures that I had stashed away at my mother's house in Louisiana. Armed with my photo scanner (i.e., my iPhone), I scanned the picture. At first, I had no recollection of where the picture was taken. We had gone to a few cities on this trip, having driven a van from New Orleans, Louisiana, to Laredo, Texas, to Monterrey, to Saltillo, and then to Mexico City. Was the picture taken in Mexico City? No. In Monterrey? No. After a bunch of failed internet searches, I finally found out the picture's location after stumbling upon a similar-looking building on a website dedicated to the history of Mexico via photography. Voila! It's the public library in Saltillo (located in the Mexican state of Coahuila!), La Biblioteca Publica del Estado. 

I look thrilled and content in the photograph. I am obviously excited to be standing in front of the library. Here is the library from an archival photograph I found:

Archival Photograph of La Biblioteca Publica del Estado (Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico)
La Biblioteca Publica del Estado, Coahuila, Saltillo — Image Credit: Photo archived by Gerardo Zárate 

The Symbolism of the Library (for me)
Libraries are symbolic for me — they symbolize free access to information, reading, literacy, and learning that attempt to scale above the prescription that education is fixed and only for a certain type of people. I love how the door to this library is open — adorned with Corinthian columns, another symbol — of the liberal arts — and people are seated on the steps. Libraries are public spaces, as well as places of learning and knowledge.

When you visit a new place, where do you like to go? Let me know in the comments.

28.7.21

Stones of Erasmus Teacher's Planner: Teach the Mythology of the Titan Gods and Goddesses with Middle and High School Students (Or, How to Make Mythology Relevant for Adolescent English Language Arts Students)

In this post, I briefly outline why it is both a challenge and a reward to teach mythology as a unit in a middle and high school classroom!

Aditya Kapoor sits in Mr. Roselli's class at Garden School in Queens.
Last year my students sat at desks with
plexiglass screens, but we were still
able to engage in meaningful conversations
(including the meaning of myth). #thumbsup
Introducing the Topic of Myth to Students

Mythology is a powerful topic to introduce to adolescent learners in a Language Arts or Humanities classroom. But, there's a catch. You don't want to present mythology as "kids' stuff" — and you definitely want to have a conversation about how students were first introduced to mythology — via Disney's Hercules or from a children's book, or a trip to the library, or not at all! The aura of myth is everywhere. And myths originate from all the world's societies — from the moment the first human could speak, myths have been told.

State and reiterate to students that mythology is a wide-reaching topic, and in every culture and civilization, there is a mythology — the stuff of narrative that sticks, that is universal, and tells a human story. Greek mythology is a standard go-to when teaching myth. It's standard fodder in schools today — especially because of Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief and Edith Hamilton's Mythology. But don't just stick with the Greeks — provide a variety of mythic stories and see how they are parallel, and share common patterns.

Finding Patterns in Myth and Identifying Tropes

A cosplayer performs the part of Spider-man.
Believe it or not — characters like
Spider-man, from Marvel comics and movies
— are just modern-day iterations of myth.
What god would Spider-man be? Anansi?
Arachne? Perhaps!

In a middle or high school setting, it's important to contextualize myth and to make it relevant for today's learners. How do you do that successfully? The best way to do it is to show how patterns in myth crop up in our everyday world. Perhaps your students are not worried about finding a nymph on the sidewalk, or striding a bull that turns into a God — but, mythology is all around us. I love to use the website TV Tropes — it organizes common tropes found in literature, movies, television, and video games to show how popular allusions form and where they can be found! One good place to start is to show students how the Marvel Cinematic Universe is just another version of mythology, re-packaged for the new media set.

The difficulty with teaching myth to students is just simply the gulf of content that is out there. It can be overwhelming. But less is more. The goal of teaching mythology is to have students make connections. Also, older students can learn about the discrepancies found in myths, and chart out and graph those inconsistencies — such as why the stories from ancient sources change, are adapted, and evolve over time. There is no universal text when it comes to these stories — and prepare to leverage this reality to your advantage. Create group work that has students investigate the differences and similarities found in myth. And make sure to record and document what you find.

Teach a Three-Day Lesson on the Titan Gods and Goddesses

Where to start on a myth unit for middle and high school students? You can start with a lesson on creation myths, but don't forget the Titans. The Titans are the "old gods," and their stories are filled with violence, wonder, intrigue, rebellion, and the rise of the new gods, the Olympians. Learn with your students as you traverse stories that include a father castrated by his son; a wise, compassionate one who attempts to save humankind, and how a jar (or, is it a box?) unleashes mayhem onto the world!

Cover Art for a Three-Day Lesson Plan on the Titan Gods of Creation Created and Made with Love by Stones of Erasmus
Use a three-day lesson plan digital download from
Stones of Erasmus. Adolescents will love the messiness
and insanity of the old gods, the Titans. 

Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Higher Education, Adult Education, Homeschooler, Staff, Not Grade Specific - TeachersPayTeachers.com

Engage Secondary English Language Arts students with the story of the Titans, the second-generation gods, and goddesses of Greek Mythology. Learn each Titan's backstory, where they came from, and their relationship to the Giants, and the Olympians. There is a clash of the Titans, that's for sure. Hesiod called it the Titanomachy. Use this fully packed three-day lesson plan, designed especially for students aged 13-17 years old.

  • This resource is optimized for distance learning. The product includes a durable Google Apps link. Access and modify this resource for student use on Google Classroom and other classroom management sites.

Use this Digital Download for a Three-day English Language Arts Lesson

Using my tested-in-the-classroom resources, your kids will want to discuss good and bad parenting skills, cursed families, sins of the fathers, the role of women in myth, power, and the clash of the Titans! So I have loaded this resource with TEN reading cards and a set of THIRTY questions that will get your students talking, writing, and wondering!

Common Core Standards: This resource aligns well with the reading literature standard: "Analyze the representation of a subject or a key scene in two different artistic mediums, including what is emphasized or absent in each treatment (e.g., Auden’s “Musée des Beaux-Arts” and Breughel’s Landscape with the Fall of Icarus)."

This Resource Includes the Following Features:

  • 1 Teacher's Three-day Lesson Calendar
    • With a teacher-tested-stamp of approval, follow my suggestions on how to teach the origin story of the Titans with high school students. Start with background knowledge, places, and geography, engage students in group reading with custom-made reading cards, and quiz your class with trivia-style questions. Cap the lesson off with a creative writing activity.

  • 10 Art + Literature Reading Cards
    • Included in this resource are ten reading cards that cover the lives, misdeeds, and fates of all the Titans and Titanesses:
      • Kronos (Saturn), Rhea, Crius, Coeus (Koios), Ocean (Oceanus), Tethys, Hyperion, Leto, Mnemosyne, Themis, Hecate, Phoebe, Iapetus, Atlas, Prometheus, Epimetheus, the Giants, the Curedes, and the Dactyls!

  • 1 Key Characters and Places Worksheet
    • Orient your learners by identifying the key characters and the geographical location of the story.

  • A Bank of 30 Trivia-style Questions about the Titans
    • After your students engage in the reading cards, test their knowledge with a custom-made question set.

  • 10 Frayer Model Vocabulary Cards (with student sample)
    • Frayer models are a way to get kids to think about vocabulary visually in a four-section square —- A square for meaning, one for examples, another for non-examples, and a sketch. It is amazing to see the work they produce. A great way to decorate your classroom to showcase your kids' vocabulary-in-text understanding. The cards contain terms, Greek and Latin roots, and challenging words (as well as contextual entries fit to the story).

  • Half-Sheet 3-2-1 Exit Ticket
    • Exit tickets are a way to get data about your students' understanding of the lesson right before the class is finished. Collect these exit tickets and quickly see what ideas your students took away from reading and discussing the myth.

  • Essay Writing Activity (with two visual starters and prompts)
    • Cap off this three-day lesson with a creative essay prompt to get students to make text-to-world connections.

  • Further Reading List
    • Don't disregard this further reading list if you think it is merely a bibliography. Share the list with your students or have them do projects based on the research that is available. Assign different sources to students and organize presentations where learning can go deeper into the stories of the Titans.

  • Answer Keys for all student-facing documents
    • Teachers always ask for answer keys for my products so I made sure I gave you plenty of guidance on what to expect from students in their written and oral responses.

  • Bonus: 3-Box Notetaking Template — Embed accountability into the lesson by having students annotate the text cards with notes, questions, and a summary of what they've read and comprehended.

I created this resource with secondary students in mind. It is designed for an English Language Arts Mythology unit —

  • For any myth-related unit!
  • On the Clash of the Titans!
  • Use this resource as a stand-alone lesson or, pair it with a larger unit on Myth, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, The Theogony of HesiodRobert Graves's Greek Myths, or Edith Hamilton's Mythologyor Parallel Myths by J.F. Bierlein.

For resources similar to this one see my:

You can purchase this three-day lesson on Teachers Pay Teachers, Amazon Ignite, Made By Teachers, and The Wheel Education!

PDF Copy for Printing 

26.7.21

I Go Walking Often in New York City: Tunnel Portals and Asian Comfort Food

In this blog post, I reflect on the relationship between walking and wandering in the city. And how I found the East River tunnel portals in Queens.

Greig Roselli stands and poses inside the Hunter's Point Avenue station in Long Island City, Queens.
Standing in the Hunter's Point Avenue Subway station in Long Island City, Queens

New York City is a town made for walkers. Maybe I’ve said that before — I can’t remember. But it’s what I lean on most for support — a good, healthy walk. 
Depicts grade level commuter rail tracks that carry Long Island Railroad trains to Long Island City in Queens
In Hunter’s Point Avenue in Queens, many grungy industrial fabrications are revamped into chic habitations for the young and trendy set. Getting out of the subway, I marvel at how often I take the 7 train but never get off here. A guy compliments my glasses. “They’re from Warby Parker,” I say. “You can order them online.” I still feel like I’m in high school whenever an attractive man compliments me. After a bit of stumbling around — passing loads of runners and dog walkers — I find what I’m looking for — yay! 
The East River tunnel carries Amtrak and Long Island Railroad trains from Penn Station into Queens — there are four tracks to the tunnel and each track has a tunnel portal.
One of the tunnel portals that @Amtrak and @LIRR use to go under the East River. It’s a complex network of trains and track interlocking in this area. It’s a rail fan’s compulsory visit. We ride subways and trains every day, oblivious to the painstaking labor and deliberation it takes to run everything smoothly. A job I don’t have the constitution for because I’m too much of a dreamer. The air feels crisp tonight, and I don’t feel anxious. It feels good to meander and poke about a city I’ve lived in for ten years and still find something new and unexpected. Tip — @yumpling on Vernon Boulevard is good (stupid good). 
Wire fencing keeps folks from entering the active Long Island Railroad grade-level tracks in Long Island City, Queens.

11.7.21

Journey to Willow Lake in Queens (And There and Back Again, Out of the Bog)

In this post, I take a walk to a hiking trail next to Willow Lake in Queens. It's a marshland in the middle of a metropolis.

The author looks out over Willow Lake in Queens
View of Willow Lake in Queens (Looking Northwest)

Would you believe me if I told you I'm still in New York City but surrounded by marshland, wet bugs, bees, and butterflies born from under the weeds of the milkweed plant? I am. 

The Pat Dolan Willow Lake Preserve Trail in Flushing, NY 11367:
Pat Dolan Trail
If you wend your way down a nature trail (near 72nd Avenue in Queens and Regent’s Park), you'll find a pedestrian bridge that crosses the Van Wyck Expressway. I expected to see a bloated corpse — left by a serial killer — the area does have a veil of secrecy and hiddenness. But maybe it's because I trekked the trail near evening fall — just a hint of daylight in the sky. Now — I need to find a way out of this bog

The Author, in situ and in sweat


Another view from Willow Lake

How To Get to the Pat Dolan Willow Lake Preserve Trail:
By Subway: Take the E, F, M, or R trains to Forest Hills / 74th Avenue. Alternatively, take the F train to 75th Ave. Walk to the trailhead at 72nd Road and Jewel Avenue. 
By Bus: The Q64 bus will take you to Jewel Avenue and 136th Street. Walk the rest of the way.
By Car: Take the Grand Central Parkway and Get off at Jewel Avenue (Exit 11).  You can also take the Van Wyck Expressway. Turn on Park Drive E., going south. The entrance to the trail is between 72nd Avenue and 72nd Terrace. Alternatively, access the trail on the Forest Hills side of the trail — next to the Willow Park playground.
Note: I don't claim to know every route to get to this trail. Trains, buses, and routes are apt to change due to scheduling delays, and other delays. When in doubt, use a map!

10.7.21

Teacher's Summer Diary #2398: On the Tedium of Making Educational Digital Content (And Why a Walk, a Stretch, and a Sip of Water is Essential)

In this post, I talk about making educational resources for the middle and high school classroom and why distraction is my friendly passenger (although they don't always feel so friendly).

Author as a Gif
As per my last email (don't you hate it when you receive a message that begins that way) — or, shall I say, post — I've learned some new tips. First — there is beauty in
"Wish You Were Here  B.O.B.B.Y" Spray-painted on the side of a freight train car (pictured somewhere in Queens, New York
A message spray-painted on a side of
a train car.

small details. But my iPhone finds it challenging to capture the subtle beauty, so you'll have to contend with the bigger picture.

I read a quote today that I like — about achievement — "Before the gates of excellence, the high gods have placed sweat.”

I'm attempting to complete a monumental task this week, and I feel overwhelmed. I want to expand the teaching resources I created under my @stonesoferasmus brand — I have to go and proofread my inventory of 137 digital downloads I've created. I like the “making part” of the process — using design skills and creating incredible resources that middle and high school students can use. It's just very time-consuming. So to inspire me, I take long walks — hence the photos you see — and eat healthy — and stretch. Also — I got a bigger monitor for my computer. OMG. Having a large screen to work on makes a huge difference when creating digital stuff. OMG.

My goal is to have 200 products reviewed and created by the end of Summer. And on top of that, I'm taking a class on Special Education and Differentiation at Hunter College. The course is good — it solidifies some things I already knew about teaching and has already given me good ideas to move forward. Next year I'm teaching a section of Eighth Grade English, a World Religions class, a New York City history class — paired with Tenth and Eleventh graders in a combined section. Whew. I better get to planning. But. Oh. I see a bird in a tree. Ohh. Let me check this out. *Loses thirty minutes*. By the way, @kfs0520, is the last picture in this post an excellent example of Nantucket Red? Inquiring minds want to know.
Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Higher Education, Adult Education, Homeschooler, Staff, Not Grade Specific - TeachersPayTeachers.com

6.7.21

Brief Philosophical Thought: On Everydayness and How to Live One's Life to the Zaniest

In this post, I tussle with Martin Heidegger's concept of "everydayness," — all the while having fun in the town of Catskill, New York (Why, not?!).

Yellow Legs
Put your feet in the air!

Wag your tongue.
Martin Heidegger has this idea he calls everydayness. It’s a complex idea to explain, but somehow it has been on my mind. Everydayness is a condition of being in the world — with its routines, habits, conventions, etc. Let’s call them societal norms. And let’s further say societal norms were constructed to form a modicum of order and stability in living with others. Please don’t take my fish sticks, or I’ll murder you and all your kin. No one has time for that foolishness. So everydayness has its merits. But, then, it’s a tricky business when those same societal norms constructed to protect and carve out stability can also have the light effect of destroying freedom of self. Everydayness is being in a world where one is so caught up in the mundane busyness of living that one forgets how to live. For me — I feel a break from everydayness when I travel. When I’m not plugged into the typical 9 to 5 life. But something is terrifying about breaking away from everydayness. Because to break away from everydayness is to be authentic. And authenticity is most terrifying for one when one doesn’t know how to live outside the habits and conventions laid out for one. To wake up with nothing on one’s schedule, no one calling, no emails to answer, nothing demanding conformity — what’s left is the empty well of the self where authenticity is carved out. So I stick out my tongue. Get caught in the rain. Sit by the river. And feel the ache. The terror of being alive. Because life is so damn limited. A quick breath of air. Poof. You’re gone. What am I to do? And no — the answer is not in any advice or life coach’s guidance. I don’t know the answer. But at least let’s try.

Siamese Cat Sculpture in Catskill, New York
Catskill, New York populates its street corners with quirky cat sculptures.

Cosmic Cat Sculpture in Catskill, New York
Cosmic Cat

Two Kissing Dogs with Santa Hats in Catskill, New York
Kiss me, Kate!