genesis_xmen_frontX-Men is a 1993 platformer for the Sega Genesis that cleverly brings many superheroes into the action however, awkward level design and clunky controls keep the game from being satisfying.


“Sometimes… You have to crush your enemies where they live!!!” says a menacing Magneto as this title opens. He then sends a beam that controls the X-Men training facility, the Danger Room. Aztec-ish warriors begin throwing spears your way and annoying bees are slapping you down. But you are one of the X-men! These adversaries aren’t worthy of you. Well, in the Danger Room, they might be. So dodge spears, knock out hives and soon you will be getting your butt kicked by more infamous baddies. Gambit is fun to play and the game would be better if he was the star with several lives. Unfortunately, there are three other main heroes (Cyclops is blah, Nightcrawler is niche and Wolverine is just sad) and you will have to make do with one life each. There is a nice supporting cast of heroes (Rogue, Storm, Archangel and Iceman) that come into the game for one offs and Jean Grey makes her presence felt, as well.


  • After choosing the difficulty level (I strongly suggest amateur), you are asked to select a hero. There are four choices but the images are too small to tell who you are selecting. However, after pressing Start, you may cycle left and right to see the choices more clearly.
  • During gameplay you may switch between the four main heroes and call upon support heroes. You do this by pressing Start, selecting your hero, then pressing Start again. The new hero does not appear on screen until you press the A button.
  • Between levels or after one hero’s demise, you can find and smash orbs that give you extra health and power.

Golden Sword of Dragonwalk

imgres.jpgGolden Sword of Dragonwalk is a Twistaplot gamebook by the prolific R. L. Stine from 1983. It was published 9 years before Mr. Stine’s Goosebumps series began. I sped through the first few choices, skim reading and this was the end of my pathway:

“In a few days, Grandma Carmen’s once quiet neighborhood is overrun by evil. Dragons roam the sidewalks, chewing up the hedges and swallowing pedestrians whole. Sorcerers change babies into toads…” (18)

Well yes, only children and rather silly adults would enjoy such nonsense. So, being rather silly myself, I was not deterred and started again from the beginning. On page 5, I found two choices that have the same result, one sending you directly to page 8, the other having you read page 11 before sending you to page 8. You then have to choose which order you will fight the big dragon, middle dragon and little dragon. So, six paths in all. Here are my choices and their results in the order I chose them.

  1. middle, big, little – I’m DEAD but it seemed to give a clue to fight the big one first, so I try again.
  2. big, middle, little – I’m DEAD but the wizard says never fight the big one first. Sigh.
  3. little, big, middle – I kill the little one. I kill the big one. Then this happens:

“… the look in the dragon’s eyes is not one of anger, but of grief. With its two companions gone, the middle dragon has lost all its fight. It offers no resistance as you plunge the Golden Sword through its heart.” (29)

Oh my, is this what winning feels like?

A Resource for Teaching Young Children

Screen Shot 2017-08-27 at 11.23.32 AM.pngEarly Mathematics: A Resource for Teaching Young Children is a free 400+ page collection of lessons for PreK – 2nd mathematics. It is aligned to Common Core State Standards and develops foundational mathematics concepts, especially numeracy. This early version is freely available and was developed by The Charles A. Dana Center at The University of Texas at Austin with support from The Noyce Foundation.

Trace Memory

tracememory_dsusbox.jpgI’m a girl of nearly fourteen years traveling to Edward Blood Island to meet my father. Until recently, I falsely believed he was dead. My aunt tells me I was protected from the truth but I feel betrayed. Though I may learn what really happened to my father, the reminders of the years with him I lost, will only bring me more sadness. Welcome to Trace Memory a mystery adventure title for the Nintendo DS. The game is text heavy, mostly dialogue, that is keeping me engaged in the mysteries on the island. Solving simple puzzles moves me from one area to the next with opportunities to backtrack. Just when I begin to think Trace Memory is too easy, I find myself stuck just inside the mansion with no idea how to progress further. Before I become too frustrated, I return to the previous area and suddenly see the solution. I’m on track again and that feels good but I wonder if the puzzles will be difficult going forward. And if they are, am I curious enough about the island mysteries to stay persistent and solve them?

Masters of the Universe: New Champions of Eternia

cover35This 25-page picture book (1985) presents a mystery that reveals the origin of Queen Marlena and three of Skeletor’s evil henchmen. The reader can solve part of the mystery by decoding these names written as anagrams: Nyvelli, Abstanem and Potskril. These three and Queen Marlena are from a planet far from Eternia (which happens to be Earth). They were traveling in a spaceship and fell into a “portal” leading to Eternia. Marlena was rescued by King Randor and became his wife. The other three, Evelyn Powers, Biff Beastman and Dr. Scope joined the evil side and were transformed into Evil-Lyn, Beast Man and Tri-Klops, respectively.

Understanding the Equal Sign

Challenge: Some children misperceive the equal sign as an instruction to compute rather than understanding the equal sign as a symbol that shows two expressions have the same value. These children will often place a 5 in the blank when given 2 + 3 = _ + 4. Practice with addition facts may actually strengthen this misconception if children are repeatedly given left to right “4 plus 2 makes 6” formatted facts. This can become a significant stumbling block in a child’s development of algebraic reasoning.

How to Address

  • Explicitly teach the equal sign means “the same value as.” In lower grades you may say, “6 marbles is the same as 4 marbles and 2 marbles.”
  • Do not use the input output model to describe equations.
  • Use a variety equation formats. For example: 3 = 5 – 2 or 9 = 9 or 2 + 6 = 10 – 2
  • Have children represent these equations with concrete objects.
  • Have children solve for unknowns in equations such as 8 + _ = 3 + 9.

Source: Teaching the Meaning of the Equal Sign to Children with Learning Disabilities: Moving from Concrete to Abstractions by Ruth Beatty and Joan Moss at the University of Toronto. Published in The Learning of Mathematics, NCTM’s 69th Yearbook, 2007.


Faster is Not Smarter


Mathematician Laurent Schwartz won the Fields medal in 1950. The following is an excerpt from his autobiography, A Mathematician Grappling With His Century (2001).

I was always deeply uncertain about my own intellectual capacity; I thought I was unintelligent. And it is true that I was, and still am, rather slow. I need time to seize things because I always need to understand them fully. Even when I was the first to answer the teacher’s questions, I knew it was because they happened to be questions to which I already knew the answer. But if a new question arose, usually students who weren’t as good as I was answered before me. Towards the end of the eleventh grade, I secretly thought of myself as stupid. I worried about this for a long time. Not only did I believe I was stupid, but I couldn’t understand the contradiction between this stupidity and my good grades. I never talked about this to anyone, but I always felt convinced that my imposture would someday be revealed: the whole world and myself would finally see that what looked like intelligence was really just an illusion. If this ever happened, apparently no one noticed it, and I’m still just as slow. (…) At the end of the eleventh grade, I took the measure of the situation, and came to the conclusion that rapidity doesn’t have a precise relation to intelligence. What is important is to deeply understand things and their relations to each other. This is where intelligence lies. The fact of being quick or slow isn’t really relevant. Naturally, it’s helpful to be quick, like it is to have a good memory. But it’s neither necessary nor sufficient for intellectual success.


Mathematician David Hilbert won the Fields medal in Mathematics, Physics and Philosophy. The following is an excerpt from Genius Genes: How Asperger Talents Changed the World by Michael Fitzgerald and Brendan O’Brien.

Hilbert did not grasp complicated ideas in a flash and took his time to get to the bottom of matters. He set high standards of simplicity and clarity for his talks to the mathematics club.