An Exercise in Re-MEDIA-tion, Part One

The second Make Cycle for CLMOOC kicked off yesterday and we are now plunging out way into the concept of remediation — of considering the ways in which technology and composition strategies change/alter the message of the original media/composition.

Check out the CLMOOC newsletter, done as collective voice in an art museum, as video. The script is the same as the text (see it here) but the brings the ideas alive, particularly when the group finds the right art for the right moment. That’s part of the remediation of words, when image and sound inform/change the writing.

Here is a user-friendly concise definition of remediation:

“It is essentially the appropriation of the content of one medium into another.” — from The Average Penguin

I am always intrigued by remediation ideas, particularly in this age of digital media, and so I have decided to take a poem I wrote the other day and bring it through some various remediation this week. The origin is a tweet by Jeffrey Keefer, who wrote about a term I had never come across before: liminality. The more he tweeted out about it, the more I found this poem forming. It may be that I am not as deeply informed about liminality as Jeffrey is (in fact, I know that to be true), and I found myself shifting more towards Vygotsky’s Zones of Promixal Development.

I won’t always be stuck here
will I?
I’m wiggling my toes
flexing my fingers
stretching my mind
digging my way
into the crawl spaces of liminality
all for the hope that where I’ve come from
will lead me into the place where I’m going
with only a few more questions as bumps in the road ….

Well, this is not completely true, either. I had a little sticky note that I write the first draft of the poem on. It was a mess. I accidentally tossed it away. You won’t see the true origin of the poem, unfortunately — only the first remediation of it as I typed it out.

Then I decided to share the poem out via Twitter, so I turned to one of my favorite writing/style sites called Notegraphy. The site gives your presentation frames for text, and this began my first element of remediation and a question: How would I present my poem so that the style would complement the message of the writing?

It’s more difficult than it seems, given a vast amount of choice, and I ended up with this very simple design, tilted a bit on its axis. For me, this tilt seemed to metaphorically represent the heart of the poem — of questioning what it means to be in the middle of learning something — not quite a novice and not quite an expert.

The poem came to look like this, which I mostly liked, except that the design screwed with my line breaks .. which brings to the surface the concept of “agency” of the writer, and how far do we go to force our own vision on what technology does to our vision. Here, I accepted the change, reluctantly. I compromised with technology. It didn’t even know or care, of course.

But I do. I still do.

Liminality remediate 1

Then I decided to go another step .. of using the Docs Demo: Master’s Edition by Google that allows you to write in an experimental Google Doc with some “masters” of writing. What would they do to my poem? And more importantly, how much of my poem was I willing to give up to the unknown media changers? For this, I held on to little, allowing Google’s site to do what it would with my words, in the name of the experiment.

They did this:

The end result was my poem looking like this:

The Masters Mess with my Poem

I have more ideas brewing for the next few days … will remediate.

Peace (in the mix),


On a Morning Blog Walk in #CLMOOC

clmooc imageWith so many social media spaces acting like livewires of sharing and reflecting for the Making Learning Connected MOOC, or CLMOOC, it is easier to forget that a fair number of folks are blogging regularly, too, and that the CLMOOC has a Blog Hub that gathers up blogs in one space.

I decided to spend some time this morning, in the space between Make Cycle One that just ended and Make Cycle Two that will soon launch, to read some blogs from CLMOOC folks and make some comments, and collect some quotes that have had me thinking in new directions. I love the close reading that this kind of activity invokes. It’s authentic close reading, not some regimented process that comes from a book by Pearson. I read to seek inspiration, for the words that make me pause. I read to learn.

Lots o Quotes

My blog tour began with Deanna Mascle’s post about media and remediation. Her journey into identity issues and how technology and digital media impact how we view and are viewed by the world is a critical component of Connected Learning principles, the very foundations of CLMOOC.

Deanna Quote

inspired by Deanna Mascle –

Is there anything more beautiful than a beautiful photograph? Week after week, I am inspired by the work of Kim Douillard. I am lucky to have her as a friend in multiple networks. Here, she uses her blog to remind us of how the lens of our cameras might open up different reflective stances. I am one of those who needs that kind of constant reminders, as I am more apt to think in terms of words.

kim quote

inspired by Kim Douillard —

Maha Bali and I, and some others, have often had conversations around this idea of inclusion/exclusion, and how networked spaces and community ideas open or shut the doors on others. I love that she continues to push at that idea. It’s important in online spaces but just as important in our classrooms. Who feels welcomed? Who doesn’t?

maha quote

inspired by Maha Bali —

Kathleen is someone new to me but I love that she is science-orientated and her post about engaging in her first Twitter chat is such a great perspective. She tried something new. She is gearing up to try something new again. That’s the CLMOOC ethos. She is also engaged in the Make an Inquiry venture within CLMOOC (me, too) and I am grateful to have her perspectives.

kathleen quote

inspired by Kathleen Marie —

Jeffrey Keefer has been dipping into poetry this CLMOOC, inspiring others with the concept of liminality … that learning space in between the first step of the novice and the confidence of the expert. It reminds me of Vygotsky and zones of promixal development, and how important it is to navigate forward, even in uncertainty. His quote here is off-kilter because it comes from a poem. I left it because the off-kiltered essence seemed somewhat metaphorical to me.

jeffrey quote

inspired by Jeffrey Keefer —

Barry Geltson was writing about an interaction with a friend, who made a quip about email. It reminded him, as it does me, of our role as teachers to find ways to encourage agency in our students in the wave of digital media.

barry quote

inspired by Barry Gelston —

Like Maha, Susan Watson explores the idea of gateways and access in a post that blew me away with some new thinking of intentional designs in public spaces that have implications for us in digital spaces. The invitation in and who is the host …. we can’t ignore these ideas.

susan quote

inspired by Susan Watson —

I think, sometimes, that Sheri Edwards and I surf the same wavelengths. This summer, already, she has been pulling the collaborative threads left and right in the CLMOOC, and I so appreciate it. Her reflections are as interesting as her projects (and she has many)

sheri quote

inspired by Sheri Edwards —

Michael Buist wrote a very personal post, about vacationing in Maine and the connections to family history. But in the midst of it, he had this line that resonated with me and with CLMOOC — he is bringing us into his experience while also inviting us to make our own.

michael quote
inspired by Michael Buist –

Thank you to all the bloggers in the CLMOOC Blog Hub. If you blog, add yours, too. The center of the CLMOOC is always YOU and if you blog, then consider opening the doors and invite us in. We promise not to wreck the place. We might remix a few things here and there but we will do it with caring and love.

Peace (in the blogs),

Tracking the Flow of an Impromptu Make

Flow of a Make

I am not sure I have this completely correct but I am trying to track the flow of a Make project that was completely unscheduled and unscripted in the Making Learning Connected MOOC, and yet, gained traction among some CLMOOC folks (and continues to even now). I also recently got myself a stylus pen and wanted to try it out in my Paper app. It’s better than my fingers on the touchpad.

This began with Simon, folding laundry and wishing he had some audio to listen to. As per CLMOOC ethos, he decided to record his own narration and then put out the call to the CLMOOC community, asking folks to make audio and share it out. There is something powerful with voice and podcasting, and even in the very first year of CLMOOC, we were encouraging people to share their voices. Not many did. Simon found a hook that was both open-ended and connected, as indicated by the hashtag of #adhocvoices.

This morning, Simon curated the audio a bit in Soundcloud, and I made this comic after listening to files this morning and reading his own reflective post.


But Terry took it one step further, making the comic into a clickable curated file in Thinglink, with different pieces leading to different audio.

So, I did the “flow chart” at the top of this post — showing the flow, so to speak — of how I saw things unfolding from Simon’s initial call for voices, in an ongoing attempt to make as much of our creative work this summer with CLMOOC visible and maybe replicable in some fashion with either other educators or with learners.

The key here is expect the unexpected, and go with the flow. See where things take you. It’s that uncharted country off the map that we often talk about in open learning. Leave a few breadcrumbs so we can follow you. One caveat to my own reflection here is that many of those who have participated in this #adhocvoices are familiar folks, and we want the map to get larger, more encompassing of more people.

That might be you.

Peace (in sound),

Book Review: Space Case

Imagine being stuck on a pioneering base on the moon and someone is murdered. The murderer is among you. It sounds like an Agatha Christie novel, doesn’t it? And Space Case by Stuart Gibbs plays out a bit like “And Then There Were None …” in that there is a closed setting, a murder and someone can’t be trusted.

Gibbs, whose fine sense of humor have been on display in some of his other books for young readers, is in fine form here with Space Case, as pre-teen Dashiell Gibson realizes that the untimely death of a famous scientists on Moon Base Alpha does not add up, and he is determined to get to the cause of the incident.

Gibbs plants plenty of red herrings, a must in this kind of story, and a surprising twist near the end of the novel, and Space Case really captures both the amazing idea of living on the moon and the claustrophobic element of a murderer hiding in plain site. I read this aloud to my son, and he and I both enjoyed the tale.

Peace (on the moon, baby),

Odds and Ends: From Abamao to Zzzzzzzzzzcratching

Frindle: Words from Mr. Hodgson on Vimeo.

I’m still abuzz from this past year’s version of the Crazy Collaborative Dictionary Project. What’s that, you say? What’s a Crazy Collaborative Dictionary? It’s part of our annual exploration of the origins of words, with a project in which my sixth graders invent new words and then add them to an ongoing collaborative dictionary.

There are now more than 900 words, from over 12 years worth of students. Siblings are writing with siblings … across time. Think about that for a second. A collaboration across time. And a nutty dictionary emerges as a result, too, that completely engaged my students in the art of vocabulary creation.

Oh, and we podcast the words and definitions, too, preserving the voices of sixth graders.

So, from Abamao (The skill of tripping/falling for no reason and being congratulated for it) to Zzzzzzzzzzcratching (The act of using a zebra leg as a back scratcher), there is an entirely new vocabulary out there.

Peace (in the collaboration),

The CLMOOC Word Map

No reason for doing this other than I wondered how it would come out …

I used Word Map, which is a pretty nifty tech tool, if you use a real word. Hashtags are just confusing for the voices.

Peace (on the map),


Odds and Ends: Stuck Inside a Game Short Story Writing

game story collage

This was a fine way to end the school year – writing stories and connecting back to a running theme of the year of game design. For the last two weeks of school, students worked on writing a short story in which someone from history was stuck inside a game and the protagonist must go into the game and get them out within 48 hours. Think Jumanji as a mentor text.

My students were really invested in this story writing, working hard for days, right up until the very last day they could write, and because they were using their Google Docs accounts, it will continue for many of them right into the summer. The whole concept here was to use game dynamics as a setting element and plot device for story writing, and since we have been talking, hacking, creating games all year, it tied together some threads for the year.

Peace (in the story),

A Serious Aside on Identity and Representation

Peace Poster Collage

I hate to kill the playful mojo of the CLMOOC, which has been streaming in channels in social media spaces around the #untro — or “unintroducing yourself” by mashing up media and glitching images and smashing ideas. But in the midst of all this play, I can’t help but think about the headlines and events of the past week, and how identity in the form of flags and race are right now part of the national conversation.

Check out this interview transcript with Kanye West, who made a point a few years ago about the use of the confederate flag. As always, he went farther than he needed to, in order to generate controversy. Still, Kanye had a point — we can try to take media and mediate it for our own message.

“React how you want,” West said. “Any energy is good energy. The Confederate flag represented slavery in a way. That’s my abstract take on what I know about it, right? So I wrote the song ‘New Slaves.’ So I took the Confederate flag and made it my flag. It’s my flag now.” — from

So , how do we make our own messages on where we stand when it comes to equity and fairness, and to get a bit fuzzy with it, peace and love and understanding towards everyone, no matter the race or creed or religion, or color of skin. How do we make a difference when we are not Kanye, with his platform to the world? How can teachers make a difference in their own communities?

At our “end of year” ceremonies for our sixth graders this week, one of the highlighted endeavors from the past year had to do with a Peace Poster art project. This project is overseen by our fantastic art teacher each year and is part of a Lion’s Club contest to have students represent peaceful ideas on the canvas. The theme this year was “peace, love and understanding.”

Take a look at some of their work:

And take a listen to some of their artist statements:

This brings me back around to the confederate flag issue in South Carolina — the move underfoot to remove the flag from public buildings — and the purposeful killing of those nine people in the Emanuel African Methodist Church, which seems to be rooted in deep racism and violence by the perpetrator. The confederate flag issue makes clear how powerful these media symbols are in culture, how people connect and identify themselves to the world, and how fragile/powerful those connections can be. At the heart of this controversy is identity, as some people see the flag as some landmark of heritage and pride. They use the flag as a cornerstone of their identity. We even see that confederate flag around here, too, in the northeast, in liberal Massachusetts, particularly with high school students who live in some of our more remote hill towns but come into town for the vocational school. I’m trying not to stereotype here. Not every student in the remote foothills are racist and not every student with a confederate flag on their truck bumper is intolerant. But it’s hard not to see that and think, really?

I’m not one who sees that flag that way, that it can be some source of pride of culture. It has too much history. I am more on the side of, this confederate flag represents oppression and hate and distrust. It has no place on public buildings. Anywhere. Period.

Is there a way for me, one teacher, to mediate media, as part the CLMOOC Make Cycle, to make a political point about this? To engage in the national conversation from my dining room table in Massachusetts?

I tried a few things these last few days, but all seemed to miss the mark. Either it was too overt or too mean or just ineffective in my ability to craft a message with media. My brand of poking fun through satire … it wasn’t working because the issue is bigger than that. I feel like I am failing here to use what I know, and experiment with on a regular basis, to make a point.

I am at a loss.

Luckily, Terry Elliott began a collaborative poem the other day, inviting others in to write stanzas and make a podcast (still unfolding in the mix stage by Terry) about the shooting at the “Mother Emanuel” Church. I felt grateful to be invited, as if maybe I was able to contribute something — a few written words, a few spoken words, some music — that empowered me to take a stand. I felt useful, and part of a community of others, making art to lead to some understanding. It may not resonate on the national stage. Kanye did not contribute to the poem.

But it resonates with us.

Maybe what I most need to do here, as I am doing here with this post, is to return to my students’ work on peace as something that will sustain me, and give me hope for change. Maybe what they drew and painted, and what they wrote about, is more than platitudes. Their media has power. Maybe one of my now-former students will change the world. No. Not maybe. Not one. Many of them will change the world. Maybe we all will change the world. Maybe it is in the way we collaborate and interact and seek to understand our differences and similarities — maybe that is what we can do.

Maybe we shape our identities together. Is this the fabric and thread of the first Make Cycle? Maybe we Make a Better World. Let’s get started.

Peace (in the think),


Getting All Glitchy With It

It’s always exciting when the first Make Cycle of the Making Learning Connected MOOC kicks off, and yesterday, it finally did.  The faciliators — two colleagues from the Tar River Writing Project — of the Make Cycle want to do a little twist on how we go about introducing ourselves, by bringing a sort of media mediation into the mix.

They write:

The theme this week is Unmaking Introductions. Let’s consider the ways we name, present, and represent ourselves and the boundaries or memberships those introductions create.

Among the suggestions to explore is to slice up and glitch some media. I see the use of intentional glitch as a way to upend our expectations of media, to turn the expected into the unexpected, and maybe find something new in the mix. It’s interesting because we often think of a “glitch” as something broken (like in the clip above, where her glitch is later what saves the day). But mistakes and miscues, and the unexpected are what makes life interesting.

So for this activity, I turned to a few apps to help me out, including one called Fragment that does what it sounds like — it takes apart images and reconstructs them back into unusual images. (It was free when I got it.)

I began with a photo of me and my dog. I use the handle/moniker Dogtrax in a lot of social media spaces. It has nothing to do with dogs, although I often make canine-inspired jokes. You can read more about my nickname here, if that interests you. Hey, I do love dogs. (Cats are cool, too, so no hate comments, please). And my dog, Duke .. he is pretty cool. He puts up with a lot from our family. (We feed him, so that helps).

So I took this photo of Duke and I in repose. He seems like he is thinking: Sigh, here we go again:

With dog

and made this with Fragment. I was really trying to find a ways to layer our faces in different ways and I love that Duke’s nose just hangs out on the edge of the frame on the right:

Dogtrax and his dog

and then this collage with another app. The bottom right image was done in another app, and it was another image where my eyes look up. That simple movement changes the flow of the collage, don’t you think?

Dogtrax and dog

and then I used an online site called Image Glitch Experiment suggested by Make Cycle facilitators for creating “glitch” images to make this version. The small bands of color seem to me as if there is a television set going, and the lower half of the screen — all dark — changes the composition of the image, too, giving contrast to the light.


I’ll keep exploring how media impacts identity. It’s an intriguing topic.

Peace (in the glitch),


Book Review: Letter to a Future Lover

In the end, I just couldn’t do it. Essayist Ander Monson asks, requests, even cajoles the reader of his Letter to a Future Lover: Marginalia, Errata, Secrets, Inscriptions, and Other Ephemera Found in Libraries to write in his book, to add the reader’s perspective to the writer’s notes.

But I just could not bring myself to write inside a book that I had borrowed from the library. It was inter-library loan, for goodness sake, shipped from another library an hour’s drive away just to allow me to read it. Writing in the borrowed book seemed to fly in the face of some unwritten contract. Although, if you think about it, a library book has a larger audience. Still. I don’t own the book. All I could think about was some imaginary librarian frowning at my marks inside a borrowed book.

Instead, I did the next best thing: I wrote some pieces on sticky notes and stuck them into various pages of Monson’s book. It’s the same, adding removable notes. But maybe this will start a trend. I even left my Twitter handle on the notes. Maybe my note to a future reader will boomerang right around, and fly back to me with a response, and we will have Ander Monson to thank.

More notes

Speaking of Monson and his book, I really loved this collection of essays about reading and books, and the interactions between reader and writer. Monson hooks his ideas around artifacts that has he has found in books and libraries, from notes on an old catalogue filing card to scribbles on the margins to scraps of paper once a bookmark, filled with writing. From there, Monson takes off in free-ranging essay style, examining what reading means to him, and to us.

Note to letter to future lover

Interestingly, each piece in this collection was originally left in the books the essays were about. That’s the “letter to a future lover” that the title refers to. Can you imagine opening up a book and finding a folded essay by Monson waiting for you? Can you imagine how many of those essays will never get read, ever? Many of the books that he examines are dusty and unread, sitting on the shelves of university libraries for decades. There’s something intriguing about that whole notion, right?

More notes

This is my note to you, reader, about leaving notes for an unknown reader, inspired by a writer who writes about writing notes to other readers. What will you write?

Peace (going round and round),