Away on a Short Blog Vacation

I am away for a few days, so I won’t be doing any blogging.  I’ll probably be poking around the Interwebz here, and there, but only sporadically. Thanks for visiting.

Peace (and rest and rejuvenation),
Kevin

If I Were the App Designer for the Museum …

Design App for Armory

At our summer camp project at the Springfield Armory, as our middle school students were working on a variety of projects, so were us teachers. I had already shared out my Rosie the Riveter 2.0 project. One of the Armory rangers had mentioned that another ranger is in the midst of planning out an app for the museum. I decided I would try to imagine what might be in a Virtual Reality  app for the Springfield Armory, which is a National Historic Site for its role in our country’s history.

The ranger asked me to leave the drawing behind, in case it offers up ideas for thinking about the museum in the future as they begin to mull over ways to make the museum more interactive. So, who knows? My ideas might someday become reality. Or not. My favorite, and the kids’ favorite too, is the virtual roller coaster set within the gears of the innovative machinery of the Armory.

It was fun to think in terms of Virtual Reality.

Peace (make it real),
Kevin

Graphic Novel Review: Crafty Cat and the Crafty Camp Crisis

This second graphic novel in a developing trilogy by Charise Mericle Harper for younger readers is so cute and adorable, you want to hug it at times. I read an advanced copy of Crafty Cat and the Crafty Camp Crisis just as I was facilitating a summer camp last week and just as CLMOOC (Connected Learning MOOC) is about to launch for the summer. Talk about a nicely timed read.

Crafty Cat and the Crafty Camp Crisis is a lovely and gentle book, with an underlying message of artistic freedom, working with your hands, and tolerating the different personalities that school and camp force on you. The story is about Birdie, a young girl who loveslovesloves to do arts and crafts, and the tale is centered around the summer camp where she and her friend, Evan, attend. The crisis is .. well, you’ll have to read the story, right?

Let’s just say, not everyone gets along.

Birdie has a spirited imagination (the crafty cat is part of her dreaming mind, as a sort of super hero who helps her navigate the world) and a positive, can-do attitude. She would be great in CLMOOC!

The narrator’s voice — told through text boxes — is intriguing, as it interjects itself as part of the story (sometimes cheering on Birdie, sometimes questioning her actions) even as it tells the story. That narrative element gives the story a different kind of feel from many books where the narrator is removed from the action — and the technique is perfect for the audience (roughly second and third grade readers, and probably more girls than boys. Or am I stereotyping?)

I am not much of a naturally crafty person, although I do love to make and design stuff. I lean towards digital. But when I was a stay-at-home dad with my boys, we did crafts quite a bit, and I learned all about getting messy with glue sticks, stickers, pipe cleaners, glitter and more.

One thing I love here in Crafty Cat is how Harper provides pages of “how to” craft ideas at the end of the book. This allows readers to make the crafts — like Monster Headbands, for example — that Birdie makes in the book. We could all use more “making time” in our lives, right?

Peace (craft it with love),
Kevin

Making Stuff for the 30 Day Daily Create Challenge

The DS106 Daily Create hit 2,000 prompts yesterday, and I had Sideshow Bob flip out in a gif. I’ve been doing the Daily Create for some time now. It’s part of my early morning routine — read the news, check email, scan the hashtags, write a blog post and do the Daily Create. It’s always a fun experience, if sometimes a bit challenging.

For June, the challenge was to do the Daily Create every day, and a bunch of us took part. Someone documented each of the 30 Makes. I figured that might be a good thing to do, too, if only to curate my experience, and remember what I was doing each morning (just as the coffee kicks in).

Then the coffee kicked in and I thought: How about just my top ten favorites from June? That seems more doable.

That’s nine, and ten is Sideshow Bob’s flipping out (technically, that one was done on July 1 but Daily Creating is all about not following the rules).

Peace (make it happen every day),
Kevin

 

Stitching Together a Quilt of Student Voices

Minds Made for Stories: Quilt

On the last day of our Minds Made for Stories summer camp for middle school students — a partnership between Western Massachusetts Writing Project, the Springfield Armory, Duggan Middle Academy, Veterans Education Project and Mass Humanities — students worked to finish up historical research projects, including the Home Poem project that was worked on each day of the week.

Minds Made for Stories Quilt Piece

I set up a podcasting station and each student (and a few of us teachers) read stanzas or lines from the Home Poem, which sought to connect students to their heritage and culture and family through sensory imagery and memory. Each day, we guided students into stanzas. None had ever done podcasting or recording of their voices before, so it was a new experience.

We used the “quilt metaphor” quite a bit during the week — it was part of the information about the kind of work women might have been doing at home before they went into the workforce during WW2. We’ve created pieces for an actual quilt that will hang in the Duggan School in the fall, as a visual connection between the social justice school and the Springfield Armory. We created daily video quilts, of work and play being done all week.

The Home Poem Quilt Video Project is stitched together by layering student voice underneath images and videos of the quilt project, and the two themes — the visual connection to culture and memory and the poetic writing about home — came together quite nicely.

Peace (here at home and far beyond),
Kevin

Re-Imagining Rosie for Today

Today is the last day of a summer camp project I am facilitating, which is connecting inner-city middle school students with the Springfield Armory, a National Park Historic Site. (The project is funded and supported by our Western Massachusetts Writing Project, Mass Humanities, The National Writing Project, the Springfield Armory, Veterans Education Project and the Springfield City Schools … it’s a complicated endeavor, to say the least).

The middle schoolers (who come from a Social Justice-themed school) are now hard at work on a research project, in which they have taken on the “persona” of someone from the Armory’s past (our focus has been women and immigration), and represent what they know through a multi-genre effort. One piece is writing, and another is more art-related.

To show students what we are thinking when it comes to multi-genre, another teacher and I both created some texts. She wrote, and performed, an amazing rap song (she used to work for Flocabulary, I found out) about women in the workforce during World War 2. Meanwhile, I decided to use what we learned about Rosie the Riveter in a presentation by a historic re-enactor to create two different projects about Rosie.

My premise was, what would a Rosie icon look like today?

First, I wrote a Poem for Two Voices, and had students come up and read it with me. In the poem, the two voices were Rosie 1.0 (the original icon) and a Rosie 2.0 (a modern day icon).

Rosie Poem for Two Voices preview

Second, I created a comic strip in which woman are auditioning for the job of Rosie 2.0, and what happened when a strong, active woman gets the part. (OK, so I didn’t reference the Trump administration, but I imagined them being the voices off in the wings).

Rosie Comic1

Rose Comic2

I am excited to see and hear what students are making today. We’re seeing board games, comics, rap songs, journals, stories, poems and more. It’s been fun and interesting, and educational (Shhhh. Don’t tell the kids. It’s summer camp, remember.)

Peace (listen to Rosie),
Kevin

Summer Engagement: CLMOOC and the Pop Up Make Cycles

I just realized that CLMOOC and the Pop Up Make Cycles (the title of this post) sounds a bubblegum pop band from some 1960s cartoon show (shout out to Josie and the Pussycats). I’m thinking: That title needs to be a remixed album cover. I digress. I wanted to let you all know that a crowd-sourced CLMOOC (Connected Learning MOOC) is again on the horizon of summer.

You know you’re moving into CLMOOC mode when you think about remix and word play at the drop of a hat.

As with last year, there is a whole bunch of people behind the scenes, gathering (in Slack, if you must know) and planning a few Pop Up Make Cycles. There is no formal structure to CLMOOC anymore. A Make Cycle in CLMOOC is merely a themed week(ish) amount of activities, with lots of invitation and support and welcoming. A “pop up” means it comes out of nowhere and disappears. It gives a certain informality to the whole shebang.

Play if you want to do. Don’t, if you don’t.

CLMOOC, which started five years ago through the work of the National Writing Project and Educator Innovator, remains a low-stress way to connect with other educators and explore “making” in all sorts of way. You can make with text. You can make with pen. You can make with the blowtorch you’ve been dying to try out. You can make with your imagination.

It’s important to know that CLMOOC is not one online space. Rather, it is a hub of activity, dispersed across social media spaces, and yet YOU are the center of CLMOOC. Always. No matter where your presence might be.

Interested? Awesome!

There is a 2017 signup form over at the CLMOOC website, and regular newsletters about Pop Up Make Cycles will filter out through July and into August. We’ve noticed an art theme this summer as the CLMOOC crowd began brainstorming together, but you can take any theme any place you see fit.

Come check out the CLMOOC website and considering signing up for newsletters and keep an eye out for the first activities in the next week or so. And have fun!

Peace (make it happen),
Kevin

PS — The CLMOOC Make Bank is a host of creative ideas and examples. Feel free to explore and use and remix.

 

Another Collection of Comics

DigCiz Comic Collection Screenshot

I made more than 40 comics during the DigCiz conversation, as a way to close-read blogs posts and writing, and close-view some of the video discussions. As always, some of the comics work and some don’t, and some need context to make sense. Some may not make sense at all, no matter your context. The “slideshow” button at the top of the page is the best way to view them, I think.

See the collection

Peace (in frames),
Kevin

 

Slice of Life: Playing Cards and Making Acquaintances

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

We sat in a small circle, three middle school boys and I, and talked through the rules. We were playing UNO on the first day of a summer camp I am helping to facilitate that connects writing and local history, and is a complex partnership between our Western Massachusetts Writing Project, an urban school with a social justice identity, the Springfield Armory, Veterans Education Project and Mass Humanities (which is funding the project).

I won’t go into all of the hurdles we have faced to make this camp actually happen. It’s happening. The kids from this school in the heart of Springfield were engaged and enjoying themselves. That’s enough to cite success.

But this after-lunch scene, with me playing UNO on the grass fields outside the Springfield Armory (and much of the grounds is now part of a technical college) sticks with me. It was so much fun, getting to know these three middle school boys as we navigated the rules, helped each other out, and just chatted away.

Armory Camp Day 1

Day Two starts in a few hours, and we have some cool activities planned — including an re-enactment actress who will give a dynamic presentation about women’s roles in the Armory during World War II — but I already know that one of the boys from the UNO game is determined to get a game of Apples to Apples going at recess today.

I’m in.

Peace (relax),
Kevin

Better the World: Reflecting on #DigCiz Discussions

Person by person

As I mull over the last few weeks of conversations

I’ve been using Vialogues to “slow-watch” weekly video hangouts of folks in the #DigCiz conversation. This “writing in the margins” has helped me slowly think about the topics — to push back, at times, and to agree at others. It often has taken me days to get through an hour-long discussion video. It has been worth it. You are invited, too, if interested.

Thanks to folks like Daniel, Terry, Sarah, Wendy and others who have added to the side conversations along with me. I still wish more of the hangout folks would have spilled into the margins, too, and extended the conversations (as Maha did). I appreciate, too, how Autumm and Sundi have worked to gather voices and perspectives together, and how they have nurtured the discussions in various places.

I have valued of all the points of view.

This whole four-week #DigCiz discussion has really raised important questions, particularly in the role of the individual in a larger data-driven system. Some lingering questions:

  • What rights and responsibilities do we have in that system or that platform?
  • What expectations should people have in those spaces, such as Facebook or Twitter or whatever?
  • Can we change those platforms if they don’t work for us?
  • Do we have agency?
  • How do we best teach young people ways to navigate the terrain with optimism and engagement?
  • Where do we go from here?

We’ve all done much chatting about these concerns, and more, and about how we address civics in the digital age. So, how do we take what we talked about and move it into action? Isn’t that always the conundrum? (See comic at the top for one way I tried to grapple with the question and found myself thinking of Annie Lamott’s Bird by Bird).

I am reminding myself, too, that we all need be more mindful that we can make a difference, one interaction at a time. I was asked by a friend about the following comic …

Think small
The point I was trying to make (and maybe fell into stereotype of academic folks, which is a bit unfair) is that we can all easily get bogged down in jargon and vocabulary and lose sight of the reason why were are engaged in conversations in the first place, which is to better connect with others and better understand points of view.

As a K12 teacher often in the midst of university folks through work with our writing project, it seems as if I am surrounded by vocabulary — you can almost hear some folks planning their next education journal writing or book project as they talk and interact — and I was seeking to remind myself that deeds and actions are important. Talking only gets you so far.

Words matter, of course. But where you take those words is a reflection on who are you and what you really want to see happen. Think small, but get it started. In the end, it has to do with being kind to each other and being open to differences, whether you are online or offline.

Perhaps I remain a bit naive about the possibilities of making the world a better place …

Peace (in the margins),
Kevin