I’ve been remembering two (but I suspect there are more) video games that integrate the player’s doodling skills as CLMOOC (Connected Learning MOOC) explores the elements of doodling and sketching this Make Cycle.
The first game is one that I have often done with full classes with interactive boards. Draw a Stickman is easy to use, and has some fun elements that will get the whole classroom engaged, and I often use the activity as an introductory lesson around plot design, foreshadowing and character.
All you do is follow directions on the screen, drawing what you are prompted to draw, and the website uses your doodle to move the story along to the next chapter. The Epic app, which the website promotes, is designed along similar lines for mobile devices.
The second game that came to mind as we were doodling this week is Drawn to Life, a Nintendo game that we have on Wii here at home and my older kids once played it on mobile devices, too. I have only watched the game a bit and remember reading about it, as when it came out, the whole concept of player agency was a big deal.
I suspect the unexpected nature of players as artists is difficult to design for, as the parameters of what a player might draw or want to use can shift at any moment. But I like that concept of the player’s art skills and imagination being baked into the design of a video game format, and wish there was more of that.
Any other major drawing/doodle games that I am missing?
My CLMOOC (Connected Learning MOOC) friends, Wendy and Karon, have been having some interesting creative conversations about data and design and poetry and music and more. I accepted an invitation to dip in. I gathered some sound files from music notation they were writing in Noteflight (music composition program) based on the data of conversations and worked to create a sort of fugue piece of music in Soundtrap (music recording program), using their melodies as loops and composing with their sounds as my paint.
We hosted a Make with Me hangout yesterday as part of this week’s Make Cycle for Connected Learning MOOC (CLMOOC) and it was a pretty lively journey into the world of Doodling. I tried to sketchnote the conversation as it unfolded (see above), as visual notetaking (which I want to do more of with my sixth graders this coming year).
I spent part of every day in July taking part in a Daily Sketch Challenge. I want to keep practicing at art, which comes more difficult for me than words. Each day on Mastodon, there was a drawing theme. I used the Paper App for my doodling.
Here is a collection of my 31 doodles, via Animoto.
I also tinkered with the new Prezi Next (not really sure what is different from regular Prezi except I can’t seem to embed it here, which is rather frustrating, but maybe that it some paid tier function now). I used the format of a book of sketches …
Well, it’s an “assembly” of the National Council of Teachers of English, and SLAM means the ‘Studies in Literacies and Multimedia.’ The “school” (wow, lots of quotes here already) is a series of periodic hangout videos in which folks in education and technology investigate the intersections of writing, multimedia, political action and more.
I was on family vacation last week and as usual, I brought a stack of books with me for the beach and beyond. Mostly graphic novels (with Magpie Murders thrown in .. that’s a good one for the summer). Here are some quick reviews of four graphic novels:
Secret Coders: Robots & Repeats
By Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes
I believe this is the fourth installment of this series by the talented Gene Luen Yang (and Mike Holmes) in which the graphic story format weaves computer programming skills into the storyline. Sometimes, that works, particularly when the story pauses and the reader is invited to consider a solution to a puzzle or quandry. Other times, it feels a bit intrusive to the story. But I am enjoying this series very much, as the kids continue to figure out a mystery, with new twists and layers added each time. The Secret Coders series is a fun read, aimed at upper elementary and middle school readers.
Castle in the Stars: The Space Race of 1869 (Book One)
by Alex Alice
This oversized book by Alex Alice is a sort of steampunk-infused tale of a young hero, Seraphin, whose engineer father is designing a ship that is powered by the elusive “aether” — an invisible but powerful atmospheric force that most don’t believe exist. There is palace intrigue, interesting characters, and plenty of danger here. While the plot echoes other stories (a mother goes missing, leaving a note for her son that sparks the adventure forward), the art is fluid and in motion. This is the first book of a series, apparently. It is a good one for middle school and high school students (although there is nothing inappropriate, and could easily hit the imagination of upper elementary readers)
Mighty Jack and the Goblin King
by Ben Hatke
I am a huge fan of Ben Hatke, and this second book in his Jack series has only deepened my appreciation for his talents as a storyteller and artists. Hatke has taken the Jack and the Beanstalk into strange, new territory here, and I love that the story splinters and then comes back together in a way you might not suspect. He always has strong female characters, too. Mighty Jack’s story is not over, and the end of the novel brings another movie-like twist, reminding my son and I of another Hatke character that drew us into his world many years ago: Zita the Spacegirl (another series you should read). The Jack series is a solid read for elementary students, but middle school readers would probably enjoy it, too.
Cast No Shadow
By Nick Tapalansky and Anissa Espinosa
I didn’t quite know what to expect from this one. It’s set as a sort of teenage love story, but with one of the two teenagers with a crush being a ghost stuck inside a house. The story gets more complex as it moves along, though, with hints early when we learn that the main character was born without a shadow (hints of Peter Pan?). The more I read further, the more I liked this novel by Nick Tapalansky and Anissa Espinosa, as they weave humor and insight, and the strange entwining of history and the present, into a heart-warming tale of small-town goings-on. This book is aimed at high school, but middle school readers might find it interesting. There is nothing inappropriate for younger readers, however.
In an email this week to Karon, Wendy and Ron, I noted that if this project I am describing here were all that came out of CLMOOC (Connected Learning MOOC) for me this summer, I would be quite content and satisfied. (Happily, there is much much more coming out of CLMOOC this summer). These three friends of mine all collaborated with me on a musical piece called Coloring the Muse that arose from the theme of art and coloring during the first Make Cycle, and then was transformed by our collaboration.
Let me explain .. but first, let me share the project itself ..
This project all began with our explorations of color in the first Make Cycle of CLMOOC. Much of that Make Cycle centered on the Collaborative Coloring Book project. At one point, though, Karon and others, in our Google Community, shared some links that connected the color spectrum to the music spectrum, linking how we hear sounds to how we perceive colors. I found that fascinating, and began to think about how one might “paint” with colors to make music.
But I wondered if we might take the song into Soundtrap for some live collaborative recording. So I did, and I invited Karon and Ron (whose many talents include art and music via keyboards and programming) and Wendy (also a talented artist and musician). Soundtrap allows for distant, and global, collaboration on musical tracks. Ron is from the Netherlands, Wendy is from Australia and Karon and I are in the US. Perfect.
As I began laying the first tracks, though, I kept the main melody line and some of the harmony ideas, but didn’t exactly follow Karon’s compositional ideas. Instead, we played with the song, using Karon’s ideas of variations as a springboard, weaving percussion and counter-melodies throughout. I added some alto sax after Karon wrote out the parts, riffing off the main line at times, and using some sound effects to create a layered variation. There’s even a bit of planned dissonance, creating tension. The ending of the song is a piano part that Karon composed, but the track is actually the compositional software’s version of the piano, with Wendy’s clarinet as melodic accompaniment.
I also knew that I wanted to use the song as the soundtrack to a video with color, and I spent some time trying to find a way to do that. I could have done something more original myself, with iMovie or something, but I had this vision for an idea that I could not create myself, with colors dancing in time to the music. I ended up at a site called RenderForest, which has some neat templates but it is rather expensive to use if you want a video without their intrusive watermarks. I did find a coupon to discount it, and plunged to pay, since I really felt driven to have this color visualization be the visual for the music inspired by color spectrums.
We’re talking postcards this Make Cycle of the CLMOOC (Connected Learning MOOC), and in the past week, I received eight postcards in the mail from CLMOOC friends. You can find more information about what we are doing, and how, as well as lots of ideas for connecting, at the CLMOOC website.
What’s neat is the artistic range of the postcard, from handmade to images to quirky postcard themes. I love seeing them this way, all scattered into a pile of connected creativity.
There are two Twitter chat today for CLMOOC. The first one — at 1 p.m. EST — is centered on Connected Learning and collaboration and the second one – at 7 p.m. — is centered on the postcard project. Come to one. Come to both. You are invited! Use the #CLMOOC hashtag on Twitter to follow the discussion and add some thoughts.
Last night, we had a fantastic discussion in a CLMOOC Make with Me Hangout that centered on the principles of Connected Learning; making and sending postcards through the year as connector points; collaboration among peers (and how CLMOOC might filter into our classrooms); and more.