At Middleweb: Exploring Notions of Literacies

My latest Working Draft column at Middleweb explores the notion that “we are all teachers of literacy.” But how does that work for math, science and social studies teachers? I try to explain some of the approaches that we are taking in my grade, at my school. I also reference a new book on teaching writing in the science classroom that might prove valuable.

Read How We’re Learning to Share the Work of Content Literacy at Middleweb

Peace (in words, texts, images and more),
Kevin

 

The Power of Language: Trump on Twitter

Thanks to Ian for sharing this in his newsletter. The video by Nerdwriter is alarmingly fascinating in closely examining the way Trump uses Twitter (and brings up for me the entirely other important question of what happens when — and I believe it will be “when” not “if” — Trump’s account gets hacked).

Check out this analysis of language and rhetoric and impact:

More analysis is here. And here.

The fact is, it is both frustrating and fascinating to watch news unfold this way. Mostly frustrating, because Trump’s inability to be articulate is likely intentional (or not?) and yet, the social media platform allows him to rattle the world while drinking coffee in his pajamas. That’s alarming, all right. (see my earlier note about worrying about his account getting hacked.)

This data analysis over use of language, though, is interesting, if one can remove feelings about Trump from the equation. (OK, that’s hard to do.) Parsing through words and tone, and use of devices for writing, make for an interesting way to see how Trump interacts with the world, particularly through the “emotional charged” language (many of his tweets are negative, not surprisingly) and the sharp endings of Tweets and use of exclamation points that are “framing devices”  for his rhetorical message.

The video notes that we are used to seeing this kind of spontaneous outbursts from our friends and wacky relatives. It’s part of the social networking fabric.

“… what we’re not familiar with … is this kind of thing (using Twitter for thinking out loud) from the most powerful person in the world and how it will fall out when you hold a position where even your words, desperately tweeted into the void, have global impact …” — from Nerdwriter video

Ack. Or, as Trump would end his tweet: Ack!

Peace (please),
Kevin

#NetNarr: An Interactive WordWorld of Associative Ideas

The other day, I shared out a word cloud world from the Narrative Networks website that I had cobbled into place with an online word cloud generator. But Alan pointed out that the links to the active cloud pointed to a merchandise sale site. Not what I intended! (I had never even clicked on the animated words … I was happy enough to have words animated, I guess).

But that mistake got me thinking: maybe I could (should) create my own version of the Word Cloud World where links take you to associative ideas, sort of like a curated word cloud world.

ThingLink came to mind. Here it is. I will probably keep adding content as we move forward (the ‘course‘ hasn’t even started yet, officially but its ‘spine‘ is taking place).

Peace (linked with intent),
Kevin

Book Review: Every Song Ever

What do you say about a book where a single chapter moves seamlessly from Bud Powell to Jerry Lee Lewis to Outkast? Or from The Ronettes to The Clash to Duran Duran to Bill Evans to Kanye West to Big Joe Williams? I say, that’s my kind of book. And in Every Song Ever: Twenty Ways to Listen to Music in an Age of Plenty, writer Ben Ratliff brings us on a sonic journey to better understand the possibilities of music in our lives, along lines way beyond genre.

I borrowed this book from the library but I am getting the sense — days after finishing it and knowing I need to return it soon — that I might have to buy Ratliff’s book after all. It’s one of those few books about music that I know I am going to want to return to in the future, in appreciation the way that Ratfliff expands our notions of the power of music.

With themed chapters ranging from loud, quiet, density, speed, space, improvisation and community and more, Ratliff’s inquiries are a map on which one can journey into many realms of sound. I found many touchstone tracks here (every chapter ends with a playlist) and many artists I had never heard of. This bridge between the familiar and the unfamiliar is what listeners need, or at least, it’s what I need, as someone who craves variety in my life soundtrack.

Every Song Ever, even with its hyperbolic title, is perfectly suited for this day and age of immense possibilities of music, but also, an age where the sheer volume of musical tracks makes it increasingly more difficult to situate yourself into a transformative listening experience. Ratliffe tries to shows ways we can listen, and be transformed, if only we remove the locks of genre from our scope of vision.

Infinite access … can lead to an atrophy of the desire to seek out new songs ourselves, and a hardening of taste, such that all you want to do is confirm what you already know. But there is possibly something very good, too, about the constant broadcast and the powers of the shuffle and recommendation effect. — Every Song Ever, page 6

Keep on listening, with your ears wide open.

Peace (it sounds right),
Kevin

42,000 Pages (or so) Read in 2016

My Year in Books 2016

I keep track of all my reading over at Goodreads and appreciate the ability to go in at the end of the year and gather some “data” about my reading. The above graphic is generated by Goodreads as an end-of-year infographic, and while reading is always about quality over quantity, I am often curious about totals.

My goal for 2016 was 100 books. I will have the same goal for this year.

Peace (in the pages),
Kevin

Making Video Game Advertisements

As my sixth grade students were working on the final stages of their Hero’s Journey Video Game Design Project, I turned to my paraprofessional in the classroom, Sandy, to teach a lesson around advertisement. She had an entire career as an artist and magazine designer before moving into education, and her expertise about design and art is always worth tapping into. I am eternally grateful for her, on many more levels than this. She’s a real partner in the classroom, every single day.

Sandy taught them about the visual — of the icon being large and representative of the game concept — of lettering and color, of catch-phrases, and so much more. We looked and broke down some traditional video game advertisements, too, talking about technique and loaded words and phrases.

The results of the advertisements were pretty cool, and the ads are now being hung in my classroom. But I grabbed a few and made a video with them, too, as a way to celebrate my sixth graders as artists and designers.

Peace (in the art),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Filter (OLW 2017)

(This is a post for Slice of Life, a regular writing activity hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write about the small moments. You are invited. Come write with us.)

If you don’t know of the One Little Word project, it is a sort of New Year’s resolution to find a single word that might guide you forward into the coming year. Last year, mine was “remember” and I kept it on my desktop all year, as a reminder to keep a foot in the past even as I moved forward.

My one word for 2017 is going to be “filter.” I chose this word because I know I need to filter my news a bit more. I am NOT one of those who gets my primary news from social media, but still … it seems like I need to more active in where I get news and from places I trust. I need to better read beyond the news, too, and not trust reporters and writers to give me the whole story. I have an obligation as a reader.

I don’t intent for my “filter” to become a closed loop, however. Or another echo chamber. I will use my filter to seek out different opinions and hopefully, engage in discussions that are meaningful. I hope my filter helps filter out the nonsense, so some semblance of a truth comes through.

Also, I need to filter my anger and angst at the Trump presidency and the GOP Congress (it’s already difficult, given that GOP gutted the ethics commission that holds Congress accountable). But if I get angry at every little thing, then I won’t be able to discern real outrage when I need it.

(I made this via http://textanim.com/)

Peace (filtering for hope),
Kevin

Building a NetNarr (Word) Cloud World

I found myself immersed in the Tagul word cloud generator, using the entire Networked Narrative website as my canvas, tinkering with word choices and frequencies … all in a move to paint a visual world with words and I ideas.

I like how it came out.

NOTE: Alan clicked on the animation and it brought him to a sale site. What the heck! That was not my intention. Don’t bother going to animated word cloud. Sorry about that.

(I tried to embed the animated cloud here, which allows you to roll-over words to enlarge them, sort of like exploring the world from above, but, alas .. the embed didn’t work. Go here to check out the animated version.) 

 

 Peace (turning slowly on our axis),
Kevin

A Collection of Haikus (for Healing)

First, Happy New Year!

haikucollage

As I wrote yesterday, I have been writing a haiku a day for the past 20 days or so as part of a project known as Haiku for Healing. Today, I gathered up all of my poems and put them into a video, via Animoto, with a song that I wrote on open-tuned guitar.

Thanks for being here with me.

Peace (for you and me and us),
Kevin

Small Poems for Big Hearts

For the last 20 days or so, I have been writing a haiku daily as part of a hashtag project called #HaikuForHealing that my friend, Mary Lee Hahn and others thought up as a way to keep moving forward with writing and staying positive in a world that seemed to shift in November towards the negative (OK, and January might bring us right into the negative again).

Mary Lee wrote:

I looked around on Twitter, found a hashtag that was previously unused — #haikuforhealing — and got started with my Haiku-a-Day in December a week early. It’s helping my heart already — both the writing, and the small community that’s growing around #haikuforhealing.

They started right on December 1 but I didn’t. Tomorrow, I am gathering up all of my haikus together into a single project.

Peace (this year into next),
Kevin