Animating Text for Kinetic Poetry

I’ve long been fascinated by Kinetic Text or Kinetic Typography (I’m never quite sure what to call it) in which words and/or letters of words are animated. In the Connected Learning MOOC (CLMOOC) this week, we are exploring animation and GIFs, so animated text has come to mind for me.

You can read about my explorations a bit here, at the new National Writing Project/Educator Innovator site The Current (formerly Digital Is) and in there are some of my reflections on creating the following poem with Powerpoint and its animation features that are built within. (Note: the resource is a few years old now and not every link to resource might be working). You basically have to use a single slide, and make every word you want to animate a different “object” so you can move it independently from the rest.

A Warning: An Illuminated Poem from Mr. Hodgson on Vimeo.

And there is one, done in similar fashion in Keynote as part of another exploration of technology and poetry:

And last year, during CLMOOC, we kept an open document as a slow chat, and I took the comments in the margins to make this poem in Keynote:

Lately, I have been using an app that Terry Elliott showed me called Legend, which allows for short textural animations.

You can’t get as detailed as some of the above with individual words, so you lose some of the emphasis. But I like the app for what it is and how the limited text and features forces you to focus on the words.

By the way, in Flickr, the way you host and share out animated GIFS (which is not immediately obvious because the site seems to flatten the animated gifs) is to upload your file and then go into the Download/View All Sizes button, and find the “original” and that location will allow you to right-click and grab the link of the animated GIF (that might be another lesson learned from Terry).

Peace (moves in strange ways),

Small Moving Parts: Gifs and Animation

We’re exploring the use of GIFs and animations (including stopmotion) in the Connected Learning MOOC (CLMOOC) this week. If you’ve been wondering how to create small animations, and what the value might be for both creativity and learning as well as the connections to popular culture, come join us during this Make Cycle.

GIF skeptic

There are lots of resources in the post for this CLMOOC Make Cycle and folks will be sharing out work and ideas all week long. We have a Make with Me Hangout tomorrow — Tuesday 1 p.m. EST — and a Twitter Chat — Thursday 1 p.m. EST.

One early share for me is a simple animation, using paper cards (or the corner of a small notebook). We used to make these in school in our books (don’t tell the teacher). It’s a Flip Book, animated by the simple flipping of pages. I made this one a few years ago during a Claymation/Stopmotion Movie Camp that I facilitated, and we had kids make them. It was a lot of fun.

I also created a website resource some years back (and which I try to update as much as possible) for teachers wondering about stopmotion animation movies in the classroom. I used it for workshops and as a clearinghouse for remembering resources for myself.

Making Stopmotion Movies in the Classroom

Check out Making Stopmotion Movies

See what you can make …

Peace (moves along),

Book Review: Radioactive (A Tale of Love and Fallout)

This book … is luminescent. I bet other reviewers have used that word because, well, the cover of the book glows in the dark. I tried it in the dark closet. The book glowed. ¬†Which is perfectly in tune with the theme of Radioactive: A Tale of Love and Fallout about the life and work of Marie Curie.

I’m not sure how to categorize this book by artist/writer Lauren Redniss, and maybe I shouldn’t bother. With a mix of some amazing artwork that uses chemicals and light (she explains her process at the end of the book) and an evocative narrative that shifts from Marie Curie’s life, and loves, to the impact of her work on radium and other radioactive elements in the modern world (hello, atomic bombs), this book is packed with insights and information that could be a neat mentor for non-fiction writing.

Like many, I knew of Marie Curie’s name in the field of Science and I was familiar with some of her work, but Radioactive gave me the fuller picture of a woman struggling against the confines of the male-dominated society, and how her love and partnerships with her husband — and then later, her lover — gave her freedom to change the way we see the world. Her children and many of her grandchildren, and others down the family line, apparently continue to work in the fields of science.

One of the saddest parts of this story is near the end of her life, as Marie Curie suffers from radiation exposure from her years touching and studying isotopes. She wanders through her lab like a ghost, nearly blind and in pain, touching tubes and checking equipment, and making lab notes on her slow cancerous death like the scientist she is. Her spirit inhabits this book, and now my mind. She lives on.

Peace (glowing with wonder),

PS — thanks to Andrea Z for recommending this book on Twitter. What a find. I borrowed it through my library, as the cost seemed steep to me. But it is the size of a textbook.

Taking Lines for a Doodle Walk (Disrupting Thinking)

Disrupting Thinking Doodle Collage

All this week, as part of CLMOOC (Connected Learning MOOC) focus on doodling and drawing for deeper understanding and creative fun, I’ve been reading Disrupting Thinking by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst.

Schools get hijacked ....

I would read some of the book, highlight salient points, and then circle back around to find a line or phrase that stood out for me about ways we can “disrupt” our schools to provide more avenues for learning for all of our students.

Gone underground ...

Beers and Probst focus primarily on reading, and press us educators to push back against the “testing climate” and find ways to spark the love of reading in our students.

Disrupting Thinking: Become More

I would then take that line or phrase for “a walk” in the Pencil app on my iPad and try to illustrate the scene.

Disrupting Thinking: sticky notes

I did this all rather quickly, so some came out better than others.

From the heart ...

But I like how the doodling and drawing forced me to not just reflect but also to internally defend why I had highlighted what I had in the first place.

Inside School/Outside School

Lots of teachers are reading Disrupting Thinking this summer in various online reading groups, I see, and my overall experience with the book itself was a positive one, although I suspect the use of the term “disrupt” is a marketing touch.

They're Reading

The two authors, whom I respect and who have have written important books about teaching, urge us educators to be more thoughtful in how we sustain rich reading lives for our students, as reading is a key to learning in all content areas (not to mention, a key to a creative life). Their emphasis on a framework they call Book-Head-Heart is a logical way to begin to get young readers to move what they are reading beyond test questions and surface knowledge, and more into connecting with their own lives and experiences (in our school, we call this “reading beyond the text”). I’ll probably write a longer review for Middleweb.

My Story

Do you doodle when you read?

Peace (think in disruptions),

Games That Draw You In to Doodle

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.

Go on. Give Draw a Stickman a try. It’s fun.

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?

Peace (and games),

Turning Mountains into Molehills

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.

Wendy has written a bit about what she and Karon were up to and also, Wendy also shared this post that is sort of like a map that leads you to other compilations (See this padlet and this Thinglink).

They have called their project Wendy’s Mountain, but I like to think the remixes are more like Molehills, entry points into underground landscapes that connect together in interesting ways.

Peace (sounds like overlapping melody),

Doodling, Noodling and Wondering

#clmooc make with me sketchnoting

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).

See the CLMOOC newsletter for this week, which is full of ideas for doodling and drawing and making meaning through art.

We have a doodle-themed Twitter Chat coming up tomorrow (Thurs) at 7 p.m. ET, using the #clmooc hashtag. Pop in. Doodle a bit. Be part of the conversation.

Peace (in lines and dots),

Doodling Every Day (in July)

Doodle Prezi

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 …

Take a look

All this connects nicely with this week’s Make Cycle theme in CLMOOC of Doodling. Why not join us for some sketching? We have a live Make with Me Hangout later today (Tuesday) at 5 p.m. ET and a Twitter chat coming up on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET.

Peace (in doodles),



Checking out SLAM School

Slam flickr photo by delete08 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

SLAM School?

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.

Check out this sample.

You can follow the SLAM School at the blog and also on YouTube, and the videos are about 30 minutes long, and lots of guests are sharing knowledge about video, social media, advocacy and more.

Peace (slammin’),

On Summer Siesta: Graphic Novel Reviews

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.

What have you been reading?

Peace (in pics and words),