My recent post over at Middleweb is a collaborative writing piece with two teachers at an urban middle school. The article captures a year-long professional development facilitated by the Western Massachusetts Writing Project that centered around classroom inquiry projects, and what we all learned.
How can you reflect? Use this from the newsletter:
…Twitter Chat for Make Cycle #∞ on Tuesday, August 4, at 4p PT / 7p ET / 11p UTC with the #clmooc hashtag. We’ll use a Google Doc to do some shared reflective writing, and then use these reflections as the basis of our chat.
If you look into the CLMOOC Make Bank you’ll find a range of ways that folks have reflected in the past, including:
A friend in the Making Learning Connected MOOC asked me this weekend if the maps that we have used in the CLMOOC — the one that kicked off the start of the CLMOOC where we introduced ourselves geographically and then the one that was at the heart of the CLMOOC where folks geotagged their parks and spaces — would remain open even as the CLMOOC began winding down.
Well, yeah, of course the maps will remain open. It never even occurred to me that I would close off access. In fact, I am curious if a look back at the maps from the future will reveal more pins and media and such, and maybe give more evidence of the reverberations of the CLMOOC beyond the summer months.
Oh, sure, I guess we could get some spam here and there, but so what? The maps were designed to be open and open they shall remain, telling the story of the CLMOOC.
I created this video tour of the GeoLocate Your Space Map for the end of the Make Cycle at Making Learning Connected MOOC, although I see that other pins were added after I had created the tour (so, I apologize if you late pinners didn’t make it).
I think I have re-read Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book more times than just about any other book. I read it myself. I read it to my three boys as a read-aloud (at appropriate ages), and then I read it myself again. There is something about the story and the writing, and the mystery of Nobody Owens’ story, that keeps pulling me in, and I am not much a book re-reader.
I knew there were graphic novel versions of The Graveyard Book out there, but I had forgotten about them until I stumbled into the two books the other day in the library, and quickly scooped them up for summer reading. I was not disappointed, as the graphic novel versions not only remain quite faithful to Gaiman’s story but also move the story in a very visual direction with the power of illustration and graphic novel format.
There are a few different illustrators in the two-book series, so I had a slight jarring feeling going from one section to the next at times, but it did not take away from my enjoyment as a reader. There is always that sense of someone else’s artwork taking over what you had imagined, and I found some elements of that as I read the graphic stories — that’s now how I imagined the witch, or the Sleer, or even Silas.
Still, I was deep in The Graveyard Book again and for that, I am always grateful.
Peace (in places unknown),
PS — check out this video by Gaiman’s wife, Amanda Palmer, about Gaiman in dream mode:
My 10 year old son enrolled for the second year in a row at the free Apple Movie Camp, which is a three day gathering in an Apple Store for kids to learn about iMovie and Garageband and the basics of moviemaking, including storyboarding.
My son had recently watched, and thoroughly enjoyed, Ant Man and he remembered how last year, the Apple folks showed him how to do “picture in picture” and he wondered if he could “shrink” himself and do his own Ant Man-style movie. He could. He did.
I was his trusty cameraman and gave advice on some editing, but overall, he was able to make this over the course of two days (three hours) plus some video shooting at home.
The free Apple Camp idea remains a bit of a tension point for me. It is cool they offer it for free, and it is neat that my son wanted to do it again. But parents are trapped in the Apple Store during the camp time (which I understand) and it is hard not to think the camp is a genius (excuse the pun) way to hook a new generation on Apple products and get parents to play with iPads and more during the wait time. Maybe even buy something. Or think about buying something. It is never a hard sell. It’s a soft sell. And it is brilliant marketing. I should note that this year, one of the counselors did work with parents a bit, to show us what the kids were doing with some of the apps.
Like perhaps many of you, we have a wonderful old railroad bed that been transformed into a highly-useable public space: our rail trail/greenway system. A few years back, I wrote about the trail for a local poetry compilation, and I thought this week in the Making Learning Connected MOOC would be a fine time to dust that poem off and make it into a digital poem.
I tried to use the lens of the camera as part of the poetry itself … not sure if it worked the way I wanted it to work …
Is it Thursday already? Tonight, we will be hosting a Twitter Chat for the Making Learning Connected MOOC (#clmooc) and we invite you to come along for the ride … er, discussion … as we share out thinking about open spaces and public parks and other threads from the current Make Cycle that we are in.
CLMOOC Twitter Chat
When: Tonight (Thursday)
Time: 7-8 p.m. Eastern Time
What to bring: ideas, questions, insights and maybe an image or media to share
Suggestion: use the Tweetchat site as a way to manage the flow of discussion.
And I made this a few years ago:
Haven’t gotten outdoors yet? This handy flowchart might help you make that decision.
And if you missed our Google Hangout/Make with Me the other night, it has now been archived and posted. We talked about youth outreach, the US National Park System, engaging teachers in the outdoors, and the Every Kid in the Park initiative. (The chat roll archive is here, too)
Here at the Making Learning Connected MOOC, we are discovering, or rediscovering, our parks this week. For me, in Western Massachusetts, there are plenty of smaller parks — private, state and municipal — but only one US National Park: the Springfield Armory, which was one of two main armories for the United States for many generations (the other is Harper’s Ferry, scene of John Brown’s raid.)
Although it is only a 30 minute drive, and new signs for the Springfield Armory dot the highway near Springfield, our urban center of Western Massachusetts, I had never visited or thought to visit, to be honest. The museum is located near the heart of Springfield, on the gated grounds of a community technical college.
But this summer, our Western Massachusetts Writing Project forged a partnership with the National Park Service, thanks to a grant from the National Writing Project, and knowing that this Make Cycle on parks would be coming up, I decided to visit the Springfield Armory with some of my sons and one of their friends. I went back another day to document a youth program that our WMWP teachers were running for a week for urban middle school youths, too.
I was impressed by the Armory, yet — and this is no surprise — I was taken aback by all the guns. I know. Of course, there are guns. It’s a museum at an armory, for goodness sake. Still, even so, the walls and walls, and displays, of guns of all sorts is a lot to take in, given what I teach about in my classroom and what I believe in my heart about the world. The guns sure got my son’s attention, and made me more than a little uncomfortable about our country’s legacy, even though I know it is an important part of our historical story and even though I am a former National Guardsman myself, trained to use a variety of weapons (and in that time of service, hoping I would never have to use what I was learning).
But seeing all of the weapons in the Armory, and imagining how they were used to take lives and to save lives, and to affect national aspirations, and utilized at the hands of mostly-young, mostly-poor men while politicians directed wars far from the battlefront … that historical story of who is called to fight for a country all became very evident as I walked through the museum, read the displays and examined the guns.
This is not the museum’s fault, of course. They have done a fine job of representing the Springfield Armory’s role in history, and an entire wing of the museum is themed on “innovation and engineering” and the ways the armory transformed the economy and manufacturing systems over time. It’s quite impressive. I do wonder, though, if teachers are apt to bring classes of students here, given the theme of weapons. I don’t know.
I was very impressed, however, on how the WMWP teachers and park rangers at the Springfield Armory used that tension as a learning experience. Youths at the camp dove into a theme of social justice, and history of Springfield, and the connections to the Armory, and they wrote poems, and make comics, and constructed 3D models of Springfield, and more.
What I learned myself is that history not only educates but also has the ability to create discomfort, and maybe it is through this discomfort that we come to understand our nation, and ourselves, a little bit better.