This is part of a process underway by the Mozilla Foundation to articulate Web Literacies. They describe the process as “… elements we believe it’s important to pay attention to when teaching other people how to read, write and participate on the Web.”
I continue to be intrigued about the concept of thinking of my students’ lives online, and those intersections between learning in school and learning at home with technology, and where those ideas overlap … and don’t. Here, I do like the branching ideas of exploring, building, connecting. Many of the ideas are built on the concept of writing and reading, at least in my mind, but then take those ideas in new directions with technology.
This Saturday (May 4), it’s Free Comic Day. Find a store near you that is participating, and even better — tell your students! (use the Store Locator tool to find a store near you) It’s a day when loads of free comics (mostly samplers) are given out to celebrate the art and storytelling of comics. I usually grab a bunch for my classroom. You should, too.
Last week’s writing prompt at our National Writing Project iAnthology site was a visual writing prompt, asking us to consider what would it be like if our technology and appliances were suddenly in revolt. I used the fake newspaper headline site to create this:
As far as our eyes can see,
nothing but distance;
The slow narrowing of lines
on which our stories may never collide.
Instead, we run parallel to each other,
calling out from across the tracks
with words echoing in the distance.
I’ve been doing more work this year around the idea of “close reading” with my students, focusing in on how to read carefully and critically, and I have definitely seen growth in their analytical skills as a result. We’ve been in the midst of a poetry unit, and I have been trying to take some of those “close reading” concepts and use them for “close listening.” I am working on this because there is a sizeable number of kids who seem to drift off a little too easily at times when I am doing read aloud. And while I want them to be enjoying the text, I also want them to be learning about the text, too.
Poetry seems a perfect way to get at this idea of active and close listening. Yesterday, for example, we studied The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe, and focused on mood. My students were digging into this poem, which was unfamiliar to all but a few of them, and considering the question of “mood and tone” from listening to the poem. We went about identifying words and phrases, and poetic techniques (symbolism and repetition), to get at the heart of Poe’s classic tale. The we watched The Simpson’s spoof of The Raven, and brought that idea of satire into the discussion (How did The Simpson’s version alter the mood?)
I also used a wonderful book called My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States. This is a collection of poems that center on a “place” with great imagery. The way this lesson unfolds is that they don’t know what part of the country the poem I read aloud is from, and using evidence from the text they are listening to (the poem), they have to place it on a geographic map of the United States. We use a simple chart, so that they have to pull out “evidence” from the poems to support their guesses, and then another part of the chart has them listening for figurative language devices.
The use of the chart really does focus their listening skills, and the conversations about the evidence they have heard and why it signifies a certain place in the country is wonderful, as the poems connect not only to certain spaces but also sparks memories and poetry about their own vision of places they have been.
We’ve now moving from reading and listening to poetry to writing and publishing poetry, and yesterday, we explored haikus as a form and structure of poetry. Some kids really love haiku; others, not so much. But volunteers from my four classes shared their poems for a podcast collage, and here it is:
Mary Lee has yet another great image this morning, to spark poetry. It is of a bubble.
Here’s what I wrote:
Hold me gently:
fingertips touching tender skin;
I remain invisible
and vulnerable to the way things have been.
I float above this world,
in a cloak of color
but my rainbow drains easily,
so be gentle.
Mary Lee posted an image this morning of a castle, and I imagined it a flat place, full of stereotypes.
And so began my poem …
I light a match
to this cardboard castle
and burn the story to the ground,
finally free after so many years
of the roles into which we have been thrust:
the hero in shining armor
the damsel in distress
the fool juggling lives before the fickle king.
So now begins the new adventure,
free from the shackles of past
riding hard and fast
into the fading sun.
I reviewed Ralph Fletcher’s Pyrotechnics on the Page for Middleweb. Fletcher is engaging as a writer, of course, but these techniques for sparking creativity and playfulness in young writers is worth your time.