Classroom 2.0

I have been writing and participating in a social networking site called Classroom 2.0 that has teachers from around the world exploring the issues of the new wave of technology and its intersection with technology. It has been very interesting and many good conversations are emerging from the site (which has a few hundred members right now).

Head on over and check out Classroom 2.0 and join the conversation while learning just what a social networking site is all about.

Here is a blurb:

  Welcome to www.Classsroom20.com, the social networking site devoted to those interested in the practical application of Web 2.0 in the classroom and in their own professional development. Especially we hope that those who feel they are “beginners” will find this a comfortable place to start being a part of the community dialog and to learn more.

Peace (with community),
Kevin

Another Artist on a Mission

Since November, I have been working on writing and publishing One Poem Every Month for a Year (my OnPoEvMo project). I had been inspired by playwright Suzan-Lori Parks,  who had been working on writing a play every day for a year (and now she is touring around the country, producing those plays).

Well, yesterday, on the National Public Radio site, there was a feature on a musician who decided to write and record one song every day for a year, and he just completed his 365 song opus. His stage name is Paleo, and he is kind of folky, I guess. It was quite an undertaking and one that seems daunting from the outside.

But I admire artists who push themselves further than they think they can go.

Peace (with publishing),
Kevin

Making Connections: Student Poems and Responses

One aspect of a large blogging project underway called Making Connections (funded through the National Writing Project) involves middle school students writing and posting some “I am …” poems and then offering comments, suggestions and critique to others. (Meanwhile, a second wing of the project is working on science-related writing and experiment and sharing — that is what my class is part of). Some of the poems being posted (in a protected site) are powerful, so I thought I — as the project director — would share a few with you.

I Am…JASMiNE

I am bite size but believe I’m bigger than the world!
I wonder whats going to happen in the future.
I hear the beautiful waves sound of Japan that I miss so much.
I see the beautiful lights at Dragon Palace.
I want a juicy KING SIZE Milkyway.
I am bite size but believe I’m bigger than the world!

I pretend not to be sad, although I’m crying a river inside.
I feel like crying because I’m always worrying about losing someone.
I touch my doggy as I lay myself down to sleep.
I worry that the things I hope for the most will end up not happening.
I cry when I think of the past, because I know that it will never come back.
I am bite size but believe I’m bigger than the world!

I understand that you live and you learn.
I say that you should live life to the fullest, because you never know when God’s going to need another angel.
I dream of what the future is holding for me.
I try not to worry about bad things happening to me or the people I love.
I hope I will get into a good college and make myself and everyone who believes in me proud.
I am bite size but believe I am bigger than the world!

And here are some comments:

Wow…i love this poem!! It’s my favorite so far…I love the imagery, and everything else is great too. suggsetions…well, i think it’s lovely the way it is!! — Natasha

Heyy,

I think you need to add more metaphors. It would make it really good. Also, I like how you used the color and sizes to attract attention to the part. Your poem was great especially how you said you were bite sized its funny B-) bye,

laura

Hi Jasmine.

You had such an awesome poem. I loved the way you wrote it. You have a really cool way of saying things. I really liked this line:

I say that you should live life to the fullest, because you never know when God’s going to need another angel.
When i read that I copied it right away just to tell you its awesome. GREAT POEM! — Allison

Hi Jasmine,

I liked your poem. It was really good. I think you could add a few similes though. Other then that I think you did a really good job.

Andrea C.

Hi Jasmine,

I thought your poem was awesome!! It was so original. I liked the line:

I say that you should live life to the fullest, because you never know when God’s going to need another angel.

I think you should’ve added a simile. But that’s only what our teacher said to tell someone if they didn’t have one. I like your poem just the way it is.

From,

Shannon 🙂

I Am Andrea
I am a girl who loves adventure and sports

I wonder what the world will be like in the year 2015

I hear fans cheering me on to win the game

I see the roses people giving me as I finish the routine

I want the opportunity to be whoever I want

I am a girl who loves adventure and sports

I pretent I am as glamorous as a movie star

I feel the pressure to be like everyone else

I touch the sky with my curiosity

I worry what the world will be like when I am older

I cry for those who are disabled

I am a girl who loves adventure and sports

I understand that dreams are as wonderful as vacation

I say everyone is their own unique person

I dream of going to many different places

I try to forgive people when they make a mistake

I hope I do not become cold-hearted

I am a girl who loves adventure and sports

Your poem is really good! i like it a lot its set up very orderly and has connections with every line! one thing you could change is be more careful with your spelling. but over all it was a great “I” poem! — Samantha

I liked your “I” Poem. It was very very good, also i liked how creative you are. I think of you by what i read in the poem that you are a friendly person and your always surrounded by other people.The only thing you had to do was check for your spelling mistakes. Other than that your poem was great!!!! — Chris

Hi Andrea,

I thought your poem was awesome, but you have to watch your spelling.I love the whole first paragraph I thought that was the best part of the best.

Well bye

Maya C.

I Am Andy

 

I am a decent swimmer and like to read
I wonder why the Yankees always win
I hear the sounds of the frontline
I see an amazing amusement park
I want to be an amazing swimmer
I am a decent swimmer and like to read

I pretend to do my work
I feel like doing something stupid
I touch anything I want
I worry that college will be hard
I cry when my favorite TV show is cancelled
I am a decent swimmer and like to read

I understand moments in time
I say lets go skating
I dream of succeeding in life
I try to do my best
I hope to live forever
I am a decent swimmer and like to read

 

I like the line “I hear the sound of the frontlines.” It shows great emotion and great visual effect it gave me in my thought. I also wonder why the Yankees win. I love the Boston Red Sox and hate the New York Yankees. One suggestion I must give is that in the line where you say, ” I understand moments in time…” What times do you mean? It hits the heart, but better if you elaberated more. Great Job! Really meant something to me!

From,

Jim T.

I like your poem it was cool it tells a lot about you — Ryan

I Am

I am a hateful person who likes to read.
I wonder what will happen in my future
I hear little voices in my head sometimes
I see angels in my head
I want to not be so mad all the time and to have more patiance
I am a hateful person how likes to read

I pretend to be nice when i dont want to be
I feel love and hate all the time
I touch love in my boyfriends heart
I worry about my future
I cry when i get mad or sad I am a hateful peroson who like to read

I understand that life sucks
I say I hate the world
I dream about death and my own death
I try to make people understand i hate the world and them
I hope death will come unpainfully
I am a hateful person who like to read

hey gabriella i love your poem. its very good. but try to be more positive my love. okay okay. love you =]

Carly

hi Gabriella,

you had a really good peom. You probably shouldn’t have put that your a hateful person. Or that life sucks. Other than that its a really good poem.

Bye,

ally

Hi Gabriella,

I thought your poem was really good. I think you should change the you poem a little.In stead of putting things that are negative put some things that are positive in your life.why do you hate life so much,because that was what I was getting from your poem.Well anyway your poem was really good.

Bye from Maya

Hi gabreilla I think that maybe in your poetry you should try to be little more optimistic you know. Try to look at the bright side of things. I like how you said I think that it is good that you see angels in your head.

jenisa F.

Your poem is OKay

but you could have put an exclamation point after life sucks

bye

Jacky

Peace (I am),
Kevin

PS — I actually checked in with the teacher of the student for that last poem, as it made me worry about her. The teacher reported back that everything was fine and that the student turns to writing for expression.

Pickin’ Up the Pieces (of my sax)

My band — The Sofa Kings — has a gig this weekend and we have been learning a few new songs, including one that has been on our lead guitarist’s list for many years: The Average White Band’s Pick Up the Pieces. It’s a great funk song but incredibly tricky for me, as the sax leads the piece right out front and I have been flubbing the darn thing left and right in practice (is that an eight count? or 12? or 4? Where the hell are we again?)

But, hey, nothing like the stage to get you concentrating … Send me out some good thoughts for Saturday night.

Here is the real version:

[youtube]dw3k7JD9BMg[/youtube]

(I won’t be wearing my kilt, just so ya know)

Peace (with practice),
Kevin

OnPoEvMo: Ornette’s Dance April 2007

I was pleased to learn that free-style saxophonist Ornette Colema won the Pulitzer Prize for Music. I haven’t always following what he was doing but I have always admired his fearlessness to follow his own muse.

So I wrote a poem inspired by him for my OnePoemEveryMonth Project:

Ornette’s Dance
April 2007
Listen to the Poem
I’m tired of stealing words
where words just don’t exist —
this kiss that lives between the dream
and composition of the soul —
man, I wish I could stand, fixed,
within the realm of Ornette Coleman —
and just move around the lines of notes
and blurry borders of sound —
the saxophone, a shadow clown, that dances on the stage;
the horn contains the anguish, the sadness, the rage,
but plays and plays and plays —
fading into black, go ahead, kick back,
relax, sink down into the track,
let the moment be of peace for there,
amid the wreckage of the agitated mind,
is the start of something, moving, shifting, growing,
the beginnings of a line.

Peace (in a freestyle frame of mind),
Kevin

The WMWP Concept Map

As I was in Chicago working on our Monograph Book Project that centers on how our Western Massachusetts Writing Project responded to change, I began to get more interested in our use of creating concept maps to chart out who our program leaders were and what they were doing, and how things were overlapping with each other. I have not made these maps — that has been the work of others — but they are interesting to think about, and have shaped our inquiry at our site over the years.

So, in true digital storytelling fashion, I created this little video:

[googlevideo]-5891908020128311573&hl=en[/googlevideo]

Peace (as a concept map translated into reality)<
Kevin

Winding down in the Windy City

This was a weekend of deep thinking here in Chicago as part of a Monograph Book Project with the National Writing Project. Yesterday, we met with some friends from Western Pennsylvania and we gave them some feedback on their draft of their book (about how a group of teachers moved their site forward through a Visioning Process), and they did the same for us and this feedback helped us immensely. But it also shifted what we had already written in a pretty significant way and so, although not much writing got done yesterday, there was a lot of discussion and remapping out our ideas.

And now we are all about to do more writing again as we use a real inquiry question focus into how our Western Massachusetts Writing Project site coped with significant change and established the groundwork for leadership transitions for the future. My task is to write about mentoring models, job descriptions and how technology helped us completely re-envision our site through the use of website design.

Peace (with progress),
Kevin

QuickMuse: Poetry in Action

I just came across a mention of a site called QuickMuse, which captures poetry as it is being written by famous poets. They have 15 minutes to compose a poem based on a theme, or quote, or idea, and then QuickMuse captures the writing process, making the creation of a poem somewhat transparent.

Want to see what I mean?

Poet Robert Pinsky was given this quote:

He was an intellectual. He used to read novels, poetry, history, stuff like that. And he could hold a conversation with almost anybody on all kinds of things…. He was real sensitive. But he had this destructive streak in him that was something else…. [H]e used to talk a lot about political shit and he loved to put a motherfucker on, play dumb to what was happening and then zap the sucker. He used to especially like to do this to white people.

–Miles Davis on Charlie Parker

Now watch Pinsky write the poem.

And here is the finished piece. 

Very cool, although how finished the poem is is a question, and how much did the pressure of the clock play into his writing process. It would be nice to read his reflection of the experience, too (or better, hear him podcasting his experience).

Peace (inside the poem of Charlie Parker),
Kevin

A Must-Read Book: Hugo Cabret

I just finished up a book that I have to share with anyone who is interested in the merging worlds of novels, graphic novels, photographs and tangled (but resolved) plot lines. The book is called The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.

I won’t give the story away, but it involves a young boy in Paris with a passion for clocks and mechanical objects, an automaton that can do something wonderful, a passion for the power of movies in our lives, and how fragile but powerful the connections are between people.

Here is a blurb from the introduction, just to set the stage:

“…before you turn the page, I want you to picture yourself sitting in darkness, like the beginning of a movie. On screen, the sun will soon rise, and you will find yourself zooming towards a train station in the middle of the city. You will rush through the doors into a crowded lobby. You will eventually spot a boy amid the crowd, and he will start to move through the train station. Follow him because this is Hugo Cabret. His head is full of secrets, and he’s waiting for his story to begin.”

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

I heard about the book from somewhere in my Bloglines aggregator and ordered it from Amazon (here is the link to order), thinking it would be a slim graphic novel. So I was quite surprised to find one of the fattest books I’ve seen in some time (500-plus pages) but is a combination of various genres and I read the entire thing in two days.

Now I wish I could order a class set for my students, but we don’t have the budget for that. Sigh. And, man, I just checked out the author’s flash site — very cool.
Peace (with gears fitting together like the reels of a film),
Kevin

Hello Windy City

On Friday, I am off to Chicago for a Monograph Book Project with the National Writing Project. My colleagues, Bruce P. and Susan B., and I have been writing the story of what happened to our Western Massachusetts Writing Project when three seismic events took place:

  • We lost all of our state funding for supporting writing teachers in our region
  • One of our founders and guiding forces died suddenly and unexpectedly
  • Another founding member and longtime director announced that he would be retiring

This was all before my time at WMWP, so it has been quite a narrative journey for me to discover the history of our site. In Chicago, we will be meeting with editors and other writers from other writing projects to discuss our progress and how things are going.

Essentially, our book is built around these ideas:

Þ The creation of an inservice coordinator position to spearhead our efforts to reach into more schools by tapping into the expanding knowledge base of our teacher consultants.

Þ The addition of a technology liaison who not only helped move us forward into technology in new ways but also became part of the leadership team that allowed our site to view what we were doing, and how we could improve, through a different spectrum.

Þ A model of mentoring in which veteran leaders of site-based programs would ask for newer, less-experienced teacher consultants to become co-leaders and this not only gave us flexibility in times of unexpected crisis, but also expanded the number of leadership positions at our site.

Þ Writing out explicit job descriptions for leadership posts, from co-director to technology liaison, as a way of not only explaining the roles and responsibilities of the position, but also leaving a paper trail for the future.

Þ The recasting of our entire leadership structure to feature rotating co-director slots with three-year term limits and the launch of a task force structure that allowed more teacher consultants to get involved in the decision-making process of our site than had happened previously.

Þ Increased efforts to create partnerships with organizations outside of our traditional circle of friends that allowed us to expand our visibility and reach in a wider geographic and demographic area. These partnerships included Westfield State College, the Wisteriahurst Museum in Holyoke and the Springfield Republican newspaper.

Peace (with reflection),
Kevin