This is a comic I created for the Innovator’s Mindset MOOC. There was a call to wonder about how we might change the ways schools work or how learning might happen. To be honest, I can’t remember the original call to action.
Yesterday was the first official day of the 2016 edition of Making Learning Connected MOOC (or, CLMOOC) and the call for introductions (you can dip in, swim in or dive in) has already led to many people reaching out to connect. The themes of this short MOOC — just three Make Cycles and one Rest Cycle — are Cultivating Connections, Reciprocating Connections and Celebrating Connections.
Please come join us. The entry points are designed to meet your comfort levels, and you are welcome to observe from afar, if that works for you. Whatever your level of participation … is the perfect level of participation. You can get more information at the CLMOOC website, which includes a place to sign up for news.
I’m going to step up to the soapbox here …
Look at the headlines of the newspaper. Watch the news. If ever there was a need for more deeper connections and better understanding of each other, and our different worlds, now is the time. No, the CLMOOC can’t solve race or religion issues, or change socio-economic divisions, or end war and famine and all of the terrible things that seem to consume our energies on the world stage.
But maybe CLMOOC, and other spaces like it, that are built on the ideas of CONNECT can help some of us feel a bit less isolated, a little less alone … maybe we become more part of the World in a meaningful way. Maybe it opens up a path to conversation. Maybe cultivating connections with those outside your normal circles, and reciprocating ideas beyond the easy yet fairly surface instincts of the +1 and the “thumbs up” or the “heart,” and celebrating what makes us diverse while also acknowledging common ground … maybe that is where we start. And if you are an educator, maybe connecting with others in the world is where we remember to value each other, including our students and their families, a little bit more … and bring those ideals back to our classrooms in a new light.
Maybe. There are so many ‘maybes’ in what I wrote. One can be hopeful. One has to be hopeful. I’m trying. You?
… stepping down from the soapbox now.
The first Make Cycle started yesterday and moves throughout the week ahead (with a few live events). There are sharing spaces on Twitter, and on Google Plus, and on Facebook. And probably other spaces, too. Who knows? That’s the beauty of an open networked learning adventure.
And this summer, with the National Writing Project and Educator Innovator working on its Letters to the President 2.0 project (which is definitely worth your time, too), the CLMOOC is being planned and facilitated by a crowd of participants.
I’ve been doing introductions of various flavors over the years with CLMOOC and the act of taking a step back reminds me of how complex our lives are. I tried to capture that idea in this comic that I shared out yesterday.
Yesterday, I wrote a bit about seeking out the writing of others and creating something new that honors those writers. I called it Resonation Points. This morning, I want to follow up on that with two more resonation points: one that arrived in the comment bin of yesterday’s post and the other that arrived in my mailbox.
This is the poem I wrote, remixing his blog comment:
Then, I received a postcard from Susan (some of us in CLMOOC have been spending a year sending out periodic postcards … it will become part of this year’s CLMOOC, too) with a lovely message … and a challenge that I use the postcard in a comic somehow. Well, challenge accepted!
In case you were unaware, this coming Saturday (May 7) is Free Comic Book Day at many local and independent book stores. I usually go with at least one of my boys and grab a few titles, some of which I bring into the classroom for literacy activities in the school year. I also tell my students about Free Comic Book Day and let them know a few places where they can go.
You can check your geographic area at the Free Comic Book Day website and it will let you know which stores are participating. Each year, the crowd gets larger in our area.
Lots of people this week have taken up the call by graphic artist Nick Sousanis to create “Grids and Gestures” — a comic-creating visual activity in which you move beyond a literal interpretation of your day or moment or some period of time. Instead, you let your mind wander, drawing (without words, if possible) a visual representation (that’s the gesture) of the time period (that’s the grid).
I’ve done this once before with Nick, but doing a series of them over a few days has been interesting. Sort of like our Slice of Life writing activities, but with lines and circles and smudges instead of stories and vignettes. How would you “write” your day if you could not write, but only draw? How do you represent moments of joy? Frustration? Confusion? Boredom? Love? What does those ideas look like when you sketching at the edge of it all?
My five Grids and Gestures used the same six-panel grid, and I used the Paper app for my drawing. So each has a similar feel to them (and exposes my limited artistic abilities). I tried to explored different topics, and used the title on each to indicate what I was thinking about.
It does occur to me that while I can “read” the gestures, others outside of my head (that would be you, dear reader) might wonder, what the heck is that? I wonder if how you read my grids is different than how I wrote my grids? Maybe that is the case with writing, too, at times.
There was a community question in the Twitter hashtag about whether these Grids and Gestures are really comics, or something that comes before the comics. In other words, are they incomplete ideas, only part of the brainstorming process?
Nick suggests that this method of creating art with gestures is where much of his time is spent before moving into a larger project, and that it is an effective way to gather ideas and explore the flow of connected concepts. I suggested that the grids are comics in their own way, moving ideas through inferential design and using art to represent abstract ideas.
Maybe it doesn’t matter anyway. Art is what you make of it.
The image — done in the Paper app on my iPad — above is my first Grid and Gesture attempt for the week .. tracking my weekend day over time.
Here, Nick explains how Grids and Gestures works:
Give it a try this week. I’ll be doing mine, too, as I think about my days in terms of conceptual design. You don’t need to be an artist or a writer or a comic creator. That’s the beauty of Nick’s activity. Anyone can enter, at any level, and still come out with an understanding of the world.
From time to time, I pull out my guitar and record a “corner concert” in my house. Nothing fancy. Just me and a song. Given all the noise about politics, to which I am very much attuned, I pulled out this song that I wrote, Woody Guthrie Lives Inside of Me.
While the politicians sleep
We’ll occupy the streets
Woody Guthrie lives inside of me
Thanks for watching and listening and being engaged in this crazy political season.
(This is for the Slice of Life challenge for March, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We are writing each day about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)
Not much more to say here … my hour went missing last night and now I am wondering where it went … the only good news about Daylight Savings is that Spring has to be right around the corner, right?
This post wraps up The Wild West Adventures of the Internet Kid, a daily webcomic that I started in January as part of the #Ds106 offshoot known as #Western106 and 40-plus comics later, I am bringing the adventures to an end (for now). I decided to make this FlipBook of all of the comics in the series, and you can find the collection at The Kid’s tumblr site, too.
Thanks for reading. I hope it made you smile here and there, and maybe got you to think about genres and stereotypes (of Westerns and of Technology), now and then. I had a blast writing them. See you on the open trails!
PS — Wondering how I made the Internet Kid flipbook? I created a Keynote slideshow (powerpoint or slides would work), imported all of the comic images, and then saved the whole thing as a PDF. That allowed me to use the Fliphtml5 site (which requires PDF uploads) to convert it into the flippable book. Easy. But I like how all of the comics look like they are in a book format.
I am nearing the end of this two-month run of making comics for The Wild West Adventures of the Internet Kid. This has been an ancillary project for the Course with No Course — a Western-themed offshoot of DS106. It has been a ton of fun to make these comics, but I don’t know how daily cartoonist do it, to be frank. The stress of new ideas … ack …. good thing I don’t do my own art or I would have gone mad weeks ago.
Today’s comic begins the last storyline, which will stretch out over a few days and invite you to take part in the story, too. It features The Kid and a Video Game Vortex coming to town.
You can view the Internet Kid Tumblr site, where I have been posting the comics every day (as well as on Twitter, with the #Western106 hashtag). You can also use the “random” option with Tumblr, so that when you click the link below, it will take you to a random comic at the site.
While this is the last storyline, I suspect that this pause in making daily comics is only for now, and not forever. It’s hard to give up a character like The Internet Kid and The Horse with No Name and Anarchist Annie and Question Mark and others after living with them for seven weeks or so. They’re in my head, and in my heart.