Make/Hack/Play: Making a Song

I’m working in a short, open course called Make/Hack/Play that is being facilitated by my friend, Karen Fasimpaur. It is run through the P2PU site, and Karen is using elements from this summer’s Making Learning Connected MOOC to engage participants in a series of “makes.” (You can join us, too. Come on.)

For the first week, I decided to “make a song.” (Karen’s suggestion was to make something in physical space and I am not sure I followed the rules, although sound waves are physical, right?) Tomorrow, I will explain the logistics of the video, in case you are curious and want to make your own. But today, I just wanted to share the Make itself.

Peace (in the song),
Kevin

 

 

Learning Walk Photo Blitz: The Autumn Leaves

We explored the concept of the Learning Walk this summer with the Making Learning Connected MOOC — the idea that you walk with a camera and take images of what you see. In DS106, the term was PhotoBlitz. It’s sort of a visual Slice of Life. You pay attention with a level of detail you might not otherwise engage in. Yesterday, in my backyard, I was getting ready to rake up the leaves in my New England back yard and could not help but notice the rich beauty of color of what was on the ground.

Thus, the Learning Walk moment:
New England Leaf Collage

Peace (in nature),
Kevin

Talking MOOCs, and CLMOOC

I was honored to be with this crowd of folks on Teachers Teaching Teachers the other night as we discussed MOOCs and in particular, our own Making Learning Connected MOOC from this past summer.

Peace (in the mooooooooc),
Kevin

On the (DS106) Radio: Hack the World

On Tuesday night, the collaborative radio show venture that I was part of — The Merry Hacksters — had a premiere on DS106 Radio. I represented our group during the chat with Alan Levine and Christina Hendricks. The collaborative experience was interesting, to say the least, as we worked almost exclusively off Google Docs, Twitter and Dropbox to gather ideas, share audio files and make suggestions for the show’s sequence. We never “talked” to one another, as some other groups did with Google Hangouts, etc. This project evolved over about four weeks of time, starting with an idea I had during the initial brainstorming of building off my summer experiences in Teach the Web and the Making Learning Connected MOOC, both of which honored the ethos of the hack.

It was an honor and a pleasure to work with Sally, Stefani and Lara on our Headless DS106 radio program, which we call Hack the World. My colleagues allowed me the privilege to edit the show together, stitching our voices and files into one program. I hope I did them all justice. Our theme was to explore the concept of hacking as a positive tool for change, and so, the segments include:

  • An interview collage with Chris Lawrence and Laura Hillinger from the Mozilla Foundation on their Webmaker tools;
  • An interview with young students on using Minecraft and perceptions of hacking and remixing;
  • A piece about toy hacking, tinkering and ways to rediscover childhood curiosity with Stephanie West-Puckett;
  • A feature on a German archivist discovering materials from the past and rethinking their importance;
  • A listen into my classroom as my sixth graders hack the game of chess to create something new;
  • Assorted radio bumpers and commercials.

merry-hacksters

The Merry Hacksters are Kevin (@dogtrax), Lara (@raccooncity), Stefanie (@StefanieJ2), and Sally (@swilson416)

Here are the audio files that Alan and Christina shared:

Pre Show Discussion
“Hack The World” (22:53)

Post Show Discussion

We will also be making most of the individual audio files available for folks, too, if you just want to hear a piece or want to remix the entire show in your own way. We hope that sharing will be in the spirit of our own work. Go forth and hack the world!

Peace (and remix),
Kevin

Talking Back to the Book: Invent to Learn

 

3d-invent-to-learn hodgson

Over at MiddleWeb, I recently reviewed Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering and Engineering in the Classroom by Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager and found it be such a great resource for wrapping one’s head around where to begin with the move to get kids making things again in a learning environment. (See my review).

But seeing how there will be a book club community around Invent to Learn for Connected Educators Month, I wanted to share out some passages, lines and quotes from the book that really stood out for me as I was reading it. I hope to find time to participate in the book club. We’ll see.

“The past few decades have been a dark time in many schools. Emphasis on high-stakes standardized testing, teaching to the test, de-professionalizing teachers, and depending on data rather than teacher expertise has created classrooms that are increasingly devoid of play, rich materials and the time to do projects.” – p. 1

My Response: Yep. And this shift towards numbers, instead of students, continues to grow by the day, particularly as administrators are forced to show accountability and growth in testing. There is no doubt that this move and shift has taken much creativity out of our classrooms. Mine, too.

“Making things and then make those things better is at the core of humanity.” – p. 11

My Response: Yep. We forget that the most precious times of our own learning are when we are forced to dive in and learn how to do something. We make mistakes. We break things along way. We curse. (or I do). And then, when something falls into place, there is that exhilaration of “I did it!” For me, this often has to do with plumbing and fixing something before calling in the expert. Maybe that’s just me, though. A fixed toilet is cause for major celebration in our household.

“The Maker ethos values learning through direct experience and the intellectual and social benefits that accrue from creating something shareable. Not only are there a plethora of high-tech materials available for childhood knowledge construction, but the growing popularity of making things has led to many ‘low tech’ innovations to spice up hands-on learning.” – p. 29

My Response: Yep. (Sorry. I took these quotes out because I agree with them). I like that low hurdles and low or not tech is part of the Maker Movement values. Access and equity are huge issues. And cost of supplies and technology often are a barrier to classroom Make projects.

“When we allow children to experiment, take risks, and play with their own ideas, we give them permission to trust themselves. They begin to see themselves as learners who have good ideas and can transform their own ideas into reality.” – p.36

My Response: And I would argue that this is true for any educational experience and environment. Or I would hope. But direct instruction, drill and kill skill work and teaching to the test through the year suck all the fun out of learning for so many of our young people. They don’t trust themselves anymore, it seems. They are reluctant to take chances on something new. To fail (the authors don’t like that work) and iterate/innovate (their preferred terms) is part of learning. It’s not the end of the path. It’s the start of a new path.

“Projects create memories for students. Those memories contain the skills and content learned during that project’s development. The best teachers are those who inspire memories in their students, and engaging students in great projects is a powerful way to do so.” – p.65

My Response: Ye.. oh, never mind. I agree that we want learning to extend beyond the classroom walls. Memories are powerful reminders of learning.

“Making things provides a powerful context for learning. An authentic, or real-world audience, for one’s work is a mighty motivator. As teachers, we often promote the idea that process is more important than the end product, yet it is often the product itself that provides context and motivates students to learn. Knowledge is a consequence of experience, and open-ended creativity tools expand opportunities for such knowledge construction.” – p.66

 My Response: This idea of creating things for the world, for an audience, can be transformative in many ways. When we share our expertise, and when we teach others, we are learning even more deeper. That’s why so many teachers are such smart folks, right? And young people have a natural impulse to be part of the conversation with the world. (See the plethora of YouTube how-to videos).

“Re-using materials is consistent with kids’ passion for environmentalism and is an idea of the maker movement.” – p. 83

My Response: I had not really made that connections before. But this is so true. My students are passionate about the environment on many levels.

“Learning to program a computer is an act of intellectual mastery that empowers children and teaches them that they have control over a piece of powerful technology. Students quickly learn that they are the most important part of the computer program. The computer is really quite dumb unless you tell it what to do in a precise fashion the machine understands.” – p. 130

My Response: I suspect this is where we lose a lot of teachers. But we need to dive into these apps and programs that students can use, if only to get deeper into the technology and gain some agency over the devices of their lives. There are now a lot of simple ways to show programming skills and web-based skills. At the heart, though, it is us who are in charge, not the tools. (Although I know some might argue that point.) We control the power buttons.

“A funny thing happens when you make something, particularly something of  a technological nature. You are inspired to learn something else.” p. 162

My Response: That is so true. Success breeds curiosity which breeds innovation which breeds success.

“Teachers should not be treated as imbeciles incapable of growth or felons who can’t be trusted to show a YouTube video in class.” p. 199

My Response: Can we bulk email this to every school administrator in the country? Tape it up on the walls above the desks of the informational technology officers of every school district? Please?

What do you think?

Peace (in the make),
Kevin

Remix this Tube: Where I’m At

Where I'm At Tube Map
During the summer in the Making Learning Connected MOOC, Sara Green posted a “tube map” style illustration of some of her learning. It was very cool. Then, in the spirit of the CLMOOC, Chad Sansing took Sara’s concept and built a remixable Thimble page for anyone to use. I sort of forgot about it (sorry, Chad and Sara) until this week, when my friend Paul Oh shared this over at the New York Times Learning Network post about Connected Educator Month:

I participated in and helped design a MOOC this summer called “Making Learning Connected,” sponsored by my organization, the National Writing Project.

More than a thousand educators signed up to participate, and among them was Sara Green, from the U.K. At one point, she created her life’s learning journey as a London Tube map. One of the MOOC faciliators, Chad Sansing, an amazing educator in his own right, then took that idea and created a Thimble template so anyone with a computer and Internet connection could create their own learning pathway London Tube map. (Thimble is a free tool developed by the Mozilla Foundation that allows you to create remixable open content for the Web while learning about the building blocks of the Web itself.)

Chad’s template, called Tube Map Me, is freely available to use. In fact, a number of people have already remixed Chad’s project to create their own learning pathway London Tube maps. Consider making your own map and connecting with Chad and Sara and the CLMOOC and Mozilla Webmaker communities.

– Paul Oh, from http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/01/what-connected-education-looks-like-28-examples-from-teachers-all-over/?_r=0

This week, I dove back into Chad’s Tube Map Me and started to think about how to map out the connections that I have a writer and teacher. (If you have never used Thimble, Chad has helpfully done most of the work and annotated his code with notes about where you write. It takes a few minutes to get orientated to the set-up – code on the left, preview on the right — but Thimble is a great teaching tool and makes the building of a webpage more visible to the user, and remixer).

The activity was intriguing and enjoyable, although I found at a certain point that there were too many stations for ideas, so you notice a bunch of repeated station stops. I suppose that’s OK since writing, learning and collaboration are frequent themes to the various online networks where I call home. Or virtual home, anyway. I realize now, too, that I could have been a bit more thoughtful and purposeful in where the tube lines connect with each other. Oh well.

Check out my tube map, which I call Where I’m At (and if you hear Beck singing “I got two turntables and a microphone” when you read that title, then you and I are sharing a soundtrack.)

So, now it’s your turn. Go to Chad’s Thimble and remix it for your own connections.  Or heck, remix mine. (See that Remix button on the top of every Thimble page? Click it, and start making.)

Chad Tube Thimble

Where does the tube lead you?

Peace (along the connected lines),
Kevin

 

In the Newspaper: Making Learning Connected

gazette clmooc piece
Our writing project has a sort of partnership with the local newspaper, where teachers have a regular column each month called Chalk Talk. I have been coordinating our end of it but I also write, too. This past week, the first column of the year came out, and in it, I talk about the Summer of Making and the Making Learning Connected MOOC experience.

I decided to make a podcast of the piece, so, here you go:

Peace (in the voice),
Kevin

 

Angles of Possibilities: Nurturing Disruption and Breaking Assumptions

Over at the #ds106 Headless Course, there were a couple of videos shared to start the headless adventure. One of them is this wonderful look at creativity and how to begin to break free of assumptions we have about everyday things. In our Making Learning Connected MOOC, we called this “hacking.” Here, Kelli Anderson calls it “disruption.” You might call it “modding: the world. Whatever the term, the idea is to not take for granted the use and function of things around us. Instead, break free of those assumptions and make something new. Re-envision the world.

In my classroom, I try to do this by helping my sixth graders shift from passive users of media and technology into the role of active creators of content. We do hacking activity, make video games, and engage in the world. But even at that young age, they are starting to fall into familiar roles, with assumptions about how things should happen just because that is the way they have always happened. It can be difficult to help them see the world from another angle — the angle of possibilities.

I’ll also note that the students who naturally do this – who see everything from that angle of possibilities — are often labeled “quirky” and “strange” and are all too often undervalued. If recent history has taught us anything, it is that this group of students will be the ones who will change the world in ways we don’t yet know.

I invite you to join the Vialogues of this video. (Vialogues allows you to post comments on videos, with time markers, so that your comments gets linked with a specific time in the video. It’s a neat way to have a conversation about a video.) The more, the merrier, and I would love to know what you think about Kelli Anderson’s presentation and her examples (check out the newspaper one … pretty nifty hack.)

 

Peace (in the conversation),
Kevin

My CLMOOC Badge

 

As I noted the other day, I am a little mixed on badges, so I am exploring their use and creation where I can. Paul Oh has used the badge tool at P2PU to create a badge for Making Learning Connected MOOC. He and Sherri Edwards even posted a Google Hangout about how it works. I went through the process and added a mapping project to earn my badge. While the badge is at P2PU (an open source learning space, which ties in nicely to the MOOC), I found I could also put the badge there into my Mozilla Badge Backpack, which is another place I need to fool around with a bit more.

What I like, and what Paul articulated somewhere, is that the CLMOOC Badge is more than just a stamp of experience; It represents yet another space where people are sharing out and reflecting on some project that exemplifies their exploration in the CLMOOC summer. It’s a way for us to honor what we did and celebrate our own efforts.

Did you make something this summer? Come get your CLMOOC badge.

Peace (in the backpack),
Kevin
PS — Here is the hangout with Paul and Sherri

For Making Connected Learning: A Poem

 

I guess I am not yet done with the Making Learning Connected MOOC. I wrote a poem and then used an app called Tellegami to record it. What I found interesting is that the time limit forced me to do a lot of editing on the original poem. I had to keep narrowing, focusing, removing and reshaping to meet the time requirement, and I think the result is a better poem. Sometimes, forced revision is the best, even if it can be painful.

Here is the poem:

Connected:
We run along rhizomatic strands of learning,
playing in the semi-darkness
inside this digital moment

We watch to learn;
We make sense of this unfolding narrative
inside spaces that don’t exist, yet do.

Always, there is the sense of someone else there:
An echo of light reverberating like
a compass
a computer
a lighthouse;
data points as pulses of experience.

We make to learn;
write to reflect;
share to understand;
We connect.

Peace (along the strands),
Kevin