For all my friends coming into Boston for NCTE and NWP annual meetings, you may want to educate yourself on how to speak Boston.
And you can even do a little vocab work, too.
Peace (in the east),
I am going to be in Boston next week for the annual meetings of the National Writing Project and National Council of Teachers of English, and I am presenting a few times over a four day period. I created this little teaser video:
But more specifically:
A glimpse at some writing I did this weekend in between baseball games, Halloween parties, assessing student writing, and being a father.
The Daily Create at DS106 yesterday asked us to begin a story about the “sky never being the same” and I had this idea of our perceptions of the solar system being upended. This is what I wrote:
We laugh now to remember the ways in which the world made fun of Galileo for presuming that the Sun was the center of our solar system, not the Earth itself. So long, Copernicus! Who among us hadn’t gazed up at the sky and wondered at the Sun, and how that large glowing orb was keeping us all together, as if the planets were a system of yo-yos set off on an elliptical path?
We laugh now, but not comfortably, because now we all feel like Copernicus, don’t we? We who believed Galileo. We who took it for granted that the largest object in the sky must be the most powerful, the center of the action. No doubt the discovery by Charniegi will forever haunt our imaginations.
How did he see it when no one else did? What was the first spark of doubt that Galileo was wrong?
Charniegi refuses to explain, and only his diagrams are his story, and so we peruse them carefully, wondering how we missed what Charniegi saw. We translate them, talk about them, share them in all of our communication spaces.
There are always those faint lines of history where in hindsight, you realize that you made assumptions and inferences based on incomplete facts. Charniegi did not. He dove in and discovered. He inadvertently made us all look like the fools we were, believing in Galileo.
Now, we look towards Pluto — that misaligned former planet dangling on the outskirts of the solar system — in order to see more clearly. Pluto. The smallest of us really are the most powerful. The sky will never be the same again, will it?
Charniegi made sure of that.
I was also working on some poetry this weekend.
The first piece was inspired by a prose poem by my friend Brian Fay. Brian had this line “Another crease becomes a tear here” that really jumped out at me, so I crafted a poem around that idea.
The second poem was inspired by a group of us on Twitter who seem to get up early in the mornings to write and connect and share. I tossed out the idea of the Sunrise Writing Club, and that name sort of got lodged in my mind a bit. The poem that came out captured the idea of finding things to write about left over from the night.
The third poem was very different, indeed. I have some friends who were over in England for the Mozilla Foundation MozFest, working on ideas for the ever-growing Webmaker space. One friend (Peter) shared out a collaborative document with a Thimble project for kinetic/animated text. I was really intrigued by it, and worked on a poem in the space. Later, another friend (Christina) told me of an update and invited us to go back and rework the poems in the new Thimble.
I just started over new and created Improvise with Me.
What I found fascinating is that I did a bit of reverse-engineering writing. Instead of bringing a poem idea to the Thimble, and animating with the original text in mind, I went into the space with the animation in mind, and built the poem around the kinetic movements built into the Thimble page. This is not ideal for writing, but I still had fun with it, writing about the playing of jazz. (You should follow this link to the get to the kinetic text poem, and then, heck, make your own by remixing mine.)
Peace (as writers),
Over at the National Writing Project’s Digital Is, I posted a new resource this week that looks at a six month professional development program in which we incorporated digital learning into many facets of the work, trying to make the technology invisible and a natural part of the learning for teachers (with hopes they will turn around, and do the same with their own students).
Peace (in the sharing),
Our weekly writing prompt over at the iAnthology had us thinking recently of telling the story of teaching via game theory. I went in another direction and created this video game to share over there, and here.
Peace (in the game),
I am fortunate to be hanging out with some wicked smart people, yo, as many of us facilitators in the Making Learning Connected MOOC begin thinking about all that has gone on in the various spaces that make up the MOOC, how we might help others learn from our experiences, and just plain ol’ making sense of what has been happening. (I know, good luck with that, right?)
We’re here at an online learning retreat with other National Writing Project groups also moving into developing online learning spaces, although I am confident in saying that the MOOC is a completely different collaborative animal than any other project represented here.
And we’re lucky to be in Seattle, which has a beautiful waterfront and fish market area with Mt. Rainier rising up above the horizon like some magical mountain. It’s a stunning view. Last night, we took a group shot before dinner, but since we were missing two important companions — Chad and Anna — I added them in as webcomic avatars. I suspect they won’t mind.
Peace (in the reflection),
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: being part of the Making Learning Connected Massive Open Online Collaboration this summer has been a thrilling and invigorating ride. But one component that I have missed is hanging out with other folks in person. Yes, using Google Hangouts is pretty nifty. Twitter chats are a mad ride. Blogs are fun to read. Shared images give us another perspective. And the Google Plus space has become a fantastic community network of sharing and collaborating.
But there’s still something to be said about being in the same room, or hanging out in the same bar, with people you know in online spaces, and this lack of more personal connections is one of the knocks against MOOCS. That lack of very personal connections that can forge something stronger than online partnerships.
In this, I am lucky.
I get to join a bunch of facilitators from our MOOC and others in various National Writing Project online projects this weekend in Seattle for a retreat where I suspect we will be sharing, writing, reflecting and playing around with online spaces in mind. (Our MOOC is just one part of a Summer of Making and Learning that is sponsored by NWP, and if you have not yet checked out that site, you should. Stay involved in the making.)
Just so you know, Seattle is a long way from where I am right now on the east coast, so much of my day will be spent on airplanes, reading books and listening to music and getting impatient. And sitting. Lots of sitting, and thinking. But I suspect it will be worth it, knowing the folks who will be at the retreat – most from online interactions but also NWP colleagues I’ve know for years. I’m pretty excited about the weekend in Seattle and I am sure we will be sharing out some of what we are doing as we go along (that’s what we do with the #clmooc, right? Share, reflect, connect, repeat).
Wish you were there, too. (Or maybe you will be. If so, see you tonight).
Peace (in the flight),
Note from Kevin: I need to add a few disclaimers here before I start my review of Crafting Digital Writing by Troy Hicks. First of all, I know Troy and have presented with Troy and consider him a friend and colleague through the National Writing Project and beyond. Second, he sent me this book for free because one of my students and her work is featured in a chapter. I am also mentioned as her teacher. Third, I am a huge fan of Troy Hicks as a writer and thinker, and I appreciate his views on the world of digital writing. Personally, I would scoop up anything he has to say.
So, this is not an unbiased review.
Like his last book — Digital Writing Workshop — Troy Hicks puts a deep lens on what it means to be writing in the digital age, and what it means to be teaching students who write in a digital age. Where his last book drew parallels between our traditional sense of the Writing Workshop format and writing practices with digital tools, Crafting Digital Writing focuses on the art and craft of using technology and media to communicate, to tell stories across various media and to present information to an audience, local and global. The subtitle “Composing Texts Across Media and Genre” gives a nice teaser to what is inside this book.
I appreciated how Hicks opens up the book with a look at what we mean by writers’ craft, and then urges teachers and their students to start small and slow down in order to really notice and make visible the elements of digital writing that goes beyond just copying and pasting text and putting it onto the Web. That, he argues (and I agree), is not what we mean by digital writing. He also wisely charts out the various narrative, informational and argumentative texts that one might use, drawing connections to the Common Core in a meaningful way.
“Craft is key to good writing, whether that writing is word on a page or involves additional media.” — Troy Hicks (16)
The format of the chapters of this book involve sharing mentor texts from students, with Hicks using a heuristic model known as MAPS, in which the reader is invited to consider mode, media, audience, purpose and situation. Hicks returns to this theme again and again, giving us helpful reminders of what we need to thinking about in terms of craft and teaching and expectations around digital media texts. MAPS provides a lens from which to think about digital writing.
The chapters here range from topics such as creating web texts, to presentation design, to using audio for voice, to composing text as video, and even a chapter around social media. In each, Hicks is a thoughtful tour guide, being honest in the limitations of the technology and student use of that technology as well as holding out possibilities for pushing the way young people write in new directions. He’s honest in his view of student work, too, noticing the weak points as much as the strong. There’s a heavy dose of realism in this book as well as much inspiration for teachers.
All in all, Crafting Digital Writing is a worthy read. It provides more than examples; it provides a path forward for teachers who see their students writing in all sort of formats not necessarily valued by educational systems. Hicks situates those kinds of writing within the framework of learning and creativity, urging us to think about how we can engage our students in meaningful, thoughtful, and exemplary writing. He asks us to expand our notions of writing and then develop ways to teach it.
“We need to ask our digital writers to work with intention. This requires that we keep thinking, taking risks, learning from our mistakes, and working each day to model and mentor them in the craft of digital writing.” — Hicks (177)
As in most of his ventures, Hicks has set up online spaces for sharing resources and student work featured in the book and for sparking discussions in a Google Plus Community. (You can even preview the book at the publisher’s site)
Peace (in agreement),
A project resource that I was working on with the National Writing Project and the Mozilla Foundation has been released, and it is a tutorial and hackable activity around creating stopmotion movies. This is part of a larger partnership to create resources for folks as part of the Summer of Making and Learning.I wanted to try to find ways to teach people how to use stopmotion tools for creative expression. There are a few pages to the resources, each of which can be “remixed” thanks to the Mozilla Thimble website tool. And two activities use Popcorn Maker as a way to experiment with video design.
Check it out and give it a try. Make a movie! This connects nicely with both the Teach the Web MOOC and the Making Learning Connected MOOC.
Visit the Stopmotion Movie Webmaker Resource Page
And the resources within the main project:
I made this quick sample with the free Jellycam tool:
Peace (in the frames),
Over at the iAnthology (a network of hundreds of teacher-writers via the National Writing Project), I posted a collaborative document and started a few lines from a poem … and then asked my friends in the iAnthology to hack the poem, remix it, add to it/delete lines, and make it into something alive via collaboration. We were using a tool from Mozilla called HTMLpad that I learned about via the Teach the Web MOOC, and the results were amazing to watch (in fact, the poem continues to grow). It only made sense to capture the unfolding of the poem (one of the features in HTMLpad is that you can watch everyone’s add via a timeline) with me reading the poem as a podcast, and so I used another Mozilla tool – Popcorn Maker — to layer in the podcast on top of the screencast.
The results? Pretty interesting (see the published poem, for now anyway .. every time I look, a few new words spring up), and a fascinating example of how writers can become collaborators on a single poem. I’m honored that others dove in to collaborate and hack my words.
Or see the Popcorn project here: http://popcorn.webmadecontent.org/14y1
Peace (in the poem),