The iAnthology Book Shelf

I led a writing prompt last week at our National Writing Project iAnthology space, asking folks what they were reading. I took cover images and created this as a gift back to those who were writing with me:

Peace (on the shelves),
Kevin

Digital Writing: Jogging the Web with Anna

Jogweb Conversation Site
Anna Smith and I have been working on a digital dialogue about digital writing, and some friends and readers have asked for us to provide a more coherent “path” to those conversations. That makes sense. You should know our intention is to eventually create a larger curated resource at the National Writing Project Digital Is site, but for now — in the midst of our give and take — it is all just a series of blog posts at Digital Is. I created this Jog the Web as a way to create a sequential “path” so far, so if you are just jumping in to the discussions, you can track where we have been.

Jump to the Jog the Web project

As always, we invite you to join the conversations over at Digital Is.

Peace (in the sharing),
Kevin

 

Responding to Anna: A Screencast Challenge

Anna Smith and I are in the midst of a “digital conversation” about digital writing. Most of this is taking place at the National Writing Project’s Digital Is site, but I am also sharing my end of the activities here. We’re moving across platforms and strategies as part of our conversation, and adding a reflective piece to our role as writer/composer.

The other day, Anna shared a video screencast, and challenged me to do the same. Here it is:

And here is my reflection, which I am doing in comic form:
Reflection on Screencasting with Anna
Peace (in the writing),
Kevin

 

The Art of Juggling Two Voices: Digital Is and Me

dual voices
Last week, I had the pleasure of taking part in an ongoing collaborative Twitter adventure with my National Writing Project friends at the Digital Is site. A handful of us have signed up to take on the “digital is” handle (@NWPDigital_is) on Twitter for a week at a time, sharing resources and encouraging discussions through the shared identity of Digital Is.

It was fun, but odd, too. I enjoyed diving into a few more resources at the Digital Is site (if you have not visited it, you really should — there is some amazing work being featured there on how digital media and technology are impacting the ways our students write and the way we are teaching writing) and sharing the work of NWP colleagues to a wider audience. I also kept my eye on news and articles that seemed to fit the parameter of what I imagined @NWPDigital_Is — if it were a person — would tweet and retweet about. (There’s part of my odd factor: imagining a website as a person, tweeting.)

Meanwhile, I was also tweeting with my @dogtrax identity throughout the week, and even added in a few items from my rock band’s identity (@dukerushmore), and what I realized was how strange it was to be shifting from one identity to the other, sometimes within minutes of each other, and periodically, the tweeting would overlap. Not always on purpose. In some other cases, postings of a single item by multiple accounts would happen by mistake — I’d want to tweet something specific for @NWPdigital_is and find that my @dogtrax was still in the “on” mode because it is my default, and both would get published. (I wondered, does anyone notice that I am both dogtrax and digital_is this week? No one said a thing. Then I thought, maybe they just think I am always behind both accounts. There’s this Wizard-of-Oz-feeling when you tweet out of your normal routine as a guest, I’ve come to realize.)

It reminds me of how identity is often in flux when we use digital tools, and while it is easy enough to create multiple accounts, it is not as easy to maintain individuality and voice when you have more than one “you” on the stage. Who I am in this moment of time, and who I want to be represented as to a larger audience, is a critical question. You need to experience it from time to time in order to better understand the implications for identity with your students, and then think about how to teach that skill. There’s value to being part of multiple voices (such as this @NWPDigital_Is venture. You can also see from my screenshot that I have access to our feed from Western Massachusetts Writing Project and my classroom) but in the midst of it, you can feel the pull and tug of those multiple voices, too, splintering your message in ways you don’t quite grasp until you find the time to reflect, and write.

In the vein of sharing Digital Is resources, this one by Peter Kittle — Inquiring into Distributed Identities — hits the points I am trying to make here in this post. Another — Teachers Tweeting Teachers: Building a Community of Practice through Tweeting — talks about the benefits of a shared tweeting experiment.

Peace (in the tweets),
Kevin

 

The NCTE/NWP Hackjam Rocked!

(note: yeah, I am still processing and writing about my visit to Vegas for NCTE and NWP.)
Hackjam2 Chad and Andrea

At the NCTE Meeting, there is always a Tech To Go booth set up, where teachers share technology tools and learning strategies. It’s cool, but most of us are usually passing by it on the way to other things. On Saturday, I skipped a session so that I could hang out with some NWP friends — Chad Sansing and Andrea Zellner — who were collaborating on a Tech to Go session version of a Hackjam. First, you need to understand that the negative connotation around hacking is all wrong, and upside down. Instead of imagining some creepy programmer causing mayhem and mischief, think of an average person repurposing media and technology for their own needs, and remixing the world to their vision. Yeah, that’s hacking, and it doesn’t have to be a technology-based idea.

Hackjam3

Chad and Andrea got us started with a fascinating adventure that had nothing to do with computers. We were given one of two “secret missions” — either go into the NCTE exhibition booths and take as much free stuff as you could find, and then come back to the Tech to Go area and remix it; or grab some sticky notes and hack the long line of celebrity photos in the main hallway leading into NCTE. I joined the image hack crew, and we had a blast adding dialogue boxes to the pictures. Lots of folks were stopping, wondering what we were doing and reading what we were writing. It was very mysterious, and fun, and the activity really had us thinking of how to use humor and hacking to remix a public space.

Hackjam5

Unfortunately, the hack didn’t last. Someone soon came down the hallway shortly after we left, and removed all of our sticky notes. Luckily, we had already tweeted and photographed our work, saving the hacking for posterity (for good or bad). But the activities (including the remixing of the free stuff) reminded us of agency of the user, of remixing our experiences, and of how to shift our thinking from passive consumer into active participant.

Which led us to technology, where we used some of the new Mozilla Foundation tools in its Webmaker system to hack some web content. The Hackjam was a blast of fresh air from the room sessions, and Chad and Andrea made it fun and engaging, and steeped into the larger ideas of helping our students have agency in the media-saturated world.

You can view Andrea’s Storify collection of the tweeting that took place during the session. It’s a handy overview of what happened.

Peace (in the hack),
Kevin

 

Keynote Collaboration with Bonnie and Troy at NYSCATE

lick Here for Conference Brochure

Anytime I get a chance to collaborate with my National Writing Project friends Troy Hicks and Bonnie Kaplan, I am game. So, yesterday, I joined Bonnie and Troy for a keynote presentation at the New York State Association for Computers and Technology event. But since I could not take more time off school, we used Google Hangout and I joined them virtually. I was this huge head on the wall in the conference hall, which was a little odd and made me feel a bit like Oz, you know? But it worked.

Our theme was digital writing, and how to notice and nurture the compositional practices of young people as they use digital tools to make shifts in their writing. While I assume most of the audience were technology coordinators and technology teachers (given the organization), our message was that writing is at the heart of technology, and that we need to put more agency and ownership into the hands of our students.

Bonnie shared a documentary project that she has been involved with in which video and digital storytelling are being brought down in the early childhood classrooms, giving voice and space to the stories of young learners. I talked about how to begin the year with technology (with our Dream Scenes project) as a way to set the stage for the rest of the year. And Troy not only shared a video of his own young son talking through his choices as he worked on a Wiki project, but he also brought forward two different multimodal essay projects from older students.

It was fascinating to watch us collaboratively weave our ideas together, and we used Today’s Meet as a backchannel of discussions. Troy was masterful in bringing those topics and questions to the forefront, so that the audience’s reactions and sharing became part of our keynote presentation.

Peace (in the prez),
Kevin

 

 

Digital Writing Month: Compose the Web

Using Thimble

I really enjoyed a session at the National Writing Project Annual Meeting called Composing the Web, which began with a neat “toy hacking” activity and then moved into exploring the Mozilla Foundation’s suite of tools for remixing and creating content on the web. Using one of the activities on Thimble (a webpage creator of sorts), I created this quick “shout out” project using a claymation video my son and I had made.

What I like about these tools is that it puts more agency and understanding into the hands and fingertips of users (ie, our students) and can make clear the underlying code structure of our media-saturated world. Use Hackasaurus Xray Goggles, for example, and you can make visible the coding strategies of a website designer, AND then remix it for yourself. Thimble allows you to create and publish a website in minutes, and the new Popcorn video system is a robust video editor that opens the doors for all sorts of remixing content.

Which brought up a long discussion about copyright, ownership of content, and more in our session. In the end, there was some agreement (I think) that these tools are part of what digital literacy is about, and that we do a disservice to our young people if we don’t find ways for them to understand and use the web for creation. I don’t think we all agreed on all points, though, and that points to continued confusion over the remixing/hacking world in educational circles.  (I am not clear, either).

But I am going to be bringing these tools into my class as part of a unit I am starting around media criticism — using Xray Goggles to hack a news site and then maybe Thimble to create an alternative news site, and then maybe even Popcorn video editor to annotate a news video. The ideas are still unfolding here ….

Anyway, here is a link to my Thimble-created site: Yo! I’m Creating Claymation!

Peace (in the hack),
Kevin

More from the National Writing Project Annual Meeting: Game Design


(link to slideshow)
I was a co-presenter at a session at the National Writing Project’s Annual Meeting last week on the topic of game design. I joined Steve Moore, Rafi Santos and Janelle Bence to present a variety of ways that gaming and video games might have a place in the educational setting, starting from a systems framework idea of the ecology of a school, to integrating game design theory into the curriculum, to connections to the Common Core, to how to build a game. It was a lot of fun, and full of interesting insights by the participants, who spent a chunk of time collaboratively constructing a game and then reflecting on the experience.

First, we brainstormed what we knew about games:
What We Know About Games

Later, after games were built, we asked them to reflect on what they discovered about game design, and what they struggled with:
Discoveries and Challenges of Game Activity

You can also access the agenda online, which has resources that the presenters and the audience have pulled together.

Peace (in the sharing),
Kevin