Creative Kids

Today’s post is more for family, but I share it with everyone anyway (hey, you are all my extended family — and stop complaining, Uncle Bob!).

The other day, my oldest son (9) came up and asked if he could make a newspaper. Ahhh, words to brighten the Writing Teacher’s day. We propped him up on the computer, and his younger son came over, and together, they created this gem of their athletic exploits. (Now they are trying to sell copies — if they enter into an agreement with Google, the world is coming to end).

Introducing:

Meanwhile, their baby brother (not so much a baby anymore — he is two) was snuggling upstairs with me, and we usually sing songs together. On this day, I was armed with my voice recorder and captured his very cute voice singing “Puff the Magic Dragon” and other classics.

Listen to the singing little dude

Peace (with creative kids),
Kevin

PS — there is no Uncle Bob.

The Genres of Superheroes and Playing Cards

My two older sons (eight years old and six years old) got into a superhero kick this weekend and they began making a ton of Superhero trading cards based on our family. What was interesting to me is how closely they figured out both the genre of superheroes (they all have a strength and a weakness, and an alias) and playing cards (complete with a picture on one side and some stats and info on the other). I wonder what kind of cards my students would make in writing class? (hmmm)

superdad

Here are some of our Superhero Family stats:

Name: SuperDad (who carried a guitar as a weapon)
Power: Playing anymusical instrument
Weakness: Having his instrument destroyed
Team: Band

Name: SuperMom (whose picture shows her having about 6 arms)
Power: To make 1,000,000 suppers at once
Weakness: A messy room

Name: SuperBella (our dog)
Power: To run faster than light
Weakness: Taking a bath

Name: SuperColtrane (our cat)
Power: To scratch
Weakness: Not being let in the house in the morning

Peace (through the use of superpowers),
Kevin

Family Portraits

The other day, my eight-year-old son drew a picture with portaits of everyone in our immediate family: himself, his two younger brothers, his mom, our dog and cat, and, of course, me. The details are quite good (even if the video here is grainy), although we all wonder why some of us look mad or sad. He won’t say. πŸ™‚

Plus, I want to test out embedding Google Video.

[googlevideo]-6369706576342130754[/googlevideo]

Peace,
Kevin

MP3 Player as Personal Narrative

Stephen Levy, of Newsweek, writes:

“Surfing someone’s iPod is not merely a revelation of character but a means to a rich personal narrative, navigated by click wheel.” (Newsweek, October 23, 2006) — an excerpt from Levy’s book called The Perfect Thing.

I don’t have an iPod (I have a thing against Digital Rights Management locks) but I do have an MP3 player that has made long flights bearable and walks around the neighborhood enjoyable. So, what is playing in my mind? I click on my player and here are the first 20 or so songs that come up in shuffle mode:

  • James Hunter “Until Your Fool Comes Home”
  • The Subdudes “Save Me”
  • Dave Mathews “Ants Marching”
  • Jason Mraz “Mr. Curiosity”
  • John Mellencamp “Worn Out Nervous Condition”
  • Matthew Sweet “You Don’t Love Me”
  • Shelby Lynne “I’m Alive”
  • Brian Setzer “Red Cadillac and a Black Moustache”
  • Tiny Town “Little Child”
  • The Cure “Boys Don’t Cry”
  • Rolling Stones “Happy”
  • Bruce Springsteen “Into the Fire”
  • Indigo Girls “Virginia Woolf”
  • Ben Harper “Where Could I Go”
  • GooGoo Dolls “Strange Love”
  • BoDeans “Say about Love”
  • Ryan Adams “Political Scientist”
  • Average White Band “Pick up the Pieces”
  • Marc Cohn “Walk on Water”
  • Beastie Boys “Ask for Janice”
  • Steve Earle “Copperhead Road”
  • Joan Osborne “One of Us”

One thing I notice: not too many female artists on that list and I realize that I don’t have too many on my player, although I have quite a few rocking women groups and solo artists in my collection.

Six Word Stories

Wired Magazine had a nice little feature in which it asked writers, filmakers and others to compose a Science Fiction Story in just six words. This is in the model of Hemmingway’s very famous story: “For Sale: baby shoes. Never worn.”

Then I got to thinking, the technology liaisons in the National Writing Project are writers by nature and, although pressed for time, they might be able to pull together six words and create a short story.

So I launched a Wiki, sent out e-invites, added a video welcome, and began mapping (with CommunityWalk) where the writers live in the world. And I am urging them to record an audio version of their six word stories, either as an MP3 or through Vaestro. It’s been very interesting.

Here are a few responses:

I recorded and posted an audio version of my first story.

microphoneListen to my story

Peace,
Kevin

PS — here is our map:CommunityWalk Map – SixWordStories Mapping

I Believe …in writers

Have you listened to NPR’s This I Believe series? Isn’t it wonderful to listen to the voices and (on the website of NPR) read through these very personal essays that focus in on a strand of belief from a range of people — some famous, and some not.

I was thinking about this the other as I was driving to school and caught Bela Fleck reading his essay entitled “Doing Things My Own Way.” Fleck is an amazing musician who has staked out some independent turf as a banjo player with a wide range of styles, dancing precariously sometimes between jazz, pop, country and world music. In the essay, Fleck talks about the impact of his grandfather on his own thinking styles and about how focused he has been on reaching into the musical voice inside of him even as he moved away from all sorts of traditional expectations of a banjo player.

β€œI believe in living with and giving into my obsessive side when it serves the music. I believe in doing things my own way.” — Bela Fleck

Inspired by Fleck, I have been working on my own This I Believe essay, which focuses on the belief that even the most reluctant of writers have something important to say and the path to finding that voice is critical.

microphone And so, here it is: I Believe … in Writers

And this all makes me wonder how to bring this format of belief into the classroom and create student-centered audio essays.

Peace,
Kevin

PS — A text version of the essay can be found here.

Blink: A Multimodal Poem

As noted down below in this Weblog, I have been working on a multi-media poem that seeks to utilize some of the emerging technologies as a canvas for creative expression. My idea was to try to write something that could be reflected in a Read/Write Web format and see what happens with it. And so, my writing — can we call it that? — is a mix of words, images, and sound.
Are you interested in experiencing Blink Blink Blink?

This link will take you to my poem.

As part of the process, I also recorded an off-the-cuff audio reflection that is embedded in the poem page but which can also be listened to independent of that piece.

microphone Listen to an audio reflection about the poem

I would love to get any feedback on the poem — does it work for you as a creative piece? Does the technology get in the way or does it complement the writing? — and you can use the comment feature on this item to do so, if you would like.

Peace
Kevin

A MultiMedia Poem

Ok

So here is my vision — a poem about multiple genres represented in the virtual world like this:

  • A video of a mouth reading the main poem, with other alternative voices reading the lines “blink-blink-blink” and “familiar shapes, forgotten signs”
  • A video montage of a right eye and a left eye, alternating images of many people’s eyeballs
  • The nose? not sure

Compile the video files into an HTML document set up like a real face and sync the video so that when they are all set to play, the mouth video reads the poems as the left and right eyes flicker through various people, reflecting different personalities.

Here is the poem:


Blink Blink Blink

A Multimedia Poem

They say that eyes are windows into the depths of the soul —
so what does it mean if there are multiple frames, multiple windows,
multiple voices,
converging and diverging behind the dancing curtains of these blue-green retinas?

Familiar shapes.
Forgotten signs.

blink – blink – blink –

Instead of imagining strangers looking in and watching me become myself,
I am the stranger looking out,
a scarecrow nailed to a post viewing the dispersing pixels
through the lenses of time and shifting personalities
and yet seeing nothing but the vast emptiness of the landscape around me.

Familiar shapes.
Forgotten signs.

blink – blink – blink –

The world shimmers silently from this side of the stage
in an eerie show of light and dark,
figures draped in sadness, bathed in laughter, drenched in confusion.
A conversation takes hold – voices casting shadows across the walls,
demanding room, elbows engaged, anger refracted, joy reflected,
and the eyes don’t lie: the turmoil is real, dangerous, troubling.

Familiar shapes.
Forgotten signs.

blink – blink – blink –

I am thinking of collage, a collection of things stored away in the attic
and quickly forgotten,
memories misplaced in cloudy mason jars sealed tight for the ages
as the echoes of what remain still linger, still lingering, even now,
just on the edge of understanding.

Familiar shapes.
Forgotten signs.

blink – blink – blink –

The eyes won’t lie: the battle rages
and the one to open the last mason jar releases the emotions into the night
and disappears.

Familiar shapes.
Forgotten signs.

blink – blink – blink –