Slice of Life: Collecting Voices, Stitching Together Poems

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(This is part of the Slice of Life Challenge with Two Writing Teachers. We write about small moments each and every day for March. You come, too. Write with us.)

Yesterday, I was collecting voices from across the world. Collecting and collating voices. It was all part of an impromptu digital adventure that emerged from a P2PU Course called Rhizomatic Learning. The course ended but our inquiry has not, and so when one of the participants began to write a style of poem that has 11 words on Twitter based on days of the week, I had this idea: what if each day, more and more people wrote and podcasted and shared poems from the week? And what if we pulled them all together?

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That was my job, and so yesterday, I was using Audacity to string together more than 30 audio files of podcasts from folks from all geographical spaces around the globe but whose footprints are all over my #11poem Twitter hashtag feed: Ron, Marianna, Tanya, Nick, Simon, Terry and Estelle. They generously lent me their words and their voices, and I stitched us together into this single podcast.

Listen to it. Every time I do, I am amazed at how it blends and flows, and how the digital composing transforms each of our single poems into something larger and incredibly amazing. The shortness of the poetic style, the common themes, and the use of voice … even after listening to it many times as I was editing it together, I still find it amazing to hear.

I’m still thinking about where we go from here. It feels as if there is something else that needs to happen with the collective podcast of poems, but I am not sure yet what that is. I’ll share out some of our resources tomorrow, and there will be an invite for you to remix us. For now, I invite you to listen to the voices.

And write your own poem. You’re invited.

Here is a visual collection of my poems from the week:

MonSunday Collage

Peace (in the poetry),
Kevin

 

Slice of Life: It’s a Dog’s Life

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(This is part of the Slice of Life Challenge with Two Writing Teachers. We write about small moments each and every day for March. You come, too. Write with us.)

 

Duke at Dog Show 2014

42 wags. 20 seconds.

That’s what our dog, Duke, did to garner first prize — a blue ribbon, no less — in the category of “tail wagger” at a Dog Show fundraiser for our city schools. He may not be the smartest dog in the crate. In fact, he is not that bright. But he sure is full of love and happiness, and plenty of tail wagging, so he gets his blue ribbon, a whole lot of treats from a lot of strangers, and plenty of praise from the kids, who adore him.

I’d give that an extra wag of the tail for Duke.

Peace (and the dog),
Kevin

PS – He tried out for “softest ears,” too, which we thought he’d be a “contenda” but apparently not. We still love his soft, droopy ears.

Slice of Life: The WayBack View

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(This is part of the Slice of Life Challenge with Two Writing Teachers. We write about small moments each and every day for March. You come, too. Write with us.)

I was curious as the 2014 Slice of Life Challenge starts today to remember when it was that I first began writing Slice of Life posts. OK. I admit. I couldn’t remember. Luckily, my blog did (thanks, Meandering Mind! I owe ya a beer!), and so I dove into my blog dashboard to see what I could see.

Here’s what I found.

First of all, I have written 238 Slice of Posts over the years (well, now we’re at 239 with this one). That includes the March challenges each year as well as the periodic Tuesday Slice of Life pieces. I wasn’t always a regular writer for the Tuesday challenges. I wrote when the fancy hit or I had a small moment with larger reverberations in mind. I always appreciate the audience, though, and the Slice of Life community is one of the warmest, most supportive group of teacher-writers you can find (this side of the National Writing Project).

So what I realized? I’ve done a whole lot of slicing over the years.

The first piece I did was on March 1, 2008. That’s right. 2008. You can read it here, if you want.

This was the Slice of Life icon back then.

Back then, I was writing about reading The Lorax to my sons. That was a favorite book of ours (still is, I guess). Reading that slice again brought me right back to that moment. Isn’t that interesting? Our writing has power over time, and here is where Slice of Life is most interesting for me: not only does it force me to notice and document the moments of our days, it forces me to keep a record of those days.

I’m now culling through 238 posts because I am interested in doing a sort of auto-ethnography of myself to see what I was writing about. I know there are themes each year. If you read me, you know that Quidditch is about to start, as ell as baseball season. Some things recur in different forms each year in our lives. We just don’t always take note of the patterns.

My aim for the next day or two is to create an infographic of sorts (to be shared out as a slice, of course) But for now, I am going into my 7th year of Slice of Life with open eyes and an ear for the world.

How about you? Come join the Slice of Life challenge. Write every day. Share what you write (use the #sol14 hashtag on Twitter). Invite others into your world. Make your way into the world of others. Make connections.

Peace (in the slice),
Kevin

This might be helpful:

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Slice of Life: Slotting Quarters the Vintage Arcade

(This is for Slice of Life with Two Writing Teachers. Come join us in writing a Slice of Life every day for the month of March. You will be part of a large and growing community of teachers-as-writers. We also use the #sol14 hashtag on Twitter. Plus, there are prizes for the Slice of Life challenge.)

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A new place opened up not far from our house, a small restaurant that is packed to the gills with vintage arcade games of yore. Asteroids, Space Invaders, Lunar Command, Joust,  Centipede Burger Time, 1942 and more are all on display around the walls of this place. Ironically, though, there is no Pac Man or Donkey Kong. So, my sons and I broke into our piggy bank (yes, we have one), stuffed a bunch of quarters into our pockets, and made our way to the new place to check it out. It’s called … Quarters.

It’s a hole-in-the-wall kind of place, just as you might suspect. But it was mobbed, with parents (OK, mostly fathers) and kids, stuffing coins into slots and playing games with graphics that have to make you laugh. These are not your kids’ video games. These are old consoles, and yet, there is some nostalgic appeal to them. I remember hours in arcades during the summer, at the bowling alley or at my grandmother’s pool in New York City, playing many of these same machines.

My 13 year old son and I had a tournament of sorts with Asteroids, playing multiple games in order to get our name on the winner board. We succeeded (and I scored higher than he did — high five for the old man). These games are a lot harder to play than they seem, and you quickly understand some of the ingenuity that went into their creation with the limited computer power and graphics of the time.

As we were leaving, a few quarters lighter than when we arrived, he turned to me, and said, “I bet this is from a bunch of guys who just love video games and had these in their basements.”

He’s probably right.

Peace (in the play),
Kevin

PS — you can also play a lot of these games online now. Check out Classic Arcade Games. Or check out Microsoft’s site for Atari Arcade.

Slice of Life: Inside My Mind

(This is for the Slice of Life feature at Two Writing Teachers)

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Each day, I receive an email notification from The Daily Create (an offshoot of  DS106) about an activity to get the brain and thinking mind moving in new directions. It’s really such a great idea, these short assignments that push boundaries with humor and creative passion, and every day is something interesting or odd to consider. I don’t mind odd. In fact, I embrace oddity when it comes to digital composition because I think that diving into the odd will push boundaries. Yesterday, the Daily Create assignment was to sketch out an imaginary map of your mind.

This one hung with me all day, as I took my son sledding and as I set up the ping-pong table for some ferocious paddling, and as I read my books, read aloud to my son, checked my email, wrote a few tweets and began the first day of our February vacation (not technically our first day, since we had two snow days to end last week, extending our time away from school). All day, I kept thinking: map my head, map of my head, map it out.

If you know anything about me, you know I can’t draw worth a darn. Which is why I so often turn to digital tools to help me, and finally, as I watched my son and his friend barrel down the huge hill on sleds, screaming the entire way, it dawned on me how I could do this assignment. As a comic. And I would do it in the style of Mad Magazine’s Sergio Aragones, who makes all of those little comics in the margins of the pages, with little characters doing funny things in small spaces.

My Meandering Mind and Me

By the way, today’s Daily Create is to make a video of you or someone unboxing something. Anything. Make it dramatic. Share it out. Odd, right? See what I mean? The Daily Create rocks.

Peace (inside),
Kevin

 

Slice of Life: A Picture of Nothing is Still Something

(This is for Slice of Life with Two Writing Teachers but is inspired by #ds106’s Daily Create)
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Yesterday, over at the Daily Create (a must-follow, by the way), the prompt asked us to take a picture of nothing. So typical of the Daily Create, to ask us to be creative with the ordinary. But I took the prompt to heart, and turned on my iPad, pointed the lens straight up, and took a shot. Of nothing. Except it was something. Something neat. In fact, this little bit of nothing on the ceiling has some neat compositional aspects to it.

Notice how the support beam moves through the center of the shot, on a slight perpendicular path, and I was really struck by how the light in one room but not the other room completely gave the shot two sides to it (in a strange way that reminds me of Harvey Two-Face from Batman). The speckled paint on our ceilings also give the nothingness a sense of texture that a smooth ceiling would not have done.

So, yes, this nothing turned quickly into something. And here I am, writing about it, giving the nothing more life than it would have normally had. Thanks, Daily Create!

Peace (in the something),
Kevin

SOLSC on TWT

Slice of Life: Musical Notes

(This is for Slice of Life with Two Writing Teachers)

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There’s a been a lot of music happening in the past week, so here are three musical slices from my end of the world.

First, I recently dug up an old son that I had written back when my oldest sons were little, capturing that feeling that the world was pulling them away from my influence. This is natural, of course, but as a parent, it’s one of the most disconcerting things when you realize that peers and media and other elements are beginning to influence your children in ways you had not yet comprehended or understood, or planned for. This song — Innocent Boy — has been around in my guitar case for years, but I pulled it out recently and recorded it in Garageband if only to make sure I have it around as a legacy song for my three sons. <sap alert>

Innocent Boy

Second, two weekends ago, with my wife and kids out of town, I grabbed the guitar and wrote a quick song. After sharing it out a bit, I thought: I should send this to Luke and see if he has any interest in adding some trumpet to it. His #nerdlution resolution is get back to his horn. He agreed and wrote and recorded the horn track, and then sent the file back to me. I have not done much musical collaboration like that. We may keep working on the song together. We’ll see. But my bandmates in Duke Rushmore are interested, so this one may become a full band song soon.

Lift You Up (with guest horn by Luke)

Finally, speaking of Duke Rushmore, the other night, at practice, we began working on I’ve Got My Anchor in You, which was a song I wrote a few months back and used as a remixing and reflective activity for Make/Hack/Play. It’s one of the better songs that I have written in some time, and to listen to it come alive with my bandmates – with a real singer, and the coming together of many instruments — is quite a feeling. This video reflection from a few months ago of how I came to write the song is still powerful, I think. If the band records our version, I’ll get that out, too.

Peace (in the muse),
Kevin

Slice of Life: The Unexpected Text

(This is for Slice of Life with Two Writing Teachers.)

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We were just coming out a freewriting session – a quiet space where students can write whatever they want, as long as they are writing. As usual, I opened the floor up to sharing. Usually, with freewrite sharing, the collection becomes odds and ends of unfinished ideas — scraps of poems, a comic strip, a journal entry, a string of sentences that don’t necessarily make sense. My students love freewrite time because it gives them freedom but I can’t say that focus is the key ingredient for many of them.

Still, I let them go. Writers write.

So I wasn’t expecting much for sharing. Even so, I always enjoy this mini-celebration of writing in all of its messy glory because you never know when something interesting might surface. And so it did. I won’t go into deep details on the piece because of the personal nature of it, but one of my students — a solid writer, for sure, but often a surface writer, skimming along the top of the story — raised his hand to share.

What came out was a beautiful personal narrative that begins with him looking out the window at home and moved into becoming a wonderful meditation on dreams and aspirations, and hurdles, and connections to family for support. The class listened in silence as he read his piece, loud and articulate, and when he was done, he looked up and smiled. He knew he had written something powerful, and that he had shared powerful words. We knew it, too.

It was an expected text that changed my teaching demeanor for the day – one of those moments when you realize that you really are in a room of writers, even if they are just 11 years old and trying to find a voice. Here, this student found his voice, and shared it with us. It was a glorious slice of life.

Peace (in the days),
Kevin

Slice of Life: The #Nerdlution Ends (for now)

(This is a piece for Slice of Life with Two Writing Teachers).
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As soon as I hit the submit button with a comment for Maureen’s blog post about deep learning, I sat back and thought, Fifty Days. If anyone else were in the room, I would have high-fived them. As it was, the dog was looking at me funny, with a tilted head, but he just wanted to get fed. He didn’t realize that the Nerdlution project, which began back in early December, was officially over. I had spent 50 days visiting 50 blogs, leaving 50 comments (one comment per day, although the reality was that once I started the routine, the habit took over and I tried to leave more here and there).

I’m one of those people who can’t quite let go of a project, so even though I know more than a few friends were not able to stick with it for a full 50 days (which seemed like a lot at the start and still seems like a lot at the end), I kept at it. It became a part of how I started my morning, looking for blog posts (ideally, via the #nerdlution hashtag but those started to run out on me, so I turned to related projects as blogs to read).

My aim was to visit blogs that I don’t normally visit, and engage in a conversation with other teachers. I did leave comments but I have not had time to go back and see where those breadcrumbs of words have gone. In fact, early on, I began to worry about this — how would I backtrack? So, I began with a Diigo bookmarking group, and then started to think about how to visually capture my 50 paths to 50 blogs.

I’ve always wanted to give Symbaloo a try, so that’s what I did. I set up a site, and began adding tiles every day as I left a comment.

Check it out:

My goal now is to begin a trail backwards through the blogs that I visited through the Nerdlution, and see what happened to my words and maybe keep the conversations going and flowing. I’d rather it not be a one-shot deal. I’d like to have conversations, and for all the hoopla over the power of blogging, that’s more difficult than it seems because keeping track of comments it not seamless, no matter how you do it (email updates, etc.)

I’m happy the Nerdlution took place and I am a little relieved that it is over, as I move into a few other projects.

Peace (in the goal),
Kevin

Slice of Life: A Bright Wire

(This is part of the Slice of Life weekly writing activity with Two Writing Teachers)

The other day, I was watching this child just move through the space we were in, all in a world of their own. It was as if no one else were there. And I remembered that feeling, too, suddenly and out of the blue. I had this phrase “live wire” in my head from the last sentence of some New Yorker article, and out of that, I began to write this poem of childhood and adulthood, and the act of observing through the lens of memory.

I used Storybird to use the text of the poem as a picture book (although, I am not sure if work as I wanted it to work. The images don’t quite match up to what I had in my head.)

I also podcasted out the poem, as I often do.

Thanks for reading and listening and observing my poem. I hope you, too, are a live wire.

Peace (in the poem),
Kevin