You Gotta Listen to the Kids on Leadership Day 2009

2009leadershipday02

Scott McLeod at Dangerously Irrelevant is once again holding a blogging Leadership Day tomorrow, in which he asks folks to blog about advice or help for administrators.
This year, I decided to write a song that tries to capture the idea of administrators and leaders getting out of their offices and into the classrooms to talk to students about what they do and what they need and what they hope for. Also, I want to say again that technology should be integrated into the curriculum, not the old model of “drop my kids off into the lab for a planning period” kind of integration.

Anyway:

You Gotta Listen to the Kids
(by Kevin Hodgson)

Here’s what I fear
Tech won’t disappear
It’ll still be apart from the whole

When everybody knows
that kids will grow
when they connect their school to home

‘Cause kids are gonna text
explore what’s next
but they need us as a helping hand

So listen up, leaders:
we need you as believers
and support us any way you can

You gotta listen to the kids
’cause they’re gonna show you the way
You gotta listen to the kids
they’ve got some things to say

None of us knows
where this all goes
so the tool doesn’t matter much

But if they can explore
it’ll open up doors
and the world will be right in touch

You gotta listen to the kids
’cause they’re gonna show us the way
You gotta listen to the kids
’cause they’ve got some things to say

Peace (in the song),
Kevin

PS — the song is also at this link.

Twitter This! (and pass it along your network)

I had the idea to write a quick song about Twitter, so during one of my last writing classes with my students — as they were working on writing their own songs — I jotted down some lyrics. I think I was inspired by my students’ enthusiasm.

Last night, I worked on the song with my music loop program and then recorded it.

Twitter This

I get up in the morning and I twitter all my dreams
140 characters is just enough for me
Then, each moment of the day becomes a Twitter storm
until the world is at my doorstep and everyone belongs
to

This Twitter space
inside this Twitter place
I’ve got a little bit of smile
on my Twitter face
Take me as a friend
or leave me out cold
I’m gonna keep on Twittering
until the platform gets old

I’m reading all my friends — the ones I haven’t met
from all across the globe, it’s a safety net
We’re putting pressure on Iran — let the China wall fall
let the information flow so we can all crawl
to

This Twitter space
inside this Twitter place
I’ve got a little bit of smile
on my Twitter face
Take me as a friend
or leave me out cold
I’m gonna keep on Twittering
until the platform gets old

If you like the song, do me a favor and send the link to the song (http://www.box.net/shared/5848z0cba8) along to your own Twitter network (if you Twitter and I am @dogtrax on Twitter) or blog space. I’m just curious to see how far the song might go along various network lines.

Peace (in the groove),
Kevin

Making Songwriting Visible

My class is moving from poetry into songwriting (even as they finish up a Hyperlinked Poetry Book project) and yesterday, we took a look at a Green Day song (and sang it together, with me on guitar) and some songs that I wrote and performed with my old band (The Sofa Kings). We talked about establishing a theme or message in a song, how most pop and rock songs use a verse-chorus structure, and what rhyming patterns might emerge (mostly couplets).

We’re going to rock the room today, with my electric guitar, drum machine and PA system and a song that I wrote a few years ago that has a missing verse. They’ll write the missing verse (theme: believe in yourself) and then come on up to the microphone tomorrow to perform with me. Then, I want to get them writing their own songs before the school year ends next week.

But this reminded me of a video I made about a year ago as I sat down to write a song. I used my little Flip video to capture my process of writing, rewriting and thinking out loud about what I was doing. So, here I share the video again and also, below it, the song that I quickly recorded after the video had ended and the song came together.

The song: A Man of ContemplationPeace (in the song),

Kevin

When the teachers sing … in protest of tests

The other day, I shared some lyrics I was writing for our school Talent Show. Each year, a bunch of staff members get together and perform. I re-wrote the words to Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours” to become “I’m So Bored” to offer up some solidarity to our students now in the midst of many hours of state testing.
We performed last night. Here we are (that’s me, with the soprano sax):

If you want to read the lyrics I wrote, here they are.

Peace (in protest),
Kevin

We Find Love — a song about love

I am really happy with this particular new song, which is part of the storu/poem/song cycle I am working on (OK, so I need to come up with a catchy name for this thing). I was trying to find a way to end the whole story on a positive note, in which the main character re-connects with his real love as they both near the end of the their lives and fate brings them back together. This song — We Find Love — captures that positive energy of love tying us to others, I think, and so I made this video with Animoto after a simple recording with a mic and Audacity.

Peace (and love),
Kevin

Envisioning a Digital Writing Resource and other creative ventures

I’m taking a bit of a break from blogging because I have been working on a few different projects that have me otherwise engaged. All of them are pretty exciting, I think, although for different reasons. And I continue to blog small poems/podcasts every day over at Bud’s blog site, where he is posting daily pictures as inspiration for poetry. It’s been a lot of fun and challenging, too. The poems are pretty rough but I am enjoying the ideas running through them and it is fascinating to think about photos as inspiration for writing.

This past weekend, I joined a group of other teachers in the National Writing Project to begin planning a future online space to showcase ways in which technology and writing are coming together in meaningful ways for students. This is not going to be a “how to” site, but a “why do it” and “what does it all mean” site for sharing and reflecting. The philosophy behind the concept is to design a portal and insight into projects, with reflections. The conceit is that we are “beyond the moment” of technology making an impact on learning and now we need to understand what is going on with it. The NWP is a partner with the MacArthur Foundation on this venture, so there are many exciting connections to be made with other MacArthur partners in the future.

I am working on a prototype of a resource around last year’s Many Voices for Darfur project, in which my students joined others to use technology (podcasting, images, videos, etc.) for social action. As I go back to that time, I realize now just how powerful it was for my students as they joined hundreds of others from around the world to advocate for peace in the Sudan.

Meanwhile, on a personal musical note, a friend and I are in the midst of developing an entire “song cycle” story that is a bit hard to explain, but it is a big project that tells the life of a man through the use of poetry, with songs as part of it all, as he struggles to connect with the world, falls in and out of love, and then comes to terms with life. It stretches from childhood to the end of his life. We are thinking of this as a multimedia production, although what that will look like we can’t quite say yet. It’s been a great source of inspiration to be writing the poems of this story and also, the songs. In the past two weeks, I have composed about eight new songs for this project and I can “see” the whole thing before us, even if I can’t quite articulate it yet.

So, how about you? What have you been up to?

Peace (in sharing),

Kevin

The Quidditch Rap Song

Today is the Quidditch Tournament in our school. A few years ago, I wrote a song to celebrate our game and last week, I updated it, using a music loop software for the music. Then, I made a music video. Yesterday, I had all of my students listen to it and I had all 80 of them help me sing the chorus. Yeah — it was messy, but messy fun.

Here is the video and then below, you can listen to the song with my students singing the chorus:

Listen to the Q Rap with Students

Peace (in flying snitches),
Kevin

All Join Hands (kids sing)

I have mentioned before that I wrote a song called All Join Hands for the Christmas Pageant at our family church. This year, they decided to do something a bit different and they brought in someone from New York City who works with schools and organizations to develop original theater productions. Lloyd (the guy) worked with the kids, and then asked the entire Congregation to submit original songs and lyrics, which he took and wrote some songs for the Pageant, which had a theme of a “journey.”

In the Pageant, some folks with local connections but historical roles were sung about — including Sojourner Truth (the strong black woman who lived in a part of the town for some time); Lewis Tappan, who helped make sure the slaves from the Amistad ship had freedom after they landed in Connecticut; and Jonathan Edwards, famed leader of the religious revivalist movement who preached at the same church where we now go — and my song was sung towards the end of the Pageant. I had my father use my voice recorder to capture the songs, since I had been asked to play guitar on the songs. The song seemed to call for some sort of video, so I went and did that, too.

Here is my song, All Join Hands, with the kids chorus.

And here is the video:

Peace (in joining together),

Kevin

Writing a Song for the Holidays

Our church does a holiday children’s pageant every year, but this year, there is a twist. A musician who works with schools and kids all overt the area is helping to develop an original pageant with original music from the Congregation, which I think is pretty neat. He received a whole bunch of lyrics and song ideas, and I sent forward mine, too.

My song is called All Join Hands and I was trying to capture the spirit of the church as a welcoming and open place that does quite a bit of social justice work. I then recorded it twice: first, by myself, as a demo, and then with my band — The Sofa Kings — one night, quickly showing them the chords, the words and then punching the “record” button and seeing what happened.

The song will be in the pageant in a few weeks, I think, and I will try to record it with the kids singing it. I showed it to them last week and it was neat to hear the young voices singing out the lyrics.

Here are the lyrics:

All Join Hands

All join hands
and light the candle
(’cause) We are one tonight
Peace and love
and faith inside us
(yes) We are one tonight

Everybody, everywhere
We’re reaching out for you — don’t despair
A kindness offered — and one received
A treasure in your heart
is a tender place to start
There’s room enough for you and me

Chorus

Though you may travel many roadways
In search of safety — and blessed byways
Beneath this banner — we receive you
With hope in our hearts
It’s a tender way to start
There’s room enough for you and me

Chorus

And here are the recordings:

Peace (be with you),
Kevin

Don’t Go Disappointing Me

The elections are fast upon us, and like many, I am keeping an eagle-eye on the developments of the economy, the wars in the Middle East, and the leadership qualities of the two presidential candidates seeking to get my vote. I guess I haven’t made too many bones that I am mostly independent, leaning left on most issues, and I have been impressed by Sen. Obama. (But I also once voted in a Republican primary for Sen. McCain when he was facing off against Bush.)

I was thinking of Obama and McCain the other night, and how they seek our allegiance and then, all to often, abuse it with the whispers in their ears from lobbyists and advisors and others. I always worry they will just disappoint me again.

And so, with some taste of bitterness, I suppose, I offer up this song:

Disappointing Me
(Listen to the song)

I’ve lived a long life
Oh, the stories I could tell
I hope you don’t go disappointing me

The path is paved
with empty words that they will sell
I hope you don’t go disappointing me

Four years ahead of us — The future’s in our eyes
My baby’s getting old — and the world is compromised

They’d tell you anything
to fill your heart with fear
I hope you don’t go disappointing me

I’d like to take you
for a walk around my town
I hope you don’t go disappointing me

Just stop and listen
to the people all around
I hope you don’t go disappointing me

Four years ahead of us — The future’s in our eyes
My baby’s getting old — I hear it in his cries

You’ve got the power
to change the world that we know
I hope you don’t go disappointing me

(You can hear my youngest son in the background, talking and singing his own song and then at the end, asking me to play it again. Very funny).

Peace (in presidential promises),
Kevin