I posted a book review over at Middleweb that explores the difficult terrain of assessing student digital writing. It’s an area I know I continue to struggle with. This book — edited by National Writing Project colleague Troy Hicks and featuring a number of National Writing Project educators — seeks to show a variety of paths (via protocols) to look at digital writing, mostly from the view of process of creating as opposed to evaluation of the final product.
We’re ending the first Make Cycle of the CLMOOC (well, ‘ending’ is the wrong word entirely, since anyone can jump in whenever they want and that is the start of the CLMOOC) and before we shift into the second Make Cycle, I want to catch my breath.
You probably do, too. That’s OK. It’s been a flurry of activity, with introductions coming in from all over the world and in all sorts of media forms. The opening days of places like CLMOOC are like that. Flurries. Waves. Tides. Firehose. You name the metaphor. It probably fits, in some way.
The question is: Will folks hang around beyond the initial excitement?
I hope so, because Make Cycle 2 (which will kick off with a newsletter later today from facilitators Susan Watson and Helen DeWaard) is all about circling back to the first Make Cycle and finding other people to connect with .. to reciprocate with generosity. This can take many forms, as Susan and Helen will explain, but the idea is to try to go deeper with our networks, and not just fall back on the +1 button, or the thumbs up, or the like.
How we make our connections go deeper, and nurture sustainability of connections, is the underlying current in the CLMOOC in the coming days. Engaging in conversations, honoring someone else’s work through remix, listening to perspectives, tapping into collaborative projects … it’s all about understanding the World through the collective experiences of others. Listen, the CLMOOC is not necessarily a true reflection of the World — we’re mostly a narrow a splinter of humanity with common values — but it’s a start.
My friend, Wendy, reminded me in our Google Plus community of a site that allows you to input text and it will convert the text into a musical composition with a companion music file. This is how I did it this morning with a short bit I wrote.
First, I wrote up a Find Five Friday for #CLMOOC — I found five people that I wanted to recognize or honor this morning. It’s another way that connections get made in CLMOOC.
Next, I copied the text of my F5F and popped it into the engine of P22 Music Text Composition Generator. You can choose an instrument, and time signature, and give your file a name. When you click “generate,” it creates a musical composition. It also creates a companion MIDI music file. NOTE: Chrome did not play nice and I had to jump over to Firefox and allow Flash to be used.
Since MIDI music files are very specific about where they can be played, I wanted to convert it into an MP3 file for sharing. I used Zamzar, an online media converter. It worked like a charm.
I then uploaded the MP3 file (I had chosen the Vibraphone as the instrument but there are other variations … all sound sort of electronic-y but what can you do?) into Soundcloud, and used a screenshot of the composition as my image.
My youngest son (age 11) was watching an episode of Futurama a few weeks ago. In it, Richard Nixon (with his head in a jar) is talking to a crowd of people, about building a wall to keep space aliens out. A light when on in my son’s head. He remembered all the hoopla about Donald Trump building a wall.
So, he started to plan out this idea of a political remix, of meshing Trump’s call for a wall on the border with Mexico with Head-in-Jar Nixon’s call for a wall in outer space. I helped him get the videos he wanted to use but he knows enough about iMovie now to do the editing and mixing himself. I was mostly hands-off.
The result? Pretty cool political remix, I think, for an eleven-year-old kid who understood that he could make political commentary with pop culture elements. Of course, I am biased. He’s my kid. You’ll have to watch and see what you think.
This was sort of fun. I guess. I heard about a music video mobile app called Chosen that is becoming popular with young people (after, typically, not necessarily being used in the way it was built for). Kids use it for lip-syncing videos, and the company just got rights to millions of songs, I guess.
I figure it’s always a good idea to get a handle on what is becoming popular (still have yet to do Snapchat, though, so maybe take my pronouncements with a grain of salt) and so I dove into Chosen.
It’s pretty simple to use. You can record your voice or music, or choose music (this is the lip-sync method). There are some funny overlays you can choose. You hit “record” and do your thing. The video gets saved to your device and you can share it out. Or you can share it within the Chosen ecosystem. (Note: the folks might want to, eh, choose, a new name I could not shake a religious theme from my mind when hearing the name of the app).
Here I am, grooving to Justin Timberlake’s song of the summer on pop radio:
Give it a try. See what you think. Maybe we can do a lip-sync competition during CLMOOC?
My friend, Terry, recently published an entire series of blog posts in which he introduces and explores various technology tools, from an angle of pedagogy. He wonders as much of “the why” as much as the “here it is,” and I like that.
I’ve collected his series of posts as an Outliner in my Diigo bookmarking world, pulling out some of Terry’s words and adding a few of my own as an attempt at annotating what he was doing.
Or you can see it all right here in a sort of messy version of the Diigo Outliner.
In either case, bookmark what he was up to, and share it out. I’m sure that will make Terry happy.
Tellio’s Tour of Tech Pedagogy
RhetCompNow | Nowhere but here. “I also believe that unless technology evokes fun and the spirit of play it will never be personally useful to you as a teacher and learner. So…I propose to bring you a series of tech tools, processes and information that you will come to find are “as handy as a pocket on a shirt”.” — TerryDon’t know Terry Elliott’s blogs? You should. He’s always up for the unexpected — either through sharing of what he is learning at one of his online spaces or asking questions meant to push our thinking. Revive the signals? Yes. (That’s the tagline at one of his blogs) This outline list of links tracks and shares Terry’s work to uncover the pedagogy behind various technology for learning. While he made these posts for his Writing Project Summer Institute, he is kind enough to share them out to the world. Enjoy. Learn. Create.
Writing Project Tech Pedagogy: Episode Thirteen (6/24/2016) | RhetCompNow (Managing the Media Overload) “Today’s post strays into a briar patch where only rabbits feel comfortable: the sense that the noise of the net is drowning the inner signal that is trying to get out of ourselves, our voice.” — Terry.
Me: Here, Terry pulls back the cover on how he manages his media stream. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Having a means to manage it all is important.
Writing Project Tech Pedagogy: Episode Twelve (6/23/2016) | RhetCompNow (Finding Media to Use for your Projects) “Do you need free? As in “copyright free, CCBY, public domain sounds and music for a student or personal project” free? If so, your options are extraordinary and here are a few of them.” — Terry.
Me: Remixing and using media for creation can get tricky. The best option? Make stuff yourself. The next best option? Find someone who is freely offering their work for your use, and then point back to the artist.
Writing Project Tech Pedagogy: Episode Nine (6/18/2016) | RhetCompNow (Neat Stuff) “Some websites are cool tools unto themselves. I am going to share a few of those today. They have proven to be artesian wells of knowledge and prompts to action. I hope you enjoy them as well.” — Terry.
Me: I didn’t realize he had my blog on there. Well. Thanks. I love how Terry annotates as well as shares. He models for the rest of us how we can think out loud, for the benefit of the self and for others, about the “whys” of what we’re doing.
Writing Project Tech Pedagogy: Episode Seven (6/17/2016) | RhetCompNow (Make YouTube and Online Videos Work for You) “Want to use YouTube in the classroom, but find it a bit risky and potentially embarrassing or worse with younger students? Wish you could convince your district to open up YouTube but not sure how to argue for it?” — Terry.
Me: For teachers wondering how to safely use the vast media out there in the classroom, Terry points us in some various directions.
Writing Project Tech Pedagogy: Episode Six (6/16/2016) | RhetCompNow (Twitter and Its Potential) “Today, a simple suggestion. Use Twitter for professional development.” — Terry.
Me: I’m not sure if his Writing Project colleagues took him up on the offer, but there is little doubt that Twitter has completely changed the way teachers can connect and share and learn from each other. It has completely turned the whole PLC concept on its head … in a good way … (but avoid the echo chamber effect)
Writing Project Tech Pedagogy: Episode Five–the Ides of June Edition | RhetCompNow (Audio Annotation) “My post today is about annotating SoundCloud. Yes, you can make time specific notes on sound files. It’s free, easy to use, congenial to share, and worth having in your repertoire.” — Terry.
Me: Over the years, Terry has reminded me time and again about the power of adding text annotations to digital media, and here, he explores the very rich opportunity that Soundcloud has baked into its system.
Writing Project Tech Pedagogy: Episode Four (6/14/2016) | RhetCompNow (Annotating Images) “All of this activity falls under what I think of as “developing a repertoire.” The Internet is still a collection of small tools loosely joined. All you need is a small collection of tools in order to create and share.” — Terry.
Me: Here, Terry introduced Pablo. I never heard of Pablo. You can do fun things with images and text, such as write short text pieces or add annotations. There are, of course, many ways to do this, but sometimes, it’s worth checking out a new technology in order to see what might happen, even if the tech is not designed for that experience. And I like Terry’s words about having a collection of things to pull from.
Writing Project Tech Pedagogy: Episode Three (6/13/2016) | RhetCompNow (Annotate the Web) “Hypothes.is allows you take any web page on the Internet and annotate the text. Like Vialogues, it is free and open to all. You just need to sign up with them and then begin.” – Terry.
Me: What happens when your thinking meshes in harmony and reacts in contrast to others’ opinions? You get a conversation. Technology like these ones provide a path through the gap. Not perfect. Not yet. But a path, just the same. We can talk and react and learn.
Writing Project Tech Pedagogy: Episode Two (6/12/2016) | RhetCompNow (Close Read This) “Close reading is an old buzzword. The idea of slowing down and breaking open a text in order to explicate its meaning goes back to the the very earliest Biblical scholarship. Like most ideas it bears a bit of skepticism. In other words use it and don’t be used by it. ” — Terry.
Me: Good words, there. Terry turned me on to Vialogues some time back and I love that it allows people to interact with a video, and that you can skip and jump from comment to comment, and it lands on the video the comment is about. Nice.
Writing Project Tech Pedagogy: Episode One | RhetCompNow (What He’s Up To) “Life is short, teaching time is precious. If the tool is handy and you find it is valuable to you personally, pedagogically or professionally, then “have at it, hoss”. If not, then move on to the next one. I will promise to do my best to not waste your time. ” — Terry
Me: Thanks, man.
As part of Letters to the Next President 2.0, we are being asked to annotate articles about the political sphere. The organizers suggest Hypothesis, which I already regularly use. Hypothesis is a web-based annotation tool. You can use the bookmarklet that you can install right in your browser (that’s what I do) or use direct links (see my invite below).
I was curious about how technology is changing politics, and dug out this article: Three Ways The Internet Has Changed Political Campaigns, and dug into it as best as I could. It’s short and I invite you to come annotate with me. That’s the beauty of crowd annotation — we can all dig into the same articles together.
The idea behind a public annotation activity is to get all of our voices into the mix. This summer’s Letters to the Next President seems to be designed to allow teachers to play and remix and use the tools, in hopes of discovering some ways to engage their own students in the fall when Clinton vs. Trump becomes loud and overwhelming.
Note: Hypothesis also collects annotations around common tags, so if you want to see/read all annotations on all articles with the #2nextprez tag, you can do that.
All this talk of presidential politics and writing Letters to the Next President had me revisiting a song of mine called Woody Guthrie Lives Inside of Me. I had recorded this song a few months ago as a Corner Concert (where I turn the camera on and just sing a song), so I took that audio file from the video and used it in a Zeega for a multimedia project.
I aimed to celebrate the resurgence of Guthrie’s message, and to try to use Zeega layering for various images and movement. Some worked. Some didn’t. I also framed the Zeega as a multimedia letter itself.
In reality, the politics of Guthrie is “Left” of me these days (I am more Center, although where Center is these days seems less and less solid). Still, Guthrie’s notion of fairness and of advocacy, and of using music and song to connect and inspire action? That is something that has always stuck with me.
Special thanks to Terry for continuing to host Zeega for playing and tinkering and making.
So, consider me intrigued … I just re-discovered the MediaBreaker tool by The Lamp as part of the Letters to the Next President campaign. MediaBreaker is like the old Popcorn Maker (I still miss you, Popcorn!) by Mozilla, in that you can layer media and text on top of video content. In this case, the idea is to make commentary on top of political videos.
I tested it out with a video from a Trump Supporter, and added some textual commentary as a counter propaganda move. I could not figure out how to publish/view the final edited MediaBreaker, nor how to create my own account in MediaBreaker itself (I did create a teacher account in its Studio). I did hit the “submit” button, so maybe it gets processed and reviewed before becoming public (I think that is the case). The MediaBreaker YouTube channel is here.
Ideally, the site would allow me to save and then kick out an embed code for sharing. But it doesn’t seem to do that. So, not only did I just lose all of my work (ack), I can’t share with anyone outside of MediaBreaker what I was doing. This may be intentional — a way to keep student work behind a “wall.” (Students have to be 14 years old or older to use MediaBreaker so that counts my students out).
I like the possibilities of MediaBreaker, but it still feels a little funky and clunky to use. You have to download a video to your computer and then upload it into the editing tool. I am not sure if students can upload their own videos, or if they can only use what the teacher has uploaded. I wish the video being used could be native to the Web itself, as folks with slow Internet speeds will be left out of the remix possibilities.
My students have been beta-testing a site that is designed to allow students to design Picture Books that lead to publishing in hard-cover format. It’s been an interesting experience, which I hope to write about down the road a bit, but last week, they finished working on their books (about their years at our elementary school as they prepare to move on to the regional middle/high school).