ReComposition: Variations on a Digital Poem

I got a bit obsessed yesterday with making variations of my poem, I Think in Ink, that I shared out as a looping Vine piece yesterday. I played around with some image apps and then, taking a cue from Terry, began to explore a site called Zeega, which is another media-combining site that is interesting to use.

Here’s how the poem came out:

I also turned on my audio recorder, taking notes as I went. These may or may not be of any interest to you. I paused in between things. It was more of a way to get me “thinking out loud.”

And here are two of the image renditions of the poem.
The first one uses an app that is a poetry wordcloud generator. I noticed that you could import an image as your background, so I did, taking a shot of my computer screen with the original poem in the center focus point.

Think in ink

The second one uses an app that takes an image and reconfigures it as another kind of word cloud. I took a shot of me, holding an ipod, and then tinkered with the main words from the poem, and spent quite some time toying around the with settings to get the design that I wanted.

Think in Ink 2

Peace (in the poem),
Kevin

Flocabulary Gets It Right: Civil Rights Hip-Hop Resource

MLK Day Dream

Flocabulary has a great musical resource available for remember Martin Luther King Jr. and honoring the Civil Rights movement. Along with the hip hop song that brings in words and imagery into the flow, the group provides a set of lyrics you can print out. Whenever I use Flocabulary and their mad rhymes, my students pay attention. The site even has a classroom view, allowing the video to come into center focus. You can’t embed the video in other sites because Flocabulary sells subscriptions (and periodically, makes resources like this one free).

Check it out.

And remember and honor the man whose voice continues to ring out and resonate with much of the country.

Peace (on this day),
Kevin

Book Review: Attack of the Killer Video Book

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61N7st80-cL.jpg

How’s that for a title, eh? Attack of the Killer Video Book. Along with a new video camera under our Christmas tree, my younget son received this fantastic book resource on how to make movies on the cheap. Written by Mark Shulman and Hazlitt Krog, with great illustrations from Martha Newbigging, this book is a perfect fit for any 9-year-old filmmaker. (I have the revised edition — Take 2 — but I am not sure what has been revised from the first edition.)

Told with a sense of humor and various illustrations and diagrams and cartoons, this book really gets at the heart of shooting a movie, from the initial storytelling, planning, technical aspects of setting up the camera and microphones, right through to editing software on the computer and publishing, and kicking back to enjoy the fruits of the labor. Plus, the book reminds you to bring along snacks for any friends who join you in making the movie. Snacks are important.

The writers even provide a sample script at the end of the book, as both a model and inspiration. I was very happy to see how much time is spent on the “good story” aspect of the moviemaking, which can be the most difficult element. For many young people, the whiz and bang of the shooting of video (bloopers anyone?) overtakes the desire to spend time on a good story to tell, but here, the writers push home the idea that a good story is at the heart of every good movie.

This book would be a good addition to any classroom, as I suspect there are budding filmmakers in our rooms, probably even students we would never suspect of it.

Peace (in the flick),
Kevin

 

Curating Flipboard: Interesting Education and Game Design/Learning


I’ve long used the Flipboard “magazine” app on the iPad to read article collections, around news, sports, music, humor and even some teaching.  I love the visual feel of the app, and how images, videos and words come together so nicely. It’s a great reading experience.

But this week, I remembered that anyone in Flipboard can also create and share their own flippable visual magazines. So I am diving in, with two magazines: Interesting Education (where I will curate articles about learning and technology that seem interesting .. to me, anyway) and Game Design and Learning (which is where we can learn more about how game design engages students as tinkerers, writers, and engineers and more). More magazines might come later …

My aim is to keep the magazines as fresh as I can, but I am still learning about the various ways to keep adding in new content, so if you subscribe to my magazines — thank you and be patient with me. I’m no Tina Brown or David Remnick.

Curation in the 21st Century World is an interesting thing. We bring in articles and media through our own lens of understanding, and yet we are limited too by the media we have at hand. Unless you are lucky, curating our content is not a full-time job, so going deep is not always an option. This is going to be an issue for me, as I read and save a lot of cool ideas via RSS (yes, I am still reading RSS feeds) but have not yet figured out the best way to bring those articles into Flipboard. I suspect there is a way. I just haven’t found it yet (if you have, please let me know). For now, it seems that my Flipboard content will come from within other Flipboard magazines, which is fine as long as it doesn’t become an echo chamber or rehashing of ideas.

I am also working to frame the articles and pieces better, adding some ideas to center the media in the magazines. This part of curation — the voice of the curator making the decisions — is something I am often weak at. I zip through, see something cool, add it and move on. I don’t think I am alone with that, either. I’ll be doing more diving into Flipboard to see where I can add my own personality to my magazines.

I invite you to subscribe and come along on my journey, too. You can view Flipboards on the web but it’s not the same reading experience as with the free app. Just so you know. And when you subscribe, it puts the magazine right into your Flipboard dashboard, which makes the content easily accessible.

I’d also love to try at my hand at a collaborative magazine, where more than one person is curating and collecting and share. But choosing a solid and interesting theme is the key part. I might just be inviting YOU to join ME in creating a new magazine. You ready?

Peace (in the mag),
Kevin

The Ooohs and Ahhs of Augmented Reality

The past few days, for morning work, I have had my students coloring. I made it a sort of mystery about why we were doing coloring instead of our usual morning work routines (critical thinking puzzles, math and writing work, etc.). Yesterday, I brought my iPad into the classroom and hooked it up to the Interactive Board, called up my ColAR app (free, with some premium features) and asked kids to bring their colored pages up to me.

I then pointed the iPad to their pictures … and the oohs and ahhs began.
Using colar

The app brings to life the colored pages, and it led us to talk about the wave of Augmented Reality apps that are now coming out, and what AR even is (most had never heard of the phrase before). They were really jazzed about the app, and I suspect more than a few dashed home to download it.

I still want to find a way to hack the coloring pages to make them my own. But I haven’t yet had a chance to experiment with it.

Peace (in the AR),
Kevin

Digital Composition: The Marriage of Image and Words


Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad

(Note of honest disclosure: I’m not sure where I am going with this post, so bear with me.)

Yesterday, I shared out the Haiku Deck of six word stories that were shared as part of the #nerdlution effort. I had asked folks to write and then wanted to celebrate their writing beyond the impermanence of the Twitter Stream. I turned to Haiku Deck, which I use quite a lot and really enjoy. As I was working throughout Sunday, though, I started to think about what I was doing, how I was composing with borrowed words of others.

This is one of the central underpinnings of composing digitally these days — how do we make decisions about the look and feel and overall design of our writing? In some ways, Haiku Deck — like so many sites — makes that process easier than ever. Built for short pieces of writing in a presentation mode, Haiku Deck is an interesting platform to consider choices around image and words. You only have two lines for writing and words get smaller as you write, so you start running into the distant horizon event — words become too small to read.

But for an activity like Six Word Memoirs, Haiku Deck is perfectly suited as a platform. The stories started flowing on Twitter early in the day and just kept right on rolling throughout the late afternoon. I had about 50 stories to work with when all was said and done. You should have seen me, reading the tweets on my computer while balancing my iPad on my lap, tapping away furiously to keep up (I know, Haiku Deck now has web platform but I haven’t had time to check it out).

This is where things get interesting.

In Haiku Deck, you access data bases of images for the backgrounds. It begins by using the text of each slide as a keyword search, but you can change or adapt as necessary. Now, when I do my own writing, I know what “feel” and mental image I am going for. It’s internalized and when I go public, I understand that I need to externalize what I am trying to convey. I won’t say I am an ardent stickler for the exact right image, but I am very conscious of how the image works in partnership with the words. I’m often tweaking the keywords and scrolling down pretty far through the bank of images to find the right fit.

But here, I was working with the words of others, not just my own. I felt a little uncomfortable, to be honest, as I were hijacking someone’s loved ones, even if I were doing it for all the right and good reasons. Words have value. Words have meaning, and sometimes, in online spaces, the inferred meaning of the writer can become very different from the meaning understood by the reader (particularly when you only have six words to play with — there’s a lot left unsaid.) I was conscious of the fact that my friends had placed an implicit trust in me, as their curator. And most didn’t even know I was creating a collection of stories.

What this all means is, I had a responsibility to the whole, as community; and to the individuals, as writers; and to myself, as curator. I worked very hard to find the right images, and that included thinking along lines of colors of images, so that the words would stand out, and to balance the implicit and explicit meaning of the image as part of the message of the slide. More than once, I came back to a slide, shook my head and began another search query. Sometimes, I visited a story multiple times.

So, for example, look at Michelle’s story slide. At first glance, it seems like a typical outdoor scene. But look closer, and you can see that I focused on her word “cornerstone” as the metaphor in her writing. This picture, with the view looking up, shows the power of cornerstones in holding things up.

michelle 6words

Or here is Kay’s. This is one that I revised a number of times, never quite happy with the results. I wanted to project movement, but with a static image, that can be difficult. I finally came to this image, which is colorfully kinetic in nature, and attuned to Kay’s words.

kay 6words

Finally, I grappled with Julia’s story, which she composed as a list. I focused so much on the breathing that I lost track of the message of peacefulness. One too many images of someone’s lips breathing out steam (or smoke, as most of them were) had me frustrated for quite some time. Then, as I toyed around with keywords, I saw this image of the statue, and I was hit with that feeling of “this is it.” The image is perfect partner to the words, in my opinion.

Julia 6words

So, why write this post? I knew you’d ask.

It’s because we need to make sure we are being purposeful in our digital composing. So many cool sites, like Haiku Deck, automate our decision-making processes in way that strips us of much of our agency as writers, and we need to continue to inject ourselves — as writer, as composers — into the process. It requires both effort and a step back from the technology.

We should use the tools out there — Haiku Deck is a beautiful platform — and we should tap into them as we see fit, but be sure to observe them as merely tools to our own vision. I could have quickly gone through and randomly chosen images to with the six word stories. In doing so, though, I would have cheated those writers in way that is difficult to articulate, and I would have cheated myself. Let’s teach our students and emerging writers in the digital age to be the ones in charge of the technology that surround them, not the other way around. Move beyond cool. Move into composing with agency.

Peace (in the meandering about),
Kevin

The Right Poems for the Right Time in the Right Space

Untitled
It’s not as if I woke yesterday morning and thought, you know, today will be filled with haikus. But it was, and I think it all began with a #nerdlution friend’s tweet as a haiku, which led me to write one, and then I thought, why not invite other #nerdlution friends to come along for the writing fun. Soon enough, the feed filled up with three line haiku poetry. It was the right writing for the right time in the right space, and throughout the day, more and more poems kept filtering in. I guess we were all in a Haiku-ish kind of mood.

I collected as many as I could through the day in this Storify, and if I missed yours, I humbly apologize.

Peace (in the poems),
Kevin

 

Curating: Video Game Design in Schools

At NCTE, I gave two talks with a theme of Video Game Design (and just so you know, I don’t spent the year with video games although you might get that impression if you were in both sessions.) I use Scoop.it as a way to curate interesting resources and ideas around video game design for the classroom. This is my Video Game Design Scoop. Feel free to follow and borrow.

Peace (in the sharing),
Kevin

Interactive Recipe: Digital Storytelling

Making a Digital Story - a recipe
My colleague and I are facilitating our digital storytelling workshop today, and as part of the continued effort to ease tentative folks into the technology, I created this “recipe” for how to proceed, sprinkled again with some humor.

Peace (in the stories to be told),
Kevin

Make/Hack/Play: Behind the Scenes of Making a Song


Yesterday, I shared out a video that I created for the Make/Hack/Play mini-course I am involved in at P2PU with facilitator Karen Fasimpaur. Today, I wanted to explain just how I did it — so consider this is a sort of process piece connected to the Make itself in which I sought to Make a Song, and Make the songwriting visible. Here, I try to make the process visible. I also created this diagram flowchart of my process.

Making of Making A Song

For the first week, Karen suggested we make something in physical space, but I had my head wrapped around music this past weekend, and I decided that I would write a new song, but with the idea of the Maker Space in mind. What I did was sat next to the computer with my guitar and instead of my usual method of scribbling out notes and crossing out words on paper, I used the collaborative freeware tool TitanPad to write. TitanPad works sort of like Google Docs as a collaborative space, but the element that I really love is that it creates a revision timeline video format (of sorts), so you can watch a piece of writing unfold over time.

After finishing the song, which is called Set My Anchor on You, I played back my words, watching from the distance as my words were written, removed, revised and restructured. It’s pretty fascinating, particularly for someone like me who types very fast but also makes a lot of mistakes. You can see a lot of backspacing going on.

Since my idea of this Make was to capture the songwriting in process, I took a video screenshot (using my Snagit program) of the words flowing on the screen, and then moved that raw video into iMovie, so I could layer in my narration. I also recorded a version of the song in Audacity, created an MP3 file and used that as the background track – so you watch my words, hear my thinking and listen to the song.

I then edited the video in iMovie and shared out at YouTube, and linked into our Make/Hack/Play space and beyond, thus going from brainstorm to writing to recording to publishing in a short amount of time.

Peace (in the song),
Kevin