I’ve been playing around the new app from Adobe called Voice. It’s very nifty and simple to use, with a clean design. This is how it works: you talk, you choose a visual, you publish. Bam! You’ve created a digital story. You can tinker with theme and music, if you want. Or not. Basically, it seems to have all the things I like about digital storytelling tools. Plus, it has a huge library of icons and images to draw from.
Check out the digital story invitation I made in about 10 minutes (it may have been less):
Here’s another invite to you to join the Making Learning Connected Massive Open Online Collaboration (eh, the CLMOOC) this summer. Sign ups are open now, and the Making and Playing begins in June (but one should always make playful things all the time, right?)
Peace (in the story),
There’s no easy way to describe this old project (which can now be found housed on a Webmaker Thimble Page). It is my first real venture into multimodal composition. I had just bought a Flip Camera, which no one had ever seen before, and had this idea for a poem that used three different videos, merging into one experience, so I asked some NWP friends at a Tech Matters retreat in Chico to blink into my camera and repeat the words “blink blink blink” for me. They no doubt thought I was crazy and could not figure out what I was doing, and I could not explain it, either. I taught myself some basic html coding and worked to bring it together.
I’ve hosted the poem itself in a few places over the years, often stifled and frustrated by the limitation of web hosting spaces that would not allow three videos to run simultaneously, as is required with this poem. The idea is that you click “play” on all three videos, and then center your own eyes on the nose. This allows you to experience ‘the face’ of the poem. (I know, it still sounds crazy). I included the text of the poem and also recorded a reflection on the process of writing and making the poem (which was interesting to listen to this morning … eight years later).
If you click on the screenshot above, it will bring you to the poem itself. (The sound quality sucks because it was a first generation Flip and the microphone must have been little more than a tin cup with a string.)
Confused? That’s OK. It was an experiment. I still find it intriguing and came back on it this morning for a blog post I am writing for the National Writing Project. It then occurred to me that Thimble might be the right place to host the poem, and it worked! I did a little cheer.
I’m still tinkering a bit with the html code but not too much. I like the idea of preserving it as much its original form as possible.
Check out Blink Blink Blink
Peace (in the poem),
I tinkered around with the A Little About Me page via Webmaker this week. I like it as a simple introduction to remixing with Thimble. (Mostly text, not too much media).You can feel free to remix the page, too, and create your own. A bunch of folks were doing it as part of the Teach the Web series underway right now.
Peace (in me),
I’m as guilty as the next person — I collect a lot of media when I am online, gathering ideas, considering possibilities and sharing resources with my many friends all over the place. What I don’t do enough of is curate this digital debris, putting things into a context for others to consider (or for myself to consider when I finally make my way back to it).
I was thinking about this yesterday as I read through Tanya’s Storify collection of a series of collaborative poetry projects that we were part of in the Rhizomatic Learning experience earlier this year. Of course, I remember doing all of what she documents, but her ability to collate and contextualize the “moves” that we did as some projects unfolded is such a great and powerful example of curation. She makes visible the thinking, the learning, the collaboration, and in doing so, Tanya situates how we all used technology to create some wonderful works together.
I’m so grateful for her work, and it reminds me that I need to do more of that kind of curation, to give anchor points to the pathways that I am taking here, there, everywhere. Her Storify collection indeed tells the story of collaboration by knitting together tweets, and other media, so that what emerges is a narrative of discovery. That’s the power of curation.
Peace (in the story),
One of the activities shaping up at Teach the Web is to create a multimedia Mood Ring. I like that idea, so here’s what I culled together this morning — thinking of the Friday afternoon weariness into the Saturday/Sunday family time, and then shifting back to Monday morning. (It’s June. Teaching is more difficult with unfocused sixth graders.)
My Weekend Mood Ring
I used Mozilla’s Popcorn Maker, with the new search tools for Gliphy built right into the site, which is very handy! Plus, anytime you can add NRBQ to a project, you should!
Peace (in the Make),
I had an interesting moment recently with two of my classes. We were watching the movie version of Tuck Everlasting (after reading the novel) and there is a scene where the Stranger (played by Ben Kingsley) stops alone in the woods and pulls out a handheld mirror, holding it up and examining his own facial features for signs of age.
I wish I could share a screenshot of the scene. He’s holding the mirror up high in the sky with his left hand, staring up at it with a stern expression while touching his face with his right hand. I never thought twice about it because it seemed obvious what he was doing.
Students in both classes, however, said the same exact thing as soon as they saw what he was doing, and their reaction was immediate and spontaneous, shouting out:
This is the first year that this has happened with the movie, and it reminded me again of how fast pop culture and technology is flowing through our world. A year ago, only a scattered few might even have heard of a selfie. Now, it’s become a youth touchstone, an automatic response to anyone who holds any kind of screen in front of them.
We had some time after state math testing yesterday, so I did a mini-lesson around selfies. We looked at the famous one from Ellen at the Oscars and talked about some elements of composition of the selfie:
- face(s) in foreground
- some sort of background visible
- smiling, happy selfies are more likely to be viewed than sad, depressing ones
- faces are off center, and shown on upward angle (because phone is held up, facing down)
- some faces are closer; others farther away — giving the viewer multiple points to examine (more interesting than a single selfie, they agreed)
- famous people are more likely to become viral
- Instagram is the reason why selfies are so popular
Then, I brought the students into Bitstrips and told them: “Create a webcomic selfie and feel free to make it crazy.” Most were very excited about the assignment — they love making and using avatars in our comic site.
But one kid dropped his head.
“Do I have to? I am so sick of selfies.”
Maybe the tide is already turning.
Peace (in the mirror),
I came across a post some time back (this post has been in my “draft bin” for a bit) from Animation Chefs about using Vine for making stopmotion, and thought: well, maybe. I gave it a try with some Legos. Yeah, it worked, but the six seconds and my own lack of an iPad holder made the movie a little jumpy. Still, kids could easily make something like this. I just did a lot of little swipes in the app, moving the pieces forward, swiping again, etc.
Peace (in the frames),
Last year, I introduced a whole new genre of novels: the Make Your Own Ending (or Interactive Fiction) concept. I now have a box full of those books where you come to a page as the reader/character, are faced with a decision, make a choice, and move on through a certain branch of the story. The students LOVE these books and many have not ever encountered them before (which seems odd to me, but there was a time when the publishers stopped publishing, and that seems to now have been reversed).
The key is not just the reading, but the writing of these stories. Yesterday, I brought two of my classes into the freeware called Twine, which allows you to construct and build interactive fiction stories. They are now working on an archeological-themed project called “The Mystery of the Ruins” in which they will be writing and publishing their own stories.
Here is a story map from last year, in Twine (read the story, too):
There was so much laughter and discovery yesterday as I told them “to play” with the software and not worry about the project. Just go on and make something. Make a story, build branches and see what works and what doesn’t work. Ask questions.
We don’t do this enough — give time to play with technology — but it remains a very crucial element in my classroom, and now, as we gear our way forward later week to actually writing the real story, they will have some understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of Twine. They will have some ownership of the process, and not be quite as hemmed in.
Or so I hope.
Peace (in the classroom),
Some people were asking for a collection of the technology tools that I used all of April as I wrote poems as part of the Wonders of the World poetry writing marathon. I jumped into Symbaloo and created this small collection of technology tools that I used with my poems:
[symbaloo 920px 600px techforpoems www]
Peace (in the sharing),
Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo, who guided me to the New York Times poetry interactive that allows you to create “blackout poems” from news articles right at the site, and then allows you to save and share them, too. I love this idea of “found ” poems, and am thinking of how to get my students into the mix later this week, perhaps.
From a reading perspective, it’s interesting how you need to read the article, and then read the individual words, searching for phrases and ideas that might stem from what is available to use. Plus, there is a sequencing of words that you have to abide by, which makes the process even trickier.
And yet, it works nicely. I wrote a few yesterday, including one I called Screen Mistress Algorithm and another called Unscathed. And in the spirit of the times, you can remix the same articles yourself and make your own poems, either riffing off mine or going off in your own direction. Give it a try.
Peace (in the words on the page as poem),