Slice of Life: Twining Play and Literacies Together

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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).

http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1187144/thumbs/o-CHOOSE-YOUR-OWN-ADVENTURE-MOVIES-facebook.jpgThe 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):

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8380/8645332164_6ed9894e8a.jpgThere 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),
Kevin

Blackout Poetry Interactive

ScreenMistressAlgorithm
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),
Kevin

 

Myself; My Selfie

Some convergence of “selfie” ideas came to my mind yesterday, with the DS106 Daily Create riffing off creating a “bad selfie” to someone sharing the cute video and CommonSense Media posting an interesting piece about girls and selfies and body image, and then I decided to do my own version of the Ellen selfie, but with webcomics.

This was my submission to the Daily Create, using a filter to warp my head an then photobombing my own selfie with my comic self.

Bad Selfie (with Webcomic Photobomb)

I love this video. It captures the oddity of the selfie with humor.

Selfie from Andy Martin on Vimeo.

And I did my own group selfie:
My Self, My Selfie (comic-style)

Peace (in the vid),
Kevin

Over at MiddleWeb: Review of Create Compose Connect!

c c c kevinI wrote up a review of Troy Hicks and Jeremy Hyler’s new book at MiddleWeb: Create Compose Connect (Reading, Writing, and Learning with Digital Tools). I find the book useful in a lot of ways, particularly as it shows ways to enhance learning with technology with some specific projects.

Peace (in the review),
Kevin

 

DigiLit Sunday: Mozilla Webmaker

Webmaker

I feel like I can’t shout quite loud enough about the resources being developed over at the Mozilla Foundations’s Webmaker space. Here, the philosophy of the “open, remixable web” comes to fruition with a series of projects and tools that invite you to remix and remake in your own light, with tutorials on coding and creating that provide entry points for just about anyone with an interest. Mostly using its Thimble (a webpage-style publishing tool) and Popcorn (a video and digital story tool) platforms, Webmaker offers free and interactive ways to become engaged with digital literacies.

You will need an account with Webmaker to save work (but you can tie it to other email accounts) and I am still navigating the best way for my sixth graders to create work in our environment where they don’t have school emails (ack). But at the very least, you can explore the world of making the web with its remixable templates, and there is the built-in ease of publishing in a matter of minutes just by clicking the “remix” link on any of the projects, tinkering with code and text, and remaking it into something new.

There are also sections at the Webmaker space for how to teach with its tools, where all sorts of “kits” are available for free, and freely remixable for your own situation. You can also use their blank templates for your own lesson plans and ideas.

Go ahead. Remix. Publish. Share. Make stuff and have fun.

Peace (in the open world),
Kevin

Web Literacy Pathways Resource (from Mozilla)

This is an amazing resource about Web Literacy ideas. Click on a skill and see a pathway forward towards new skills that connect back to the original inquiry. (nicely done, Laura Hilliger and other folks at Mozilla). Plus, the whole resource is remixable, so you could revise it for your own audience and purpose.

(Thanks to Mike Downes for the screenshot and for Doug Belshaw for sharing this out)

Peace (along the many paths),
Kevin

Book Review: Writing On the Wall (Social Media – the First 2000 Years)

It really is true: there’s nothing new here. Not with Twitter. Not with Facebook. Not with blogging. Not with any of the social media that we keep saying has “upended” traditional media. In this fascinating look at social media over the past 2,000 years, Tom Standage digs deep into our historical roots to show how the flow of information along social lines has been one constant thread through various phases of civilization.

Writing On the Wall is a fascinating read (and I heard about it from a book review column a friend of mine does at the Boston Globe, where her focus was books about social networking), starting off with Cicero in Rome, asking friends and allies to make sure they sent news of politics and government via notes, complete with comments, delivered by friends, and then moves into the use of pamphlets and scrolls and the printing press and more communication systems from the past that eerily echo the present.

In fact, Standage argues that the media empires that are now starting to fade (ie, newspapers) are the anomaly of history — in that the power to curate information and spread it out fell into the hands of a relative few (ie, publishers and editors and reporters) — and that if you look before and after that blip in time, you can see how prevalent the impact of widespread information is by “the people.”

And all of the same arguments back when Plato was railing against written text (as inferior to oral tradition), and when the Church was railing against Martin Luther and the Reformation Movement, and when the elites in the Arab world were worried about coffeehouse gatherings, and when the King of England was railing against Thomas Paine, and … well, it goes on and on, this railing against the power to publish being put into “the wrong hands” and what information might do to us. Sure, some of what gets published in any space is lies, distortions and more, but when the flow if open and moving, a reader has a better chance of judging veracity and weighing the impact of information, and good will prevail.

Right?

Standage writes:

“…social media is not going away. It has been around for centuries. Today, blogs are the new pamphets. Microblogs and online social networks are the new coffeehouses. Media sharing sites are the new commonplace books. They are all shared, social platforms that enable ideas to travel from one person to another, rippling through networks of people connected by social bonds, rather than having to squeeze through the privileged bottleneck of broadcast media. The rebirth of social media in the Internet age represents a profound shift — and a return, in many respects, to the way things used to be.” (page 250)

Peace (on the wall),
Kevin

PS — here is a talk that Standage gave to Google about social media:

 

 

DigiLit Sunday: Poetry Genius

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Each Sunday, a bunch of teachers (thanks to Margaret) are sharing out various technology tools that might have value around reading and writing. This week,  I thought I would showcase a site called Poetry Genius. It’s part of a collection of annotation tools that include ones around song lyrics. What I like about Poetry Genius is the ability to layer in other media, and if enough folks are adding annotations (which we did during the #walkmyworld project), it starts a conversation about lines and phrases and stanzas.

One of my #walkmyworld poems was this one: Trading Fours on a Saturday Night.

You can embed the projects in other sites:

They have an Educator Genius account for classroom teachers, but the age of students have to be at least 13 years old (although the way around that could be do a classroom collaborative annotation on a whiteboard)

Peace (in the annotations),
Kevin