The #clmooc Twitter Chat is Tonight (Thurs)

Join the Twitter Chat

We invite you to come join us for the first Twitter Chat for the Making Learning Connected Massive Open Online Collaboration (MOOC) as we explore how the first week of the MOOC has been going, give some teasers of where the MOOC is headed, make visible some of the connections to the Connected Learning principles, and answer questions that YOU may have about the summer project (already with hundreds of teachers involved).

The Twitter Chat — facilitated this week by Terry Elliott (@tellio) and myself (@dogtrax) — will be taking place tonight (Thursday June 20) from 8-9 p.m. Eastern/ 5-6 p.m. Pacific / 6-7 p.m. Mountain/ 7-8 p.m. Central with the #clmooc hashtag.  If you have never taken part in a Twitter Chat, it’s OK. We have designed a resource guide to help you get started: http://blog.nwp.org/clmooc/guide/getting-started-with-twitter-and-twitter-chats/

A Twitter Chat is a freewheeling conversation that is anchored on Twitter with a hashtag (in this case, we are using #clmooc) that then later gets archived and shared back out to the community.

It’s OK to lurk and see what it’s all about. We do invite you to participate, too, if you are interested, and we encourage you to make connections with others in the Making Learning Connected community. This could be done any number of ways, but finding common hashtags in Twitter and Google Plus is one possibility. (We built a resource about Google Plus, too.)

I hope to “see” you there, as we extend our MOOC conversations in every little corner of the Internet.

Peace (in the chat),
Kevin

 

 

The Art of Juggling Two Voices: Digital Is and Me

dual voices
Last week, I had the pleasure of taking part in an ongoing collaborative Twitter adventure with my National Writing Project friends at the Digital Is site. A handful of us have signed up to take on the “digital is” handle (@NWPDigital_is) on Twitter for a week at a time, sharing resources and encouraging discussions through the shared identity of Digital Is.

It was fun, but odd, too. I enjoyed diving into a few more resources at the Digital Is site (if you have not visited it, you really should — there is some amazing work being featured there on how digital media and technology are impacting the ways our students write and the way we are teaching writing) and sharing the work of NWP colleagues to a wider audience. I also kept my eye on news and articles that seemed to fit the parameter of what I imagined @NWPDigital_Is — if it were a person — would tweet and retweet about. (There’s part of my odd factor: imagining a website as a person, tweeting.)

Meanwhile, I was also tweeting with my @dogtrax identity throughout the week, and even added in a few items from my rock band’s identity (@dukerushmore), and what I realized was how strange it was to be shifting from one identity to the other, sometimes within minutes of each other, and periodically, the tweeting would overlap. Not always on purpose. In some other cases, postings of a single item by multiple accounts would happen by mistake — I’d want to tweet something specific for @NWPdigital_is and find that my @dogtrax was still in the “on” mode because it is my default, and both would get published. (I wondered, does anyone notice that I am both dogtrax and digital_is this week? No one said a thing. Then I thought, maybe they just think I am always behind both accounts. There’s this Wizard-of-Oz-feeling when you tweet out of your normal routine as a guest, I’ve come to realize.)

It reminds me of how identity is often in flux when we use digital tools, and while it is easy enough to create multiple accounts, it is not as easy to maintain individuality and voice when you have more than one “you” on the stage. Who I am in this moment of time, and who I want to be represented as to a larger audience, is a critical question. You need to experience it from time to time in order to better understand the implications for identity with your students, and then think about how to teach that skill. There’s value to being part of multiple voices (such as this @NWPDigital_Is venture. You can also see from my screenshot that I have access to our feed from Western Massachusetts Writing Project and my classroom) but in the midst of it, you can feel the pull and tug of those multiple voices, too, splintering your message in ways you don’t quite grasp until you find the time to reflect, and write.

In the vein of sharing Digital Is resources, this one by Peter Kittle — Inquiring into Distributed Identities — hits the points I am trying to make here in this post. Another — Teachers Tweeting Teachers: Building a Community of Practice through Tweeting — talks about the benefits of a shared tweeting experiment.

Peace (in the tweets),
Kevin

 

Veteran’s Day: 25-Word-Stories

This is a revisiting of a post I did two years ago, when I wrote a number of 25 Word Stories on Twitter to honor and fictionalize the stories of veterans. (I am a veteran, too, but, thankfully, never in a war) I think the stories still have a certain narrative power to them. The one with the “maps on skin” still resonate with me as the writer.
If you are a Veteran, thank you.

vets day 25wordstories 1

vets day 25wordstories 2

vets day 25wordstories  3

Peace (in the world),
Kevin

 

Student Research Projects in a “Tweet”

My blog title is a little misleading. We haven’t yet tweeted these out via our classroom Twitter account, but we will be doing that next week. (Here is our Twitter account: https://twitter.com/norristigers)

On Friday, as we started nearing the ending phase of a student research project around an inquiry theme of their choosing that has been underway for the past two weeks, I had them do some reflection on how things have been going. One of their tasks was to write a summary of their project — in less than 15 words. This gave me an opportunity to talk again about summary writing, about focusing on the center of a piece of writing without the extraneous material and thinking that comes along with it, about synthesizing an idea to its core. It’s also the perfect Tweet-sized blast of an idea, right?

Some students really struggled with this (I set it up with 15 boxes and the instructions were to use only those boxes — one per word — and no more. It could be less than 15 words, however). Others found the confines of word liberating, in a way. It’s funny how different activities bring out various strengths and weaknesses in them as writers.

Here are some of the research sentences summaries that students wrote:

“Fast food should be healthy food in the United States.” — Shea

“Solar-powered cars will help the world if we invest in them.” — Ryan

“Marine animals have been driven out of their homes due to high mercury levels.” — Isaac

“More recess means more activities and less obese people because they get more exercise.” — David

“Ethanol is efficient but it would decimate our food supply and farmers could go bankrupt.” — Andrew

“Overfishing is a driving pressure that has devastating impacts on marine ecosystems.” — Nick

“Health care costs too much for people to afford.” — Colin

“Gas prices in America and China are too high and we need to lower them.” — Greg

I think they did a pretty good job and their papers and research inquiries are coming along nicely (if slowly).

Peace (in the tweet),
Kevin

Using Visually for Twitter Matchups

I’ve been waiting for the new Visually site to get up and running to allow users to create infographics (I have one in mind for our Western Massachusetts Writing Project). Until then, you can do an interesting experiment around Twitter.
First, you can create an infographic of yourself on Twitter. Here’s me, according to Visually’s interpretation of data flow:

You can also go head-to-head with other Twitter users. Here is me versus one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman (he kicks my butt, which is perfectly OK with me):

And here I am, going up against one of my National Writing Project friends, Paul Hankins.

Yeah — so that is sort of fun. I can’t wait to tinker more with my own data.
Peace (in the play),
Kevin

Two Writer/Teachers Chat About Twitter

Here, in this podcast, writers/teachers Katie Keier (Catching Readers Before They Fall) and Kassia Omohundro Wedekind (upcoming Math Exchanges) talk about using Twitter as a tool for professional development and for extending connections from our classroom to the world. (If you want to follow me on Twitter, I am @dogtrax).

At the Stenhouse site, where I found this, they list a bunch of folks they suggest you follow:

Katie: @bluskyz
Kassia: @kassiaowedekind
@CatchingReaders
@FrankiSibberson
@KellyToGo
@acorgill
@KarenSzymusiak
@BarryLane
@ColoReader (Patrick Allen)
@GailAndJoan
@ruth_ayres
@WriteguyJeff (Jeff Anderson)
@skajder
@debbiediller
@spillarke (Lee Ann Spillane)
@justwonderinY (Cathy Mere)
@FountasPinnell
@alfiekohn
@susanoha
@DianeRavitch
#kinderchat
#mathchat
#edchat

Peace (in the tweets),
Kevin

Giving 25-Word-Stories a Poetic Touch

I periodically jump into Twitter to write short, short stories — known by the hashtag of #25wordstories. In the past week, as poetry has been front and center, I’ve been trying to cross-pollinate the concept of 25-word-stories with a poetic theme.  My aim has not been to write poetry in Twitter, which I also do from time to time, but instead, to write a story with a poetic touch or theme. Alas, some are better than others. The limits of Twitter really makes things interesting and difficult. And certainly challenging.

Here is what I have so far:

What would you write? And if you do it on Twitter, use the #25wordstory hashtag. (There is also a #poemaday hashtag for daily poetry writing and a #poetweet for folks using Twitter for writing poetry as a tweet.)
Peace (in the stories),

Kevin

Slice of Life: Very Small Twitter Poems

Slice of Life 2011Yesterday morning, I read an article from The New York Times about efforts by writers to use the Twitter format to write very short poems. I am always intrigued by how technology informs our writing, and how our writing can be adapted to technology. So, throughout the day, I tried my hand at some Twitter poems, and used the #poetweet hashtag to share my writing with others.

It’s challenging, as you can imagine. The constraints of 140 characters leaves very little room for exploration. You need to be short and you need to choose your words carefully. It’s a great exercise in editing, actually, and I wonder if some variation might not work well in the classroom.

Here are some of the poems as screenshots off Twitter, which I recast into podcasts this morning, too.

Peace (in the poems),
Kevin

The Newspaper Life: 25-Word Stories

I wrote yesterday about my positive reaction to the novel, The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman. As I was reading the novel, I was inspired to try my hand at a few 25-word stories on Twitter about journalists and newspapers. I’m afraid a the balance here tips towards negative. But I admit that is my own bias to remembering a faded world as a writer. That said, I am very curious to know where journalism is going, and what will remain of the old world here. I worry that it won’t be quality writing, though. I worry about that quite a bit.

Here are a few:
story8
story1
story2
story3
story4
story9
story5
story6
story7
story10
story11
Peace (in the stories),
Kevin

Book Review: Hint Fiction

For a few months now, I have been writing 25-word stories and posting them to Twitter as part of the #25wordstory hashtag. I’ve been enjoying the experiences of this flash/quick fiction and more folks are now also writing and posting their stories, too. I recently picked up this book — Hint Fiction, edited by Robert Smartwood — and found it to a truly lovely little tome about small stories. Smartwood called 25 word stories “hint fiction” because the stories are designed to merely point to, or hint at, larger stories that are not being said.

“… a story of twenty-five words or fewer can have as much impact as a story of twenty-five hundred words or longer,” Smartwood writes in the introduction, later adding: “It’s my belief that the length of the story does not determine the credentials of the writer.”

Smartwood put out a call for these hint fiction stories and was overwhelmed by the response (from published and non-published writers), so this book represents just the tip of the iceberg of folks writing these pieces. There are plenty of great stories in here, such as:

The Strict Professor
by John Minichillo

A card in the mailbox: “Withdrawal: student deceased.” She remembers the name, the only essay in the stack she’ll really read.

And

The Return
By Joe R. Landsale

They buried him deep. Again.

And

Noah’s Daughter
By Shanna Germain

“Can’t you count I said two of each. This ” — he shook the squirming fluff of black and white in front of her — “is three.”

And

Ransom
By Stuart Dybek

Broke and desperate, I kidnap myself. Ransom notes were sent to interested parties. Later, I sent hair and fingernails, too. They insisted on an ear.

Tell me you don’t get a kick out those. The book contains dozens more.

Sure, on one level, they are quick read. But most will make you pause and think, and wonder about what is going on just outside your field of vision. I notice how the use of titles here (as opposed to on Twitter, where space is a real issue) makes a difference for some of these stories. Here, most titles are part of the story, and if you miss the title, you may miss the story. That’s interesting — how important the title is.

Peace (in more than my 25 words),
Kevin