K12 Online Conference (and NotK12Conference)

This coming week, the 2008 K12 Online Conference ramps up into high gear with the start of presentations and if you have ever wanted to explore new tools and learn about integration of technology into education at a higher level, this free conference might be just the thing for you. The online event is full of interesting topics and workshops and best of all, it is archived on the K12 Online site, so there is no rush on your part. Delve in when you can. You can even participate in your pajamas.

Here is what piques my interest this year:

  • Web 2.0 Tools to Amplify Elementary Students’ Creativity and Initiative
    Jackie Gerstein
  • Games in Education
    Sylvia Martinez
  • Connecting Classrooms Across Continents: Planning and Implementing Globally Collaborative Projects
    Kim Cofino and Jen Wagner
  • Monsters Bloom in Our Wiki
    Ann Oro and Anna Baralt
  • Film School for Video Podcasters
    Mathew Needleman
  • The Lie of Community: The True Nature of the Network
    Bud Hunt

Meanwhile, Bud is also leading a complimentary concept: The NotK12Conference, which I hope to gather more information about in the near future. I told Bud that we could shift the Day in a Sentence idea over to the Unconference, and he liked that idea. I’ll chat with him about coordinating that effort and broadening the scope of Day in a Sentence.

Peace (in sharing),
Kevin

PS — Last year, Bonnie and I presented on our Collaborative ABC Movie Project and the workshop is still there for viewing, if you are interested. Go to the ABC Movie Presentation site.

A PhotoFridays’ Adventure

I don’t always blog about it, but the PhotoFridays project that Bonnie started up continues to be a source of great interest. Simply put, participants (and you are invited!) add photos via Flickr to the PhotoFridays group, and then write comments and share ideas, etc. It’s a nice way to mix the visual with the written word.

Bonnie has now launched a project within PhotoFridays in which we are mailing around a pair of California Raisin figurines. When we get them, we take photos of them in our environment and then mail them off to the next person (I said it is sort of like a Flat Stanley project).

When I got the little dudes the other day, I also wrote a short, first-person narrative of their visit, and I am hoping others will follow my lead and do the same, adding the stories both to the PhotoFridays site and also in paper form into the envelope. At the end, it might be neat to see the entire collection.

Here was one of my photos:

And my narrative:

Arrived yesterday. Sick of being stuck inside this envelope. And tired of hearing my brother practice his saxophone. If he plays the melody to Tequila one more time, I am going to squeeze the last bits of grape juice from his body and leave his skin behind. Before the envelope was even opened, I heard a lot of commotion. This must be a busy house, I thought, and I warned my brother. He ignored me and started to work on some Ornette Coleman free jazz lines, which also drives me crazy. Finally, some dude opened us up and took us out. Fresh air, at last. I looked outside the window and noticed all of the trees were different colors. This must be New England, I told my brother. In the autumn, the leaves go from green to red, yellow and orange. Beautiful, man, was all he could say. He so much wants to be the hipster. The dude who took us out of the package them lined us up next to a comic book. A comic book! What are we? Some playthings? The picture on the cover was some scrawny guy, looking like he was running for president. Click. Then, the guy puts us on top of some blocks that were hung on the wall. I noticed some musical notations, and so did my brother. Cool, man, my brother said, and then started to play some Grover Washington Jr. Now, that I didn’t mind. Click. I figured we had some time, but then this guy stuffs us right back into the envelope and starts writing on the outside. Hey, man, that pen hurts! I wonder where he is sending us this time …

If you want to be a recipient of the traveling raisins, just let Bonnie know (you can find info at the PhotoFridays site, including Bonnie’s email).

Peace (in sharing),
Kevin

My Webcomic Writing Adventure

As I mentioned, last weekend, I headed off to Missouri to give a keynote talk at a conference at the Prairie Lands Writing Project. I also created a shortened version for their website and I figured I would share that out with you. (Actually, this is the main keynote and the smaller presentation on using Web 2.0 in Education I will share out later).

(You can also download a Powerpoint slideshow of this presentation, without audio. Click here to download the presentation)

Resources in my Keynote

Before the Digital Days

This video is interesting, as it reminds us that before the digital revolution, there was an underground community seeking out art, music, books and movies that fell outside the view of the common culture. The theory of the “long tail” sort of ruins that sense of backroom discovery, I guess.

The ease of digital downloads and digital uploads means we do this kind of discovery from our own home, and we don’t fall into serendipity when uncovering that band or movie or book that will completely shake your world. And it is the hunt for the art, and the process of discovery, that makes the effort even better. (Kind of like the experience of reading a physical newspaper and coming across an article that you would never otherwise have ever seen if you were narrowing your focus).

Or, at least, this is the premise of this video.

And yet, ironically, if not for the digital world, I would never have seen this video in my life, I suspect. There are some strange ironies that go on all around us.

Peace (in discovery),
Kevin

Simply Sentences

Please consider joining us for this week’s Day in a Sentence. No fancy themes this week. Just good ol’ fashioned sentences. How does it work? Boil down your week or a day in your week to a reflective sentence and share with the comment link on this post. I will collect all of the sentences and publish them (probably on Monday, at this point).

As for me, I am heading off to the Prairie Lands Writing Project in Missouri this weekend to give a keynote talk about writing in the online world, with a focus on my webcomic, Boolean Squared. I will show how I used the Web 2.0 and other technology as part of a writing process for the comic strip, and then, how you might move some of those ideas into the classroom. The conference looks very interesting and I am very excited about being asked to present as the keynote speaker (this is the second time this has happened – Bonnie hosted me last year at the Hudson Valley Writing Project).

My hope is to create an online version of my presentation in the next week or so.

Meanwhile, one of my activities for the crowd in the morning (where I focus on Web 2.0 and education) is to write out a Day in a Sentence and then podcast some of their words as part of our own Day in a Sentence collection. It will add some new voices into the mix and bring Day in a Sentence out a bit further.

I look forward to your words!

Peace (in connections),
Kevin

Moving Comics into Movies

My friend, Glenn, is an inspiration to me for his work and thinking around comics. As another member of the National Writing Project, Glenn has published a regular webcomic with his regional newspaper that looks at local politics. It was called Nota Bene. I say “was” because after 100 comics, he is now moving on to a new comic strip project.

But he continues to think about ways to push the medium, and this week, he shared an experiment that moves comics into video, with narration. He has taken an issue — Merit Pay for teachers, and the possibilities of competition over students — and crafted this video. The voices are sort of creepy, which is the point.


Peace (in mixing mediums),
Kevin

Don’t Go Disappointing Me

The elections are fast upon us, and like many, I am keeping an eagle-eye on the developments of the economy, the wars in the Middle East, and the leadership qualities of the two presidential candidates seeking to get my vote. I guess I haven’t made too many bones that I am mostly independent, leaning left on most issues, and I have been impressed by Sen. Obama. (But I also once voted in a Republican primary for Sen. McCain when he was facing off against Bush.)

I was thinking of Obama and McCain the other night, and how they seek our allegiance and then, all to often, abuse it with the whispers in their ears from lobbyists and advisors and others. I always worry they will just disappoint me again.

And so, with some taste of bitterness, I suppose, I offer up this song:

Disappointing Me
(Listen to the song)

I’ve lived a long life
Oh, the stories I could tell
I hope you don’t go disappointing me

The path is paved
with empty words that they will sell
I hope you don’t go disappointing me

Four years ahead of us — The future’s in our eyes
My baby’s getting old — and the world is compromised

They’d tell you anything
to fill your heart with fear
I hope you don’t go disappointing me

I’d like to take you
for a walk around my town
I hope you don’t go disappointing me

Just stop and listen
to the people all around
I hope you don’t go disappointing me

Four years ahead of us — The future’s in our eyes
My baby’s getting old — I hear it in his cries

You’ve got the power
to change the world that we know
I hope you don’t go disappointing me

(You can hear my youngest son in the background, talking and singing his own song and then at the end, asking me to play it again. Very funny).

Peace (in presidential promises),
Kevin

Here a poem, there a poem, everywhere a poem poem

I say,
These days are crazed;
hectic, perhaps, but OK –
we still find time to sit back and think
and find our place here among this virtual space
with words and thoughts and ideas
and the satisfaction of the act of connections
through collectively shared reflections.

Without further ado, this week’s Days in a Poem:

Mr. Mansour got me right at the first line.

Bacteria, viruses, rockets, and rocks.
6th graders still challenged by lockers with locks.

Two student teachers and some nurses to boot.
The best rocket maker might win some loot.

Friday detention is a bit of a pain.
This poem is confusing, let me explain.

It’s my week in a poem, the life of a science teacher.
I’m armed only with my cunning, a computer, and a beaker.

Anne M. came back from behind the Great Firewall of Asia.

Being lost without my blog
In China where it would not log
Then again when back home on the farm
Due a quirk, I felt I’d lost my arm.

Sheryl provides us with a rush of words in her freestyle poem, which she says is “prompted by needs for teacher literacy in technology”:

21st Century is no time to be a wallflower as the dance moves on without you.

Ken continues his wonderful stylistic writing that captures more than a moment:

Fleet stepping figures in oilskin array,
scattered reflections a constant foray,
city street buskers with rhapsodic song -
happy together -
the lyrical chorus delighting the throng,
mocking the weather.

sara (she of the lower case world) mulls over love:

he brought me
a cheesy bagel today
at my second job
at the plant place.
wrapped in a paper towel,
with two string cheeses
on the side.
“you need a snack,”
he smiled.

the mums do their mumming,
the late-summer bees gather pollen,
i count the days of marriage
in the crumbs.
and it’s like the stars.

but better.

I’m hoping Liza made it through, even though a new week now begins:

I think that I will survive this week
Abundant with colds and meetings and chaos
I think that I will survive this week
Where life and work cross swords with one another
I think that I will survive this week
With stinky skunks and dirty hands on kids
I think that I will survive this week
but can I survive the weekend?

Gail P., who gave me the idea of last week’s Day in a Question (and then her question got lost in transit somehow), captures so nicely the richness of her teaching environment and philosophy:

The natives are restless.
They’re eager to go.
They’ve found the right path
But what they don’t know
Is what lies before them,
Around every last turn,
Are the carefully laid challenges
That bring them to learn.

Like Liza, David was looking forward to the weekend. Perhaps the sniffles are gone?

Snuffles and coughing, but deadlines to meet
Still, dogs to walk and children to feed
Poems and blog posts, but
Still, deadlines to meet
Thankfully, in sight: the end of the week

And Lisa C. added her poem called Late September to her blog site, capturing a hectic week.

The week started off without a hitch
We learned how to start stories,
Worked out more than one glitch
We worked on a project, or maybe two,
Finished a couple
And started a few that are new.
A novel was finished, all in one day!
The weekend was coming
With more time to play.
One last thing, before we go
We ended our week
By honoring a hero.
I sigh with relief
Now that it is over
And start make plans for another great week!

Sue W added a haiku to our mix:

Student blogging comp
Read, comment, post, drink milo
Midnight again, BED!!

Thanks to all of the poets here.

Peace (in wordplay),
Kevin

Getting Them to Think, Write, Create

Yesterday, in hopes that it would draw my sixth grade students’ attention to the first presidential debate, we did some work around thinking about the elections. Our school will be doing a Mock Election for the first time (ever?) and I am determined to provide my students with enough information to not only make a good choice but also to filter out the influence of parents, teachers and others (yeah — this is going to be tough).

I started out the lesson with this great video from Common Craft and we talked about the complicated voting system in this country and why that is important (and the day before, we chatted about the balance of power among the branches of government).

Then, I had them brainstorm issues that they consider important and hope to be addressed in the campaign. Our list included:

  • Global Warming
  • Protecting Animal Habitats
  • The War in Iraq
  • Fuel Prices
  • Offshore Drilling
  • Health Care
  • The Economy

Next, my students did some stick figure drawing for a comic strip in which they, as a comic character, ask a question of the candidates. We then moved onto the computers and headed off to Make Beliefs Comics, which is an easy and isolated comic strip making site. They loved it! The comic site is limited in scope, but you can email the link to the comic and I intended to take all of the comics and use Google Sites to create a little website of their comics.

Here is my example:

BUT — the Make Beliefs site has something strange going on with scripts (I emailed the creator, Bill, and he is working on it — he is very responsive). So my web idea will have to wait and I hope they get it all resolved out very soon.

Peace (in the election campaign),

Kevin