Family Portraits

The other day, my eight-year-old son drew a picture with portaits of everyone in our immediate family: himself, his two younger brothers, his mom, our dog and cat, and, of course, me. The details are quite good (even if the video here is grainy), although we all wonder why some of us look mad or sad. He won’t say. :)

Plus, I want to test out embedding Google Video.

[googlevideo]-6369706576342130754[/googlevideo]

Peace,
Kevin

Why Use Tech: Composition Considerations

In a few weeksl, I am heading to Nashville for the National Writing Project Annual Meeting and I am taking part in a workshop about writing in the digital age. (Here is my slide presentation using SlideShare — a new favorite) I will discuss a Digital Math Picture Book Project that I did with my sixth graders last year that used Powerpoint as the platform.

But the question is: Why use the computers to compose a picture book? Why not just stick to paper and pen?

Here are my thoughts:

One guiding question that I went into this math picture book project with was, how will the composing process change for my sixth graders as they create picture books using technology (Powerpoint) as opposed to previous years when it was all paper and pen? They had to write a story that taught a math theme to an audience of younger students.

First of all, the planning did not change much at all. We still did all of the brainstorming work and storyboarding on paper before the computers were even turned on. But early in the process, some students began to think about the various aspects of PP (images that can move in and off the screen and transitions and the integration of audio) as possible ideas for complementing their writing. (They had been introduced to PP earlier in the year). They also had to integrate their own art into the picture books — they could scan in images they drew or they could use Paint and then import. (Most of them used Paint, although that was a struggle for some).

The result was an interesting combination of old and new for my students.

Some composed “shows” that allowed the reader to listen for clues to math problems embedded within the story. Once the reader has some ideas of an answer to the question, they could use the mouse click to “remove” a picture and reveal the answer. Sometimes, the audio file was merely a word of encouragement and sometimes the audio was a narration of the story. We invited younger grades (mostly k-3) to our classrooms and set up computer stations. My students then not only shared their work but they also explained to the younger ones how they made their books on the computer and how the tricks were accomplished (such as moving images). Some made changes to the books after getting a reaction from one round of readers. Unlike paper, they could make changes immediately and in a few minutes time.

We did not go into hyperlinking to other pages in the book or outside of the books but that is something that might provide an even more powerful platform for extending their knowledge base (and the reader’s base of understanding) from the local (their book) to the global (the world).

The final step was publication. We actually printed out two paper copies of every book (one for the student and one for the school) and then I converted the books to PDF and posted to our Weblog site for families to view. (There were too many and they were just too large to post as PP shows but that would be have been ideal). What happened, of course, is that I had to flatten everything out to two-dimensional space, which meant that the audio files were deleted and any hidden answers had to be revealed or else they would be missing from the printed page, which led to an interesting discussion about the differences between composition on paper and composition on powerpoint. Many of the writers were disappointed but I encouraged them to bring in a blank disc or flashdrive to save their shows as originals, and some did just that.


Peace,
Kevin

Binary Code Poem

I wrote a poem in Binary Code.
Can you read it?
(See hint below)
01010100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01100011 01101111 01100100 01100101 00100000 01100011 01101111 01101110 01110100 01100001 01101101 01101001 01101110 01100001 01110100 01100101 01110011 00100000 01101101 01111001 00100000 01110011 01100011 01110010 01100101 01100101 01101110 00001101 00001010 00100000 00100000 00100000 00100000 01100001 00100000 01100010 01101100 01100001 01110011 01110100 00100000 01101111 01100110 00100000 01101111 01101110 01100101 01110011 00100000 01100001 01101110 01100100 00100000 01111010 01100101 01110010 01101111 01100101 01110011 00001101 00001010 01100001 01101110 01100100 00100000 01100001 01101100 01101100 00100000 01001001 00100000 01110011 01100101 01100101 00100000 01100110 01101111 01110010 00100000 01101101 01101001 01101100 01100101 01110011 00100000 01100001 01110010 01101111 01110101 01101110 01100100 00100000 01101001 01110011 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01110100 01110010 01100001 01101001 01101110 00100000 01101111 01100110 00100000 01101110 01110101 01101101 01100010 01100101 01110010 01110011 00001101 00001010 00100000 00100000 00100000 00100000 01100011 01101111 01101110 01110110 01100101 01110010 01110100 01100101 01100100 00100000 01101001 01101110 01110100 01101111 00100000 01110111 01101111 01110010 01100100 01110011 00001101 00001010 01101100 01101001 01101011 01100101 00100000 01110011 01101111 01101101 01100101 00100000 01110011 01100101 01100011 01110010 01100101 01110100 00100000 01101101 01100101 01110011 01110011 01100001 01100111 01100101 00001101 00001010 01110100 01101000 01100001 01110100 00100000 01101110 01100101 01110110 01100101 01110010 00100000 01110011 01100001 01111001 01110011 00100000 01110111 01101000 01100001 01110100 00100000 01001001 00100000 01110111 01100001 01101110 01110100 00100000 01101001 01110100 00100000 01110100 01101111 00100000 01110011 01100001 01111001 00101100 00001101 00001010 01110111 01101000 01101001 01100011 01101000 00100000 01101001 01110011 00101100 00001101 00001010 01010111 01101000 01111001 00100000 01100100 01101111 00100000 01110000 01101111 01100101 01101101 01110011 00100000 01100100 01100001 01101110 01100011 01100101 00100000 01101111 01101110 00100000 01100001 00100000 01110100 01101001 01100111 01101000 01110100 01110010 01101111 01110000 01100101 00100000 01110100 01101000 01110010 01101111 01110101 01100111 01101000 00100000 01101101 01101001 01100100 01101110 01101001 01100111 01101000 01110100 00100000 01100100 01110010 01100101 01100001 01101101 01110011 00100000 01100001 01101110 01100100 00100000 01100101 01101101 01100101 01110010 01100111 01100101 00100000 01101100 01101001 01101011 01100101 00100000 01100100 01101001 01110011 01110100 01100001 01101110 01110100 00100000 01110011 01101000 01100001 01100100 01101111 01110111 01110011 00100000 01101001 01101110 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01101101 01101111 01110010 01101110 01101001 01101110 01100111 00111111 00001101 00001010 00001101 00001010
To read my poem, copy the code and head to Digitalicious to convert to words.
Peace,
Kevin

MP3 Player as Personal Narrative

Stephen Levy, of Newsweek, writes:

“Surfing someone’s iPod is not merely a revelation of character but a means to a rich personal narrative, navigated by click wheel.” (Newsweek, October 23, 2006) — an excerpt from Levy’s book called The Perfect Thing.

I don’t have an iPod (I have a thing against Digital Rights Management locks) but I do have an MP3 player that has made long flights bearable and walks around the neighborhood enjoyable. So, what is playing in my mind? I click on my player and here are the first 20 or so songs that come up in shuffle mode:

  • James Hunter “Until Your Fool Comes Home”
  • The Subdudes “Save Me”
  • Dave Mathews “Ants Marching”
  • Jason Mraz “Mr. Curiosity”
  • John Mellencamp “Worn Out Nervous Condition”
  • Matthew Sweet “You Don’t Love Me”
  • Shelby Lynne “I’m Alive”
  • Brian Setzer “Red Cadillac and a Black Moustache”
  • Tiny Town “Little Child”
  • The Cure “Boys Don’t Cry”
  • Rolling Stones “Happy”
  • Bruce Springsteen “Into the Fire”
  • Indigo Girls “Virginia Woolf”
  • Ben Harper “Where Could I Go”
  • GooGoo Dolls “Strange Love”
  • BoDeans “Say about Love”
  • Ryan Adams “Political Scientist”
  • Average White Band “Pick up the Pieces”
  • Marc Cohn “Walk on Water”
  • Beastie Boys “Ask for Janice”
  • Steve Earle “Copperhead Road”
  • Joan Osborne “One of Us”

One thing I notice: not too many female artists on that list and I realize that I don’t have too many on my player, although I have quite a few rocking women groups and solo artists in my collection.

Peace Posters: A Student Audiocast

This was originally posted to a new project I am starting called Youth Radio that seeks to connect upper elementary/middle school students via audiocasts.

The Peace Poster Project: Celebrating Peace in the World
Listen to the Audiocast

peaceposter1.JPG

Students in Southampton, Massachusetts, have been working on creating Peace Posters. The project is supported by the local Lion’s Club as a way to foster understanding of peace in the world through artistic expression.
Sixth Grader Kathryn takes you on an audio tour of the art classroom, asking these young people to explain the themes and symbols in their posters. Listen in as the students think about the meaning of a peaceful world.

Peace (really),
Kevin

The Digital World

Wesley Fryer (one of those folks whose Moving at the Speed of Creativity blog should be securely fastened into everyone’s RSS Aggregator) just posted a great article that builds upon the concept of digital natives/digital immigrants (as put forth by Marc Prensky).

His idea is that there are more than two layers of people and their comfort level with technology. Fryer suggests that the world might be split into Natives (young people fully immersed from birth into tech); Immigrants (those who are finding their way into tech possibilities); Refugees (those who see tech and don’t want to touch the start button); Bridges (the sort-of undecided about whether tech is good or bad, but keep a toe in the door); and the Undecided (really perplexed about tech).
Here is his concept map to help explain these ideas in a very cute way:

Our Digital Landscape

(from http://www.infinitethinking.org/2006/10/digital-refugees-and-bridges.html)

Peace,
Kevin

More Six Word Stories

The NWP Six Word Story Wiki site is gaining momentum in the last few days.

Here are the latest entries:

I can’t wait to see what comes next …

Peace,
Kevin

NEATE Teaching Award

I just learned that I have been awarded the Exellence in Teaching Award from the New England Association of Teachers of English and I could not be happier. I have presented at a few NEATE conferences (blogging, digital claymation, etc) and written a few stories and articles for NEATE publications.

The letter I received gave me some kudos and for me, the award really supports the idea of an intergrated, creative/critical-thinking based writing program for sixth graders, and so I am deeply appreciative.

“Kevin, your teaching is a testament to your passion for innovation and engagement with your profession. Not only do you hold a highly professional ehtic but also you round your teaching to reach and affect students and colleagues alike. The breadth of your skill, knowledge and mastery of your profession is impressive.” — David O., NEATE Award Chairman, in his letter to me.

Wow! Those are very inspiring words to a teacher in the classroom and makes me all the more dedicated to my students and to others around me.

Peace,
Kevin

PS — This award falls on the heels of two NWP colleagues getting recognized for their work, too. Maria Angala of Washington DC won an award for her work for weblogging and Dave Boardman of Maine just won a co-technology teacher of the year award for the state of Maine. So I feel as if I am good company.