#WriteOut: Giving Kids A Camera In Order to Capture The Wild

As the Write Out project kicks off today (and goes for the next two weeks, with the National Day on Writing right in the middle of it all), I wanted to share out a project I have had underway for a few weeks now, in which my sixth grade students have been going about their small suburban town “capturing the wild” with photographs. We aim to use the photos as part of a connection with another school, and for some writing this week.

You can view my podcast video here (via SoundSlides)

Peace (thinking it through),
Kevin

Art Inspirations: The Place-Based Daily Doodle Project

clmooc writeout doodle calendar oct

Join the folks in Write Out and CLMOOC (Connected Learning MOOC, an early open learning project created by the National Writing Project) for daily inspirations to draw, doodle, take pictures or write poems, stories or reflections.

Each day in October, there is a daily theme, and even if you are just seeing this now, mid-October, as Write Out launches, that’s OK. All the themes are place-based ideas.

The calendar above gives each day’s themes, and you can also see daily posts at The Daily Connect or in the #writeout and #clmooc hashtags on Twitter. Do as many or as few as you want; participate every day or whatever days inspire you; and of course, share your art in whatever place meets your needs.

Classroom Place-Based Doodles update

Here’s an example of how you might use in the classroom: Each morning, my sixth grade students get the day’s theme and doodle in a box on a blank October calendar, filling in the days of the month with small bits of art. We will be sharing them with another class of sixth graders (another Write Out connection) as part of being creative and thinking of places.

Peace (drawing it),
Kevin

 

 

Come Write Out This Month

The Write Out 2019 adventure starts up on October 13 and you are invited. It’s a free, connected learning adventure that focuses on place-based learning and the stories of places — urban, rural and in-between. If you sign up, you’ll receive our newsletters that start and end the two-week cycles. Also, the National Day on Writing is right in the middle, on October 20th.

We’ll be sharing a wide range of possible activities for park rangers, classroom teachers, students and others. There will be video chats and Twitter chats, and collaborations. We are developing some interesting resources around primary sources and surfacing stories of place.

I hope you can join us on another wide open learning journey.

Go to Write Out and Sign Up

Peace (in place),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Doodle Your Way into the Days

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

This morning, all of my students are going to get a huge, oversized calendar labeled October: Doodles of Place. And each day, when they arrive, part of their routine will be to look at the board, find the day’s theme, and doodle into the box for the day.

This is all part of CLMOOC’s October Doodle Month — a way to inspire art among the affinity network — and for the upcoming Write Out Project, the free online collaborative place-based project which launches in two weeks (October 13) and encompasses the National Day on Writing on October 20.

The daily doodle themes, which were gathered by crowdsourcing the list, are all about place — from rural places to urban spaces and areas in-between. Each morning, at The Daily Connect, a daily theme/idea will be released.

You can join in, too. (Today’s theme is Mountains). The Daily Connect site is here, and you can sign up for email notices (see the sidebar of The Daily Connect) or just keep an eye on the #clmooc hashtag on Twitter.

I’m curious about what my students make on their Doodle calendars, and I’m even more curious because we are starting up a connected project with some classrooms in California, and they are going to be doodling, too, and we hope to have kids share their doodle art via Flipgrid later in the month.

Why doodle? Well, first of all, making art is a great way to start the morning, and I know I have plenty of artists and comic book creators and more in my classroom. Second, it provides a connection point with another school on the other side of the country. Third, it will give us points to talk about how place informs stories, and how stories inform place.

And it’s fun.

I’ll be doodling at school on my calendar, but also, I am aiming to write small daily poems on the theme each day, too, here at home, as part of my own daily writing routine.

Here was the first poem, inspired by the theme of Mountain:

Handholds
and crevasse marks;
the scale of it nearly
overwhelms the senses
— you can’t look up
from below to understand
the scale of this place —
you need to gaze out
from above

Peace (doodling it everywhere),
Kevin

Graphic Novel Review: They Called Us Enemy

For the past few years, I’ve been involved in a growing partnership between the National Writing Project and the National Park Service (I work closely with the Springfield Armory National Historic Site). One of the regional partnerships in California involves the Tula Lake National Monument, but I didn’t quite realize — until I read George Takei’s  graphic memoir, They Called Us Enemy — just how big a role the Tula Lake site in California played in the terrible ordeal of internment of Japanese-American citizens in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor.

It’s not that I haven’t been educated about the historic site from various projects and sharing out by NWP colleagues from the Tula Lake partnership. Their work to surface stories of those who were segregated from society in one of the most awful legislative actions in modern times (and something I know I never learned about in any of my history classes) has been powerful and eye-opening.

(See more about the partnership between Tula Lake and the Bay Area Writing Project)

In fact, the focus on stories dovetails nicely with the upcoming free, connected Write Out project in October, which seeks to connect place to stories, particularly those stories that have been suppressed or hidden by time and historians, or just by our own ignorance or denial. Write Out is hosted by the NWP/NPS partnership.

Takei’s graphic memoir brings all of that past to the present, and the use of the graphic novel format is a powerful narrative tool. Takei, who is best know for his role of Mr. Sulu on the original Star Trek and as an activist on social media, recounts his own childhood experiences of being rounded up, unexpectedly, and sent off to three different internment camps with his family, including the first stop where they lived in a horse barn stall.

The last camp they end up in is Tula Lake, where bitterness and rebellion, and in-fighting among those held captive against their will, is the most tense and violent of the scenes here, particularly as Takei’s father emerges as a leader of groups, seeking calm and peace in order to protect families.

Takei’s father is the real hero here, and Takei’s flashbacks to arguments they had and Takei’s own later understanding of what his father was going through becomes the emotional center of They Called Us Enemy. Stalwart, smart and compassionate, his father is forever trying to keep his family together in hopes that confinement will not last, and that they will be able to rebuild a life after the war is over.

Early scenes on the train where Takei and his family are shipped to the next internment camp linger with me, too — of the armed guards and of the forced closing of shades when the train goes through towns, so that the United States citizens won’t know who is passing through in their midst on the way to confinement camps.

And the book’s storylines such pledges to renounce US citizenship (which would later lead to deportation), of persecution of immigrants seeking and building a new life in America, of government overreach and reaction, of camps where families are held behind barbed wire for unknown periods of time, and more echo with today’s times, too, unfortunately.

Will we never learn?

George Takei visits NWP teachers during a summer institute — from The Current

 

Peace (in stories),
Kevin

In A Zoom Room: Talking #WriteOut with NWP Network Friends

WriteOut Breakout NWP

The other night, I was able to join some facilitators and friends interested in next month’s Write Out project (learn more) in a National Writing Project Network gathering on Zoom. Everyone began in one huge room and then headed off into Zoom-room breakout sessions.

In our room, we shared an overview of the place-based Write Out (October 13 -27, with Oct. 20 National Day on Writing as a centerpiece) and then spent some time exploring resources and elements of place-based learning, before coming back together to chat again and reflect. The video is an edited version of that gathering in Zoom.

Here are some notes from our collaborative explorations:

BreakOutWriteOutNotes

There is also an audio version of the Zoom room:

Peace (in the out),
Kevin

Stories and Place: WriteOut/WMWP/Springfield Armory

WMWP Writing Marathon Flier

Next month, the second year of Write Out will be taking place. From October 13 through October 27, with the National Day on Writing right in the center on October 20, we hope to engage teachers and students and park rangers and other public space stewards into looking at how stories inform our sense of place.

Here in Western Massachusetts, on the National Day on Writing, we are hosting a Writing Marathon on the grounds of the Springfield Armory National Historic Site, with hopes of teachers exploring the museum, its history and primary sources as inspiration for writing, and to bring that sense of curiosity back to students.

If you live and teach in Western Massachusetts, we hope you will consider joining us for this writing celebration. We may even have a Button-Making-Activity! The Armory is even offering small stipends for registered teachers.

More information and registration link is available at the WMWP website

Peace (in the past),
Kevin

PS — you can sign up for news and information about Write Out at the site

CLMOOC Postcards: An Invitation to Write Out

CLMOOC WriteOut Postcards

In our CLMOOC community, we periodically send postcards to each other as a way to stay connected on paper, with a stamp, and mailbox delivery. Some of us do it more frequently than others, and I have lapsed a bit on getting postcards out the door.  (See a post I wrote about why we do this postcard exchange) There are more than 60 people on the mailing list right now, which is pretty neat. Not everyone is active, of course, which is to be expected.

I figured my work with the upcoming Write Out initiative — an offshoot of CLMOOC, in a way — gave me an opening, or inspiration, to use some artistic National Park postcards as a invitation for folks to consider joining us for place-based writing and the National Day on Writing in October with Write Out. Write Out is a two-week place-based writing initiative.

Yesterday, I mailed out nearly 40 postcards to the CLMOOC folks who are on the list and live in the US, and then I sent a handful more to folks outside the US because I didn’t want those friends who regularly send me postcards to feel left out. Write Out certainly does not have to be US-centered, but most of the focused outreach will be between National Writing Project sites and the National Park Service.

If you were on the postcard list and live in the US, keep an eye out for a park postcard.

Peace (in writing and invitations),
Kevin

 

Visual Reflection: Park in Every Classroom Retreat

Visual Reflection: Park in Every Classroom RetreatI was lucky to be invited to join a gathering of National Park Service sites from the northeast for a week-long retreat to learn more and to think more about how to connect park spaces with schools and students as authentic learning experiences. I came away from nearly a week of sharing, presentations and discussions with a head full of ideas that my partners at the Springfield Armory Historic Site and I will be mulling over in the weeks ahead.

I used a new tool at Visual Thinkery called Storyline to get some basic “aha” take-away moments down before I forgot … particularly with school about to start … but also, with the free Write Out project coming soon in October, where park and public spaces are seen as resources for learning for schools and educational organizations. I layered some basic-takeaways with photos I took while at the Delaware River Gap Recreation Area, where the PEC retreat took place.

Peace (in the sharing),
Kevin

 

Uncovering Stories and Spaces with Write Out (in October)

Write Out sign 2019 smallThis coming October, in conjunction with the National Day on Writing, the National Writing Project and the National Park Service are once again joining collaborative forces to offer Write Out — a free, open, online, connected learning experience to explore public spaces (not just national parks and not just rural wild spaces) for teachers and students.

As the updated Write Out website explains, the central theme of this year is all about stories and spaces:

Making Stories of People, Place, and Perspectives

Beginning October 13, 2019 Write Out will be a free two-week series of activities where educators, National Park Service Rangers, and youth they work with, are invited to:

  • explore national parks and other public spaces, including rural and urban settings, whether on-site or online
  • create using a variety of media, including text, image, video and others
  • connect to learn about using place-based learning as a critical cultural and environmental lens

Bookending the October 20th National Day on Writing, Write Out consists of activity cycles that include prompts that invite participants to write across a variety of media and curricular areas, facilitated online meet-ups, curated resources, and Twitter chats. Participants take part in as many or as few activities as fit their schedule. Additionally, through collaborative online possibilities, participants will be invited to share their creations, write, learn, and connect with the larger community.

You can sign up for information about this free event at the Write Out site and look for more details and activities on Twitter with the #writeout hashtag.

In case you are wondering, I am part of an amazing team of Write Out facilitators — from writing project and classroom teachers to National Park Service rangers — working to develop all sorts of activities and sharing possibilities for students and teachers, all in hopes of surfacing place-based learning and uncovering the stories of those spaces.

I hope you will join us with Write Out this October!

Peace (in open spaces and beyond),
Kevin