On Teachers Teaching Teachers: Teaching with Heart


On Teachers Teaching Teachers last night, I had the fortunate opportunity to hang out with host Paul Allison and some teaching folks who contributed or edited the upcoming collection of short essays by educators connected to poetry. The book (Teaching with Heart) comes out in a few days, but it was a great experience to talk about how poetry informs us as teachers, and to share some of our writing.

You can view the chat room discussion, too.

http://tiffanypoirier.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/slide117.jpg?w=940&h=705

And a blurb from the publisher:

In Teaching with Heart: Poetry that Speaks to the Courage to Teach a diverse group of ninety teachers describe the complex of emotions and experiences of the teaching life – joy, outrage, heartbreak, hope, commitment and dedication. Each heartfelt commentary is paired with a cherished poem selected by the teacher. The contributors represent a broad array of educators: K-12 teachers, principals, superintendents, college professors, as well as many non-traditional teachers. They range from first year teachers to mid-career veterans to those who have retired after decades in the classroom.  They come from inner-city, suburban, charter and private schools.

Peace (in the sharing),
Kevin

 

Teach the Web: A Remixable Credo

teachtheweb project

I am dipping into this year’s Teach the Web by Mozilla. I took part last year and learned a whole lot. This year, I might not have as much time, but I love how they have really broadened the inquiry along a few different lines. One of the introductory activities is to do a Make with one of the Webmaker tools, so I took Chad Sansing’s Planet Project and remixed it into a sort of belief idea around Connected Learning.

Come see what I did (and feel free to remix it yourself)

Peace (in the world),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Making CLMOOC Game Cards

WRITE a slice of life story on your own blog. SHARE a link to your post in the comments section. GIVE comments to at least three other SOLSC bloggers.

I’ve been having a blast making teasers for this summer’s Making Learning Connected MOOC (Massive Open Online Collaboration). This is the second year of the CLMOOC, and last year was so much fun, we are doing it again –with various wrinkles to allow last year’s folks to keep playing with learning and enough entry points for new folks to come on board and have fun.

I am one of the facilitators of the CLMOOC, leading up the “support team” that will make sure folks feel welcomed and assisted as they move their way through the Make Cycles of possible activities and reflection. But as we move towards the “hard launch” of the CLMOOC, I’ve been tinkering around with various means of “teasing” folks to sign on up (it’s free! lurkers welcome!)

Alan Levine, over at DS106, recently shared out an online generator for creating your own Monopoly game cards, and I thought: Gotta use that! So, I’ve been creating Chance and Community Chest cards with a CLMOOC bent, and sharing them one at a time on Twitter (our hashtag is #clmooc). I decided to move all of the cards into a comic, too.

CLMOOC 2014 COMIC TEASER

I invite you to join our Making Learning Connected MOOC this summer. It’s sponsored by the National Writing Project and it is part of the Educator Innovator Network’s Summer of Make, Play and Connect. The MOOC is designed to get you playing, learning and reflecting, and connecting with other educators in a stress-free environment (hey, it’s summer). The whole thing kicks off in mid-June and goes until August, although you should feel free to enter and exit as your schedule permits.

I’m already making things …. come join me.

Peace (in the slice of MOOC pie),
Kevin

 

Teaching with Heart: A Teaser Video

teachingwithheartcover

I am one of a number of contributors to a new collection coming out this month in which educators write short essays about poems that are near and dear to their heart. Teaching with Heart: Poetry That Speaks to the Courage to Teach follows the path of two other collections that also engaged teachers in reflective inquiry and pointing to powerful poetry.

As part of the pre-publication push, I created a short Tellegami video about the poem that I chose, which was Taylor Mali’s famous “What Teachers Make” poetic response to a question posed to him at a dinner party. The poem is powerful on the page, but not nearly as powerful as watching Mali (who wrote the introduction to Teaching with Heart) perform his piece as a poetry slam in person.

Meanwhile, Paul Allison at the Teachers Teaching Teachers webcast is hosting a bunch of us teacher/writers this coming Wednesday night to talk about the book, about poetry, about teaching and, knowing Paul, probably a whole lot more. The webcast takes place at 9 p.m. on Wednesday night at EdTechTalk, and you can join in the chat, too.

What poems inspire you?

Peace (in the poem),
Kevin

 

At the Corner of Stopmotion and Vine


I came across a post some time back (this post has been in my “draft bin” for a bit) from Animation Chefs about using Vine for making stopmotion, and thought: well, maybe. I gave it a try with some Legos. Yeah, it worked, but the six seconds and my own lack of an iPad holder made the movie a little jumpy. Still, kids could easily make something like this. I just did a lot of little swipes in the app, moving the pieces forward, swiping again, etc.

Peace (in the frames),
Kevin

Book Review: Rump

I can’t say that the fairy tale of Rumplestiltskin was ever a favorite. In fact, I remember being more than a bit scared of the story when I was little (which I know is the whole point of the Grimm brothers’ tradition of such stories). But I picked up Rump by Liesl Shurtliff as read-aloud with my son because so many folks were raving about it, and I am glad that I did.

The behind-the-fairy-tale, fractured-fairy-tale novel tells the “true story” of Rumplestiltkin, who only knows part of his name (Rump) and whose destiny is yet to unfold. Rump lives on The Mountain, where the village works to mine gold for the Kingdom far away. His father died in a mining accident, and his mother died as he was being born (whispering his full, forgotten name in his ear), and Rump’s loving grandmother also passes away, kicking the story of how Rump finds his name and his destiny by going on an adventure. First, though, he has to determine how the magic that courses through him can be tamed, and it won’t be easy, particularly with the level of greed that is around him.

Rump’s travels is both sad and sweet, with plenty of humor, and just enough touchstones from traditional fairy tales to keep you involved in his quest and cheer when he finds the inner courage and understanding to finally fulfill his destiny and emerge with a self-confident power that can change the world, even if it is only one small person at a time.

The pacing made Rump a solid book for read-aloud, and although my son was reluctant at first, he was quickly hooked and is now bookmarking Shurtliff’s future book about Jack and the Beanstalk for us in the future.

Peace (in the story),
Kevin

Graphic Novel Review: The Dusk Society

(Note from Kevin: A few years ago, I was a reviewer for The Graphic Classroom. I really enjoyed the way we look at graphic novels with a lens towards the classroom. The site got taken over by another site, and then … I guess the owner of The Graphic Classroom stopped doing what he was doing. Which is fine. But I still had some reviews “sitting in the can” so I am finally digging them out to share out here.)


Story Summary: A boring town becomes the center of a fight between the forces of evil and the forces of good. No. We’re not talking Metropolis. We’re talking Pembleton, and the forces of good are a fledgling squad of teens known as The Dusk Society. The force of evil? A character named Pierceblood who wants to rip the fabric of dimensions in time and destroy the world so that he can start it anew in his own vision of paradise. This event is conveniently happening just in time for the night of Halloween. Along for the ride are Dr. Frankenstein and his monster; Count Dracula; and a few other faces from classic horror stories. I wish I could tell you more but the story gets sort of convoluted at times and the writing here is fair, at its best, and schlocky, at its worst. For one thing, I wish the four teenagers who become The Dusk Society were further developed by writers Sidney Williams and Mark Jones, but the writers seem to reach for every cliché in the comic book, to the detriment of the story. In the end, I didn’t really care if they defeated Pierceblood or not. That says a lot about a book from my reader’s perspective.

Art Review: The artwork here by illustrator Naresh Kumar matches writing, with the cover art being the scariest thing in the book, in my opinion. There wasn’t the usual crispness I associate with Campfire graphic novels. Even the Aswang, a mythical Asian creature, lacked punch needed for a horror story. Ironically, Pierceblood himself looks a little like a loony panhandler, not a powerful being about to take over the planet with his evil dominions.

More Information:
• Paperback: 88 pages
• Publisher: Campfire (June 7, 2011)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 9380028636
• ISBN-13: 978-9380028637

In the Classroom: There are probably some high school students who might get a kick out of the Goth-like elements of the book, and some kids may connect with the four teenagers who slowly realize their talents and come together as a team. Or maybe they will relate to getting stuck in detention together by a know-it-all teacher who sees their best qualities at last. I don’t see the book as a real teaching tool, however.

My Recommendation: There’s nothing too inappropriate in here, and maybe that is its short-falling: in order to avoid offending the targeted readership, the writers pulled their punches on what might have been a truly scary story.

Peace (in the book),
Kevin

 

Graphic Novel Review: Tall Tales (Great American Folktales)

(Note from Kevin: A few years ago, I was a reviewer for The Graphic Classroom. I really enjoyed the way we look at graphic novels with a lens towards the classroom. The site got taken over by another site, and then … I guess the owner of The Graphic Classroom stopped doing what he was doing. Which is fine. But I still had some reviews “sitting in the can” so I am finally digging them out to share out here.)

Story Summary: This collection of previously published graphic tall tales by Stone Arch Books brings together the humorous and sidesplitting stories of Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, John Henry and Johnny Appleseed under one roof. I won’t use hyperbole here to sell this collection. Suffice it to say that if you are a teacher with tall tales in your curriculum (you know how you are), then TALL TALES: GREAT AMERICAN FOLKTALES should be part of your collection. There’s plenty to love in these story, and the use of the graphic novel format is perfectly aligned because the pictures tell the story, and stretch the tales beyond imagination, just as one would expect. I sort of wish the collection had added a lesser-known story or two (maybe Sally Ann Thunder Ann or someone like that. Sally Ann often gets regulated to sidekick status with Davey Crockett). There is something unique and wonderful about the bizarre structure and exaggeration of the American tall tale, and this collection is yet another way for students to gain access to that rich folklore of storytelling.

Art Review: The illustrations in all four of these stories are wonderfully done. Some, like the Paul Bunyan story, are wacky and outrageous. Others, like the John Henry story, are muted, and allow the story to unfold in its own time. The weakest of the bunch of probably Johnny Appleseed, which sort of seems like the throwaway story of the collection (or maybe that is just my opinion of that tall tale, which never did much for me). There, the artwork is fairly plain, and after reading the other three pieces and viewing the art magic of the tall tales, one feels sort of let down by the Appleseed story.

More information:

• Paperback: 144 pages
• Publisher: Stone Arch Books (January 1, 2012)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 1434240681
• ISBN-13: 978-1434240682

In the Classroom: It’s no secret that American tall tales are a main element of curriculum at a certain grade (in some states, it is second grade; in others, third or fourth grade). TALL TALES: GREAT AMERICAN FOLKTALES is a great addition to other resources, and the use of graphic stories to tell the tales might make it more inviting to some students. And hopefully, the introduction of classic characters such as Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill will open the door to investigation of lesser-known (but still very interesting) characters of tall tales, which staked their claim as classic oral storytelling around campfires before becoming serialized in newspapers, eventually coming into their own as books and short stories (and now, graphic novels).

My Recommendation: I highly recommend this tall tale collection for any classroom. While it might fit nicely in the elementary curriculum, I suspect that even middle and high school students would get a kick out of revisiting some old friends and their outlandish escapades in the wilds of American history.

Peace (with hyperbole and more),
Kevin