The Postcard Poem as Digital Poetry

Yesterday, I shared out a bit about the twists and turns of a poetry project that involved friends from around the world, postcards sent and found and lost, and an original poem that I had broken apart and parsed out, with an invitation to friends to reconstruct the words and phrases on a digital wall.

Today, I wanted to find a way to share out the original poem, particularly now that we have opened up the wall and others are jumping in, adding words and media and more. The poem is receding in that space as collaborative sharing surfaces. I love that movement, but I still want to keep the original poem intact.

The video above is that poem, told as digital poem, and with a bit of App Smashing on the iPad, too. I used the Legend app to make the animated text pieces (with background images as screenshots of the wall), and then I moved those short videos into the iMovie app to create a single video. Meanwhile, the guitar music is a piece that I wrote and recorded with the new Music Memo app the other night, mixed in the Garageband app, and then moved onto the iMovie app as soundtrack. From there, I uploaded the video into YouTube. Phew. It seems like a lot to juggle but it all worked rather seamlessly to create what I had in mind.

I debated whether to narrate the poem with voice and then decided against it, letting the words speak for themselves on the theme of poetry writing as collaborative endeavor, and using the music to create an emotional underpinning of the poem. (I also am considering asking folks to record their word or phrase, and then stitching our voices together like a quilt …)

Come add what you want to the poetry wall. We’ve opened up the poem to the winds of chance.

Peace (it’s poetry),
Kevin

Let Wind and Chance Plant the Seeds of a Poem

There is a great scene in the wonderful picture book, Weslandia by Paul Fleischman, in which Wesley, the outcast boy who decides to build a new civilization for summer vacation break, has an argument of sorts with an adult neighbor. Wesley has been prepping a garden, and the neighbor tells him to plant tomatoes, Brussel Sprouts and other common crops.

Instead, Wesley looks towards the unexpected, and makes room for it.

“Wesley found it thrilling to open his land to chance, to invite the new and unknown.”

He decides to leave it to the winds to decide what will grow, and one night, a magical wind of chance does come a-blowing, scattering strange unknown seeds in Wesley’s plot of ground that become the flowering plants that will transform the backyard into the civilization that Wesley calls Weslandia.

The neighbor tells Wesley that if he doesn’t watch out, he will have trouble with the sprouts.

“You’ll have almighty bedlam on your hands if you don’t get those weeds out,” warned his neighbor.

“Actually, that’s my crop,” replied Wesley. “In this type of garden there are no weeds.”

Project postcsrd

Way back in early January, I started a poem project. A connected poem project. A slow-moving connected poem project. Here’s how it began and still is unfolding:

  • I wrote a poem
  • I cut up the poem into words and phrases
  • I sent a word or phrase to a dozen or more people who have been part of a periodic Making Learning Connected MOOC Postcard Project (we send postcards to each other)
  • I asked them in a note on the postcard to go to an online space and add the word and any media they thought applicable
  • I suggested they try to reconstruct the poem, sort of like a puzzle (which is difficult with no context, I know … that is part of the whole endeavor)

And I waited. And I waited. (Not my strong suit, this waiting for projects to unfold … I like to do things nownownow)

Nearly eight weeks later, a few postcards are still arriving (some of the postcards went to other parts of the world.) Some postcards never made it. Some may have been forgotten or ignored. But the Padlet wall where the poem is being reconstructed? It’s pretty cool.

Postcard Poem Padlet Wall

While waiting for the postcards to be delivered, I had also started up a Twitter Messaging forum with the folks I sent the postcards to. Originally, I had just intended to “warn” them about the postcard on the way (my handwriting stinks so if they could not read it, I wanted a way for them to reach out).

That string of messages in the Twitter backchannel has become a very interesting space over the past eight weeks or so, as conversations have turned on the project, on the use of traditional mail for a connected learning project, of patience and perseverance, of global connections, and of the nature of “chance” in an open environment. I feel more connected with that conversation that I have with the poem itself, interestingly enough.

And then something interesting happened … one of my friends shared the link to the poem project in a blog post about process of writing (which I think is cool to think of it all as a process of writing and collaboration over time) and one of their readers, another friend of mine outside of the postcard project but in other networks, went and left a piece of media and their own new word on the poem wall. Suddenly, the poem was becoming something new, moving out of my hands in an intriguing way.

So, while I have not yet come to a point of writing about my intent as the first writer behind the Postcard Poetry Project (since the poem is not yet completely reconstructed .. this post is not the reflective post I still intend to write someday), I want to open the whole poem itself to the Winds of Chance, as Wesley did when he was beginning his summer civilization project, and I want to invite you (and you and you) to come into the Padlet wall, and maybe add a word and a piece of media.

What shared writing can we create together? What will the winds bring? Come add to the poem. We will write this next phase of the project together. Wesley would be proud.

Peace (in the poem),
Kevin

Mixing up the Soundscapes


For the second Learning Event for a project called Hear My Home, the facilitators referenced composer John Cage’s use of audience as musical composition, and suggested we try to capture the ambient nature of our world. I decided to head off in a slightly other direction, taking the four sounds that I had created and shared in the first Learning Event, and remixing them into a song of sorts.

I added in some bass and some drums, and then cut up one of the sounds (basketball game) into pieces, allowing them to filter into the mix of the dog walking, the coffee making and the guitar chords I was tinkering with one day.

This is what I ended up with:

Peace (in the underlying beats of the world),
Kevin

At MiddleWeb: Science-themed Research Projects

ncle brief

(My piece was the lead-off in this education newsletter, which is pretty neat)

I wrote my latest column at MiddleWeb about our science-based research project, in which I tried to balance an openness for students to choose topics while digging into elements of research itself. I think the results from students were pretty strong in terms of writing and researching. Plus, they did media projects as extension activities.

Come read Enter the Research at MiddleWeb

Peace (in the sharing),
Kevin

So Long, Internet Kid — It’s Been Great Writing You (and You, Too, Horse)

InternetKid23

This post wraps up The Wild West Adventures of the Internet Kid, a daily webcomic that I started in January as part of the #Ds106 offshoot known as #Western106 and 40-plus comics later, I am bringing the adventures to an end (for now). I decided to make this FlipBook of all of the comics in the series, and you can find the collection at The Kid’s tumblr site, too.

Thanks for reading. I hope it made you smile here and there, and maybe got you to think about genres and stereotypes (of Westerns and of Technology), now and then. I had a blast writing them. See you on the open trails!

Read the Collection

Peace (in the flip),
Kevin

PS — Wondering how I made the Internet Kid flipbook? I created a Keynote slideshow (powerpoint or slides would work), imported all of the comic images, and then saved the whole thing as a PDF. That allowed me to use the Fliphtml5 site (which requires PDF uploads) to convert it into the flippable book. Easy. But I like how all of the comics look like they are in a book format.

 

Checking the Cynical Me at the Door: Digital Learning Day

Equity 2

Today is Digital Learning Day. I have some mixed feelings about the whole endeavor to push digital learning into the national conversation with a single day of intense focus (sponsored by the Alliance for Excellent Education). Something about the way it all gets presented makes me …. uncomfortable.  I can’t quite name it, which seems unfair to the organizers. And the more I look into what I am feeling this year, and the deeper I explore why I am feeling that way, the less certain I am about my stance.

Am I just put off because it seems so slick and professional? That just seems rather silly, right? Maybe. Maybe not.

Here is some strands of what I have been thinking …

First of all, this year’s Digital Learning Day coincides with our winter break, so I am not even with my students (although maybe I could have set something in motion in advance as a remote activity but I didn’t plan for that). In the past, I have tried to do digital learning activities on Digital Learning Day, if only to bring my students into the national conversation about learning in the age of technology. We even had Fox News visit our classroom one year for Digital Learning Day, which was an odd experience.

Second of all, I can’t shake the feeling of a top-down influence on the event. I know that seems cynical, but the guest lists of events seem to have more than a fair share of government-connected officials, school administrators and paid educational speakers. It can feel as if it is government influencing our views of how to reform education. The mission statement about digital learning reads like a passage of the Common Core. Still, there is an entire page of video tours of various schools who are sparking change with digital learning opportunities for students. And I do see some classroom teachers will be part of the webinars. That’s good, part one.

Third, there’s also the worry about corporate influence on the Digital Learning Day agenda. In the past, this seemed more pronounced than this year. It’s not that the site itself feels overrun with commercial interests — it is not — but the Twitter stream sort of is (and I know that is outside the purview of the organizers …anyone can post into a Twitter stream and why wouldn’t a company with ed tech do that? It’s an audience they dream about, right?) And yet, when I investigated the site, it seems like there is a whole lot less funding by corporations this year than in other years past. And I don’t see a Pearson in the mix. So, that’s good, part two.

And the theme of this year’s Digital Learning Day of access and equity … those are key important themes that all of us should be keeping in mind, so I applaud the theme and the sessions that are being built around those ideas. If we want a brighter future for all of our students, regardless of gender and socioeconomics, then we have to be having these discussions, and here, the folks at Digital Learning Day have given over the stage to it. And let’s face it — these folks are connected to the power players in DC. That means the issue should be on the agenda of those discussions. That’s good, part three.

Equity1

What all this means is that perhaps I should just put my cynical self aside for the day, and try to pop into some of the conversations when I can (or check out the archives later). The organizers have laid some interesting groundwork to discuss digital access, and the plan to have webinars throughout the day shift from location to location — from school to school — is a solid idea.

In the end, the focus on the central themes of digital access and digital equity has me feeling more a bit more positive about Digital Learning Day than in prior years.

What about you?

Peace (beyond the cynical me),

Kevin

 

Slice of Life: The Mad Mood Swings of Mother Nature

(This is part of Slice of Life, a weekly writing activity hosted through Two Writing Teachers. In March, they host a daily Slice of Life writing adventure. Come write.)


flickr photo shared by livewombat under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

Yesterday, when I woke up to walk the dog and do my early day writing, the temperature outside was negative ten degrees. That’s -10. The day before, at same time, it was negative 14. That’s -14. The wind chill factor made Sunday feel like negative 30. That’s … well, you get the picture. Cold. Wicked cold.

This morning, at the same time, it is 25 degrees and rising. Later today, it could reach 50 degrees. That’s about a 60 degree swing towards warm from yesterday morning that might happen. Mother Nature is going bonkers on us here in New England, and the evidence is not just the temperature but also the coat of ice on top of an inch of snow on the driveway. Shoveling will not be fun.

Good thing we are on our winter break right now. I sure hope Mother Nature settles down into Spring soon. Right? Right?

Peace (in the swinging of the season),
Kevin

Making Soundscapes: The HearMyHome Project

My HearMyHome icon

I’m always intrigued by sound. Either with the emotional power of music — listening and writing — or with using soundscapes for telling stories. There’s something oddly cool with how we can use audio to capture our world. This past fall, I even did Sound Stories with my sixth graders. So I was interested in the launch of a project called Hear My Home, and I have been dipping in a bit at the start.

(By the way, the icon above is not the official project one. It is one I made for myself.)

The HearMyHome project is a research endeavor of sorts, as it run through a graduate program, but it is also an invitation to experience and share our worlds through sounds. This is taken from the homepage of the project:

Examining everyday people produced soundscapes, #hearmyhome inquires how hearing difference and listening to communities may re-educate the senses and attune us towards cultural difference. Ultimately developing materials that hear, recognize, and sustain community literacies and cultural rhetorics, #hearmyhome asks us to take heed of the frequencies and rhythms of culture as we architect, design, and teach towards more equitable landscapes for learning.

I’ve done four “sounds” so far and shared them out in the Twitter stream (with the #hearmyhome hashtag).

First, I took my dog out for a walk in the neighborhood.

Second, I captured some sounds of my son’s youth basketball game.

Third, I recorded my morning routine of juice and coffee.

Fourth, I was working on some guitar chords with a new app. Just playing around.

None of it is really special, and that’s the point. Capturing the sounds of everyday life, and then adding those sounds to a expanding mix of other everyday lives, has the potential to gather together an aural experience of our world.

Take a listen. And then maybe join in? There is a sign up for newsletters, but you can bounce in anytime with the #HearMyHome hashtag. There’s probably a Facebook page, too. I don’t know.

Peace (in the ear as reader, voice as writer),
Kevin

Two Songs in One Post: A Newbie and an Oldie

I recently wrote a song — Everybody on the Dance Floor — for the band in hopes of having a female lead singer. We had someone coming to audition, and I thought I would write something for down the road. Well, she pulled out of the audition, and we may or may not keep the song. It is inspired by an article I read of this woman DJ who does not have the “look” but who kicks out the jams. She does one party and then disappears to the next party. I had her in my mind, or some version of her, as I wrote this one.

I wrote the basic chord structure of Everybody on the Dance Floor on the guitar but recorded all of the music on the Garageband App (it’s pretty astonishing what you can do with that app). The vocals I added later in Soundtrap. I think it has a catchy element to it. See what you think. I think it plays best in headphones.

The other song is an old one, but the news out of the field of science about Gravitational Waves had me remembering this song called Gravitational Pull, and my band at the time did do a recording of it in the studio. That’s me singing, which is all I played on this recording. I co-wrote it with my guitar player, John. He wrote the music. I wrote the words.

Peace (and thanks for listening),
Kevin

Play the Kid out of the Video Game Vortex

InternetKid26

I wanted to add an element in which you can join The Internet Kid on his adventures against the Video Vortex. So, come play the game The Kid is stuck inside of.

Peace (in getting out),
Kevin