Teach the Web: My Weekend Mood Ring

One of the activities shaping up at Teach the Web is to create a multimedia Mood Ring. I like that idea, so here’s what I culled together this morning — thinking of the Friday afternoon weariness into the Saturday/Sunday family time, and then shifting back to Monday morning. (It’s June. Teaching is more difficult with unfocused sixth graders.)

My Weekend Mood Ring

I used Mozilla’s Popcorn Maker, with the new search tools for Gliphy built right into the site, which is very handy! Plus, anytime you can add NRBQ to a project, you should!

Peace (in the Make),
Kevin

Considering the Composition of a Selfie

Comic Selfie Collage

I had an interesting moment recently with two of my classes. We were watching the movie version of Tuck Everlasting (after reading the novel) and there is a scene where the Stranger (played by Ben Kingsley) stops alone in the woods and pulls out a handheld mirror, holding it up and examining his own facial features for signs of age.

I wish I could share a screenshot of the scene. He’s holding the mirror up high in the sky with his left hand, staring up at it with a stern expression while touching his face with his right hand. I never thought twice about it because it seemed obvious what he was doing.

Students in both classes, however, said the same exact thing as soon as they saw what he was doing, and their reaction was immediate and spontaneous, shouting out:

“Selfie!”

This is the first year that this has happened with the movie, and it reminded me again of how fast pop culture and technology is flowing through our world. A year ago, only a scattered few might even have heard of a selfie. Now, it’s become a youth touchstone, an automatic response to anyone who holds any kind of screen in front of them.

“Selfie!”

We had some time after state math testing yesterday, so I did a mini-lesson around selfies. We looked at the famous one from Ellen at the Oscars and talked about some elements of composition of the selfie:

  • face(s) in foreground
  • some sort of background visible
  • smiling, happy selfies are more likely to be viewed than sad, depressing ones
  • faces are off center, and shown on upward angle (because phone is held up, facing down)
  • some faces are closer; others farther away — giving the viewer multiple points to examine (more interesting than a single selfie, they agreed)
  • famous people are more likely to become viral
  • Instagram is the reason why selfies are so popular

Then, I brought the students into Bitstrips and told them: “Create a webcomic selfie and feel free to make it crazy.” Most were very excited about the assignment — they love making and using avatars in our comic site.

But one kid dropped his head.

“Do I have to? I am so sick of selfies.”

Maybe the tide is already turning.

Peace (in the mirror),
Kevin

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