From Slice of Life to Six Word Stories: Teachers With Students

This weekend, as part of a professional development session I was co-facilitating, I asked the teachers into the room to ‘write into the day’ with a Slice of Life prompt — find a moment in which in you interacted with a student, and write about it. Almost everyone shared their Slice of Life out, and it was a wonderful range of stories — from inspiring, to discoveries, to frustrations.

Next, I asked them to focus even further — and narrow down their Slice to a Six Word Memoir. Many expressed difficulty with this task, and yet, they did an amazing job. We used Padlet (formerly Wallwisher) to post their six word stories. As I explained, not only were they learning about a new technology tool, they were publishing AND gaining some ideas for how to get their students to write in a variety of formats and technologies (from pen to the web).

Check it out:

Peace (on the wall),
Kevin

 

The Entire Fox News Piece: Your Secret’s Out


Some of you know that my sixth grade class was featured in a recent Fox News Special about Big Data, privacy and digital citizenship (that’s where we came in), and I shared out the edited clip that featured us. But here is the entire hour-long special on Hulu, in case you are interested. It certainly has that paranoid Fox slant, but some of the findings about the reams of data being collected on all of us is eye-opening, and always worth remembering.

Peace (on the screen),
Kevin

 

Stopmotion Teaser: A Summer of Making Learning Connected

You’ll likely be seeing a bunch of different teasers coming into the Blogosphere here and elsewhere, as a group of us who are facilitating the Making Learning Connected MOOC this summer work to get folks interested in the free, online space for exploration and making and learning this summer. We’d love to have you, too. The sign-up site is not quite ready to share out, but it will be soon enough. For now, we’re creating various teasers in various media formats as a way to spark interest.

This summer, you may want to explore making stopmotion movies …

Here, I used WikiStix on my radiator and a free stopmotion program called JellyCam to create a short stopmotion piece with the words Making Learning Connected. I also turned on my iPad with a free stopmotion/time lapse program called iMotion HD and aimed it at me, working, in order to quickly (don’t blink) capture what I was doing. In both cases, I uploaded directly to YouTube and added a soundtrack there. So, I didn’t bother with any video editing program on my laptop.

Enjoy!


and

Peace (in the sharing),
Kevin

 

Thoughts and Insights from the Wired World

http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/magazine/2013/04/anniversary-nav3.jpg

Many years ago (I realize now it is 20 years, back in 1993), I saw a brand-new, start-up magazine on a newstand one day that seemed vaguely interesting to me for reasons I did not fathom and so, I subscribed for a year. I had no idea what in the world they were talking about in the pages of this magazine, but it seemed intriguing.

So, I kept reading Wired magazine.

One article that stuck with me was a piece about how this thing called the Web was going to change people’s lives and how a tool called Mosaic — a web browser — was going to shake things up. I had only vague notions of the Internet, thanks to a friend’s Compuserve account, and no clue as to what a web browser was nor why a graphic interface was important. Again, I kept reading, even as I was pushed way, way outside my comfort level and way outside my field of knowledge. I dropped the subscription during some lean financial years, and started back up again about 10 years ago, and have kept it going ever since.

I even took part once (in 2007) when the magazine said, send us your photo and we will send you a special edition with the reader on the cover. I did. I was.
Wired Magazine Jul07
I mention all that because I still look forward to Wired dropping in my mailbox (I’m still not yet excited with magazines on my iPad, and wish Newsweek still came to my mailbox, too.) I have always enjoyed how they balance a look to what’s coming with a look at what’s in the present, and that which has gone away. I don’t always buy the preachy viewpoint of technological change that they push us towards, but that’s OK. There is always enough in there to spark my brain.

So when the 20th anniversary, celebratory edition of Wired arrived the other week (see for yourself), I was intrigued and dove in. In a traditional alphabet sequence of ideas (Wired goes Old School!), the magazine revisits some of the transformative events and flops of the last 20 years as they have covered the world becoming increasing digital. From Beta designations of just about everything to Hypertext to the vocabulary of “snarky” tones of online writers to virtual communities to xkcd comic, the magazine’s coverage of the last 20 years is a great read.

Here are some snippets from the 20th Anniversary edition that jumped out at me:

“Now we experience culture through our apps.” (26)

“… the Arab Spring has shown the world what is possible when you combine social unrest with brave citizenry and powerful digital tools.” (28)

“The beta designation used to mean that a product wasn’t finished. Now we know it never will be.” (30)

“Really good coders build entire universes out of ideas.” (36)

“Crowdsourcing is the first industrial operating system native to the information age.” (42)

“We’re also in the midst of another major development: Design has become accessible to anyone with a laptop.” (44)

“Geekiness has become a synonym for counterculture braininess. And the rest is history.” (80)

“We now speak of hacking as a way of life, a gleeful corrective to any mired process … Whether or not we code, we all have a bit of the hacker in us now.” (86)

“In its wonderful vagueness, HTTP encoded a profoundly upbeat idea about our ability to come together, to fill in the blanks. And that crazy optimism has proven correct.” (90)

“New possibilities come to mind when intelligent worlds collide, and in the long run the web needed the poets and philosophers almost as much as it needed the coders.” (92)

“As with any technology, the long-term survival of language depends on utility. A word must fit its task, and sometimes — thankfully — that calls for a little wit.” (98)

“Put it all together and you have a bottom-up transformation of manufacturing that is following the similar democratized trajectories of computing and communications.” (108)

“Digital tools complement our effort to obtain meaningful face-to-face interactions.” (120)

“Reading code is like reading all things: you have to scribble, make a mess, remind yourself that the work comes to you through trial and error, and revision.” (122)

“The most accomplished trolls force online communities to ponder the limits of free speech in a medium that was supposed to obviate censorship.” (160)

“In the moment when some meme or viral video is taking off, it really does feel like a sort of epidemic.” (166)

“But never gone is the miraculous feeling of connecting with people far from our houses but close to our hearts.” (168)

Peace (in the words of the Wired world),
Kevin

This Summer, We’re Making Learning Connected

This is a “Teaser” post only, as more information about an exciting project I am involved with via the National Writing Project will be coming forth in the next week or so. But, we are gearing up for a free online summer adventure that I would love to have you (yep, you .. and you .. and all of you) dive into with me. It will involve Connected Learning, writing and making things (digital and/or non-digital — you decide).

The folks behind the scenes are making “teasers” for the concept, and I remixed some of the work of the others (see diagram below the video.) Keep an eye out for news and sign-ups for Making Writing Connected in the coming days. We will have a website up and running soon, where you can sign up for more news about the free (!) summer program. We’d love to have you involved this summer.

And a friend asked me to explain how I made this movie trailer, so:
Making the MOOC Movie Trailer

Peace (in the share),
Kevin

 

The Morning Make: Creating Creatures

WikiStix Makes
My sixth graders come into my room in the morning, with a routine that begins with lunch count and morning work. I’m always divided on morning work, so I try to give them critical thinking activities and problems to sort through as a way to get their brain pumping before the day really begins. This week, as they ended their last two rounds of state testing (math), I decided to do something different.

On each desk, I put a handful of Wikistix bendies, and their instructions were simple: create a creature. That’s it. I didn’t explain anything more, nor did I elaborate when asked. I just let them go at it. And boy, they were jazzed up about making something. Some had used Wikistix before; Others, never. But the buzz in the room was palpable as they twisted, cut, re-arranged, traded colors and started to … make.

I overheard one student saying to another:

“Just invent something. You’re making something that doesn’t exist. It’s fun.”

How great is that quote? It really hits home with the idea of the need for creativity in our classrooms, to imagine something out of  nothing. We lined up all the creatures along the shelf near the window, on a sort of impromptu display, and when the other sixth grade classes came in during the day, boy, were they jealous.

Peace (in the make),
Kevin

 

Teach the Web: One Comic, Two Comics, Three Comics, Four

Yesterday, I wrote about how I collaborated with three online friends to create a webcomic in Bitstrips for Schools, as part of our activity and exploration with the Teach the Web MOOC. After that post (and in that post), I called on my collaborators to consider “remixing” the comic, as that is an option within Bitstrips. We’ve been doing a lot of remixing as part of Teach the Web and so, remixing our comic seemed like a natural progression forward.

So, here is the progression of comics. First, you have the original that all four of us made together. (Note: if you are reading this in RSS, you may not see the comic. It is a flash comic browser, I invite you to venture to my blog to see the comics unfold frame by frame in the embedded flash format).

Second, I took that and remixed it, adding a side panel with some commentary.

Then, Margaret took my remix, and remixed it another time.

Chad went off in another direction, remixing the content of the original comic more than the comic itself. I love the variations.

Peace (in the remixing),
Kevin

 

Collaboration on a Webcomic: Hack the Web


(you might want to use the full-screen option)

This week’s suggested activity with the Teach the Web MOOC is to find collaborators and try your hand at a collaboration. I put out a call for folks to join me in a Bitstrips activity, and three fellow MOOCers (Chad, Margaret, Hayfa) jumped in. What we worked on together in a Bitstrips for Schools space that I set up was a webcomic poking fun at “How to Hack the Web.” In Bitstrips, you can start a comic, and then pass it along to someone else in the space. So, I began the first panel, and then shipped it off to Chad, and then we shipped it off to Margaret, and then we shipped it off to Hayfa. I then got the comic back and added the last two panels, and boom … it was done.

Which is not to say there weren’t some challenges. The comic got lost in Bitstrips for a spell, and I had to dig around our accounts to find it and keep it on track. I also was using Google Plus to let my partners know when the comic was coming their way, but those hurdles ended up being minor, and within two days, our collaboration was published and in the Teach the Web sharing spaces.

There are a few things I like about this kind of activity:

  • The activity forced us to think about collaboration. The past few weeks, we’ve sort of been working on our own, even if we were remixing other people’s work. Here, though, it was a real collaboration. I had to wait for my partners to find time to get my updates and work on their panel. (Yeah, I find myself impatient as a collaborator at times because projects take over my head … that’s another comic for another time.)
  • I like how we used humor to make  a point about the rate of change with technology and learning.
  • I like that we used comics for our collaboration – the visual literacy ideas. When Chad took the idea onto a “train,” I wondered where it might go, and then Margaret kept the train motif going, as did Hayfa. I suppose we could have to pursued that metaphor a bit further, but we didn’t, and maybe we didn’t have to, either.
  • I remembered that there is a “remix” option in the comic site, so any of us could go back and remix our collaborative comic and make something new. I wonder if they will give it a try …. (hint)
  • In the last panel, I wanted to make sure I credited all of us, and then I found myself putting words into the mouths of my collaborators. I know Chad well, but I don’t know Margaret or Hayfa, so I was holding back a bit because I didn’t want to offend anyone, you know?
  • We received some nice feedback in the Teach the Web community, which validated our collaboration. That’s always nice.

Peace (in the frames),
Kevin

PS — I embedded a flash version of the comic above, but here is the full comic, too.
Hack the Web Comic

 

Happy Birthday, Western Massachusetts Writing Project!

We’re having a 20th anniversary celebration of the Western Massachusetts Writing Project tonight at the University of Massachusetts, with special guests (including National Writing Project Executive Director Sharon Washington and poet Lucille Burt) and viewing of student work and WMWP activities over the last two decades. It will be great.

Here is the news blurb that went out:

At the event, WMWP will release its newest publication, “Writing to Go II,” a book featuring a range of writing assignments by WMWP teachers, each coupled with student work for those assignments. Participating teachers and students represent schools in Hampshire, Hampden and Worcester counties.

The project will also celebrate its growth from a cadre of 15 teacher leaders who completed the first Summer Institute in 1993 to a multi-faceted project that in 2011-12 delivered professional development programs to more than 1,100 Massachusetts educators in 11 Massachusetts counties, with most activities centered in Hampshire, Hampden, Franklin, Middlesex and Worcester counties. To capture highlights of the past 20 years, the program will include a digital collage, a timeline, displays of other teacher and student publications, and features on key programs and future plans. A Massachusetts Senate resolution honoring WMWP, filed by Majority Leader Stan Rosenberg, will be read.”

So, of course:

Peace (in the celebration),
Kevin

Taking Up the Stopmotion Motion Remix Offer (from a Kindergarten Class)

I’ve had remix on my mind the past week, as part of the Teach the Web MOOC (now in its third week), and I came across this blog post by Kindergarten teacher Ben Sheridan, who writes about doing stopmotion movies with his students. The post is a nice example of reflective sharing, and then Sheridan tells his readers (the world) that some students created a video and they want to invite others to remix it and add narration. The class published the video, without audio, and Sheridan explained:

“We talked it over when we were done shooting and decided to share it out without adding any audio. They would like other classes to add their own audio and share it back with us. They want to see how many versions of the movie can be made. We even talked about having people remix the video as well but that may be a bit of a stretch. We’ll see if any one take that approach.” — Ben Sheridan

How can one resist that challenge and it occurred to me that using Popcorn Maker might be the way to go, since I could just borrow the video from Vimeo, and layer in some audio and other things. So, I did, using their Star Wars theme and twisting it around a bit to create a story of a cupcake thief (figuring the kindergarten kids would get a kick out of that). I then wrote a letter to the class at the blog, sharing my remix and encouraging them to be creative.

What I noticed as I was remixing was the “invisible audience” of Sheridan’s classroom. I wanted to amuse them and also respect the work that they had done. It was an honor that they bestowed on us to use their work for new purposes, and even as I was re-imagining the story (thinking, too, of the story they were probably thinking as they created their video), it felt less like theft and more like appreciation. And I guess that is the goal of most remix efforts — celebrating the original even as you try to move it in a new direction. In my mind, it would not have made sense to record an audio track that matched exactly what they had in mind when filming. I felt the need to move the remix in an unexpected direction, and by doing that, I was empowered to be creative in my efforts. That’s been the real lesson around remixing, I think.
Cupcake Thief Remix

Go view the Star Wars Cupcake Thief remix

How about you? You want to try a remix of their video? Either go to Ben’s post or use their video down below to remix your own story. You don’t have to use Popcorn Maker, as I did, but you can. If you do, be sure to share the link and remix with the class, and I’d love to see it, too. (You can even use the remix button my Popcorn project, if that helps).

Peace (in the remix),
Kevin