If you missed the NCTE Hackjam, you missed out on some great fun, and some great conversations among teachers (armed with tiny scissors and glue sticks and comics) about how to critically use media for analysis and meaning. It began with some stealthy signs and stealthy tweets, and Hackjam instigator Chad encouraging anyone walking by to take on a secret mission. Our mission was to grab some swag from NCTE vendors and use the materials to create new media. All of this as we huddled on the floor of the hallway off NCTE central.
In a nod to my friend, Anna, who created an Animoto while the HackJam was in progress, here is my own Animoto of the event, with a focus on the collage comic that I created to poke fun at a publishing company.
Chad then showed folks how to use some of the Mozilla Webmaker tools to create online hackjams, including a new Thinmble function for collaborating on a webpage project.
Peace (in the hack),
PS — Thanks so much to Andrea Zellner and Chad Sansing for bringing HackJam to NCTE again.
I led a roundtable discussion yesterday at NCTE around nurturing teacher voices, and my roundtable topic was about how to encourage teachers to use their local newspapers as a platform for writing and publishing, and changing the dialogue around education. The work is informed by a strong partnership that our Western Massachusetts Writing Project has with a regional newspaper to feature teacher-writers once a month. I used this handout as a way to encourage individual teachers but also groups of teachers to consider the local newspaper as a conduit for positive news.
NCTE Session Getting It in the Paper by KevinHodgson
Peace (in the news),
While at the second day of the National Writing Project meeting, I spent the morning in a session around Scratch and coding for storytelling, and then the afternoon in a session around e-textiles and puppetry, and how to use circuits for storytelling. This collage shows a few photos from the day:
There was a definite Makers Ethos to the NWP sessions this year, beginning with a plenary talk about the value of remixing Moby Dick and other works of literature. And speaking of remixing Moby Dick, a cool thread of iteration happened over the course of the day, as my friends Chad and Andrea launched a Twitter activity called #Twitcatastrophe, in which folks made suggestions for strange things happening and Chad and/or Andrea would illustrate it and tweet it out.
I suggested a literal close reading in which the book snaps shut on the reader’s nose.
First, Chad drew this:
Then, in our Scratch session, Andrea created this:
I went in and remixed her project, adding the element of the reader itself:
And Christina came over and shot a Vine of Andrea and the game:
It was a blast, and reminded all of us how iteration and inspiration and creativity are at the heart of the remix culture. Each step — from creating the twitter game to the reader/artist response to the gameplay and remixing of the game — are different points on the compositional spectrum that we need to nurture and value.
Peace (in the make),
As part of our session around the Making Learning Connected MOOC, co-presenter Joe Dillon and I had participants “represent” themselves with clay and wikistix, and then they pinned themselves on the giant map we brought. This was a way for us to talk about Connected Learning principles and some of the creative “makes” that took place during the MOOC. (It also was a live version of the virtual map we did in the MOOC, which now has almost 5,000 views)
Thanks to Chris and Tricia for tweeting out pictures of the map.
And here is a funny video I took of me wrestling with the map at home before heading to Boston.
Peace (on the grid),
I have a mixed view of James Patterson. It seems to me that sometimes he mails it in and given his output as a writer, who can blame him? But the cover to Treasure Hunters (created with illustrator Chris Grabenstein) caught my eye as I was searching for a read aloud for my 9 year old son. In the style of Patterson’s Middle School series of illustrated novels, Treasure Hunters is a fine adventurous ride that my son and I both enjoyed.
The story is about a family who lives on a boat and makes their way as a hunters of lost treasure at sea. It opens with a storm, and the father being lost, and then we learn that the mom had been kidnapped by terrorists, and so it is up to the four kids (or Kidds, as the family name goes) to continue with the treasure and hopefully, find dad still alive and maybe even rescue mom. Along the way, the four siblings meet pirates of all kinds of ilk, rub up against secret agents, discover and lose and then rediscover the Greciun Urn that inspired Keats, and learn a few surprising things about their mom and dad.
The pace is quick and the story is finely illustrated, with great humor and suspense. The chapters are short, but most end with a cliffhanger that had my son forcing me to “keep reading” each time I tried to stop. Patterson’s talent for telling stories is on display here, even if the characters are a bit one-dimensional. But with a title like Treasure Hunters, you don’t go there for the depth of the characters — you go there for the spirit of adventures, and this book delivers nicely.
Peace (on the oceans),
This was more for fun than for anything else. But in Seattle a few months ago (sorry, this post was in my draft bin for a long time, I guess), a friend of mine (Janet Ilko) from the National Writing Project joined some family members who lived in Seattle. She was with some young cousins, who convinced the adults to hang around outside a concert venue where One Direction was playing, so that they could get a glimpse of the singers when they left the concert.
The next morning, as Janet was describing the scene, I suggested we should build a Thimble page on “how to build a pop band” from the template that stretches back the Monkees, and maybe even beyond. Who knows. Certainly Disney and Simon Cowell have perfected the idea.
I started the page in Seattle (remixing it from an existing Webmaker template) and finished it up yesterday. Check it out and feel free to remix it. I’d love to see the “how to build a girl band” version, if you want a challenge. (There is a remix button at the top of the page. Click on that, and get remixing. You will need an account with Webmaker to publish. But the code and hints to change the code, are in there.)
Peace (in the hack),
As part of the Make/Hack/Play mini-course I have been participating in, I wrote a song and then created this reflective video of my writing process.
Well, a friend from the summer’s Making Learning Connected MOOC — Bart Miller, who is also a musician — took my song and remixed it with some composition software. I was so grateful to have been hacked by Bart, and the remix took the song (even with computer sounds) in a different direction.
Hacking a Song by Bart Miller
I could not resist yet another remix. So, I downloaded the MP3 of Bart’s version of Put My Anchor in You, and used Mozilla’s Popcorn Maker to create another remix. This time, I found a nature video (Bart’s version had me thinking quiet nature, for some reason) and layered in the remix as the soundtrack.
Meanwhile, another friend of mine (the guitarist in my band, Duke Rushmore) took the same demo and added lead guitar, bass and some other production values to it, given the remix yet a third iteration.
It’s interesting the trail of mixing and remixing that can take place, rather seamlessly, with technology. The song comes out at the other end very different when in the hands of others than when I sat down on the floor with my acoustic guitar and wrote it as a demo.
Peace (in the song),
I am writing fairly regularly over at MiddleWeb these days and I like to point folks to what I have been up to lately.
If you have time, check out the review I did for the new book, Finding the Heart of Non-Fiction by Georgia Heard. I really enjoyed this book, on a few levels (including the production values of the book itself).
And I just added a new blog post about teaching the reading and writing of diagrams with my sixth graders. Check out how I went about this teaching of visual literacy and what they were learning, and why.
Peace (on the web),
For all my friends coming into Boston for NCTE and NWP annual meetings, you may want to educate yourself on how to speak Boston.
And you can even do a little vocab work, too.
Peace (in the east),
We get a lot of professional publications at our house — my wife is an administrator and I am a teacher and both of us are active readers and learners — so it was just another day at home when I was flipping through the November 2013 edition of The Reading Journal yesterday. I found myself (not surprisingly) at an article about integrating technology called “Love that Book: Multimodal Responses to Literature” by Dana L. Grisham. I was, however, surprised to see my own name referenced in her article, though. It was one of those “hey, I recognize that name!” moments. You know, “that’s me!”
Grisham referenced a Glogster poster project that I had done with my students around Three Cups of Tea, where they used media to present learning from the book and thoughts on their own lives. It was nice of her to include my students’ work as an exemplary, although the irony is that I have completely and utterly revamped the way we read that book. We now use Three Cups of Tea as our source for critical analysis – given that author Greg Mortenson’s veracity has been called into question and main events in the book are in dispute. It occurs to me that I thought I had put a note on that site — http://norris3cups.yolasite.com/ — to explain how we were now reading the book. I guess not.
Still, I appreciate shout-outs in a publication like The Reading Journal.
Peace (on the page),