One of the offshoot projects (and there seem to be quite a few this year, which is so very cool, as they are coming as much from participants as from facilitators) of the Making Learning Connected MOOC is Michael Weller’s concept of Make an Inquiry, in which he is encouraging a group of us teachers to consider a classroom inquiry project. By coming together as a collective, the hope is to keep momentum going forward through the summer and into the school year.
I shared out this video that I created for some professional development work that our writing project site has done with some schools in our area. It is a simple overview of how classroom inquiry might proceed (you might have a different path).
And here is a quick video of some recent presentations by teachers at a middle school STEM school. I worked as a facilitator with this school for a year, ending with inquiry presentations to colleagues. For many, this was the first time they had ever done an inquiry project for their own classroom. It was a learning experience, for sure, but valuable in that the reflective stance — of noticing something you wonder about, asking a pertinent question, gathering some resources, trying something out, sharing out the experience — made for a wonderful way to draw our work to a close.
Our writing project is working on curating the Inquiry Project presentations and when that is done this summer, I will share out via the CLMOOC and Make an Inquiry group. We learn from each other, right?
So, here is my own inquiry question that I am beginning to ponder for my sixth grade classroom. The question is sparked by our school district’s move (finally) into Google Apps for Education. I am wondering:
How can my students engage deeply in the revision process when the “peer review” process moves beyond the walls of the classroom?
In other words, using Google Apps not just for writing to the teacher (me) and even the classroom, but beyond that. And if the audience shifts, how does the revising process shift to meet that audience of the world? This will tie into my professional goals next year of starting the process of “digital portfolios” for students. That could be its own inquiry question, right?
Yesterday, I shared out the first steps in taking a poem through its paces, under the banner of “reMEDIAtion” of the Making Learning Connected MOOC. The idea is to see what happens to our work when we move into different platforms, and consider whether the heart of the idea changes or shifts or is transformed.
Is “remediation” just another term for “remix”? Maybe. Probably. Possibly. Maybe perusing those words will be my reflection point later on in the Make Cycle.
For now, I am using a single poem about liminality as my base point. Yesterday, I talked about moving from a handwritten draft to a typed version, and then using a text layout tool to impact the metaphorical presentation of the writing. That was not very dramatic, in terms of remediation of text. Some, but not much.
So, I have turned to audio to see what happens. I wanted to move beyond just podcasting — of just reading the words into a microphone — and dove into the Garageband App (one of the best 5 bucks you will ever spend on an app) to see if I could re-compose the poem.
The second Make Cycle for CLMOOC kicked off yesterday and we are now plunging out way into the concept of remediation — of considering the ways in which technology and composition strategies change/alter the message of the original media/composition.
Check out the CLMOOC newsletter, done as collective voice in an art museum, as video. The script is the same as the text (see it here) but the brings the ideas alive, particularly when the group finds the right art for the right moment. That’s part of the remediation of words, when image and sound inform/change the writing.
Here is a user-friendly concise definition of remediation:
“It is essentially the appropriation of the content of one medium into another.” — from The Average Penguin
I am always intrigued by remediation ideas, particularly in this age of digital media, and so I have decided to take a poem I wrote the other day and bring it through some various remediation this week. The origin is a tweet by Jeffrey Keefer, who wrote about a term I had never come across before: liminality. The more he tweeted out about it, the more I found this poem forming. It may be that I am not as deeply informed about liminality as Jeffrey is (in fact, I know that to be true), and I found myself shifting more towards Vygotsky’s Zones of Promixal Development.
I won’t always be stuck here
I’m wiggling my toes
flexing my fingers
stretching my mind
digging my way
into the crawl spaces of liminality
all for the hope that where I’ve come from
will lead me into the place where I’m going
with only a few more questions as bumps in the road ….
Well, this is not completely true, either. I had a little sticky note that I write the first draft of the poem on. It was a mess. I accidentally tossed it away. You won’t see the true origin of the poem, unfortunately — only the first remediation of it as I typed it out.
Then I decided to share the poem out via Twitter, so I turned to one of my favorite writing/style sites called Notegraphy. The site gives your presentation frames for text, and this began my first element of remediation and a question: How would I present my poem so that the style would complement the message of the writing?
It’s more difficult than it seems, given a vast amount of choice, and I ended up with this very simple design, tilted a bit on its axis. For me, this tilt seemed to metaphorically represent the heart of the poem — of questioning what it means to be in the middle of learning something — not quite a novice and not quite an expert.
The poem came to look like this, which I mostly liked, except that the design screwed with my line breaks .. which brings to the surface the concept of “agency” of the writer, and how far do we go to force our own vision on what technology does to our vision. Here, I accepted the change, reluctantly. I compromised with technology. It didn’t even know or care, of course.
But I do. I still do.
Then I decided to go another step .. of using the Docs Demo: Master’s Edition by Google that allows you to write in an experimental Google Doc with some “masters” of writing. What would they do to my poem? And more importantly, how much of my poem was I willing to give up to the unknown media changers? For this, I held on to little, allowing Google’s site to do what it would with my words, in the name of the experiment.
With so many social media spaces acting like livewires of sharing and reflecting for the Making Learning Connected MOOC, or CLMOOC, it is easier to forget that a fair number of folks are blogging regularly, too, and that the CLMOOC has a Blog Hub that gathers up blogs in one space.
I decided to spend some time this morning, in the space between Make Cycle One that just ended and Make Cycle Two that will soon launch, to read some blogs from CLMOOC folks and make some comments, and collect some quotes that have had me thinking in new directions. I love the close reading that this kind of activity invokes. It’s authentic close reading, not some regimented process that comes from a book by Pearson. I read to seek inspiration, for the words that make me pause. I read to learn.
My blog tour began with Deanna Mascle’s post about media and remediation. Her journey into identity issues and how technology and digital media impact how we view and are viewed by the world is a critical component of Connected Learning principles, the very foundations of CLMOOC.
Is there anything more beautiful than a beautiful photograph? Week after week, I am inspired by the work of Kim Douillard. I am lucky to have her as a friend in multiple networks. Here, she uses her blog to remind us of how the lens of our cameras might open up different reflective stances. I am one of those who needs that kind of constant reminders, as I am more apt to think in terms of words.
Maha Bali and I, and some others, have often had conversations around this idea of inclusion/exclusion, and how networked spaces and community ideas open or shut the doors on others. I love that she continues to push at that idea. It’s important in online spaces but just as important in our classrooms. Who feels welcomed? Who doesn’t?
Kathleen is someone new to me but I love that she is science-orientated and her post about engaging in her first Twitter chat is such a great perspective. She tried something new. She is gearing up to try something new again. That’s the CLMOOC ethos. She is also engaged in the Make an Inquiry venture within CLMOOC (me, too) and I am grateful to have her perspectives.
Jeffrey Keefer has been dipping into poetry this CLMOOC, inspiring others with the concept of liminality … that learning space in between the first step of the novice and the confidence of the expert. It reminds me of Vygotsky and zones of promixal development, and how important it is to navigate forward, even in uncertainty. His quote here is off-kilter because it comes from a poem. I left it because the off-kiltered essence seemed somewhat metaphorical to me.
Barry Geltson was writing about an interaction with a friend, who made a quip about email. It reminded him, as it does me, of our role as teachers to find ways to encourage agency in our students in the wave of digital media.
Like Maha, Susan Watson explores the idea of gateways and access in a post that blew me away with some new thinking of intentional designs in public spaces that have implications for us in digital spaces. The invitation in and who is the host …. we can’t ignore these ideas.
I think, sometimes, that Sheri Edwards and I surf the same wavelengths. This summer, already, she has been pulling the collaborative threads left and right in the CLMOOC, and I so appreciate it. Her reflections are as interesting as her projects (and she has many)
Michael Buist wrote a very personal post, about vacationing in Maine and the connections to family history. But in the midst of it, he had this line that resonated with me and with CLMOOC — he is bringing us into his experience while also inviting us to make our own.
Thank you to all the bloggers in the CLMOOC Blog Hub. If you blog, add yours, too. The center of the CLMOOC is always YOU and if you blog, then consider opening the doors and invite us in. We promise not to wreck the place. We might remix a few things here and there but we will do it with caring and love.
I am not sure I have this completely correct but I am trying to track the flow of a Make project that was completely unscheduled and unscripted in the Making Learning Connected MOOC, and yet, gained traction among some CLMOOC folks (and continues to even now). I also recently got myself a stylus pen and wanted to try it out in my Paper app. It’s better than my fingers on the touchpad.
This began with Simon, folding laundry and wishing he had some audio to listen to. As per CLMOOC ethos, he decided to record his own narration and then put out the call to the CLMOOC community, asking folks to make audio and share it out. There is something powerful with voice and podcasting, and even in the very first year of CLMOOC, we were encouraging people to share their voices. Not many did. Simon found a hook that was both open-ended and connected, as indicated by the hashtag of #adhocvoices.
This morning, Simon curated the audio a bit in Soundcloud, and I made this comic after listening to files this morning and reading his own reflective post.
But Terry took it one step further, making the comic into a clickable curated file in Thinglink, with different pieces leading to different audio.
So, I did the “flow chart” at the top of this post — showing the flow, so to speak — of how I saw things unfolding from Simon’s initial call for voices, in an ongoing attempt to make as much of our creative work this summer with CLMOOC visible and maybe replicable in some fashion with either other educators or with learners.
The key here is expect the unexpected, and go with the flow. See where things take you. It’s that uncharted country off the map that we often talk about in open learning. Leave a few breadcrumbs so we can follow you. One caveat to my own reflection here is that many of those who have participated in this #adhocvoices are familiar folks, and we want the map to get larger, more encompassing of more people.
Imagine being stuck on a pioneering base on the moon and someone is murdered. The murderer is among you. It sounds like an Agatha Christie novel, doesn’t it? And Space Caseby Stuart Gibbs plays out a bit like “And Then There Were None …” in that there is a closed setting, a murder and someone can’t be trusted.
Gibbs, whose fine sense of humor have been on display in some of his other books for young readers, is in fine form here with Space Case, as pre-teen Dashiell Gibson realizes that the untimely death of a famous scientists on Moon Base Alpha does not add up, and he is determined to get to the cause of the incident.
Gibbs plants plenty of red herrings, a must in this kind of story, and a surprising twist near the end of the novel, and Space Case really captures both the amazing idea of living on the moon and the claustrophobic element of a murderer hiding in plain site. I read this aloud to my son, and he and I both enjoyed the tale.
I’m still abuzz from this past year’s version of the Crazy Collaborative Dictionary Project. What’s that, you say? What’s a Crazy Collaborative Dictionary? It’s part of our annual exploration of the origins of words, with a project in which my sixth graders invent new words and then add them to an ongoing collaborative dictionary.
There are now more than 900 words, from over 12 years worth of students. Siblings are writing with siblings … across time. Think about that for a second. A collaboration across time. And a nutty dictionary emerges as a result, too, that completely engaged my students in the art of vocabulary creation.
Oh, and we podcast the words and definitions, too, preserving the voices of sixth graders.
So, from Abamao (The skill of tripping/falling for no reason and being congratulated for it) to Zzzzzzzzzzcratching (The act of using a zebra leg as a back scratcher), there is an entirely new vocabulary out there.
This was a fine way to end the school year – writing stories and connecting back to a running theme of the year of game design. For the last two weeks of school, students worked on writing a short story in which someone from history was stuck inside a game and the protagonist must go into the game and get them out within 48 hours. Think Jumanji as a mentor text.
My students were really invested in this story writing, working hard for days, right up until the very last day they could write, and because they were using their Google Docs accounts, it will continue for many of them right into the summer. The whole concept here was to use game dynamics as a setting element and plot device for story writing, and since we have been talking, hacking, creating games all year, it tied together some threads for the year.
I hate to kill the playful mojo of the CLMOOC, which has been streaming in channels in social media spaces around the #untro — or “unintroducing yourself” by mashing up media and glitching images and smashing ideas. But in the midst of all this play, I can’t help but think about the headlines and events of the past week, and how identity in the form of flags and race are right now part of the national conversation.
Check out this interview transcript with Kanye West, who made a point a few years ago about the use of the confederate flag. As always, he went farther than he needed to, in order to generate controversy. Still, Kanye had a point — we can try to take media and mediate it for our own message.
“React how you want,” West said. “Any energy is good energy. The Confederate flag represented slavery in a way. That’s my abstract take on what I know about it, right? So I wrote the song ‘New Slaves.’ So I took the Confederate flag and made it my flag. It’s my flag now.” — from http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/music/ct-kanye-west-confederate-flag-20150623-story.html#page=1
So , how do we make our own messages on where we stand when it comes to equity and fairness, and to get a bit fuzzy with it, peace and love and understanding towards everyone, no matter the race or creed or religion, or color of skin. How do we make a difference when we are not Kanye, with his platform to the world? How can teachers make a difference in their own communities?
At our “end of year” ceremonies for our sixth graders this week, one of the highlighted endeavors from the past year had to do with a Peace Poster art project. This project is overseen by our fantastic art teacher each year and is part of a Lion’s Club contest to have students represent peaceful ideas on the canvas. The theme this year was “peace, love and understanding.”
Take a look at some of their work:
And take a listen to some of their artist statements:
This brings me back around to the confederate flag issue in South Carolina — the move underfoot to remove the flag from public buildings — and the purposeful killing of those nine people in the Emanuel African Methodist Church, which seems to be rooted in deep racism and violence by the perpetrator. The confederate flag issue makes clear how powerful these media symbols are in culture, how people connect and identify themselves to the world, and how fragile/powerful those connections can be. At the heart of this controversy is identity, as some people see the flag as some landmark of heritage and pride. They use the flag as a cornerstone of their identity. We even see that confederate flag around here, too, in the northeast, in liberal Massachusetts, particularly with high school students who live in some of our more remote hill towns but come into town for the vocational school. I’m trying not to stereotype here. Not every student in the remote foothills are racist and not every student with a confederate flag on their truck bumper is intolerant. But it’s hard not to see that and think, really?
I’m not one who sees that flag that way, that it can be some source of pride of culture. It has too much history. I am more on the side of, this confederate flag represents oppression and hate and distrust. It has no place on public buildings. Anywhere. Period.
Is there a way for me, one teacher, to mediate media, as part the CLMOOC Make Cycle, to make a political point about this? To engage in the national conversation from my dining room table in Massachusetts?
I tried a few things these last few days, but all seemed to miss the mark. Either it was too overt or too mean or just ineffective in my ability to craft a message with media. My brand of poking fun through satire … it wasn’t working because the issue is bigger than that. I feel like I am failing here to use what I know, and experiment with on a regular basis, to make a point.
I am at a loss.
Luckily, Terry Elliott began a collaborative poem the other day, inviting others in to write stanzas and make a podcast (still unfolding in the mix stage by Terry) about the shooting at the “Mother Emanuel” Church. I felt grateful to be invited, as if maybe I was able to contribute something — a few written words, a few spoken words, some music — that empowered me to take a stand. I felt useful, and part of a community of others, making art to lead to some understanding. It may not resonate on the national stage. Kanye did not contribute to the poem.
But it resonates with us.
Maybe what I most need to do here, as I am doing here with this post, is to return to my students’ work on peace as something that will sustain me, and give me hope for change. Maybe what they drew and painted, and what they wrote about, is more than platitudes. Their media has power. Maybe one of my now-former students will change the world. No. Not maybe. Not one. Many of them will change the world. Maybe we all will change the world. Maybe it is in the way we collaborate and interact and seek to understand our differences and similarities — maybe that is what we can do.
Maybe we shape our identities together. Is this the fabric and thread of the first Make Cycle? Maybe we Make a Better World. Let’s get started.