My latest post for my blog at MiddleWeb is a series of notes to writers of articles in Educational Leadership journal, which focused on the craft and teaching of writing this month. I used ThingLink to compose my responses.
There’s a bit of convergence here, as I am writing poetry every day with Mary Lee over at a Year of Reading, while also keeping an eye out for the work that Chris Lehman is doing with teachers as poets, and of course, this familiar home of Slice of Life.
The other day, Chris suggested that we write a poem about a “sliver,” which just seems to echo so nicely with Slice of Life. I wrote about watching one of my students writing a poem in what we call “inside this” — using figurative language to capture the essence of inanimate objects. He was struggling and then found inspiration with the assignment itself — writing a poem about the poem he was supposed to be writing about.
Today’s Wonder poem is about Mount Everest, and the mountain and its role as an unpredictable force of nature has been in the news lately (sadly) with the avalanche that has taken the lives of native guides. Mary Lee captures that role of the mountain in her powerful poem this morning. I decided to go after the mountain with wonder, in the form of a haiku.
I have been invited to talk about technology and youth to a group of mothers (it’s a Mothers’ Club and they are very supportive of our school) in my school district tomorrow night. This presentation will guide my discussions, and I am going to share out this great resource: The Social Media 411 for Parents.
Today’s Wonders of the World Poem is focused on the Great Barrier Reef. I found myself entranced first by the colors, which are brilliant, and then on the sobering news of how Global Warming and environmental change is killing off the reef, making it gray and solid. The poem then become a metaphor poem (or is every poem ultimately a metaphor poem in the end?)
Your Tongue as Pen to Stories of the World (Great Barrier Reef)
You used to splatter me with paint:
I’d lounge here quietly in this cascade of colors,
letting the currents bring you in and out,
and in again as with the tides,
your tongue as pen to stories of the world.
But even I can hardly fail to notice that
with each passing day,
our hues have become a bit more duller
and our movements, ever slower.
Where once the solid form of us was teeming with love
and alive with wonder,
now, it is becoming little more than
a hardened reminder,
a silent statue of remembrance to
what once might have been.
I feel like I can’t shout quite loud enough about the resources being developed over at the Mozilla Foundations’s Webmaker space. Here, the philosophy of the “open, remixable web” comes to fruition with a series of projects and tools that invite you to remix and remake in your own light, with tutorials on coding and creating that provide entry points for just about anyone with an interest. Mostly using its Thimble (a webpage-style publishing tool) and Popcorn (a video and digital story tool) platforms, Webmaker offers free and interactive ways to become engaged with digital literacies.
You will need an account with Webmaker to save work (but you can tie it to other email accounts) and I am still navigating the best way for my sixth graders to create work in our environment where they don’t have school emails (ack). But at the very least, you can explore the world of making the web with its remixable templates, and there is the built-in ease of publishing in a matter of minutes just by clicking the “remix” link on any of the projects, tinkering with code and text, and remaking it into something new.
There are also sections at the Webmaker space for how to teach with its tools, where all sorts of “kits” are available for free, and freely remixable for your own situation. You can also use their blank templates for your own lesson plans and ideas.
We’re starting our planning for this summer’s Making Learning Connected Massive Open Online Collaboration (notice how we don’t say “course” — that’s important) or CLMOOC. We’re in a very soft launch mode right now, but you can visit the FAQ page and add your email to our update lists.
Basically, it will be a summer of play and exploration and learning, all under the umbrella of Innovator Educator‘s Summer to Make, Play and Connect. We had great success, and a blast, last summer and we’re working to build on that experience for Round Two. Making Learning Connected runs from June 13-August 1, 2014 and we use the Twitter hashtag #clmooc.
One thing I have been intrigued about when it comes to doing some research on the topics for the Wonders of the World poems are the translation of names of places on the list that Mary Lee has pulled together. So, this morning, when I was learning about Chichen Itza, the Mayan city, I was intrigued by the poetic translation of the name as “the mouth of the well,” and that led me into my poem.
As some of you know, I’ve been trying to work in different technology as best as I can into my poetry writing (although I am starting to feel that I might just fade the technology and concentrate on the writing as the second half of the month unfolds. We’ll see …)
This morning, I decided to check out Mozilla’s Webmaker space, to see if there were any cool remixable projects that might work well with my poem of looking ahead and looking behind. I did find one, although it is a bit more advanced than I am used to. But the beauty of Webmaker is that the original creator leaves notes in the code for the remixer (Webmaker rocks!), so all I had to do was follow the instructions to create my own interactive poem page of “A Drink from the Mouth of the Well.”
I like how it came out, with each hovering over a section of the poem revealing a stanza. I did podcast the poem but could only fit it at the bottom of the page, which is not ideal, although I suppose this way, the audio does not disrupt the reading of the poem in sections.