Workshop Presentation: What Does Literacy Look Like?

Best Practices Donahue Session
I am fortunate in that I am co-facilitating a roundtable session this morning at the Western Massachusetts Writing Project‘s Best Practices conference. The session I am part of evolved from a year-long partnership in which three WMWP leaders (myself, and two others) led professional development around literacy at an urban elementary/middle school. During the year, we moved from the Common Core implementation, to the introduction of a true Writing Workshop model, to using technology and digital media, to having teachers launch into a classroom inquiry project.

Today, in our Dialogues with Donahue session (the name of the school), we will be talking about the hurdles and the successes that were part of our year together, framed around the essential question of “what does literacy look like” at a school and how do you bring teachers together to begin to foster a shared vision of what writing and reading looks like in the classroom. The inquiry projects were at the heart of this work, allowing teachers to develop an important question and working to make change in their classroom, and school.

This was also the most difficult part, as many of these teachers had become accustomed to stand/deliver professional development, and not inquiry-based work. Some of the teachers will be sharing their journey today and involving the audience in examining their own school climate around literacy and doing some thinking about inquiry themselves.

An added bonus: Peter Elbow, whose work — including the influential Writing Without Teachers — has informed writing instruction for decades now, is the keynote speaker for our WMWP Best Practices event. I have my video camera and he has given me permission to tape his talk, so I will see what I can do with the video in the coming days. Elbow’s topic is about speaking and listening, as tied into his new book Vernacular Eloquence, and the connections to writing.

Peace (in the day ahead),
Kevin

 

Hacking Education Week: Connected Educator Month Satire

Ed Week Hack Connected Ed Month
Over at DS106, the Daily Create the other day was to create a fake news story in the vein of The Onion., with satire dripping off the page. How could I resist that? I decided to poke fun at Connected Educator Month, particularly with the idea of technology and what seems to be an overabundance of commercial/advertising tweets now in my Twitter stream for #ce13 (the hashtag for Connected Educator Month) each day.

I used Mozilla’s xRay Goggles to hack the front page of Educational Week, using the text from the Daily Create prompt for one story and then concocting a few more (including recess for teachers!).

As you can tell, I have mixed feelings about Connected Educator Month. On one hand, it is a fantastic way to create awareness about the power of networks, sharing and connecting beyond the walls of your school. There’s real power and authenticity in those experiences, in my opinion. On the other hand, it seems like commercial ventures see the Connected Educator Month as a way to target teachers for their wares. I just went through my Twitter followers and removed about 15 to 20 accounts that were pure business ventures trying to sell lesson plans, interactive boards, technology solutions, etc. That rubs me the wrong way.

Thus, the hack.

Peace (in finding balance),
Kevin

 

Of Field Trips, Vocabulary and Comics

We went on a whitewater rafting trip last week and when we got back, I challenged my students to create comics about the trip, using some of our vocabulary words. A few have gone into our webcomic site but a few chose to do traditional comics.

Check them out:
Raft collage

And:





Peace (in the panels),
Kevin

A MishMash of Story (featuring animated crayons)

Tapestry, which is a neat online and app tool that allows you to create “tap-able” stories, just released a new tool called HieroGlyphy yesterday that me intrigued. You can now embed animated .gifs into the story itself. I adapted a #25wordstory of mine that I posted on Twitter earlier this week and used the new tool to create this story (so, it combines Twitter, animated .gifs and Tapestry — thus, the mishmash). I’m still tinkering with the tool (and note to teachers: the .gifs in the Tapestry library may not be appropriate for kids). I don’t know if you can upload your own .gifs (I don’t think so).

And this morning, after Washington reached their 11th hour agreement, I wrote this one:

Peace (in the mishmash),
Kevin

 

A Song for Connected Educators: Bend in the Road

http://centerforcreativity.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Connected_Educator_Month.png

I had this idea to try to write a song for Connected Educator Month. I’m not sure it came out the way I wanted it to, capturing the spirit of helping to convince folks to move out of their comfort zones a bit. But, here it is anyway as a demo.

Take a listen:

 

 

A Bend in the Side of the Road
(dedicated to all the Connected Educators out there)
By Kevin Hodgson

We can take these four walls
and use them as protection
Or we can plug ourselves right into the world
and forge some connections

‘Cause everywhere I look
There’s someone there to share an idea
to help you grow
Yes, my friend, this ain’t the end
It’s a bend in the side of the road

You can have your self-doubt
Or maybe it’s reflection
Sometimes you take yourself right out of your zone
and forge a new connection

And everywhere you turn
well, there’s something to be learned -
Something that you didn’t know -
Yes, my friend, this ain’t the end
It’s a bend in the side of the road

Peace (and get connected),
Kevin

App Review: Cool Finger Faces

Fingers

Why would you use Cool Finger Faces? Oh, who knows. But it’s fun. I used the free version, so the tools were limited. Essentially, you take a photo of your finger(s) and then layer in faces. I added text after I uploaded the image to Flickr. But the app upgrade allows you to do that. I just couldn’t justify the $1.99, you know?

Peace (in the finger — not that finger!),
Kevin

Having Fun and Making Fun of Connected Educators Month

This will be no surprise to those who read me here, but I was making some webcomics as part of my thinking around Connected Educator Month. The third one dipped into my cynical side as I was scrolling through some of the “Partners” with the federal folks on CE13, and mulling over the times of so many events. (And I got some pushback from the CE folks on Twitter when I shared that one, too, as they explained the difficulties of logistics for scheduling events. They noted that many teachers watch recordings of presentations later. I countered that strong connections come from participating in live events, in the moment, not from watching a recorded webinar where you are a passive viewer. But I do understand the difficulty that they face in scheduling on such a large scale.) I am actually partial to the second comic, with the fish, for some reason. Maybe it is because I am part of a School …

CE13 Comic1

CE13 Comic2

CE13 Comic3

CE13 Comic4

CE13 Comic5
 

Peace (in the frame),
Kevin

 

I Don’t Know What the Fox Says


Maybe this is your story, too.

The other day, one of my sixth graders came into school and said, “We have to show this video to the class.” Now, my policy is that I am open to suggestions for videos, but I need time to check it out and make sure it is appropriate. I don’t ever just cold-show a video. She insisted this video about the fox was hilarious. I had no idea what she was talking about and then, promptly forgot about it. She never followed up with me again (she probably thought I had nixed it, not forgotten it).

Then the other day, we were on our whitewater rafting field trip, waiting on the bus, and one of the guides stood up and asked the bus of students, “What does the fox say?” and the kids all start singing, ding ding ding. I had no idea what was going on but I had a inkling yet another viral pop cultural train had pulled into the station and left before I even knew it was there.

And I have three kids at home, too. You’d think I would have known about the video “What the Fox Says” by the band Ylvis. I see the video has 116 million views. Yes, 116 MILLION.

But somehow, consistently, I find myself weeks behind the loop around viral pop culture. It may be due to my refusal to join Facebook. It may be I have my teacher head in the sand. But it is an odd, disjointed feeling to sit on a bus with kids you know and nurture each day, and feel completely left out of the picture of what is holding their interest at any given moment. It made me feel old. And it made me realize just how fast and furious pop culture is these days, and how surprising the memes and viral videos can be, taking root quickly and fading fast.

And it once again reminded me that we need to value the digital lives of our kids outside of school. How to do that, in a meaningful way, is what is still difficult to navigate. Of course, once your teacher thinks something is cool, that means it is no longer cool. Such is the dichotomy of being the adult in a land of connected kids.
:)

Peace (ding ding),
Kevin

Of Big Nose Bears, Colorful Nodes and Authentically Inauthentic Radio

da Bear for the Daily Create
This week, at DS106 Headless Course, I’ve been a little less active publicly and more active behind the scenes. Let me explain. I feel like I let more Daily Creates float by this week, given a hectic week at school and life. Now that the Daily Create idea is part of my daily cycle, not doing them feels odd, as if something interesting is missing from my day.

Yet, life goes on …

As you can see from above, I did have some fun with the prompt the other day around creating an existential moose or bear. I used an online drawing site called PicassoHead. I think the nose is really a head. But I loved the enlarged nose. Don’t you? I made the nose large but then everything else really small, thinking of size as a design tool. The result is still a bear but one who needs a tissue or something.

Below is yesterday’s Daily Create, in which we were asked to visualize the Internet. I rushed this one, but perhaps it is because Connected Educator Month is underway that I thought of the various nodes of people and networks that connect. Unfortunately, th threads between the nodes are invisible (use your imagination!) because I ran out of time. Still, the last minute texts say a lot about how I conceive the dispersion of our ideas across various communities and networks. I just don’t know if the Internet is as colorful as mine, nor as circular.

Internet Nodes and Us

There was a neat writing prompt, too, the other day, in which we were told to write a story with narrative gaps in it. It was a twist on the old “dark and stormy night” idea. That act of leaving space in the story was pretty interesting. You had to design flagpoles of ideas, and even I don’t know what happened in the middle of this story, but I am curious.

It began as a bright and sunny day

… to which she replied, “I’m going. Are you coming with me?” Her words made me think about the last time she had asked that question ….

Later, I wondered where everyone had gone.

.. and yet, the night came on strong, dark and stormy and full of the kinds of twists and turns you expect out of a dime store pulp novel.

Finally, the behind-the-scenes work has been around our collaborative radio show project underway. I am part of The Merry Hacksters team, creating a program about hacking, remixing and digital literacies. We’re online partners, which both makes it easy and difficult to collaborate. I finished up a piece with two friends from the Mozilla Foundation this week and then worked to create a fake commercial for the program about a device that … well, I don’t want to say yet. I had more fun with the fake commercial than I should admit.

Here is the disclosure at the end of the commercial, in which I speeded up my voice to make it sound “authentically inauthentic”:

Peace (in the sharing),
Kevin