I created this digital collage for our 20th Anniversary Celebration of the Western Massachusetts Writing Project.
Peace (in the decades of writing!),
Over at the Teach the Web MOOC, the task this week (week four) is to create a resource that will push our thinking around the work we have done so far with remixing, creating and more into the realm of education. This is a crucial step forward for those of us playing around with the Mozilla Webmaker tools and others.
As the Teach the Web folks put it:
“Our aim is to continue strengthening this community, sharing experiences and make some hackable, shareable resources that push the boundaries of participatory, collaborative, learner-centric learning.”
The task includes a hackable Thimble activity page that allows you to use a template to build and share a resource of ideas.
What I was exploring in this resource is a push to give students and young people more agency in the world of digital media, and thinking about how tools such as XRay Goggles, Thimble, Popcorn Maker might engage them in the work and play of understanding the digital media world. In making not just the web more visible but also the intent of media producers, my hope is that young people become more active participants and creators, instead of passive consumers.
This thinking is valuable to me, not just now with my sixth graders, but also for this summer, when I am slated to teach a digital literacy workshop for five weeks with high school students in a nearby urban center. The program, which the Western Massachusetts Writing Project is a partner to, aims for English Language Learners. My workshop with students will be centered around hacking literacies and video game design, and all this work with Teach the Web is really informing my thinking and helping me put the pieces together for the summer.
This particular activity — the resource I am sharing here — gave me room to frame some of the larger ideas around using technology and digital tools to empower students. That’s an important message for me to remember, and nurture, and build lesson and activities off of.
Peace (in the agency),
Here is another teaser for the coming Making Learning Connected MOOC that we are launching this summer. We’ll soon be sharing more information about sign-ups, etc., but for now, we are working to spark interest in what we have planned for the summer.
I wrote and recorded this song, and used an image from Chad (Mookle!).
Peace (in the teaser),
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),
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),
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.
Peace (in the sharing),
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.
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),
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:
Peace (in the share),
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),