How We Write (pen vs screen)

How we write (a comic)
I made this comic a few weeks after reading a piece about the physical writing process — of handwriting with pen on paper and of tapping out words on a keyboard. I am so much of a keyboard person these days, as my handwriting can’t keep up with what I want to say. But I recognize there are conflicting thoughts on this, and it had me thinking of both sides. (And in a recent Reading Teacher PLC that I am part, the advantages of learning cursive writing for dyslexic students was new to me.)

This comic, taken from conversations in the past with students and with my own ideas on the nature of writing as a physical act. Despite what the comic says, this was not a research study or anything. It’s just a comic.

How do you like to write?

Peace (in the frame),

Making Your Own Jam Is What It Is

I had a good friend in an one of my very first bands (The Roadbowlers!), and when I would bring in original songs for the three of us to play, she would always be so appreciative and receptive, even if the song sucked and fell apart (more often, than not, it turns out). Susanna was just learning to play guitar but her philosophy around music making was informed by an artist she listened to a lot and admired as an artist making her way mostly independent of the record industry, Michelle Shocked (although a controversy over some of Shocked comments that were deemed homophobic would no doubt upset my friend terribly).

My friend, Susanna, would quote this line from the song, Strawberry Jam:

Yeah, if you want the best jam
You gotta make your own
– Michelle Shocked

The line resonated for her, and later for me, because it reminds the musician that you don’t need a recording contract to make music. You don’t need a manager. It’s not about the money or the fame. What you need is something that you can play on, something to sing about, maybe a porch to sit on, and then, you make your sounds wherever you are. You make your own jam because that’s the best jam there is.

I was thinking of Susanna and her musical mantra the other day as I was reading a reply to a comment I wrote at Howard Rheingold’s post, asking us to check in as part of the Connected Courses.

I had written in my comment to him that things were going relatively smooth, even from my angle of a K-12 teacher in the midst of University folks, but expressed the wish that more of the facilitators would be more involved in social media interactions. This was not a criticism, knowing how busy folks are. It was more of an observation, and worry that the online component was seeming to replicate the classroom experience of the knowledgeable one imparting lessons (via video) as the students (us) listened.

One thing we agreed on early in our own Making Learning Connected MOOC is the concept of “no one gets left behind” — ie, no blog post or project ever sits there with no comment, and no interaction. Facilitators were active in sharing, commenting, etc. It made a huge difference to people, to know that other folks are in the mix, reading and interacting. This is not to say this is not happening. Howard, and a few others on the Connected Courses team, are doing what they can, given the feed of information flowing. I was just hoping for more. (ie, selfish me)

Howard’s response was logical: he is encouraging facilitators, who may or may not be used to social media on this scale, to dive in, and he noted, rightly, that this is the start of the fall semester for many of them, and we all know how swamped we get when things get rolling.

Then he made the comment, which has stuck with me for days. He said:

What it is, is up to us.”
— Howard Rheingold

In true Connected Learning fashion, we make the connections that matter to us and we build our networks and communities that are meaningful to who we are and where we are going. We sustain us. His small sentence reminded me again that waiting around for validation by the “teacher in the room” goes against the very grain of Connected Learning.

Thank you, Howard, for reminding me of where the learning starts. If you want the best jam, you need to make your own.

What it is

Peace (in the think),

The #CCourses Caption Contest (of sorts)

You know now the New Yorker has its caption contest each week? How about one for the Connected Courses? I’ve taken a screenshot of a Blackboard LMS I am going to be forced to use as a student for a state certification program, and added a few, eh, bugs.

CCourses Caption Contest

Your task? What’s the ladybug saying? You can either leave it as a comment to this post, or add it on Twitter with the #ccourses hashtag, or share it elsewhere. If you are adventurous, you can even layer in your caption/dialogue into the original but that’s not required. Just have fun with it. That’s what’s required.

Peace (in the funny),


PS — already got a few to share …

From Jim:

Embedded image permalinkFrom Todd:

Embedded image permalink

In Knowledge Quest: Educator Advocacy

Advocating Advocacy KQ
I had the pleasure of being asked by Melissa Techman, a guest-co-editor of the September/October 2014 edition of the Knowledge Quest journal, to write a piece about educator advocacy. My aim was to share some of the work that our Western Massachusetts Writing Project has done with regional teachers around getting published in local newspapers and to showcase practical advice on how to hone a message that is both positive and focused on supporting teachers in the classroom.

My piece — Advocating Advocacy: Raising Voices to Make Change – did not make it into the paper version of the Knowledge Quest magazine (darn, and we get it at home, too, as my wife is an administrator and a librarian) but the piece is available as an online exclusive for viewing and sharing. I owe a debt to my networking friends Steve Zemelman and Menoo Rami, who answered some of my questions about work they do to support educators in finding their voice through writing. And I need to give a a shout-out to a local teacher, Michele Turner Bernhard, for allowing me to use her story as a teacher-writer as my lead-in to the piece.

You can find the article through the American Library Association website or just go here to the article itself, as pdf file. And it is always worth checking out Steve’s Teachers Speak Up website for what he has been up to. And for inspiration, read Menoo’s book, Thrive.

Peace (in the raising of the voice),


Slice of Life: A #CCourses Folding Story

(This post is both for the Slice of Life writing with Two Writing Teachers and for the Connected Courses. It’s all about intersections).

WRITE a slice of life story on your own blog. SHARE a link to your post in the comments section. GIVE comments to at least three other SOLSC bloggers.

One of the main things¬†that gets me interested in online learning spaces is the possibilities for collaboration. All too often, it seems that the online experience is little more than a replica of the offline experience: the presenter speaks or shares, the audience listens and nod head, and then writes independently, a few folks comment and then … radio silence. (That seems like a topic for another blog post, another day.)

As I did with the Making Learning Connected MOOC, I wanted to spark some writing with other folks, so I set up what is known as ¬†Folding Story and invited people in to write with me. A folding story is when you write collaboratively, but you only see the part of the story directly above you, not anything earlier. (It’s a version of the Exquisite Corpse idea). And you have a set amount of space to write, before sending the fold forward to the next person. I’ve done this with paper with my students (a huge hit) and then found an online space called Fold This Story, which works great for online collaboration.

So, this weekend, I set the story in motion for the Connected Courses, with the somewhat provocative title of “You Call This a Course?” and then I began spreading the invitations through the Connected Courses network. A bunch of folks jumped in, and the story soon took off. For most of the story, it kept to the theme of connections. At the end, it veered into zombies. That’s a folding story for you.

Curious about how it came out? Here it is, as a pdf.

You Call This a Course (A Folding Story) by KevinHodgson

And, as I did with CLMOOC, I decided to read aloud the story as podcast, to give it a consistent voice and just to let you/me hear the story unfold in audio. It’s up there in Soundcloud so feel free to remix the heck of it, if you want.

I have not yet used the Fold a Story site with my students, but we will be diving in this year. I wonder how the stories will unfold …

Peace (in the colored threads of collaboration),

Why We Teach ….

I’m enjoying the project over at Connected Courses in which folks are writing and creating media on the topic of “why I teach,” because it gives everyone a point of reflection. As I wander in and out of projects, I see a lot that connects us together, regardless of the level in which teach: engagement by our students, enjoyable learning experiences, a sense that we are making a difference in the lives of others.

Why do you teach? Add your piece to the collection.

Peace (in the share),

PS — the vine above is in conjunction with the comic below:
Why I Teach

Three Comics for #CCourses

I found myself in a webcomic mood yesterday ….

Right to the Quiet #ccourses

Board the Starship #ccourses

At your service #ccourses
I appreciate those who are sharing ideas out, which become kernals of ideas for comics as I explore the Connected Courses thinking.

Peace (in the funny pages),

Making Fun of Flipping Out

There was no real reason for this comic — no one in Connected Courses is talking about Flipping the Classroom, as far as I can tell — but I had this thought as I was reading through the tweets and blog posts of some eager young professor somewhere going overboard with the idea of transforming their classroom experience, and how the graduate student helper might complain about being flipped.

So …

Flip This #ccourses

Peace (in the frame),