Inside the Inner World

Over at New York Magazine, writer Emily Nussbaum has written a lengthy look at why in the world young people would want to blog their lives out to the world. It’s an interesting examination of the rationale that some 20-year-olds are using when they write personal stories or post personal pictures. As an educator, the stories from her interview subjects also give me some perspective into where my sixth graders are going in the years ahead and how I can think about getting them to ask questions of themselves and others before they plunge into the Webbed world of information.

Nussbaum ends the article on this thought:

“Right now the big question for anyone of my generation seems to be, endlessly, “Why would anyone do that?” This is not a meaningful question for a 16-year-old. The benefits are obvious: The public life is fun. It’s creative. It’s where their friends are. It’s theater, but it’s also community: In this linked, logged world, you have a place to think out loud and be listened to, to meet strangers and go deeper with friends. And, yes, there are all sorts of crappy side effects: the passive-aggressive drama (“you know who you are!”), the shaming outbursts, the chill a person can feel in cyberspace on a particularly bad day. There are lousy side effects of most social changes (see feminism, democracy, the creation of the interstate highway system). But the real question is, as with any revolution, which side are you on?”

— http://nymag.com/news/features/27341/index6.html

Why do we always have to take sides?

Peace (with understanding),
Kevin

Digital Math Picture Books

I am preparing a workshop this week for the Pioneer Valley Reading Council and my topic is Digital Mathematical Picture Books, which were a great success with my students last year and are becoming a topic of a chapter for a book I am co-editing about how technology is changing the way we teach writing (although this year, the curriculum focus will be on science).

I prepared this little movie as an introduction to the workshop.

[googlevideo]-4118369182909920449&hl=en[/googlevideo]

Peace (with words and numbers),
Kevin

OnPoEvMo: Finding Words Inside of Image, February 2007

This morning, I was up particularly early because one of my sons was sick and somehow, this “found poem” that is inspired by Michael Wesch’s video on New Literacy began to formulate in my mind, and I became obsessed with composing and publishing it. I used Tonya W.’s translation of the video into text as my source (thanks!)

So, here goes:

Finding Words Inside of Image: An Undiscovered Country (February 2007)
(with credit to Michael Wesch for creating the video Web 2.0 … the Machine is Us/ing US and to Tonya Witherspoon for converting Michael’s video into text. With apologies to both.)

Listen to the audio version of the poem


To hunt the invisible poem inside the video
is akin to exploration.
You unlock the door — pull back the skin —
and decode its unfolding creation.
In this undiscovered country — a hidden interior —
beneath the code of image and sound —
a webworld of nodes exist
beyond sight and sense, but not experience;
Its poetry is waiting to be found.
Click

 

 

<title><title>Rethink<title><title>
Digital text is anywhere, everywhere, virtually structural, expanded, different;
Social form defining formatting constraints
as the content is designed and expanded and productive;
linking no longer teaching the machine,
no longer linking information,
we teach you an idea a billion times a day as a virtual sticky document;
post your note in private, but highlight the network,
paper the web.
Exchange the form.
I am linear/non-linear information.
Click.

<title><title>Rethink<title><title>

Created in the Limelight, fluffy and white, social, tracing authorship,
organize the people, the text, the family, ourselves
media mashes U and I into RSS as a broadcast blog born every second
that can relink/respond to this automated HTML-XML-Web 2.0 world.
Highlight the collaboration; free the idea;
forge a link; teach me in digital response: love;
teach the machine when we post, tag, name, link, export, map, save, organize.
Click

<title><title>Rethink<title><title>

Do not define form as content in code;
define it as flexible humans designed to forge and expand together.
Rethink the world as an idea of the Wayback Machine;
Ethics/Aesthetics/Rhetorics: names teaching us of ourselves.
Click

<title><title>Rethink<title><title>

The beauty of being digital is not just text
but video
photo flickr data design
hypermedia anthropology created by you,
me.
Us.
View the source as bold and italicized,
inseparable
and free of complicated code that is no longer just commerce;
etext me; I etext you; We etext the we in us because the information is:
tracing
collaborating
flexible structural elements
sharing as moveable savage minds that can be exported,
highlighted, organized.
Above all,
search!… create! … teach!
Click

<title><title>Rethink the World <endtitle>

Click.

Peace (beneath the surface of text).
Kevin

Dear John Hodgman,

Some days, I wonder just what in the world I am doing. For example, I was reading through John Hodgman‘s articles in Wired magazine and remembering his book, Areas of My Expertise, and then was pondering just how closely his last name resembles mine — man versus son. So I got to thinking about the name Hodge, and so I composed this (supposedly funny) letter to John. And I emailed it off to him (an email account for him was in Wired). And I decided to podcast it, too. And now I am blogging it. Sigh.

John Hodgman


John Hodgman

Read my letter to John HodgMAN.

And then listen to my audio of the letter. Letter to John.

I’ll be sure to let you know if he responds. 🙂

Peace (with humor),

Kevin

Machines and Us: The New Literacy?

This is an intriguing video that examines the New Literacy movement from the perspective of humans having (some) control over information, or at least, examining the phenomenon of how technology may be shaping our thinking (so is it really the machines having control over us?). It was created by a professor in digital anthropology (!) at Kansas State University.

Check it out:

[youtube]6gmP4nk0EOE[/youtube]

Interestingly, if yuo go to a site called Mojiti, you can see how people are leaving their own comments embedded right inside the video: http://mojiti.com/kan/2024/3313
Peace (in the flow of info),
Kevin

So You Wanna Be a Rock Star

I just finished reading an excellent book by Jacob Slichter, who is the drummer for the band Semisonic, called So You Wanna Be a Rock and Roll Star. Slichter writes about the path his band took to the top with the hit Closing Time — with the classic line “Every new beginning starts from some other beginning’s end” — and the path off the top as they lost support from their record company and failed to connect with their audience again. His insights into the writing, recording and performing process of a musician on the wave is humorous and indicative of the pop culture world. Things move quickly and then implode.


Although Slichter is not the primarily songwriter in the band, he does pen a few of the tunes that get noticed by record reviewers and at the end of the book, he writes about the experience of being on stage, performing your own song in front of a large audience.

“For me, each hearing of a song is a trip inside the mind of the songwriter … Listening to my songs, I feel that the circuit between the performer and the audience is complete.” — Jacob Slichter, of Semisonic.

That passage really captures the intense and electric rush of playing an original song that just connects with the crowd of people in front of you in a special way.

Peace (on the stage),
Kevin

My Classroom

I was tagged by Maria for a meme about the layout of my working space, meaning my teaching space. So here goes:

My classroom is the old computer lab, before everything but the outlets got ripped out when our technology budget was cut to nil and we needed classroom space. So I got moved one year into the room with the noisy server and air conditioning (the only room in the building that is nice in the hot summer months). The layout is tricky because the server is in a closet that we have to keep out of reach from curious children. I have managed to keep a long desk in the back of the room, which is helpful for laptop work, and in the center of the room is where the student desks are located, in different arrangements at different times of the year. My desk is off to the back corner, and it is a place I only rarely am at. It’s mostly a repository of “stuff” and I am not stuff!

But, hey, a picture is worth a thousand words, right? (I used Gliffy to create this)

Now, who to tag? How about Gail, Eric, Susan and David.

Peace (with teaching space),
Kevin

Student Survey

The image “http://www.unl.edu/casnrde/images/survey_icon2.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.The introduction to our Making Connections Weblog project (through the National Writing Project) involves an entrance survey, just to gather some data about student perceptions and use of technology. My students took the survey the other day (online, through Survey Monkey) and it is quite interesting to see the results.

Some observations:

  • Almost 80 percent of my students say they are on the computer more than two hours every day (that’s a lot of time — too much time, if you ask me — they should be outside, playing football or tag or something)
  • Almost 60 percent say they regularly use Instant Messaging to communicate with friends (and we often see the results of this IM in the morning, with hurt feelings and rumors run amok)
  • 50 percent said they enjoy writing (whoo-hooo) and almost 20 percent said they love to write (double whoo-hooo). Four percent said they don’t like to write at all (boo-hoo)
  • 78 percent said they think they write better on computer than on paper (interesting and not sure how to interpret that, although we talked about it in class)
  • 86 percent that schools SHOULD teach how to appropriately use technology to communicate with others.

All in all, interesting, and it will be even more interesting to compile the data from all six school districts involved in our project. I’ll share that out when it comes together (now I need to learn Excel)

Peace (choose A, B, or C),
Kevin

OnPoEvMo: Sleepwalker — February 2007

I was thinking deep about one of my students — a boy whose past is written all over his face every single day and he is one of those students who doesn’t care about school, doesn’t try to make any effort, and doesn’t connect with other people on any emotional level. He worries me to no end.

So I wrote a poem about him for my OnePoemEveryMonthforaYear project, just to try to get at my own understanding of who he is and what he is going through.

Sleepwalker

Listen to the poem

You sit —
hands on the fidget —
your mind a million miles away,
writing — the last thing you want to be doing
and you listen to the voice but don’t react.
There is no one in the room but you, and your thoughts.
You move forward — trudging up from slumber, a silent sleepwalker of life —
waiting for something or someone that you are certain will never come:
a hero, a savior,
a messenger whom you wouldn’t recognize anyway because heroes have knocked before
and then disappeared before you could even answer them
— that’s how far away you are —
and there you are, staring vacantly at the open door, open into the wildness of your heart;
the wilderness; the place where you again wonder why it is that you are here
and worrying about nothing more than survival.
Sleepwalker, you move among us but are not of us.
The wound lies so deep, so far down,
that the tenderness that comes of kindness is like the painful knife of the past.
You reject it all just for the sake of protection,
and in doing so,
your slumber grows deeper and deeper until you are nothing more than just a shadow cast upon the wall.
Awaken, sleepwalker, and let us see you.
Awaken, sleepwalker, awake!

Peace (with patience and understanding),
Kevin

The Reflective Teacher

Can I point you to the Reflective Teacher?

At this site, there is much to enjoy but I particularly like two features:

I’ve added both haikus and some sentences, and it is just a nice and easy way to write, reflect and add to the discussion of other teachers. Plus, boiling things down to a single thought — no fluff — is tricky.

Take a visit and leave a sentence.

Peace (with brevity),
Kevin