In Support of the Writers …

Is it OK to get political? Writers in this new age of wired media are still important and should be compensated. Words still have value and power in this age of dispersed content. Someone needs to remind the big companies, such as Viacom, about that simple equation.
The striking writers of The Daily Show are doing their part:

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Peace (in giving words value),
Kevin

A New Writing Adventure

I am back from New York City (from the National Writing Project Annual Meeting) and I will share more about what I was doing there in NYC, and whom I met, later in the week as I pull together some files and thoughts. (I will definitely share a session I led called Writing in the Digital Age, with all of our resources).

But during my stay, I was engrossed during my few down times with a collection of Quickfiction or Flashfiction put out by McSweeney’s. This is a fiction-writing technique of capturing a story or character in a short amount of words. Now that my Poetry Project is over, I have been mulling over what to do next with my writing and this blog, and I think Quickfiction has taken hold in my brain.

On the train ride home yesterday, I started writing and came up with five Quickfiction stories. And hey, I might as well podcast them, too, right? One thought is to collect the best of a series and combine the words and voice with images for some sort of fictional movie project (I haven’t yet figured it out)

Ants

He didn’t think of himself as a killer, even though he stood there with the implements of death in his hand and hundreds of corpses laying around him in every direction. It was just an adventure but he knew his father would be angry with him. He knew this with certainty. He thought suddenly of Horton the elephant and how Horton kept reminding himself that a person was a person, no matter how small. What would Horton think? They were small, these little bodies that had been moving just minutes before but now seemed like exclamation points on the driveway. The magnifying glass felt heavy in his hand all of sudden. He gingerly used his feet to create a pile of bodies and then went into the garage to get a broom. His father would never know. And neither would Horton.

Remote

I barely conceal the remote and still be able to use it, so moving around the mega-store proves to be rather awkward. I imagine the eyes of all the blue-shirted employees watching me, scanning this hesitant figure marching through their midst. In reality, I’m invisible. Just another wallet wandering through with eyes on overload. The difference is that I have had enough. I use my thumb. Click. Click. Click. I’ve learned to move fast in this environment. I’m a clandestine operator. Click. Click. The noise drops. It’s as if a black hole suddenly opened up, with silence rushing right into the gap. Beautiful silence. I feel the most satisfied I have felt all day, even as I hear voices yelling behind me as I push my way through the revolving door and continue my path down Times Square.

Leaves

Their heads are visible and nothing else. Their bodies are down below and their necks are barely just above the color line of the fading leaves. Their heads are there – just faces sticking up. One disappears. There is laughing and then a playful struggle. The second one disappears. I want to jump in and join them down there, below the leaves in a world of their own making. I resist. This is child’s play and I am only the observer here. They need an audience. I hold the rake tight. There’s another rustle of leaves and then, the heads pop up again. They look at me as if I am a scarecrow, tethered to a post and unable to move. I walk to another spot of the yard and begin the endless work on creating another pile of leaves for them to destroy.

Balloon

The balloon dropped so suddenly, it was as if a fish had taken a bite of bait and dragged it down into the water. Like a bobber. You were just a kid then, remember? And balloons were this amazing mystery you couldn’t quite figure out. How was it that something could be lighter than air? Everywhere you went, you looked out for balloons. This one caught your attention as you sat in the back of your parents’ car that Autumn day. Perhaps you were on your way to the supermarket, or a movie, or maybe your grandparents’ house. It may have been a Sunday, coming out of service with your faith in the unknown still safely tucked inside of your pocket. You had long given up pointing the balloons out to your parents and so this view was all of your own. The balloon dropped and that’s when you noticed the basket under it, now swinging up above the oval – it was like a pendulum, it occurred to you — and then it was gone altogether, dropping below the tree line at an incredible speed. You blinked. You didn’t say a thing to your parents. Not a thing.

Death

She was seven years old when the cat died. Eight, when the dog died. And ten, when grandmother died. She assumed that everything was going to die sooner rather than later and when her mom didn’t come home from that long weekend away when she was sixteen, there was no way for her to mourn the loss since she expected it anyway. The problem was that now she often looked to her father, wondering. When? The only time she tried not to think about it was in the mornings, after a long shower, when she was standing in front of the mirror. She didn’t think about it then but she knew. It was only a matter of time.

Peace (in quicktime),
Kevin

Day in a Sentence — VoiceThread Version

I am out of town this week and so I thought I would leave a different format for the Day in a Sentence feature, as I am hoping to push this concept into new directions (and I am hoping people come along for the journey with me).

I decided to use VoiceThread, which allows people to add short audio clips to pictures, and you will need to sign up for VoiceThread, if you don’t have an account (and teachers get free upgraded professional accounts with VoiceThread). You simply click “record” and record your voice. Or use the text command to add words. And you can even doodle on the pages, too, which allows us to locate ourselves on the maps.

In this case, I have uploaded a few maps of continents, and I am asking that you post your Day in a Sentence on your map and locate yourself for us. I’ll reflect a bit more when I come back home on Sunday from the annual meeting of the National Writing Project, and see how it goes.

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Of course, if this is too confusing or you don’t have the patience, you can still use the comments on this blog to submit your sentence. But I do hope you will give VoiceThread a try.

Peace (with possibilities),
Kevin

My first-ever Keynote Address

I had the great pleasure to be the keynote speaker of a technology in education conference for the Hudson Valley Writing Project this past weekend and it was a wonderful experience all around. The audience was full of interested, engaged educators and educators-to-be who were curious about the possibilities of technology integration.

For me, it was the first time I delivered any kind of keynote speech, so I was pretty nervous but once I got going, it seemed fine to me. My concept was to provide a gentle push forward into the Web 2.0 world for folks sitting on the edge, wondering how to dive in.

In the interest of sharing, here is a podcast of my speech and also a copy of the presentation that I gave to the participants.

My Keynote Address

[slideshare id=147245&doc=from-passive-user-to-active-participant-1193481886851724-5&w=425]

Peace (in sharing),
Kevin

Day in a Sentence, November 11

We have a whole lot of folks involved in this week’s Day in a Sentence feature. Many are friends from the National Writing Project but others are not, and all of them were very gracious in sharing their words with us. I am deeply appreciative of them all.

The first group of participants were in a workshop that I gave on Saturday at the Hudson Valley Writing Project, and as we talked about podcasting, I had them do it — using our Day in a Sentence prompt. Listen in to their voices.

Susan experimented with PodcastPeople and posted this, as she begins a week of conferences (and I am going to be right there with her. Here is her podcast.

April had trouble getting into Edublogs this week (it has been a bit quirky as they do some changes to the servers) and so she just emailed me her post, which I gladly share with you: “Swimming in a murkey sea of curriculum and meetings, I grasp for moments of bouyancy, clarity, levity; a lifeboat looms ahead, providentially named NWP Annual Meeting, and I strike out for it, suddenly energized.”

Nancy was experimenting this and is excited to try new things. “I used the SmartBoard for the first time in my classes on Thursday, and today we are headed to Storm King Art Center; it’s been an exciting week!”

Bonnie prepares for a conference in Upstate New York (where I am also a presenter and speaker), writing, “Last night, around 9, maybe after I read Kevin’s latest post, it hit me, Saturday begins the flood of conferences and I’m involved in a BIG way for the next two weeks… I think it will be great, but you wouldn’t know it if you were in my head last night because one dream after the next forced my eyes open and I was up watching yet another home renovation show on he Home and Gardens network…It will be great…It will be great, but the torture comes first, Kevin, see you in the AM when you ROCK THE HOUSE and get this party going…”

Larry is all about alliteration this week, and that is fine. “It was a week of field trips, family, fighting fatigue, feasting on “flan,” and filled with fun.”

Diane had a nice, short, sweet thought that rings true for the New Englander in me: “Time trickled slowly through meetings while outside, leaf-fall turned the grass into sunset.”

Jeff has some great advice — something to humanize us a bit. “Sometimes it’s okay to leave your guilt bag at school for the night and focus on other things.”

Experience is everything, as Amy reminds us with her post. “This week has been full of our fall parent-teacher conferences. This year I have been blessed by having a good group and also more teaching experience under my belt. This means that the week has not been as stressful as in years past.”

Ahhhh — it stinks to be sick, even though the prospect of a quiet house brings the possibility of relaxation and some work getting done, as The Mindful Teacher writes: “A day alone at home is blissful although the price is high — stomach flu and a stack of papers that need grading before report cards and parent conferences next week.”

The Z Game” Check out what Lynn writes: “After a week of chanting my mantra, “focus on the strengths,” I was caught up short yesterday at a staff meeting where the presenter showed a neat diagram that does precisely that—giving me a new strategy, the “z game.” Interested? Here’s a link: http://lsculp.edublogs.org/2007/11/09/the-z-game/

Ginny found some time to head through the K12 Online Workshops and came out the other end with this to say, “This week I discovered more tools and finished watching the video presentations of the K12Online2007 conference.” And she posted her voice as a podcast, too- http://ginny.podcastpeople.com/posts/13106

Peace (in brevity),
Kevin

Come on In! Day in a Sentence

I would like to invite you to participate in the weekly Day in a Sentence feature. It’s easy. It’s fun. It’s informative (uh-oh — that always turns off the kids). Just boil your day or week down into a concise sentence, use the comment feature at this post here to submit (they will sit in moderation for a day or so), and then on Sunday or Monday, I will compile them all and share with the world as another post. Please leave a blog address, too, if you have one to share, as we create virtual connections amongst us all.

I will be working with teachers at the Hudson Valley Writing Project tomorrow on a podcasting workshop and I will be having them do this activity and creating a group podcast, so we will have some other voices this week. But we still want you!

Day in Sentence Icon

Once again, I encourage folks to maybe try their hand at podcasting, either through the awfully-easy-to-use site PodcastPeople or create an MP3 file and ship it my way at dogtrax(at)gmail(dot)com and I will host your voice for you (for free!!).

Peace (in a few words),
Kevin

Keynote Address — HVWP Tech Conference

I have a pretty busy week ahead of me and I am scrambling to get caught up with everything (including a pile of adventure short stories from my students).

On Saturday, I am giving the keynote speech at the Hudson Valley Writing Project‘s technology conference. My good friend, Bonnie, asked me months ago to be the opening speaker and I still feel honored to even have been asked. I often follow in my Bloglines the work of Will Richardson, Wesley Fryer and others as they travel around the world, giving these conference speeches and trying to energize teachers. I am nowhere near that league but my aim is true — show some folks the ways that technology can support and enhance learning opportunities. After the speech, I am on tap to give a podcasting workshop at the conference, too. (Which will become part of the Day in a Sentence Feature — that call for action will come tomorrow).

Then next week, I travel into New York City for the National Writing Project‘s Annual Meeting and I have been asked to co-lead three different presentations on Thursday and Friday.

2007 Annual Meeting

The first one is called Writing in the Digital Age and four of us are trying to show off some projects that use some of the Web 2.0 for participatory media projects — signifying the shift of passive reader to active learner. I am the leader of that session but I am also showcasing the ABC Movie Project as a form of virtual professional learning community design.

The second presentation has to do with using technology to address issues of diversity and equity at our writing project sites and I am working with Lynn, of the UCLA Writing Project, on that session. We have some interesting questions to ponder, I think, about how teachers and students and program leaders can grapple with the Big Issues — race, sexual orientation, etc — and how technology might be harnessed to help develop those issues.

The third presentation is with some colleagues from my Western Massachusetts Writing Project and a friend from the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project around the theme of how to encourage and maintain leadership among the members of the writing project. Our presentations stem primarily from a Monograph-series book project that our sites have been working on for the past year.

It’s hectic!

Peace (with quiet times),
Kevin

Your Day/Week in A Sentence

Today marks the first official time I am in charge of the Day in the Sentence feature and I am happy to report that we have a lot of people submitting their words to our collective voice. My aim is to keep the feature running for now here at this site, but to eventually pass it off to the community of bloggers and have others guest-host the feature. I imagine our friend, The Reflective Teacher, would enjoy knowing that his idea can blossom into a community of teacher-writers who connect every week.

So here goes:

A new colleague, Cheryl Oaks (who led a great K12 Online presentation and has done some podcasting with me via a Ning site), writes, “My week in reflection: I’ve been blogging about web 2.0 tools, good ideas, ideas about how to get new people involved in 21st century tools, this week I blogged about a day in the life of a 7th grader with the 1-1 laptop, time to spread best practice in the classroom. Over and out , Cheryl Oakes”

Nancy is back in the classroom after a break and glad to be there, too, as she reports, “Back to work after a two-week sojourn and the kids are mighty happy to see me!”

Now, the holiday spirit can often bring up conflicting emotions, as the Mindful Teacher explains, “My room was filled with riotous costumes except for a couple of kids who didn’t participate — for one, it seemed to be a cultural issue; for the other, he couldn’t bear to be uncool even though he knew that being the only one out of a costume wasn’t cool either — besides wearing a bright orange shirt on Halloween is a giveaway that you think its important.”

Bud the Teacher may be missing the classroom a bit, as he writes, “I’m spending more time talking tech with administrators than teachers; I sure hope that is a good thing for teachers in the long run.”

My good friend, Lynn (with whom I am co-presenting a workshop at the upcoming National Writing Project), reminds us that chaos is always on the doorstep of the classroom. She reports, “As a writing teacher I want to be like my models—Nancy Atwell, for example—but, the best I was able to do this week was to dispose of 3 constantly disruptive students, and by sending them out, allowing a class a break from chaos and (what was for them) a descent into thirty minutes of writing.”

Bonnie, who is about to entire Conference Overload, writes, “This has been a peaceful week as I move into conference mode next week for two action-packed weeks that I will be sharing with great friends of collaboration but first I have to get rid of a head cold and get my guitar ready to go more public to get my hands to stop shaking when I play for the world beyond my safe walls of my home.”

Family is always important and Tim writes that he has been trying to keep hold of that center, writing, “The week unfolded with a reaffirmation of the things that truly matter in life- family and spouse–and I managed to keep my eye on that center throughout which I believe was reflected in my connections with my students.”

Mr. Murphy gives us just enough to wonder just what is going on in his classroom, as he reports, “Everything came crashing down, but in the meantime my students and I got to murder a man.”

The pranks of Halloween visit Cynthia this week, as she muses, “The week began as usual in Room 13–some arguments, some disruptions, but mostly cooperation and teaching and learning–then Wednesday morning came and brought with it an early Halloween prank (or perhaps an act of “revenge” from some disgruntled students)–a trashed room and a missing podium–making it rather difficult for my oral communication students and me to effectively deliver our speeches.”

The Big Game was on Delaine‘s mind. “Cross-town rivalry week kept the yearbook students and me busy with all the activities leading up to the big game tonight.”

We’d still like to know how your week went and so feel free to add your comments to this post and leave a blog address, too, as I try to create a web of contacts. And I hope you return next week with some more of your writing, and possibly podcasting your voice. Spread the word — build a community.

Peace (in reflection),
Kevin

I am taking over Day/Week in Sentence feature

Some bad news came this week, as some of fans learned that The Reflective Teacher is taking a break from blogging. He has been incredibly generous with his time and resources and got many of us working each week on his Boil Your Week/Day Down to a Sentence. It’s an idea I have used many times.

In the past, I have guest-hosted the feature for him, and I told him I would continue to take the reins of the weekly venture, as best as I can, in his honor, until the day he returns to blogging.

So, if you would like to participate, here is how it works:

  • Reflect on your week
  • Write a sentence that captures the week
  • Use the comment feature on this post to write your post. I hold it in moderation until all of them are submitted.
  • I collect them all and then publish as a post over the weekend
  • If you want to podcast as well as write, please do (please?) One resource is PodcastPeople, which allows for easy, no hassle podcasts. Just create a show and provide the link in your post.

So, go ahead and give it a try. It’s yet another way to connect with teachers around the world.

Peace (in reflection),

Kevin

PS — Here is my Week in a Sentence, as a sample.

I heard some news this week of two of my former students who have troubled pasts and difficult lives and the news wasn’t good — both are already labeled behavioral problems and both are on the edge of the world, about to drop — just as I predicted and just as I strongly warned about last year, to no avail.

Listen to the podcast

Or head to my PodcastPeople site