Radio Silence

It’s been days since I have been able to blog and even now, I had to move from my desktop to my laptop and tap into a neighbor’s wireless network. The updates to Edublogs by James, combined with some lack of updating the cache system through my Internet provider, has left me staring at error messages at my blog sites for the last week. I am still trying to get my provider to help me out and I hope for progress today. Ahhhh.

But it is strange — this desire to want to write and blog and share, and being unable to do so in a way that has become second nature and comfortable for me — via this blog site, and I miss it terribly. I don’t know why, but I do. I guess the daily act of writing and sharing and thinking has become part of my world in a very natural way, and so the disruption of technology in that process is a bit jarring for me.

So what have I been doing?

I’ve been touring through the Ning network a bit deeper, writing some poetry, and starting a self-publishing venture through Lulu — Later this week, I get a proof copy of a novella of a story called The Note Who Got Lost in the Masterpiece and a book of poems inspired by a vacation trip to the coast of Maine in 2004 that I published yesterday on Lulu. I don’t expect to get rich off this venture but at the very least, I want to have bound copies of my writing for my sons to have and be able to read, and think: my dad is a writer.

Plus, I need to start thinking of my claymation camp that starts next week. I began a blog for that camp to share the kids’ work (http://masswp.org/claycamp) with family and our network of teachers in the Western Mass Writing Project. Which reminds me — I need clay! And markers! and other materials!

Oh, and I began to use Bubbl.us concept mapping tool to conceptualize how the new blogs in our Massachusetts Writing Project network are interconnected. Here is my Map of the Blogs.

And finally — we are off to see the Boston Red Sox play ball on July 4 in Beantown on a mini-vacation (says the Yankees fan in a family of Red Sox lovers!)

Peace (with patience),
Kevin

My Collaborator and Friend: Massachusetts Teacher of the Year

June brought some really wonderful news to our school. My good friend and collaborator on claymation/movie projects — Mike Flynn — was awarded the Massachusetts Teacher of the Year designation for 2007. Mike is a wonderful second grade teacher whose emphasis on hands-on learning, project-based explorations and embedded mathematics certainly puts him in a top tier of teachers I know.

Mike2For the past three years, his second graders and my sixth graders have worked together on claymation movies and it has been a pleasure to develop the project with Mike. He is insightful, flexible and moves towards recognition of the abilities of all the children in his room. Last year, Mike also joined me in presenting a workshop on moviemaking in the classroom at our Technology, Teaching and Writing Conference at UMass (sponsored in part by the Western Massachusetts Writing Project).

He is also a talented musician and he and I have played together as part of an old band of his and he has brought his talents to the stage at our school when I have helped our Student Council organize concerts for Katrina victims and the Asian tsunami disaster. Like me, he finds creative refuge in writing songs.

Mike deserves all of the accolades and is now in the running for National Teacher of the Year (where do I cram the ballot boxes?).

Peace (in celebration),
Kevin

OnPoEvMo: In-Security, June 2007

The end of the school years allows me to think about my students in different ways and one of my students this year seemed to have so much potential is so many areas and yet could never refrain from tearing down everyone around her with biting words. So here is this student, wrapped up in my own poetic analysis as part of my One Poem Every Month for a Year project.

In-Security
(June 2007)
Listen to the poem

Insecurity rages inside of you
you don’t curl up — you lash out —
words moving like daggers through the air
hitting the mark often
drawing blood in looks of surprise, and hurt,
and sadness,
yet bringing forth so little satisfaction
that you wonder why you do this —
drawing circles in the sand around you —
when all you really want is
someone to care about you.

Peace (with understanding),
Kevin

Teachers Teaching Teachers: Musicians and Artists

I had the pleasure (yet again) of joining in on the Teachers Teaching Teachers show this past week with Paul Allison, Glen Bledsoe and Lee Babar, and while our intent was to talk about how things went this year with digital stories, the discussion quickly veered to how the arts can inform our teaching practice. I think we were in agreement that the arts can engage students in a variety of levels and that music, art, drama, etc, should be integrated into the regular classroom, and not just some “special” class.

We all talked about our backgrounds in music (‘cept for Paul) and Lee even pulled out her banjo and knocked out a few tunes. Very cool. Glen shared some of his electronic music compositions published through Magnatunes and explained a very interesting composition program that uses artwork to create music (still trying to get a handle on that one).  Time for a TTT Online Concert!

 Listen to the podcast of the show

Peace (in music),
Kevin

My Dog, Bella

I was trying out a computer from the school where my wife and I will be running a claymation camp (but she just got promoted to Curriculum Coordinator at her school and won’t be around the camp much!!) and created this little movie of my dog, Bella, as she sits by the window all day, waiting for someone to bark at.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=-6797950917631760198" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]

Good Dog!

Peace (with kibbles),
Kevin

Moving from Manila to Edublogs Premium

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my work with the Western Massachusetts Writing Project and our intent to use blogs more frequently. So far this year, through a generous grant from the National Writing Project, I have worked with almost 30 teachers and WMWP leaders to create their own blogs within Edublogs as a way to understand the potential and tinker with podcasting.

The second phase of that project is to establish a network of blog sites through our entire Massachusetts Writing Project network and we decided to contract with James Farmer and use his new Edublogs Premium account that allows us to create and administer our network, with James doing all the maintenance and upgrade work (Thanks, James!). Plus, everything will fall under the url/banner of a common MassWP web address.

In the past, we have used the Manila platform made available by the National Writing Project and we certainly appreciated the no-cost element to the blogs, but they just never caught on with our teachers, mostly due to the complexity of the platform. I used to see eyes rolling on the back of heads when I gave workshops. I am hopeful that Edublogs/Wordpress will be easier to use (it is) and more likely to become part of our network.

Our hope is that over time, a MWP/WMWP network of interconnected blogs begin to form and that first phase is the concept of online newsletters with rss feeds pulled together. We hope the blogs are not only for individual teachers, but also for the various programs within WMWP and MWP — such as Project Outreach, the Reading Initiative, and the English Language Learners network.

Here are some of the blogs I have established in the past month:

So far, so good.

Peace (with shifting platforms),
Kevin

And finally … Stick Figure Movies

The last days of school for my sixth graders were spent working with a stick figure animation program and here are some of the movies they created:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=1158941878118862160" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]

[kml_flashembed movie="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=4626591408186972447" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]

Peace (in frame),
Kevin

Claymation Collaborations, part three

This is the final installment of the short clay movies from my classroom — all student-created and edited and produced.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=193355201421657936" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]

The movies here are:

  • Attack of the Evil Worm
  • A Day at the Beach
  • Bob and Super Cheetah in Invasion of the Mole People

Peace (in slowwwww mo),
Kevin

Teachers Teaching Teachers: A Case Study

I took part in another Teachers Teaching Teachers show last night that focused in (after some tech difficulties with Skype) on one blogging post by a student of Paul Allison and the question of good examples of student writing. We didn’t get as deep into Paul’s case study as we would have all liked but it was still another interesting discussion around our expectations of student writing and how technology can play a role in those expectations. One interesting component of the show: a teacher from Australia was listening in and had two of his students talk about writing assignments that they thought were well-written, so we had some young voices in the mix.

PaulListen to the podcast

Also, be sure to check out Paul’s slideshow that highlights his young blogger working through a piece of writing.

Peace (with TTT),
Kevin

Claymation Collaborations, part two

This is the second of three short claymation movies created by my sixth graders (in collaboration with second graders). I have one more movie to go, later this week. This first movie — The Haunted House — features some cool animation techniques (disappearing girl!).

[kml_flashembed movie="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=1312872253261619570" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]

The stories are:

  • The Haunted House
  • Bowser’s Race Track

Peace (with monsters and cars),
Kevin