At Middleweb: Assessing Student Digital Writing

I posted a book review over at Middleweb that explores the difficult terrain of assessing student digital writing. It’s an area I know I continue to struggle with. This book — edited by National Writing Project colleague Troy Hicks and featuring a number of National Writing Project educators — seeks to show a variety of paths (via protocols) to look at digital writing, mostly from the view of process of creating as opposed to evaluation of the final product.

Read my review of Assessing Students’ Digital Writing: Protocols for Looking Closely

Peace (we’re all looking),

Pondering a Purposeful Pause with Postcards

CLMOOC Postcard Collection

We’re trying something new with the CLMOOC this coming week: instead of continuing on with the weekly Make Cycles (which aren’t time-dependent anyway), we are entering a Brake/Break Week – or, as Anna Smith so thoughtfully put it, a Purposeful Pause.


In other years of CLMOOC, folks have expressed a need to slow down and have time to go back to what they missed. The flow can be overwhelming at times. In an open learning adventure like CLMOOC, which plays out in many social media spaces, it is easy to lose track of conversations, projects, interactions and more.

This week of “pause,” as guided by Jeffrey Keefer, is an opportunity and an experiment. We hope folks will use the chance to do what they need to do, and even catch their breath, and yet still return for our final Make Cycle week, when the theme is celebrating connections. We also hope they use the time for reflection and sharing, just in a different way.

As Jeffrey wonders:

So, this week, as I try to slow down a bit with CLMOOC, I am going to turn my attention to the CLMOOC Postcard Project. This offline adventure began last year as a way to connect folks during the year, via old fashioned writing and letters, and it’s such a lovely gift of a project. I took photos of all of the postcards I have received for a little video.

In the coming days, I am going to write and send postcards to all my CLMOOC friends. They will arrive either during the last Make Cycle or afterwards. What will you do be doing?

Peace (rest),

A Day in the Life of a Daily Connect

Created and Shared by Melvina Kurashige


We’ve been releasing Daily Connects every day for the CLMOOC, and even before the CLMOOC started. The Daily Connect is inspired by the Daily Create, and it first came about during an earlier open course called Connected Courses (from 2014).

For this year’s CLMOOC, I revamped many of the Daily Connects from the CCourses project, and have been invited folks to do small-scale activities around connections. The invitation is there, as is the offer to completely ignore the ideas.

Yesterday was interesting, as many folks took the Daily Connect idea and ran with it. The concept was to use words from another writer and “paint” with those words. The Daily Connect offered up a site called Visual Poetry that allows this to be done rather easily (just pop in the text and start drawing), but a few folks just went in their own direction, which is how it should be.

Here, then, are a few of the pieces that were shared out yesterday:

(I used a post about voice and audio from Janet for this one)


(from Terry, with a quote from Clay Shirky)

(This from Melvina, honoring Verena)

(Susan honored a call for photos about Staycations from Kim)

(This from Algot, capturing the spirit of Sheri)

(This from Sarah, taking a post of mine and spinning it wildly)

(Susan honored Algot’s words)

(Kim’s post about writing inspired this one by me)

(And Ron showed artistic flair with his words and image)

There are probably others ….

I love how a simple idea can spark an entire say of creating and sharing and making, using words and writing as the quill of our artwork. The Daily Connect offers up odd, surprising invitations to make art and connect with others. Come join us.

Peace (let’s make it happen),




WMWP: Celebrating Student Writing

Emerging Voices WMWP Youth publication 2016

I was only part of this event from the peripheral, but our Western Massachusetts Writing Project hosted a youth writing event in the Spring that was hugely successful on many levels. Now, an e-book of student writing from that day has just been finished and I am helping to get the word out about it.

I love the variety of the writing and how the themes of the writing pieces reflect the mission statement of our WMWP site. The organizers — led by WMWP Youth Co-Director Justin Eck — set the stage for stronger outreach for student writing programs. (Note: We used to events like this quite a bit but then funding issues forced us to focus primarily on teacher programs, not youth programs. A crowdfunding campaign allowed this particular program to run this spring.)

Read: Emerging Voices

Western Mass Writing Project: Emerging Voices E-Text by KevinHodgson on Scribd

Peace (starts with the kids),

#CLMOOC #F5F: Finding Five on a Reflective Friday

Clmooc find five Friday

Each Friday at the CLMOOC, we encourage folks to take a look back at the week behind and find five things/people/projects/collaborations/whatever to highlight as a sort of end-of-week reflection.

Here are mine:

  • Scott Glass launched a collaborative slideshow that asked folks to “remix” their working spaces with images. Some made photos within photos, and others added creative touches. It was a neat idea.
  • Susan Van Geldar had been working on an image of her set of Recorders, and then, after queries from the CLMOOC community, she created a ThingLink with some information layered on her image. That wasn’t enough for us. We asked to “hear” the Recorders. So, Susan created short videos of her playing each Recorder, and layered those videos on top of the image, too. What a perfect project!
  • Deanna Mascle made a Tanka found poem, but her visual poetry via video composition is so peaceful and wonderful to watch. It pulls together many ideas in an ode to the entire CLMOOC community.
  • A continuing project (no need for it to end) is the Found Poetry slideshow that Sheri Edwards put into play in the first Make Cycle. People have been remixing posts by others into found poetry and then adding them to the collective project. It’s a beautiful thing!
  • Finally, for the second week, I had to miss the CLMOOC Twitter Chat, but I volunteered to Storify it afterwards. It’s so interesting to be the outside curator, following various threads of discussions and trying my best to capture the essence of the flow of the chat, while leaving much out.

Those are my Five on this Friday. What did you find last week that inspired you?

Peace (in the reflect),


Reciprocation: The Fine Line Between Remixing and Plagiarism

flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

While the whole hubbub over M. Trump’s speech using lines from a M. Obama speech unfolded, the CLMOOC has been involved in a week of “reciprocation with generosity” – of recognizing and honoring the writing and sharing of others, with intention. Many of us have been “remixing” the work of others, taking pieces of media (writing, images, etc.) and using it to make something new that showcases the original writer.

If what we are doing is ‘remix,” then why is what happened with the Trump speech being called ‘plagiarism’? Well, I would suggest that the Trump campaign (intentionally or not) did not “remix” Obama because there was no overt recognition of the original writer (who may not even have been Obama herself, to be frank, but that’s a whole other path of discourse on political speechwriting).

In my opinion, and others might differ, a remixer finds the heart of a piece of writing, and riffs off it into something new, as sort of gift to the original writer. A plagiarist uses something useful, and either calls it their own, or doesn’t bother to indicate it might NOT be their own.

flickr photo shared by mikecogh under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

Yeah, it’s a fine line in these days of easy access to media and tools that can take an audio file here, turn it into a video file there, and then post it here, there, everywhere. I’ve written about remixing more than a few times here at my blog (see posts) and still struggle with many elements of the concept. I do believe that “art should be set free” but also realize the implications of that statement are neither simple nor, perhaps, always legal.

Karen LaBonte’s blog post for CLMOOC yesterday — Pondering Remix: A #CLMOOC Reflection — raises a lot of questions for me as she explored what it meant to have her own words used for a reciprocation remix project in CLMOOC (she felt honored and then taken aback), and how that experience had her thinking through her teaching lens, too. She ends her piece with this short, but very thoughtful question:

What does it mean to be visible? — Karen LaBonte

Susan Van Gelder, after reading Karen’s post, offered up some of her own wonderings, particularly around the use of photographs and Creative Commons licensing. Her blog post — Remixing — is a great response, or riff off of Karen’s thoughts.

Susan writes:

It made me think about ownership, about using other people’s work with respect and about when it is appropriate and when it is not .

These are exactly the kinds of inquiry and questions that we hope will surface in an experience like CLMOOC. Connected Learning, the underpinning of CLMOOC, allows us to confront these tension points, with its focus on following your own interests, tapping into the larger world, interactions with others, and being very production-centered.

Together, in a place like CLMOOC, maybe we can sort some of the issues out as teachers, and then bring to the classroom for our students to wrestle with. You know, and I know, that many students are “remixing” already with video and audio and image. But are they thinking through what they are doing? In CLMOOC, we’re learning together, and playing together, and reflecting together on how the media landscape is changing, and how writing is being affected.

flickr photo shared by bighamdesign under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

Since both Karen and Susan posed questions, here are a few more that came to my mind:

  • If I use someone else’s words for a remix, am I a writer or remixer? Is it writing if the words are not my own? (I prefer: composer)
  • If I remix, but fail to give credit, does remix become plagiarism?
  • Do I need to ask permission of the writer to remix their work, or does posting writing in digital spaces allow me to assume that work is fair game for remix?
  • If I remix, and then post to public spaces, who is the artist at that point? Me, the remixer, or them, the original writer? A collaboration?
  • If the writer asks the remixer to stop/halt/remove, does the remixer have an obligation to do so? (legal, moral, etc.)

Sticky issues. I always seem to fall in favor of a more liberal view of remixing. I believe “open” is our best path into the world because it creates an opportunity for generosity and collaboration and understanding of someone else’s views. (But I also recognize it can subvert those very things.)

What do you think?

Peace (World Remix),

Planting a Garden of Connected Words

CLMOOC Garden of Words

Yesterday’s Daily Connect (a daily optional activity) for the CLMOOC was an Answer Garden site where folks were asked to contribute a word or phrase about “what connecting means to you.” Answer Garden displays the answers in a Word Cloud — not quite beautiful but it is collaborative. I love reading the many ways we nurture our connections.

Feel free to keep adding to the garden:

Peace (connect),

Cross-Pollination Reciprocation: Mixing SOL with CLMOOC

flickr photo shared by susanvg under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

This week’s theme of Reciprocate with Generosity in the Making Learning Connected MOOC reminds me of Tuesdays. You see, most Tuesdays, I try to take part in the Slice of Life, a weekly writing challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Every Tuesday, many educators write a bit about their day — a slice of time, put into reflection.

cropped-clmooc-letters-sq-trans-1.gifSOLSC Button

As a writer, I like that open invitation to write, and so I often do. But what really interests me is the interaction at the blogs (sometimes, like during the Slice of Life Challenge each March, there are more than 100 writers involved, sometimes nearly 200) as people leave comments, and spark conversations — asking questions, wondering about the world, making connections.

It’s unlike any other year-long writing project that I have been involved in. Readers are engaged. Writers react. Conversations happen. Ideas, shared.

As folks in the CLMOOC this week engage in different activities that honor each other — and there have been many cool media projects already going — I’d like to use this Tuesday’s Slice of Life post to introduce my CLMOOC friends (we use #clmooc hashtag) to my SOL friends (we use #sol16 hashtag), and vice versa. While much of SOL is located on individual blogs (you can find links when you go to each week’s call for Slice of Life posts at Two Writing Teachers), much of CLMOOC takes place on Twitter and in a Google Community, and on Facebook.

If some of my CLMOOC friends now begin writing for Slice of Life (a few already do, I am pretty sure) and if some of my Slice of Life friends peek into the creative collaborative projects going on this summer (a few already do, I am pretty sure), then I would be very happy indeed. Cross-pollination of writing groups is always a good thing.

I am now off to read Slice of Life posts …

Peace (out there),

From Poem to Song: A Journey of Collaboration

poem to song1

As we enter into the second Make Cycle of CLMOOC, with the theme of “reciprocating connections with gratitude and generosity,” an impromptu collaboration that began last week with Make Cycle 1 is sort of wrapping up. (I say “sort of” because others might still add into the mix). It began with a poetic introduction by Jennifer N. and led to the conversion of text into a musical manuscript by Karon B. and then that inspired a collaborative recording by Karon, Ron L. and myself in Soundtrap.

Over the course of a few days, we read and re-read Jennifer’s poem, shaped it as a piece of a music, struggled to find the right way to honor her words while still creating something new. We zigged and zagged a bit, working around our own limitations as musicians and of Soundtrap. We communicated and planned via messaging, trying to articulate a vision of what we were hearing as we were reading.

For me, this process of closely reading Jennifer’s poem, and then finding ways to honor her writing with music (her introduction poem is musically themed) was a perfect example of how CLMOOC dives into the mix of both the individual writer (Jennifer) and the group collaboration (Karon, Ron and myself).

I made the flowchart above to try to track the process — to make visible the steps along the way. This visual is helpful to me as a reflection point, and is one way to recognize and celebrate the process of collaboration. Just listening to the final track, even if you know Jennifer’s poem, would mean only a glance at what really went on begin the scenes.

Here is the music track of Jennifer’s Tone Poem:

Peace (and thanks),

A Moment of Repose

clmooc newsletter

We’re ending the first Make Cycle of the CLMOOC (well, ‘ending’ is the wrong word entirely, since anyone can jump in whenever they want and that is the start of the CLMOOC) and before we shift into the second Make Cycle, I want to catch my breath.

You probably do, too. That’s OK. It’s been a flurry of activity, with introductions coming in from all over the world and in all sorts of media forms. The opening days of places like CLMOOC are like that. Flurries. Waves. Tides. Firehose. You name the metaphor. It probably fits, in some way.

The question is: Will folks hang around beyond the initial excitement?

I hope so, because Make Cycle 2 (which will kick off with a newsletter later today from facilitators Susan Watson and Helen DeWaard) is all about circling back to the first Make Cycle and finding other people to connect with .. to reciprocate with generosity. This can take many forms, as Susan and Helen will explain, but the idea is to try to go deeper with our networks, and not just fall back on the +1 button, or the thumbs up, or the like.


How we make our connections go deeper, and nurture sustainability of connections, is the underlying current in the CLMOOC in the coming days. Engaging in conversations, honoring someone else’s work through remix, listening to perspectives, tapping into collaborative projects … it’s all about understanding the World through the collective experiences of others. Listen, the CLMOOC is not necessarily a true reflection of the World — we’re mostly a narrow a splinter of humanity with common values —  but it’s a start.

Want to see the kind of connections going on already in CLMOOC? Check out this TAGS Explorer.

CLMOOC Tags Explorer

You can read all the CLMOOC newsletters here.

I hope to collaborate with you in the coming week, one way or another. One easy entry point: Leave a comment. Ask a question. Write a poem.

Peace (for you),