For the past few months, I have been overseeing (with my friend, Bonnie) a collaborative project designed to bring teachers from around the country together to experiment with digital storytelling through video. The project is nearing (every so slowly) the first phase, in which about a dozen teachers have been working on short movies based around letters of the alphabet. Later, when all 26 movies are finished, we will use an online site called Jumpcut to collaborate on the editing together into one big movie.
The small movies have been amazing to watch. There have been heartfelt tributes to nurses and horses; childhood stories, both humorous and emotional; and evocative videos that create a sense of place. Many of the folks have never done anything like this before, so some of the use of tech has been a struggle and we are learning as we are going. I am urging them all to share their scripts and their reflections with the bigger community. This is the blog that Bonnie and I set up — called Using Tech to Tell Stories — where much of the work is being shared.
This is my intro movie, which is based on the picture book Chicka-Chicka-Boom-Boom, and I used ToonDoo as a platform for making short comic frames:
[kml_flashembed movie="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=5504345373755011847" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]
If you want to view all the movies submitted so far, you can head to my Wiki site where I am slowly collecting them at one site. Go to the ABC Wiki.
Peace (with partners),
This had me chuckling:
Dave Walker allows you to freely use his cartoon. Awfully nice of him.
Peace (with tech),
As I prepare for moving away from my Manila blog sites (the NWP will be shutting things down later this summer, I believe), I am migrating towards other tools and platforms. I will write more about Edublogs Premium in a few days for our Writing Project site, but for now, I am realizing how much I used various Manila/NWP sites for storage, etc.
Here is one example: My Blink-Blink-Blink Multimedia Poem.
So I went over to Google Web Creator (allows you to make simple web pages and hosts them for you) and recreated my poem. I need to tinker with it some more, but here it is again. It has been some time since I have gone back to it, but I am still fascinated by what I did here.
Peace (from inside the eye),
My wife and I are trying something new this year — we are working together to offer two week-long Claymation Summer Camps for kids at her vocational high school. This is a new partnership between our Western Massachusetts Writing Project and her high school, and it is exciting. I stole this idea from my good friend, Tonya (she will recognize some of the information on our flier, as it comes from her flier).
Right now, I am in the midst of a claymation project with my sixth graders (in collaboration with second graders) and we will start filming any day now.
Here is a little movie I made for my Collaborative ABC Movie Project that shows some of the kids making their little clay creations. Some of them are very interesting and remain works in progress (I mean, clay creatures here, but I suppose I could be talking about my students, too).
I am sharing this via TeacherTube, which now allows for embedding into Edublogs, which is very cool and a great alternative to YouTube and Google Vid.
Download:Letter C – Powered by TeacherTube.com
Peace (with squishy parts),
My sixth graders have just completed a unit around poetry (ending with songwriting) and they had an option to submit a poem to an anthology that I pull together and distribute in our school (and online for parents). The poems were a combination of deep and thoughtful and fun and fanciful.
And here are some audio files of Poems for Two Voices from a few weeks ago:
Listen to the Student Voices:
Peace (in poetry),
(This is news that I wrote at our Western Massachusetts Writing Project site and figured it should be shared here, too.)
The first-ever Massachusetts Writing Project Conference took place this past weekend in Worcester and featured three rounds of interesting and exciting workshops from Teacher-Consultants from all four MWP sites (Western Mass, Central Mass, Boston and Buzzards Bay).
- ESL instruction
- Technology integration
- Writing across the curriculum
- Family writing nights
There were more than 100 people attending the all-day event and keynote speaker was the wonderful Sonia Nieto, who divided her talk up into the difficulties facing teachers today and some enriching stories of teachers who are making a difference in the classrooms and being reflective of their practice.
(Sonia Nieto with Susan Biggs, director of the Mass Writing Project state network, and Gail Gilman, of the Central Mass Writing Project)
Listen in to parts of Sonia’s inspirational speech as she details the work of some of the teachers that she has worked with on two book projects:
I had a birthday this week and my middle son (age 7) drew this for me. That is one gigantic saxophone! I love that he sees music in me.
Peace (with portraits),
This poem for my One Poem Every Month for a Year project was inspired by a recent conversation I had with a friend about copyright protection and the artistic aesthetics of releasing your work to the world.
Adrift on a Raft
Listen to the Poem
“Art should be free,”
I insisted but she didn’t believe me —
she couldn’t believe me — she wouldn’t believe me —
and she insisted on arguing her case for copyright laws
and profit margins
and the theft of ideas through digital handshakes,
advertising along sidebars of poetry and images and music —
after which she drifted into some story about the writer suffering for his art
while his words floated free on someone’s high-tech liquid screen
with no compensation,
no expectation of payback for all that thinking and planning and producing.
Her eyes teemed with fury as she talked and I, well, I just blinked,
and quietly hid my hard drive from her gaze so she would not think me
the pirate that I am, the collector of words.
The point I wanted to prove to her was:
if the art is powerful,
if the art is meaningful,
if the art is transformative,
then let it go by releasing it to the wind,
and pray that it will move someone to tears
without us first grabbing a dollar from their wallet or a coin from their pocket.
We suffer enough with pop culture stereotypes not to add
“shakedown artist” to the list and what is money anyway
in a place where ideas are currency?
She laughed at me then, scoffed at such notions, and ended our conversation
with a simple, “You are so naive,” and then left me with my idealism under attack.
So here I am, now, turning her into a poem
and then pushing her out the door of my mind on a raft of words
into your ear, dear reader, dear listener,
hoping only that she finds anchor in some friendly port
on the other side of the world.
Peace ( in some distant port),
This is a podcast from the workshop that I am giving at the Massachusetts State Writing Project conference. In this room, there are teachers (mostly from the middle school level, it turns out) who are interested in learning more about how audio and the Web 2.0 can expand the reach of audience and technology for their students.
Here is a podcast that we just completed. I asked them to write a sentence that is a synthesis of their past week, for good or for bad, and then volunteers read their sentence into my Blue Snowball microphone, which was hooked into Audacity software. I have just walked them through the upload of the audio file into this blog.
Week in Review
Peace (in the pod),
A number of blogging friends have asked about the process I went through to create and produce my podcasted The Creator: A Poem for Three Voices and One Person and so I wrote this in an email to Bonnie and figured I might as well share it through the blog.
I heard the voices in my head, quite literally. I was working with my
students on Poems for Two Voices (see this link) and figured they were having fun and so should I. Two years ago, I wrote a very cool Poem for Two Voices about Math and Writing, and then the math teacher and I read it aloud for the entire school one morning. But can I find the poem? No. Can he? No. (I am very frustrated).
So I decided to write a new one about a few of the views that I have of myself as a writer (short story writer/music composer/poet), and then thought, I might as well be all the voices, too, since I am all of the writers in the poem. I used Audacity (free open source mixing software) for the sound layering and it seemed easier in my head than it was in reality.
First, I had to read the first voice part and leave enough time and gaps for the other voices. What I was doing was reading and listening to the ghost voices in my head as I read. The second voice had its own difficulties. I had to make sure the words fit the gaps that I left AND that when words were to be in unison, that I phrased my words as close to the first “me” as possible. Turns out that first “me” wasn’t so thoughtful about how words were articulated and I found myself cursing myself at my imprecision. Darn it!
The third voice was just as tricky, except now I had two other “me”s to be impatient with, and neither one of those other “me”s seemed to know what they were doing. It was quite a quiet argument brewing in my head. My original intent had been to mess with the voices with some effects to differentiate the “sounds” of me, but I didn’t have the time nor inclination at that point. So I am relatively happy with the final result but not completely happy.
And maybe I should have added playwright and made it a perfect square of four voices. 🙂
If YOU have a poem for multiple voices that YOU want to share, I would love to learn from you, too. Or maybe you should give it a try. I can also imagine (in the back of my head) how people could do multiple voice poems from across the Net, by sending Audacity files to one another … hmmmm.
Peace (with a process),