Technology Reaches Out

(NOTE: this one has been sitting in my blog bin for some time)

This wonderful video — appropriately titled “Inclusion” — was shared through a listserve that I am on through the National Writing Project and it features a fourth grade classroom that uses Skype to videoconference with a fellow student who is homebound due to Leukemia. The video is narrated by students and it is powerful in the ways that we can use technology to reach out and connect with others.

View the movie

Peace (with potential),
Kevin

Two Poems for the Price of One

I have two poems to share as part of my One Poem Every Month for a Year project (which ends in November). The first one I started writing last month, as I watched my youngest son twist the corners of his favorite blanket over and over again, and the second poem I wrote just the other day. As my students were doing freewriting in the classroom, so was I and in the silence of our work, you could almost hear the echoes of stories and poems being undertaken in our minds.

On the Cartographer’s Map
(Sept. 2007)
Listen to the poem

This creeping cord
of tension slips
its knot
and moves as a snake to the heart
I’d fall apart
but the world needs
an Atlas to keep it balanced
(precarious as it is
and such a reluctant hero, burdened)
Always there is this sense of renewal
just around the bend
with outstretched hands waiting
to grab this globe and spin me free
on the cartographer’s canvas —
crisscrossed with longitude —
layered with latitude —
I am wondering all the while where the edge is
where I will fall off
and tumble into the nothingness.

Comfort Corners
(Sept. 2007)
Listen to the poem

He reaches for the corner, timeworn and faded
with fingers clenched tight
around the corner softened by tears and worry and cries,
as the comforter is dragged from room
to room to room as if it were a tail that could not come unattached.
His three-year-old eyes are intense
and anxious
as he moves from one corner
to the next corner
to the next
and he slips the fabric between
index and ring fingers — always, always, index and ring fingers —
and slowly twines the crux of blanket for a few seconds
in a gesture of relaxation before moving on to the next corner,
and I wonder, sitting here, watching him, as a father removed from sight:
what comfort does this movement bring to him
and how did he ever discover it?
But the boy just closes his eyes
and rests and there
in sleep,
the twisting and turning of his mind
continues, unabated and unresolved.

Peace (in poems),
Kevin

Google Docs (and now presentations)

I use Google Docs all the time for collaboration for workshops and meetings, and for my own writing — I can move from one location to another without having to hang a flashdrive around my neck. In fact, yesterday, in class, as my students were doing some freewriting, I was writing a poem that I put on my Google Docs and then revised it back home.

Now, Google has added a presentation (powerpoint) format to its Google Docs platform and it seems to be pretty cool. A bunch of folks are already trying it out and seeing what is possible and what is not (you can upload PP shows but not Keynote, apparently), but the idea of collaborating on a presentation seems pretty nifty to me. Cool Cat Teacher created this slideshow collaboratively to show some of the ins and outs of the tool.

Meanwhile, I found this video from CommonCraft (those guys again!) on how to use Google Docs. It’s a bit old but still useful.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/eRqUE6IHTEA" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Peace (in collaboration),
Kevin

Intro to Apps: Vehicles of the Future

In this first week of school, I try to get my students on the laptops at our school and introduce them to some simple programs: MS Paint and MS Publisher. These are two applications we will use more in the school year. We work on a writing prompt in which they design a vehicle of the future, and the move to the computer to use Paint to draw it and then Publisher to create an advertising flier. I grabbed some of their illustrations this year for a short movie:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=415531743774331741" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]

You can also view two of the ads:

Peace (in exploration),
Kevin

CreativeCrowdwriting

I came upon an interesting article in Wired Magazine about something called Creative Crowdwriting and it involves writing a novel by opening up the publication to the entire world to add to, edit and alter. The platform is often a wiki and the response to such endeavors is mixed — some see it as nothing more than unstructured mayhem while others tout it as an ideal product of collaboration.

Here are two of the “novels” that the article cites:

This concept is similar to the one I have used with wikis and collaborative storywriting, in which I invite a set audience (usually my students but sometimes my teaching/professional colleagues) to add to a developing story via a wiki. The results have always been interesting but the product is less the goal than the collaboration, I think. I am not sure more brains have made the stories any better.

Here are two of my collaborative wiki stories:

But here is an application of this concept that I would like to try with students with wikis and collaboration — creating Make Your Own Ending Stories via a wiki site and I might try that this year.

Peace (in wikis),
Kevin

The Year Begins with … a podcast

I’ve been busy getting myself and my students situated in Week Two but that hasn’t stopped us from creating a podcast for our class Weblog site. The podcast emerged from a writing prompt on Sept. 11, in which we talked about the impact of change on the world from a negative standpoint and a positive standpoint. We brainstormed ways in which the world needs some help and then they wrote briefly about how they would change the world, if they could.

They did a fantastic job and enjoyed hearing their podcasts the next day (and parents have remarked on the wonder of listening in to the work of the classroom)

You can listen, too:

Peace (with the power to change),
Kevin

Publishing Poems

I have been in the midst of a year-long project to write and publish and podcast at least one poem per month, and part of that effort is to collect enough poems to self-publish some kind of book later this year. Until that moment, however, I submitted a few of the poems to the New England Association of Teachers of English journal — The Leaflet — and two of the poems were just published.

Very cool.

neate

The two poems (which are poems about poetry) were:

Peace (in poems),
Kevin

How To … Podcasts (in a minute or so)

One of the fun podcasts I have in my Bloglines is called One Minute How-to and the host invites folks to come on and discuss something, anything really, in about a minute. The topics are all over the place and really insightful.

This is the brief overview of the site by George Smyth:

The One Minute How-To is your podcast. Each episode features someone just like you who explains how to do something. The catch is that the participant is only given 60 seconds. This means that they need to get right to the point, but isn’t that a good thing?

Here are two that I saved:

Peace (in brevity),
Kevin