Musical Landscapes: Under Each Leaf (Song Three)

I am immersing myself in making music, and found myself connected to the idea of a musical landscape, a musical map of ideas expressed not in latitude and longitude, but in sound, melody and rhythm.  This project connects back to this month’s Pop-Up Make Cycle with the CLMOOC.

I have already shared out two pieces:

This third piece, Under Each Leaf,  is inspired by what the title says. I was looking under a certain leaf in our yard as I was doing some raking, and found bugs and critters all beginning to settle in for the cold, as if the leaf were a blanket of some kind.

Take a listen to Under Each Leaf.

Thanks for taking the time to lend your ears.

Peace (under us),

Musical Landscapes: Busy in the Trees (Song Two)

I am immersing myself in making music, and found myself connected to the idea of a musical landscape, a musical map of ideas expressed not in latitude and longitude, but in sound, melody and rhythm.  This project connects back to this month’s Pop-Up Make Cycle with the CLMOOC.

Yesterday, I shared out the first piece, entitled Interlocking Parts.

This one, Busy in the Trees, is inspired by the way the squirrels and other small animals dance and jump and cruise through the trees of our yard. It’s a circus act of sorts. The last note of sustain is the tree branch slowly going back to static mode after the last leap of the squirrels.

Take a listen to Busy in the Trees.

Thanks for taking the time to listen.

Peace (sounds like),

Musical Landscapes: Interlocking Parts (Song One)

The other day, I immersed myself in making music, and found myself connected to the idea of a musical landscape, a musical map of ideas expressed not in latitude and longitude, but in sound, melody and rhythm.  This project connects back to this month’s Pop-Up Make Cycle with the CLMOOC.

Over the coming days, I am going to share out the short musical pieces that I created and then, I hope to figure out a way to map the sounds into a landscape of some sort. Most of the songs (all very short, by the way) will be inspired by something I have seen or noticed in the natural world.

The first track here is called Interlocking Parts.

It was inspired, in part, by a particular tree whose branches are folding in on itself. Many are now fused together, interlocking with the other. I thought the tree was interesting, and reminded me of how melody lines can intertwine with others.

Thanks for taking the time to listen …

Peace (on the map),

Giving Thanks: Keepers of the Flame

This video from my friends at Fablevision (Peter and Paul Reynolds) made its way to my mailbox this week, as they offered to thanks to teachers in their network. It’s a quiet poem, with the power of gratitude, and it is infused with the Reynolds’ gentle touch of art and hope and wonder.

If you are an educator celebrating Thanksgiving today, thank you for all that you do (particularly if you are a teacher of my own kids). If not (either not a teacher or you live outside the US), thank you, too. I am grateful for those folks in my various circles.

Peace (and hope in the flame),

Pinning Class Books on the Map

Mapping Books

My sixth graders have just finished a novel in which a character is sending postcards and letters and more from her travels around the world. I want to show my students how to use Google Maps for constructing maps of information. As a sampler, I began making a map of locations related to some of the class novels we will be reading this year.

This also nicely connects to the Mapvember theme of a CLMOOC Pop-Up Make Cycle. Come join in. Make maps!

I think my students will enjoy the making of maps within their Google Accounts, once they get comfortable with how to do so and with the different visual aspects of icons, images, etc. What I would like to also do is teach them how to use the different elements of mapping (such as distance calculation, connector lines/points, and more). And also, I’d like them to learn how to move the code from Maps into Google Earth.

Take a look at my book map so far …

Or check out the embedded version:

Different layers, different complexities.

I’ll share some student maps in the coming days …

Peace (mapped and known),

Slice of Life: Hallways of Peace

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

I love this time of year for the ways our art teacher has decorated the hallways with a myriad of posters created by our sixth graders for the Lions Club Peace Poster contest.

Peace Poster sampling

Each year, the kids work off a theme about peace, and their posters are designed to capture the concept. This year is all about the Future of Peace. One student’s work will go on to the state level of competition, and then perhaps beyond.

Peace Poster sampling

The young artists cannot use words or text, only image and design. I work with the art teacher on the students’ writing of an Artist Statement that will hang with each piece. Students write about their artistic intentions, use of symbols, choice of elements and more, and that writing really exposes their thinking.

Peace Poster samplingYou can’t help but notice the possibilities of peace as you wander our school hallways. That’s a good thing.

Peace (beyond posters),

Games, Learning, Literacy: Week 4 (Art Forms)

James Paul Gee Quote18

I’m off on a new reading adventure, diving into James Paul Gee’s book — What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy — with discussion prompts by my friend, Keegan. 

This weekend, I came to the end of Gee’s book, and I found myself once again appreciating the perspectives he brings to the picture. It’s most pertinent now for me because I am bringing my sixth graders into their game design unit, starting today. While Gee’s work looks more at the player within a game system, and all the literacies that are part of it, my aim is more around teaching my students how to think of a game as a story, and the story as the framework of the game.

Gee’s wrap-up thoughts around Affinity Spaces and the fluid nature between game designer and game player (particularly as more and more games have open ended entry points for players to mod, or hack, games) is intriguing. It reminds me there is so much I don’t know about video games when it comes to reading and writing and thinking.

And Gee also admits that this kind of literacy moment is still emerging (he wrote the book a few years ago, but that is still true, I believe) and there is much we don’t know, and may not know, for some time. That makes it all very intriguing as a curious teacher of writing and reading, right? I think so.

James Paul Gee Quote19

Peace (reading and playing),

Graphic Novel Review: Wires and Nerve

This graphic novel — Wires and Nerve — is my first brush with Marissa Meyers, who has written a series of books under the banner of The Lunar Chronicles. This graphic story has much of those stories as the backdrop but I dove in fairly easily even without knowing much of the past and I found myself quickly enjoying this graphic tale of the mending of relations between the Lunar society and the Earth one.

Like many good stories, this one revolves around heroes, and an emerging plot to bring them down. And as with many good stories, this one has its complexities, as a band of Wolf-like creatures (released on Earth during some earlier battle in some earlier story) are being brought together by a rogue agent, in an effort to bring down the new Lunar queen, Cinder.

Much of the story revolves around Iko, a cyborg friend of the queen, who has taken on the task of hunting down the Wolf-like creatures on Earth in a stealth missions. Iko is a complicated character, a creature of wires and circuits who seems to be on the verge of something mysterious (with plenty of hints for future story extensions).

This book moves along at a nice pace, and balances action with romance and friendship, and spends its time with character development. Even with this single book, I cared about Iko and her friends, and I look forward to future installments in the graphic novel series. I might even look at the novels.

Wires and Nerve is appropriate for middle school and high school classrooms. There is nothing here to warrant any red flags *unless kissing is your red flag. For girl and boy readers, Wires and Nerve might find an audience.

Peace (in the pages),

On the NWP Stage: Dear Intolerant Parent

This spoken poem response to a parent critical of teachers bringing social justice issues into the classroom roused the Plenary Session of the National Writing Project this past week. Michelle Clark delivered this piece from the stage.

Clark and two other teachers were sharing the work they had done with the Holocaust Educators Network and then their own classrooms, and she had explained the powerful work that came from students’ project to create an art show/auction to support immigrant families in California as a way to open up dialogue. The poem is a response to a parent who sent her an email, critical of that project.

Peace (bring it on),

Getting Playful at the City Museum

City Museum, St. Louis

Some museums are designed to places of playful learning. Some, teach you. No museum that I have gone to is quite like the City Museum of St. Louis (where we are attending a National Writing Project conference). The City Museum is like some Alice in Wonderland, brought into an old building and the only way you experience it is by following the unmarked paths, and getting lost for a bit.

You’ll come across dark caverns, a ten-story slide, more smaller slides than you can fathom, unlit tunnels, myriad nooks and crannies, displays of bizarre artifacts, a human hamster wheel, an airplane connected to the outside roof of the building, a tunnel of mirrors, a huge pencil for balancing upon, and so much more. Oh, there’s also a circus that performs daily. And a small train for little kids.

City Museum, St. LouisIt’s dazzling, disorientating and all designed for play and exploration. Sort makes me think of CLMOOC and its ethos of immersive learning.

City Museum, St. Louis

And what it also makes me think of how to design a physical space for play, and how to imagine a museum of sorts that pushes the boundaries of what we expect from such a space. There are museums of discovery, and then there is the City Museum. It was a fantastic way to cap our last full day here in St. Louis.

Peace (twisted and turning),