Terry introduced me to Vialogues long ago and I still return to it as an easy-entry way to interact with videos. Here, I took Dave Cormier’s video for the second week of Rhizomatic Learning, and invite others to join me in “talking back to Dave” this week. You are invited, too. Here is the direct link (the embed is looking funky right now … HalfDave or something)
In this second cycle of Rhizomatic Learning, Dave Cormier asks us to examine our notions of data and measurement, and if I read between the lines of what he wrote, we should be seeking to turn data analysis on its head. So, with that in mind, I offer up the Utterly Irrelevant Data Chart for the work that a bunch of us are doing on a collaborative RhizoRadio Play in the works ….
The only category that “counts” here (in my opinion) is the last one and that is the one that I had no data on. So I made it up. I gave it a number. It looks impressive, right? The other categories are close to being true but I would not stake my house on it.
What sets graphic novels like Dragons Beware! (a sequel to the equally wonderful Giants Beware! from a few years ago … this graphic novel comes out next month .. I received an advance copy) is easy to identify but not so easy to pull off: strong characters, solid writing and engaging artwork. If only every graphic novel hitting the shelves for young readers consistently had those three things ….
Luckily, writer Rafael Rosado and illustrator Jorge Aguirre have kept the character of the girl hero, Claudette, fearless and adventuress and in the midst of another mission, this time to secure her father’s long-lost sword — which just happens to sit inside the stomach of the most fearsome dragon in the land. Claudette, whose fully-drawn character will connect with readers of any age and any gender (even though I am happy we have a girl protagonist here), travels with her band of friends and family, including the kingdom’s princess, whose advice on solving problems through diplomatic discussions saves the day as much as Claudette’s bravery.
The quality of the writing never drops here, even with the minor characters (a ragtag band of princes follows Claudette’s team and it is like watching the Little Rascals on the page), and the artwork is magnificent. The publisher, First Second, takes full use of the oversized book to bring the dragon (and its children) to full repose, extending frames across double-pages to heighten the action.
Dragons Beware! will be a sure-fire hit in most elementary and even middle school classrooms, I suspect. I am hopeful a third book is in the future. Claudette and her friends deserve another adventure, and so do we.
My latest post over at Middleweb documents how I took a “poem for a walk” earlier this month. You can view the article itself here, which encourages teachers to write, but also, feel free to explore my Storify portfolio, where I tried to reflect on each “move” as a writer as I did it.
I spent a part of my day yesterday (when the family was out of the house) reading through blog posts from the Rhizomatic Learning community. What smart peeps! I saw so many quotes and lines that I started to grab the words and format them. I was sharing them out on Twitter when I realized I should pull them together into a single file, so I used Animoto and the soundtrack to the Quote Parade video is one that Ron and I worked on collaboratively earlier in the #rhizo15.
What’s intriguing about quote pulling is that the words are out of context, and yet, if one right, they can stand on their own. I think they do here, and I am grateful to be running around with such insightful writers and thinkers and educators.
Yesterday, I shared out an audio file that represented a converted image of the nodes of connections in the Rhizomatic Learning network. I wanted to take it another step further, so I decided to create a digital story, with a poem as narration, using a phrase that I tossed out onto Twitter the other day about the “untethered spaces” of #rhizo15. The soundtrack is the audio from the image of the network. The visuals are representations of the connections. The digital story format brings those pieces together. My aim with the poem itself was to emphasis the invitation to “you.”
I just finished The Crossover by Kwame Alexander, which is a verse novel that won the Newberry Award this year for young adult fiction. It’s good, and I can see how the appeal of the poem/story (a teenage boy and his twin brother, both basketball stars, and their father, a fading sports star) will resonate with kids, particular those athletes with an eye on the game, and maybe show them some potential of poetry as a freeing way to tell a story.
Alexander’s book inspired me to try my own poem this morning about a song I have not been able to write because something keeps eluding me:
A friend, Daniel Lynds, in the Rhizomatic Learning network has been collecting and sharing out daily visualizations of the connections people are making in the #rhizo15 community on Twitter. It’s interesting to see the nodes shifting and changing. Simon Ensor had this idea of animating the visualization. That got me thinking of stopmotion/time-lapse but I haven’t figured out an easy way to do that yet with any of the data visualization tools that I have seen or have access to.
Instead, I wondered: what does this all sound like? This plays into a big audio push of the #rhizo15 network this first week. What are we hearing?
So, I took a screenshot of Daniel’s visualization sharing from yesterday and I jumped into the Audio Paint program I have on my PC. This nifty little freeware takes a digital image, maps it out as digital bits and bytes, and then converts that information back into a sound file that you can download and use. Basically, your image becomes audio.
Here, then, is what the Rhizomatic Learning community connections sounded like on April 18. Pretty spacey. I did only a little editing of the sound, tinkering with the settings in Audio Paint and then merging two different audio files (of the same image, just different settings) to make one track. Notice how the intensity increases as the connections get tighter, and calm down where the connections are lighter. And of course, my screenshot of Daniel’s sharing shows three different views in one image file (in fact, I think they are three different image files from Daniel.)
This is our team, Pink Fury. As you can see, there are only about a dozen of us.
I am on the one with the painted shirt. I like to do my own thing.
In the Students vs Teachers Quidditch match the other night, there were more than 60 student vying to play us in our school’s unique game. For almost 80 minutes, we teachers ran and shot the quaffle and did all the nutty things we do for our game, as wave after wave of students (fresh from sitting) joined in.
Yesterday, I was tired. This morning, I am sore. But the spirit of fun was baked into the entire day yesterday, and it was all kids could talk about it (even our new principal joined in the game and she had no idea what was going on). So, yeah, as we move into our April break, it was worth it.
Peace (in the pink),
PS — our name, Pink Fury, comes from supporting a colleague battling cancer …
For those who know me, this is my kind of book. Fakes: An Anthology of Pseudo-Interviews, Faux-Lectures, Quasi-Letters, “Found” Texts, and Other Fraudulent Artifacts, a collection edited by David Shields and Matthew Vollmer, is all about taking a genre and twisting it all around in an attempt to make something new and interesting. I first saw this book on a store shelf in the Library of Congress, of all places, and then ordered it when I got home.
The fiction in this book — which begins with a disclaimer to the reader and ends with a contributors’ note and index, all finely fraudulent — runs the range of all sorts of official-looking documents — from Last Will and Testaments, to Works Cited, to complaint letters, to personal advertisements — that open up to the door for the writers to explore genre, break genre and be creative. In doing so, they open up the reader’s eyes to possibilities.
The most powerful piece in here, for me, is Kevin Wilson’s “The Dead Sister Handbook: A Guide for Sensitive Boys (Laconic Method to Near Misses)” — which broke my heart while pulling me down into the world of self-help guides for kids. A brother trying to comprehend his sister is the center of this piece and all the while, you can feel the slope getting steeper and steeper.
Not every piece is as strong as that one, but given the ways in which we have come to twist genres and styles of writing, and the way the Internet allows us to freely share our versions of writing, Fakes remains an intriguing look at some possibilities. For more daily variety, I suggest you check out McSweeney’s Internet Tendencies, too. I get more laughs per post there in my RSS feed than anywhere else.