Slice of Life: My Immersion Learning Map

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(This is part of the Slice of Life Challenge with Two Writing Teachers. We write about small moments each and every day for March. You come, too. Write with us.)

This morning, after I blog, I am heading out for the drive into Boston, for the Digital Media and Learning Conference. I am co-presenting a session around open learning, with the focus on last summer’s Making Learning Connected MOOC (CLMOOC), and how the philosophies and ethos of the National Writing Project and Connected Learning Principles helped us create and facilitate learning opportunities. I was one of the facilitators, and enjoyed every minute of it as we engaged hundreds of teachers in making, creative fun and inquiry.

I’ll share more in the coming days, no doubt, but one of the activities in our session is a Mini-Make, in which we are going to be asking folks to make a learning map. What they choose to illustrate in their map is up to them, but the idea is to chart out and probe deep about aspects of learning, and represent it in a map format of some kind.

I decided to do my own, using Coggle, an online mind-mapping tool. It worked great (and I think I owe Ian a shout-out for using it this summer and sharing the tool with CLMOOC). This map shows “my immersion” into open learning and networks over the past year or so, and some of the offshoots that have occurred as a result. It’s not a perfect representation, but it does capture a lot of footholds of my learning life.
My Immersion Map

What would be on your learning map? How would you design it?

Peace (in the mapping),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Blowing the Dust off the XO Netbook

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(This is part of the Slice of Life Challenge with Two Writing Teachers. We write about small moments each and every day for March. You come, too. Write with us.)

I was going going through my classroom closet the other day. You might have a space like that, too, where years of curriculum and resources get shoved. I can’t seem to throw much of it away, or give it away, but I also don’t use it anymore because of shifts in my teaching and curriculum and standards. So, in the closet it goes in hopes that it might still have some use some day.

Yesterday, I was digging around for a Dr. Seuss book (following up on our World Read Aloud Day activity of using The Butter Battle Book for a lesson on allegory) when I saw a flash of green in the way back. I reached in and pulled out … my old XO computer. Do you remember these? This little green machines launched the netbook push, although it was an experiment to build affordable computers for use in education around the world by the One Laptop Per Child organization (which wanted to build $100 computers). I paid for two XOs at the time, and received one for myself. The other XO was part of a shipment to some corner of the world, hopefully finding its way into the hands of students.

The XO was always quirky, particularly this first-generation model. So I didn’t know if it would even boot up for me. It did, and I was again interested in the design of the software interface (it uses an open source platform called Sugar) and how child-friendly it is.
ReDiscovering the XO

That’s when I realized that I could use the XO for the day’s Daily Create assignment, which had to do with creating a video in ventriloquist theme, promoting DS106 (an open online digital storytelling movement). There is a program that allows you to type in words and it says them in a voice back to you (when I opened the app, it called out “Welcome Kevin” as if it and I were best of friends and I had only gone out for a cup of coffee, not unplugged it for about three years).

I made this:

You never know what you will find in the back of a classroom closet, do you?

Peace (in Xs and Os)
Kevin

Book Review: Robot Army Rampage

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This is the second book in a series about Nick and Tesla, two kids with a Maker ethos who get broiled up in adventures while staying with their eccentric inventor uncle. The series by “Science Bob” Pflugflelder and Steve Hockensmith comes complete with diagrams and plans for building the things that Nick and Tesla build in the story, so an intrepid reader could construct their own robo-hovercrafts or bot-blasting soaker gun or maybe a robo-bug? My son and I haven’t yet made any of these, but we’ve bookmarked a few for the future.

The story in this second book – Robot Army Rampage — moves at a quicker pace than the first book (High-Voltage Danger Lab), which I appreciated, and the characters in the story are bit more lively, too. Here, the story involves a series of robberies of stores in town, the sudden emergence of a bunch of odd little robots, a comic book/Maker store where kids like to hang out, and some off-kilter characters. My son guessed the culprit early on but still thoroughly enjoyed the tale.

I like how the writers really bake in the whole engineering/inventor/Make ideas into the books. It doesn’t seem terribly forced and instead, the kids use their wits and humor to solve problems. It helps their uncle has a fully-equipped science lab in the basement of their home (doesn’t everyone?) but the schematics that are provided here rely on mostly common everyday objects and materials.

So, you could build your own robo-bug. And why wouldn’t you?

Peace (in the make),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Of Gutters, Frames, Bubbles and Comics

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(This is part of the Slice of Life Challenge with Two Writing Teachers. We write about small moments each and every day for March. You come, too. Write with us.)

Yesterday was the first of three days of parent-teacher conferences. I probably should write about that. But I’m not. Instead, during some down times during the day, I created a few webcomics about Slice of Life (as I am apt to do, if you know me at all), as part of a way to have fun with the idea of slicing your day into reflections and in part as a way to encourage others in my various writing communities to get writing!

These two characters are recurring dudes in my comics about various writing projects that I am engaged in (they began in a series called The Tweets and continue as a sort of ego/id stand-in for my brain)

And so …
Slice of Life Muse Comic

Slice of Life Quilt Comic

Slice of Life topic comic

Peace (in the comics),
Kevin

Slice of Life: The Line Thief

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(This is part of the Slice of Life Challenge with Two Writing Teachers. We write about small moments each and every day for March. You come, too. Write with us.)

Yesterday morning, I did my daily “tour” of other folks engaged in the Slice of Life. Part of the month-long adventure is not just sharing, but also connecting through comments. But I decided to go at it a bit differently yesterday. Instead of leaving prose, I stole lines from people’s posts and built poetry out of those stolen lines, and then left the poems as comments for my fellow Slicers.

I didn’t think too much or too deep about it. Instead, I read the post, tried to find that “center of gravity” and then used those words as the basis for a free-form poem, moving around the perimeter of the theme. It was interesting, reading and writing, and then moving on. Later in the day, I noticed that a few folks mentioned on Twitter how fun it was to find my poems, like little wordy surprises sprinkled around our Slice of Life community.


Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app

I took the poems that I had left (I remembered to make notes of where I had been so I didn’t get lost) and created this collection in Prezi. Thank you to the bloggers who unknowingly inspired me to write my poems, and I hope the comments as poetry were a nice little surprise for you.

Peace (in the poems),
Kevin

Click and Listen: The #11poem Collection

I’ve been thinking about how to best share out our #11poem project. Of course, yesterday, I shared out the full podcast, with all of voices together into a one file. But I still think there should be something more — something that has us all together and yet, separate, too.

So, I thought: what about a clickable image? I went to ThingLink and did just that.

Peace (in the poem),
Kevin
 

When #walkmyworld met #sol14 (poetry ensues)

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(This is part of the Slice of Life Challenge with Two Writing Teachers. We write about small moments each and every day for March. You come, too. Write with us.)

 

Yesterday, I found my writing brain toggling between a new poetry writing event with the #walkmyworld project and thinking about Slice of Life, so just like that famous commercial where my peanut butter met your chocolate, I realize that today’s post is bit about both.

For #walkmyworld, the latest event idea is to write and share a Twitter-friendly poem about place. Greg and Ian suggest Haiku as one form whose brevity fits in nicely. Before school, as I was sitting on the couch with my youngest son, reading, we looked out the window. A little bird flew in and on the single branch of a bush right outside our window, it just balanced there, looking in as we were looking out.

That’s a haiku moment, if ever there was one, and I wrote it on the drive into school (repeating it over and over in hopes I would not forget the rhythm). I then used Vocaroo to record a quick podcast and then shared the poem on Twitter with the #walkmyworld hashtag. Then, later in the day, I saw someone was using Haiku Deck for sharing out some poems, and I thought: of course.


Voice Recorder >>

This morning, I moved the poem into Haiku Deck to make the piece more visual.


Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app

Last night, I started to think of another poem, and how to visually represent it. Night was falling and the white snow was fading away. The stars were already coming out, and yes, it is bitterly cold here in New England (although, thankfully, we were spared the latest storm in my neck of the woods). The poem that emerged tried to capture that, and then I used an app that I have to create this visual poetic collage:
Dim the stars

Peace (in the poems),
Kevin

Book Review: Spy School

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A few years ago, after reading some Carl Hiaasen with my class, I saw the book Belly Up by Stuart Gibbs in the book store. The cover had the same sort of style as Flush and so I picked it up. It was a fun read, certainly influenced by Hiaasen’s style of humorous writing and focus on hijinks and the environment, albeit with the setting of a zoo, of sorts. Still, it was a fun, fast read, with lots of chuckling on our part. I guess some students liked it too because Belly Up went missing from my classroom library not long after I put it there.

Darn kids.

So, when I saw that Gibbs had another book out (and a sequel), I kept it on my radar. Finally, my son and I dove into Spy School as a read-aloud and as soon as it was done, we were searching for Spy Camp. My son is nine years old, so spying as the source for stories has great appeal (that Gibbs, he knows his audience). The novel tells the story of Ben, who gets invited to join a super-elite school for young spies-in-training, only to find out things are not what they appear to be and suddenly, the hunt is on for a mole in the espionage establishment.

There’s plenty of action, and pretty decent characters, as Gibbs establishes some of the ins and outs of the spy agencies, and puts Ben’s life in danger more than a few times. Luckily, Ben has a protector of sorts in Erica, a beautiful girl whose espionage skills would rattle James Bond on a good day. She’s a one-person wrecking crew of smarts and skills. And Ben is smitten (my son wasn’t all that interested in that element of the story).

Spy School is a good, adventurous read for middle school kids, particularly boys. Gibbs has found a solid topic to build some novels off, and my son and I are going deep undercover … to read.

Peace (this blog post will self-destruct in five seconds),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Collecting Voices, Stitching Together Poems

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(This is part of the Slice of Life Challenge with Two Writing Teachers. We write about small moments each and every day for March. You come, too. Write with us.)

Yesterday, I was collecting voices from across the world. Collecting and collating voices. It was all part of an impromptu digital adventure that emerged from a P2PU Course called Rhizomatic Learning. The course ended but our inquiry has not, and so when one of the participants began to write a style of poem that has 11 words on Twitter based on days of the week, I had this idea: what if each day, more and more people wrote and podcasted and shared poems from the week? And what if we pulled them all together?

11poem_Pyramid

That was my job, and so yesterday, I was using Audacity to string together more than 30 audio files of podcasts from folks from all geographical spaces around the globe but whose footprints are all over my #11poem Twitter hashtag feed: Ron, Marianna, Tanya, Nick, Simon, Terry and Estelle. They generously lent me their words and their voices, and I stitched us together into this single podcast.

Listen to it. Every time I do, I am amazed at how it blends and flows, and how the digital composing transforms each of our single poems into something larger and incredibly amazing. The shortness of the poetic style, the common themes, and the use of voice … even after listening to it many times as I was editing it together, I still find it amazing to hear.

I’m still thinking about where we go from here. It feels as if there is something else that needs to happen with the collective podcast of poems, but I am not sure yet what that is. I’ll share out some of our resources tomorrow, and there will be an invite for you to remix us. For now, I invite you to listen to the voices.

And write your own poem. You’re invited.

Here is a visual collection of my poems from the week:

MonSunday Collage

Peace (in the poetry),
Kevin