Six Claymation Movies

Here are the final claymation movies made in the second (and final) week of an experimental animation camp:

Dora the Turtle
Download Video: Posted by dogtrax at

It’s All Gone Wrong
Download Video: Posted by dogtrax at

The Magic Burger
Download Video: Posted by dogtrax at

Talent Show
Download Video: Posted by dogtrax at

The Blue Blob of Doom
Download Video: Posted by dogtrax at

Work in Progress
Download Video: Posted by dogtrax at

Concept Mapping — the WMWP Blog Network

As our Massachusetts Writing Project moves further into the Edublogs network (via premium service), I have started to map out the various connections of our blogs so that we can think about how best to strengthen the ties between the various initiatives. Our hope is to have a vibrant web of activity among our various sites.

I turned to to work on a concept map. It was fairly easy to use, although I wish I could have embedded it directly into this post. Instead, I have to provide a link (via this picture) and let you wander through the sites yourself. The map includes individual links to various blogs in our network.

Peace (in networks),

The Future of the Book: Sixth Graders

Towards the end of the year — as part of my digital book project — I had my sixth grade students take a final survey and one of my questions: What do you think books will look like in the future?

Here are some of their answers:

  • I think books in the future will have people popping out of the pages and talking like a mini-play. In the future, you will not even have to read the books, just listen to them.
  • I think they will be little squares that will be digital and project visual images
  • Books will be holographic.
  • Books will be high-tech and cool, and a printed out copy will have special effects.
  • I think books will still be on paper but they will have videos and sounds in them. They will be more high-tech. They will have clear, beautiful pictures and videos of what is actually happening at that moment. And they will have the feelings that people have (example: If the book says, she felt the cold wind on her face, then a chilly wind would come out of the book).
  • In the future, you will read books from the computer. I think this because it would save paper and would add cool effects to the stories to make you want to read them.
  • I think that in the future, there will still be paper but many books will be digital. I think that the digital book will be very interactive and voice-activated, with movie clips, sound effects, movement and even hyperlinks to different endings.
  • In the future, I think books will become automatic. They will have a special speaker inside that will tell you the story.

What strikes me is that so many of these comments suggest a passive reader, and I would hope that a push towards technology integration would allow the reader a larger role into the storytelling (for example: rearrange the story, or add a character, or find a way to alter the shape of the story arc).

Peace (in pages of the book),

Shedding My Skin — a new look

It was a year ago that I started up this blog project (thanks to some friendly pressure from my NWP colleague, Maria) and look where I am now — 267 posts and 191 comments in 23 categories — plus over 700 spam messages caught and killed! (this, according to my dashboard page).

Recently, James Farmer upgraded the Edublogs network and one of the bonuses of that Herculean effort is a wider variety of themes so I decided to celebrate my Blogobirthday by adoption a new theme (which may yet change again, who knows?) It’s flashier than my old one, although if you use an aggregator, chances are you will never see the changes (which is perfectly fine and acceptable).

But if you are here, let me know what you think and thanks for being a reader over the past year. It’s been a wonderful ride so far.

Peace (with blown out birthday candles),

Four Days in Summer: An overview of Animation Camp


Last week marked the first of two claymation-animation summer camp programs that I am teaching (next week, with my wife) and I decided I needed to write down and record what I was doing each day for future reference. I will need to go back later and do some more details but I am sharing my overall plan for four days of working with middle school students.

Here is the summer camp plan

I created this document with Google Page Creator — a not-so-fancy but easy-to-use part of the Google Suite of Internet Dominance.

Peace (with clay),



VoiceThread Experiment

James shows us how to use VoiceThread on Edublogs (I should have asked how to do this weeks ago) and other flash-based programs, so I am giving it a try. (here is the tutorial, by the way)

And you can try something too – add your voice to my thread (you will need to register for voicethread to do so, however). This was an experiment that I posted via Classroom 2.0.

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="400" height="500" wmode="transparent" /]

Did it work?

Peace (with flash),

Summer Camp — part one

I have been running a claymation animation summer camp this week for middle school students (mostly fifth and sixth graders) as a new experiment (and more next week). Kids have been using Pivot Stickman, MovieMaker, Stop-Motion Animator and other tools to create mini-movies. I am working on writing up my curriculum (for myself and for anyone else who is interested) and will share that later.

I have a blog up and running so that parents can view some of the daily work (the blog is at  and the final movies (with a sci-fi theme) are being worked on right now and we are inviting parents in tomorrow to view the showcase premieres.

Also, I have used TeacherTube for sharing videos because it is quite easy to use and seems to be a safe way to share video without any qualms about kids wandering around to different, inappropriate links.

But here are a few of the creations so far:

Download Video: Posted by dogtrax at

Download Video: Posted by dogtrax at

Download Video: Posted by dogtrax at

Peace (in the hot classroom),

OnPoEvMo: A Quick Burst of Fire, July 2007

I was reading through an article about the anniversary (no celebration) of the Hindenburg Tragedy and wrote this poem. The line from the article that stuck out with me was the refrain running through the poem: Those who stayed, survived. Those who jumped, died.

This is part of my OnPoEvMo Project, an ongoing personal saga of writing, podcasting and publishing poems through the course of the year.


A Quick Burst of Fire

(considering the Hindenburg tragedy)
July 2007

Listen to the poem

Those who stayed, survived;
Those who jumped, died;

and isn’t it simply tragic that these are the facts that remain with us
seventy years after the giant envelope caught fire
in the skies above Jersey
while families and friends and reporters waited for the miracle,
only to be shown a tragedy in full view, unfolding frame by terrifying frame
above their heads.

Those who stayed, survived.
And yet to stay put with an inferno raging around you
and with fellow passengers descending like bullets towards the ground below —
that must have been like madness in and of itself,
a choice between some distant layers of Dante’s own Hell.

Those who jumped, died.
And yet how could you remain, stationary and collected,
with the heat curling up against your skin
and the smell of panic in your brain
and not take action to live.

Of course, I would jump.
Wouldn’t you?

But when the time came, I didn’t jump.
I stayed
and I survived,
standing so agonizingly close to the flames
— even today, I am always at the edge of this abyss —
that I am the one who still burns with anger at the fire-starter
— the friendly fiend with sulfur on his breath —
and I ignite at my own inability to react to the danger before
it was far too late —
to leap to the ground through the quick burst of fire
and be rid of this scar tissue forever.

Peace (on the ground),

The Ning Thing

I have been trying to understand social networking a bit more these past few weeks, as I think this is the direction I want to take our Making Connections project that creates an online shared writing space for middle school students in our Western Massachusetts area (this past year, we had about 200 students writing and responding).

My dilemma has been, what platform? I know others are using Elgg and it seems interesting but a bit complicated for teachers in my group who are not tech savvy and need to be able to troubleshoot and help students basically on their own. There are aspects of Elgg that I really like, including the automatic tag-links created via profile writing. Elgg

And then, there is Ning. A few months ago, I became part of the Classroom 2.0 community over at Ning and it has been quite a wonderful experience. Created by Steve H., Classroom 2.0 has grown leaps and bounds since I came on board. And this network has shown the power of the collective voice, as teachers are sharing resources, strategies and questions, and probing deeper into the Web 2.0 tools, and questioning such things as assessment in the connected world.

I also wanted to try my hand at administering a Ning network, so I created an informal one for technology liaisons within the National Writing Project. It was easy to set up my own Ning network — incredibly easy, and we now have 23 members (I am hoping for many more but don’t want to push too hard). I like the ease of administration and the use of widgets that allow such easy access to load and share videos, audio, and anything else you can think of.


And again, this is just another tool for creating a sense of community, so I enjoy “seeing” some old friends and some new friends in the Ning space. And that is a big part of the social networking experience, I think.

Peace (with networks),