An audio-art-image of I Dream in Twitter

Some time ago, I wrote this poem about using Twitter and how conflicted I often am about it (love it, wonder why I love, etc).

This morning, I saw a link (on Twitter, of course) from Larry Ferlazzo to a Brazilian website that integrates the audio of voice with the use of the mouse as a paintbrush to create an online painting. I decided I would give it a go with the Twitter poem. (I have no idea what the name of this site is but here is the link to try it yourself).

As your tone and pitch change, so does the color sequencing and also the spread of the “ink” on the “page.” It would be cool if the site recorded the audio along with the image, so you could listen to the voice and art unfold at the same time (I guess I am never satisfied with the cool stuff I experience out here, eh?)

Here is the poem I used:

I Dream in Twitter

(listen to the podcast)

I dream in Twitter
in 140 characters
that cut off my thoughts before they are complete
and then I wonder, why 140?
Ten more letters would serve me right
as I write about what I am doing at that moment
in time,
connecting across the world with so many others
shackled by 140 characters, too,
and I remain amazed at how deep the brevity can be.

I find it unsettling to eavesdrop on conversations
between two
when you can only read one
and it startles me to think that someone else out there
has put their ear to my words
and wondered the same about me.
Whose eyes are watching?

Twitter is both an expanding universe
of tentacles and hyperlinks that draw you in
with knowledge and experience
and a shrinking neighborhood of similar voices,
echoing out your name
in comfortable silence.

I dream in Twitter
in 140 characters,
and that is what I am doing

Peace (in artful convergence),

The Collective Days in a Sentence

Before we begin, I found a site called Sharetabs from Larry through his Twittering and thought it might be a nice way to send you off to the various blogs of contributors this week. Sharetabs allows you to collect websites and then open them all as tabs or link them from small windows.

So, click on this screenshot (or this link) to head to the Sharetab for Day in a Sentence contributors from this week.

Here are this week’s contributions for Day in a Sentence:

  • Lucky to be in Kuala Lumpur for the Innovative Teachers Conference, I was placed in a group with a teacher from Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Korea, where English was not strong, yet we completed together a student lesson plan on indigenous shelters, with fun, endeavour, confusion but determination. Anne M.
  • I had forgotten how tiring it is to keep up with a very active almost two-year-old little boy. — Cynthia
  • Taking a day off from the mad rush of school to attend a conference at Stanford University on Microfinance, I filled my head with so much information it will take all summer to digest.Delaine
  • The last week with my students has been lovely, but I wish the adults would behave!Karen H.
  • I let my students turn their research papers in on the very last possible day, Thursday, which meant that I had only a day in which to grade the on-the-verge-of-failing students’ papers to find out whether they’re exempt from the exam or not (since our exemption policy this year is passing and not missing more than seven days per semester…); I’m now about halfway through the 87 papers received. Jo
  • I’m finally home as the classroom slumbers, rests, and rejuvenates for next autumn’s kindergartners- but there’s no rest for me with a summer agenda full of volleyball camp (Dear Daughter), a college move (Eldest Son), play dates (the Pre-Schooler) and deployment preparations (Dear Husband)!Michaele
  • Summer is coming, but there is still much to do, so I seek a new sense of balance in my daily life. Lynn J.
  • Lost in a game of musical chairs at a school Pep Rally, and couldn’t figure out if the resounding cheers were because students were happy I lost or because they appreciated my effort :)Larry
  • Autumn wrung out its day and let go what’s left of its colour as the mist vanished from the last gasp of a dying season. Ken
  • I returned to Dover Middle School today for a presentation on Assessment to find that our DS team is officially invited to present our project to the school board, for 10 minutes. We have to select 3 pieces from our library of 76. Bonnie
  • I’ve completed my eight hour hard labour sentence for the crime of impulse shopping on credit.Val
  • Getting (and keeping) a teaching job has become political, competitive, and just plain icky in the wake of California budget cuts.Matt

And mine:

  • How in the world will I pull off a claymation project about tolerance in the few crazy weeks that remain in the school year?

Peace (and thanks to all of you),

Some final thoughts on Digital Science Books

You know how when you are in a group of teachers, talking about ways that you could boost student achievement, the topic that always comes up is: time. We need more time. More time to engage our students, more time to go deeper into the topic, more time for play. We all suffer from this lack of time, I think.

As my 75 students worked on their Digital Science Books on the theme of an adventure story with cell mitosis (see past posts for examples and other reflections), I once again was caught with moving deadlines for completion of work. The original deadline was a Thursday, then the Friday, then the following Tuesday and finally another Monday. The deadline kept shifting as I kept careful track of where they were with their projects (which involved using Powerpoint as a publishing platform).

And even now, there more than a few students who would have loved another week to work on it. But, in the end, we had to move on. And there is nothing like a deadline to capture the focus of young learners. With the project over, I still have two incomplete books and I need to make more time for them to finish, and I am not sure how I will do that.

Looking back, I can see a lot of great success this year. The stories were pretty engaging and full of surprises as they really used their creativity to get at the stages of cell mitosis (not an easy task, given the vocabularly involved). Each day, they had their science study guides out, making sure they were using factual information. I believe most did quite well on their Cell Unit test and I would like to believe that the work on these digital books played a part in that.

My students also showed me a thing or two. One group of boys wanted to do a comic-book style of project and after I showed them how to create comic speech bubbles, they quickly discovered how to embed audio into each individual bubble, so that when one bubble fades out and another appears, the audio narration kicks in automatically. Very cool.

This year, the audio component was big, and I was smart to purchase a dozen Dual Headphone Jacks so that teams could listen to the audio together. This was great because it eliminated much of the background noise that often invades audio projects. I love those little white adapter jacks! I thought more groups would take me up on the use of video, but only two groups did. One created a Mitosis Rap song that was wonderful and another used a video of a genie coming up out of a bottle. Video is tricky, though, but again: more time would have led to more innovation, I think.

A crucial element to this project continues to be storyboarding, story mapping and also, a checklist that keeps the projects in focus. These three resources were incredibly valuable for all the groups, and I kept reminding them: Where are you on the checklist? Do you have everything you need? Are you following your storyboard? (Storyboards often change, which is fine, but it should form the skeleton of the story).

On the day the students shared their books (with other sixth grade classes), there was so much laughter and discussion and revision. The beauty of the digital book is that editing can happen automatically, so a peer review comment can lead to instant revision. I love that aspect of the project.

I’m a bit disappointed that we could not print out the books this year, but given budget cuts and the cost of color books, I could not justify it. Plus, the books need to be revamped if they are to be printed. The animation that makes the books digital makes it less conducive to printing out paper copies. Many students took the books home on flash drives (another valuable tool) and I will burn on discs some of the books for others, if necessary. I may also set up all of the books on a Box.Net site, so they can download the books at home. I want to provide as many options for them to gain access to the books as possible.

So, all in all, it was a great project, with lots of learning (tech, writing and science) and lots of engaged students over a three to four week period.

Here are a few final comments from my students after I asked them to write about how I could improve the project for next year:

  • I would have the kids who do this project to make a movie on mitosis and one about anything that they want. I think that would make the experience a lot more fun. Also it would let the kids learn even more things that Microsoft Power Point is capable  of.
  • ….GIVE US MORE TIME!! and give an instruction sheet on how to do things like adding links and sound.
  • I think that you should have a contest to see who can make the craziest story that still gets a scientific/what ever concept through.
  • I’m not sure because I don’t know what kind of technology were going to have in the future years  to come. but I would recommend anything popular or good to use in the “to come” stories. =]
  • I would say to give the kids more freedom with their creativity. Let them branch out on their story ideas, or have one of the Harris Burdick story be the PowerPoint. That would be awesome.

Peace (in the books),

Powerful Video of Birmingham, 1963

My class is finishing up reading either The Watsons Go to Birmingham or Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and I have been on the search for a good end-of-novel project. Both books revolve around racism and how families cope (or don’t) with the times they are living in. We’ve had some real powerful discussions about racism of the past and racism of the present.
I found this video this morning and it is perfect for what we have been talking about.

The movie is part of the Media that Matters Film site, which seems like a great resource. I downloaded the activity/discussion guide but I need time to look it over. We did watch the beginning of Spike Lee’s Four Little Girls (the inspiration for the Watsons book) and it was powerful … a bit too much. A few kids went home really shaken. That emotional response allowed us to have more discussions about our country’s past and how far we have come.
Meanwhile, I think we may move into creating Claymation movies that address the bigger idea of tolerance for a final project that will just about wrap up our school year (we go until June 25 this year due to ice and snow this past winter). I just worry about having enough time …

Peace (everywhere, all the time),

And another digital science book

I have two more digital books to share — one today and then one tomorrow — and then I will post some post-project reflections on what I have learned along the way.

Peace (under the skin),

On the Prowl for Days in a Sentence

How is your day? Your week? Consider joining this week’s Day in a Sentence. Just reflect on your day or week, boil it down to a single sentence, and then use the comment link on this blog post to share your thought. I will collect and publish all of the responses over the weekend.

To entice you to join us, I created this short Pivot Stick Figure Movie for you all. Consider it a welcoming invitation:

Peace (in your days),