More Hacking from the Classroom: The Famous Writers

Yesterday, I shared out how we were doing some work to understand the culture of hacking and remixing. I stole an idea from a session at NCTE in which we were sent around the hotel, hacking the framed images on the wall of famous singers and performers with funny (and we think) witty sayings, using sticky notes. That Hackjam activity — by Andrea Zellner and Chad Sansing – stayed with me as something fun and instructive about the hacking mentality, and I decided I needed to try it with my students.

Hack the Picture

So, yesterday morning, as part of their morning work, I gave them each a sticky note and pointed them to a funny poster I have on the back of the wall. It’s full of iconic writers “at the prom” and it pokes fun at them through the visual — they are depicted as cartoonish characters and they look like they were posing for one of those sidewalk artists you see in amusement parks — and puns galore. Most of my students don’t get the inside jokes, but the hacking activity gave them an inroad.

Hack the Picture (1)

Their instructions? Make fun of the writers by adding snarky comments to the poster.

Hack the Picture (3)

Hack the Picture (5)

Oh, boy. They had a blast with the activity, and I could barely peel them away from the hacking to get the school day underway. I didn’t mind. In fact, that’s what I hoped might happen, and it allowed me yet another avenue to talk about hacking as something beyond the negative of coverage in the news (without downplaying the damage that can be caused) and into the positive of creative energy that comes from re-imagining a piece of art a something new.

Hack the Picture (2)

Give it a try. Your students, and you, will have a blast. And unlike NCTE, where some employee of the hotel followed us around and tore down our poster hacks not long after we finished, these hacks can stay up there for nice long while, and maybe a few more will get added as inspiration hits. You never know.

Peace (in the hack),


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