Spoof Documentary Intro: The Connected Country

Connected Country Spoof
(Created with Mozilla’s XRay Goggles)
Yesterday’s Daily Create for DS106 asked us to “Write an intro for a documentary on culture and traditions of a fictional country.” Since we are kneedeep into Connected Educator Month, I thought I would amuse myself (at least) with a spoof intro for a fake documentary about The Connected Country, and the search for the Most Connected Person in the World.

Here is what I wrote:

In this geographically distant yet technologically connected land, people find themselves drawn to each other by shared interests and expertise. Perhaps it is the hyperlink tattoos that adorn their foreheads or the hashtags each inhabitant wears on their left and right cheeks, but this land is a wondrous place of connections. Here, friends lend a hand or share an idea with strangers. Neighbors offer refuge to the confused who wander in from the outlands of the greater world. Everyone is looked after. There is trust here in this Connected Country. There is a sense that all of the residents here are in this life together, learning as they go along and sharing their learning without trepidation. Notice how each inhabitant wears a sharp-looking vest with multiple pockets. Each pocket contains a different mobile device, tuned to a different interest channel. At night, when the specially-designed lights of the Connected Country are turned on, one can literally visualize the threads that connect each person to the others. The colored webs are another indication of the tapestry of their lives. It is here that we begin our journey to find the Most Connected Person in the World. Come join us as we venture into the Connected Country.

And here is the podcast I created for it:


Peace (in the land),


What My Writing Looks Like When I Freewrite

Freewrite with Students Oct2013
I am going to use this image for another post in another space, but I thought it gives a pretty good view of what a page of my writing notebook looks like when I am freewriting over the course of a day, which is what I was doing with my students the other day.  There is a poem in the middle, some funny notes making fun of myself along the edge, and then the sketch when I got lost and didn’t know what to write. You should have heard the gasps and laughter when I shared this page with students. They expect that I write perfect, every time, but no … my writing is often a mess and a stew of ideas that sometimes coil around a theme.

Not always, but sometimes ….

Peace (from the writer to reader),


Remix this Tube: Where I’m At

Where I'm At Tube Map
During the summer in the Making Learning Connected MOOC, Sara Green posted a “tube map” style illustration of some of her learning. It was very cool. Then, in the spirit of the CLMOOC, Chad Sansing took Sara’s concept and built a remixable Thimble page for anyone to use. I sort of forgot about it (sorry, Chad and Sara) until this week, when my friend Paul Oh shared this over at the New York Times Learning Network post about Connected Educator Month:

I participated in and helped design a MOOC this summer called “Making Learning Connected,” sponsored by my organization, the National Writing Project.

More than a thousand educators signed up to participate, and among them was Sara Green, from the U.K. At one point, she created her life’s learning journey as a London Tube map. One of the MOOC faciliators, Chad Sansing, an amazing educator in his own right, then took that idea and created a Thimble template so anyone with a computer and Internet connection could create their own learning pathway London Tube map. (Thimble is a free tool developed by the Mozilla Foundation that allows you to create remixable open content for the Web while learning about the building blocks of the Web itself.)

Chad’s template, called Tube Map Me, is freely available to use. In fact, a number of people have already remixed Chad’s project to create their own learning pathway London Tube maps. Consider making your own map and connecting with Chad and Sara and the CLMOOC and Mozilla Webmaker communities.

– Paul Oh, from http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/01/what-connected-education-looks-like-28-examples-from-teachers-all-over/?_r=0

This week, I dove back into Chad’s Tube Map Me and started to think about how to map out the connections that I have a writer and teacher. (If you have never used Thimble, Chad has helpfully done most of the work and annotated his code with notes about where you write. It takes a few minutes to get orientated to the set-up – code on the left, preview on the right — but Thimble is a great teaching tool and makes the building of a webpage more visible to the user, and remixer).

The activity was intriguing and enjoyable, although I found at a certain point that there were too many stations for ideas, so you notice a bunch of repeated station stops. I suppose that’s OK since writing, learning and collaboration are frequent themes to the various online networks where I call home. Or virtual home, anyway. I realize now, too, that I could have been a bit more thoughtful and purposeful in where the tube lines connect with each other. Oh well.

Check out my tube map, which I call Where I’m At (and if you hear Beck singing “I got two turntables and a microphone” when you read that title, then you and I are sharing a soundtrack.)

So, now it’s your turn. Go to Chad’s Thimble and remix it for your own connections.  Or heck, remix mine. (See that Remix button on the top of every Thimble page? Click it, and start making.)

Chad Tube Thimble

Where does the tube lead you?

Peace (along the connected lines),


Close Reading: A Presentation

close reading button

Last year, in our school district, I facilitated a series of PD sessions with colleagues around ELA and the Common Core, and we spent one long session on understanding and using Close Reading strategies. This is the prezi that I created and shared with my colleagues, and I am digging it up as part of Chris Lehman and Kate Roberts’ blogothon around ideas of Close Reading.

I see now that more than 3,000 other folks have viewed this presentation, so I hope it has been as helpful to them as it has been to us. (And I want to note that I have set the Prezi as “public and re-useable” so feel free to steal it, adapt it, remix it and re-use it as you see fit. It’s yours.) For me, just making the presentation helped me frame the ideas in my head, and then sharing with colleagues built those ideas out even further. It’s sort of like writing — when we write, we make sense of the world. When you present, you dive deep into a topic – sometimes, a relatively unknown topic — and get a better grasp on it.

I think one of the take-aways from our group of teachers was how deliberate you have to plan to introduce the strategies and value of reading closely with students, who mostly read what we ask them to but they read quickly and therefore, they often resist having to go back and re-read with a focus and a purpose. I can’t say I have become an expert in teaching close reading with my students. Not even close. I still struggle with it even as I do see the potential for engaging readers with a text, particularly a difficult text, on a number of different angles and perspectives.

But I am working at it.

Peace (in the reading),


Making the Case for Connections

This Voicethread is a great place to learn more about why we should care about the principles of being Connected Educators, but also, to add your voice to the mix. The Voicethread is an offshoot of a book by Shery Nussbaum-Beach and Lani Ritter-Hall’s The Connected Educator.

And check out the list over at the New York Times Learning Network of 28 examples of what Connected Education look like in the classroom and in teacher networks. There are lots of great ideas there.
Peace (in the connections),

Top 10 Ways to Document Learning (presented with humor)

The other day, the Daily Create asked us to list 20 ways that we document our learning. Sure, I could have gone the serious route. But … I didn’t. So, here using Haiku Deck as a way to connect to themes of “design practice” this week at DS106, is my Top Ten Ways to Document Learning.

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad
Peace (with your dog, cat, smoke signals and talking drum … preferably all at once),

Film Summary in Four Icons

Cloudy with Meatballs 2

One of this week’s assignments at DS106 this week is to summarize a movie, using only four visual icons. Since I went to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 with my son, the movie was on my mind. Finding four symbols to summarize a movie is difficult. You leave a lot out, and context is everything. I suspect if I did not tell you which movie I was summarizing, you would have difficulty figuring it out (although if you saw it, the burger might give it away).

Since I “borrowed” these images online, here are the links to where I got them: the burger, the island, the inventor, the friends.

Peace (in symbolic thought),

Start Getting Connected during Connected Educator Month

It’s October, which means it is Connected Educator Month, as various networks of teachers and educators come together to showcase and strengthen the ways in which we build on our collective knowledge, share out our expertise, and create rich learning environments for our students.

No Teacher An Island Supporter Art

At the Connected Educator website (which, should be noted, is funded through the US Department of Education and various partners – it’s always good to be aware of who is behind things), there is a calendar of events and resources for the month. (Note: the homepage kept crashing on me this morning.) I’m always interested in ways that we can connect and having a theme of the Connected Educator makes sense to me, particularly if it gives folks a chance to take steps forward.

CEM Starter Kit cover

If you are looking for a place to start, I would suggest the Connected Educator Starter Kit (pdf file), put out by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and colleagues at Powerful Learning Practice. I like how it suggests one simple task per day to begin building out your online connective networks. There is also a blog — Innovations – that you can subscribe to as well as a series of book talks during the month. I, for one, am hoping to get involved in the Invent to Learn book talk.


There’s plenty going on. You just need to connect.

Peace (in the stretch out),