Pondering Ideas from the #CLMOOC Chats

We hosted two Twitter Chats for CLMOOC yesterday — two hours of pretty far-ranging conversations and connections around the theme of art and artists in a connected world. (Note: these two curations are only part of the free-flowing conversations that took place. Many tweets were left out for the sake of continuity.)

Here are a few take-aways in my mind, after participating in both chats and doing the curation:

  • Too few of us identify ourselves as “artists” and this might be a result of education or society or our own notions of what an artist is and/or does;
  • Technology might open the door to making new kinds of art but whether technology (apps, software, websites, etc.) helps or hinders artistic expression is often a personal experience, and mostly, the hindernace has to do with fear — of breaking the technology or not knowing enough of how use the technology skillfully — or agency (i.e, this tech doesn’t do what I need it to do for me);
  • We have many students who would lean into drawing and art more readily, if we let them, and some — like ELL students — would benefit more if we gave them more opportunities to express first in ways other than words;
  • Early memories of art seem grounded in freedom of expression, and a wide wonder of joy with paints and crayons and paper. As adults, we sometimes lose this “child-like” passion. We hope the CLMOOC Collaborative Coloring Book project counters this. and provides a creative space to play.
  • Writing and visual arts can come together to create meaning, but they don’t always do that. One medium often seems to lead the other, perhaps based on our own strengths as writers and readers. However, aspects of multimedia composing (such as digital storytelling) might be breaking down these divisions in interesting ways.
  • Art, as with writing, has its limitations. A question about what one wishes they could capture in art brought forth an interesting range of topics, mostly of emotions or the strange gray areas of our day’s experiences.

To all those who took time to participate, thank you. It was a wonderful experience as we near the end of Make Cycle One.

Peace (in colors and more),

#CLMOOC Twitter Chat: An Invitation into Art and Connections


Today, we will be featuring two Twitter Chats for CLMOOC (Connected Learning MOOC). Two? you ask. Yep. Two. Since we are making a concerted push to find ways to include more of a global audience, we are having Chat Part One earlier in the day (1 p.m. EST) and Chat Part Two later in the day (7 p.m. EST). Jumping time zones is one way to ensure a wider participation. Or so we hope.

Today’s Twitter Chats will explore the intersections of art, and coloring, and writing, and Connected Learning principles, as the theme of this week’s Make Cycle has been a collaborative coloring book project now well underway.

It’s easy to get involved. Just check out the #CLMOOC hashtag on Twitter. A few questions from moderators will get you started but mostly, it’s about the conversations and connections (key elements of Connected Learning ideas). The comic above is one I made a few years ago to help folks navigate a Twitter Chat. It might still be useful, particularly if you have not participated in a chat before.

CLMOOC Twitter Chat

  • When: Today (Thursday)
  • Time:1pm ET/10am PT/5pm and 7p ET/4p PT/11pm UTC
  • Location: Twitter
  • What to bring: ideas, questions, insights and maybe an image or media to share
  • Suggestion: use the Tweetchat site as a way to manage the flow of discussion.

We’ll be Storifying the CLMOOC chats, too, so if you miss the chat, you can still get a taste of the discussions later on.

Peace (meet you there),

Visual Slices of Life: Taking to the Crayons

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

This summer’s CLMOOC (Connected Learning MOOC) is underway, with a coloring art theme. So, today’s Slice of Life is a look at a few of the coloring projects I worked on yesterday.

First, I received a CLMOOC postcard from my friend, Susan, that was just begging to be colored. So, I set up my iPad and used a time-lapse function on the iStopmotion app to capture the coloring. (You can also see how I used the colored page as a frame for a story, with ThingLink)

Second, my CLMOOC friend, Terry, took a page I had colored (a mandala pattern by Robin) and reworked it. So I returned the favor, layering his remix with my original in an app called Fused, and then realized that the slider effect on one of the filters was pretty nifty. I could not figure out a good screencasting app, so I just pointed my phone at my iPad, and shot away.

Finally, after CLMOOC friend Jennifer mused about what a CLMOOC Musical might look like as part of the introductions, I started up a YouTube Playlist, opening it up to others to contribute songs or bands with a color theme to them, attuned to the theme of this CLMOOC week.

We’ll be hosting the first CLMOOC Make with Me Hangout today with folks from all over, and we will be talking about the intersections between art and writing and making, and how we might make visible the Connected Learning principles of the CLMOOC play/work now underway. If interested and available, you can join watch the Make With Me live broadcast and join in the chat today (Tuesday, July 11) at 1pm ET/10am PT/5pm UTC and it will be live streamed with a synchronous chat at CLMOOC.

Peace (all hues),


#CLMOOC: Coloring Inside, and Outside, the Lines

Mandala Colored

The first Make Cycle of CLMOOC 2017 launched this weekend, with a theme of coloring and art. Our friends Ron and Algot will be leading the week, with a project called The Collaborative Coloring Book. Folks will be using a variety of tools and technology (or not, as the case might be) to create blank coloring pages, putting them into an ebook format, and then downloading other peoples’ page, coloring them and uploading those colored pages into another ebook (ie, done with Google Presentation).

The idea is to merge the way we make art with the ways we collaborate, tapping into Connected Learning principles around “shared practice,” following your own passions, collaborating as an open network, as well as making something for a peer-supported “authentic audience.” Oh, and fun. We’re having some fun here.

CLMOOC, by the way, stands for Connected Learning MOOC (we’ve all long downplayed the Massive and removed the Course in that MOOC acronym, and highlight the alternative frame name of Collaboration.) This is the fifth year of CLMOOC, which was launched and supported for three years by the National Writing Project. Now it is run by the Crowd — folks who have been part of CLMOOC and now run it on their own time and with their own passions.

An uncolored image of the one at the top of this post was created by Robin, shared on Twitter and then put into the Collaborative Coloring Book. I grabbed a copy from the book, took out my box of colored pencils, and spent some time coloring in last night.

I quickly realized there were a lot of little boxes in Robin’s piece. But I found myself becoming very focused and meditative as I was coloring her Mandala, letting the world fade out of focus for a bit. I wanted to share what I did with her, to show her how another person might interpret her coloring piece. So I did.

Cover of the Coloring Book

You can join us, too, of course. Read more about this week’s Make Cycle (including a live Make with Me session planned for tomorrow, with Algot and Ron and others), tinker with some new ideas and add your coloring page to the collaborative book. There are no set rules.  Just an open invitation.

Color outside the lines as much as you need.

Peace (with crayons and markers),

If I Were the App Designer for the Museum …

Design App for Armory

At our summer camp project at the Springfield Armory, as our middle school students were working on a variety of projects, so were us teachers. I had already shared out my Rosie the Riveter 2.0 project. One of the Armory rangers had mentioned that another ranger is in the midst of planning out an app for the museum. I decided I would try to imagine what might be in a Virtual Reality  app for the Springfield Armory, which is a National Historic Site for its role in our country’s history.

The ranger asked me to leave the drawing behind, in case it offers up ideas for thinking about the museum in the future as they begin to mull over ways to make the museum more interactive. So, who knows? My ideas might someday become reality. Or not. My favorite, and the kids’ favorite too, is the virtual roller coaster set within the gears of the innovative machinery of the Armory.

It was fun to think in terms of Virtual Reality.

Peace (make it real),

Graphic Novel Review: Crafty Cat and the Crafty Camp Crisis

This second graphic novel in a developing trilogy by Charise Mericle Harper for younger readers is so cute and adorable, you want to hug it at times. I read an advanced copy of Crafty Cat and the Crafty Camp Crisis just as I was facilitating a summer camp last week and just as CLMOOC (Connected Learning MOOC) is about to launch for the summer. Talk about a nicely timed read.

Crafty Cat and the Crafty Camp Crisis is a lovely and gentle book, with an underlying message of artistic freedom, working with your hands, and tolerating the different personalities that school and camp force on you. The story is about Birdie, a young girl who loveslovesloves to do arts and crafts, and the tale is centered around the summer camp where she and her friend, Evan, attend. The crisis is .. well, you’ll have to read the story, right?

Let’s just say, not everyone gets along.

Birdie has a spirited imagination (the crafty cat is part of her dreaming mind, as a sort of super hero who helps her navigate the world) and a positive, can-do attitude. She would be great in CLMOOC!

The narrator’s voice — told through text boxes — is intriguing, as it interjects itself as part of the story (sometimes cheering on Birdie, sometimes questioning her actions) even as it tells the story. That narrative element gives the story a different kind of feel from many books where the narrator is removed from the action — and the technique is perfect for the audience (roughly second and third grade readers, and probably more girls than boys. Or am I stereotyping?)

I am not much of a naturally crafty person, although I do love to make and design stuff. I lean towards digital. But when I was a stay-at-home dad with my boys, we did crafts quite a bit, and I learned all about getting messy with glue sticks, stickers, pipe cleaners, glitter and more.

One thing I love here in Crafty Cat is how Harper provides pages of “how to” craft ideas at the end of the book. This allows readers to make the crafts — like Monster Headbands, for example — that Birdie makes in the book. We could all use more “making time” in our lives, right?

Peace (craft it with love),

Making Stuff for the 30 Day Daily Create Challenge

The DS106 Daily Create hit 2,000 prompts yesterday, and I had Sideshow Bob flip out in a gif. I’ve been doing the Daily Create for some time now. It’s part of my early morning routine — read the news, check email, scan the hashtags, write a blog post and do the Daily Create. It’s always a fun experience, if sometimes a bit challenging.

For June, the challenge was to do the Daily Create every day, and a bunch of us took part. Someone documented each of the 30 Makes. I figured that might be a good thing to do, too, if only to curate my experience, and remember what I was doing each morning (just as the coffee kicks in).

Then the coffee kicked in and I thought: How about just my top ten favorites from June? That seems more doable.

That’s nine, and ten is Sideshow Bob’s flipping out (technically, that one was done on July 1 but Daily Creating is all about not following the rules).

Peace (make it happen every day),


Stitching Together a Quilt of Student Voices

Minds Made for Stories: Quilt

On the last day of our Minds Made for Stories summer camp for middle school students — a partnership between Western Massachusetts Writing Project, the Springfield Armory, Duggan Middle Academy, Veterans Education Project and Mass Humanities — students worked to finish up historical research projects, including the Home Poem project that was worked on each day of the week.

Minds Made for Stories Quilt Piece

I set up a podcasting station and each student (and a few of us teachers) read stanzas or lines from the Home Poem, which sought to connect students to their heritage and culture and family through sensory imagery and memory. Each day, we guided students into stanzas. None had ever done podcasting or recording of their voices before, so it was a new experience.

We used the “quilt metaphor” quite a bit during the week — it was part of the information about the kind of work women might have been doing at home before they went into the workforce during WW2. We’ve created pieces for an actual quilt that will hang in the Duggan School in the fall, as a visual connection between the social justice school and the Springfield Armory. We created daily video quilts, of work and play being done all week.

The Home Poem Quilt Video Project is stitched together by layering student voice underneath images and videos of the quilt project, and the two themes — the visual connection to culture and memory and the poetic writing about home — came together quite nicely.

Peace (here at home and far beyond),