Capturing Myself in Hyperlink: A Poem of Connections

I’ve been thinking about hyper-linked writing for some time. I love the idea of associative thinking and in particular, how poetry might fit into that concept. But I haven’t dipped my toes into that water until now. First, Paul Allison and Susan Ettenheim at Teachers Teaching Teachers did a recent show on composing with hyperlink that was quite interesting. The show featured a site called Hypertextopia, which is being developed by a graduate student. Paul thinks it has echoes of StorySpace.

Also recently, George Mayo launched the student publication site called Space, with the intent of allowing students to become more creative in how they use the Web 2.0 canvas for composition.

And, of course, it is Poetry Month, and over at Two Writing Teachers, there is a one-week poetry marathon of sorts going on. A One Week Poetry Challenge

All of these events moved me towards composing something a little bit different and results of that effort is a poem cycle for Web 2.o that I am calling: Capturing Myself in Hyperlink: A Poem of Connections .

In spare moments here and there during the course of a few days, I wrote this entire poem cycle. I really got into how the smaller poems informed the larger one and how the pieces could connect, if you took a wide enough angle. However, I also wanted each poem to work on its own, too. It’s like wedges into the mind.

Here is the main branch of the poem:

Capturing Myself in Hyperlink

Is this the way in
or the way out
of this wireless space of thoughts
and shouts that echo beyond the screen.
In-between is the reality.
There is movement among the letters:
nothing is stagnant;
nothing is still; nothing is shattered until the cursor moves
and then the path is forged fast-forward
into parallel words of perpendicular thoughts.
I write from inside out, not from left to right,
as if this composition were a new language being invented
by turning the world upside down,
with meaning embedded deep down below the surface.
What you see is not what you get.
What you see is what you should forget
when meaning is captured in html.
Perhaps you’ll dance with me here
and follow my movements on this virtual stage,
even as you most likely reach for the curtains
and turn down the lights for the night.
My act lives on in space.

There are two full versions of the poem cycle right now.

First, you can go to the first version I did as a free-standing website. This was the original version that I continue to tinker with. That can be accessed here.

Or, you can go follow a concept map that I created in Bubble.Us and click on the parts of the poem. This map gives another entry into a second version of the poem cycle — including a background image of the concept map — and shows the connections of the parts to the whole. (I also embedded the map down below).

I will be doing a longer reflection on the process of composing the poem and the construction of the entire piece tomorrow, and I hope to get into some possibilities for bringing this idea into the classroom, too.I would love to get some comments or suggestions on the poem cycle.In particular, does either version stand out as better than the other? Does the concept map make the poem more associative in thinking or just plain confusing? Which version gives you, the reader, more freedom to follow your own path?Peace (in poems),

21st Century Learning

Another interesting video, with intro from Library of Congress.

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This is the blurb that goes with the video:

21st Century Learning Matters” – The Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources – Colorado project at Metro State College of Denver, in partnership with the Colorado Council on 21st Century Learning, produced the video. “21st Century Learning Matters” provides an introduction and conversation starter for considering the transformations needed in education. For more information please visit or .

Peace (in learning the future),

Speak Up 2007

Each year, I hope to have my school become part of the Speak Up survey on Net Day that tries to get a pulse of technology and education. But I always run out of time or, well, forget about it until the time has passed. I can say that I have faithfully signed up for it, though. The survey is for teachers, students, administrators and parents.


Speak Up logo

The results from this year’s survey are in and it is interesting to examine some of the findings.

First, there was quite a good response of people who took the survey:

  • 319,223 Students
  • 25,544 Teachers
  • 19,726 Parents
  • 3,263 School Leaders

They asked the question of use of technology for the various stakeholders.


  •  70% of students in grades 6-12 consider themselves “average” in their tech skills compared to their peers. The 24%, however, that identify themselves as “advanced” have significantly different views on technology.
  • This is how students say they are using technology for school:

o Writing assignments (74%)
o Online research (72%)
o Checking assignments or grades online (58%)
o Creating slideshows, videos, webpages for schoolwork (57%)
o Email or IM with classmates about assignments (44%)

 What do you do regularly with technology?

o 93% use email to communicate with colleagues or parents – only 34% email with students
o Create a powerpoint presentation – 59%
o Create or listen to podcasts or videos – 35%
o 21% maintain a personal website like MySpace or Facebook

This chart shows the disparity between perceptions of administrators and students about whether the kids are being prepared for the future. It makes me wonder about how we can level these perceptions and whether the goals of education are filtering all the way through a system.

Chart 1

Other findings:

  • 54% of students are interested in tech-related careers
  • One-third of teachers say they would like to teach an online class
  • 84% of administrators say educational technology enhances student achievement
  • 63% of parents say they know more about child’s schoolwork and grades because of school technology

The results are worth a look.

Peace (in understanding),

TILT — Using PowerPoint for Multimedia

I just came across this very neat site in my RSS Feeder and it seems interesting. It’s called Tilt (or Teachers Improving Learning with Technology) and it features video tutorials on a wide range of tools. I went there and this one popped up first. It has to do with using Powerpoint for multimedia story creations, something I have been working on the last few years.

I am also about to have my students work on hyperlinked poem cycles and I had the morning epiphany that we could use Powerpoint as the platform — for ease of use, ease of sharing and familiarity for my students. (more on this kind of project is coming later in the week, including the huge hyperlinked poem project that I have composed)

Here is the Tilt video:

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There are plenty of other good video tutorials, too, such as:

  • Interactive Math Sites
  • Using Excel to create a Timeline
  • How to Videocast
  • Web-based applications
  • and more

Peace (in sharing),

Slice of Life, the weekly series, Chapter 2

(This is part of a weekly feature called Slice of Life Project)

Where I live, the signs of spring are comin in two flavors: baseball and flowers.

The feverish, crazy youth baseball season is already fast upon us. As a bit of an update for Slice of Lifers, my older son did not get on the team that he wanted. Instead, he was recruited to move up to the older league and is now on a team that everyone I talk to says has the nicest and best coach in that league. We had one stressful night where we pulled him out of the older league and then reconsidered, allowing him to make the choice on what he wanted to do. He chose moving up. He feels flattered that the coach wanted him so bad (he’s a lefty, he’s quick, he plays first base and pitches) and he knew he was not going to be on the team coached by our neighbor because he was so coveted by other coaches in the drafting process. However, by moving up, he left his younger brother available to be chosen for the neighborhood team, and that is a good thing. Our neighbor is allowing both boys to practice with the team a few nights a week (the older son’s team hasn’t yet scheduled a practice).

And so, baseball begins …

Meanwhile, in our front yard, another sign of the changing seasons is emerging. My youngest son and I are keeping careful track of the little green buds sprouting up from the ground in the small patch of Tiger Lillies. Last week, he helped me rake the leaves away that we forgot about before winter. We bent down to examine what was there, which wasn’t much — just a few green dots below the soil. Each day since then, things are changing as the weather slowly (and I mean slowly) gets warmer. He races over to the spot every day and we marvel at the progress of the plants. He warns me not to step on them. He puts up his hand in the stop sign motion to make sure I understand. Then he slowly circles the land, informing me that these are flowers. I don’t have the heart to tell them that these particular Lillies are late bloomers and may not open up until summer.

But, boy, won’t he be surprised when they do. These are his flowers now.

Peace (in signs and signals),

Is it summer (planning) already?

We still have snow in our backyard, yet I am thinking of summer. (Spring should happen in there somewhere, too, I hope).

Last year, my wife and I led two four-day summer camps around the idea of Claymation Movie Making, to great success. (See the camp blog here, with the movies). This year, I am leading a one-week Claymation Camp with Tina, who is part of our new Western Massachusetts Writing Project Technology Team and is avidly exploring the blogging world herself in the last month. The camp is a partnership for middle school students between our writing project and the local vocational high school.

Here is our Claymation flier:

Last year, I also worked up an overview of the camp to share out, providing some structure to our work and also links to programs, etc. If you are interested in claymation or stop-motion animation, then perhaps this website might help you.

In my classroom, I am just now introducing the software to my students and we will be tinkering with Legos later this week, I think. In years past, my sixth graders have teamed up with second graders for a movie project, but this year, we may do it on our own, as I want them to create a movie on the theme of Global Warming.

Peace (in sculpted clay figures),

Day in a Sentence, released

This week’s Day in a Sentence was a bit more than a sentence. I suggested that we slice into a period of time and share that out, and many of you took me up on the offer.

Again, I love reading your thoughts and I feel privileged to hold onto the words before releasing them all together. Due to the extensive nature of the writing this week, I don’t feel the need to do my usual introductions. The writing tells the tales.

Without further delay, then:

From Alice (who has offered to host Day in a Sentence next week):

This week was when the ideas and expectations created in the timelessness of Spring Break, ran into the brick wall of tasks and expectations required by my job. In addition, I tried to add an exercise routine into the week (new gym that we joined opened in neighborhood). I discovered that time and energy are finite resources. In addition, fate seemed to conspire against me in that any instance of poor planning on my parts was instantly met with chaos from others, leading to, well this is too nice a blog to use that type of language here). This left me both exhausted, angry, and cranky at the end of the week. Since I still have to get up early for CR 2.0 conversation, and have events at church both days of the weekend, I’m not sure how refreshed I’ll be. Thank goodness Battlestar Gallactica is back so I have some solace for my over-scheduled/planned life.


Great week in that my last two seniors passed the CaHSEE so they can graduate with their class; my two sophomore boys who entered their video in the Career Skills Challenge took third place; and all went smoothly on our fieldtrip to Sacramento. Bad week in that there were too many absences and we learned that our department is being cut by two teachers.


During April and May it is quite difficult to have any continuity in class, especially after lunch, because of all the spring sports my students are involved in. I used to obsess over the loss of class time, but now I just go with the flow, teaching whoever is in class. No use getting my–well, you know–in a wad over something I can’t control. This week has been no exception. So, on Thursday and Friday, putting Macbeth and Julius Caesar aside, I hosted Scrabble tournaments for my English students. I kibitzed, played some, won some, lost some, and learned lots of new words, thanks to our Scrabble dictionary that we allow ourselves to consult when we get strange letters and don’t know what to do with them. The last game of the week ended with Tom-Tom yelling at Todd, “You can’t leave yet. I get one more turn. You were supposed to stop when the bell rang. I have another word to play.” Todd just walked out of the door, ignoring Tom-Tom, who picked up the Scrabble board (so I wouldn’t put it up), and rushed out the door. “Come back. We’ve got to finish this.” Actually, they were finished; Todd was the last player, and it was Tom-Tom who had stalled until the bell rang, thinking Todd would pack up and leave, and he would be declared the winner of one more Scrabble contest. I guess you can tell Tom-Tom does not like to lose at Scrabble, and until this match, one of his major claims to fame was, not only had he beaten Mrs. Cynthia (me) in Scrabble, but, until this last match, he was also the undefeated Scrabble player of Room 13. Well, Tom-Tom, guess you’ll just have to snap out of it. And, besides, there’s always next Thursday to start a new string of wins, or maybe even defeats. I’ll be waiting for you.

Sara P.:

This week was our state tests – 6th grade Math and Reading, three 90-minute sessions each. So our mornings were stuffed with testing, and our afternoons were just 6th-grade-wide free time and recess. It bothers me that our kids are so low, but hopefully the test scores are much better than last year’s. The highlight of the week, though, was just getting to know most of the other 6th graders – we’re self-contained classrooms, so my 24 are my focus most of the time. I also liked making one of the badass kids sit out for hitting another kid, and having him apologize to me when his five minutes was up. “Really? Anthony apologized? He *never* does that for me,” says his regular teacher. I like knowing my take-no-prisoners approach to discipline works!

Jane S.:

Our yard is a war zone for birds. The first casualty was the bluebird kamikaze that flew into our picture window. Today’s victim is the American Goldfinch. A hanging thistle basket, made especially for goldfinch feeding, proves to be a dangerous platform for our hungry comrade. An errant toe is hooked into one of the tiny openings on the mesh basket and he can’t get away. A trickle of blood brings out my rescuing instinct and I call my husband. The wounded is soon released from his prison and we plead armistice but the birds are silent to our truce.

Ben B.:

At least weekly, my sophomores remind me something I apparently shouldn’t forget.

“You aren’t a real teacher.”

Like clockwork. How do I respond to this? They already have it in their very, very little heads that I’m just a student teacher and that, because my master teacher is in the room, that I do not have any authority.

I don’t blame my master teacher. When he isn’t there, they’re worse.


I’m thrilled that this week, after having recently received a large influx of new ninth-graders into my mainstream class, I feel that I’ve finally been successful at getting a good handle on class management. I’m particularly excited that I was able to do this through using much more of a positive and affirming approach instead of a threatening and punishing one. I wonder how class management issues in an inner-city school compare with those in other places?


Wow. Here we are clear across the continent…and my student teacher introduced idioms to (her) my 9th grade class. She wanted them to find the origin of the phrases and rejoice in their interest, but many simply found them sort of silly. Being mostly polite, they withstood her enthusiasm.
I wondered how often idioms become cliche and why that seems to be part of the process.

Meanwhile, AP and 11th are doing research papers which I always use as the opportunity to look for new ideas and sources myself. In my friend Carol Jago’s new book on teaching writing, I discovered a positively wonderful essay entitled “Your Brain on Baseball” by David Brooks. Carol’s book comes with a CD with handouts (how great!) so if you are interested, I could send it. Cheers.


This week my great moment working with a teacher is all about Moodle and creating a drop box. The teacher was totally amazed, as was I, to add this simple tool that can do so much. How great to have a drop box for an assignment that takes the assignment and funnels it through your grading book in Moodle. The teacher’s eyes were sparkling as she realized that all the assignments would now be on her laptop, not the USB key, not in a pile of papers, not getting lost. The Moodle date and time stamp indicates which enrolled students have dropped off their assignments. How slick! That is what I call technology with purpose! Oh, and saving on paper is still another bonus. Celebrate Earth Day! Over and out. Cheryl Oakes


Friday. Gray morning, but the birds are chirping. Just a half day left on the course I’m teaching. Participants are antsy, want out, want a final day of holiday, want some sun. Finally, we say our good-byes. Then I pack up, clean up, clear out. Out for lunch at last! Then back home I’m smothered with kisses by my littlest one. Weekend begins.


Spring’s finally here and so are my allergies that leave me brain dead.

Anne M:

My week has been tinged with sadness, due to the loss of my mother and her funeral taking place. However, it has also been a time to reflect on cherished memories and remember all the wonderful times we have shared together. The week ended on a high, with the arrival home of our two sons from London, who flew home suddenly to spend 2 weeks with us at this sad time.


A week ago we were just back from Israel sitting around this kitchen table at 3am eating breakfast without milk and a week later, after suffering though a bout of jet lag and accepting some powerful NWP/HVWP challenges, I am poised to begin my first grounded week at home. Any sign of spring?

If you like this idea of slicing into your day, you should wander over to Two Writing Teachers, where the blogging team there has established a regular Tuesday Slice of Life feature that offers yet another way to integrate writing, reflection and community.

Peace (in connections),

Another vision of today’s students

Here is yet another intriguing video on why we should consider technology as integral to education:

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Notice the desire to create, remix and use technology to explore the world.

Peace (in illumination),

Alliteration, Personification and Quidditch: A classroom tour

Every now and then, I like to share out some of the projects my students are engaged with in the classroom. The past two weeks, we have been working on Figurative Language as we gear up for poetry, and then songwriting. I wrote a post about the use of hyperbole for tall tales over at TeachEng.Us last week. We also looked at comic books for Onomatopoeia, did some games around Idioms, reviewed similes and metaphors, and listened to color poems for Imagery.

For Alliteration, we worked on tongue twisters, using Dr. Seuss as an entry point into the crazy ways that words can make your tongue jump, twist and turn. Some of the students participated in a podcast of their tongue twisters, after I first shared out the twisters that I wrote for myself and the other three teachers on my team. I used a little Olympus voice recorder to move around the room.

Take a listen to our Tongue Twister Podcast

Then, for Personification, we talked about how it can be used for an entire story (Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, for example) or in a sentence. We created some sentences, got on the computers, and they had to illustrate one of the four Personification sentences that we composed. Here are some of the illustrations:

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Finally, our school is in the middle of Quidditch season, and one art activity that we do with them is the creation of team t-shirts. I went into the art room with my camera to capture some of the work they were doing for our team: The Ice Legend.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Here is the shirt the kids are working on for me. I let them do what they want and hope they won’t embarrass me too much.

Peace (in student work),