(This is a post for DigiLitSunday, a regular look with other educators at digital literacies. This week’s theme is connected to the upcoming National Day on Writing, which takes place on Thursday with the theme of Why I Write.)
I write digitally to find the grooves between the spaces. Digital writing does not replace the other ways I write. It accompanies it. It harmonizes with it. I have notebooks brimming with lyrics, poems and stories. Sticky notes dot our fridge. I am always an arms length away from a pencil. Pens of all colors take up residence in the pockets of my jacket. But digital writing gives me another venue to consider the intersections of media and words, and how they might mesh or even collide together into something new. I have yet to find the perfect moment — that ‘aha’ spark when it all works just as I envisioned — but knowing that moment might yet be possible gives me hope and inspiration to keep moving forward. I write with images as words and words as image, sound as image and image as sound, and video as platform for alternative paths to break down the wall between reader and writer. My ideas for digital writing collapse as often as they work. Beneath all that I write digitally, I seek to keep my words and language and stories as the foundation. Words still matter, no matter how glossed up they look and how interesting they sound. I’m still finding myself as a digital writer, and still helping my students find themselves as digital writers. I write digitally because the possibilities hint at something just on the horizon, and I can’t wait to write it into realization.
As part of a presentation on open learning at the National Writing Project annual meeting, a few us from the Making Learning Connected MOOC have been gathering up what we learned from the CLMOOC and sharing it with others. My role is to think about emergent learning from the CLMOOC, or “the things that happened that we did not expect to happen and cherished for that very reason.”
First, this is an image that we created last year for the DML Conference, from the first summer of CLMOOC:
I then spent a lot of time, going through the CLMOOC archives for the second summer (last summer) to see what emergent ideas surfaced. I created this diagram/web to show what I noticed. It should be stated that there is probably a whole lot more that I either have forgotten or never noticed …
Finally, we wanted to think about CLMOOC as a connector point, and where other programs/collaborations feed into CLMOOC and how CLMOOC seeds some ideas into other collaborations. I used the Subway Map metaphor, and again, I have probably left out more than a few other nodes that could have been on the map.
My students were working on maps of their own neighborhoods, as part of the National Day on Writing yesterday. We were using mapping as a way to think about community, about how mapmakers focus on what is important and what is not so important by using color and scale. And as students shared out their maps (with our classroom and then, online, with the #6Connect project), the discussions of neighborhoods transformed into discussions about community (with a little help from me).
I love the idea of visually representing a place, and my students enjoyed thinking of how to represent their neighborhoods as a map as well as providing some insights into where they live on a day when we were writing and thinking about community for the National Day on Writing.
This is a comic for the National Day on Writing, as we think about communities that we are part of as writers and teachers. I was thinking of my online communities and my offline communities, and how there is not an either/or when it comes to connections — it can be both.
Today is the sixth annual National Day on Writing, sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English and various partners (like the National Writing Project) and this year’s theme is Writing Your Community. I’ve been mulling over how best to do this, and decided that mapping out communities — either literally or metaphorically — made a lot of sense.
Check out this workshop that I led at our Western Massachusetts Writing Project this weekend, in which we played around with paper circuitry to illuminate nodes on maps of our communities. This workshop was part of our annual Best Practices conference, and the group of teachers were highly engaged in this hands-on activity around transforming notebooks with circuits and lights.
Yesterday, students in each of my classes did some podcasting for the National Day on Writing.
They had written an artist statement about a Lions’ Club international Peace Poster project now underway with our art teacher, with a theme of Our World/Our Future. When their posters are hanging up around the school, their artists statement will be part of that. I am still mulling over the best way to connect the podcasts to the posters in a digital space. Maybe Voicethread …
Today, I hope to do some podcasting with my sixth graders, using Soundcloud, for the National Day on Writing (which officially was yesterday, I think, but the Sunday spills over into Monday in my mind). This year’s theme is Write to Connect (or Write2Connect), and I played around with some comics and memes yesterday, sharing out into various online spaces to spark the ideas of writing.
I am tinkering with an software program called, eh, LICEcap that allows you to create animated gifs for screenshots. I hosted the animated gif in Flickr, but to share the animated version from there, you have to navigate to “all sizes” and copy/share the original. A typical embed in Flickr doesn’t do the trick.
And on behalf of the National Day on Writing, I created this:
Thanks to Doug Belshaw for sharing this one out in his newsletter.
I suppose this was inevitable and not at all unexpected. But the National Council of Teachers of English is closing the virtual doors on the National Gallery of Writing. This online repository of writing (to date, there are more than 33,000 pieces of writing) was established for the first National Day on Writing back in 2009 (seems like a long time ago now). Each year, participants in the National Day of Writing have been encouraged to write and publish in the Gallery as a way to honor the richness of writing. I have writing in there, and networks that I have been part of (including the National Writing Project) have hosted “galleries” in the site over the years. (see my Log of Daily Writing from a few years ago)
But to be frank (and I was part of a small committee at one time thinking of how to re-energize the Gallery), the site was not really built for the times. What I mean by that is that the architecture of the site — from submission to search — was always clunky and difficult/complex to use, and one of the biggest drawbacks was that readers could not leave comments or contribute to writing that was in the Gallery.
Writing became static there. And that is in conflict with all the ways that technology enhances writing. We, the reader, expect to be able to add our thoughts. We anticipate the possibility of the remix. We hope that embedded media works in tandem with the written words. We expect writing to be alive. The Gallery tried to do that but then got stuck in time, I suspect, and NCTE did not have the funds (or did not want to allocate the funds) to upgrade the entire system.
Which is not to say the Gallery of Writing did not have value. It did. It was part of a push by NCTE and companion organizations to honor writing and to show how complex and amazing the writing is that we do. The Gallery may be going silent (I believe it closes down at the end of this month, so if you have writing in there you want to keep, I’d go get it) but the National Day on Writing continues.
On October 21, you can celebrate the National Day on Writing. This year’s theme is “connected writing,” as far as I can determine, which makes a lot of sense, right? I’ll be thinking about how to connect my students as writers this year. What about you?
Since the National Day on Writing, a number of students from other grades have come into our classroom to add their own sticky notes about “what we write” to our classroom mural. So, I updated the video and stretched it out a bit (and fixed a nagging missing letter that Animoto dropped off on me). The photo above shows what the huge WRITE looks like now, and just in time for parent-teacher conferences, too.