Remix Your Summer/Remix this Website

I was honored the other day when my friend Laura, from the Mozilla Foundation and Teach the Web, was inspired by my post about hacking a picture book with high school students. She created a Thimble website project that took Hacking a Book in a new direction. The wonderful thing about Thimble is that it is designed to be remixable, so I could not resist the urge and remix Laura’s work, and I went in another direction with it. Instead of “hacking the book,” I went with “remixing the summer” and used a book as my inspiration.

Have you ever read Weslandia? It’s the perfect summer vacation picture book by Paul Fleischman, with a social outcast boy (Wesley) creating a summer project to top all other summer projects: he invents his own civilization, and then by the end, the other kids in his neighborhood are part of the mix. I love that story (and use it for other projects with my sixth graders.)

So, my remix of Laura’s remix of hacking the book is about remixing your summer, with new and undiscovered countries unfolding around you.

Check out Remix the Summer

And while you are there, why not remix it once again? See the “remix” tab on the top of the page. Go ahead. Change it, make it your own and share it back out. Let someone else remix it again. It’s all good.

Peace (in the worlds of imagination),

Hacking/Remixing the Stories of Richard Scarry

Book Hack 1

I’m not sure if he is still alive and if he is, how happy he would be, but yesterday, in my workshop for high school students, we ripped, cut, hacked , shredded and remixed one of Richard Scarry’s picture books. To be frank, I even cringed a little bit, as I watched students go at the pages with scissors, glue, and ideas. Books are still sacred texts in my head. I don’t regret it though.

First of all, the book had seen some solid reading days with my three boys, and the binding was coming apart. And I bought the book, so I figure I own it. We could hack it.

Second, we remixed the book to make a few points in this digital literacies workshop that I am leading with these English Language Learner high school students. We’ve been talking about hacking and remixing as part of the digital culture they live in (referencing Dangermouse’s work with The Beatles and Jay-Z as reference points), and we will move deeper into both concepts today and next week when we jump into Mozilla’s Webmaker Tools. Our discussions yesterday centered on the perceptions of the word “Hacker” and I gave a brief history lesson of the Internet and the origin of the Hacker Movement, as well as touched on the Hack for Change events that are popping up. By the end, we had a nice balance of good/bad hacking.

Then, we moved into hacking and remixing this Nursery Rhyme picture book by Richard Scarry. Their task was to remix some pages of the book, to tell a new story, using three of the 11 digital literacy vocabulary words that have been introduced. We have word walls up, and we do daily activities with the words — such as portfolio, digital literacy, remixing. (I’ll share that work out another day). I shared out the one that I did as a sort of Mentor Text.

Book Hack 2

To be frank, I was sure if the high school kids would dive into it. And it took a few minutes. Then, they were all cutting up the pages and coming up with stories, and very engaged. It was pretty neat to watch.
hackbook collage2
The results is a nice, colorful wall of remixed Richard Scarry characters talking about digital literacies.
Hackbook Collage1
Today, we remix the remix, as I will be giving them sticky notes, and having them add new dialogue or text to someone else’s posters. Should be interesting …

Peace (in the book hack),


Thimble-izing the Making Learning Connected MOOC Reflections

MOOC Movie poster

I used two Thimble Projects from Mozilla’s Webmaker Kits to begin to reflect a bit on being part of this summer’s Making Learning Connected Massive Open Online Collaboration. I still need to do a bit more writing – that’s how I get my head around ideas — but both of these Thimble projects intrigued me.

The first one, shared by Christina Cantrill, is one that I did use with my students at the end of the year. It allows you to make your own movie poster. You can view the movie poster as a website here: and you can make your own.

Go to the Thimble to Remix the Movie Poster

While I liked the idea of getting at a reflection creatively, I found the movie poster’s options sort of limited, so maybe this is just one piece of a reflective stance. Plus, I could not resist having some fun with the movie poster idea. (names, etc.)

The second reflection is another in a series of hackable Thimble projects that Chad Sansing has been putting together all summer. Every time I turn to Twitter or Google Plus, Chad’s sharing out yet another amazing Thimble template. And all of them invite you in to make something new. In this case, he created a template for a Postcard (when you go the site, and hover the mouse over the page, the card flips to the back side. Neat.)

(Update: Now I realize that Chad’s was a remix of another postcard project that Kim W. shared in the MOOC but she had taken it from someone else on the Mozilla site, and remixed,  and … yikes …. love the complexity of remixing culture. So, hats off to anyone and everyone whose remix led me to my remix.)

You can check out my version of Chad’s project or go to his original remixable template. Actually, every webpage in Thimble is remixable, but you may want to work off the original (or not, as I think about it – maybe remixing a remixing is what you want to explore)

Dino Postcard


Peace (in the reflection),


Hacking Our Own Website

Today, in our Digital Literacies/Game Design workshop for high school English Language Learners, we are moving into the world of remixing and hacking, with a bent on hacking for good and hacking for change, while also acknowledging both sides of the coin. Yesterday, we started this discussion a bit around privacy issues, and how they can begin to protect their privacy online. It was a deep conversation and it became clear early on that they had not ever really been asked to think about issues of privacy, data mining, Snowdebn/NSA, and more. They were intrigued and involved. I shared with them a few strategies:

Today, we begin to make the shift into hacking and remixing, and I am going to have them use the tool from Mozilla — XRay Goggles — to remix our workshop website. Honestly, I am not sure how it will go. These are not kids who can code, but part of the reason for using the tool is to show the underlying structure of websites — to make the world more visible — and to give them tools to mess around with the world, and learn from that experience.

Here is a screenshot of our homepage:

Here is my “mentor text” after I hacked the site:

Peace (in the hack),


Webmaker: Making Stopmotion Movies

Webmaker Stopmotion

A project resource that I was working on with the National Writing Project and the Mozilla Foundation has been released, and it is a tutorial and hackable activity around creating stopmotion movies. This is part of a larger partnership to create resources for folks as part of the Summer of Making and Learning.I wanted to try to find ways to teach people how to use stopmotion tools for creative expression. There are a few pages to the resources, each of which can be “remixed” thanks to the Mozilla Thimble website tool. And two activities use Popcorn Maker as a way to experiment with video design.

Check it out and give it a try. Make a movie! This connects nicely with both the Teach the Web MOOC and the Making Learning Connected MOOC.

Visit the Stopmotion Movie Webmaker Resource Page

And the resources within the main project:

I made this quick sample with the free Jellycam tool:


Peace (in the frames),



Hacking as an Entry to Agency

hacking collage

I have two weeks left to school (I know … long year) and we are working on two main projects now: an adventure short story and a unit on Hacking Literacies. Yesterday, I brought my sixth graders to the Hackasaurus XRay Goggles site, and we began playing around with the hacking tool. Of course, first we had a discussion (which we have been having all year) about how tools can help put more power (agency) into the hands of the user, so that they begin to see themselves as less consumer and more active producer when it comes to media (digital or otherwise).

We have had threads of conversations about the word “hacking” and the connotations that arise in culture now (that it is bad) and I spend time explaining how “hacking”  emerged first as a good thing — that folks want to share expertise with others and make the world a better place, and that one of the reasons why technology is what it is today is due to hackers in the Open Source world and beyond. (I also got a bunch of “awwwws” when I said that the XRay Goggles tool is an overlay and does not hack the original site, only makes a hacked replica.)

Then, they played around.

Some were hacking gaming sites; some were hacking our classroom site; some were hacking the Google homepage; some were at clothes shopping sites. The informal discussions were interesting, as they talked about how to parody companies and personalize sites. Today, I intend to continue this work, and I think I am going to bring them all to a single website (my brainstorm at 3 a.m. in the morning: the famous Tree Octopus hoax website) and have them be creative in their hack even as they examine why this is so famous a site.

We’ll see how it goes.

Peace (in the xray),

Help Me Create a “Hacking Literacies” Workshop

This summer, I am working with an urban high school as part of a bigger initiative to nurture academic progress in English Language Learners and struggling students. My role is to design an interactive workshop (four days a week, two hours a day, for five weeks) and I have decided to do it around the concepts of “Hacking Literacies and Video Game Design.” I won’t get into all of the overarching goals, except that the main ideas are to make students creators of content, analytical observers of media, and connecting those elements to game design and portfolio/publishing. Much of this thinking has been supported by the work I have been doing with the Teach the Web MOOC these past few weeks. (So, thanks!)

I am hoping others might help me think this through. I have put the overview into a Shared Document with CrocDoc and I am asking for comments, suggestions, etc. I love how the document can embed right here, and you should be able to make notes, annotate it, etc. Go for it!

Peace (in the hack),


How I Created My Mister Rogers Remix

I promised the other day that I would walk through how I went about taking part in the challenge by PBS Media to remix loops for its Mister Rogers project. (You may know that PBS has created some great remix of Mister Rogers’ videos by using auto-tune and music loops — setting the television host’s messages to a beat).

First, when I was done, this is what I created:

In hopes that you might dive in, too, here is how I went about the remix process.

First, of course, I had to learn about the remix invitation. I can’t remember now where I first heard of it, but I think it was a tweet that someone in my Twitter stream shared out. I’ve had “remix” on the mind lately with the Teach the Web MOOC, so I was intrigued by what PBS Media was inviting folks to do. I headed to the site, and found that they had established a group in SoundCloud, where PBS was sharing out a collection of musical loop files. You could take one, or more, or the entire collection. I took everything as a .zip file to my desktop. It was pretty fun going through them – listening to drum beats, Mister Rogers’ voice talking about loving music (the overarching theme), and other things like tubas. Yep, a blast from a Tuba was in the mix.

Second, I considered using Garageband, but to be honest, I still find GB a bit funky to use at times. So I turned to my old trusty Audacity for loop editing. I choose a bunch of loop tracks (not all) and moved them into Audacity. Here’s where the real work and the tricky part began. The fact that the remix probably should have a consistent beat puts the remixer into the role of music composer — lose a beat, and the effect can be pretty jarring to the listener.

Mister Rogers Audacity View

I spent a lot of time moving, shifting, repositioning, listening, re-repositioning, moving again, lining up and doing all sorts of tinkering with the tracks to make them fit. There was a moment when I could sense that it was coming together finally, and that the pieces were fitting together like a jigsaw puzzle of sorts. As a remixer, that’s a glorious moment, right?

Finally, I was done, and I uploaded the track into my Soundcloud account, and then shared it over with the PBS Media group (as they requested for remixes). I also played around with Popcorn Maker as a way to add my remix soundtrack to the video, but in this case, my music was not in sync with the movements in the video. Of course, my intent with the remix was for audio, not for video, and I realize now that my process would have been different if I had video on my mind.

All in all, it was a fun experience. Sure, it took some time, but it was time well spent. Now, I have my Mister Rogers Remix. How about you?

Peace (in the sharing),


The Mister Rogers Remix

PBS Media puts out some interesting remix versions of classic Mister Rogers clips, and it recently invited folks to borrow some of the loop tracks from its archives, including the voice of Mister Rogers, to create a remix version. How could I resist? I’ll share out the process of how I created the remix tomorrow (and offer up some suggestions for your own remix). Today, here is the remix that I created:

I also took the audio remix and used Popcorn Maker to layer it in as the audio track for the video from which the loops come from. Unfortunately, it does not sync as well as the original. But still …

Peace (in the remix),


Inspired by Teach the Web: The Collaborative Poem Expands Outward

Over at the iAnthology (a network of hundreds of teacher-writers via the National Writing Project), I posted a collaborative document and started a few lines from a poem … and then asked my friends in the iAnthology to hack the poem, remix it, add to it/delete lines, and make it into something alive via collaboration. We were using a tool from Mozilla called HTMLpad that I learned about via the Teach the Web MOOC, and the results were amazing to watch (in fact, the poem continues to grow). It only made sense to capture the unfolding of the poem (one of the features in HTMLpad is that you can watch everyone’s add via a timeline) with me reading the poem as a podcast, and so I used another Mozilla tool – Popcorn Maker — to layer in the podcast on top of the screencast.

The results? Pretty interesting (see the published poem, for now anyway .. every time I look, a few new words spring up), and a fascinating example of how writers can become collaborators on a single poem. I’m honored that others dove in to collaborate and hack my words.

Or see the Popcorn project here:
Peace (in the poem),