Day in Six Words (alliteration extra)

Hello and welcome to the miminized version of Day in a Sentence, in which you are invited to boil down your week into a six word sentence. Adding alliteration this week to your six words gets you some bonus Day in a Sentence Points, but they are not worth much outside of this network of friends.

Still … bonus points!

Here is what you do (and everyone, everyone is invited to participate):

  • Reflect on your week or a day in your week
  • Boil it down to a six word sentence
  • Use the comment link on this post
  • Submit your sentence (it will go into moderation)
  • I will collect and publish all of the sentences over the weekend
  • Come on … give it a whirl!

For me, I am experimenting with a flash animation program called Express Animator, which is awfully easy to use even as I have only scratched the surface of the program in a day or two. There is a free trial worth checking out.

I experimented with my own sentence this week using the Express Animator program and made a little video of my sentence. I hope you enjoy it.

(And since some folks said they had trouble viewing the Vimeo — I think it has to with upgrading your Shockwave player – I added it to my Flickr and share it here — also, I should at least write out my Six Words, right? Here it is: Coughing Kids Create Havoc At Night)

Peace (brought to you by the makers of Dogtrax),

The Octogon of the Internet? The Rhombus of Reality?

Each morning, my class holds a morning meeting called Circle of Power and Respect, which gives everyone a chance to weigh in with some thoughts, take part in a community activity and get the day off on the right footing. (See Responsive Classroom for more ideas on morning meetings) By now, my students are the leaders of the morning and I am just a participant.

The shape of the circle is important because it connects us all. But Boolean and Urth — in touch with their inner geekness — would rather have some other shapes for their meeting with Mr. Teach in my latest webcomic strip of Boolean Squared.

See the comic; grab the rss.

Peace (in frames),

Asking Questions of the World

I stumbled into the Ask500 Questions site this weekend and it has been fascinating. Here is the concept: you write a question, pose some possible answers and let visitors to the site cast some votes. Ask500 Questions then tracks the answers on a map and breaks down the results a bit. I guess if a question gets to 500 people (seems doubtful right now), then the question is retired.

I posed a couple of questions, including whether or not technology helps someone become a better writer, whether teachers should encourage their students into social action projects, and (as you can also upload images) which Boolean Squared webcomic character is destined for something spectacular.

Go ahead and vote yourself and add your own question.

You can also embed the queries and results into a blog post, so let me give it a try:

I was pondering whether this has any applications in the classroom. While I may not want my students freely roaming the questions — some may be on the line of appropriateness — it might be interesting to have them propose a question and possible answers, and then track what happens to the results as a class (after casting some predictions).
Peace (in results),

The Prospect of Participatory Culture

I was one of a handful of guests recently on the wonderful Teachers Teaching Teachers webcast, where the discussion centered on a white paper put out by The New Media Literacies Center at MIT. The paper, by Henry Jenkins, focuses in on the concept of how students can move forward, navigate and thrive in the new world of media and technology. (Oh, TTT is also up for an Edublog Award this year)

You can access the paper titled Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century, by Henry Jenkins.

Listen to the podcast at Teachers Teaching Teachers

You can see a video put forth by the Project for New Media Literacies:

This is one list of skills that the white paper talks about for our students:

Play – the capacity to experiment with one’s surroundings as a form of problem-solving
Performance – the ability to adopt alternative identities for the purpose of improvisation and discovery
Simulation – the ability to interpret and construct dynamic models of real-world processes
Appropriation – the ability to meaningfully sample and remix media content
Multitasking – the ability to scan one’s environment and shift focus as needed to salient details
Distributed Cognition – the ability to interact meaningfully with tools that expand mental capacities
Collective Intelligence – the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others toward a common goal
Judgment – the ability to evaluate the reliability and credibility of different information sources
Transmedia Navigation – the ability to follow the flow of stories and information across multiple modalities
Networking – the ability to search for, synthesize, and disseminate information
Negotiation – the ability to travel across diverse communities, discerning and respecting multiple perspectives, and grasping and following alternative norms
Visualization – the ability to interpret and create data representations for the purposes of expressing ideas, finding patterns, and identifying trends

What do you think?
Peace (in sharing),

Writing Processes of Digital Storytelling

Here is the workshop that I co-presented at the National Writing Project Annual Meeting a few weeks ago in San Antonio. I had a wonderful co-facilitator in Pen Campbell and the discussions were just wonderful, even in a large cavernous room with about 50 people.

Our focus was on the writing element of digital stories, but we also had long discussion on the elements of digital stories. I’ve included the podcasts of the session, if you are interested, and the website that was the heart of this session is a collaboration between NWP and Pearson Foundation that Pen and I were part of. You can view the website (still in beta) here. This presentation is also now part of my own collection of workshops around writing and technology.

Also, the short video examples that we shared are not in this presentation. Sorry.

(go to presentation)

Listen to the Podcast of the workshop:

Peace (in sharing),

Love Hate That Cat

Hate That Cat By Sharon Creech

Jack is back, and so is Miss Stretchberry, but this time it is a cat at the center of the story, and not a dog. You may remember how much I loved the book, Love That Dog by Sharon Creech. I use Love That Dog in my poetry unit, reading it aloud to my students and using the poems and sense of exploration of poetic styles as a way to reach my young writers.

Well, Creech has done it again, but this time, the book is Hate That Cat, and just like its predecessor, the book is infused with poems from the canon (Edgar Allen Poe, William Carlos Williams, Valerie Word, Lord Tennyson, etc.) as Jack tries to come to grips with two things: how to find love for cats and how to explain his love for his mother, who is deaf. The book is written in the form of a poetic journal between Jack and his teacher, who remains a silent yet supportive and loving presence just off the pages of the book. Everyone should have a teacher like Miss Stretchberry in their life.

The cat element revolves around a black cat that scratched him and hurt him when he went out of his way to save it — thus the refrain: I hate that cat. But then, even as he continues to cherish the memories of his dog, Sky, that formed the center of Love That Dog, he gets a kitten and his heart melts. The black cat that he hates so much later redeems itself with Jack.

The mother element is more delicate and unfolds slowly, as Jack begins to tell what it is like to have a mother who is deaf and signs with her hands for language. He wonders early in the book, before we even know about his mother: how does someone who can’t hear sound experience a poem with sound words within it? He finds a way, and the book ends with a poetry reading, with his mother in the audience, as Jack signs his poems from the front of the room.

As with Love That Dog, I found myself getting very emotional at certain points in Hate That Cat and if you are not moved by Jack and his poems, then … I don’t know. Creech uses a sense of humor to set up the deeper emotional experiences from Jack’s world.

Along the way, Jack learns about poetic techniques such as alliteration, onomatopoeia, assonance, dissonance, and more. And Creech tosses a little literary fire into the mix by having Jack’s uncle, a college professor of English, argue with Jack about what makes a poem a poem (his uncle believes that poems must have grand themes, using intricate rhyming patterns and assures Jack that what he is writing in class are not poems at all, but just scribbles of words).

The book puts me into a bit of a conundrum: do I drop Love That Dog for Hate That Cat? Or do I find a way to use both?

Peace (in the wonder of books),

Lending Small, Acting Big, Learning Lessons

For the past year or so, I have heard about the Kiva organization and was interested, but I never took the plunge. It took a humorous piece in Time Magazine by Joel Stein to finally convince me to check out Kiva, which is a micro-lending organization that pools donations from web-based users to help strugging and emerging small business owners from the developing world. It works in increments of $25, so I lend out $25 and that is added to your $25 and so on. Then, the small business buys some equipment or expands its retail line or territory, pays back its loan and my $25 can get re-invested in some other business. (See a comic about Kiva and the way it works with other small lending agencies)

I love this concept, so I have put in a stake into a couple of businesses.

Then, this week, I found a post by Bud Hunt, who was following the trail of Karl Fisch, who has created a group within Kiva for educators and urges the concept of “Paying it Forward.” This is what Bud wrote:

Today, Karl Fisch posted a message on his blog inviting members of his PLN (Personal Learning Network) to join Team Shift Happens and contribute however much possible to Kiva. Kiva is different than other charities in that it is a micro-lending website. People, like you and I, can loan money ($25 and up) directly to individual entrepeneurs in the developing world.

On Karl’s suggestion, I’ve donated $25 to an entrepreneur and I also purchased two $25 gift certificates that I have emailed to two members of my PLN. I’m asking them to do the same as I did:

  1. Log in to Kiva.
  2. Join Team Shift Happens (click on Community and search keyword, “shift”)
  3. Choose the entrepreneur to whom they will loan the value of the gift certificate.
  4. Then consider doing the same thing I did – purchase two $25 gift certificates and email them to two members of their PLN with the same request to “pay it forward.”
  • Make a $25 loan yourself, or
  • Do what I did; make a $25 loan, then purchase two $25 gift certificates and email them to folks you know and ask them to do the same, and/or

So, I did join the Shift Happens team and I did add two loans to the group, and I will be sending forward a gift certificate or two to some friends in my network, with hopes that they might do the same. It’s a great way to give, and follow the impact of your giving (Kiva gives you updates on the status of the loan and project).

But, I have a group of students working on a Teach the Teachers Day at our school (set for Dec. 23) and they want it as a fundraising activity (it costs a dollar for a student to teach a lesson in class). I mentioned Kiva to them as a possible place for the funds raised by the Teach the Teachers Day, and they were very excited about the concept. So, my intention is to give the students complete responsibility for choosing the business and investing fundraising money and following the progress of the loan. I think it will be a great lesson in financing, collaborative efforts and social responsibility.

Peace (in small but powerful doses),

When Geeks Get Mad

The latest series in my Boolean Squared comics is all about what happens when the geek kids get picked on by the school bullies. They respond in the only way they know … with technology. Come on in and see what Boolean and Urth are up to when they deal with “the bully boys” at their school.

The twice-weekly comic is found at the Springfield Republican Newspaper. But here is the RSS feed and also my own home to the Boolean Squared collection.

Peace (in kids),

21st Century Skills

This is a nifty graphic showing the skills that kids need in this world. This comes from Edutopia (a magazine I used to get for free, but have dropped now that they want money. It was nice a freebie, but to me, it didn’t seem worth the cash). I like how create and collaborate are just as prominent as the learning that goes on in the classroom.

What do you think?

(See image at Edutopia site)

Peace (in the present and future),