Media Literacy Wiki

As part of a book project that I am helping to edit around how composition is changing in the classroom, a colleague passed along a new resource book called by Richard Beach. I haven’t yet had a chance to really check it out but, being digital, I did check out his website, weblog and wiki.


I like the Wiki best of all. Beach has his students 9college, I think) contributing to the collective knowledge in such areas as:

The sites within the Wiki are well thought out, instructive and reflective, and provide a myriad of resources. This Wiki is a great site for anyone venturing into the thicket of what media literacy is all about these days and the voices of students come through with the power of the collective Wiki.

Peace (with no deceptive advertising),

The Skittle/Blog Experiment

As part of a larger weblog project called Making Connections through the Western Massachusetts Writing Project, a colleague and I at my school are working with three other regional middle school classes to conduct an science experiment (Question: Which skittle will melt quicker — sour or sweet?), share data through a weblog, post a scientific abstract and then, later (and not related to Skittles), post a creative scientific journey story.

As you can imagine, there have been complications along the way. We are using Survey Monkey to collect data, and, well, one day, the settings on the survey collection were not quite right and so after all of our students put their data in, we had to wipe everything clean and start again (my fault).

But here are a few photos we are sharing that show the distribution of colors of Skittles with our students:


Peace (with sweet and sour),


Poets in the Age of the Samurai

I am reading aloud a new book to my older boys. It is the newest edition of the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne. They are getting a bit old for the series but they still enjoy hearing them and I am going to hold on to that experience as long as I can. Anyway, in this particular book, the main characters — Jack and Annie — are back in the time of Ancient Japan, and they have met an older man who is respected by everyone he meets and they think he is a great warrior. What they find out is that he is a great poet and that writers were respected by warriors at a level not quite seen these days.

“Yes, the samurai greatly honor the art of poetry,” said Basho. “Poetry helps focus the mind. The samurai believe a truly brave warrior should be able to compose a poem even in the midst of an earthquake, or while facing an enemy on the battlefield.” — (p.61)

Thanksgiving on Thursday

Peace (without the battlefield),

OnPoEvMo: Beyond the Cloth of Broken Glass April 2007

The past few weeks, this poem has bubbled up slowly. It was no doubt inspired by the rediscovery of my writing notebook from my Summer Institute with the Western Massachusetts Writing Project. The words drew me back to that magical summer of writing, teaching and connecting with this network of people and friends.


Beyond the Cloth of Broken Glass

April 2007

Listen to the poem

I came upon myself today
and I was trapped inside the page
of an ratty old notebook that had been sitting there
for ages and ages
and I reflected on the hours — oh, those glorious hours —
in which I had been the writer, and nothing more,
just a pure scribbler armed with paper, pen, a locked door and an open mind.

And so, I removed all of my clothes
and danced naked among ruins of the long-forgotten poetry
of rhythm and rhyme that had been long lost to time’s fickle ways.
I squeezed in among the half-finished chords littered with abandoned notes
just yearning for a special place somewhere farther up the staff
but now rendered immobile with forgetfulness.
I inched forward onto the stage, into the plays, an actor composed of thoughts,
and inhabited the characters who moved inside my singular spotlight of mind,
and then vanished behind the curtain call of the closed notebook cover.

It was then that I found the letter,
the note that I wrote on a day when I had nothing better to do
but muse upon the future, the “me” that now reads the “me,”
and I uncorked this bottle
and sank down into the words that I created for only my eyes to see:

Write with your heart, search with your soul,
hold tight to the love,
so that you don’t fall back into the weariness
and uncertainty that seems to shove up against you at every turn,
and, for God’s sake,
don’t wrap yourself up again in that cloth of broken glass —
the shards will surely cut anyone
who comes in close and you — me, we — we may not last
if you have to go it alone in this world.

Bits of glass stung my tongue as the memory crawled back
and I remembered, finally, what this was,
this pad of paper filled with words from some other time
that had been squirreled away.
It had been a lifeline holding me together
when everything else was coming undone
and I feared the loosening of the threads above all else.

I closed the past and tucked it back where it belonged
and let the words of that letter settle in and live with me again as a friend
as I pulled up my blanket of silk and cotton threads and connectiveness and comfort
and silently slipped into a safe sleep.

Peace (in poetry),

Guest Host for TTT

So this is what I get for suggesting a topic to Paul Allison for the wonderful Teachers Teaching Teachers show — he asks me to guest host this Wednesday night (9 p.m. Eastern time) on the topic of how we can integrate the Web 2.0 technology with storytelling. I am, of course, honored and excited to be asked to sit in the Big Chair and I want to invite you all to join me.

Here is my blurb:

Teachers Teaching Teachers: Using Technology to Tell Stories

The concept of digital storytelling has been around for some time as people began to envision the impact that the visual and aural elements could have on the traditional writing process. Video documentaries, radio reflections and other experiments have blossomed with the Web 2.0 world. There are many publishing sources and many means of expression. But what does it all mean? How can the interactive web be tapped into to bring storytelling and composition to an even deeper level of meaning for the writer and for the audience?

Join guest host Kevin Hodgson, who is the technology liaison of the Western Massachusetts Writing Project, this week on Teachers Teaching Teachers as he seeks to explore some of these questions. Kevin is a sixth grade teacher who has students create digital picture books (last year’s theme — math, and this year’s theme — science) and stop-motion claymation projects (in which his sixth graders collaborate with second graders). He has been exploring the intersection of the world of digital storytelling and the Web 2.0 frontier in recent months with NWP Colleague Bonnie Kaplan through a community Weblog and a new collaborative ABC movie project that features more than a dozen teachers throughout the country who are contributing video segments to a larger collaborative project that uses online tools to plan, produce and distribute a digital story.

The program will try to showcase some different aspects of storytelling and technology, brainstorm some ways that people can get started, and consider what the future holds for telling stories in a digital environment.

Our guests will include Tonya Witherspoon, who has run a claymation movie camp for kids; Gail Desler, who is part of the ABC Movie Project and a deep thinker on the pedagogy underlying the use of technology in the classroom; and others.

Please join us for the conversation this Wednesday evening on (6pm PDT / 9pm EDT / 1am GMT (global times).

Some Resource Links

Kevin and Bonnie’s Using Technology to Tell Stories Weblog (
More information about the ABC Movie Project (
Tonya’s Claymation Camp Site
Kevin’s Weblog (
Bonnie’s Weblog (
Gail’s Weblog (
Tonya’s Weblog (
Kevin’s Storytelling Site (
Tonya’s Delicious links for Digital Storytelling (

I hope to hear you then.

Peace (with podcasts and people),

Collaborative MovieMaking

In the past month or so, my friend, Bonnie, and I have launched a Weblog as a way to think about how technology can inform and inspire storytelling. We have been sharing resources, sparking discussions and just thinking about the convergence of the Web 2.0 interactive world with the traditional (!) digital storytelling techniques.

We are now moving into action, with a Collaborative ABC Movie Project, in which people will submit segments of movies based on letters of the alphabet and then we will use Jumpcut to edit them all together into one large collaborative movie. We have no idea how it will turn out, but we are game for exploration.

Here is my example for the letter A:


We’ll be sharing our experiences as we go along and I will try to move those thoughts over here. But feel free to check out Using Technology to Tell Stories blog and add your voice to our conversation.

Peace (with video clips),

One word for TM

I found myself wandering through Paul Allison’s site (one of his many interesting ventures into the world) and came upon this list of words that we used this past summer to describe Tech Matters ’06 in Chico, California. Tech Matters is a one-week intensive technology retreat for fellows in the National Writing Project Technology Liaison network. I have written about it before (and created a little claymation video for a friend who is working on a project about TM). But this list reminded me of our last day in Chico as we reflected on our experiences:

One Word about TM06

  • Reenvisionment
  • Recommitted
  • Tranformational
  • Inspiring
  • Relationships
  • Networking
  • Upgraded
  • Invigorating
  • Empowering
  • Liberating
  • Challenging
  • Fulfilling
  • Illuminating
  • Validating
  • Usable
  • Solidarity
  • Inspiration
  • Collaboration
  • Friendship
  • Creating, creating, creating…
  • Self-expression
  • Tired, hot, and laughing…
  • Fun
  • Community
  • Entertaining
  • Revolutionary
  • Exasperating
  • Visioning
  • A-ha moment
  • Tension
  • Eating
  • Read/write web (not Web 2.0)
  • Clarity
  • Gator skin drive
  • The world is flat
  • Whirlpoo…
  • Excellent
  • Tremendo
  • Beautiful
  • Magnificent/Magnifico
  • Nurturing
  • Bonding

Peace (in Chico),

Creative Kids

Today’s post is more for family, but I share it with everyone anyway (hey, you are all my extended family — and stop complaining, Uncle Bob!).

The other day, my oldest son (9) came up and asked if he could make a newspaper. Ahhh, words to brighten the Writing Teacher’s day. We propped him up on the computer, and his younger son came over, and together, they created this gem of their athletic exploits. (Now they are trying to sell copies — if they enter into an agreement with Google, the world is coming to end).


Meanwhile, their baby brother (not so much a baby anymore — he is two) was snuggling upstairs with me, and we usually sing songs together. On this day, I was armed with my voice recorder and captured his very cute voice singing “Puff the Magic Dragon” and other classics.

Listen to the singing little dude

Peace (with creative kids),

PS — there is no Uncle Bob.

My Weblog/Podcast Workshop Site

A friend asked me to share the Weblog site where I launch many of my workshops on Weblogs for teachers in the Western Massachusetts Writing Project with very little, if any, knowledge of Weblogs, Wikis, podcasting, etc. At this point, the site is only the main interface and not an actual blog, although I have used it for that during various workshops (it all depends on audience and purpose).

Feel free to use the workshop site as you like.

Peace (with sharing),

PageFlakes — Rss-ing the world

This is a follow-up to yesterday’s post, in a way. One of my projects this year is to work with our Massachusetts Writing Project (newly reconstituted with Susan at the helm) with newsletter weblogs for all of sites, and then collect all news via RSS feeds to a single blog site.

This would give us a collective voice for sharing information and by using RSS feeds, I am hoping that it will be less work for everyone involved (except for me, in setting the darn thing up).

Our writing project site also envisions a time when all of our assorted projects (Project Outreach, English Language Learners Network, Reading Initiative, etc) will have their own blog space for sharing with others, and we want to be able to collect their news at one site, too.

So I started toying around with PageFlakes and Mike, over at his Edublogs tutorial site, showed the world how to collect feeds from PageFlake and then move that code over to an Edublog site — just what I may need. (Thanks again, Mike!)

Check out my public PageFlake site and give me any feedback. I have collected all the feeds from folks in the Western Mass Writing Project who have completed the three-hour Weblog/Podcast workshops with me.

Peace (with Pageflakes),