Tweet about Tech + ELA at this Sunday’s #NCTEchat

I’m excited to co-host NCTE’s monthly Twitter chat (#NCTEchat) this Sunday at 8 PM EST with fellow digital literacies enthusiasts Troy Hicks, Tom Liam Lynch, and Nicole Damico.

We’ll be tweeting about “Beliefs for Integrating Technology Into the English Language Arts Classroom,” a position statement collaboratively written by 22 members of NCTE’s ELATE Commission on Digital Literacies and Teacher Education (D-LITE)

In the statement, authors share four beliefs to consider when integrating technology in ELA, with applications for K-12 teachers and students, teacher educators and students, and literacy researchers. [ . . . ]  Read More

Let’s Annotate the Web! Meta Digital Writing with Troy Hicks

For this month’s Digital Literacies Collaborative (DLC) social reading, I invite you to read and annotate Troy Hicks’ (2018) excellent piece from Voices in the Middle on “The Next Decade of Digital Writing.” In addition to joining the ongoing discussion throughout the article, I especially invite you to think publicly about your next steps or goals as a teacher of digital writing.

In the article, Hicks reflects on the evolution of digital writing instruction and highlights five educators’ innovative practices. Hicks describes his purpose as follows:

CC-BY 2.0 image by Pete O’Shea modified with permission via Flicker.

Reflective digital writing educators themselves, DLC members should have a lot to say about Hicks’ suggestions for our next ten years of work. October 20 is NCTE’s National Day on Writing, so October is the perfect time to reflect on our digital writing instruction.

**Plus, Troy Hicks will be visiting Drew University on October 25 as the featured speaker to kickoff the #DrewTEACH Lecture Series.**

This is why I’m inviting DLC members (and anyone else interested in technology and/or the teaching of writing) to write about writing with me by reading Hicks’ article and joining the ongoing intratextual conversation (via Hypothes.is).

Using Hypothes.is for Social Annotation [ . . . ]  Read More

A Transmedia Writing Project by Global Collaborators

Thanks to a series of well-timed clicks on social media, I recently became one of twenty, international co-authors of a collaborative digital writing project, the NetNarr Alchemy Lab.

How I Got Involved

Scrolling through social media, I was intrigued by a playful invitation that teased the possibility of a transmedia, collaborative story.

“Come. Join us,” the invitation stated.

“Take a chance. We’ll be right there with you. Together, we hope to create something magical.”

The sign-up sheet made the following, modest offer:

“We’re hoping you will be open to working on creating one digital piece of art or story. We will then stitch our stories together into an interactive Alchemy Lab.”

I later learned that NetNarr referenced Networked Narratives, a co-located class taught by Alan Levine at Kean University and Dr. Mia Zamora at the University of Bergen, Norway. (Learn more about the structure, here.)

A colleague had suggested I try out Adobe Muse to create digital animations, and I figured that a CLMOOC invitation was the perfect time to tinker, fail, and explore,” to borrow a phrase from Renee Hobbs.

My sketchnotes from Renee Hobbs’ talk, “Create to Learn,” from the 2018 DrewTEACH Winter Conference.

Enter the Alchemy Lab

The beautiful and impressive finished product, stitched together by Master Alchemist Kevin Hodgson (@dogtraxusing ThingLink 360, opens with a spinning, 360° image of the Alchemy Lab.

Here’s a photo of the Alchemy Lab by Kevin Hodgson (CC BY-SA.) But you should really check out the 360° version on the full site.

My Contribution to the Lab

In case you can’t guess from the image above, my contribution to the lab is a lock (located on the bottom shelf of the purple case at the center of the above photo). The lock graphic itself — and all of the others in the lab — were drawn by the talented Susan Watson and shared via a Google doc that asked contributors to first claim an image, and later drop in a link to their finished product.

Image by Susan Watson

Even though I was tempted by other images (the already-claimed neon green flask, especially) I chose the lock because I thought it would be a convenient method, conceptually, to move from one piece of the transmedia text to another.

Clicking on the lock in the Alchemy Lab links to a website I created using Adobe Muse. Taking a cue from the style of the original invitation, my goal was to make an animation that moved a key graphic towards the lock to open the next page of the lab. I was somewhat successful.

Media Jumping: Triumphs and Challenges

In the spirit of Connected Learning, here are my reflections on creating my piece of the Alchemy Lab.

✓ Win: The design of my site matches the look and feel of the original invitation to join the NetNarr media jumping experience.

X Fail: The original invitation did not really inform the look and feel of the finished Alchemy Lab.

✓ Win: I found a cool looking key image. After hours of trial and error with animations in Muse, I was able to move the key (down and to the right) to meet the lock.

X Fail: The key meets the lock perfectly on my Windows-based work computer. Unfortunately, it does not perfectly meet the key on my Mac, or on my mobile phone.

✓ Win: At first, I was unable to publish my Muse webpage on this WordPress site. After a few false starts, I was able to host my Muse website using Adobe’s free service, Adobe Business Catalyst.

X Fail: About one month after the Alchemy Lab was published, I received an email from Adobe Business Catalyst that it will be discontinued in March 26, 2020.

✓ Win: After a few days of research, and several emails with patient WP developers, I was able to migrate my site from Adobe Business Catalyst to this WordPress site, using the free, MWuse plugin. [Luckily, digital texts are especially conducive to revisions.]

Lessons Learned

  • Continue saying yes to offers from the CLMOOC community, even if I don’t really understand what they entail.
  • Do a bit more research before committing to a platform. Had I known what headaches Adobe Muse and Business Catalyst would bring, I might have found a better alternative. Next time, I’ll ask my PLN via Twitter.
  • Know when to ask for help. I enjoy the challenge of tinkering myself, but I realized I was in over my head long after I felt committed to a platform.
  •  [ . . . ]  Read More

    Reading Graphs and Economic Trends: The “Great Gatsby Curve”

    When I spotted the following preview of a discussion thread on NCTE Connects, I had to read more:

    Vermont educator Donald Tinney was looking for short companion texts to teach in conversation with The Great Gatsby. I had just finished reading Fitzgerald’s novel with my 10th grade students, and was curious to learn how other educators help students relate its themes to present day.

    In the discussion that followed, several educators shared texts and tips (including P.L. Thomas’ post, “The ‘Vast Carelessness’ of White America”).

    Among the many treasures shared was a page of resources compiled by Susan Chenelle and Audrey Fisch. Their 2017 NCTE presentation referenced an article on “The Great Gatsby Curve,” an economic trend that shows a relationship between parental economic mobility and income distribution. Posted on an archived page of Obama’s WhiteHouse.gov blog, the article features an animated graphic posted on Tumblr with a graphical representation of the curve. Here is a screenshot of the Tumblr graphic:

    While I await a copy of Fisch and Chenelle’s upcoming book on teaching Gatsby with informational texts, I created my own lesson around “The Great Gatsby Curve” to prompt students to think about these contemporary economic issues.

    Considering “The Great Gatsby Curve” Lesson: Parental Income and Economic Mobility

    First, I asked students to analyze their first impressions of the website itself (obamawhitehouse.archives.gov). The following note appears at the top of the website: “This is historical material “frozen in time”. The website is no longer updated and links to external websites and some internal pages may not work.”

    Then, I invited students to watch and read the animated graphic on “The Great Gatsby Curve.” The animation progresses quickly, so students watched it once or twice before writing down their interpretations of the graph. Eventually, I captured the screenshot image above.

    After students wrote an interpretation of the graph in their own words, I asked them to write responses to a series of questions I raised aloud:

  • What is your opinion about this economic trend?
  • What does this economic trend mean for you? How might it apply to your life?
  • Does this trend hold true in your family? For example, did your grandparents’ income determine your parents’?
  • Shift your perspective. How would you feel if your parents had significantly lower or higher incomes?
  • What factors do you think contribute to this economic trend?
  •  [ . . . ]  Read More

    What Reading Looks Like

    When we think about what reading looks like, we might picture someone curled up with a good book in a comfy chair with a hot beverage nearby. We might picture someone perusing the news over breakfast, or reading an e-book during the morning commute.

    If you ask someone outside of the education field what teens’ reading looks like, however, they might not picture anything. For example, when I mention to someone that I’m researching teens’ reading, many lament, “kids these days don’t read anymore!”

    But they do! And I have photos to prove it. Here are a few photos of reading in my classroom.

    1. Students choose their own texts.

    We still read some classic texts (e.g., Of Mice and Men, The Great Gatsby, Romeo and Juliet), but that’s not all we read. Even when reading classics, students connect the books to contemporary events and research they seek out themselves.

    My students select independent reading books and read books of their choosing throughout the year.

    IMG_2481
    The top student picks in the 2016-2017 school year (clockwise): Sold, The Rape of Nanking, The Poisoner’s Handbook, Steal Like an Artist, Nothing to Envy, Fangirl, Bossypants, Moneyball

     

    Students take suggestions from YALSA’s list of “Outstanding Books for the College Bound” and the NoveList database. They create virtual bookshelves and groups on Goodreads, write reviews, and share recommendations. (Read more about independent reading and student book clubs in my classroom, here.)

    2. Teens read and compose print and digital texts.

    As Turner and Hicks (2015) argue in Connected Reading, the question of print vs. digital texts in the classroom is not about “either/or.” It’s about “both/and.” My students encounter a variety of texts, both print and digital. Rather than insisting they read or write in a specific way, I demonstrate options, and invite them to choose the best tool for their task.

    IMG_20160916_101035588_HDR
    The class reads a digital text (a “visual autobiography”) crafted by one student to introduce himself to his peers.
    IMG_20170613_123247070
    A student reads “Bartleby, the Scrivener” on his tablet computer, annotating with a stylus.
    IMG_6389
    A student watches a short video for his research project on bionic limbs.

    3. “Whole class” reading looks different each day.

    Sometimes, students sit in a circle (or in small groups) and discuss a book that I assigned.

    IMG_20170614_140422707.jpg

    Other times, students read aloud in class.

    File_000.jpeg
    Wearing dollar store props in front of “scenery” on the screen, students act out the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet.

    On designated independent reading days, students sit where they’re most comfortable. At back-to-school night, I asked parents to donate any furniture or items to help me create a cozy reading space in our classroom. Thanks to their generosity, we have a comfortable reading area with folding chairs that students move around the room.

    IMG_20161130_110937782_HDR.jpg
    Our cozy reading space made possible thanks to donations and student input.

    Students also exchange reading recommendations virtually. My senior class created Pinterest boards this spring to organize and share online articles across disciplines.

    Class Pinterest
    A screenshot of the class’s shared Pinterest boards. These are the topics that 12th graders thought would interest them. (Not pictured: “Science & Medicine” and “The Future”)

    What does reading look like in your classroom?

    Let’s look at reading across grades and subjects. Please comment below or share classroom photos (with permission).

    Share your photos with the hashtag #teensreading!

    Fun with Infographics: Gearing up for the NCTE Convention

    I leave tomorrow for the Annual Convention for the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). With the excitement building on Twitter, I came across a post that inspired me to do some digital writing. English educator and author Kylene Beers (@KyleneBeers) created an infographic to announce her presentation schedule for the conference.

    Inspired by her post, I used Adobe Illustrator to create an infographic (pictured below) to share my presentation schedule, and shared it on Twitter. To create the graphic, I used a “snipping tool” to take screenshots of the presentation schedule, and then added my own call-out boxes, graphics, and text.

    I look forward to an inspiring and energizing convention!

    NCTE Schedule 2016