Embark Upon a New Decade of English Language Arts in NJEJ 2020

My co-editor Dr. Emily Hodge and I are thrilled to announce the publication of the 2020 issue of New Jersey English Journal: “What’s Next? Embarking Upon a New Decade of English Language Arts.”

“This issue addresses a variety of topics, including Young Adult literature, social justice, artificial intelligence, climate change, and mindfulness. We are proud to share work from writers across the country, including pieces by first-time authors, graduate students, and early-career teachers” (Editors’ Note). [ . . . ]  Read More

Learn in Your PJs with Free Digital Literacy PD

Are you interested in digital literacy? Would you like to do some professional learning from the comfort of your living room? Then read on to learn about 11 upcoming opportunities to jump-start your digital literacy knowledge!

Drew University’s DrewTEACH program is offering a full slate of free virtual professional development on digital literacy this spring. Learn about topics such as collaborative annotation, fake news, and ethical communities from the comfort of your couch by registering for the free series that begins January 21 and runs through April 7.  [ . . . ]  Read More

Embracing Visual Notetaking: A Review of McGregor’s Ink & Ideas

I’m thrilled to share my review of Tanny McGregor’s wonderful book, Ink & Ideas (2018), featured in the current issue of English Journal.

Ink & Ideas is an indispensable guide for any teacher looking to introduce or enrich sketchnoting (aka visual notetaking) in their classroom. Read the full review for several examples of how McGregor uses visual notetaking to enhance “engagement, comprehension, and thinking” across P-16 classrooms and subject areas.

Here’s an quick excerpt from my review posted on Twitter:

via @TobeyAnt

To learn more about my experience teaching sketchnoting and to access my favorite instructional resources for visual notetaking, check out the following posts:

Be sure to follow the author on Twitter @TannyMcG for regular doses of sketchnote inspiration!

via @TannyMcG

*****

Congratulations to Tanny McGregor on such an important achievement!

Thank you to English Journal for allowing free access to my article.

And special thanks to “Books-in-Action” column editor Nicole Sieben for editorial support throughout the publication process.

Access the full July 2019 English Journal issue, here.

Playful Learning Through Games and Collaboration

Audrey Fisch and I are excited to share a publication we’ve been working on for the Spring 2019 issue of the Journal of Language and Literacy Education (JoLLE).

Our article is entitled “Play and Learning with KAHOOT!: Enhancing Collaboration and Engagement in Grades 9-16 through Digital Games.”

In the piece, we describe our chance meeting on Twitter that inspired a collaborative learning experience between our high school and higher education classrooms. We detail our use of KAHOOT! as a teaching tool to review MLA format and academic integrity, reflecting on the value of play and games in the classroom. Additionally, we discuss the benefits of collaboration across grade levels and institutions, sharing opportunities to facilitate such collaboration through professional organizations and virtual networks.

The spring issue of JoLLE also includes podcast interviews with all of the issue’s authors. In our podcast, we discuss topics such as the role of technology in the classroom, the value of games and play, and professional uses of social media.

We really enjoyed the process of working together—first by connecting our classrooms, and later as collaborative writers of this piece—and we hope that our authentic joy comes through in the podcast and the article itself.

Photo by Kai T. Dragland / NTNU

 

Meet NJ English Educators at NJCTE’s Spring Conference

Attend the NJCTE Spring Conference

Join me on March 30 at the New Jersey Council Teachers of English (NJCTE) Spring Conference, “Doorways to Teaching in a Digital World.” Check out the full program schedule and register here. Featured speakers include authors Ibi Zoboi, Georgia Hunger, and Nora Raleigh Baskin.

If you can’t attend in person, join the conversation virtually with the Twitter hashtag #NJCTE19, or by following @NJCTENews.

Write for New Jersey English Journal

I will be presenting with Dr. Emily Hodge in our new roles as Co-Editors of The New Jersey English Journal (NJEJ). Our session, “Reflecting on Your Practice: Write for The New Jersey English Journal”  (10:35 am – 11:20 am, Learning Commons), will provide information about the 2020 call for manuscripts, as well as workshop time for attendees to brainstorm and begin drafting submissions. We hope to see you there!

The theme for the 2020 issue of NJEJ is “What’s Next? Embarking Upon a New Decade of English Language Arts.” Access the full call for manuscripts, here.

NJEJ welcomes single and co-authored submissions from both veteran and early-career teachers, and we especially invite new writers, pre-service teachers, and graduate students to develop submissions. (Please note: Writers do not have to live or work in New Jersey.)

Review for NJEJ

One of the best ways to develop your own voice as a writer is to serve as a reviewer for a journal. Anyone interested in serving on the review board can fill out this brief survey. Please spread the word about this opportunity to your ELA colleagues across grade levels and institutions.

Sneak Peak at NJEJ’s New Digital Platform

Behind the scenes, we’ve been working on a new digital platform for NJEJ. In partnership with Montclair State University, we’ll be hosting the journal on their digital commons. Here’s a sneak peak at our new site, which should also streamline the submission and review process.

We’ve uploaded the latest 2019 issue, and are in the process of archiving back issues. We hope you like it!

NJEJ’s new digital platform

Send any queries about The New Jersey English Journal to njenglishjournal@gmail.com.

Four Easy Ways to Display Your Digital Badges

After three years of experimenting with digital badges with both high school students and adults, I’m still exploring ways to integrate and share them.

For those new to badges, here’s a simple definition I wrote in an earlier post. To access additional introductory, intermediate, and advanced resources I’ve curated on digital badges, see this slideshow.

In a nutshell, badges are digital ways of recognizing accomplishments or skills. Open badges are tied to evidence of learning and designed to be shared, so recipients can showcase their skills across digital platforms (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn).

Image by Kyle Bowen, used with permission. CC BY-SA 2.0.

I’ve always used the Mozilla Backpack to store and display badges; however, when I recently learned that Mozilla is retiring the platform, I began looking for alternative options.

Currently, my students are thinking about what kinds of badges could showcase skills that college admissions officers and potential employers might value.

Here are four options for sharing their badges online that I’ll tell them are worth considering:

1. Badgr

Mozilla announced they’ve be encouraging Backpack users to migrate over to Concentric Sky’s (@ConcentricSky) Badgr (@Badgrteam) platform. After creating a free account, I found the platform to be very easy to use.

Badgr’s features for sharing/displaying badges: [ . . . ]  Read More

12 Ways to Enjoy the NCTE Convention (Even From Afar!)

The NCTE Convention is consistently one of the best professional development experiences of my year. But a conference of this size can be difficult to navigate–especially for new attendees–and unfortunately, not every interested teacher is able to attend.

Here are 12 ways to enjoy the convention, even if you can’t attend in person:

P.S. I am so excited about next month’s conference that I drew sketches (below) to accompany my tips. (Educator and author Tanny McGregor inspired me to start sketching at the 2016 NCTE Convention.)

If you’re thinking about attending:

It’s not too late! Ask your institution to sponsor your attendance. NCTE offers talking points, testimonials, budget spreadsheets, and sample letters to help you get approval to attend.

If you can’t attend in person (and even if you can):

Join the conversation on Twitter with the conference hashtag (#NCTE18). You can’t attend every session, but the Twitter feed will expose you to ideas that are resonating with others. And many presenters will post their slides and materials.

If you can attend in person (lucky you!):

Leave room in your suitcase for goodies snagged at the exhibit hall, or plan to ship a small box home from the convention center’s shipping store. Check the program for the schedule of author signings, which take place in the exhibit hall.

Take a lightweight bag that fits your favorite notebook and/or computer, pens, charger, water bottle, and a snack. Wear sensible shoes for long walks or sightseeing between sessions.

Bring healthy, portable snacks with you–nuts, protein bars, fruit–to fuel your mind between sessions. If possible,

make coffee or tea in your hotel room [ . . . ]  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