Monday, December 14, 2009


I am once more trying to load the correct final draft of Building the Peace Garden Bridge. The note on the bottom of this post says it is Processing Video, so I am hopeful. Originally, I thought I would just replace the first draft, but then I thought that people might be interested in how my writing group really helped to make this a better project. I am going to embed the YouTube link while I try to change the security settings on YouTube.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Draft of a digital writing project or two--maybe

I am working on two Photo Stories. The Building Bridge one went fairly easily; the Dedication ceremony still needs to be finessed. Now my challenge is to get them posted on this blog!

I tried to compress the Building the Peace Garden Bridge video following the directions for PC Movie Maker Compression, but it still is taking a long time for it to post. PhotoStory didn't show a screen like the Save Movie Wizard on p. 125 of the article. I've been waiting for 15 minutes at least and will need to abandon this project in the next 15 minutes. I have the show saved both on a flash drive and my school computer, so it does exist in two forms.

An exciting element was receiving permission to use Greg Gilpin's wonderful song, We Can Build a Bridge, as background for both videos. The group Carpe Diem sang it at the Peace Garden Bridge dedication.

The most frustrating element of this project has been the refusal of my home laptop to record my voice and play it back. I had difficulties with both Voice Thread and Photo Story, so I ended up doing the projects at school. The wizard shows that the microphone is working and that it is playing back, but my voice does not seem to adhere to the projects.

Another snafu is the very long time it is taking for my project to load. I have waited ten minutes since my earlier post and need to leave. I will try again tomorrow.

Do you believe it?? The movie actually loaded! I am in shock, but very happy! I hope that other people can give me good feedback. The one piece I would like to change is to extend the final frame by two seconds to get to the end of the chorus. The feedback I'm most interested in is whether I've forgotten any important parts of the story. And if someone call talk me through compression, would I get better quality on the final product? This insert isn't wonderful.

Tomorrow I will work on the Peace Garden Bridge Dedication video and try to upload that as well.

I will at some point make a voice thread with people on the Peace Garden Project committee talking about their experiences, but that will not happen for this class. The working title of that post is Never Doubt (what a small group of committed citizens).

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Below is a copper sasi block on the new Peace Garden Bridge at Lyndale Park Peace Garden.

My digital writing project is about the Lyndale Park Peace Garden in Minneapolis, and specifically about the Peace Garden Bridge which was dedicated on September 20, 2009. I chose this topic because the Peace Garden is a 'thin place' as the Celtic mystics say and is an important place in my life. The new Peace Garden Bridge, designed by Kinji Akagawa and Jerry Allan, more than enhances the garden. It has already brought together people from the Mid East, the Far East, and the Midwest. For five years, I worked with a dedicated group of citizens who raised funds for this and the Spirit of Peace sculpture. My project is a way to tell the world our story.

To do this digital writing project, which I plan to post on Facebook or MySpace, I gathered photographs from several people, whom I will thank and credit. Ultimately, I see linking to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board website and international peace sites. I have several stories to tell and would like to use a variety of media. One is Photo Story 3, with the story of Dedication Day. I am considering doing SmileBox albums of some important events that have taken place at the Peace Garden around the Spirit of Peace statue. I would like to make a VoiceThread of committee members reflecting on their experience of raising $142,500 plus for the projects. After the new year, I plan to visit with the original designer of the Peace Garden who has promised to digitalize her photos and tell the story of how the garden first came to be.

I have been very frustrated by the inability to record and save on my home and my school computer. This has kept me from posting my work in progress. I have made storyboards and scripts and recorded and saved and lost so many attempts. Hopefully, someone will be able to figure out what isn't working and how to fix it, or I will bring my flash drive to my friends who use a Mac and go the iMovie route.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Reflections of a new blogger

Having gone through and reread my sixteen postings, I find that none of them would be in the running for a People's Choice award. My voice (not to mention bias and emotions) is quite clear on most entries, but I wouldn't award myself many points for design or embedded references. I'm very glad I can go to others for that choice. Usually I was among the first people to post in my curriculum group, so I would check out others' entries over the weekend or Monday nights. I also blogged about things I read which weren't on that week's topic list (for example, my Appropriation entry).

I have also been ruminating about the purpose of blogging which we discussed in Week 8. I certainly used my entries to think and inquire of others. I did a little bit of sifting--my seashell icon refers to that--and more of archiving. Candance nominated my blog as an example of networking and I have tried very hard to respond to as many entries as I can. And I am certainly using the blog as a place to play (although I think the NING was more fun).


I didn't spend a lot of time making my blog fancy and most entries do not have a visual component. I do, however, like my Multiple Meaning Words, posted on September 19. Sparked by a term in our reading, I jumped to one of the most difficult aspects of English for language learners--figuring out words in context when they don't mean what the first dictionary entry said. I think my visuals for 'land' were quite good, although certainly not exhaustive. I have been much more concerned about content than appearance.


In terms of thinking and process, I think my response to our collaborative multimodal, multigenre multimedia project is exemplary. I responded both on a personal and professional level to the experience. In rereading my entry, I think I spoke for many members of the class. Another posting that demonstrates professionalism is Checking the Blogs, which produced four responses. It certainly demonstrates that I was doing my homework! (:-)


None of my entries strikes me as particularly clever, but I did respond to readings and events that weren't on the syllabus. Appropriation drew on articles in the StarTribune the week after we had discussed this in class. It's Everywhere is another example of an additional posting in response to non-assigned material I read. No one responded to I LOVE TONY ROMANO, although that certainly has my voice loud and clear!


It's hard to choose the 'best' entries for this category. I love what Elizabeth B. is doing with The Things They Carried on her blog. I like the visual appearance or Natasha's blog and the hatching of a rock story. Consistently, Mary K. and Isa have written about rich resources and research that were new to me. I love how Janice is using her blog to try out ideas for her class, too.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Collaborative writing

I really liked the Bledsoe article because it was an excellent yet realistic example of collaborative writing process. Note, though, that he said I will teach the curriculum my way, which is collaborative for students but not for teachers. I see the focus in the school district now as being one of teacher-share: small mixed-class reading groups, collaborative SMARTBOARD lessons, required team meetings, for example. I see the curriculum being jammed into short, fragmented days which don't allow the freedom to create over the length of time Bledsoe takes with his projects. We can 'do it,' 'make it happen', but the more compressed and compartmentalized and skill-driven teaching becomes, the less viable an authentic collaborative writing workshop may be.

Over the years, I have participated in both cross-grade and intra-class collaborations. For several years, I paired my fifth graders with a primary class for a poetry unit. The big kids were amazed by the imagination of the little kids and the little kids were impressed by the attention and writing skills of the fifth graders. One of the favorite types was color poems. The fifth and first or second graders would alternate images a la HAILSTONES AND HALIBUT BONES. One year my fourth graders wrote and acted in 'animal plays' that they wrote in small groups. It was an act of faith on my part to give the students so much freedom, but they rose to the occasion and made everyone proud. I haven't done anything electronically, but I see a variety of potential explorations.

On a personal level, I do a lot of newsletter articles for a variety of groups of which I am a member. Sometimes people like what I've written, but other times I really have worked collaboratively with another person not just as editor but as co-author. Two heads are usually better than one.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Two articles in the StarTribune this week caused me to think more deeply about remixing and appropriation. One was the review of the show "Afterword" at Thomas Barry Fine Arts. The artist, Thomas Allen, cuts up pulp novel covers from the postwar era, then remixes the images to create new scenes. He explores perspective, 'leveraging depth perception, shadow and the occasional blurred focus to punch up the intrigue,' according to Greg Scott, the reviewer. I expect that the copyright has expired on the old novels, so Allen is free to use them in his new work. Scott thinks that Allen's work is more 'camp' than art, but it caused me to wonder how artists have been using appropriation for many years. (I remember a music teacher criticizing Resphigi for being un-original since all he did was 'remix' some ancient airs and dances and call it new music).

The other article was on the editorial page, an ongoing conversation about Shephard Fairey's use of an AP image of Obama to make his famous HOPE illustration. Stephen Bergerson, a trademark attorney, says that the issue is one of copyright--the original photo was taken by an Associated Press photographer, but it was Fairey (and Obama) who benefitted from the photo. Mina Leierwood, a Minneapolis artist and activist, had previously written that the HOPE image had become so iconic that it belongs to the people, not the AP. The question that is raised for me is: did Fairey transform the image deliberately to make money or fame or did he use it as a starting point to make new art? The link above cites some online comments from others as well. I would think that other people had similar photos of Obama, but that the AP one was most readily available. Does intent matter? If Fairey hadn't been so artistic/creative would the appropriation have really mattered? I honestly haven't been following the ins and outs of this discussion, but it raises some of those questions of fair use and copyright new technology is causing us to ponder.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Digital literature

Deb S. used the phrase 'crossing over' and I think I am on the same bridge. This week's resources were so inspiring, I'm not sure where to start. I viewed all the examples that Candance suggested and also CRUISING (amazing!) that Janice recommended on her blog, plus the Crayola video Deb mentioned. I'm beginning to see how creation of multimodal, multigenre pieces could be considered writing. For weeks, I was much more comfortable calling 'composing' since to me writing must include words. Then, especially in Jester's article, I began to see how tools such as storyboards, combined with strong visual images, could offer both structure and feedom. And once you call a graphic organizer a storyboard, well, they're used in movie and cartoon making and we're into new media. Chris Jensen's images tell a story once he explains the setting. I'm not sure where the documentary/creativity line is (I'm sure it's blurred), but I wonder if images alone are digital literature. Not being a gamer, I had no idea how powerful and lifelike the images in a video game can be; Heavy Rain, the Origami Killer looked realistic at some times and in some angles. I think this can be harnessed for good or evil.

I had a conversation last night with my daughter, who is in the MFA creative writing program at Syracuse. She was going on about how none of her novels would ever be on Kindle and how she wanted to work for a small PRINT press when she graduates. For her, visual images are something to be created in the mind, not handed to people so they don't have to visualize and use their own imaginations.

And I had a conversation today with a fourth grade teacher who said she was having to revamp one of her units that has a strong computer component because the labs were given over to testing. Now that I want to bring more digital work to my students, 20th century roadblocks seem to be multiplying. The school district has a way to go to make 21st century learning a reality.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Collaborative 5M plus G project

Our collaborative digital writing project Thursday night was one of the most profound experiences I have ever had as a student. To begin, Candance brought images of soldiers to the group with the story of how she had seen all these young people in camouflage at the University and how she began to think about all those who would not return home from war alive or whole or innocent. Then someone told of hearing the news that President Obama had made a secret trip to Dover AFB that night to see the caskets of soldiers returning home and talk with the families who had come to greet them. Once the class digested this information, Candance then broke us up into random groups to design and produce six multimodal, multimedia, multigenre pieces. I honestly thought I could not do that, the pain in my gut was so intense--like a rock, I said--just due to the content.

My group of three included a woman who is my friend and shares many of my values about war and peace; she is also a 'smoother.' The other woman in my group is someone who I don't know except through her blog and class participation. It is a testimony both to the quality of the individuals who chose to participate in this class and the trust level that has been built as we struggle together that we were able to work through my recalcitrance. We came to a consensus about genre (a letter from a child to father about what is going on at home) and media (voice thread, which two of the three of us had struggled with for our last assignment) and how we would have three voices so each of us had ownership and input. And we did all this in an hour.

What was also amazing was the depth of every other group's responses to the challenge. The variety didn't surprise me; I expected that. And you could tell that some voices were very near the surface--a letter to a baby yet unborn by a new dad, another to a child explaining why mom isn't home for her first birthday, a postcard home. How moving the poetry of the piece on memories! And then, the Recipe for a Soldier, Entry #5, for which, the group explained, they deliberately found images of people from many different races and places. It is haunting and aching and beautiful and sad. A wonderful creation.

Thank you to whoever suggested we end the class with the voice thread about the Peace Garden Bridge on this blog as a transition to the outside world. I think it was good to end with hope.

I have been sharing the experience with everyone--my husband, my student teacher, my girlfriends at coffee this morning. Thank you, Candance, for giving us both the tools and the climate in which to use them, when some of our souls were being laid bare.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I was so excited to read this article; it articulates and echoes my experience as a teacher and even to some extent as a student. As I read the Unfinished Music #1--John poem, I flashed back to my sophomore English lit class at Gustavus. In an effort to be multi-cultural, I guess, we were reading Crime and Punishment. My emotional response was so deep that a regular essay wouldn't do, so I wrote poems about each of the main characters. The professor accepted them (I still had to write the essay, but it wasn't docked for being late). This certainly wasn't my first piece of authentic writing, nor was it deliberately multi-genre, but it is one that sticks in my mind until today.

As a writing teacher for intermediate age students, I encouraged students to explore writing in a variety of forms and used a variety of models with them. One form we used for several years was creative non-fiction about an animal. Students could choose from many styles such as picture and description, narrative plus details, or non-fiction text plus poems. For the teacher, was hard to keep track of what each student was doing--where in the writing process they were, authenticating their voices--after their research was done, but the final products were all keepsakes. I think this kind of project using visual storytelling tools would be even richer.

Another section I enjoyed was Interview with a Skeptic. I haven't read Billy the Kid, but Ondaatje is probably better known for The English Patient. This is one of the few movies that I saw before reading the book. The book was rich with poetry and deliberate ambiguity. I didn't finish it, it was too "maddening," as Romano suggests Ondaatje can be. Romano has me interested in reading Ondaantje. I remember reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and enjoying its lists of tools that read like poetry. And I still use a piece of advice the author gave his student who thought there was nothing to write about in the little college town: begin with one brick in the building across the road. Get down to the nitty gritty, the particular, the basic building block, then write your story.

I think that a digital component or two will enhance and make more real the multi-genre experience for today's students. Reading Romano, I get it.

Peace Garden Bridge Dedication I

Monday, October 26, 2009


I have jumped into a lot of technology and enjoyed playing the NING. However, I am being thwarted by some glitch in doing the voice thread, an activity which excited me a lot. I sorted through literally hundreds of photos, chose eight, decided on my purpose, wrote my narrative, revised my narrative, did several practice rounds, and then.... I couldn't get voice thread to record my voice! Fearing I would not get it done, I resorted to typing comments so I can post it in a timely fashion if I can't figure out how to record my voice. I've attached the microphone to every possible port; received messages that it was installed; updated my Adobe Flash; pressed record numerous times, but can't seem to make myself heard.

I see a lot of school applications for voice thread. There are some wonderful examples linked to the site. What an option for a book report! You could do multiple meaning words with each student giving sample sentences. You could use it to articulate with a social studies or science--vocabulary development as well as explaining experiments. And I love what peers have posted so far.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Digital writing in a summer tutorial

I really enjoyed reading the article, True Adventures of Mummies, Vampires and Schnauzers assigned for this week. Ms Solomon got to know her students at a more intimate level due to the small group situation; the digital writing gave the students an audience for composition other than 'just the teacher' and she used it to everyone's advantage. She really learned about 4 C's, however; Copyright was an important issue along with Composing, Computers, and Commotion. I also wonder how Murray or Donald Graves (see my first post) would feel about the "Commotion" aspect of digital writing. Digital writing involves active collaboration as well as individual creativity. That is different from traditional narrative or expository writing or even memoir, all of which can be done without direct input from other sources (people, videos, etc.)

Of course, the success which Ms Solomon felt and the reflection she was able to achieve were possible because she had only three students plus time after summer school to do her reflection without planning her next unit. Can you imagine negotiating this kind of activity with a classroom of 24 second or third graders without other adults and crash-proof technology? I am happy to read about this experience but feel caution about its widespread implementation.

Response to role-play

As you can tell if you've figured out who my character is, I am really enjoying the NING role-play. It's good to hear so many voices, not just teacher voices, on the NING. I love the teens and the overachieving Luddite mama as well as those characters who are sharing research. It's affirming when someone responds to my comments. The role I chose, school board member, allowed me to comment on many postings. Sometimes I would challenge the posting, sometimes agree, and sometimes ask questions hoping to further the conversation. I was able to bring in some of my research, but I really appreciate what others brought to the role-play. Sometimes I have to recheck profiles or miss a relevant response in time for my character to respond, but it's been fun. It has also been very time-consuming since one doesn't know when who will respond to--or initiate--a discussion. Sometimes it's hard to follow a discussion because it's not clear where it gets posted, but that's a technical type of glitch.

I have used role-plays much like other teachers, both to work through social situations in the classroom and to enhance curriculum. My sense from our role-play is that adding the computer as communication vehicle is a step away from the community that is possible in a classroom. It's great for us to do 'at home' or 'on our own time' as adults, but I'm not sure I would advocate this use of digital media at the elementary level yet. However, the research presently going on in Sweden might change my mind.(thank you to Becky for this link).

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Checking the Blogs

Inspired in part by the fancy blog that Janice found, I began looking for ESL blogs. I haven't found anything that comes close to inspiration for me. There's a very attractive blog by Daniella Munca , but her students are young adults and she herself is a university professor. Michelle's blog is obviously for and by older students. Most of the other links I looked at were teacher pages--lists of tips or websites or commercials for programs--rather than classroom based. I suppose I could look further.

I did check out the list of Edina teacher websites that Molly Schroeder listed in her recent email to staff. Pat and Wally at Highlands included this link to Common Sense Media which cautions parents about children's internet use of social networking sites. Many of the sites had links to newsletters and some had homework postings. Most did not include students' work or input. I guess a lot of us are at a novice level in this new digital world.

(Updating on Sunday, October 4): Not a blog, but a really cool integrated classroom project in St. Paul can be found on You Tube. Students were studying 'bug haiku' by Japanese poet Issa, learning Japanese, learning about insects, playing with millipedes, acting out poems, creating art and animation, and so much more.

Monday, September 28, 2009


Check out the Sunday Arlo and Janis comic and this month's NEATODAY to see that the technology age is upon us. Last night I went to the school board meeting and there was Dr. Dressen using the 'dashboard' terminology again. When I first heard him use the term I had no idea that I would have one, too, by starting this blog. Brian Hedberg, a school board member, kept asking Mike Burke when the students would be able to use "smart phones" to download lectures, videos, calculators, etc. Students have begun to access online classes like statistics while the administration wonders how to deal with virtual teachers. I checked a number of Edina teacher blogs this week, many of which are focused on communication to parents--like homework postings, about the teacher, class schedule--but with the promise of work by students to be posted as the year goes on. And I set up a wiki for my husband, who was complaining that he couldn't get a group together by email, and sent him the link to the Common Craft video.
I'm feeling that much of what I've blogged is for me and the prof since I have had very few comments--and one of them was SPAM! I try to leave a post on other people's blogs when I visit just to know it's not all lost in cyberspace. Maybe if I keep my posts shorter?

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Before I post again, I was wondering how to change the date of a post. The last one I posted had a date of September 20, which is when I started it, but I didn't post it until after the next class. Is there a way to change the date? Thanks.

In my job, I do a fair amount of searching for information. Where do people speak Telugu? When is Eid al Fitr in 2010? What linguistic elements of Farsi interfere with English language acquisition? Usually I GOOGLE search, but always check at least two sources, one of which may be Wikipedia. I've attended enough sessions of 'how to make sure you have a safe and accurate website' at the elementary level to have internalized the warnings. Now, however, I also find myself checking out YouTube and blogs. Although I grew up loving the library, and even worked in both public and school libraries back in the days of World Book and Encyclopedia Brittanica, I now do most of my research online.

I am hesitant to join the RSS world. The NYTIMES pops up as my homepage and we get the STRIB seven days a week. Unless I am passionate about a topic, I doubt I will choose to be bombarded with more clutter in my life. Having said that, I am following the political situation in Honduras, where my church helps sponsor a school and orphanage. I could access Honduran TV I guess, as well as the English version of the Tegucigalpa press, and maybe even the Reuters or other feed. However, there is nothing I am going to do with the information (maybe more prayer?), so emails from the principal of the school and occasional NYTIMES searches is all I need to know. Thanks to Lee Lefever for explaining RSS on this video .

Sunday, September 20, 2009

How do we establish, maintain, and grow relationships/ideas online?

Email is my preferred method of maintaining and renewing relationships. Occasionally, I go through my address book and send our friends an announcement of some sort: go to Picasa where I've posted photos of Grandpa's 100th birthday party or view a pdf of the invitation to the Peace Garden Bridge dedication or listen to JoAnn on online radio (podcast) for example. This frequently brings responses from people out of town and out of country. I always feel good when I get responses, since responders also share their lives with us.

However, I spent some time looking at the Common Craft videos last night. It seems like email is inefficient and passe. Wikis are designed for coordination of events.

BLOGS IN PLAIN ENGLISH explains why blogs are better. What I'm not sure about is that people will check my blog for news without an email update--and the notification emails: so and so's blog or wiki has been updated are super annoying.

As I wrote these paragraphs, I realized that I have at least entered the 21st century: in the past six months I've used a variety of technologies from Picasa to podcasts, wikis to blogs, and probably more. And I think digital storytelling may be my next step.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Multiple meaning words

LAND a plane

LAND in China

I just read this week's assignment from the Jenkins article and was struck by the use of the term "negotiation" in the article. Since this is a contract negotiation year for Edina, that term conjures up a cloud of mixed, but mostly negative, feelings. So, I had to redirect my thoughts to another meaning for negotiation, found on p. 54: the ability to travel across diverse communities, discerning and respecting multiple perspectives, and grasping and following alternative sets of norms. I probably would have used the term navigation, although I suppose navigation implies you know where you're going. Negotiation can imply that you need to interact with (in this case) the multiple perspectives rather than steer around them. It's about context, isn't it? And also background knowledge, which, for example, our ELL students may not have.

One of my favorite stories is about a lecture my new boyfriend took me to many years ago. I had graduated with my BA without taking a psychology class. My new boyfriend was in a Ph. D. program in psychology and some bigwigs in the field were speaking. I sat in the lecture hall as these erudite speakers went on and on about "behavior modification." Now, I knew that behavior had to do with how people act and modification means change, but what did this new-fangled term mean? I spent forty-five minutes trying to figure out how to ask a question that didn't show my total ignorance of the topic (I wanted to impress this boyfriend) but gain me the information I needed to understand the speakers.

How often do our students--or their parents--sit and wonder how to make sense of this jargon which becomes second nature to us schoolfolk? What other language (word choice) is emotionally charged to the hearer/reader? Another story: my friend asked someone from another country to write a brief message for a program she was hosting. She was expecting a paragraph of greeting and maybe a thank you for inviting me. She received a seven minute long dissertation of heart-felt sincerity, which was indeed his message, but which was very off-topic for the event. Then, she was caught in social negotiation--how to say thank you, we can't use this; you wrote an excellent piece, but it's not appropriate to the occasion; there's not enough time for you to read your message, and people aren't coming to hear it, they are coming to the event for another reason altogether.

We should be aware that words don't always convey what we want them to convey and what we blog may be misconstued and become a barrier to communication.


Of course, duh, HOTS means Higher Order Thinking Skills, a concept that's been around at least as long as I've been in education. When I first began teaching in Edina, I was observed and checked by the principal on the number of HOT questions I and my students generated. What was interesting to me was at the time, I was teaching special education with students with cognitive impairments; we didn't get into higher order questions very much. The principal finally decided WHY? would do as a HOT question, so I scored well. :-)

When I was an intermediate grade teacher, I did try to bring my students to the next cognitive level. When I moved from fifth to fourth grade, though, I discovered that the students couldn't answer the same kinds of questions the fifth graders did. Going back to Piaget, I realized that my bright fifth graders were entering formal operations where integration and evaluation and the top levels of HOTS were developmentally possible. Once I figured out that fourth graders could be exposed to models of those higher order thinking levels, but not to expect that they would spontaneously express them, they and I became much less frustrated. So, I hope that the primary teachers reading this article don't kick themselves. I don't think technology in and of itself will use increase thinking skills.

On the other hand, I am now working with ELLs. IF posts to a blog don't have to be in complete sentences, the medium might produce more answers. However, the role of verbal facility is important in our educational culture. ELLs who are struggling with vocabulary, for example, may misstate because of incorrect word usage--the lost in translation idea. Another source of concern is that students may not yet have learned the language keys to show concepts like causality or generalization, for example. Not all languages use subordinate clauses the way English does. Students may come from a cultural/linguistic background that hasn't prepared them for this type of thinking. Obviously, students can be taught our linguistic clues, but the written format might also be intimidating until they understand the connections without the visual, facial, and tonal clues of personal contact.

I'm going to keep this post short.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Today is Saturday, the day after September 11

Hello! I am new to this blog thing and probably wouldn't be doing this except for my class on Digital Writing. I hope that the prof doesn't mind if I expand on my reflections to include tangential current events.

Today President Obama is coming to Minneapolis to promote his health care agenda at a huge rally. Mr. Obama's use of technology during his campaign was quite impressive (email fundraising twitters), but it is interesting that he still feels the need to appear in person. I guess there's something important about the human touch/real person affect and effectiveness. Another reason I want to write about the president's visit is that it is taking place in a time when civility--common courtesy, it used to be called--seems lacking in our culture. The fact that a Senator would blurt out in the middle of a formal speech by the leader of the country appalls me. However, it supports the concern I brought to class last Thursday: the lack of self-censure in speaking and writing in today's society. I am very concerned that today's speech will be marred by protest. Related to protest is the use of digital media by minority political groups whose purpose seems to be to slam and disrupt and overwhelm thoughtful conversation and debate. That traditional media--TV, radio, newspapers--extol the protest sound bites over the substance of the issues is also of concern. I am a huge believer in the potential benefits of a flat world, but I am increasingly aware of its perils.

Now, to get back to the prof's question. What are some things I want to learn to do with d.w. in this course? The first is to figure out this blogging thing. Another is to learn more about online social networking (I don't do FACEBOOK, etc.); a third is to explore this multiplayer game media (several TV shows I've watched talked about avatars; I had to figure out what that word meant). I see that the syllabus includes Digital Storytelling. I've been a storyteller for years, so that intrigues me, too.

I have done a fair amount of creative writing and memoir for my personal purposes (processing a friend's illness; celebrating birthdays; recording experiences from which I hope to make meaning; writing collaborative plays with my Sunday School class). I am wondering if 'going digital' will enhance the content and effectiveness of my writing, not just give it bells and whistles.

As a teacher of writing, I think this course will be valuable because it will expose me to and give me experience in using some 21st century tools. I also know that technology is changing so rapidly that the tools will become obsolete. When my oldest went off to college, we began to use email to stay in touch, far different from my phone call home on a land line shared by fifty other young women on every Sunday morning; today's college students text message or Twitter so they're not tied to the computer in their backpack. Hopefully, my own technological expertise will expand and I'll be ready for the next round of innovation!

So, I feel I need to prepare for not just contemporary but future technology. It was about 20 years ago that I read Donald Graves and began using 'the writing process' with my students. I'm not sure that anyone has come up with a different model that is better. I can see how access to information has changed and therefore students' writing content may have improved. (I could write volumes on this topic alone, but that's for another post!) I am interested in seeing how other elements of writing might be affected.

Now, we're supposed to include a resource link. We didn't talk about how to do that or what the link should be about. Here is YouTube video featuring Donald Graves.