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.


  1. Really, a PS. The NYTIMES online today used the same photo of a female soldier that Amanda Stone's podcast used: .

  2. Thanks, JoAnn, for summarizing our last class.
    Nicely done! When class was over, we looked at each other and left almost in silence. Each in our own thoughts, but yet, with a shared experience. There was nothing more that needed to be said. It was a profound experience. I loved your voicethread as an ending to the class. I had viewed it earlier in the week and it offered so much hope!

  3. JoAnn, this is such a thoughtful posting. I remember driving home on Thursday, unable to put to words the depth of appreciation and excitement I had for everyone in the class, not only for diving into the digital tools to create the pieces but also for the potency of the pieces and what they expressed as a whole.

    Thank you for your part in the experience and for this reflection, which expresses much more than I was able to do.

  4. Hi, JoAnn. I appreciated getting to work on last week's project with you. Based on what I do know about you, I think that we probably have very similar hopes and dreams about how we want the world we live in to be. And you're right about what a powerful experience it was to see everyone's projects. The recipe that the last group did was actually what inspired me to do my Photo Story 3 project over the weekend. It was just so moving to see how meaningful digital storytelling can be. If we can have this kind of experience as teachers, I really think we owe it to our students to provide the same kind of life-altering moments when they are able to share their own stories.