Tag Archives: digiwrimo

Rethinking the value of technology in learning and teaching (and my own role as advocate)

Found on Pinterest – saved from Fiverr

It occurred to me last year, during a ‘lesson’ I was permitted to give to a year 9 English class, that I had marginalised myself as a ‘technology person’. ‘Permitted’ because TLs need to approach teachers for permission to interrupt their class if we want to buy time with students. To do this we need to have a sales pitch, to convince the teacher that what we are going to teach is valuable. Not just valuable, because why would you allow your class to be interrupted if it wasn’t for something that ‘better be worth it’.  And suddenly I realised that I was focusing on the sales pitch to justify my existence as a teacher, to justify the ‘teacher’ in my title ‘teacher librarian’. While pushing to be a relevant, valuable part of learning and teaching at school, somehow I’d become the person who pushed her way in to classes to feature a technology tool.

That lesson didn’t work so well because, although the tool (Thinglink) worked for me, it was blocked for the students – something I should have checked (because the same scenario had taken place so many times over the years, you’d think I’d remember to check). And although the teacher was patient and gave my tech tool the benefit of the doubt, it didn’t end up being the ‘enhanced learning tool’ that I had envisaged. She moved on, and I stayed to witness much more authentic learning and teaching which occurred in a traditional setting, without the aid of technology.

This wasn’t the first time I’d been forced to rethink the value of pushing technology tools but it was the first time I had realised that I didn’t want to be associated with ‘the person who always pushed technology’ or believed in technology as the saviour of 21st century learning and teaching . Rather, I wanted to be in an integral part of teaching and learning in the classroom, I wanted an organic partnership with the teacher, trusting in and respecting her teaching expertise and instincts, and coming in from behind to support and enhance the direction she was taking.

Just today I was tagged in a tweet by Geoffrey Gevalt to join Digiwrimo with my students – an event which is run by the Young Writers Project. This is an opportunity to connect with other writers and so is an example of technology enabling, connecting and enhancing:

We at YWP define digital writing as writing done in digital spaces — often with digital media — that is interconnected by social media and different external audiences.

Unfortunately for us in the southern hemisphere November is the time for end of year exams, and so we miss this opportunity. Neverthless I’ve shared this invitation with students in my Writing Interest Group (WIG), hoping that even one student might take the opportunity to connect to a global writing community.

This is not an instance of technology being an add-on, or even an instance of online learning  where traditional teaching and learning are transferred online just as they are. Digiwrimo connects writers globally and celebrates writing through a community of writers sharing and giving feedback . Although our exam- and VCE-focused curriculum makes it difficult to take up such opportunities, something like this might engage students in a way that writing for submission and marks would not. I believe so anyway.

What is digital writing? (from the Digiwrimo website):

The internet has changed writing. Today, there are more people writing every day — e-mails, text messages, blog posts — and more self-published authors than ever before. Written communication is popular in a way it hasn’t been in a century, and everyone’s doing it. But unlike when writing between two people was quiet and private, much of today’s writing is loud and public, connected through a web of hyperlinks to every other piece of writing out there. With the old masters like Shakespeare, Milton, Melville, Hemingway, and Shelley being translated into code and uploaded onto the web, your blog posts exist right alongside their greatest works.

The school I dream about will shift its focus from prescribed curriculum, outcomes, targets, exams and preparation for exams, but retain and intensify the wonderful teaching I see in classes at my school, with time for deep discussions. Students will have the time to share their writing/work with their colleagues, discuss and give/receive feedback, but also be able to connect to other learners/writers outside the classroom and beyond the school. Technology will be the enhancer/connector but never the forced add-on, never the one-size-fits-all LMS; it will be a connection even as the old-fashioned phone connects voices.

The internet allows us to communicate through our text in new ways; it frees us to join our words with others’, to innovate, and to let our words become our actions. We can live spontaneously through our words, or vicariously, or cooperatively. Our words can form communities, can take a stand, can create at the same time as we create them. (What is digital writing?)

Recently I shared a poem a student had posted in our WIG blog, Unicorn Express. I shared with people and groups I’m connected to on different social media platforms. The post was written by a past WIG member (co-captain). How wonderful that the year 12 student who is no longer part of this group (because of the pressures of year 12) is moved to share something he’s written (and how lovely that he’s found the time to write for himself amidst the final exam preparation).

I was moved by my online buddy, Kevin Hodgson, who not only took the time to read my student’s writing, but commented to encourage the student, and then pulled out words that spoke to him, created a ‘poster’ and then shared it online with me and his own network. This is the human element enhancing the solitary writing experience, this is one of the best examples of the potential of technology.

In conclusion, I’d like to finish with a tweet I just read from Maha Bali:

Saying that any digital tool teaches us digital literacies is like saying a pen or a keyboard teaches us writing. #DigPed #OpenEd16

Amen

The story ends #digiwrimo #storyjumper

I don’t know how they did it – I struggled to keep hold of the threads in chapter 10 already and it finished with 26  – but somehow a bunch of people from different parts of the world managed to write a story together. A digital story.

Here we all are. You can click on the circles on our faces (on the Thinglink) to read our chapters:

The final chapter is hilarious. I don’t think you could actually keep a straight face for too long while writing this story; it just becomes more and more absurd. The story is a long and winding one (yes, with Beatles references) so this summary might help.

I love that we come from such different places and come together for this bit of creative fun.

As if – poem inspired by Michelle Pacansky-Brock #digiwrimo

Thank you for your beautifully worded post, Michelle Pacansky-Brock.

I first shared these images in a blog post back in 2009. They are part of a historical narrative contained within an autograph book which belonged to my maternal grandmother.

(I attempt to write down the story)

As if 1917 were still now.

As if the colours have just been applied with the brush,

as if the painter has just left the room to make a cup of tea.

As if the sled has just arrived,

leaving straight lines in the snow

punctuated by horses’ hooves

and the travellers’ impatience to dismount has marked the snow with hurried footprints.

As if the anticipation of the travellers lives on perpetually,

as if the barely contained joy of the husband and father is about to happen right now

and the warm, strong embraces can be felt over and over:

the first embrace for the little daughter, then a kiss for the newborn son, and finally the longest one for the soul companion

whose letters have sustained a solitary confinement.

As if the tears shed remain moist on the cheek and the loving words white clouds that linger in the cold air frozen forever.

As if the story of war-torn families is the same everywhere

and every day husbands, fathers, wives, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, grandmothers, grandfathers and babies

are living and reliving the moment when dreams are realised and the family is reunited.

As if 1917 is now and in the future.

Background to the illustrations:

The father/husband in the story is my maternal grandmother’s father. She is the little girl in the picture and the baby is her brother (who died from tuberculosis at the age of 18). Her father was staying in Siberia for work.  They were Germans in Russia, and my grandmother was born in Russia.

The second illustration is part of a story written in the form of a poem by a friend of the family.  The poem and illustrations relate the story of this episode of their lives in 1915 (but the poem is dated 1917). Poetry in verse was commonly written by Russian people at the time (and even now).

Storyjumper Part 10: The maps #digiwrimo

This is part 10 of a storyjumper for Digital Writing Month.  You can read the other parts here:

Part 1          Bruno’s blog started us off with a personal narrative.
Part 2          Kevin’s blog began the story.
Part 3          Maha’s blog continued…
Part 4          Sarah’s blog…
Part 5          Ron’s blog…
Part 6          Tanya’s blog…
Part 7          Kay’s blog…
Part 8          Ron’s blog…

Part 9          Dana’s blog

You can follow the story here.

What was he waiting for? Why didn’t he knock? *She was more than ready to let him in. She felt her hand dip into her pocket and her fingers feel around for what she knew was there.

They were facing each other.

The first thing she saw was his puzzled expression. Then her eyes traced the fine lashes on his face and down his straight nose to his mouth which was partly open – she guessed from shock – the shock she tried to suppress as she struggled to make sense of their physical closeness in unknown surroundings. What the…!?  In her peripheral vision she guessed they were in a deserted street and it was dusk. Or was it dawn? Nobody in sight. A car parked a little way down the road.

And then she let her eyes follow his arm down to his hand which was clutching a map. And she? She was still holding the map she had been turning over at home, scrutinising. And between her fingers… what? Sand?

Image courtesy of the Lewis Lab at Northeastern University. Image created by Anthony D’Onofrio, William H. Fowle, Eric J. Stewart and Kim Lewis. (See Anthony D’Onofrio on Flickr)

“Where the hell are we?” he broke the silence and her mental musing.

Map found here.

“I..I…I think – I know it sounds crazy – but I think it’s the maps,” she managed to splutter, blushing a little as he came to life, and unnerved now by their physical closeness.

They both turned in the direction of the sudden sound of a car screeching towards them.

“Sarah?” he said, as she jumped out of the car. “What the hell is going on here?!”

“Get in!” Sarah grabbed Kevin’s arm and pushed him into the car.  “Time’s running out! Get in! Hurry up!”

She had no time to lose. No time to think, she swung open the back door of the car as it started moving and flung herself into the back seat, the car accelerating at an unnerving speed.  She knew, somehow, that she had to hold onto the map.

It was difficult to describe what happened next. The scenery flew past them too quickly; it wasn’t normal. Physically she felt squeezed, she felt as if all her organs were compressed, she could barely breathe. And all the time that dreadful shrieking – not just in the ears but everywhere. Stop it, stop it! Unbearable.  And then she realised it was she who was shrieking.

via GIPHY

“Shut up!” screamed Sarah, “what are you doing here? It’s too late; you have to come with us now” as the car came to a sudden stop and she banged her head against the seat in front of her. The seat of the boat she was now in. In the middle of a vast, icy lake. Under a white sky.

“What the hell are you playing at!” Sarah’s face too close to hers.

*The initial motif of Beethoven’s 5th symphony has sometimes been credited with symbolic significance as a representation of Fate knocking at the door

Your turn, Maureen.

 

 

My unofficial geographic CV – I am Australian #digiwrimo

I love Maureen Crawford’s geographic CV which she has written for Kevin Hodgson and opened up for response and remixing to all.

Here is my offering, my geographic CV of sorts:

Somehow I manage to stand without falling

with all the other Australians

at the bottom of the world

or so the map says.

 

I shiver when you, at the top, are walking sleeveless through the park.

I shelter in air conditioned rooms, curtains drawn,

with my European trees burning before they get the chance to turn red

at the same time as you shovel snow and boast about snow days.

I want heat days.

 

In my early schooling I learned about convicts

farewelling England forever

to come to the place of my birth

which was not the birthplace of my parents.

 

My double life was week days a certain kind of world view

and weekends different in language and customs

but I questioned not

and kept the other life quiet.

I danced to Greensleeves in the asphalt playground;

on Saturdays I sang acapella in Russian and recited Pushkin.

 

Tic Tac Toe, here I go, where I land

I do not know.

What shall we do with a drunken sailor?

There’s a green oak-tree by the shores
Of the blue bay; on a gold chain,
The cat, learned in the fable stories,
Walks round the tree in ceaseless strain.

The textbook of my life is sewn together

from pages torn from books in libraries

at opposite ends of the world.

 

I ignore the footy on tv –

my country’s religion,

the races also,

but enjoy the public holiday.

I wonder about the words of my country’s anthem:

Australians all let us rejoice, For we are young and free;

We are not so young, surely,

We are old but some of us have only just arrived

and chosen to forget who lived here first.

 

I question also

For those who’ve come across the seas We’ve boundless plains to share…

 

Along with many others

I remark on the falsehood;

We sing what is not true

but should be.

 

I am Australian.

Here is the Hackpad with everyone’s versions of the #DiGiWriMo unofficial CV.