When we think about online research and media skills our minds quickly turn to video production. Yet students and teachers can find video making and remixing a daunting task.

We need simple tools to scaffold video production. I like, many, mourned the demise of xtranormal. I found the text to movies tool so powerful for classroom use.

So I immediately began to look for alternatives. I came across Plotogan in my Twitter feed. Not only do I get all the functionality of text to movie tools but the program provides strong functionality and runs local on my mac (or your pc).

Classroom Uses

The possibilities are endless as students can recreate favorite scenes from literature, use as a journaling tool, or simply create online content.

When I consider possible connection to the Common Core State Standards I find once again endless options.

In the Reading anchor standards for the Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

7. Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

In the Speaking and Listening anchor standards for Comprehension and Collaboration:

2. Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

3. Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.

How Does it Work?

  1. Plotagon works as a script editor. You choose the scene and the character(s).

Screenshot 3:4:14 3:01 PM

Screenshot 3:4:14 2:59 PM

2.You can  then choose the location of your character in that scene.

Screenshot 3:4:14 3:01 PM 2


3. You then type your dialogue. You can choose an emotion for your character.

Screenshot 3:4:14 3:02 PM




4. You can also choose to have your characters move around the scene.Screenshot 3:4:14 3:04 PM

Screenshot 3:4:14 3:03 PM

You can then add sounds. The sounds include both effects and music. Next you publish your movie by clicking share. If you connect your YouTube account you can upload directly. If your school does not allow YouTube access you can also upload the movie to Plotagon.

Screenshot 3:4:14 3:09 PM

That is it. Now you just wait, go make some popcorn and let the movie render. Plotagon will do the rest. When it is done you will get a notice.

Screenshot 3:4:14 3:23 PM

Embedded movie on Youtube:

Same movie on Plotagon:

Some Examples

This is a debate I had on the meaning of text as part of the #walkmyworld project:

This is a mini-lesson I made as part of my video tutorial series on Internet inquiry. I had to make separate movies in Plotagon. I then did a screencast on my iPad using Explain Everything. Finally I remixed the videos using Mozilla’s Popcorn maker.

There are many other great content related examples on the Plotagon Movie Page.


Plotagon is in very early Beta so many of these issues maybe addressed.

CPU Intensive

My macbook Pro just makes the minimum system requirements and it shows. When Plotagon is open I cannot do much else. You should plan accordingly and close unnecessary programs.

Few Scenes

I am sure more scenes will be added. Especially to the store. As of now the scenes available do not always fit an academic setting. I have spoken to the developers and they will make a push for education. So I am sure we will see schools, classrooms, offices, and parks in the future.

No Downloads

Another feature I am willing to pay for, and probably one coming in the future. Until then I have been using Mozilla’s Popcorn to edit the movies. this has allowed me to splice in other videos and add text layovers.

Final Verdict

I find Plotagon to be a powerful classroom tool and recommend it to all education professionals.

Other Articles of Interest

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Much of the focus on the Common Core State Standards revolves around the idea of college and career readiness. In fact the anchor standards describe what the few authors of the Standards believe students need when graduating high school.

What if these “educational” experts got it wrong? The standards largely paid for by tech dollars from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation put a large emphasis on drilling down into the meaning of specific texts and arguments as a method to raise GPA and test scores.

What if those grades and test scores do not matter? According to Google these metrics have little to do in predicting “career readiness.”  In a recent article by Max Nisen (which I first came across listening to TWIG 238) he documents an opinion piece by Tom Friedman explaining  why Google has stopped putting emphasis on GPA, test scores, and attending elite colleges in their hiring practices.

Google, masters of big data, have spent years pouring over metrics of what makes a good employee. I worried we may miss some key attributes of skills needed for the information economy in the CCSS . So I decided to take a closer look at the anchor standards using the attributes Google wants in “career ready” employees.

Learning Ability Versus IQ

According to Google people with the ability to problem solve on the fly make better employees than those with high IQs. You need to be able to find information, in many disparate places and piece together solutions.

When I examine the anchor standards for Key Ideas and Details I only see text, not a plural version (texts) of multiple source reading. Multiple source reading does gets covered in the Integration of Knowledge and Ideas. The anchor standards in the Speaking and Listening strands may capture much of the ideas shared by Google. So maybe the anchor standards do stress learning ability. Can learning ability be stressed in an outcome based document?

How will the anchor standards, which do address some of the attributes Google looks for, translate into classroom practice? I worry more about the grade level expectations and how they will translate into curriculum. Will classroom teachers create environments for students to struggle with ideas and problem solve with disparate texts? Does the collaboration called for in  the anchor standards for speaking and listening exist today?

Language Arts

When I go back and re-read the publisher guidelines sent to textbook makers I do not see opportunities built into pre-packaged curriculum for learning on the fly. Instead the focus seems to place all meaning within the text and stresses the role of individual learners. To me this reinforces the belief that grades and test score are all that matter in being college and career ready.


I next turned to the math standards. Once again I found promise in the standards for mathematical practice. Studens have to persevere in problem solving, reason both abstractly and quantitatively, and construct arguments (plus a few more see the standards for more info). I still wonder how these standards of practice will translate to classroom practice. I appluad the greater emphasis on numeracy as a tool for making meaning and arguments but I see the large focus in most schools I work with on simply models and precision.

Emergent Leadership versus Traditional Leadership

Google also puts less emphasis on traditional leadership like being president of student council and more on emergent leadership. They define this as being able to seize opportunity and guide others during problem solving.

Once again on the fly learning and teaching while working collaboratively. Where does this “career ready” attribute fit in the #CCSS anchor standards? The closest the anchor standards come is the first anchor standard for speaking and listening:

Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

It is not a perfect match. I prefer NCTE’s framework for 21st Century Learning. To me the idea of being able to work and lead  a group to solve problems through multiple pathways of knowledge is the critical skill students need.

What do schools need to do?

Focus on Assessments of  Future Learning and not Past Learning

A large emphasis by CCSS supporters, rather than the standards themselves, has been placed on a curriculum richer in content knowledge. In many aspects I agree. After a certain point the best way to increase reading comprehension and thinking in general is through the building of background knowledge.

Yet I also wonder, and study, if the role of background knowledge is changing. Maybe the future founders of the next Google can acquire prerequisite background knowledge on the fly. Schools need to build assessments, and the learning around these assessments that examine how well children can assemble knowledge from varied sources across diverse media on topic they know little about.

On the Fly Learning,  On the Fly Teaching

Much of the attributes Google looks for in “career ready” employees focuses on abilities in the moment. In both knowledge and leadership they look for fast problem solvers. How many classrooms reflect this type of environment well?

I am guided here by the work Rand Spiro has done with Cognitive Flexibility Theory. Spiro argues that students must criss cross ill-structured domains of knowledge and avoid rigid mindsets that cause errors of oversimplification. Much of this should be done through case based simulations.

I worry that CCSS, and misguided implementation by schools,  may emphasize rigid mindsets

I also believe that Problem Based Learning is more critical than ever. I am the first to admit I never taught problem based learning well or even at all. Yet looking at the dispositions wanted by tech giants I cannot think of another approach that would build these habits in students. We have to allow for:

  • Greater autonomy in learning.
  • Civic based real world problems.
  • Differentiated and individualized learning.
  • Multiple simulations  with multiple and diverse cases.
  • Frequent collaborative work to build in dispositions of flexibility and emergent leadership

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Welcome to Learning event eight. Hard to believe but after eight weeks we have shared over 1,700 tweets, with 1,400 being original content. Over 12o people have shared more than five tweets.

We have a community of writers, poets, and thinkers. It is time to continue to push our walks into poetry.

Learning Event 8 Challenge

Robert Hass not only writes poetry but he also dedicates time as an avid translator. For this learning event we want to celebrate Hass’s love for the Haiku by writing twaiku . Simply a Haiku on Twitter (or other short poem…we hate rules in #walkmyword).

When discussing Haiku’s in his book of translated work, “The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, and Issa” Hass described the role language. Hass said,   “the spirit of haiku required that the language be kept plain. ”

He then went on to quote Basho “’The function of Haik[u] is to rectify common speech. It also demanded accurate and original images, drawn mostly from common life .”

These are some Haiku’s translated by Hass:

Climb Mount Fuji,
O snail,
but slowly, slowly.

Matsuo Basho

Even in Kyoto —
hearing the cuckoo’s cry —
I long for Kyoto.


Napped half the day;
no one
punished me!

Kobaayashi Issa

Mosquito at my ear–
does it think
I’m deaf?


New Year’s morning–
everything is in blossom!
I feel about average.


Even with insects–
some can sing,
some can’t.


For you fleas too
the nights must be long,
they must be lonely.


The snow is melting
and the village is flooded
with children.


Don’t kill that fly!
Look–it’s wringing its hands,
wringing its feet.


Don’t worry, spiders,
I keep house


Bright autumn moon;
pond snails crying
in the saucepan.


Your task

  1. Share a walk this world capturing some element of your natural world.
  2. In the same tweet as the photo write a short poem or haiku.
  3. Try to capture the imagery in simple words


While the form of Haiku does not translate perfectly to the way we stress syllables in English the general acceptable practice for English based Haiku’s is the 5/7/5 syllable count.

Another type of short poem you could try is the “Elfje” form shared by @dogtrax who got the form from

@mdvfunes It’s called “Elfje”. “Elf” is 11. The addition “je” means little. So little eleven. It’s common in Dutch to make words ‘little’.

An Elfje contains 11 eleven words total. 1 word in first line , 2 words in second, followed by, 3, 4, 1 words per line.

Whatever learning path you choose  try to say everything about your walk in the  most simple, yet richest language possible.


Other Articles of Interest:

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Many districts, here in Connecticut, have taken on the task to realign district wide writing assessments to both the Common Core State Standards and the rubrics published by Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

(Please note earlier versions of the post did not correctly refer to SBAC. Images still list it as Smarter Balance and not the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium).

This got me thinking, as a teacher of writing teachers, how would I encourage the use of assessment to not only align to political tailwinds but to help ensure students can write a college level when graduating high school.

I see a few options for schools:

  1. School leader developed rubric
  2. Creating them at the district level

Option One: School Leader Developed Rubric

  • School leader with an SLO  focused on argumentative writing  would be volunteered to develop arubric
  •  Examine smarted balance rubric and CCSS writing appendix (description of how pieces were scored).
  • Choose criterion
  • Develop rubrics
  • Test, ………….etc
Option Two: Developing and Testing Rubrics
  • Have schools that have already developed rubrics test theirs. Offer that same version to others buildings to try.
  • Develop and share a rubric based on the CCSS and Smarter Balance Rubric
  • Administer a pilot assessment
  • Score and develop anchor packets that can be used to calibrate raters.
Either option involves a ton of work. What I think needs the greatest focus though is how the rubric translates into improving learning in the classroom. My basic tenants of belief when assessing writing:
  • Evidence of scores cannot be inferred.
  • Teachers need to know that they do not need to focus on every criterion at once.
  • Teachers should (or district should be) developing a library of mini-lessons
  • The teaching of argumentative writing is closely linked to text based analysis of mentor texts
    • Texts should be annotated using codes aligned to the criterion in the rubrics
    • Text annotation needs to be taught and modeled.

So I decided to share my attempt at creating an argumentative writing rubric that could be used at the high school level:

Click Here to Open Rubric


How does it work? Well I attempted to align the rubric to both the Smarter Balance argumentative writing rubric and the Common Core Anchor Standards:

Argumentative Writing Rubric


At the top of each domain you will find a CCSS anchor standard. Then each criterion is a grade level expectation. The scale of each criterion is taken word for word from the Smarter Balance Rubric

How would it work?

Improving Writing Instruction

The entire rubric could be used as a summative assessment to give teachers classroom level or building level snapshots. I would NEVER use such an extensive rubric for formative assessment.

There are 13 criterion and four level of scales across five domains. That would be 52 individual boxes for a student to have to consider. In no way will that help them to become better writers.

Instead teachers could take a piece, and with the student focus on a limited number of criterion. Possibly they would choose a specific domain. Maybe after reading the student work the teacher and student may choose 1-3 criterion as targeted areas of growth.

A Holistic Score not a Mathematical Equation

The teacher, and the young writer, are the ultimate arbiters of quality. Therefore I do not assign different point values to each scale and criterion. No complicated mathematical equation exist. Instead the rubric relies on teacher expertise and evidence from the writing to assign an overall holistic score for each domain.

Assessment Needs to Drive Instruction

The domain and  criterion in the rubric should be used to read mentor texts with purpose. Teachers should develop an annotation system that has students identify the qualities of strong writing.

Each student may have a different focus to improve their writing. Do not be afraid to have students work on only a small piece of the rubric at once. In fact I believe students will find this practice more rewarding.

Use schoolwide or classroom wide data from the entire rubric to identify gaps in knowledge growth. Take this information and cater your mini-lessons to fit this need. Record minilessons using screencasts. Overtime you will have a library of better writing practices.

Next Steps

Feel free to open the Google spreadsheet and use as much or little of the rubric as you desire. You can also contact me and we can develop ideas together to connect writing instruction and assessment.

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Welcome to the next learning event in #walkmyworld.

We want to continue and explore the work of Hass. Specifically we want to consider Hass’s ability to explore rich meaning in everyday observation. Hass noted that he has become known as a California poet, but for Hass this has more to do with using place as canvas:

I liked writing about my place. It gave me a subject; also I have always been very interested in natural history, and I had the idea, in my early work, that the sheer variety of the gene pool needed to be invoked and celebrated, if it was going to be saved, etc. But I found that I wasn’t really interested in or good at advocacy types of writing. It just wasn’t where my subject matter was. So the thought I had went something like this: if I live in my place and live my life and write about my subjects, whatever they turned out to be–love, grief, the nature of things, the nature of our nature, the riddles of existence–and drew on the materials of my place as the idiom of that expression, then that would be the kind of environmental writing I’d do. And that’s roughly how the northern California landscape functions in my work, I think.

Take  the poem Happiness for example

Because yesterday morning from the steamy window
we saw a pair of red foxes across the creek
eating the last windfall apples in the rain—
they looked up at us with their green eyes
long enough to symbolize the wakefulness of living things
and then went back to eating—

and because this morning
when she went into the gazebo with her black pen and yellow pad
to coax an inquisitive soul
from what she thinks of as the reluctance of matter,
I drove into town to drink tea in the cafe
and write notes in a journal—mist rose from the bay
like the luminous and indefinite aspect of intention,
and a small flock of tundra swans
for the second winter in a row was feeding on new grass
in the soaked fields; they symbolize mystery, I suppose,
they are also called whistling swans, are very white,
and their eyes are black—

and because the tea steamed in front of me,
and the notebook, turned to a new page,
was blank except for a faint blue idea of order,
I wrote: happiness! it is December, very cold,
we woke early this morning,
and lay in bed kissing,
our eyes squinched up like bats.

The poem describes everyday events and has  so many layers of meaning. This is our goal for #walkmyworld. We want our community to consider how we perceive our world. We want to consider how others my perceive our place. So please keep capturing and sharing your walks. They will be central to the next three learning events.

Until then let’s focus on the type of environmental writing Hass does.

The Challenge

For this learning event we want you to try and consider the human conditions that Hass explores in his description of the places he lives.

What is the “subject” of Happiness and how is this expressed as an idiom of expression of place?

When Hass describes his life and places in Happiness what connotative and figurative meaning can you find?

Can you detail a deeper meaning about the human condition  through a description of a walk (image) you shared through #walkmyworld?

Get Involved

As always with #walkmyworld your level of involvement and medium is up to you. We just ask you consider one of all of the prompts above. You could:

Get involved in annotating the poem on Poetry Genius. Consider the prompts above as you code the text with purpose.

Analyze the poem in a blog post.

Create a multimodal retelling of the poem. You can find audio here.

Write a poem. Select one of your walks. Try to capture some larger element of human existence through your description of the walk (Hint that I learned in my last poem: Adverbs are the enemy of imagery).

Develop your own idea to reflect on Hass’s poem Happiness. You control your learning as you #walkmyworld.

image credit: Walk on by Ciril https://www.deviantart.com/art/Walk-on-13800694


Writers take risks. We hide our dreams and amplify our misgivings in the open; in our words. As a teacher of those who teach writing I want to take the journey that I encourage others to endure. So I share my poetry from #walkmyworld. It is not to simply enough to model the writing process. We have to be the writing process.

We began #walkmyworld with a purpose in mind: to use poetry so people could see how we name our world. We wanted you to explore the layers of power and meaning in the act of naming.

After deliberation it was decided to  clothe these goals in the rich fabric of Robert Hass. Hass’s work, especially how he used his world to illustrate that which is named and unnamed, captures idea that writing is a vessel for perspectives. Hass explained,

I live in my place and live my life and write about my subjects, whatever they turned out to be–love, grief, the nature of things, the nature of our nature, the riddles of existence–and drew on the materials of my place as the idiom of that expression, then that would be the kind of environmental writing I’d doI wanted to collect the poems.

I am new to Hass, but have quickly fallen for the complexity of his simple observations. When Hass describes the natural world I find myself being taken to the limits of language while finding unchartered depths in the most literal of meanings.

So I have tried to experiment with his form, or at least try explore my identities, “in the place I live my life.”

The first poem was based off of Letters to a Poet:

leaf slick
from fresh rain
drops of dew
past the iron gate
sullied and slurping
an unnatural mix of
rain and nutrients for
feeding manicured lawns of
houses hidden behind
placemats and carpools

our stoop, Rodin’s Rock
contemplating questions
that need no answer
Watching waste flow
Traversing and twisting
to a retention pond

Our Refuge

Do our questions follow?
Inquisitions of adolescent angst
Unnecessary, irrelevant already asked
seeping into the soil
allowing the skunk cabbage to sprout

The next poem built on the dialogue in “Seventh Night.” Except I tried to capture the same effct with an internal dialogue

They are all signals. Its about
Balance. Outreach. Contacts
Finding it hard to function when not
in crisis mode
Refresh. A new window. How
can thinking be so in situ? So
outside when I spend so much time
in mine?
Thinking in the cloud.
A band-aid. The glue holding
my code together
Yet when I think. I mean really
Ponder, write. I grasp for my pad
Scribbling. Often illegible; yet so critical
Connected thoughts lost in an
unbroken chain of incomplete links
pulling it closely, Holding tight.

The last poem was also based off of “Seventh Night.”

This time I tried to imagine a conversation at the end of an event that was filled with antithetical statements:


The final note glistened from the ceiling
mocking me
hanging in the air, perched in the rafters as
light floods the room with the
color of thunder. The
masses rise in a cacophony
of silence and he wonders,
wonders as worker bees draped in black
pour from the darkened and dusty curtain which is
stained with past dreams and passions.
Its ruffles witness to the rise and fall of many.
They scamper and he wonders,
wonders if they are more of a collective thought
collapsing tresses, snaking
wires to only hit the road one more time. To travel down
north for that final curtain.
And then he stood to join the herd and he saw her.
Recoiling at first, fearful of a glitter bomb
Her thoughts as scattered as the strategically placed patchwork stitches on purposefully disheveled clothes
“I brought you this,” handing over the sticker, “I have been waiting to meet you.”
“Knowing someone out there owned this sticker.”
“I can find my center, get lost in place, hold in the energy so I can set it free,” I replied my eyes hiding back an exhaustion for desire.
The masses pushed on as burnt sage brush chased misplaced spirits
through a wash of middleclass deficiencies. She continued, “The tension built tonight, so peaceful.” He glanced, wary of one last drive not sure another rider was needed, or wanted.
He said, “Yes the tight spirals and sprawling sounds left me trapped in open space. She looked inquisitive, “Yes an empty space but so full of vibrancy as if the lillies themselves sang to the heaven.” She glanced down at her feet, uncovered and unkempt
the dirt of the chosen poor, and said, “atonal soloing flooded the fog laden synths” and he said,
“Yes misplaced wanderings along the fret quickly slapped down on the bass.” She flirtatiously danced in what little space the masses afforded and said, “I know. The notes were so tight I felt lost so many times.
The doors open and they squeeze by.” Is the strip deserted, shakedown dead?” On horseback and in riot gear, the law was peacefully shuttering economies of size.
She glanced up, height level with steam pouring from a majestic nostril and said, “I guess it is time for the leafs to turn,” and with that he fell off his axis. Only to head north, just one more time.

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I just finished Hatching Twitter by Nick Bilton. A great book that leaves the reader with the realization that you cannot do Twitter wrong. The book tells the tale of Twitter’s birth and rise and each founder had a different view of how users should “do” Twitter. None of these visions ever came true.

So I want to push back against Molly Shields idea that we are doing Twitter chats wrong. Instead we need to envision Twitter Chats as, or as part of, affinity spaces. Yes what many were calling Problem Based Learning #PBL in the #edtechchat on 2/10/2014 does not qualify as PBL. Most of the ideas, if PBL was on a specturm would barely register as projects.

Who cares. You cannot “do” Twitter wrong. It is what Evan Williams, founder of Blogger and co-founder of Twitter, called, “Push button publishing for the people.”

In Affinity spaces the act and space itself IS the endeavor. It is the publishing for the people, not the people that make Twitter chats engaging. Yet there is no endeavor without the people. Molly took issue with those people who label themselves as gurus and asked us to follow ideas instead. I understand her concern and do encourage folks to follow knowledge and not people, but I do not take issue with others curate their online identity.

Edu Allstars??

Maybe allstars is over the top, but there is precedent. Michael Robertson, founder of mp3.com, coined the term middle class rock star. It is the idea that based on social networks and two tailed economics anyone can eek out an existence as a musician.

Twitter chats, minus the income for most, are no different.  Educators are simply trying to eek out professional development and not a living. They are the endeavor and the participants of the affinity space.

Twitter Chats as Affinity Spaces

Molly’s assumption  that the Twitter chat on PBL was void of knowledge was slightly off. #Edtechchat has seen huge growth so participants need to discover what level of rapids  in the fast moving stream they are most comfortable swimming in. Maybe you like the fleeting tweets reaffirming your beliefs. I myself try to divert into a deeper side pool and float around awhile with a few ideas.

The ability to choose your level of involvment with varying levels of knowledge transforms  Twitter chats into an affinity space. JPG in Situated Learning and Language lays out principles of affinity spaces. I simply poached them from Wikipedia.

1) The affinity in these spaces is to the endeavor, not other people. 

I spoke of this above. It it the act of engaging around content that matter most.

2) Newbies and masters share the space.

Molly is an expert on PBL. Her post is part of the affinity space. The citations and articles she read may help the majority of newbies looking to expand their knowledge.

3) Some portals are strong generators. The computer can be used to create new characters or any aspects of the game.

Gee is big on learning portals. I do not want to get to into it beyond the idea that Twitter is an entry portal for many to start to learn more about #PBL. You go to Twitter for motivation, connections, and links. These will take you to new places, like Google+, for deeper learning.

4) Content organization is transformed by interactional organization. The idea that creation can come from more than simply site designers, but from users, is a hallmark of these spaces. In affinity spaces, the way in which interactions are organized shapes the content of the game/site. Users – not just site designers – can help create, shape, and reshape the site and its content. Suggestions are welcome and encouraged, and site designers often use the suggestions of users to reform site designs and configurations.

While #edtechchat had a moderator and founders neither shapes the space. We do. My space is different than yours. I use a Tweetdeck column for #edtechchat and a second column for list of a few participants I know I often engage in.

The moderators might use the Q1/A1 format but we as users (and I don’t) do not have to abide by this practice. We customize the space.

5) Both intensive and extensive knowledge are encouraged. Extensive knowledge is seen as broad, less specialized knowledge about many aspects of the space. Intensive knowledge is in-depth knowledge about certain aspects of the space.

So when Twitter feels like an echochamber that is okay. It does not take long for the massed for #edchat, for example, to declare Twitter the best tool they have ever known. Newbies might need the reinforcement of extensive knowledge.  Others in the space, as Molly did, may choose to point out common misconceptions. I myself like to gather in the pools of intensive knowledge.

For example, I often engage with those that I  call the #CommitteeOfSnark. Usually consisting of @nathan_stevens, @jdferries, @professorjosh, and a few others I am missing. The group usually adds a snarky hashtag. They  often provide insight in 140 characters of satire. The level of complexity of their tweets point out misconceptions while making me laugh. It is hard to be funny in 140 characters. It is even harder to do it instantansously.

I also look for others ways to engage with intensive knowledge. During the #eddtechchat I had a wonderful conversation on one of my favorite all-time poets William Blake with @ericafterschool.



— Eric Wolarsky (@EricAfterSchool) February 11, 2014

6) Individual and distributed knowledge are valued.

The fact that we are still taking about PBL and #edtechchat shows us why it is okay for the echochamber to point us towards new connections. I am in no means in expert on PBL. I did not study it and to say I use it would be a lie. In fact I often believe PBL, while a pathway to deeper learning, may not be the most efficient pedagogical choice for some domains.

7) Dispersed knowledge is encouraged.

Link and share. Use Google Scholar during Twitter chats.

8) Tacit knowledge is encouraged and honored. Members do not have to lead or design; those who wish to “just play” are valued as much as those who wish to contribute more substantially to the site.

This is most important. Many in the #edtechchat are just beginning to play with Twitter and PBL. Let them.

9) Many forms and routes to participation are available.

10) Different routes to status are inherent in the game.

Status in online spaces is a strange thing. I gave up on tracking follower counts a long time ago. Yet I do look at me analytics each week to see how people engage with the content I both share and create. Some may call themselves eduall stars, or middle class rockstars. For me if we fell like we are making a difference and learning a little more each day, well that is status.

11) Leadership is porous and leaders are resources. Like the concept of “third spaces,” affinity spaces see “neither One…nor the Other…Rather, participants are something else besides, which contests the terms and territories of both

Molly is both a leader and participants. In fact I have never met her. I only know Molly through Twitter. So I am thankful she pushed my thinking.

You cannot “Do” Twitter wrong. It is just one of many portals to our Affinity Space of connected educators. If you want to learn more about PBL its okay to check in with Twitter, You will make connections and find resources. Then you can head to Google+ for real learning.


We asked everyone to examine the “walks” they share and what it meant to name. Then we explored how naming influenced identity.

Molly Shields challenged us back. She felt our prompts suggested a separation of the text and world. So Molly threw three prompts at us:

  • Shouldn’t we say, rather, that texts actually make up our world?
  • In other words, how can an act of reading, writing, living not be part of the world?
  • Why is there an assumption that naming is apart from the world instead of the world itself, thus separating me from it?

A Confession

I decided to take up this challenge. Now I throw out this confession. I have no formal training in literary theory, semiotics, or linguistics. I have read the thinkings of a variety of perspectives including  Bakhtin, Kristeva, Kress, Chomsky. I have Googled Derrida.  These efforts were for enjoyment or to fill in gaps in my knowledge. So I am not as well versed as many involved in the #walkmyworld project.

In fact the genesis of  my deep explorations into this field was also the genesis of #walkmyworld. It started with Kristeva and intertextuality. Then  Sue Pet and I began to explore multimodal poetry through the lens of Rosenblatt’s Response Theory. We quickly found the focus on the “self” too constraining in the theoretical perspective. This drove us to Bakhtin’s notions of heteroglossia and chronotopes. Thus my reading into what I guess you call linguistic and literary philosophy began.

An interest and not a mastery. I am a mere novice, a padawan turning to Twitter and Google+ as my Master. So I wanted to try Molly’s challenge. This is the result:

I then decided to create a found poem from some of the annotations I made in the texts of literary philosophers. I went through my books both in print and pixel and pulled the quotes. I then rearranged them into a new poem. I could not think of a better way to illustrate the dialogism of online poetry:

polyvalent language
unfixed. There is
multidimensional spaces of
within a network
unity is variable
and relative
Truth is not born but a
separation of self and world
text is a tissue
is it found?

Image credit: Connections. MT-y. https://www.deviantart.com/art/Connections-143519661

Bike in Kaohsiung(parking)-030

flickr photo shared by 謝一麟 Chiā,It-lîn under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-ND ) license

Once again our friends from across the globe amaze us. In fact new poets, learners and readers join #walkmyworld every day. To this end we will no longer publish weekly challenges but will shift the focus to learning events. This will allow folks to step in and out of our burgeoning affinity space.

In the last learning event we asked you to think about what it means to name things, and to consider the power of what you name in the pics you share. We considered what Hass meant when he said, “naming things is a way of establishing your identity through one’s surroundings.”

Many turned to to the the poem “Meditation at Lagunitas.”

I was blown away by the work @dogtrax who created a poetic response. Alecia’s exploration of Lagunitas and blackberries captured what it meant to identify oneself through one’s surroundings. Molly Sheilds challenged my definition of what text means.
We even had Robert Hass reach out to a Kate Booth’s kindergarten class involved in the #walkmyworld project.

Next Learning Event

These are just a few of the amazing things to come out of the last learning event. We will continue to share Hass’s poetry over the next few learning events. We will post a poem and a prompt to spark your thinking.
We will not tell you how to respond. Some may just write a paragraph or two based on the prompts. Others may annotate the poem. I am sure @dogtrax will post a series of poems in response. Molly will issue me another challenge.
The goal is for you to focus on your thoughts, your works, your identities.

Letter to a Poet

A mockingbird leans
from the walnut, bellies,
riffling white, accomplishes

his perch upon the eaves.
I witnessed this act of grace
in blind California

in the January sun
where families bicycle on Saturday
and the mother with high cheekbones

and coffee-colored iridescent
hair curses her child
in the language of Pushkin–

John, I am dull from
thinking of your pain,
this mimic world

which make us stupid
with the totem griefs
we hope will give us

power to look at trees,
at stones, one brute to another
like poems on a page.

What can I say, my friend?
There are tricks of animal grace,
poems in the mind

we survive on. It isn’t much.
You are 4,000 miles away &
this world did not invite us

In your response explore some, all, or none of these prompts:
What words or phrases spoke to you and influence the overall meaning of the poem?
What does this poem suggest about human connections and isolation?
What does Hass suggest about the ways we are, and are not, part of the world?
How do your walks demonstrate a connection  or isolation to the natural world?
I just scrolled through the #walkmyworld feed. You have shared hundreds (264 to be exact) of tweets from across the globe.

Leanne, Ian, Sue, Kristy, and I are so excited that so many people have decided to get involved in project to examine poetry, multimodality, response and authorship. The craziest part of the project is we told you from the beginning we were not going to tell you what you were going to do.

Well now it is week four and it is time to begin the next phase. During weeks four, five, and six we will examine the work of Robert Hass, the catalyst of this project. I will will send out an update each weekend sharing the task. The goal is to expand our notion of collaborative authorship and our definition of texts.

So each week we will throw some fun curve balls as we discuss Hass’s work. Robert Hass is known for describing everyday events and objects in the simplest, yet most complicated way. He can take the smallest object as he walks his world and then masterfully add layers of meaning.

This skills creates a sense of beauty in his work that allows the reader to peer into multiple perspectives. It is as if the poem can contain many voices all coming through one narrator.

We want you to explore this phenomenon over the next weeks.

Your Task:

You will complete a two part poetry analysis

Part One

For our first week of poetry analysis we will keep it simple, in both authors and texts. All you have to do is select one of the three poems below and describe how Hass used everyday objects. Explore the connotative meaning of his description. Describe the many layers of thought and perspective. Okay, maybe not so simple is it?

You can do your description as a Google Doc, a blog post, or even a YouTube video (I can’t help myself. Not everyone is verbocentric). It can be an expository or poetic exploration. Just remember to share your analysis using the hashtag #walkmyworld.

Part Two

Then think back to the images you have posted. The #WALKMYWORLD project is inspired by the life and work of Poet Laureate Robert Hass. We were inspired by the following critique of Field Guide, the first poetry collection by Hass:

Field Guide is a means of naming things, of establishing an identity through one’s surroundings, of translating the natural world into one’s private history. This is a lot to accomplish, yet Robert Hass manages it with clarity and compassion.” Hass confirmed his ability with Praise (1979), his second volume of poems, which won the William Carlos Williams Award. “In many ways,” Gander explained, “Praise addresses the problems implicit in the first book: Can the act of naming the world separate us from the world? How is it possible to bear grief, to accept death, and how can the spirit endure?”

Either on Twitter or in a blogpost address the following prompts:

In what ways are you establishing your own identity through your naming of things?

In your naming of things in the #WALKMYWORLD project, how are you sharing your own private history?

How does your naming and identification of your world separate you from the world?

The Poems

Letter to a Poet

Meditations at Lagunitas

The Seventh Night

image credit: Florianda. Walk in the Light https://www.deviantart.com/art/walk-in-the-light-41555589