As an educational blogger I struggle on the hunt for great images. I made a commitment this year to try and use creative commons images or remix other images. Much of my artwork comes from flckr or from artists on deviantart.com that enable downloads. I will then edit these images using pixlr editor in Chrome.

Royalty free stock photos sites simply charged too much money for a small guy like me. I do not blog to make money. I have an add free website as I try to model the kind of teaching I would like to see in my education students.

I want them to see the power of blended learning. Teacher candidates need to know that in order to teach writing you need to struggle at being a writer. Most importantly I want my students to understand how a blog, or writing in general, creates the reflective practioner.

So I do not have the funds for big photo services. I also do not often have the time to remix photos, even those with a CC license.

Enter Getty Images

For those who do not know Getty Images is a stock photo company with over 80 million photos. They have now made 34 million of those images available to not for profit publishers. This will be huge for small time bloggers such as myself.

How does it work?

You first visit the website and search for images. I am working on a haiku for #walkmyworld and I looked for a “Golden Eagle.”

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 10.34.26 AM

 

You then click on the embed code and you will get html code for embedding an iframe.

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 10.36.38 AM

 

That it. You can add the code to your blog and add the website.

The Caveats

Below you will find the TOS from Getty. Notice that images maybe taken down, they collect analytics, and reserved the right to embed third party advertising.

You may only use embedded Getty Images Content for editorial purposes (meaning relating to events that are newsworthy or of public interest). Embedded Getty Images Content may not be used: (a) for any commercial purpose (for example, in advertising, promotions or merchandising) or to suggest endorsement or sponsorship; (b) in violation of any stated restriction; (c) in a defamatory, pornographic or otherwise unlawful manner; or (d) outside of the context of the Embedded Viewer.

Getty Images (or third parties acting on its behalf) may collect data related to use of the Embedded Viewer and embedded Getty Images Content, and reserves the right to place advertisements in the Embedded Viewer or otherwise monetize its use without any compensation to you.

The Limitations

iFrame. Need I say more? You cannot embed by url only. This limits the use of the images in say Google Presentations or Haikudeck (though Getty sells images through HaikuDeck).

I use a slider on my blog. I need to upload the images here or use an image URL. An iFrame will not work. I am sure many will run into similar limitations.

Also some services do not allow iframes as a security risk. So I am hoping Getty will eventually offer watermarked images with proper attribution or a shortened link back to their store.

You also cannot search by embeddable images only (atleast I could not figure out how). I had to “waste” a lot of time looking through great pictures.

Conclusion

Bloggers and schools, who do not have large budgets, could benefit greatly from Getty’s new service, but the search engine needs work. My first search came up with an image for “Golden Eagle.” My next searches “frozen bridge,” “Connecticut River winter,” “Connecticut River frozen,”  and even “river,” had page after page of images I could not use. I did not find one image I could embed. I do not have that kind of time. The search tool in Getty images should allow me to filter for embeddable images only.

Getty stated that their images were being ripped from the Internet anyways so they wanted to find ways to give proper attribution and possibly look for new revenues streams for photographers. That is a lesson I can get behind. I just need a more functional search tool before I recommend widespread use in schools.

My Try.

Here is the haiku I wrote for #walkmyworld using Getty Images:

Once perched, Eagle flew
At river’s edge no longer
Fish gone now frozen

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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.

Basho

Napped half the day;
no one
punished me!

Kobaayashi Issa

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

Issa

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

Issa

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

Issa

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

Issa

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

Issa

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

Issa

Don’t worry, spiders,
I keep house
casually.

Issa

Hell:
Bright autumn moon;
pond snails crying
in the saucepan.

Issa

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

haiku

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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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
slipping
past the iron gate
hardened
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.
Signals

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:

Spinner

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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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
no
outside-text
instead
polylogical
multidimensional spaces of
frontiers
within a network
thus
unity is variable
plural,
and relative
Truth is not born but a
separation of self and world
text is a tissue
nodes
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

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Those that know me know I am fond of saying I love juxtaposing the oldest genres in the world (poetry) with our newest texts. Each year Sue Ringler Pet, Ian O’Byrne, and myself celebrate a poet laurete at NCTE through the use of digital texts and tools.

This year Leanne Drapeau, a classroom teacher we partnered with joined us in Boston. I found the inclusion of a teacher,who could contextualized the young poets we celebrated,  in our presentation to be a rewarding experience. It also fit our theme quite well.

This year we dove into the work of Natasha Trethewy. Specifically we examined her work in documentary poetry.

Once again the project allowed students new access points into poetry. Here are a few takeways:

The Best Learning Activities are Grade Agnostic

When Sue and I first started this project we began by using Powerpoint to create extended metaphor poems. We have taught this lesson in early elementary school up to our graduate students. The best lessons in poetry work with any grade level.

Our work with documentary poetry was no different. We completed the project with 7th grade students, high school seniors, and pre service teachers. At every turn the students, no matter their age, were inspired by other young poets.

Delve into Poems not Devices

When we first looked at redesigning meaning through multimodality we framed the work through Billy Collins’s, “Drop a Mouse in Poetry.” For Sue and I we found poetry taught too often in isolation. Students did not search for emotion and truth instead they went on a scavenger hunt for similes and hyperbole.

Once again our work with Trethewey reminded us that teachers should not be afraid to spend immense amount of time on a single poem. The more we used and analyzed mentor texts the louder student voices become.

Sample of The Poems

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/102124607″ width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/100381196″ width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/105917965″ width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/106689376″ width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/121264512″ width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/121265716″ width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/121366975″ width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/121394080″ width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/121477756″ width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Reflections and Thoughts

There was a different in topics and narrative voices

A pattern became evident to myself and the audience as we listened in on our young poets. Our older pre-service teachers seemed to write with a more meta detached voice. Topics included ideas such as Edward Snowden and the Korean War.

Students from New Haven and Hartford had a more personal and present narrative. Topics included Sanday Hook, child slavery, and gender discrimination. The voice giving  witness to the tragedy or emotion being documented seemed louder.

Do not teach a formula but a poet’s toolbox

In an earlier post I spoke of my 7th graders reading in a voice that was more prose than poetry. Their poems read like a narrative. Originally I speculated this may have been a product of a short time frame but after hearing from Leanne’s approach I realized the teachers I was supervising may not have provided students with the poetic toolbox.

Leanne and her students focused on four elements in their poems: juxtaposition, credibility, internal rhyme, and repetition. I only worked with a few group of students during writers conferences on repetition. Given more time I would have loved to work with tmy students and have them listen to their poems. They could identify elements that were poetic and revise the poems to include the toolbox Leanne shared with her  students.

Communal collaboration

Our original goal was to have students collaborate on these projects. Soundcloud, unfortunately, like many social networks was blocked in most of the schools. This did not allow for the collaboration and sharing of voices in the cloud.

Yet we also want to go beyond collaboration. We want to use digital poetry to highlight the interconnected elements of communities. That will be our focus next year. We are currently drafting a plan to not only witness other communities but to delve into personal and interpersonal perspectives. I will share later as we finalize the design, and I hope to highlight this work in D.C. at #ncte14.

Test you tech

I tried to present from my iPad and use Reflector to mirror to my laptop so I could screencast our presentation. Yet when we went to play video and audio we had no sound. This required us to pivot to my laptop. This lead to a downgrade in sound quality as we as speakers worked the room.


 

The Presentation

(Apologize for sound quality. I could not stream media from my iPad seamlessly and needed to use my laptop. We lost the proximity or the mic.)

 

New-Orleans post Katrina Sept 2005: house busted by Katrina's wrecking ball

flickr photo shared by Gilbert Mercier under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-ND ) license

We want every student to leave Gear Up knowing they have a voice. They are “active players and not spectators in life” as Walter Dean Meyers., the author of Handbook for Boys wrote (our shared reading this summer). To this end we had students explore what it means to be a lost voice through poetry.

As many of our readers know I am also interested in exploring how the pedagogy of poetry can be enhanced with the use of digital texts and tools. Over the last six years, my colleagues Sue Ringler-Pet and Ian O’Byrne have been exploring the intersection of poetry and technology. We present a project at NCTE celebrating a poet laureate through technology.

This year we chose Natasha Trethewey and her work with documentary poetry. Trethewey says she attempts to find lost voices in historical events. This seemed like a perfect project for the 100 students attending our Summer Academy.

The lesson plan we used appears below:

Step 1: Read “The Elegy of the Native Gaurd” and “Beyond Katrina”

Step 2: Then discuss the following prompt in the Google+ Community: Trethewey in explaining why she writes said her purpose is, “giving voice to the groups and individuals blotted out of public memory.” In these two poems what groups and individuals were brought to the light? What words, phrases, or stanzas capture the emotion or plight of these voices?

Step 3: Annotate the text using the PDFZen. Identify key events, characters, and emotions

Step 4: Record and upload your poem (written in Language Arts) to SoundCloud
-Set up a Soundcloud Account
-Post your Account Name to Google+
-Follow everyone in the class
-Record your Poem
-Upload Your Recording to Soundcloud

In order to make the projects manageable the students coule pick from the following historical events: Slavery, Civil War, WWII, 9/11, and Katrina. They then had to create a narrator for their poem, draft, and record the poem

Here are a few examples:

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/102118789″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

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My Thoughts

Overall the project went very well. Yet it is not over. These poems will be used as models, and a few as mentor texts, for middle school students in Hartford who will complete the same project this Fall. We will share these voices in Boston at NCTE.

The lesson also demonstrates how good analytical reading does not need to favor informational, narrative texts, or poetry. In fact the best lessons will result in some type of performance piece (the poem) that required students to question and annotate a variety of sources for a variety of reasons.

9/11, with Katrina as a close second, seemed to be the most popular theme among students. I wonder if this is a due to proximity to New York (almost all know of a life touched by the tragedy). The boys (shocking) seemed to gravitate to lost voices in wars.

The poems are a good, but many have an overarching sense of prose, rather than poetry to the stories. Now I cringe at giving students rules when teaching poetry (in fact I asked teachers not to require stanzas at all let alone a minimum number) yet in the next iteration I want students to try to find more poetry in their voices. I may ask students to write their lost voice as a narrative first and then convert this prose into poetry. This had worked in the past as well.

Our Summer Academy is about building bridges to the future in the hope that the entire New Haven class of 2018 is college bound. I hope by exploring lost voices, we helped students find their own so they lear not to be “spectators in life.”

craftivism workshop at The Royal Standard arts collective

flickr photo shared by craftivist collective under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

Many of us agree that we need to align our classroom activities with the digitally literate lives our students lead. Yet we still hear of many classroom simply focusing on technology integration.

Simply put this is a mistake. When we look at the shift from page to pixel in terms of technology integration rather than an ever shifting and dynamic text we create a horse race environment where technology never improves learning.

It’s like the old Orbitz commercial where a refund is delivered by hovercraft instead of mail.

Just because you have technology does not mean you need to use technology. Instead always ask yourself, “How do these emerging text enhance or inhibit my pedagogical goal?” Do not simply use a hovercraft because you have one.

Multimodal Poetry

One area that I have been working on for the past five or six years is to integrate digital texts and tools into my teaching of poetry. There is something rewarding about using the oldest genre of litertature with the newest forms of text.

I also think poetry, as a potter’s wheel of the soul, is a great place to shape ideas about design effecting meaning making. Each word, phrase, stanza, image, or metaphor continuously redesign meaning as a new audience stumbles upon the poem.   The rich words and guttural reaction to poetry allow for a conversations around topics such us color scheme, image placement, font, etc.

Finally I have too often seen poetry taught so poorly that generations of new writers may have never discovered their poems from within. We do not let students work with one poem over time, or to play with meanings. Instead the focus in on literary elements, i.e. find me a one poem with a metaphor, one poem with alliteration, etc.

The humanity is lost in the hunt for the mechanics

Celebrating Poet Laureates

It was decided then that at each year at NCTE we would submit a proposal to celebrate the work of a Unites State Poet Laureate through multimodal poetry so we could get away from what Billy Collins (our first featured poet) called teaching children, “To beat the meaning out a poem with a hose.”

In 2009 we highlighted Billy Collins by exploring new ways to respond and author poetry with images.

In 2010 we featured Kay Ryan and went through #Twitpoems and multimodal retellings with iMovie.

This year, in Chicago, we brought in the works of W. S. Merwin and connected to using poetry to make the world a better place. That is our definition of critical literacy-words in action to change or question the status quo for the greater good.

W. S. Merwin and Poetry for Change
 
W. S. Merwin is also an interesting choice as he has developed a natural suspicion to many things digital. We wanted to show that there is just as much poetry in the design choices students make as in the words they add or leave off the page.

Basically we read some Merwin poems as mentor texts. Next we took ideas from Probst and concentrated on converting prose to poetry. Students had to choose a social justice issue. Then we took he project into two separate directions.

One group of students completed an internet inquiry topic around their issue. They wrote a collaborative paragraph. Next they highlighted important words or phrases in the paragrpah and used those a basis for a poem. Students then, using Audacity and iMovie, created a multimodal version of their poem.

Another group of students went out into their world to find a social issue. They collected cell phone pictures to document the problem. They then searched for similar images online. Using search engines they connected back to the websites that hosted the images and “found” texts they wanted to use in their poems. They then used iMovie or MovieMaker Live to create the poem.

Moving Forward

Poetry has been a great avenue to explore multimodal design elements. We hope to continue our work at NCTE next year, or by simply sharing our work with other teachers.