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Connected Learning and Hacking the Antidote

The following is a quick-fired dispatch from the outer bank regions of the zombie horde (i.e. from Pete (@allistelling) and Anna (@anna_phd)) to the #TvsZ community. #TvsZ is a massive zombie lore-based contemporary composition learning game. (That’s what we said: a massive zombie lore-based contemporary composition learning game.) Others are welcome to read it as it has equal amounts of connected learning and contemporary composition talk!

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Invitation to Participate in the 2014 Summer #clmooc

Sign ups are now open for Making Learning Connected 2014!

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As always, I apologize that WordPress has begun to force ads on each post. Please ignore any ad that follows. I have not vetted and do not support whatever is advertised below.
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Easy as Pie: Thanksgiving Dinner and Digital Content Creation

Thanksgiving is easy.

Hear me out: Turkey? Stick it in an oven for hours. Mashed potatoes? Boil some water. Yams? Sprinkle some brown sugar. Green beans? Open a can. Even hand-whipped whip cream? Yep. That, too. Whip it.

Even if you end up making a Half-Trifle Half-Shepherd’s Pie Rachel Special, “what’s not to like?” Joey will eat it.

Yes, I have a point.

We like to make Thanksgiving a big deal. Sure there are more mouths to feed, more places to set at the table, more potatoes to peel, but it’s not any more difficult than a single crème brûlée. A good mole? I have no idea where to start.

In the same way, there are some of us who still think that digital content creation—a video, a blog post with an image, a podcast, a visual meme, a musical track, an image collage—is a big deal. I am here to say that like Thanksgiving, it isn’t that hard. In fact, digital content creation has never been easier.  We don’t have to wait until next year for Facebook to provide us with another 30-second video with five of our photos. We can make our own in just about the same amount of time it took to watch it.

Here are my go-to apps for composing-on-the-go:

Animoto

This last winter, my nephew was performing at an Open Mic with his brother for the last time before he left on a two-year service stint. As I watched the performance, I took snapshots and recorded a couple of the songs. And as I went up to the bar to order a hot chocolate, I Continue reading

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A NWP Backchannel: Rethinking Interest-Driven

I had the opportunity to present at the National Writing Project’s Annual Meeting at the end of last year. For the Annual Meeting, NWP used the concept of “HOMAGO”—a new term that comes from Connected Learning research and refers to the learning that comes from Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out.  Nicole Mirra and I were invited to present our research and work with youth in the Geeking Out strand–specifically, to address how our work with youth has moved us to re-think some current approaches to “interest-driven”  connected learning.

I shared some of the findings of my study into how young men develop as writers in their teen years. For this session, I focused on sharing the ways the young men participated in activities in schools, in out-of-school contexts, and online. Quite briefly, the young men used their experiences in these contexts as resources to help them achieve their developing writing purposes, preferences, and aspiring literate identities. Their invested interests in who they wanted to be as writers, what they wanted to write, and how they wanted to go about doing those activities influenced the writing practices they took up, adapted, and resisted. The young men habitually reminisced Continue reading

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What Do We “Let the Page Be”?

Today I came across this recording of the spoken word piece by Bonafide Rojas called “In Front of the Class.” In it, he describes a group of youth who, at first glance, may seem hopeless. He says to the young people:

Let the page be a doctor.
Let the page be a therapist.
Let the page be a lover.

Let the page be your enemy, punch it in the face.
Let the page be your best friend
who will never stab you in the back.
Let the page be your Prozac.

Let the page be your hip hop.
Let the page be your rock and roll.
Let the page be that fancy ride you’re always talking about.

Let the page be that bling, bling on your wrist.
Let the page be the underground beat you’re about to rip.
Let the page be your autobiography.

This week I will be speaking with the NYU’s ELL (English Language Learners) Think Tank, a consortium of teachers from across New York City. One of the first things I am going to do is ask us to (re)think the typical definition of writing that we see at work in our schools, and particularly the limited ways we talk about writing when working with those who are learning English. What do we “let the page be”?

photo (5) 2For the young men I got to know while researching how young men develop as writers, “the page” was all of the things Bonafide Rojas listed, and more. At some point during the two years that I traced their writing practices, each of the young men dealt with particular social tensions like for one young man, trying to make sense of having an abusive father, and for another young man, being considered by some to be “too White” and by others as being “too Latino.” To make sense of these social tensions, each of the young men independently turned these literal issues into figurative literary tropes through writing.

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EXCEL Academy @ NYU Graduate Featured in PBS Documentary The Graduates/Los Graduados

I just received word from Nancy Mann, principal of Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School, in the South Bronx, that one of FLHFHS’s graduates and our EXCEL Academy @ NYU participants will be featured in the PBS documentary The Graduates/Los Graduadosa film following Latino students and their road to college.

Meet Chastity. My life has been enriched by just knowing this bright, articulate and dedicated young woman. The fact that I was able to be a part of her developmental pathway from high school to college, and especially in finding her confidence to share her writing with others is a highlight of my career.

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The Project for the Advancement of our Common Humanity

photo-11I am pleased to announce that in my final doctoral year, I have been invited to be a part of NYU’s Project for the Advancement of our Common Humanity led by the great thinkers and scholars Niobe Way, Carol Gilligan and Pedro Noguera. This year I will be writing posts after each of the monthly public lectures and think tank meetings in order to continue the conversation online with interested others from around the world.

The Project for the Advancement of our Common Humanity (PACH) is an emerging think tank, funded by the NoVo foundation and based at New York University, that is designed to engage researchers, policymakers, practitioners, activists, educators, artists, and journalists in a series of conversations focused on what we have learned from science and practice regarding what lies at the root of our crisis of connection and what we can do to create a more just and humane world. Presently, PACH entails a public lecture series and monthly conversations with 50 senior level professionals.

Tweets from just our first meeting promise this will be an engaging and important project to follow! Here is a list of a few members of PACH who use Twitter. Continue reading

Anna Smith, PhD, educational researcher & teacher educator blogging about composition in the digital age, contexts for learning, theories of development, and global youth.

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