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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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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

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Making Connections: Learning Pathways & Rhizomes

The following is a Guest Post from Allie Bishop Pasquier, an early childhood educator teacher in Bellingham, Washington. Allie has been a participant in the National Writing Project‘s Making Learning Connected MOOC or #clmooc. This post is a remix of a very thoughtful piece on her blog, Bakers and Astronauts, about some of the activity in #clmooc. Allie tweets with the handle @bakersastros.

When I reflect on my learning and growth outside of being a student, “sequential” and “orderly” do not come to mind. There are fits and starts, highs and lows, and brick walls. There are memories that stick out as momentous, but at the time, I probably thought I was just browsing the Internet or having a cup of coffee with a colleague. There are times when I thought I was making a discovery, but in hindsight, I did not follow through with the project. Learning can, and in one sense, must be chronological, but that is not the same as linear, like planned learning is often expected to be. Textbooks are arranged in chapters, to be taught and “learned” in sequential order. Yet I can’t think of any way in which my out-of-school learning has been linear.

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Learning Pathways on ConnectedLearning.tv

What do learning pathways look like as young people move across learning contexts in pursuit of their interests in school, at home, in libraries, community centers and online?

Tomorrow, July 16th, at 1:00 PM Eastern/10:00 AM Pacific, I will have the opportunity to join Elyse Eidman-Aadahl of the National Writing Project, Kris Gutierrez at University of Colorado at Boulder, and Paul Allison of YouthVoices to discuss how youth leverage the opportunities, resources, tools, and connections available to them, and in this process, how learning and literacy practices are shaped. We’ll ask: How do individuals create and transform themselves as learners? How can we design learning environments to be responsive to these pathways? Continue reading

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Teachers as Contemporary Learners

Today I will be speaking with those at the Fordham Literacy Institute about how teachers can harness contemporary literacies for themselves and for their own professional growth. We’ll be taking their already great Guiding Questions and making a little twist in order to ask:

  • Who are contemporary teachers?
  • What is the potential for professional development in an age of Web 2.0?
  • How can we use technologies to build our literacy & content teaching knowledge & skills?
  • How can we use technologies to expand the walls of our professional development?

Ultimately…

  • Who am I as a teacher, and where do I need to grow to meet the needs of contemporary learners?

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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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