Tracing Across Time & Image with #AltAction

I am thrilled to have been invited to participate with a group of youth interested in being positive change agents in their community. Called AltAction their team is serious about engaging in critical and creative action. I have only met with them twice, and I am already inspired.

In the coming weeks, they are going to engage in some community photo ethnography in order to “make the familiar strange,” to step close in order to step back in perspective. To this end, they presented me with some homework. (It’s been a while since I had homework assigned!)

Bring three photographs that tell the story of what brings you to AltAction.

I’ve been thinking about this prompt all week, and am so pleased to have been asked to think both critically and creatively in tracing across the moments of my life. I have learned from educators and artists, such as Janis Jones and her series on beach debris, how composing through image can be incredibly powerful social action.

It also reminds me of something Jay Lemke (2009, p. 273) asked that I am taking up in my current work on tracing writing development across lifespans with Paul Prior:

How do moments add up to lives? How do our shared moments together add up to social life as such?

Just this last week, my grad students traced their uses of technology across various timescales—across their careers, their courses, a unit—and I really saw the power of not just communicating through photographs, but also tracing across time as a reflective activity. Take Aaron’s reflection as just one of many examples.

So, here are my three photos in timeline form, representing the laminating of experience across my life that ultimately brings me to AltAction.

Homework done.

skirt and tightsstructural changeeye


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Say True Things: 5th Graders On Audiences On and Off the Grid

A couple of years ago, I posted about talking to my niece and her fifth grade class about audiences on- and offline. This week, in a graduate course I am teaching, the topic of teaching about online interaction and audiences with elementary students was raised...and I realized I never hit "post" on this companion post. So, here is a major #tbt to something that has been sitting in draft mode for too long.

A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to talk with a fifth grade class about audience using a mini-lesson and guided practice that is probably familiar to many teachers.  We then extended that discussion into considering what writing for an audience means in contemporary times. The young people in that class shared great advice for the demands on writing in a digital, networked age.

Audience Offline

We started our conversation with a guessing game comparing two texts that were talking about a pair of shoes online:

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banner_shoe

We talked through the criteria the school was using in on online writing platform and saw that depending on the audience, every aspect of a piece of writing might change depending on the audience.

Message Continue reading Say True Things: 5th Graders On Audiences On and Off the Grid

It’s that Time of Year…

It’s that time of year…when I claim to reboot my efforts on this site…or not. I was inspired to write this non/anti-resolution post by two tweets that came across my feed this last week.

First, I saw that Melvina posted that she received a postcard from Kevin Hodgson via Karen Fasimpaur‘s #clmooc postcard project that has taken a data display turn this year.

If you look closely (click on the tweet to see the images), you’ll see that Kevin has mapped his resolutions…and their degree of accomplishment. (P.S. Kudos Kevin, beautifully displayed data!) It got me thinking about the commitments I’ve made over and over on this site. I’ve even tried the non-resolution approach!

Then, I saw another tweet, with a possible solution. Ironically, it was a response from Kevin to Mia Zamora about her resolution.

Iscreen-shot-2017-01-09-at-8-01-40-amn the post she shared, she committed to making “snap posts.” Snap posts are posts that are conceived, composed, produced, and distributed within 15 minutes. She is going to be posting these as part of her interaction with the Networked Narrative open journey (on Twitter: @netnarr #netnarr). I am not sure how closely she is going to watch the clock on all those parts, but I was inspired. In fact, I have…5 minutes and 57 seconds to finish this post. So, with no promise to write one of these ever again, here’s a snap post from me.

The main takeaway for me, however, is not actually the snap post idea. It is, rather, a reminder how much I gain from my personal learning network, particularly, how much I learn in the serendipitous moments I glance at my Twitter feed or see a post in a Facebook group. Some of the moments are leveraged by social media directly, like when I asked Ian O’Byrne if he’d be willing to do a recorded video call with me following the Literacy Research Association Study Group focused on developing a “domain of one’s own.” Others are only distally connected and come together unpredictably, and take off in new learning pathways. The kind that characterized much of what we recognized as learning in our Remix as Professional Learning piece that came out this last year as a reflection on the connected learning opportunity for educators, CLMOOC.

I am currently designing the syllabus and learning challenges for an Introduction to Educational Technologies course, and my interest in having the grad students check in on the health and development of their own learning networks is reinvigorated!

Confession: This took just over 15 minutes to write, inclusive of the tweets and photo. It then took another 5 to add all the links.


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Join Me at #4TDW!

On October 9th at 4:30 EST I will be joining the Teachers Teaching Teachers about Technology (4T) Digital Writing Conference. #4TDW, for short.

4TDW is a free, virtual conference on digital writing. They just ask that you register to get a newsletter with links to each week’s sessions. There are six sessions focusing on a variety of aspects of digital writing each Sunday in October. Here’s mine:Screen Shot 2016-10-04 at 9.04.21 PM.png

Like the description says, I’ll be highlighting the Connected Learning MOOC (#clmooc) as an example of a community filled with educators who are contemporary composers. To introduce #clmooc, I whipped up a video filled with participants’ faces, reflections, and makes.

And perhaps most importantly, I am promising that the session will be production-centered just like #clmooc is. So, come get your make on. Hope to see you Sunday.


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.

Where’s Anna: Literacy Research Association Edition

This week I have the opportunity to join with many of you at the Literacy Research Association‘s annual conference. I look forward to catching up on the great work that I am usually only able to follow at a distance. Here are three times you can catch up with me:

Methods for Researching Transliteracies in Practice:
An Embodied Theoretical Review

On Thursday December 3, 2015 8:45am – 10:15am in Costa Del Sol Ballroom – Salon E, you can join us in an Alternative Format Session. This alternative session addresses a central challenge for literacy researchers–how to account for practices ‘on the move’–by drawing together literacy scholars working at the methodological cutting edge. Through data demonstrations and an embodied theoretical review, this symposium initiates a concerted effort to gather a set of innovative methodological tools that address the complexity of transliteracies in practice. The audience will collaborate in constructing a visual map, considering with panelists how to ethically represent marginalized voices.

Anna Smith, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Amy Stornaiuolo, University of Pennsylvania
Nathan Phillips, University of Illinois at Chicago
Christian Ehret, McGill University
Matthew Hall, The College of New Jersey
Jon M Wargo, Michigan State University
Joanne Larson, University of Rochester


“I’ve Become a Student of This”:
Temporal Practices in Transcontextual Writing Development

Continue reading Where’s Anna: Literacy Research Association Edition

Going on a Blog Hunt. #clmooc Marks the Spot.

It’s a blustery, rainy…and sticky-warm July day. And yet, I am still about to embark on a walk…a blog walk.

If you’re following me on Twitter, you’ve seen an abundance of the #clmooc hashtag in my stream. Hopefully, you haven’t muted it before I had a chance to explain. We’re right in the middle of the…

Connected Learning Massive(ly) Open
On-(and Off-)line Collaboration

(See why it’s shortened?)

It’s basically a connected learning summer camp for educators. There are a series of Make Cycles that begin (and only begin, never end) each week through July, and educators can follow their own lines of inquiry while making, experimenting, writing, and connecting. As you can imagine, it has turned out to be a choose-your-own-adventure space bubbling with ideas, rich with potential, and a little overwhelming to try to take in in one gulp.

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Photo by Alan Levine

This brings us to the #clmooc Blog Hub, and my blog walk (inspired by Kevin Hodgson’s idea of the blog walk and the results Deanna Mascle found on the walk she took). Since it seems that our Make Cycle #3 is focused on game design, I am going to change the blog walk into a blog hunt—a hunt for ideas that spur my thinking…

First along my way, I’ve met Aaron Johannes who is a graphic facilitator. I had never heard of this, but it resonates with the work I had done with Matt Hall and Nick Sousanis—and more deeply, Nick’s work recently published as the book Unflattening—to share the critical role of creating visualizations of our thinking while/during/in the processes of inquiry. This is what Aaron does for groups—on the fly graphic representations of a conversation or strategic planning meeting. What a powerful layer of understanding that must bring! Continue reading Going on a Blog Hunt. #clmooc Marks the Spot.

No. Don’t Surrender. Leverage.: Creativity in Scholarly Work

I was just talking with a colleague in the throes of dissertation writing. She’s right in the middle of the mess that is trying to thinking new thoughts. And though she was trying her hardest not to show it, she was feeling downtrodden, and at a loss as to what to do about it.
(And then today I serendipitously came across a series of tweets that animated what I saw behind her calm exterior. Press play and enjoy.)

Then she said something that I’ve heard (and said myself) a hundred times:

I just need to trust the process, right?
I need to surrender to it.

It rang so false, so hollow, so hopeless. This was someone deeply invested in a complex effort trying to grab at something secure. 2015/01/img_59031.jpgAnd surrendering to some amorphous process was her only solution? That’s no solution. I wondered: What is this “process” that’s supposed to solve everything? Letting time pass as we continue to “plug away” at the same old tasks? (You know what they say about that.)

Leveraging “the Process”

Rather than surrendering to this amorphous process (which I am now thinking is just code for feeling lost and ready to give up), I think we could do better to leverage it.

Continue reading No. Don’t Surrender. Leverage.: Creativity in Scholarly Work

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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