Welcome to Week 2, Literature as Exploration

19 01 2011

Welcome to Week 2!  Congratulations to everyone for writing compelling blogs, composing and recording gem-like mini-podcasts, and learning new and sometimes tricky tools like Wallwisher, VoiceThread, Diigo, and Google Docs.  You’re all set now to immerse yourself in reading from the latest and greatest YA lit published in 2010.

Here are some updates and tips as you work through the week ahead.

1.  Tag!  You’re it!

2.  Stone Soup – Your Contributions

3.  Bookcasts – Start Small and Stretch

4.  New Year, New You!

5.  Week 2 Activities and Action Items


1. Tag!  You’re it!

Congratulations to all of our new bloggers!  For all of us who admire and hold dear the craft of writing, there’s just something magical about joining the Blogosphere and seeing our chosen title and name up in lights.

Now that that’s accomplished, we just need to make sure that all of us can find your blog posts.  Sure, we could go to the Blog Directory in the Bookhenge2011 wiki, but that’s tedious to click on each one to see if you’ve written something new.  Once we get to your blog, we can sign up for the RSS feed but there’s an even easier way to keep up with what everyone writes.

I created a Netvibes dashboard that canvases the Web and pulls in every mention of the tag “bookhenge” or the Twitter hashtag “#bookhenge”.   So all you need to do is to make sure that each time you post to your blog that you add the tag/keyword/label “bookhenge” (without the quotes).  Then you’ll see all of our posts, tweets, and videos on this one convenient page (see Navigation for direct link from the Bookhenge2011 wiki).  Or here’s the direct link that I’d suggest that you bookmark so you’ll have it handy — Netvibes Dashboard.

Where to tag is a little different in each blogging tool, but I’ll paste in a “how-to” image from WordPress that should help out.  Just let me know if you have any questions about tagging.


2.  Stone Soup – Our Weekly Contributions

Every week you’re expected to contribute to the class’s inquiry.  You can blog (sometimes a blog post is required by a Collaborative Critical Inquiry), tweet, and bookmark in Diigo to share what you’re finding and thinking throughout the week.

To tweet, simply use the #bookhenge hashtag and your tweets will magically appear on the Netvibes Dashboard I mentioned above.  You can also follow the Twitter feed on The Bookhenge Daily or the Twitter search — whichever format you prefer.  All of these links are under “Conversations.”

And you can respond to the blogs of colleagues.  One tip for adding comments to blogs is to create a Google Docs file where you can compose your blog comments and then copy and paste them into the comment sections of blogs.  Why the extra step?  First off, commenting on the Web without a net can be dangerous – I have had to retype so many comments because I needed to check spelling or find a link to add and somehow closed the blog page or clicked “submit” and missed a letter in the captcha (blog spam preventer).  So, it’s much better to copy and paste.

Another tip, I always add the link to the blog to which I commented so I can easily find it again if I want to quote from it.  This can be really helpful in writing papers or blogging and giving credit.

Second, this page serves as an archive for all of your comments.  You can see at a glance what you’ve been reading and writing about that week.  It also serves as an artifact of your work that you can simply link from your Reflective Assessment Portfolio (RAP) as evidence of your contributions.

3.  Bookcasts

This week you will immerse yourself in your choice of an award-winning YA book from the Eva Perry or official Printz Committee list.  These were all published in 2010 and you should be able to find copies in the public libraries and maybe even school libraries.  Or you can purchase them online or from local bookstores.  Oftentimes, students will buy a copy and then trade off with others to save money.

A bookcast is simply your response to the book.  Heads-up that it is not the dreaded book report or a book review.  It’s not the story of the book but rather a story inspired by your response to the book.  You’ll find lots of exemplars under “Assessments” in the wiki and more details and tools under “Transmission” for Week 2.

How do you make a bookcast?  What kind of technology are we talking?  If I were brand new to creating a video or audio slide show, then I’d consider these options:

  • PC computer?  How about PhotoStory?  Photostory is like PowerPoint with music and narration for each slide.  The products are audio slide shows.
    Mac users don’t despair – iMovie is so intuitive that you can easily drag and drop in images and music and then record your narration.
  • You can also use cartoons from TooDoo or Pikistrips (Pikistrips allows you to use your own photos to create cartoons) to create images that you can then use in PhotoStory or MovieMaker (PCs) or iMovies (Macs).
  • Finally, and perhaps, the easiest way to get started, is to create an animated video with xtranormal —  You can have lots of fun with this tool.

Do be sure to model respect for copyrighted materials.  You can use your photos, photos from the Morguefile or Flickr Creative Commons or other royalty-free sources and Incomptech is great for royalty-free music.  You’ll find all of these sources on the Bookcasting Production-Transaction Costs Matrix under Bookcasting in Personal Learning Space.

My advice is to start small, taste success, and then stretch — raise your expectations a bit more with each bookcast.

4.  New Year!  New You!

Shannon blogged about her Second Life project so I know she’s familiar with this virtual immersive world.  She’s interested, as many of us will be, in doing a makeover on the stock avatars that we must choose from to create ones that reflects our unique personalities.  So a great way to get started in Second Life is to have an informal makeover party.

We’ll hold ours on Monday, January 24 from 7 to 9 pm ET.  It’s not mandatory at all.  If you’re happy with the stock avatar or want to shop and style your own on your own, please do.  But if you’d like some tips, some freebies and a chance to learn and practice your Second Life Multiple Intelligences, then come join us.

We’ll hold our first official class in the Bookhenge in Second Life on Monday, January 31, 7 to 9 pm ET.  Make sure you’re ready to participate by then.

Check out the tutorial at  I am happy to meet with each one of you in Second Life to help you learn the few simple skills you’ll need.  It should not take more than 20 minutes.  Just let me know a convenient time.

5.  New Colleagues Through Our Open Online Course

I mentioned that we’re part of an interesting experiment – the first open online course in the College of Education.  We have 15  (so far) teachers, librarians/media specialists, and others who will be joining us throughout the semester.  They are to pick and choose from the smorgasbord provided and bring to the table from their interests and experiences.  Some are receiving renewal credits for their work in the course.  It’s all pretty exciting to think that universities can open their online courses as an outreach to the community.  If you have friends or colleagues who would like to join us, just have them contact me to learn more.

5.  This Week’s Activities and Action Items

  1. Theories & Praxis Collaborative Critical Inquiry
    Wave 1 to be completed by Tuesday, January 25, 11:59 pm ET
    Wave 2 and 3 to be completed by Monday, January 31, 7:00 pm ET — Class time!
    Wave 4 — Seminar, Monday, January 31, 7:00 pm-9:00 pm – our LIVE Class
  2. Blog about literary quality.
  3. Create your first bookcast.
  4. Create your 3D identity and begin to develop your Second Life Multiple Intelligences
  5. Reflect and self-assess in your RAP (Reflective Assessment Portfolio).

Enjoy your week!

PS — Please do post comments and questions below.  Perhaps you’d like to start a conversation about bookcasting or trading books or Second Life or anything of interest to the class.

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