Where’s ERIC?

9 10 2012

That’s what Doug asked when we conferenced today.

ERIC has fallen down and may not get up anytime soon. Kim, our personal class reference librarian at DH Hill (you can call/chat real-time many hours of the day with her) explained the whole back story when I called.  Evidently, ERIC documents are not necessarily peer-reviewed but often submitted by individuals from whom data was collected to prove that they were who they claimed to be and that information was published along with the other information on the submission form.  Ooops!

So options that Kim suggested are:
1) if the article you find in ERIC is prior to 2003 then the kindly reference librarians will find it on microfiche, make a copy, and email it to you.  Allow a couple of days.  Now for our purposes, the Action Learning Projects, that could be ancient history and not as relevant as, say, articles published in the last three to five years.  But if it’s what’s become a classic, as perhaps Lisa Delpit’s “Other People’s Children” Harvard Review article from the late 80s could be considered, then it is timeless and worth including in your research.

2) the handy “article” search on the Libraries homepage at NC State should actually be your first stop for research. Uses the highly touted Summon search tool.

3) Google Scholar will provide more scholarly, peer-reviewed articles that could be valuable.  To learn more about Google Scholar, click on the link on our library toolkit page (see tab at the top).

4) kick Google search into the advanced mode to find more specific information.  For example, do a search and to the far right on the search page results you’ll see a little gear that when clicked reveals “Advanced search.”  You can specify .edu sites, .gov sites, and more.  Here’s more on Google’s Advanced Search . . .

click gear for google advanced search

I also have to put in a plug here for making the most of your evolving personal learning network.  Jim Burke’s English Compainion Ning (Shannon has tweeted about this amazing resource) can be an incredible  goldmine of resources provided by kind and helpful teachers who remember what it was to be a grad student.  And someday you can pass along the kindness.

#ENGchat is a Twitter meetup for English teachers and #LITchat for anyone interested in literature and writing.

More you’d like to add?  Helpful tips? Your comments are welcome!


Common Core and More . . .

8 10 2012

There is a change in the air.

Yes, change, as the cool, crisp bite in the early mornings wakes us to the coming of fall.

And, yes, change, as we ponder the Common Core State Standards  and how our English language arts classrooms might need to evolve to make certain that we teach our students to meet these standards and more.

star in apple
Apple star image by paloetic, Flickr Creative Commons

So what kind of changes do the Common Core State Standards signal for the English Language Arts Classrooms?

Tonya Perry, an NCTE author and university educator in Alabama, identifies the big three as:

  • a change from persuasion to argumentation; from emotion to logic
  • a change from literary and recreational text to informational text; and
  • a change from English Language Arts in isolation to making connections to other content areas.

Augmentation, English teacher, Stephen Heller explains is all about perspective-taking and being able to see a question, an issue from multiple perspectives and present an informed opinion.    Marc Aronson calls this process inquiry and reminds us that “all of nonfiction inherently has a point of view.”

Midterm brings a change in our course as well.  We’ve worked hard to learn about important theories of literacy, learning, and literature and begin to create a pedagogical framework with guiding principles.

Here’s our framework so far.

Learning Through Literature with Young Adults Framework (click to enlarge)

You may be curious about the “seekers.”  That’s inspired by Marc Aronson’s argument that we need to raise beyond the both the artist and the moralist perspective on teaching literature.

The moral group is right about one thing, teenagers are examining their beliefs, their lifestyle, and looking for answers —  emotional answers, relationship answers, but also philosophically, religious, moral answers. As with the art crowd, I urge the morals people to go further. Don’t just try to pass on the preset conclusions we’ve settled for. Celebrate this hunger, this yearning, this beginning0of-the-quest sensation that hits some teenagers like a lightning blot.  They must surpass us, go further in their questioning than we have.  If we try to end their search just as they begin it, we derive the world of their curiosity, their passion, their commitment.  Just as the art crowd has to risk encouraging readers to like materials they themselves do to appreciate, the moral folks need to trust teenagers to be seekers.

If we teach our students to become seekers, to engage in inquiry by reading deeply (beginning with an “anchor” book as Aronson suggests and Miedema would applaud for the opportunity to read slowly and deeply), taking multiple perspectives, and developing an argument along with a reflective trail revealing their thinking . . .

Then that’s the Common Core State Standards.

And more?

The more that we would add would be that seekers are learning functional, cultural, and critical literacy (Cummins & Sayers, Brave New Schools) and that all three types are required to become successful personally and professionally in the twenty-first century — to grasp the big, the global picture and understand one’s place in it.

And more?

I couldn’t find the word creativity in the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History, Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects but I know they serve as a springboard for inquiry and thinking that is logical, yes, but, also emotional.  Creativity is a curious blend of cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal learning.  Dan Pink’s six elements also reflect this complementary union: design, story, symphony, empathy, meaning, and play.

So our pedagogical framework supports our teaching of creativity which is usually included in any listing of twenty-first century skills along with collaboration and a global perspective.  Plus teaching creatively to encourage the creativity of our students can also provide the opportunities for free expression and personal response that Oldfather and Dahl (1994) have recognized as vital for motivation in the English Language Arts classroom.

I am hopeful that the big change that the Common Core State Standards brings will help us focus on the students and what they need to know, understand, be able to do rather than the “teaching of books” and literary criticism that has dominated the English Language Arts classroom.  I am hopeful that more teachers like Curtis and Tracey will see the potential of the “Common Core and more” as providing the license to as teach seekers as  Tracey commented in the backchannel, September 27th:

I also think Curtis has a great point about teaching critical thinking versus teaching specific literature.  Honestly, the content of the curriculum doesn’t matter nearly as much as the practical skills our kids take away that applicable to their entire lives & general well being.

Looking forward to our work in The Change Project where we work first as students engaged in inquiry about a question related to the essential question “Is universal equity possible?” and then as teachers designing a collaborative critical inquiry inspired by an “anchor” book by Aronson.

Coming Around Again

30 09 2012

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know that place for the first time.

— T. S. Eliot

A mobiius strip brings us back around to where we began, and often, as T. S. Eliot reminds us, we come “to know that place for the first time.

MidTerm is a good time to “come back around.”  It’s a good time to do a bit of critical reflection.

I’m re-posting Teresa’s thoughtful explanation of critical reflection to remind us that critical reflection is all about examining our beliefs and our assumptions.  Each week we critically reflect on what we’re learning and how that might be changing our beliefs about teaching and learning with literature for young adults.

So far, we’ve examined our assumptions about young adult literature and its role in the English Language Arts classroom, and along the way we’ve studied theories of learning, literacy, and literature and begun to develop a pedagogical framework complete with principles to guide our practice.  We’ve also begun sort of a meta conversation about the technology we’re using and how it may be shaping our teaching and learning.

We’re beginning a project that will continue for the rest of the semester — The Change Project, a project dedicated to teaching for critical literacy and social change.  It’s both an author study of Marc Aronson, well-known author and editor of nonfiction for young adults, and a collaborative critical inquiry into how we might design literature-based projects that teach for social justice.

Meanwhile in the next few weeks, we’ll continue with our collaborative critical inquiries into important topics/issues that include: “Sequential Art, a Radical Change?,” “Nonfiction: The Neglected Stepchild”; “Whose Face Do I See in the Mirror: Are We Post-Multicultural?”; and “Making Bold Choices: Intellectual Freedom and the Right to Read and Create.”

First up is “Sequential Art, a Radical Change?”  Many of you have not read nor even considered reading sequential art also known as graphic novels.  You’ve much to examine then about your assumptions about how intellectually rigorous and compelling this art form can be.

This collaborative critical inquiry includes the typical compelling question with resources to explore before blogging a creative response, “weaving” what you learn from colleagues to extend the conversation, and then bringing all of your questions, assumptions, and beliefs to the Bookhenge for a live seminar next time we meet there on October 11.  We’ll also have a passionate fan of sequential art, founding member of the Eva Perry Mock Printz Club and now grad student in Library Science, Lauren Nicholson aka Serenity Engineer, talk with us.

The Sequential Art CCI also includes our first collaborative assignment — a book club.  One book club has already formed around the book, The Arrival.  Pitch your own graphic novels via Twitter and make sure your group gets listed on the wiki project page.  It takes three readers to create a club and a club usually maxes out at four.  Book clubs will meet to discuss their book and prepare an introduction to the book that will engage our class.  Ideas for these “performative engagements” include collaboratively produced bookcasts ( WeVideo has great potential for collaborative online editing), dramatic performances, Reader Response activities, and others not yet seen in The Bookhenge.  These book club presentations will take place October 18.

Yes, that’s a week later than the original due date, but Marc Aronson has rescheduled for November 29 so we have an extra week to work with.

Here’s an overview of The Change Project:

The Change Project, Part I — Bittersweet: Freedom at a Cost — Due Oct. 25  Form and organize groups . . .
You need to join a group to research a question — probably the question you suggested; Share your research journey — what you learned and resources you found helpful on a Wiki Project Page; Engage class in a performative engagement.   Note that these wiki project group pages are for archiving your project in one central location.  You may link to any other tool you prefer (Glogster, Google Sites, Weeby, etc.) from your wiki project page.  Many groups also find organizing and working behind the scenes using Google Docs to be helpful.

The Change Project, Part II — Aronson Anchor Book — Due Nov. 15  Form and organize groups . . .
You need to join a group to choose an Aronson book http://www.marcaronson.com/ Design a Collaborative Critical Inquiry with question, related resources, plan, etc. Share with class. Engage us with the book in a performative engagement, too.

The Change Project, Part III— Aronson Interview — Nov. 29th
We’ll welcome Marc Aronson to The Bookhenge.  By this time we will have constructed a Wallwisher with questions to guide our interview.  The world is invited, and with nonfiction’s new-found popularity due to the Common Core State Standards, this event should make a real contribution as well as all of our collaborative project work that is shared freely on the Web.

That pretty much spells out our two collaborative projects.  Let me know if you have any questions.  Please post in a comment here and tweet to update others.  As always, if you have a variation on these assignments that would hold more value for you and your group, pitch it and we can negotiate a rubric that will meet course goals and your own personal goals.

See you in the Bookhenge!

DIY Digital Storytelling

26 09 2012

I’ve been working on The Daily Create challenges for over 125 days now and I thought I’d share a good example from this week of how we can move beyond the canned music to creating our own.

Monday, the challenge was “Somebody near you is making music.  Let’s hear some sounds!”

So I took a deep breath and learned how to make and record my own music using GarageBand and a Midi keyboard.  Mind you, I’ve never had a music lesson in my life and have no natural aptitude so this had to be really simple.

Here’s the result which I kinda like:

Then today, The Daily Create challenge was: “Love sees no color.” Make a short video expressing that idea.

So I imagined how I wanted the movie to work, found a Creative Commons -licensed photo (attribution only) and was at the “what music am I going to use?” point when I realized my first composition just might do the trick.


All of this to say that there are digital tools that enable even non-musicians to create their own music to use in their video work.  I am so much prouder of this work because I did use my humble little composition rather than, say, Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” and I love Joni Mitchell and the chorus “take paradise and put up a parking lot.”

Here’s a list of free online tools for making music.

And for more on copyright and fair use, see “There Be No Dragons.”

There Be No Dragons!

22 09 2012

Cartographers once embellished their maps with dragons and sea serpents to scare away would-be explorers.

Antique map with dragons

Sometimes the fear factor is also exploited when it comes to copyright and the repurposing of intellectual property.

Copyright is a positive, helpful concept created by our forefathers so that, in Jefferson’s words, “we can stand on the shoulders of others.”

Understanding copyright and fair use so that we can make our stand wisely and empower ourselves and our students is a matter of taking personal responsibility and critical reflecting to understand the perspectives of others that our actions may impact.

Here is the dialogue taken from the transcript (see complete transcript and video archive) that reflects some confusion:

[17:18] VonnKurtis: In Dr. Young’s class, we were told very different copyright guidelines…
[17:18] NotCaroline: yes
[17:18] VonnKurtis: Yep
[17:18] cmtruesd: as long as we’re creating something new with it
[17:18] NotCaroline: in an educational context
[17:18] abbey1013: yes
[17:18] kmw1020: I think you can use song up to 30 seconds under fair use
[17:18] KingHarris1: i was told the same thing. free usage or something
[Cris talking with Jamie about use of copyrighted music and need to model good practice on YouTube.]
[17:18] VonnKurtis: Ummm… Dr. Young would disagree.
[17:19] jilltbone: what about when pictures are just chosen randomly from search engine?
[17:19] NotCaroline: and our guest speaker, what was her name?
[17:19] VonnKurtis: Maybe Dr. Young needs to visit bookhenge!!
[17:19] VonnKurtis: someone go back and look at the moodle… she wrote a book. [Note that link to Renee Hobbs’s Skype session with ECI 520, Spring 2012 was provided later in chat — https://eci520-teaching-comp-s12.wikispaces.com/Copyright+&+Fair+Use%5D
[17:19] 2B Writer: Will Cross is the copyright lawyer at NC State. He could come
[17:19] crazymom03: Pictures need to come from the fair use areas of photos too not just taken from anywhere.

The discussion that Jamie and I were having and that prompted the backchannel comments was about the appropriateness of using a song by Fleet Foxes as the soundtrack for a bookcast.  My interpretation is what I had blogged to scaffold bookcasting:

Intellectual Property Is to Be Respected

Do be forewarned that it is not okay to google and “borrow” an image or music that is not licensed under Creative Commons for repurposing or the author has clearly given her blessing for its use.  A common error is to believe that your video transforms a piece of music and adds value for the public good.  That would, honestly, be rare.  Most likely, your video uses the music to create a mood or tone, and that does not transform the music but merely takes advantage of the composer’s work.  See The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education, Principle 4, Student Use of Copyrighted Materials in Their Own Academic and Creative Work.  You could easily create that same mood or tone with a royalty free selection.  There are several sites for royalty-free music and images on the Bookcasting page.

Reviewing the notes from Renee Hobb’s Skype session with ECI 520, Spring 2012, indicates that there is no disagreement.  Our bookcasts are not published in an educational context but open on the Web for the world.  That’s what makes the difference in being able to use copyrighted materials with complete choice for appropriation, sampling, remix, whatever versus needing to understand the principle of transformativeness that determines if you and your students are truly repurposing copyright materials or, in fact, infringing on the creator’s rights.  This is the relevant information from the notes:

Copyright Law also guarantees Protection for the User of Copyrighted Material – Important for Teachers! Why are teachers granted so much protection with regard to copyright and fair use? Because we spread knowledge! ☺ • Special Part of the Law – Section 110 – Face to Face teaching part of the law – You the teacher can use any copyrighted material (legally acquired) in a face-to-face setting for teaching and learning; also extends to digital online settings when the venue is closed to your educational setting (e.g., school, school system, class, university, etc.; tools that might support this closed network might include Moodle, Blackboard, etc.). • User Rights, Section 107 – Doctrine of Fair Use Act – users do not have to pay for or ask for permission if in weighing the balance between benefit and harm, the use is deemed to be socially beneficial enough to outweigh the potential harm. This is also where the law gives us the right as teachers and scholars to use bits and pieces of others’ work to create new knowledge (e.g., direct quotation, paraphrasing, summarizing, etc.). o See User Rights, Section 107 Music Video: http://mediaeducationlab.com/2-user-rights-section-107-music-video

Anything you have heard that tries to quantify Fair Use is wrong (e.g., 10%, 30 seconds, etc.); this was a guideline written in the 1970s when lawyers of media met with education groups – guidelines can never be used to support the law or enforcement of the law – they are not law! (Hobbs, 2012)

So consider the context in which your work and that of your students will be published — educational context that is closed or the wide open Web where we interact and impact the rights of others.

Still worried about dragons?  Watch master teacher and copyright navigator Bill Ferriter as he makes the most of a teachable moment to share what he has learned about standing on the shoulders of others.  And go forth confidently — but wisely and respectfully.

[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/AYG7yEIC?p=1 width=”550″ height=”443″]

For more on copyright and fair use, check out the collection of resources that I’m curating, Copyright Remix.  Please note that I produced the Ferriter video and it is used with USDLC’s permission.

As always, comments and questions appreciated.  Let the conversation continue . . .

Working on the Edge of Our Incompetence

18 09 2012

The view is more thrilling; reality sharper, and you’ve never felt so acutely alive than when you’re living and working at “the edge of your incompetence” as Elliot Eisner likes to say.

In the latest Critical Reflections Posts, there was a healthy mix of anxiety and excitement as everyone prepares to design and produce their first bookcasts.  Wisely, many of you have explored multimedia blogging to learn some new tools, practice your troubleshooting skills, and gain some confidence.

Here are some tips for succeeding with bookcasting:

Concept is Everything

You can produce the most technically brilliant bookcast, but if you don’t capture the essence of the book — the theme that spoke to you — then you’re just producing a book trailer or book report.  The middle school kids who connected with Frost’s a Road Less Traveled learned the value of poetry for acknowledging one of humanity’s underlying themes: we are the choices we make.

Story Is Anecdote + Reflection

Also helpful may be “This American Life” creator and star, Ira Glass’s introduction to the building blocks of storytelling — much different from what you learned about writing in high school he says.

Technology Is the Vehicle

If try as you can the images fly by too fast or there’s no fade out for the music as the video ends or any host of technical difficulties that may befall you, do not panic.  And, most importantly, do not lose sleep over it.  You are not being assessed for your technical prowess.  Do your best to tell your story as you’d like, but if things don’t work out then just promise yourself that like General MacArthur you will return and make things better later.

Do remember, as Sonya pointed out in an early blog post, you can find the answer to practically any question by Googling.  Just enclose your question with quotation marks and send it off into the metaverse, and 9 times out of ten  you will find that someone else has not only asked that question but created a tutorial on how to accomplish it.

Intellectual Property Is to Be Respected

Do be forewarned that it is not okay to google and “borrow” an image or music that is not licensed under Creative Commons for repurposing or the author has clearly given her blessing for its use.  A common error is to believe that your video transforms a piece of music and adds value for the public good.  That would, honestly, be rare.  Most likely, your video uses the music to create a mood or tone, and that does not transform the music but merely takes advantage of the composer’s work.  See The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education, Principle 4, Student Use of Copyrighted Materials in Their Own Academic and Creative Work.  You could easily create that same mood or tone with a royalty free selection.  There are several sites for royalty-free music and images on the Bookcasting page.

Screening Your Video in the Bookhenge

To prepare your bookcast for its debut, upload it to YouTube and embed the url in a blog post accomplished by simply pasting in the link.  Be sure to set the privacy to “public.”  Then you can simply send me the link so I can post  on the Video Playlist for our Film Festival.

Do plan on providing the briefest of intros for your work.

Good luck and enjoy your creative process!

Principled Teaching and Learning

11 09 2012

There was laughter, not a little of which may have masked a bit of nervous awkwardness (which Tracey suggests) as we gathered for our first class in the Bookhenge.  For those who would like to revisit those two hours, there is a video archive and accompanying slides and transcript.

Reviewing the products of the session and Critical Reflections posts for the week, I’d offer this brief synthesis of the weeks that were and preview for the week to come.

Principled Practice

First off, our evolving Framework for Learning Through Literature with Young Adults and the principles we’re crafting to link theory to practice.  Here’s a first attempt at a visual way to represent connections I’m seeing.


The general “principled practices” to the left include more specific ones to the right and the green arrows indicate connections (created with MindMeister). Click to enlarge.

I opted for the term “principled practices” to better achieve that real connection between theory and practice that many of us expressed that we hope this process will encourage.

For an example of principled teaching made visible through critical reflection, I’d recommend Chad’s latest blog post: “What We Made Today, September 6, 2012.  His mantra seems to be: “We need to write, make, and play along our students.”

And for more on social-emotional learning (or the affective as Doug reported in his introduction of the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy), I’d recommend this dream team panel with Daniel Goleman of emotional intelligence fame and George Lucas who needs no introduction though you may not have been aware of his educational non-profit, Edutopia.

Finally, on the topic of principled practice, at the heart of the NCSU College of Education mission is the goal of promoting social justice.  We’ll do all we can this semester to bring this noble cause to the practical level by including it in our principled practice at every opportunity.  Jessica Wise’s powerful video, “How Fiction Can Affect Reality,” should become a touchstone for our work.


Thanks to our scouts who are boldly going into the new world of multiple media for sharing on the Web.  SoundClouds enthusiasts are many.  We also have two courageous vloggers:  Caroline and DougSonya has designed a multimedia approach that often includes audio and video.  And Teresa invented her own multimedia format for storytelling that includes dramatic readings, visuals, and well-chosen words.  I’m seeing many other innovations tweeted and look forward to checking them out.

This exploration of multiple forms of media is good preparation to develop a truly unique 21st century literacy that Henry Jenkins calls “transmedia literacy.” You’ll remember Jenkins from Jill’s spirited introduction to Participatory LearningChad includes it as a goal: “I want my all of my children to tell stories across several forms of media.”But in addition to multiple forms of media, we need to consider multiple genres of expression, too.  Remember Oldfather and Dahl’s research findings that motivation for literacy learning today is a result of a lack of “self expression and personal response” in English Language Arts programs.  Readers need to explore not only new technologies and media but forms of storytelling.Toward this goal, we’ll try our hand at bookcasting.  Bookcasting uses video as a medium for expressing personal responses to literature.  I’ve written much about it.  See the course wiki and the North Carolina Bookcasting Festival.  Essentially, it’s sharing the story of the personal theme that you take from the book.  Actor-Writer Stephen Tobolowsky describes the principle eloquently when he describes how to “put life into a performance or piece of writing.”

“Where there’s truth, there’s life. … Aristotle talked about something called techne. … There is a little jolt that we get when we recognize the truth, and it gives us a little burst of pleasure. Aristotle said it is the basis of comedy and it is the basis of all drama, trying to find techne. I think that’s helped me in my comedic acting, and it’s certainly helped me in writing my book, in that I have to have faith in what really happened, and I hope that techne is created in people’s brains as either they read or if they watch me on screen. … When we see truth in someone else’s story, we recognize it as part of a universal story.”

The best way to prepare for bookcasting is to watch this “poemcast” response to Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken.  This Ramapo Middle School student discovered truth in it and was inspired to tell a story that of her own decision-making, “A Hard Choice.”  Hats off to Bernajean Porter for her ground-breaking work with digital storytelling.

See you in the Bookhenge soon!  Please do add comments, questions, resources to this post.  It’s good practice for the commenting we’re beginning for our collaborative critical inquiries beginning with the Promise and the Peril Collaborative Critical Inquiry.