To get the full effect, take a moment to find some string before you listen to this episode of TTT. How much? Fred says, "About two meters or a little over 6 feet is usually a good length. Hold the string between your two hands stretched out as wide as they go, then add about 6 inches."
Fred explains that he was "inspired by the session we had with teachers using Minecraft, where we explored an online game world via another virtual world, http://edtechtalk.com/node/5102 and I was intrigued by whether it would be feasible to explore a meatspace game in our virtual Teachers Teaching Teachers forum." He sees "string games as a gateway to keyboarding and creativity or finger calisthenics, and computer keyboarding: media magic for tradigital storytelling."
Playing games with string is a human cultural universal. This ancient art form is surprisingly helpful in developing both the manual dexterity and strength needed for computer keyboarding. The approach I use for teaching string games to groups also provides a helpful practice ground for some of life's essential skills: creativity, resilience, cooperation, and storytelling.
And that's not all. Here's an excerpt and a couple of photos from a post that Diana wrote shortly after this episode of TTT:
There were some great quotes that Chad, a fellow participant, shared via Twitter. (I can't recall them all - they were things like "it's important to model failure" and "string games are 'digital' fun".) What I realized was how potent teaching string games would be to analyze your own teaching practice. Listening to Fred teach the group how to make a 3-pronged spear made me hyper-aware of how important detailed, clear instructions are, and the different learning styles at play. The first time I tried it, I failed. The second time, when Fred re-explained and added a few "notice this part here" tips, I did it! I cheered pretty loudly when I succeeded. My webcam wasn't working on Google +, so I convinced my daughter to take a photo of my accomplishment.
I made a 3-pronged spear! Here's proof!
A less complimentary shot of me, with my string jedi master Fred on-screen
Fred mentioned that there are several books and YouTube videos that explain, step by step, how to make different shapes. I think I need a person near me to give feedback (though the string collapsing in unrecognizable shapes is pretty immediate feedback too). I gave myself a goal - to teach the kids in my SK and Grade 7 classes how to make the 3-pronged spear and do it to music at a June assembly. I'm repeating it here so it'll be my contract to myself to try it out and report what results.
Do you garden with your students? Do they make things? And do they read and write about these experiences, and sometimes publish the results online?
On this episode of Teachers Teaching Teachers, you'll hear National Writing Project teachers from Colorado, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, and California describe the gardens and writing projects they are doing with their students.
One of the guests, Patricia Paugh, recently did a session at the National Writing Project’s Urban Sites Network meeting in Boston.
Adventures in Text Analysis: Reading and Writing a Community Garden Project Mary Moran and Patricia Paugh,
This session investigates theories related to genre pedagogy enacted in a year-long project on community gardening in an urban neighborhood. The session will include analysis of multi-genre texts and sharing of artifacts related to purposeful writing by students who worked with an urban farming collaborative. (Patricia C. Paugh, is an Associate Professor Department of Curriculum & Instruction at the University of Massachusetts Boston.)
We were also joined by an elementary school teacher, Denise Ferrell, who told us about the multiple garden projects she has been doing with Annie Ortiz and other colleagues at the Skyline Elementary in Stillwater, Oklahoma:
We are fortunate at Skyline to have several kinds of gardens. We have a butterfly garden, an 83 ft raised bed, 5 small square raised beds, a cistern, some small dwarf fruit trees. We also have an outdoor classroom.
Fred Mindlin, Associate Director for Technology Integration at the Central California Writing Project, joined us from a Whole Foods store! Fred has been working with gardeners and digital stories and videos, and more as part of the National Writing Project’s Makes project.
Marshall Woody from the Southern Colorado Writing Project who has just starting gardening with his students, was on the call with us as well.
Click Read more to see a copy of the chat that was happening during the webcast.
Social Media, Construction and 5th and 6th Grade Tech
arvind discusses Hewitt School's venture into Facebook and Twitter. Vinnie discusses the construction project that his school is diving into. Alex discusses teaching 5th and 6th grade Tech Classes in the fall. We wrapped with some conversation about Google and its recent upgrades.