TTT #296 String Art with Fred Mindlin - 05.09.12
Fred inspires and entertains all of us in this episode of TTT: +Lacy Manship/@now_awake, +Gail Desler/@GailDesler, +Kelsey Shelhart, +Denise Colby/@Niecsa, +Paul Allison/@paulallison, +Chad Sansing/@chadsansing, and +Diana Maliszewski/@mzmollytl.
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.