Youth Theater Performance - this week in NYC!

Insight Project Presents a Staged Reading of Brazil, December 16-18

Insight Project is a comprehensive theatre-making class offered by the Court Employment Project (CEP), an alternative-to-incarceration program addressing the needs of court-involved youth at CASES. CASES Insight Project presents Brazil - a powerful meditation on hope and the distances between action and intention in the lives of seven young New Yorkers. Brazil will be presented as a staged reading from December 16-18th at 8pm, in the Lion Theatre at Theatre Row Studios, 410 W 42nd St, located between 9th and 10th Avenues.

For many of the student actors, Insight Project is their first exposure to theater, and their first experience having a public platform where they can communicate their personal narratives. The past performance cycle included five shows seen by a total audience of over 250 people.

Insight Project uses performance to engage communities in a conversation about the underlying issues of offending behavior. Insight Project student actors work collaboratively with writer-in-residence Todd Pate to create a script reflective of their resilient life experiences. Each cycle produces an original peformance exploring themes that come out of directed improvisation sessions with the company, writer-in-residence and CASES staff. Alumni receive support services as they further their performance interests, as well as personal and vocational goals. Insight Project is directed by CEP teacher Daniel Stageman.

Brazil runs three nights at the Lion Theatre at Theatre Row Studios, 410 West 42nd Street (between 9th and 10th Avenues), on December 16th, 17th, and 18th at 8pm. As the event will be presented as a staged reading, tickets are now free, though an RSVP is appreciated via phone at 212.279.4200, or online at www.ticketcentral.com listed as Insight Project presents: Brazil. Subways are A,C,E to Port Authority; N,R,Q,W,1,2,3,7 to Times Square.

The mission of CASES is to increase the use and understanding of community sanctions that are fair, affordable, and consistent with public safety. www.cases.org .


CFP: Media in Transition 6: stone and papyrus, storage and transmission

it's baaaack! another call for papers for the 6th media in transition conference. i thoroughly enjoyed the 2005 meeting, which focused on the "work of stories," and this one looks like it will generate yet another excellent collection of papers and presentations

Media in Transition 6: stone and papyrus, storage and transmission

International Conference
April 24-26, 2009
Massachusetts Institute of Technology


In his seminal essay “The Bias of Communication” Harold Innis distinguishes between time-based and space-based media. Time-based media such as stone or clay, Innis agues, can be seen as durable, while space-based media such as paper or papyrus can be understood as portable, more fragile than stone but more powerful because capable of transmission, diffusion, connections across space. Speculating on this distinction, Innis develops an account of civilization grounded in the ways in which media forms shape trade, religion, government, economic and social structures, and the arts.

Our current era of prolonged and profound transition is surely as media-driven as the historical cultures Innis describes. His division between the durable and the portable is perhaps problematic in the age of the computer, but similar tensions define our contemporary situation. Digital communications have increased exponentially the speed with which information circulates. Moore's Law continues to hold, and with it a doubling of memory capacity every two years; we are poised to reach transmission speeds of 100 terabits per second, or something akin to transmitting the entire printed contents of the Library of Congress in under five seconds.

Such developments are simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying. They profoundly challenge efforts to maintain access to the vast printed and audio-visual inheritance of analog culture as well as efforts to understand and preserve the immense, enlarging universe of text, image and sound available in cyberspace.

What are the implications of these trends for historians who seek to understand the place of media in our own culture?

What challenges confront librarians and archivists who must supervise the migration of print culture to digital formats and who must also find ways to preserve and catalogue the vast enlarging universe of words and images generated by new technologies?

How are shifts in distribution and circulation affecting the stories we tell, the art we produce, the social structures and policies we construct?

What are the implications of this tension between storage and transmission for education, for individual and national identities, for notions of what is public and what is private?

We invite papers from scholars, journalists, media creators, teachers, writers and visual artists on these broad themes.

Potential topics might include:
  • The digital archive
  • The future of libraries and museums
  • The past and future of the book
  • Mobile media
  • Historical systems of communication
  • Media in the developing world
  • Social networks
  • Mapping media flows
  • Approaches to media history
  • Education and the changing media environment
  • New forms of storytelling and expression
  • Location-based entertainment
  • Hyperlocal media and civic engagement
  • New modes of circulation and distribution
  • The transformation of television -- from broadcast to download
  • Cosmopolitanism backlashes against media change
  • Virtual worlds and digital tourism
  • The continuity principle: what endures or resists digital transformation?
  • The fate of reading
Abstracts of no more than 500 words or full papers should be sent to Brad Seawell at seawell@mit.edu no later than Friday, Jan. 9, 2009. We will evaluate abstracts and full papers on a rolling basis and early submission is highly encouraged. All submissions should be sent as attachments in a Word format. Submitted material will be subject to editing by conference organizers. Email is preferred, but submissions can be mailed to:

Brad Seawell
MIT 14N-430
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139


scenes from an election

tuesday afternoon, 11/4, along walnut street, from university city to west philly, a group of girls - ranging in age from 8, 9 years old up through high school ago, holding an obama/biden banner, and matching signs and chanting impromptu cheers, waving at passers-by and getting high-fived by strangers


three ten-year-olds playing a hybrid dodgeball/soccer game on the grounds of a high school respond to a joking question about whether they voted with a serious answer: of course! then, in unison, "obama!!!!" they return to playing their game, grins on their faces.


ms. edwards, a veteran resident of the neighborhood, known and loved (and possibly feared) by all, stands with a kind and menacing air and addresses each voter as he or she passes through the doors of the high school. she is very concerned with the condition of everyone's teeth and is overjoyed when she sees a beautiful set of pearly whites on one young man who has come to vote. she dotes on him, as only a (grand)motherly figure can do, on his way and on his way out. he grins wider, giving her more reason to continue her praise. "you made my day just now," says the young man, who was born in new york and whose parents emigrated from africa. he walks away with bounce in his step.



school financing and vouchers

Re: school financing
ldh encourages increased and strategic investments in order to get achievment gains; requires a rethinking of how $$ is spent in k-12 schooling. Re: vouchers, suggests looking at this report by IES, which states that vouchers have made no significant difference in student achievement: http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pdf/20084023.pdf

some dispute between lgk and ldh about the impact of vouchers on student achievement. when invited by sf to list research that people should read, ldh offers the above IES report as one piece of research. lgk chuckled and said that tc is a school of education and should be able to find it.

editorializing aside, there was disagreement about how to invest in schooling. e.g., investing in the career ladder and support throughout a career vs. merit pay. this led to an interesting back and forth between the impact of alternative teacher certification programs. candidates have differences in how they aim to support and cultivate the teaching profession. Mccain apparently wants to put money – redirected funds from Title 2, prof dev funds – in programs like TFA, which is focused on achievement, and whose graudates go on to become leaders and founders of charter schools, like Michelle Rae (again). ldh disputed claims that TFA teachers stay, and cited research that indicates that alt cert, without any formal or prior support, decreases percentage of teachers who stay, and is counterintuitive to an effort towards cultivating a teaching profession - as she mentioned earlier, investing in a career ladder.

closing thoughts now... more to come...

role of education in campaigns

when asked about the role of education in each of the campaigns, both describe candidates' legislative commitments to "education," though difficult for mccain's advisor to overcome her candidates' record...

fuhrman presses: have the candidates given enough attention to education?
lgk: disputes ldh's claim that mccain has been brief in his mentions about education. notes that when mentions are made, not picked up in media. frustrating.

ldh: agrees with the point that media is lax in picking up on major educ speeches - not just a partisan issue. however, efforts must be led by someone who understands benefits of education. earlier, she made the claim that $1 investment in early childhood education yields $5-7 later in child's life in the form of decreased educational failure, remediation, etc.

lmv editorial (that's me :) ) - interesting point about early childhood ed... wondering whether we can fold in importance of reduced class sizes...

the nclb question - what would your candidate do when it comes up for reauthorization?
ldh: we need to rethink our assessment/examination system - e.g., like what other countries are doing, not just multiple choice, but inquiry driven work.
lgk: state standards and assessments need to stay in place. the problem of doing portfolios is that you can't compare kids. you can have fabulous, formative portfolios in the instructional process, but you can have a great question that you have to fill in. offers the following sites to be able to know where you stand in relation to other schools: greatschools.net

ldh - we're stuck in a 50s conception of standardized testing, and not thought about undertaking a different form of testing, auditing, monitoring -- and as a result, teaching higher order thinking skills, engendering greater inquiry, not just bubbling in all day.

lgk - fine if all students get the same test. no one should be bubbling in - that's a lousy school!

more to come..

candidates' education advisors debate @ tc

and we're off! the event, officially titled "education and the next president," has commenced with the welcome by pres. fuhrman and her call for greater attention to be paid to education, given its significance for the emerging global issues we face. she will moderate the discussion between lisa graham keegan, advisor to john mccain, and linda darling-hammond, advisor to barack obama.

we're learning about keegan and darling-hammond now, via fuhrman's intros.

the format: fuhrman will ask questions on a range of topics (45 minutes, of 2 minute responses), then each speaker will pose a question to the other. then, questions from the audience.

first question: how would barack obama differ from mccain as an education president?
ldh: obama would clearly be better. understands this from personal experience and also from analytic perspective - e.g. other countries pulling ahead, which have invested in early childhood ed, health care of children, teacher education funding, curriculum and asssessment directed pointed to 21st century skills, and increased college access. has a record of this congress.
mccain has typically voted against these investments in congress. not a high priority to him.

q to lgk: re: mccain's interest in joel klein's and al sharpton's work with educational equity project in nyc, compelling, and wants to support:
- increasing quality of teachers in high needs schools
- numbers of choices parents have about educating their kids

sf: importance of education to each of your campaigns - do you get (and how much) face time with him?


cfp: nctear 2009

Literacy, Culture, Learning, and Life in Schools: Research and Designs for Change
February 13-15, 2009; University of California, Los Angeles
Co-chairs: Kris Gutierrez and Ernest Morrell

The Assembly for Research of the National Council of Teachers of English announces a conference on “Literacy, Culture, Learning, and Life in Schools: Research and Designs for Change”, to be held February 13-15, 2009 at The University of California, Los Angeles in Los Angeles, CA. In this call, we would like researchers and educators to consider what it means to explore the connections between literacy theory and research and the study and design of powerful literacy learning spaces for youth.

After a generation of pioneering scholarship in literacy and learning theory and research we are still faced with extreme challenges, some methodological, some pertaining to applications of research to practice and policy. We are also still faced with the reality that class, race, and language background still largely define equity, access, and achievement in literacy classrooms and therefore, the life outcomes of students. With that in mind our goal is to convene literacy and learning scholars, theorists, activists, and practitioners around the globe to discuss the applications of recent movements in literacy and learning theory and research to classro om practice, to understanding classroom life, and to the development of progressive educational policy.

Key Goals
  1. To understand how current movements in literacy and/or learning research can and should inform classroom life for historically marginalized students. This involves both the study of classroom life and the shaping of students’ experiences inside of classrooms.
  2. To understand how recent advances in literacy research are reshaping the very tools that we use to understand literacy practices across a wide range of activity settings including schools and homes.
  3. To assess design interventions that have applied literacy theory and research to classroom curricula and pedagogy in order to understand what we have learned about design research as a methodological approach and what we have learned about effecti ve literacy classroom practice.
  4. To identify challenges, contradictions, and future directions for literacy researchers interested in the nexus of theory, literacy research, and literacy development among historically marginalized populations.
  5. To consider the “appropriate” goals and outcomes of literacy research for radical citizenship, for classroom practice, for policy development, and for action for social change. (What do we want and how will we know if we are heading in the right direction?)
  6. To articulate and develop powerful theories of literacy teaching and literacy learning that emerge from our interrogation of existing theory and research.

Key Questions
  1. Q: What do we know about the applications of literacy and/or learning research to pedagogical practices in literacy classrooms with histories of underachievement? What are the core tenets of successful practices? What is the research base that supports the identification of these tenets?
  2. Q: What are powerful examples of practice? What should we learned from studying these practices?
  3. How do we best study literacy and learning inside and outside of classrooms?
  4. Q: What is gained by broadening the focus from classrooms to studying larger ecologies? How do third generation activity theory, mutli-sited ethnographies, and recent work in the field problematize and push upon dichotomies of home/school, classrooms/not classrooms, etc?
  5. Q: What are the various home, community, popular cultural, and new media literacies that students bring with them into classrooms? How are these li teracies being accessed and positioned within classrooms?
  6. Q: Where do we need to go next with respect to making connections between theory, literacy research, and classroom practice?
We welcome proposals grounded in diverse perspectives, including, among others: the learning sciences, critical race, postcolonial, postmodern, multicultural, feminist and queer theories; critical discourse analysis; critical and anti-racist pedagogies; and ethnic, cultural, cross-cultural, design, experimental, quasi-experimental, case study, ethnography, historical and comparative/international st udies. We invite proposals that focus on empirical research including teacher/action research, as well as conceptual/theoretical work.

Proposals (no more than 2 single-spaced pages) should address the following: The research question(s), methodology, findings/issues/questions for discussion, and how the research will contribute to the conference conversation. If your paper is a conceptual/theoretical one, please describe your theoretical framework and argument and tell how it will contribute to the conference conversation. We are strongly encouraging the participati on of classroom teachers and graduate students so, if you are currently a classroom teacher or graduate student, please indicate so in your proposal. Please send all proposals to nctear2009@gmail.com. The deadline for conference submissions is December 1, 2008.


visualizing data

i saw this a while ago in nytimes and facebooked it, but have begun exploring it anew this week:

Many Eyes: http://services.alphaworks.ibm.com/manyeyes/home - presents ideas about how to visualize sets of data, including using wordle.net and other nifty apps.


rereading "reading next"

in prep for an article i'm working on, i've been doing some rereading of documents that produced within the last few years, which focus on the literacies of adolescents. one such set of documents are two reports put out by the carnegie corporation's advancing literacy project.
below: a rereading of the executive summary of "reading next: a vision for action and research in middle and high school literacy" (made possible by wordle.net)
(click to really see, and then consider what you see - and don't see)

new year, new possibilities, same ol' bullsh*T!

i'm rarely surprised by the continued rhetoric of pro-gun folks who say that we shouldn't blame the gun; that guns don't kill people, people kill people, etc... however, during her interview with charlie gibson on 20/20, sarah palin, when asked about gun control - specifically the fact that she does not support a ban on semi-automatic guns (a ban that over 70% of this country supports, btw), palin's response incensed me anew. palin and gibson had the following exchange:
charlie: isn't gun violence in america a health issue? we spend billions of dollars a year, every year, treating people who are victims of gun violence. nothing we can do about that?

sarah: do you think that all of that gun violence, though, is caused by people pulling a trigger who would have followed any law anyway?
she goes on to worry about the constraints that gun control laws may place constraints on the 2nd amendment rights of "law abiding citizens" and states that "it's going to be the bad guys who have the guns."

having spent most of the nearly 15 years talking, learning, and thinking with adolescents living in two of the major northeastern cities in the united states, there is fact that remains uncontested: guns are readily available, and in many cases more readily available than what one might consider "basic needs" - e.g., food, shelter, utilities... i say this not to sensationalize the lives of the young people with whom i've spent time, but rather to highlight an assumption that is embedded in palin's statement above: that people who use guns to commit violent acts are not and would not be "law abiding citizens", under any circumstance, and more importantly, that guns are only misused by "bad guys"... what would she (and others who share her view) say, i wonder, when asked to consider the reality of a thriving gun market in our urban neighborhoods; the overabundance of and ready access to automatic and semi-automatic weapons must be taken seriously, and not set within a pedestrian framework of good and bad, law-abiding and unlawful,

the likely truth is that lifetime gun association members aren't thinking about the lives lost and dreams squandered when they repeatedly lobby against legislation that would, in no way, hinder their hunting and sport-related gun needs. unless there is a sport that involves literally shattering game into a million pieces, i'm at a loss when it comes to understanding how a ban on semi-automatic 'weapons of mass destruction' theatens anyone's hunting 'privilege' and gun toting rights.

do i favor a land without guns. certainly. but the larger issue is this: if legislators continue to associate gun violence with an inherent 'bad' trait or disposition, we will only continue the cycle of incarceration, rising health care costs, and urban neighborhoods whose populations are largely under some form of correctional control. a limit on the sheer numbers of guns on the streets and in the hands of children will have an impact in the reduction of, at the very least, gun violence. additionally, when we shift our gaze away from an ontological assumption of illegality, we are better able to address problems in effective and useful ways. if we ban semi-automatic weapons, and we increase support for, e.g., higher education, we open up possibilities that are not only about not doing something, but also about pursuing new avenues. this is not, contrary to popular belief, a fairytale.

as a final rejoinder to ms. palin's assertion, i offer this video:

click here for more on andrés idarraga


"real cost of prisons project" - comics

in what amounts to a happy accident, i learned about about these graphic novels that are a project of the real cost of prisons project. each offers another dimension of insight into the social and financial economics involved in the prison industry. they are available as pdf (by clicking on the links) and also in bound comic format. the titles:

Prison Town: Paying the Price

By Kevin Pyle and Craig Gilmore

Prisoners of the War on Drugs
By Sabrina Jones, Ellen Miller-Mack and Lois Ahrens

Prisoners of a Hard Life: Women and Their Children
By Susan Willmarth, Ellen Miller-Mack, and Lois Ahrens

see the site for more info on the comics, excellent 1-pager flyers (like the one below - click to see image full size), and more on the project.

from flyer:
national average cost to imprison a person for one year: $ 29,041

national average cost of one year of community college: $1,518


come to church, get a gun

i read a story today, linked from cnn's homepage, about a youth conference being held at a church. the event, itself, is not news per se. the fact that there was to be a gun giveaway was, however, news indeed. to be precise, a semiautomatic assault rifle was dangled as additional enticement to increase participation. (read more here)
this is particularly unsettling given the persistence of gun violence that many communities continue to experience.

the story of 10-year-old nujood ali presents another perspective on religion and violence. nujood lives in yemen and was married off to a man in his 30s by her parents. her story became news not because of her newly acquired status as a child bride, but because she walked herself into a courthouse and politely asked for a divorce. from the la times article:
"Her impoverished parents had married her off to a man more than three times her age, who beat her and forced her to have sex, she explained. When she told her father and mother that she wanted out of the marriage, they refused to help. So an aunt provided her with bus money to travel to court and seek a divorce."
(see her story here)

the youth at the conference and nujood and the many other child brides around the world are receiving an education all their own. with its own standards, evaluations, assumptions, and expectations. oh my...


multimodality & learning conference

i'm here in london attending the multimodality and learning conference, and having a fabulous time! not only b/c the weather is lovely and everyone says 'cheers' :), but also b/c getting out the national context with which i'm familiar and engaging with a range of international discourses about multimodality and about learning

the conference was kicked off with a kick ass talk by charles goodwin, whose conceptualization of human communication as being constituted simultaneously by language (the linguistic stuff), embodied action (how the body reveals engagement in the communication), and engagement with the surrounding structures (or how the environment is consequential to the communication). then today, gunther kress followed up with another keynote in which he proposed a social semiotic theory of learning - two concepts (semiotics and learning) which, as he put it, are not common bedfellows. pushing against (or maybe past) a traditionally psychological model of learning, gunther suggests that when we research learning - or propose to research learning - we might not really be doing that at all. that in fact, we might actually be looking at environments or conditions of learning. makes me think about connections to varenne's recent work on retheorizing education...

i'm loving the explicit talk of power in these presentations about multimodality - something we either seem to shy away from or dichotomize in the states. i'm not sure why that is... also a rich interrogation and exploration of multimodality: pedagogically, theoretically, methodologically; and it relates to literacies, language and identity, meanings across space and time, and math and science.

there's LOTS more but i'm out of battery and forgot both my charger and converter, so this will have to do for now.


school on film: "entre les murs"

a french film about a teacher, teaching, learning, and students... the film portrays "real-life teachers and students" - the description of the format reminds me of bubble.

the trailer for "entre les murs" (english title: "the class")


school 2.0?

colin and michele are giving their keynote at the learning 2.0 conference, being held today at montclair and co-org'd by dana & michele. their talk is focused on the "twoness" of "learn 2.0" and they've begun with a review of the leap from web 1.0 to web 2.0 - highlighting the participatory nature of this shift, and raising the issue (esp with relevance to sites built of collective knowledge like wikipedia, etc.) of truth... and later, credit (as in, whose idea is it?)... and the significance of

so the issue of school 2.0 - as it connects with learn 2.0 - comes up. michele is talking now and wondering about how our teaching practices must change in a web 2.0 world. namely, how do create spaces for collaboration - true collaboration? and not the kind found in lit circles where someone is the artist, the recorder, the this that and the other thing...

relatedly, i wonder: what is the relationship between learn 2.0 and school 2.0?? which is funny b/c i've thought more about the institution of school in the past 24 hours than i have all semester. hmmm....

for example, they teach a course in which students, in teams, have to engage in the following:
- learn how to program a robot
- document the group's learning in this experience (using video, audio, print)
- analyze the data they have produced and collected
- prepare a scholarly paper/presentation
- present said paper/presentation at a full-on conference
all within the space of a few weeks, one of which they are sequestered at a lodge.

they, of course, explained this project much more eloquently - i'm especially excited about the teasing out of the ideas of collaboration, collective knowledge, truth... and what these ideas look like when they are actually embodied in daily practice.

"it doesn't matter if one person wrote it, or if ten people write it - the result is the same in terms of human benefit." --c. lankshear

re: the above project - participants learn to be researchers by being researchers, not students learning about research. the doing, being, embodying of learn(ing) 2.0 - not a pipe dream; a reality we can't/shouldn't ignore.


writing creatively

i made a pact with a young man today to engage in a form of daily public writing. for me, this means posting to my blog on a more regular basis than i have been doing. we agreed to start with writing for 10 minutes a day. he and i embarked on a creative writing journey last week - i'd like to think that we are co-learners and co-teachers in this experience as we revisit his previous writings together. with each piece of writing he shares with me, i not only learn more about him - as an author, son, brother, student - but also reflect on my own writing self at his age, 17-going-on-18. i, too, had reams and piles and folders filled with papers and notebooks, all covered in my discursive meanderings, scribbles, drawings, reminders, and the like. like him, i, too, often carried all of it with me at all times - in my case, my words felt too fragile to be left lying around for the untrained eye to devour and misunderstand. my personal journal, which i brazenly did keep out in the open, was written in a cryptic french - that is, i wrote in the passive tense and as abstractly as possible, so even if someone was fluent in the language, they would still struggle to make meaning of my entries - as if to dare the trespasser to penetrate my teenage sensibilities.

another young man at the same program has developed a practice of collecting his thoughts in scraps of paper and, more recently, as immediate recordings and messages that he records for himself using his cell phone. when he wants to compose something - lyrics for a song, for example - he knows just which scrap of paper to look for that contains the magical phrase that will unlock the subsequent text.

as i am surrounded almost every day by poets, beat makers, screen writers, essayists, and lyricists, i find myself once again curious about the chaos and crisis that we - educators, researchers, policy makers - impose onto discussions about the practice and craft of writing in the lives of young people today. youth are not writing less - they are writing more and in many more ways and for many more purposes. the questions we should be asking are:
- what do new composing spaces look like?
- how might be we rethink composing pedagogies?
- what kinds of spaces do we provide for multiple forms of writing and composing, more broadly?
- who is shaping/creating/informing the composing space?


it's finally (almost) here! the 8th annual media that matters film festival!

each year, for the past few years - which is as long as i've been aware of it - and always at the same time - early april - i start asking everyone i know if the media that matters film festival date has been announced. when is the screening? when will the films be posted? did i miss it? and to those i've asked - sometimes, often, more than once - i apologize . but invite you, now, to rejoice with me the arrival of the announcement of the 8th annual media that matters film festival. after the screening at the ifc center, the films will be available on the mtm festival website, and join the illustrious collection of the previous years' compilations.
can't wait :)


HER special issue: Adolescent Literacy

check out the latest issue of harvard ed review that focuses on adolescent literacy. table of contents below.

Spring 2008

Introduction :
Why Adolescent Literacy Matters Now

Jacy Ippolito, Jennifer L. Steele, and Jennifer F. Samson

Adolescent Literacy :
Putting the Crisis in Context

Vicki A. Jacobs

Teaching Disciplinary Literacy to Adolescents :
Rethinking Content-Area Literacy

Timothy Shanahan and Cynthia Shanahan

Redefining Content-Area Literacy Teacher Education :
Finding My Voice through Collaboration

Roni Jo Draper

Cognitive Strategy Instruction for Adolescents :
What We Know about the Promise, What We Don’t Know about the Potential

Mark W. Conley

The Complex World of Adolescent Literacy :
Myths, Motivations, and Mysteries

Elizabeth Birr Moje, Melanie Overby, Nicole Tysvaer, and Karen Morris

Toward a More Anatomically Complete Model of Literacy Instruction :
A Focus on African American Male Adolescents and Texts

Alfred W. Tatum

Implementing a Structured Reading Program in an Afterschool Setting :
Problems and Potential Solutions

Ardice Hartry, Robert Fitzgerald, and Kristie Porter

State Literacy Plans :
Incorporating Adolescent Literacy

Catherine Snow, Twakia Martin, and Ilene Berman

Beyond Writing Next :
A Discussion of Writing Research and Instructional Uncertainty

David Coker and William E. Lewis


Conference on the Visual Study of Education (VISE) @ SUNY Albany

accepting photo submissions now - encourage your students/youth/children with whom you work to submit their work for presentation/publication at the fall conference.

more info here: VISE 2008


media by/about youth @ philly film festival

The Bloodlines Video Diary Project
For the 2005-06 school year, Temple University professor Eugene Martin -- in conjunction with Temple’s Media Education Lab -- gave two Philadelphia 8th graders cameras to create video diaries about their school, family and neighborhood life. Ebony is a 14-year-old from North Philadelphia who goes to St. Malachy School, and Dennis is a 13-year-old from Kensington who attends Community Education Partners School. The footage they created is interspersed with interviews with their families and teachers and other footage taken by Martin and his crew. The result is an intimate and fascinating glimpse into the lives of two pretty average kids, including their families, schools and day-to-day emotions and desires." --excerpted from program description

click here for more on philadelphia film festival 2008

new adventures in digital storytelling

story box
from the website description of their story maker:
"StoryMaker is a simple tool for creating digital stories. Using audio, pictures and text you can create storyboards, slideshows and much much more."

just saw it - excited to check it out...!

in the meantime, also checking out the growing list of digital stories that folks are posting on the main page, such as 'grab a granny'


21st century literacies

ncte recently adopted a new definition of what it means to be literate *today* - that is, in a world where "literacies—from reading online newspapers to participating in virtual classrooms—are multiple, dynamic, and malleable." so someone please explain to me why, when this large professional organization - one that embraces the always stimulating ncteAR meetings, whose themes continue to push our thinking about literacies, etc... - is still without the oomph needed to really challenge what gets assessed in the name of literacy across many of our classrooms...*today*?

i thought about this as some teachers i was talking with struggled to make sense of their students performance on assessments that they were mandated to deliver; what didn't make sense was the incongruence between in-class performance and "the score," a trope with which educators are all too familiar.

from the ncte website (with occasional commentary from yours truly):
(click on link for the complete definition)

Twenty-first century readers and writers need to
  • Develop proficiency with the tools of technology (someone tell me how a timed test or fill in bubbles will provide any kind of assessment of technology proficiency? i won't even mention the need to reconceptualize technology/ies as more than mere tools...!)
  • Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally (so when robert leans over to elia to talk through a question he has about the passage he is reading, he shouldn't be reprimanded, correct? or do you only get points for the testable kind of collaboration?)
  • Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes (no, i don't advocate unexamined replacement of "all things school" with social networking profiles, but what might it mean to assume that youth are already engaging in transnational and global practices, communication, and information sharing, packaged in myriad ways?)
  • Manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information (i dare anyone older than 25 to talk to anyone younger than 25 and not witness multiple streams of simultaneous information! all being managed, assessed, engaged, organized with seamless transition)
  • Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multi-media texts (not to belabor the social networking spaces point, but there are some seriously complicated kinds of multimedia text production, analysis, critique happening all the time. youtube, and the unlikely sense of hard-to-deny-community is another example.)
  • Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments (not only is this not something that an easily scored test can measure, but issues of ethics are constantly being discoursed - to borrow david bloome's use of the verb form of this familiar notion - in the communities, spaces, and networks that youth inhabit. lissa soep's work with youth radio is just one example of many that illustrates the level of complexity in young people's thinking surrounding what to story, how to story, and what it means to make someone's story public in particular kinds of ways - e.g., radio, podcast, etc.)
many of us feel the possibility of november 5th, 2008 may bring; but while waiting for sea change, i hope we don't squander daily opportunities to support the literacies of adolescents, which, when unsupported, can sometimes have dire consequences for youth who, for so long, have been told that their very beings are subversive, unwelcome, and in need of remediation...



just read about an exciting sounding book on everydayliteracies:
wikiworld: political economy and the promise of participatory media
- a newly published book by juha suroanta & tere vadén, available here

haven't read it yet, but immediately raises more questions about book publishing, their use of "copyleft" instead of "copyright", and what kind of wiki, wacky, wonderful world we're living in and heading toward.

here's the toc:
1. A Critical Paradigm of Education
2. Digital Literacy and Political Economy
3. Radical Monopolies: Schools, Computer Softwares and Social Media
4. The World Divided in Two
5. Edutopias and the Promise of Active Citizenship
6. From Social Media to Socialist Media


sassy schlepping in style

talk about mobile culture informing fashion (as if we didn't know this already...):

Wear your tech gear, don't schlep it
Fashion follows function as clothing morphs with mobile society

so what? - implications of emerging literacies for classrooms

the kind folks at the tc library organized a book talk focused on our recently published volume, and i was excited that two of the book's contributors - kelly wissman and michele knobel - were able to join me this afternoon. i wasn't quite sure what to expect or how to prepare: how exactly does one "do" a book talk; and what does it look like for an edited volume such as ours? as it turns out, such an event is much like some of my most favorite conference presentations and seminars: generative, participatory, and stimulating. i'm left wondering about what it might mean to take up some of the issues we raised in this volume in the context of web 2.0 technologies and the pervasiveness media distribution and user-generated content.

the afternoon went something like this:
i talked about how the book, as a project, evolved from coffee shop conversation between me and marc, to an opportunity to continue collaborating with friends and colleagues after graduate school, which involved securing a book contract with an accessible publisher and with the enthusiastic support of our series editors, and then inviting and following up with twelve respondents (two for each of six empirically-driven chapters), and finally (insert about a zillion editorial and formatting steps here) was sent off to fantasy-publication-land and came back as a bounded text. but it was all worth it, because the conversation about media and education was sorely lacking in texture. that is, as the chapters in the book reflect, media is more than television, radio, news, and magazine; technology goes beyond computers; and learning is not only what we can measure.
as we write in the intro,
"In this book, we have brought together a collection of studies that not only engage media explicitly but show the range and variation of what media is, how media technologies and media texts can be engaged in teaching/learning spaces, and the challenges raised amidst the possibilities that new media and the emerging multimodal landscape hold for education." (p. 7)
"As the chapters in this volume will show, learning occurs across contexts and through engagement with varied texts, resources, and roles. Beyond merely addressing learning as it is defined through statewide standards or other performance measures, these chapters raise questions about what is learned, for what purposes, and through what means. The authors consider the new relationships, identities, texts, and discourses that emerge as teaching/learning sites themselves. They recognize that “[t]he burden is on us, adults, to carve out ‘spaces,’ to inspire a sense of the ‘not yet,’ to reinvent schools and communities that are engaging for young people” (Fine, 1997, pp.214—215), and that are reflective of who young people are." (p. 7-8)
kelly then read from her chapter, in which she has written about photography as a social practice, extending the social practice metaphor from new literacy studies. drawing on her work with adolescent girls within the context of a photography and literacy elective course she taught in an urban high school, she writes,
"Unlike dominant models of photography instruction that conceive of photography as a set of discrete, technical skills to be mastered, I consider photography as a medium of seeing that is shaped by the social context, by identity, and by experience. Envisioning photography as a social practice recognizes that the images produced are not simply a transparent recording of reality; rather, the images encapsulate a particular framing of that reality that is highly intentional and unique to the individual photographer. Envisioning photography as a social practice also entails considering the social context in which images are produced and received and considering the shaping influence of those contexts on the images and interpretations of those images. To envision photography as a social practice also means to envision photographers as social beings with historical legacies, emergent identities, and social commitments, all of which can inform the production of the images." (p. 14)
these readings and musing gave way to a discussion about the nature of learning, the role of pedagogy, and the possibilities and constraints of embarking on the kind of work that is written about within the pages of our book in public school classrooms today. the data reported in the book was collected pre-web 2.0 era, which can be largely signified by a split in the ready access to mobile technologies - e.g., pre-handheld connectivity and post. i have lamented in the past that even the so-called "net gen" is reluctant to let go of deeply entrenched ideas about schooling - roles, relationships, teaching, learning; college-age youth who walk the walk of digital natives, but whose talking and walking when they enter classrooms reveals a split personality. how long can this walk-n-talk divide continue? that is, at what point will we stop having conversations about whether or not to wire classrooms? (and, as michele and/or colin notes, why wire when you can airport?)

still, the "so what?" remains. marjorie siegel, also in attendance, pushed us to consider why and how the wonderful kinds of learning, media engagement, reflexivity, and creativity in which the youth in the edited volume were engaged has implications for teachers. much like the recent movement toward a more public anthropology initiated by the council on anthropology and education, the impact on/for classrooms is a question/challenge that more of us (esp. literacies researchers) should embrace (and not shy away from, as i am prone to do...!). to that end, here are a couple of thoughts on the question of "so what?":
- the out-of-school literate lives of youth are rich, textured, and spaces full of new insights about learning
- the availability of multiple modes (of expression, communication, inquiry) affords new narratives and new ways of being
- the presence of new modalities for communication can shift the dynamics of power in teaching and learning relationships toward the elusive "with" pedagogical stance - e.g., teaching and learning with youth, with media...
- if we understand education to be situated in everyday interactions (see Varenne, 2007), then we can understand the creative practices of youth to be hallmarks of rigorous and thoughtful planning, preparation, assessment and achievement by youth as they engage in their education everyday. such spaces are rare within the
- (some) creative spaces turn schooling on its head by transforming the physical geography (the stuff that's around, location, how structures are situated in relation to each other) as well as the spatial dynamics (how objects are used, roles established) (see some creative workspaces)

the list is getting long and the hour is getting late and i suspect that this is just the beginning of a series of musings. so, on a hopeful note, i'll end this with a link to someone else's thoughts on seeeeeriously cool workplaces.


if you watch nothing else, watch this



vidding highlights

this morning began with a screening and genealogical tour of vidding. this screening was curated by laura shapiro, who is a vidder herself. from the media res website, here's a brief description: "Vidding is a form of grass-roots filmmaking in which footage, most frequently from television shows or movies, is edited to music."

and here's a video by the california crew, some of the earliest vidders, who offer a metaview of vidding in a vid.

"pressure" - a metavid by the california crew

the screening moved through approximately twenty or so vids, each reflecting a different moment in vidding history. moving from the use of two vcrs and stopwatches, as reflected in the "pressure" metavid, to vids that digitized material available on vhs tapes, to current practices of completely digitized processes. one of the products of the latter is the following vid, which brings together two of my favorite pieces of media: house and dps.

If We Shadows Have Offended...


currently, we're in a screening of AMVs...


ok, first some catching up from the second part of day 1 (yesterday). i spent the afternoon in a screening of youtube clips curated by a youth media program, youthlab. below are a few that caught my attention and made guffaw and chortle and go hmmmm....

internet people:

someone did a version with the flash clips replaced by the original clips from whence they hail: Internet People! - Real Clips Version


done to the tune of fergie's fergilicious. also check them out on
wikipedia - at one point, they were the most requested tune on miami radio.

police brutality - go skateboarding day: cop vs skaters

this just left me speechless. see also angry teacher - the students got suspended and the teacher was encouraged to take an anger management class.



there's a session going on now called "state of the art" in which at least two of the last three speakers have engaged with the realm of activism and human rights in conjunction with video. thenmozhi soundarajan, of third world majority, shared video produced when twm first began seven years ago. and shared some insights from teaching youth and participants who were used to "not being seen, but still needing to be heard" - asking the question what does real media equity look like?

sam gregory, of the org witness, is talking now. the org partners with human rights orgs to help them create video in service of their campaigns. they've launched the hub, a video distribution site and, as gregory argues, an important alternative to the oft-used youtube. he asks the following questions about video, human rights, action (paraphrased):
- what are the expectations of privacy in a ‘facebook era’?
- while we continue to emphasize transparency and deemphasize privacy, who benefits? Who pays the price?
- informed consent?
- How does remix culture relate to human rights?
e.g., we laugh at W when he is remixed, but not at Burmese victim, sweatshop worker?
- how do we motivate action?

the hub is intended to take seriously the need to contextualize diy video and mobilize action in response. to which he notes: "it isn’t voice if nobody seems be listening"



eric garland is talking now about diy video distribution. he defines diy video as video that is:
user created
user appropriated
user distributed

he is affiliated with bigchampagne, a media measurement company. as they write on their website: "In short, we collect information about how and where people enjoy popular music, movies and other stuff, and then we analyze the information to tell you what titles are most popular, who's interested, and why."

there's a chart online that talks about the 53% growth of computers with bittorrent client installed between 5/2005 and 9/2007. in a nutshell, people are downloading a crapload of episodes of 'lost' and 'grey's anatomy' - you know who you are, so 'fess up!

regular users of diy distribution networks - at least 1x weekly - is up to 60 million people, nationwide.

continuing on the thread of how (some) videos spread virally, garland references the widely circulated yes we can video, which apparently had no actual distribution strategy outside of will.i.am sending it out to "a few people." having received the video in my email last week, i can attest to its virality. this takes 'six degrees' to a whole new level...

michael wesch - getting viral

people watching one of wesch's videos

wesch, the creator of the viral web 2.0 video, is talking now about how the digital ethnography of youtube he is currently engaged in, got started.

how does one actually study/research something so fleeting, so expanding, so growing?

right now, we're watching this video. see it.

other concepts that get trippy on youtube:
participant observation

whilst david buckingham talks on the subject of video...

i'm sitting in the back row and have a lovely view of the backs of people's heads, and the faces of their laptop screens. just in front of me, a man is participating in the summit in second life while he physically sits in/at the summit in 'first' life. clikety clacks echo throughout the room, as buckingham is proffering an overview some key themes and perspectives related to video - which he suggests is a media form unlike any other, perhaps especially given it's amateurish potential? - and frames his current exploration of video camera usage.

db notes that he is moving "towards a social theory of technology, cultural practice – how do we understand the place of the amateur; creativity and learning – how technologies are used in social and historical settings." really: what’s happening here?

that's a curious question, but one that i like to go back to regardless of the topic. that is, quite simply, what's going on?

greetings from 24/7 diy video summit!

it's beautiful outside - a breezy 70 degrees. and i'm blogging from the 24/7 diy video summit at usc. lots of fun people here, including and beyond the invited speakers. michele knobel is sitting with me in the back row, and also in the room, korina jocson - one of our authors from the book (shameless plug), and stephanie schmier - a tc grad student whose dissertation is currently in progress and is going to be fabulous!

the first panel has just begun - i'll post more on that as the day progresses. in the meantime, here's some immediately relevant info for those who can't be here corporeally:

live streaming conference video: http://iml.usc.edu/diy/local

conference second life: http://slurl.com/secondlife/IML/60/128/52


co-opting 'critical literacy'

i was an undergraduate student when i applied to work at a literacy conference sponsored by the national center on adult literacy. paulo freire was scheduled to be the plenary speaker during dinner one evening. at the time, i didn't know who freire was, and it would be a few more years before i would read pedagogy of the oppressed. my invitation to this dinner was part of the renumeration for stuffing folders, directing foot traffic, and manning the registration desk over the course of the conference. in the moment, it was merely one of several odd jobs i had during those undergrad years. since then, however, i've come to appreciate the significance and serendipity of such an unlikely occurrence. freire passed away just two years later, in 1997.

freire's legacy is vast, and has had profound impacts on our understandings and approaches to education and educational theory. ira shor, donald macedo, and others have written with and about freire in the area of critical pedagogy and liberatory education. the possibilities of education to be transformative have also been taken up by scholars who focus their attention on the contested terrain of literacy, among them lesley bartlett, colin lankshear, allan luke, margaret hagood, and stephanie jones. freire, himself, penned the oft-cited work (with donald macedo) literacy: reading the word and the world, where he famously argues that an understanding of the world in which one lives always precedes the act of decoding alphabetic print.

given the nuanced and multidimensional terrain that has come to be known as 'critical literacy,' i was particularly perturbed when i read the following headline that reduces such complexity to a couple of discrete skills:

Adolescent Literacy Targeted with "Critical Literacy" Series: Making Inferences and Figurative Language

in short, walch publishing has launched a series that builds on the growing sense of panic surrounding the literacy of adolescents, and describes the 2-book critical literacy series this way:

Target students' skills in understanding, analyzing, and applying figurative language and connection ideas!

Effective instruction in adolescent literacy does not rely on one strategy alone. Vocabulary acquisition, metacognition, writing, and reading comprehension are just a few. Most struggling readers can, and do, read. Their difficulty is not articulating the printed text. The challenge to this reader is an inability to understand and process the ideas expressed by the words. This is the rationale for providing a series of resources that includes direct, explicit instruction in skills that are critical to literacy.
critical literacy, it seems, can be distilled into a conflation of simplistic 'critical thinking skills' and the annoyingly persistent autonomous definition of literacy. where is there space in such curricula for transformative inquiry (critiques of freire's notions of education as liberatory, notwithstanding)? the publishers assert that "the challenge to [the] reader is an inability to understand and process the ideas expressed by the word." my friend and colleague jeanine staples would have much to say about the dynamic relationship between the ideas and words of adolescents. she examines the salience of the spoken word within the intellectual rigor of adolescents' critical reading and writing practices; their critical literacies are resonant with multiple modes of expression, and the word - spoken, read, and written - is in constant and thoughtful negotiation. the chasm continues to grow, it seems, between studies of adolescents' nuanced and critical literacies and the curriculum factory that can't keep up with the demand being created by mass adolescent literacy hysteria. perhaps it's the very full moon beckoning outside my living room window, but my research-curriculum 'disconnect' tentacles are quite sensitive this evening. the walch series proves that there continues to be a market and funding available for packaged solutions; is there a way, i wonder, to better bridge the two, if only to avoid repeating the catastrophic misnaming that has occurred above.

note: if anyone has additional information about this series, or its possible impact in influencing adolescent literacy curricula, i'd be much obliged to hear it.


in anticipation: frontline's "Growing Up Online"

tomorrow night, tuesday, 1.22.2008, the pbs program frontline will debut it's newest documentary focused on youth: "Growing Up Online." based on the description on the website, the program promises to raise and address a range of interesting questions and issues currently circulating about the ways that youth are living their lives with/in the internet. i'm particularly interested to see how they explore and portray youth who have never known life without the existence of the internet.

the new york times featured a story about the doc and its contents: The Rough-and-Tumble Online Universe Traversed by Young Cybernauts
the piece concludes ion this way:
By the end of “Online,” Greg Bukata, for one, has quit the Internet, if only temporarily. He is seen graduating from Chatham High School, with plans to attend the United States Coast Guard Academy, where Internet use is prohibited for several weeks.

“It’ll be hard, but I need to disconnect,” he says. “I need to just pull the plug on this Internet life for a little bit and see what it’s like.”

i preemptively worry that stories of the "dangers" of the internet and a protectionist narrative will dominate "Online", despite the claim that the program will investigate "the risks, realities and misconceptions of teenage self-expression on the World Wide Web." either way, i'll be watching - available on tv and online.

watch a preview:


nctear 2008 - schedule posted

nctear mid-winter conference, 2008

looks like a great lineup! wish i could make it... hope someone takes good notes and is kind enough to share them with me :)


recent tech news that i'm excited about and intrigued by...

though, personally, im still waiting for the day when i tap my right temple and have it function like my mouse; and when i can see my own personal "menu" beam out in front of me to be able to perform such functions as a search of my brain for that author or song title that is on the proverbial tip of the tongue... (although i still find bluetooth headsets hard to get used to)
until then, i'll find great joy as things continue to get smaller and smaller and more accessible.