Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Spotlight: Mr. R's Digital Story - The Social Constant

For those of you doing digital stories for your Chiang Mai project, here's a special treat...Mr. R's very own digital story from his leg of the trip.  Watch his process, product and consider his great advice.   Well done, Mr. R. :)  Thank you! 

The Social Constant 

I hope that sharing my digital story from Chiang Mai as you work on your stories will prove to 
be helpful. Take a look and read the notes following the clip for some advice and tips on 
your stories.

A few things to keep in mind and notice:

The four elements: 

  1. Text- a narration
  1. Images- well composes photos
  1. Video- to help move the story and give it life
  1. Music/sound effects- to add texture and possible narration with lyrics
I chose to create a poem from the Wikipedia page on The Sun as my text narration. 

The Solar Constant
The Sun formed about 4.6 billion years ago from the gravitational collapse of a region within a large molecular cloud. 
Most of the matter gathered in the center, while the rest flattened into an orbiting disk that would becomethe Solar System.
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields, 
She is currently traveling through the Local Interstellar Cloud (near to the G-cloud)in the Local Bubble zone, within the inner rim of the Orion Arm of the Milky Way galaxy.
Sunlight is Earth's primary source of energy. The solar constant is the amount of power that the Sun deposits per unit area that is directly exposed to sunlight. 
Earth's ultimate fate is precarious.By the time it is an asymptotic giant branch star,the Sun will have lost roughly 30% of its present mass due to a stellar wind, so the orbits of the planets will move outward, The Earth will be swallowed by the Sun owing to tidal interactions
I contrasted this scientific story with random text narration to add a sense of universality and wonder. The next layer were the lyrics from the song Hard Sun. I wanted to add texture and deeper meaning to the running narratives (follow the research to see the connection to this filmBy using the sun poem, the random bits of text and this song, I was trying to tell three stories at the same time:

  1. Scientific
  1. Cosmic
  1. Lyrical
The main theme of my story was the fact that the sun is a part of everything on earth. It is a part of us. I felt that the lyrics showed how we are under her power:
There's a big, a big hard sunBeating on the big peopleIn the big hard world 
I could have had Eddie Vedder sing the song, but I wanted to give it a try myself. I know I am not the best singer, but I think there is value in trying. I wanted to model for you that you don;t always have to be perfect or great to share a talent and a love. I love to sing. I love music. I love this song and I wanted to give my voice a chance.
I chose soft images to contrast the idea of a hard sun with the reality of a meaningful and tender one. You can find the whole set here. I added video to help move through different parts of the story:  

  • Rising sun (Dawn)
  • Moving leaves
  • Cat
  • Caterpillar
  • Drive from nature to city
  • Butcher
  • Drive to village
  • Buddha statue
  • Sunset

Go ahead! Give him some feedback.  Here are some of his questions for everyone?

 What do you think? What did you notice? What ideas did you gain? What questions do you have? Any feedback? 

Sunday, 9 December 2012

The World in Words and Film: A Middle School Writing Challenge

Attention middle school writers, film makers, artists and creative types! The middle school 
English department has a challenge for you.

Christmas writing challenge: "The world in words and film"
You are encouraged to go out into the world and make a video of yourselves reading up to
 four lines of original poetry or prose inspired by a special place. This place should feature
 in a video. Maybe you are visiting the Taj Mahal or your favourite tree:
  • Write about it
  • Film it
  • Upload your film
  • Share it on your blog
A collection of the best films will be shown in assembly during Writers' Fortnight in Week 2 
of next term.  Any questions can go in the comments to help others or ask me in person this week.Stoked to see what you will create.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Announcement: New Page on Reading

Hi guys,

Just thought I'd let you know that I added a new page on reading.  Make sure you check it out.

We take reading seriously


Ms. P

A re-blog from clue: a space

Congratulations, Solal!  

Most Influential Education Blog Post of 2012

Great news! Our very own Solal has been nominated for an Edublog Award, 
by Edublogs- The World's most popular education blogging service!

His post Being a Social Outcast has been nominated for
 Most Influential Education Blog Post of 2012. 

How to Vote

Just go to the Vote Here link in the top navigation, choose the category you want to vote in, 
and then who you want to vote for!  Easy!

Remember that only one vote per day per category will be counted from the same location!
This means, if your school uses one IP address, you must vote from home.

If you are a student and you connected to his words please take the time to give him your vote. 
If you have come across this post from Twitter, take the time to vote as well.

Simple does not mean Simplistic

“When you're drowning you don't think, I would be incredibly pleased if someone would notice I'm drowning and come and rescue me. You just scream.” 
― John Lennon

Just a short post on this beautiful Sunday morning about the power of simple words and how saying something in its barest and simplest form is often the most effective way to go in clear communication.  I was thinking about how we are writing amazing poetry in Grade 7 and refining thesis statements in Grade 8. Both require clarity of thought, a careful choice of words and intent.   Have a look at this short video by Terin Izil, animated by Sunni Brown, then read on.  I stumbled upon this a couple of days ago and thought it would be  something interesting to consider and think about.


Having a wide vocabulary and building a repertoire of words is important, and sure, "big" words have a place in language and expression. But knowing when to use which words together depending on what you want to say is key. And like I always tell you guys, just because the best words to use are simple,  that doesn't make the ideas simplistic. Meaning that's complex and complicated can emerge from it being articulated simply, with nothing to distract or muddle what you'd like to say.  

What do you think?  How do you choose your words?  How do you know that you have chosen the "perfect" words to express your ideas perfectly?  Let me know. Leave a comment or write a post about it.  

Have a great Sunday, guys. 

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Spotted: Another Kurt Vonnegut Gem

So many things inspire me on a minute to minute basis.  A lot of the time, I come across something brilliant and wish I had written/photographed/created/thought of  it myself.  Have you ever felt that?  Well, for me, this is one of them.   

Old school

Old Marking Companion
Suzanne McConnell, one of Kurt Vonnegut’s students in his “Form of Fiction” course at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, saved this assignment, explaining that Vonnegut “wrote his course assignments in the form of letters, as a way of speaking personally to each member of the class.” The result is part assignment, part letter, part guide to writing and life.

This assignment is reprinted from Kurt Vonnegut: Letters, edited by Dan Wakefield, out now from Delacorte Press.

November 30, 1965
This course began as Form and Theory of Fiction, became Form of Fiction, then Form and Texture of Fiction, then Surface Criticism, or How to Talk out of the Corner of Your Mouth Like a Real Tough Pro. It will probably be Animal Husbandry 108 by the time Black February rolls around. As was said to me years ago by a dear, dear friend, “Keep your hat on. We may end up miles from here.”
As for your term papers, I should like them to be both cynical and religious. I want you to adore the Universe, to be easily delighted, but to be prompt as well with impatience with those artists who offend your own deep notions of what the Universe is or should be. “This above all ...”
I invite you to read the fifteen tales in Masters of the Modern Short Story (W. Havighurst, editor, 1955, Harcourt, Brace, $14.95 in paperback). Read them for pleasure and satisfaction,beginning each as though, only seven minutes before, you had swallowed two ounces of very good booze. “Except ye be as little children ...”
Then reproduce on a single sheet of clean, white paper the table of contents of the book, omitting the page numbers, and substituting for each number a grade from A to F. The grades should be childishly selfish and impudent measures of your own joy or lack of it. I don’t care what grades you give. I do insist that you like some stories better than others.
Proceed next to the hallucination that you are a minor but useful editor on a good literary magazine not connected with a university. Take three stories that please you most and three that please you least, six in all, and pretend that they have been offered for publication. Write a report on each to be submitted to a wise, respected, witty and world-weary superior.
Do not do so as an academic critic, nor as a person drunk on art, nor as a barbarian in the literary market place. Do so as a sensitive person who has a few practical hunches about how stories can succeed or fail. Praise or damn as you please, but do so rather flatly, pragmatically, with cunning attention to annoying or gratifying details. Be yourself. Be unique. Be a good editor. The Universe needs more good editors, God knows.
Since there are eighty of you, and since I do not wish to go blind or kill somebody, about twenty pages from each of you should do neatly. Do not bubble. Do not spin your wheels. Use words I know.

Sigh. This totally made my day. 

Anyway, what are you reading right now?  Choose a line or paragraph that you wish you had written yourself. Tell me about it.  Leave a comment or heck, write a post. 

Have a great Sunday! Well,what's left of it.  Make it count. 

Ms. P