Tuesday, February 13, 2018

I Live Hegel's Spiral, A Little Forward, A Lot Back, A Little Forward, A Lot Back

As I prepare for summer 2018, I'm still trying to rap up Summer 2017. We're getting closer on the publication of POW!, the Anthology for Teacher and Student Writers that showcases excellence from the summer, and I'm also getting closer to a solid program for this year's work (should we get the grant, which is due this Thursday).

Write On!

Last night I was on a conference call where I learned about Playlists and a new vision from the LRNG folks. The skinny is to provide our summer curriculum in easy to navigate instructions so that high school students who don't have access to a college campus in the summer for writing camp work, can move through playlists in order to do the work, and if they complete it, earn a badge.

I created the badges in a fit of a sleepless night a few days ago. We're aiming for a Playlist for the Op-Eds, the TedTalks, and the Poetry/Raps kids created. What I learned last night is how complicated, yet fruitful, it is to take a summer's curriculum and condense it in an easy-to-navigate website. The goal is to offer opportunities for young people who aren't given easy access to National Writing Project excellence a location that they can, in a self-directed way (as I named it), teach themselves.

Given hyperlinks, web pages, YouTube, and online models, a young person might be able to accomplish the same outcomes that they would should they have taken part in a community of summer campers. I'm intrigued by this, but also a little squinty-eyed and crooked-head. First, I worry about a future culture where there are fewer and fewer teachers for face-to-face interaction, and more game-like awarding for youth to meet new writing opportunities. Of course, I also think this is a great thing, because I've said for a long time, teach a kid how to learn and then, well, you're no longer needed. I think that's great. Second, I am apprehensive about is not being face-to-face with others in a learning process. I wonder about community. My research shows me over and over that there is no individual written outcome without a community to belong to. That said, there's a tremendous amount known that online communities are real and they are effective. The learning does not occur in the confines of a classroom alone.

This is all to say that my ears are perked to learning something new. I've never been one to wear badges or pins, not wanting to belong to this group or that, but there's something interesting to this movement that, I think, may bring new enlightenment to this ever-changing world.

The capitalist/marketing dreamer in me thinks, "Hmmmm. How do I get at the forefront so that the world has to pay Me, only ME, and ME ME ME for what I bring to the writing world." Then I think about Ubuntu. There is no ME without a community of others.

Last night on the ZOOM call, I realized I was excited because I had faces to connect with and dreamers across the nation who are rethinking access, instruction, best writing practices and phenomenal possibilities. I'm so much stronger this morning, because I learned from others last night.

I would worry about the kid, however, that doesn't have the experience of belonging to a larger group. After all, writers grow from being in the community of fellow writers.

Still, I'm thumbs up. This is really cool. I'm also apprehensive. In the end, it will balance out, I'm sure.

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