Tuesday, October 20, 2009

ISTE Contests

ISTE is running two contests related to the new book. The first one involves using the same six sounds to create an original one-minute story--Six Sounds in Search of an Author.

The Second contest involves sound effects and Foley techniques--Foley Art Contest.

There are some interesting awards and prizes for teachers and students--Such as most unusual setting, best use of the splash sound (Six Sounds) and best spooky sound, best use of a kitchen utensil (Foley).

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Leave your Tone after the Beep


This is an activity to teach tone.  It connects to teaching writers how to use tone with different audiences and different purposes.

For this activity, you will leave a short voice mail message (see items 1-18 below or make your own following the rules).

The rules are--you are trying to set up a meeting at 9am on Friday with Michael and/or Jennifer Shelby (fictitious couple). You must create a scenario and leave a message with an appropriate tone. Use the comments feature on the VoiceThread video below. Your message should be shorter than 20 seconds or less than 75 words. You have to keep it clean and no 'real' personal information.

You are required to leave an audio message, but feel free to add other comments in text. You cannot leave a message that has been left already (so please listen to all that are there). Here's the link to the full project.


Tone is a difficult concept to teach students even though it is one of the most fundamental aspects of our written and spoken communication. This activity will help students accurately characterize tone as readers and listeners as well as effectively use tone as writers and speakers. One reason tone is difficult to teach is because often students are formally introduced to tone when they are reading a challenging text and getting pushed for comprehension and fluency. This activity introduces tone in a way that connects the concept of tone to everyday situations and invests the students as readers, writers, and speakers of different tones. It can be done as a stand-alone activity or before or during the study of tone in a poem, short story, or novel.

Activity: Reading

All of the messages below are voice mails left for Jennifer and Michael Shelby. All of the messages request the same thing--a meeting for 9pm on Friday.
1) From a boss who wants to see an employee who is chronically late. Michael, We need to meet. I’ll expect you in my office at 9am sharp on Friday morning.

2) From a friend who wants to apologize. Oh, Jennifer. I really need to talk to you. I hope you’ll listen to me. Can we meet? Friday? Around 9 in the morning? I’ll bring the coffee.

3) From a teacher who wants to see the parent of a student who seems troubled lately. Hello, Ms. Shelby. This is Mr. Ross, Johnny’s homeroom teacher. I was hoping we could meet. Your son is doing OK in class, but I was concerned about his mood lately and wanted to talk to you about it. Let me know if we can meet. Is 9am on Friday good for you? You can contact me on my cell 311 555-2368.

4) From an aluminum siding salesman who wants to show a homeowner your product. Hello, Mr Shelby, I’m Ralph Bellabue from Armorall Siding. I’ve got a great new product—perfect for your house, and we’re running a sale this month. I’ll be in your neighborhood, and I’d love to stop by and give you some information that I think you’ll find valuable. Let me know if 9am on Friday is a good time for you. You can contact me at 311 555-2368.

Think about these questions-- How would you describe the tone? How does the tone relate to the purpose and audience? * What words, phrases and punctuation convey the tone? How would you say each of the messages?

Activity: Creating a Message

You too want to set up a meeting at Friday at 9 am with "Jennifer" or "Michael," the fictional couple who we are communicating to. Again, The facts of this message will be the same—meeting, Friday, 9 am—but you must change your tone based on the situation. For this activity you will be leaving a voice mail. You do not have to give all of the information about the meeting on the recording….only enough to set up the meeting. You can make up details such as names and places. Just keep the message to less than 20 seconds/or 75 words. Think of the words, phrases, punctuation when you write and then the vocal inflections when you speak. This all creates your tone. Create a message for a 9 am Friday meeting based on these scenarios:
5) You are a very wealthy adult who wants to surprise your mother and father (Jennifer and Michael) with the gift of a brand new car.

6) You are a police detective who needs to interview a suspect in a major crime.

7) You are a person who crashed into a parked car and now you have to call the owner (this is the right thing to do, and there were witnesses).

9)You are a lawyer with some bad news for your client that you cannot say over the phone.

10) You are a doctor with some great medical news for your patient that you cannot say over the phone.

Creative BONUS

How would…
11) A person in distress leave the message

12) A lonely person leave the message

13) A bitter person leave the message

14) A surprised person leave the message

15) An optimistic person leave the message

16) A person who was infatuated leave the message

17) An abrupt person leave the message

18) An Apprehensive Person leave the message

Again, feel free to make up details such as names, events, and places…but keeping the message under 20 seconds or less than 75 words.

  • Write it

  • Record it (we are using Voicethread please use the comment feature to record your "voice mail") Note--many students can use help with vocabulary to subtly and accurately describe tone and emotions. You might want to discuss and define words that describe emotions and then have them create messages based on them. Several good lists of emotions can be found at Wikipedia

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Remixing Primary Sources

This activity tackles new formats and new ways of creative expression that remix and digital media allow. Students are asked to creatively remix text, audio from speeches and broadcasts, audio from videos, and music clips in new and engaging ways.

Unlike many of the other activities and units in this course, there are few precedents or clear genres for this type of remix. Musicians, hobbyists, professional editors, and YouTube users are making up the rules as they go along.

For this activity student have to mix at least two different peices of media/primary sources from a particular time period centering on a particular theme(though an interesting twist would be to mix media on the same theme but from different time periods). The themes can be sports, fashion, politics, entertainment, almost any aspect of culture or society.

Here's a warm up example that I use as a scafolding model--the topic isbaseball of the 1930s. Students work in pairs to remix two of these three primary sources:

Lou Gehrig’s farewell speech in which he calls himself “The luckiest man on the face of this earth”

Excerpts from The Spalding Base Ball Guide, 1939 From the Library of Congress' American Memory Collection.

The radio broadcast from the 1936 World Series in which Lou Gehrig hits a home run in the second inning from the Internet Archive

The Library of Congress' American Memory Collection and the Internet Archive are excellent sources for digital primary sources.

Character Interview

Mr. Darcy from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is put on the hot seat in this character interview.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Youth Radio

Below are some excellent works from YouthRadio.

“That Sickening Smell?”
Youth Radio’s Sophie Simon-Ortiz grew up in West Berkeley near a steel manufacturing plant, and she still has vivid memories of the smell that poured regularly from its smoke stacks and permeated the neighborhood. The smell is still there. So Sophie decided to find out why, after so many years and complaints by nearby residents, not much seems to have changed at all.

“The Beef”
In response to animal cruelty, Youth Radio’s Catlin Grey became vegan. She and her mom often stressed about what was cooking in the kitchen. She says, “I thought that my yearning for cheddar cheese and cookie dough ice cream would be my biggest challenge. But it turned out to be my mom.”

“MySpace vs. Facebook”
Youth Radio reporter Leon Sykes describes his life as social networking junkie and his use of MySpace and Facebook to express himself online. “They’re like the left and right side of my brain.”

“Living with PTSD”
Jesus Bocanegra, now 23, spent 4½ years in the military, including a year as a cavalry scout in Iraq. He’s now out of the military and living with his family in the town of Elsep in south Texas. But the war is still with him, so much so that he’s been treated for post-traumatic stress disorder. He shares this story.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Poetry Walk Remix--Nature

In this project students select and mix lines from poetry with appropriate music. The theme of this mix was "nature walk."

We mixed Walt Whitman, Longfellow, and Trifonic.

“The smallest sprouts show there is really no death” (“A Child Said, What is the Grass” by Walt Whitman)

“Have you reckon'd a thousand acres much? have you reckon'd the earth much?” (“Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman)

“You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions of suns left,) “(“Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman)

“This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss,” (“Evangeline” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

“I bounded o'er the mountains, by the sides

Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams.” (“Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey” by William Wordsworth )

The lines were mixed with Trifonic's "Transgenic" samples.

Metamorphosis: Audio Play Scripting

The following example was provided by Kate Mazzetti. It's an audio play based on an excerpt from Kafka's Metamorphosis. Turning a work of prose into a audio play is riddled with 'teachable moments'. Unlike Reader's Theater, the focus is not on prose fluency, so a faithful translation of the text is not required. This unit describes the creative decision a student should confront when transferring between print to audio.

Decisions such as what information should be conveyed through dialogue? through narration? through sound effects? need to be made.

Decisions on vocabulary need to be made as well. For example, in the text, the word 'fretwork' was used. Is it too obsolete to be understood and should it be replaced with 'wood work'? Should it be kept because it adds color and richness to the scene?