I’ve been in and out of town the last couple weeks and have not fully participated in make cycles 3 and 4 (play and hack your writing, respectively), but I have a little bit of time this week to participate in make cycle 5, which is Storytelling with Light. I found my way to the #CLMOOC community by hearing about hacked notebooks at the NWP Annual Meeting and have been curious about paper circuitry ever since. I secured a small grant from my school to purchase a classroom set of chibitronics start kits that I am hoping to use in my non-fiction writing class this fall. However, before I give them to my students, I need to understand how to make paper circuits. Because I knew that this kind of exploration is more fun and productive when done with others, I invited my friend Katrina over to play (taking care of make cycle 3). We were both so excited when we made our first simple circuit light up! I have to admit, that as much as I hate adding technology to the classroom for technology sake, this is a case of the cart leading the horse. I haven’t yet figured out the pedagogical rationale (and my objectives) for playing with these in a Jr/Sr writing class –and my students will ask–but I’m working on some ideas about collaboration, play as inspiration, technological writing, and I want to see what they come up with as well. Once we got the lightbulb lit, Katrina and I decided to write a story about one of the books on the shelf. We decided it was a book I had seen in the University of Illinois stacks entitled Why We Don’t Like People and describing a scenario where an anti-social kid was looking at the book but didn’t want to ask for help re-shelving it, so put it in the wrong place, leading to a cranky librarian muttering under his breath about people who can’t read the clear signs to put books on a cart at the end of the shelf for re-shelving. We completed a second, free-form, simple circuit and played around a little with collage before I had to leave for a meeting at school. One of the things that is fun about the kits that I ordered is that it moves quickly from simple circuits to parallel circuits and switches, so hopefully it will be engaging even for students who already understand basic circuitry. If I can figure out how to frame the activity right, this will be an opportunity for students to lead the way in teaching me what the applications of this technology are.
A couple random thoughts that came up while Katrina and I were engaged in some generative tinkering:
- Display completed student notebooks like The Sketchbook Tour
- Working together on a notebook allows collaboration and an opportunity to take turns doing and observing / taking notes on what kind of conversation is going on around the doing
- Start with the notebooks and expand to a larger discussion of how technical instructions get written in print and online. Nexmap has some great animated gifs on their Hack Your Notebook demo page.
- Beyond reflecting on the experience, or telling a fictional story, what is the writing that grows out of this activity?