Composing with Objects:

5 Objects from home
1 taken away
1 stolen from a neighbor
1 random object assigned by facilitator


Create an composition that has purpose and intention.

Time limit:

75 minutes



Purpose and intention:

Evolved over the 75 minutes. Began thinking about educational spaces and how they represent our assumptions about play and learning and expertise and measurement. Then tried to place myself in the composition, being with incorporating the metal broach backing that was the object randomly given to me.




Top: font, writing, script / Bottom: playful or mathematic
I’m wondering if it is about school
Joyful and retro
How we interact with images in our daily life
Bottom: childish / Top: grown up
Playing with subverting a traditional structure
Theme of learning and specifically writing
Past vs. Present
Idea of the body – mind and body intertwined in practice
As students age we stop letting them be whole humans
Arbitrary things we are all measured by




I’m practicing being human. More and more every day.


#CLMOOC Make Cycle #6

The challenge for Make Cycle #6 was a 5-Image story. I’ve been fully occupied the last week hosting a women’s choral festival (2 years in the planning) and wanted to see if I could tell the story of the festival in five images. I started by going through the photos that my spouse took at the festival and choose five that I thought summarized the experience. I used pixlr express to create a collage of them, but wasn’t happy with the result. The collage is pretty, but it looks like a summary and there is no movement in the images. Here’s the unsuccessful (as a story) collage:

Sister Singers

I wanted to capture that this had been in the works for a long time (the ad for the festival on the back of a local bus), that there were rehearsals, workshops, a key note address, individual choir performances, and that the culmination of the festival was a mass chorus performance. I also wanted to capture the energy and excitement that infused the four days. Pretty early in choosing the images, I had to cut the workshop photos. The photos that I had to choose from were not particularly interesting and didn’t tell a story about what was happening in them. Instead I settled on a photo of me addressing the audience in the hopes that it communicated my individual responsibilities at the festival. I was happy with how the rehearsal and performance shots communicated preparation and culmination, and I had really wanted a photo of my choir performing (lower left in the collage) but felt like for the images to have any movement as a story, I needed to show people arriving to the festival.

After looking at and figuring out why the collage didn’t work, I switched to iMovie which allowed me to add music to the experience (which, after all, is what the whole festival was about). I don’t have any recordings from the festival yet, but my choir just released a CD and I was able to pull a track from that into the short film. Here is what I ended up with. I’m still not convinced that it tells the whole story I wanted to tell, but perhaps 5 images is only enough to tell part of the story.

Sister Singers from Suzanne Linder on Vimeo.

IMG_0866 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). IMG_0868We 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. IMG_0873 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. IMG_0875 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?

Make Cycle #2: Memes!?

When the email for Make Cycle #2 arrived on Monday, I have to admit that I wasn’t all that excited about playing with memes for the week. I understand Richard Dawkins coinage of the term to refer to cultural ideas that replicate like genes, but for the internet, memes primarily seem to be words on a picture which can be easy to do (on a technical level) even if coming up with a good one liner isn’t as easy.

The meme I made this afternoon (Pimm’s Monday, above) doesn’t really work in a larger cultural sense. It was designed to share with a few friends who I had a delightful afternoon with yesterday. Queen Elizabeth is supposed to evoke the formality and Britishness of having a Pimm’s Cup, but also the silliness that can sometimes occur when one imbibes. I used an online gif generator which allowed me to take a youtube video and choose the few seconds I wanted converted to a gif. Another online image editor allowed me to add the words (I also could have used photoshop, which would have given me more freedom in terms of placement, size, etc. but the online editor was super easy).

Because I felt like I wasn’t getting everything there was to get about memes, I participated in the CLMOOC Make with Me google hangout. A couple ideas that came up in that conversation are interesting to me and I think could be brought into the classroom in meaningful ways:

1. The layers of cultural understanding that are required to get a text-on-picture meme. For the one I made, you would need to know what Pimm’s is, recognize Queen Elizabeth II, have associations about her propriety and social position, have been on my friend Wendy’s deck yesterday enjoying a Pimm’s cup, and then have been a part of the Facebook conversation where we decided that Pimm’s Monday “should be a thing.”  I made a pretty localized meme, but all of these visual memes have something to “get” and part of the pleasure is being inside the group that “gets them.” In this way, they are a lot like allusions in literature–they make reference to other cultural artifacts, if you get them you feel like an insider, and to explain them often kills the joy of understanding them.

2. I told a story in the hangout about my stepson who starts 75% of his conversations with “I saw on ifunny…” and then repeats the meme or funny photo he saw. He also used to have written on the white board in his room the goal to “get featured on ifunny,” which in light of our conversation about memes and genre strikes me as a kind of interest-driven genre exploration. It’s easy to place text on a photo, but it takes much more work to write something genuinely funny that works in that genre. He’s awake in the middle of the night, trying out one liners on ifunny to see what hits as a meme (he is not awake in the middle of the night writing assignments for school).

3. As with any visual media, it’s very easy for advertisers and other user of propaganda to co-opt this kind of visual media for their own purposes (as is the case with Shamrocking, described at the end of this explanation of photo fads). Like with old fashioned media literacy, it continues to be important in Digital Media Literacy that we teach students to analyze the media they are consuming and creating, so that they can recognize when they are being sold to or otherwise persuaded.

typewriter This is one of my favorite images from my classroom last year. This is my student Jacob transcribing his manifesto about the awesomeness of trains from a googledoc (that he accessed on his iPhone) to a manual typewriter.

how do I hit return?

I taught a mail art class during Agora Days and the typewriters were a popular tool for making mail art. At the end of the week, I left the typewriters in my classroom for my sophomores to play with while we wrote manifestos. During both Agora Days and our week of manifesto writing, students had a lot of questions for me about how to use a manual typewriter (like, “how do I hit return?” “Where is the number 1?” “Why did it suddenly stop working?”). I am young enough to never have had to compose an essay on a manual typewriter, but I did take a keyboarding class on one so it isn’t entirely foreign to me. My students, however, are another story.

For the first #CLMOOC make cycle, I’ve used thinglink to demonstrate how to use a manual typewriter. Unfortunately, wordpress won’t let me embed the whole thing, but if you click on the link below you will be taken to the  interactive image. photo (6) The goal of making the “How to…” was to introduce myself in some way, while making something new. Hopefully you’ve gotten a glimpse into my classroom and my school, but my love of typewriters comes out of time I’ve spent outside of school making mail art and handcrafting letters. One of my hopes for the #CLMOOC is that I can find a way to harness some of the creative energy and authentic learning that I experience following my own interests and bring that into the classroom.

This was my first time using thinglink and it was very easy. I took the photo and video on my iPad (had to get my stepson Calvin to hold the iPad to record the video) and created the first draft in about 20 minutes. A mobile device seems to be key if you want to record video to include with your image, as there is a record link integrated into the composition tool. If I had to record the video separately and upload them before I could add to the image, it would have taken quite a bit longer.

I moved to my laptop in order to link the soundcloud file (the mobile app only allows photo, video, and links to youtube). The video can’t be edited inside of thinglink (which is why you can hear me telling Calvin to stop recording at the end of the paper loading video, which was the first one I made). This tool could be very useful in the classroom, as I easily created the How to… in about the length of a class period.


I would like you to start by rereading all of the writing you have submitted via googledocs this year. This should consist of:

  • Reader’s Autobiography,
  • Poetry Explication,
  • Literary Comparison essay,
  • Infographic & Infographic reflection.

It could also include:

  • 10 minute writing,
  • Adam and Eve transposition,
  • Pastiche,
  • 1 page character comparison from Pride & Prejudice.

As you are reading, keep in mind the reflective letter you will be writing me. The letter should be at least 250 words, and address all of the following questions:

  • What development do you notice in your writing over the year? What skills have you improved, what tasks are easier for you now?
  • What do you feel is the best piece of writing you’ve done this year? Why?
  • What was the most challenging writing assignment that you did this year? How did you approach the challenge? Did you feel like you were ultimately successful?
  • What is the most important thing you learned about your writing or the writing process this year?

Reflections will be graded on a Meets, Exceeds, Does not Meet Expectation basis.

A response that meets expectations:

  • Offers detail
  • Expands on the basic ideas presented, offering some depth
  • Is reflective about your thoughts as a reader and/or your growth as a writer
  • Communicates ideas clearly and without a lot of extraneous words
  • Conforms to the basic rules of written English most of the time

A response that exceeds expectations embodies the above qualities, but also:

  • Is thoughtful beyond the average response
  • Is reflective to an impressive degree
  • Offers an exceptional level of creativity and/or eloquence

A response that does not meet expectations may have one or more of these qualities:

  • It merely describes general thoughts on the literature read and/or the writing done over the year without any thought or reflection
  • It has so many errors that it does not successfully communicate the writer’s ideas
  • It is too short or underdeveloped to convey your particular experience and ideas

6th period infographics

1. Tea a Colonial and Contemporary Product (Elissa)



3. Link to Tyra, Lina, Berit, & Jacob’s infographic about Colonialsim in Contemporary Media

4. Link to Joaquin, Danny, Sienna, and Marie’s infographic about Sugar

5. Maia, Mariam, Madeleine, and Lyle