The Pop Culture Translator

Screenshot of Pop Culture TranslatorThis summer, RCWP has been doing a number of workshops related to writing and new literacies. One of them was on using pop culture in the classroom and the facilitator of the session just shared The Pop Culture Translator with our list serv.

This site is both hilarious and scary all at the same time. Since my son is a fan of Sean Paul, I thought that I would listen to his video translation first. While I was not so subtle in talking to my son about the message of the song (which, he admitted, he didn’t understand all the innuendo, he just liked the beat. Yeah…), this translator is attempts to be as literal as possible, something that our language and technology often don’t do. So, I laugh, while also thinking about the implications that it makes clear. It’s not as if I didn’t listen to music laced with innuendo, nor my parents, but the ways in which things are becoming more and more blatant kind of scares me as a parent.

At any rate, as a teacher, I think that this is an interesting way to appropriate media for critical purposes and would like to know more about how others might use something like this with your students. What would a lesson using this site look like in middle school? High school? College? I can imagine that the conversations would be somewhat different at each level, but I think that the idea of “translating” one text into another discourse is very intriguing and offers many critical possibilities for language learning; take “mash ups” as an example of that. Using technology as part of that makes it all the more compelling. I will try to remember to share it with my son the next time he is over. And, I will see how his translations compare.

I hope that they put more examples up soon…

Another Example of Negative Networking

Newsweek has added its thoughts on the negative aspects of social networking:

What happens when the identity you reveal to friends suddenly overwhelms the façade you present to grown-ups? The results can be awkward—or worse. Photos from drunken parties, recollections of sexual escapades, profanity or threats—all these indiscretions, posted online, have gotten students suspended or expelled, or harmed job prospects. In a couple of decades, a presidential candidate may be called on to answer for a college misadventure that he or she impetuously detailed in a blog entry.

Dangers of Social-Networking Sites – Kaplan College Guide – MSNBC.com

I agree with the above example of how someone can represent him or herself poorly online. And, to the best of my ability,
I have tried to manage my own online persona so that I won’t have to deal with
any situations like this when someone Googles my name. However, there is more to the story than this.

First, why is everything about social networking in the media about the negatives? Why aren’t there more stories about the positive interactions that blogs and wikis promote as well as the great examples of online communities like ELGG?

In particular, I want to take up the point – and it only appears as a caption on a photo of a college adviser – that a site like Facebook (or MySpace or any of the other social networking sites that DOPA is attempting to ban from schools) could and should be treated “like a résumé,” or, I would add, a digital portfolio. These snapshots of your life – good, bad, and ugly – are what will represent you online as you prepare for college, jobs, and life.
To me, this just adds to the buzz about DOPA and how, instead of banning social networking from schools (including blogs, wikis, and the like), we as educators need to push harder to help students understand how the types of situations like the one quoted above could happen; in turn, we need to help them become better citizens of the read/write web. Moreover, we could use these tools as digital portfolios – they allow files to be uploaded and shared, right – that could grow and change over time. If done well, these sites could keep a running record of a student’s ideas (through the blog part) and an archive of their work (by uploading files).
At any rate, if you are interested in finding out more about DOPA, visit the Wikipedia entry on it. And, if you want to send a quick and easy email to your senator stating your opposition to DOPA, visit David Warlick’s blog and click on the “Revise DOPA” badge.

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New Internet Writing Tools Workshop, Day One

Today, Anne and I facilitated the first day of the New Internet Writing Tools Workshop and our group has been talking about blogging and RSS. At the beginning of the day, we talked about how blogs are different from static websites and began subscribing to RSS feeds left and right. By lunch, they were pros at Bloglines and in the afternoon they each began an Edublog Word Press site. Here is a link to what everyone has begun:

Some thoughts on assessment of new media

David makes an interesting point about blogs and assessment. After noting the old aphorism, “Not everything that is measurable is valuable and not everything that is valuable is measurable,” he adds this:

I think the things that are most educationally valuable about blogs and read/write web tools are the hardest to measure. Certainly, the creativity they encourage, the excitement they generate are almost impossible to reduce to a simple checklist.

EdCompBlog

Indeed, I think that another little saying that involves assessment might be in order here, too. “What gets measured gets treasured.” So, not only are the intangible aspects of new media composing probably the ones that are most valuable to teachers’ pedagogy and students’ learning, they are also the most difficult to justify in light of standardized tests and other measures of accountability.
Interestingly enough, in Michigan, our new high school content expectations are filled with references to multimedia and other digital projects. In a way, it is good that these digital creations are now “in the standards,” for that makes it easier to justify professional development and the like. Yet, the conceptual jump from teaching the personal narrative to the digital story — and back again — is still a somewhat difficult one to make both in terms of talking about the writing task itself and the teaching of it.

All the same, I agree with David’s main point. Some of the aspects about teaching writing with technology are the ones that are most difficult to explain and to evaluate. Yet, we need to begin to think about ways to do that. One place to begin looking for answers is Bernajean Porter’s “Evaluating Digital Projects” site.

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A New Banner

Hey, like the new banner?

When I was talking with other Tech Liaisons a few weeks ago in Chico, Writely was one of the hot topics. With the potential for real-time collaboration, Writely finally delivers what many teachers using technology in their writing classrooms have been asking for over the past many years that Word couldn’t seem to deliver (at least not in a user-friendly fashion). Along with real-time editing, it can save versions for quick comparisons, invite collaborators, be published easily to a blog or website, be tracked with RSS, and be saved online. No more lost disks (or, is it jump drives now?). I will write more on Writely later, but this is just a brief overview of some of its capabilities.

At any rate, I thought that I would try to make a decent banner and create the image as the link. I stole some CSS code from Rob, who assured me that I would figure this out on my own some day. Well, I did, with a little help…