Archive for June, 2015

So, I’ve been thinking about Twitter again recently. During the school year, I felt pulled in too many directions to be doing much tweeting. However with summer schedule in effect, I’m back. (My position is 12 month, so I’m at school, but the pace is much more livable, and I have time to noodle around and actually find new things.)

One of the things I’m working on is a new English elective called “Truth and Fiction.” I have the book list pretty much set, but am looking for some podcasts. I read about the Mortified series and started listening. I’m hooked. And, now that I’m back to tweeting and have my summer learning hashtag to support, I tweeted this.

Next thing I know, I’m having a conversation with @Mortified.

Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 1.22.35 PM

How great is that?



Posted: June 25, 2015 in clmooc
Tags: , ,

So, I’ve been thinking about introductions and untroductions. I am participating in CLMOOC this summer (Connected learning massive, open, online COLLABORATION). The time is always right to join.

Our first make cycle was an introduction of sorts. No surprise. However, the request was to think a little beyond who am I?

  • what is the typical introduction script?
  • how can we unmake that?
  • who gets invited
  • do we need an invitation anyway

I have been doing some work with blackout poetry, so that’s where I started. Given the conversation about the “set script” of an introduction, I thought taking the set words of the email describing the tasks, yet trying to be creative within that structure was an interesting un-making or re-mixing.

Here is the result:

I like the final video, but do you learn much about me? What can you say having met me in this way?

Here’s another option. I also recently read Lorrie Morre’s novel Anagrams, which included this wonderful sentence:

Meaning, if it existed at all, was unstable and could not survive the slightest reshuffling of letters.

So I then took the subject line of the email about the first make cycle (CLMOOC Make Cycle #1: Unmake an Introduction) and used it for the raw material of my anagrams. I tweeted this image.

Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 3.19.55 PM

Another meeting, any more information? I don’t think any of my phrases are particularly introductory. They tell you nothing about me.

Finally, I tweeted this in response to the #donowimge prompt.

So what do all three of these unmade introductions tell you about me?

  • Do I like poetry or crossing things out?
  • Do I not like to show my face?
  • Do I like verbs? to make trouble?
  • Do I spend my time on anagrams or crossword puzzles?
  • Is Lorrie Moore my favorite author?
  • Do I like red shoes?
  • Am I opposed to open toed shoes? heels?

Hardly anything on that list is true. However, if you look at all three introductions together, maybe you start to get a picture. There’s some creativity there, some interest in books, shoes, maybe some humor or at least not taking things too seriously.

I got to thinking, how often do I feel an introduction really tells anything about me that is important anyway? These options really scream “NOTHING!!” but do standard introductions say very little in more socially acceptable ways? Maybe the important part of an introduction of any kind is the chance to be seen, the potential to interact.

So, I’ve been thinking about STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) projects lately. I spent some time over winter break making Chibitronics projects with my personal kids. And then I decided to introduce paper circuitry to blackout poetry.

You know how sometimes you think 2 kids or people should be friends? You see all these connections, but they don’t? It was a little like that with my Chibitronics and Blackout Poetry matchmaking; they were not friends right away. However, as they have sat day after day near each other on my desk, a friendship has developed. Here are some details.

I started with my blackout poem.

Then, I had been playing with DeviantArt-Muro and the drawing with text options. I entered my entire poem as the text and then drew with the words in the shape of exploding fireworks, since that is what “bursts of sound and light” suggests to me. I printed this, enlarged, on to various colors and qualities of vellum. I ended up with this. (many, many tries later).

poem words printed on vellum in the shape of fireworksSo, then I used the copper tape, light stickers, and some sensor controllers to make 2 circuits that light my “fireworks”. One lights in response to sound, which you can’t see in the static image; the other is set to twinkle. However, the copper tape lines and battery folds are a little distracting, I think. Plus I wanted the actual words of the poem to be more prominent.

My next idea was to create another circuit that would be on a lower layer and position the lights at the location of the words in the poem. With one battery, the lights were not lighting consistently and were not powerful enough to be seen through the paper unless they were pressed together. I tried sewing the layers together, messed up the order, removed the thread, and then realized that another battery would help.


With all the layers together, here I am.


Issues still to be resolved:

  • How to connect the 2 pieces of vellum? or just have one and leave the bottom part “exposed”
    • sewing, glue?
  • Do I somehow cover the path of the circuit on the fireworks lights? I find it distracting.
  • How do I piece it all together
  • Does it need some color
  • Will it sit in a frame

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

So, I’ve been thinking about and participating in conversations on Twitter as the school year has wound down. A few weeks ago I saw a tweet about having a school hashtag for students to share learning over the summer. I thought, what about teachers?

I tweeted that to a few colleagues and got a couple of takers. Here’s my first tweet:


I’m hoping that a few more people join in. I even sent an email to all the colleagues at my school hoping to get some more participation.

Hi everyone,

A few of colleagues have been tweeting summer learning with the hashtag #ShipleySummer. If you read something, see something, learn something, feel free to join in the tweeting. Also, search the hashtag or add it as a column on tweetdeck or hootsuite. Then, you can see what your colleagues are up to and take advantage of what they are learning. 

And, if you aren’t on the Twitter bandwagon yet and this has made you curious, I’m available to introduce you.

Happy summer and happy tweeting,


At the end of the month I’m going to send a collection of the things shared on the hashtag in the hopes of encouraging more participation. So far, there are a few enthusiastic tweeters, but I’m sure there are other colleagues out there learning.

Has anyone else tried something similar?


So, I’ve been thinking about some of the work my 9th grade English class did this past year. I am quite new to teaching 9th grade English, so there are a lot of new assignments. However, one totally new assignment this year was blackout poetry. (Read about how Austin Kleon began writing these poems and check out his new poems and posts.)

My students had read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the NightTime for summer reading. We talked about it at the beginning of the year, wrote a short essay, moved on. Then it was time for some poetry. I wanted students to write as well as read poems. And, I thought blackout poetry might be less intimidating as a place to begin. So, I distributed copies of a slightly shortened review of an autistic friendly performance of the play in New York. I explained the basics of writing the poems, shared a video explanation on my course page on our learning management system, and then I waited.

In case you are not familiar with the average level of enthusiasm that is generated by poetry writing assignments in 9th grade, I will tell you. In my, admittedly limited experience, not much excitement gets turned in with those poems. There are those few students who are excited, but the mood is hardly festive. So, imagine my surprise when the class spilled in talking and bubbling about their poems. Of course, we had to put other plans on hold.


We put the desks in a big rectangle, spread the poems out, and walked around the room reading all the poems. Each student got 5 paperclips to “vote” for poems they found interesting (not necessarily good, but interesting). I don’t always like picking favorites like that, but there was so much commenting about what they liked, that this seemed a good way provide some time to read and “comment” quietly before we talked as a group.


Here’s what I liked about the assignment:

  • It created a real buzz–other teachers did the assignment because their students heard about it and requested it!
  • Students had obviously spent time thinking about the words and playing with language–VICTORY!
  • Many of the poems looked interesting as well.
  • We had a great conversation about student-written poetry.
  • Did I mention they entered the room talking positively about the homework?!

Here are a few images of particular poems and the text. I have taken some liberties with line breaks.


He cannot stand the way everyone thinks

Because they don’t

People are too busy talking to look closely

He said the big difference between me and them

Is that I like know exactly what time it is




He watches his beloved house

On Sunday afternoon

The inviting houselights dim, soft

The landscape is an ideal setting

A quiet space on the road


He cannot stand loud noises

His father has betrayed him

One of his beloved

I covered my ears

The big difference I saw in the house on Sunday afternoon

The young man was there

Sound and light have been toned down for Sunday

No changes

Sound and light

Dim lighting allows for easier opening

Slashses of light framing the dog of darkness

On Sunday the dog will come

The world, you don’t want that lost

Families dealing with the emotional lives of others

On Sunday

He said, “the only think I can do is bring life

On Sunday people may groan and bark, stand up and walk out

It’s ready. This is Shakespeare

Knowing exactly what to be


And, once we were finished I decorated my office with them for a while.


Anyone have any experience with blackout poetry to share or suggestions to extend the work?