From the sublime …. to the fanciful and beyond!


This week we started “creative writing”. Can you “start “creative writing””?  Surely it has to be spontaneous, from the heart,  rising from within ….? Anyway, it is the next “Unit” in our English programme, so we will do what we can…!  I have a feeling that my girls are going to be good at this!  Judging by the language in their formal essays they are itching to get those creative juices flowing and use adjectives and your imagination to the fullest.  I think though, that they may have some work to do with regard to some sort of plausibility!  Never mind,  it is the end of term and if we can’t go a little wild now,  when can we?

A few weeks ago when we started speech writing I introduced my class to Pecha Flickr, a tool created by a guy named Alan Levine (@cogdog). They enjoyed the randomness of the images generated when we put in a theme and they rose to the challenge to speak ad lib for 20 seconds.  There were some very random comments and the first time through they were definitely tongue tied and looked like rabbits caught in the glare of the headlights.  However, we looked at some sentence starters, encouraged them to ask each other questions as prompts and they were itching to do more.  This week we tried 5card Flickr,  another of Alan’s tools. 5 Card Flickr is not so “in your face” as Pecha flickr, it does not put you on the spot in the same way as you have time to think and create.   I wanted to get my students thinking about telling stories in a different way.  I wanted to use the random images to encourage them to think more deeply about how they could transition plausibly from one scene to another, sequence ideas, make connections and develop ideas and language.

It is always interesting, as a teacher, planning lessons:  I have an idea of what I want the outcome to be,  I decide on an activity, I devise it and then I have to be prepared for my students to surprise me and turn it completely on its head!  It is not always easy and I know that they threw me this week when they didn’t quite do what I expected.  But I have learned to go with the flow, build on the moment and take the learning opportunities as they arise.  We ran out of time and energy this week (it is the least week of term, after all) but we will come back to 5card Flickr next term.  Meanwhile,  here is 9AR’s amazing and very wacky story! (unedited!) Why not let me know what you think of the Flickr tools?  Have you used them? How else do you think they could be used to help build skills in English?

I will be running a workshop at Ulearn14 in October, so if you are going to be there.  come along and share your ideas.

Five Card Story: The Revenge of the Alpacas

a Five Card Flickr story created by 9AR


flickr photo by bionicteaching


flickr photo by Serenae


flickr photo by Serenae


flickr photo by bionicteaching


flickr photo by bionicteaching

One day, there were a bunch of six year old sailors. They kidnapped a young boy called Jimmy. Jimmy was italian with blonde hair and abs. He had a tan and got all the girls. Jimmy was in love with a young girl called Tiana, one of the six year old’s older sister, this made them mad. They saw a poisonous leaf on the edge of their boat. Jimmy touched the poisonous leaf and immediately dropped dead! His crewmates had no idea what to, do so they did what they always did when someone died out at sea. They dumped him in the harsh, stormy sea and the waves encased him in a watery coffin. His lungs filled with salty poison.

After they put him in the sea they all went for dinner in the beach town and they had spaghetti and eggs.

When they were having dinner they saw a body wash up on the shore. They all screamed in horror and spilt their eggs and spaghetti. They were all very sad because it tasted so good and cost them 3 chickens and 5 wooden spoons.The 6 year old irish sailors ran away at 15 miles an hour!

Plot twist! Jimmy woke up, he hadn’t died but he was now riding on a tsunami and then he woke up! It was all a dream! Then he realised he was drowning he tried to swim to the surface but a tiger shark thought he was pretty hungry so he ate the boy. THEN HE WOKE UP AGAIN OMG. Then a pack of alpacas came and ate him. They tore his limbs off and ate them. He died; it turns out he wasn’t dreaming after all.


#Edcmooc Day 1

CD with shell
Shiny things

So, I have finally started! Just read through all the course information and had a moment of rising panic as the Tweets rolled round to the left of the page as I tried to concentrate!  Read that one person is going to use Tum,blr to collate all his thoughts, somebody else has created a pearltree (first distraction – had to find out what a pearltree was!), then noticed that lots of people have created a special blog just for the course.  Is that what I should do? How am I going to collate all the resources?  Is one supposed to?  I have no idea how to go about all of this but have decided that there is no right or wrong way and am about to take the plunge.

I will carry on blogging here, after all “E-Learning and Digital Cultures” is a part of my Learning Journey.  I will put the resources here and try to address some of the questions here too as well as Tweeting and Google +.  I have decided to sideline FB – too many other distractions and I need to focus!  So, video No 1 – Bendito Machine III

What is this film suggesting are the ecological and social implications of an obsession or fixation on technology? Do the film’s characters have any choice in relation to their technologies? What are the characteristics of various technologies as portrayed in this film?

I guess in a “throwaway” society where companies plan the release of new models of technological gadgets then market them so aggressively to a very specific target audience, the ecological impact on our fragile earth is significant.  How much rubbish with dangerous chemicals leeching out can the world absorb?  We have a garage littered with old technology – television, cassette players, cameras, record players,  computers, and none of them are more than twenty years old.  Already binned either because they no longer work, or more likely because something newer, smaller and shinier came along.  Humans have always vied to have the latest and the brightest new thing – it is not a new phenomenen.  But technology is developing at a phenomenal rate and advertising plays on our weakness for “oneupmanship”, to go one better than the Joneses.  It has become an obsession and I think that as in the film, we end up having no choice.  We see acquiring the next new gadget as the way to happiness, to instant gratification, to being successful….   (oops tea is ready – better continue later!)

But can we build some sort of sustainability of practice?  If we look at Roger’s bell curve of adoption, there are the innovators and early adopters, the folk that grasp the new shiny things, experiment with them, develop ways of using them, share ideas and practice and then move on.  Which leaves the next wave of people – the majority who wait for new technologies to be tried and tested before adopting them and maybe adapting the ways they can be used.   Again, I don’t think this is anythig that diverges from historical social behaviour.  We are all different, some people are predisposed to taking risks, others to more thoughtful behaviour and yet more who are risk averse.  The rate at this development is taking place now is different?  Or is it?

Ray Kurzweil talks about exponential growth – the rate of adopting new technologies is doubling every decade.  Biological and technological evolution are inextricably linked,  adoption and interaction of new technologies  create a capability that enables the next stage of development.

History suggests that our society can cope with change, it can cope with obsession, but can it cope at the rate change is happening now?  Parents have always complained about their children asking for the latest technology “because all my friends have it”!  They still do, and they always will because, as I have already said, it is part of human nature.  They also always say “Ooh, it was never like this in our day!  Life was much simpler…” and that too is true and they will continue to say it in the future.

I ma starting to ramble so it is probably time to stop….not sure if I have answered the questions!