Momento: The 21st Century Version of the Diary

When I was a child, and we won’t discuss how long ago that way, we used a pencil and paper to record our thoughts.  As a little girl I had a diary, complete with lock and key that I kept hidden in my bedroom.  Many of my friends had them as well and that was supposed to be a safe haven or protected area for your deepest thoughts and secrets.   At least until our parents suspected something and found them.  That usually did not end well.

fb_momento_iconFast forward to today and the diary has evolved to include neither paper nor pencil.  Following suit with other means of writing, the diary has gone digital and be accessed right on your smartphone.  The app Momento allows you to record your thoughts anywhere, requiring nothing but the cell phone you most likely already had with you.  This allows us to record our experiences in the moment, instead of after they have already occurred when important details can be overlooked and difficult to recall.  This app remediates the need to keep our thoughts, adventures and secrets on paper, where they can be found and used against us (if necessary).  There is far more protection on a smartphone, and this app, with a pass code than my old diary ever had (my mom used to open mine with a pair of scissors).

image2 In Momento, you can input information on the current day or go back and input on days that have already passed.  The key feature in this app is that you can connect it to your social media accounts, and input your locations whenever you check-in to a place.  When you tag friends, those friends are included in the event as well.  Photos can be attached as well as tags relating categories to the event.  Most importantly, Momento simplifies the time previously required to record events.  It also provides a searchable log of either your day-to-day activities or annual family vacations.  The choice is yours, simply based on how you choose to use the app.

image5

 With such a vast array of social media sites to link to, you are sure to never miss an adventure, vacation, or Saturday in the city because you forgot to write it in your journal.  Momento even has a programmable reminder so that you don’t forget to take a picture or enter a daily log of events.

This app been quite popular in the past, earning the “iPhone App of the Year” Runner-up award in 2011 and continues to update its interface to make the user’s experience easier and more enjoyable.

Momento is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod touch and is $2.99 on the Apple App Store.

 

Disney Creatively Inspires Learning

On December 4, 2014, Brooks Barnes of The New York Times, posted an article titled “Disney to Introduce New Apps Focused on Learning.” To a college student studying new technologies influence on writing, learning, and education, this title jumped off the page, and captivated my attention. However, due to my current use of new literary technologies, this metaphor is relatively obsolete. Now I have to say, jumped off the “screen,” because the article by Barnes was not posted in The New York Times newspaper. It was posted on The New York Times website, with no subscription or purchase necessary. If this is not supporting evidence of technologies influence on writing, than what is?

The New York Times website is an evident example of technological remediation. Defined by Bolter, “Remediation involves both homage and rivalry, for the new medium, but also makes an implicit or explicit claim to improve the older one.” (page 23). Do The New York Times’ online articles improve their newspaper? If I were to answer this question I would say absolutely. The networking capabilities of the Internet created an efficient and accessible news station. Ask my grandfather the same question and he won’t dignify a response. Though there are assets and complications to both sides of the news publishing processes, the importance lies with The New York Times “implicit or explicit claim to improve the older one.” (Bolter, page 23).

As well as The New York Times, Disney has had an essential influence on the public for multiple generations. Disney’s’ intentions to implement positive learning applications are similar to the progressional effort of The New York Times, and the creation of their website. They should not be viewed negatively, and according to Barnes, “Disney Publishing Worldwide unveiled a technology-driven learning initiative called Disney Imagicademy. Aimed at families with children aged 3 to 8.” The use of technology has substantially increased in children, and Disney is taking a positive advantage by providing a “learning” resource. “The media conglomerate is being careful to describe the initiative as learning and not educational,” due to “harshly criticized marketing claims tied to its Baby Einstein line.” (Barnes). Porter and DeVoss offer some support for Disney’s effort. “New economies of writing are emerging that promise to carry writing practices in directions that are not yet clear but which will have significant impact on basic literacy.” (page 195).

Disney’s application’s “significant impact on basic literacy” is yet to be defined. Though there intentions are clearly positive and progressional. Barnes explains, “Disney developed Imagicademy in conjunction with advisers like Douglas H. Clements, an expert on early childhood mathematics from the State University of New York at Buffalo.” “Imagicademy will include more than 30 app-based “experiences” centered on various subjects – math, science, language arts, emotional and social skills.” (Barnes).There are a vast variety of applications available to children, and Disney is trying to provide an app. that derives a learning process from it’s users. An unsurmountable amount of applications need parents to consciously consider the hindering interference they have on their child’s education and ability to learn. Bolter explains that the effort of improvement is the important property (page 23). “This is a substantial commitment,” Bob Chapek, president of Disney Consumer Products, said in an interview.” (Barnes). Disney’s conscious effort and commitment is clear. Imagicademy, was developed based on “learning,” and should be the last application ridiculed, as well as, accused of deceit.

Writer’s Block

Let’s face it. Writer’s block is something we have ALL faced at one point or another. It’s irritating, a waste of time, and intruding. What can we do to conquer this evil monster?? The Creativity Post shared a wonderful article written by Elifrustrated_610_300_s_c1_center_centerzabeth Grace Saunders titled, “When You’re Staring Blankly at Your Computer.”

Saunders gives plenty of bullet points in the article to help us with gaining productivity back when we think it’s a lost cause. She says the key is often to step back. Not to just clear your mind of anxiety, but to actually address what’s making you nervowritersblockus–lack of clarity. This can be done by breaking down what you need to get done into the smallest of baby steps. “This is particularly helpful when you need to move a messy project ahead but can also work with more routine tasks where you notice a resistance to getting started.”

The nest time you find yourself thinking you’ll just stay up as late as you need to in order to get the work done, (which leads to wasting time and being sleep deprived), try to get yourself motivated, (which isn’t always necessary and can lead to more procrastination), or stick with the task but having it take waaaaayyyyy longer than it should take……remember to take a deep breath, step away from the task, and break it down into smaller steps! Here’s to happy writing!

Claim Your Inner Creativity

I read an interesting article on The Huffington post titled, “How To Claim Your Inner Creativity,” by author Faisal Hoque. Hoque regularly writes articles, blogs, and papers on Sunday mornings as well as tries to outline a new book idea even-MEDITATION-FLOWERS-large570ry summer. For him, writing is one of those happy discoveries that has helped him to “connect better with my purpose, my world, and myself.”

He writes that we have to start off with being MINDFUL.

“When you become a better observer of your own doings, you naturally develop a more realistic sense of yourself. Maybe you aren’t actually so nice to your colleagues all the time, and maybe you shouldn’t have a guilt spiral because of that.” Being more mindful helps us become an overall better person.

Along with being mindful, we must practice POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS.

Emotions allow us to feel passion, creativity, and happiness. However, our emot1-small-positive-thought-in-the-morning-can-change-your-whole-dayions can also be our downfall. Emotions can prevent us from creating the reality we desire. If we believe we can do a task, the chances of it getting done increase immensely. The mind is a very powerful thing that many of us don’t realize the true potential of positive thought.

LEARN, UNLEARN, & RELEARN

There is a word for not knowing: ignorance. The connotation with the word ignorant isn’t a positive one. We are quick to jump to our defense if someone dares to use the word to describe us. But…what’s so bad about not knowing something? We can’t pretend to know everything. Being ignorant is just being a human being. “We can be skillfully ignorant by acknowledging that this is a complex, maybe even opaque world that we’re working in.”

Spin Me A Story

Our power point is here: final project (3)

ADAM G:

Our application Spin Me a Story was developed as an inspirational asset to all levels of writing. Porter explains that, “New economies of writing are emerging that promise to carry writing practices in directions that are not yet clear but which will have significant impact on basic literacy.” (Porter, DeVoss, page 195).

Children today are evidently using technology earlier than any other generation. This produces an optimal advantage for educators. “The internet links millions of people in new spaces that are changing the way we think and the way we form our communities.” (Turkle, page 3). Spin Me a Story was created to use a technology that children are familiar with, as well as, produce a new and exciting way to introduce writing.

Remediation involves both homage and rivalry, for the new medium, but also makes an implicit or explicit claim to improve the older one.” (Bolter, page 23). Therefore, when used efficiently, new technologies are beneficial resources. Our application was designed to improve the writing process. Offering the users inspiration, creativity, composition, and fluency.

When an account is created in Spin Me a Story, the user is welcomed into a new writing community. Our application portrays Porter’s ideology of delivery, by making all finished stories available and accessible to each user. “Students’ writing will be published writing, and it will be produced in genres and by processes that depart radically from the traditional ways writing has been practiced and taught.” (Porter, DeVoss, page 195).

Account customization is essential to the individuality of the user. The “Favorite” questionnaire is implemented to influence the categories, genres, formats, and other users, the applicant is connected with. Spin Me a Story is a new literary technology, constructed as an educational resources, to increase the users’ interest and enthusiasm in writing.

__________________________________________


KYLIE T:

Bolter said that some educators imagine a classroom in which books are replaced by virtual environments. Spin Me a Story has the capability to create student and teacher accounts. Having the option to create two different types of accounts will allow the user to personalize their creative writing experience. After creating a username and password, as Adam previously showed, a page will pop up asking what type of account you want to create.

On this page, there will be two options to choose from; “I am a student” or “I am a teacher.” If the user  clicks the button “I am a student,” they will then be taken to a page where they can select their age, grade, and if this is for a school project, a class meeting, or for a fun creative writing experience. The app will provide developmentally appropriate words to the student depending on the age and grade they select.

If the user clicks “I am a teacher,” they will be directed to a page that asks them if they want to create a class code. The teacher will have the ability to leave comments on the student’s drafts, give suggestions, or only allow the students with a class code spin a certain genre.

After the type of account is selected, the user will be directed to a page where they have the option to sync their work to social media. As Porter and DeVoss state, the act of writing is fundamentally collaborative and social. The user will be able to ‘share’ their spins and final work via these social media sites to show their peers and parents/guardians what they are writing and drawing about.

From here, a page will pop up asking the user to select the type of story they plan to write about. There is always the option to pick a new style. The available styles include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, a memoir, letter, blog post, newsletter, and songwriting. Like Bolter said, digital technology changes the look and feel of writing, and Spin Me a Story does just this (pg. 24).

 

___________________________________________________________

ASHLEY M:

 

Bolter discusses the use of technology in education, and the role of computers in the writing process. Using this app, students are using the computer directly to produce a creative writing piece that can be accessed from anyplace at anytime. From here, students will be asked to choose a theme for their story. Fantasy, Mystery, Adventure, and Sci-Fi are just some of the options available.

Once a genre catches the student’s attention, they are free to click their favorite, and begin spinning and choosing words that will be incorporated into their creative story. A picture representing the chosen genre will pop up, making sure students chose the correct theme. Once chosen, students will click “begin” to spin for story words.

Now the fun part begins! Students will press the slot machine “SPIN” button to spin all four word and phrase categories. Each category focuses on a different subject, action, description, and so on. A full sentence is created when the categories are read from left to right. Here we have, “Write an email to a tricky princess who can fly.”

If the student doesn’t like a word or phrase they have been given, they can choose to spin again in one or more categories. Instead of writing about a tricky princess, they might spin to write about a tricky frog. They have unlimited spins until they finally land on something they like. This student spun to write a report about a silly frog who can skate.

A screen will appear encouraging the student. Porter and DeVoss say, “Writing is hypertext and the delivery of multimedia content via the Internet and the Web.” By choosing themes that might interest other friends, the student’s stories can be easily shared over the Web. Gee asks if video games are a waste of time. While this isn’t a video game, it is a game, and it’s valuable in writing creatively.

__________________________________________________________________

SAMANTHA C

Prior to beginning the writing of the story, the student is given the option to have a bonus word or a picture prompt to help them further their story.  At this point they are able to rate the creativity level of the words obtained from the spin.  If they aren’t sure about the choices they have been given, they can check to see if they represent an appropriate creativity level based on their age and grade they entered earlier in the app. They can skip this page if they choose not to use these options.

The student then has the option to continue with their prompt, or spin again to start over with a whole new set of prompts. This is beneficial when the student receives a set of prompts that are familiar to a story that they already know.  This choice reduces the possibility of plagiarism should the student copy that story and attempt to use it as their own.  DeVoss and Porter express this idea in their statement that “we must renegotiate our personal and institutional approaches to plagiarism”.

Several different writing formats are available as Kylie previously mentioned.  When the student chooses to continue with their prompts, they will advance to this screen.  They simply click on the format they want and are taken to a template to begin writing their chosen piece.  This is an example of what Bolter referred to when he said “digital technology changes the ‘look and feel’ of writing and reading”.  Pre-populated templates eliminate the need for design and construction of blogs, newsletters, etc.

Here is one example of the formats available, the newsletter template.  To enter text or upload a photo, the student simply clicks on the appropriate box.  Each of these, as well as the other templates provide the criteria that Tim O’Reilly outlines in regard to Web 2.0.  He stated that “only a small percentage of users will go to the trouble of adding value to your application”.  Therefore, by creating templates with pre-populated fields, users can input information without having to re-create the wheel.

This is another example of available formats, the blog template.  Here, students are able to input not only text, but photos as well, similar to the newsletter template.  This example also follows O’Reilly’s criteria in regard to the values of user input.  In order to be competitive in the app market, users should be able to “add their own data to that which you provide”.  With these templates, students can input any and all data they chose in various formats.

 ________________________________________________________________

SAM R

The idea of remediation, introduced by Bolter in an article called “Writing in the late age of print”, is when a new technology replaces an old one. Our app transformed the classic format of notebook writing into an organized, user-friendly template. When a user selects this template, their ideas can be saved to wherever they want. Papers easily become messy and lost, an app will stay in your pocket wherever you go.

The “Draw me a Story” snapshot demonstrates an extremely unique function of our app. A user can draw a picture on the screen Microsoft Paint style or they can upload their own picture from their camera roll. Our picture feature promotes creativity and allows users to act on inspiration as it occurs. Images users form while writing will never disappear again. 

When organizing the gallery, users are able to categorize their works into different folders. It is an easy way for users to separate different ideas or genres from the other. There is even an option of allowing works to remain uncategorized, which lets the user have more creative control. The user can alter the names and the amount of the categories as well. 

Combining texts with images have been extremely popular amongst our culture. In an article called “Becoming Screen Literate” by Kevin Kelly, the author writes about how images are becoming extremely well liked by users. Our app allows users to keep texts separate from pictures, combine pictures with texts, or to just paint a picture. It is a functional way to express creativity.

In an article by DeVoss and Porter’s article titled, “Why Napster matters to writing” the authors explain the importance of balance between recognition and ethics. When a user shares a piece of work from the Gallery to social media, our app gives credit where credit is due. Also, during this sharing process, other members of social media are able to experience new works and technology. Our app has found the balance by rewarding both the author and the audience.

Spin Me a Story: Our Writing App Idea

Spin Me a Story! Our creative app is similar to “Mad Libs”, but it’s a little different. It’s for the elementary level; words will spin like a slot machine when they pull the lever, and a random word in each category (noun, adjective, and verb) will appear.  They will create a story based off of what words they were given from the slot machine. Our app will include bright pictures that keep the children’s attention and makes coming up with a topic more fun!

unnamed

Reasons why our app is important/useful:

  • Helps stimulate creative juices by providing pictures to inspire creative writing
  • Helps conquer writer’s block/writing ruts
  • Provides extra practice for writing
  • Can be used at home with parents/guardians, in a classroom, or for creative writing purposes
  • Teaches functions of language (noun, verb, adjective, adverb, etc.)

Technologies’ Influence on Education

One of our blog co-administrators, Samantha Regina (@samantharegina8), tweeted an article from The New York Times, “Technology Changing How Students Learn, Teachers Say,” by Matt Richtel. 

In this article, the information presented for new technologies influence on students, was obtained through a teacher survey. Richtel explained that, “the researchers note that their findings represent the subjective views of teachers and should not be seen as definitive proof.” (page 1). However, Dr. Dimitri Christakis, states that the “teacher’s views were subjected but nevertheless could be accurate in sensing dwindling attention spans among students.” (Richtel, page 4).

In Turkle’s article, “Who Am We?” an excerpt from her book, “Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet,” she explains “ how computers are not just changing our lives but changing ourselves.” (page 3). According to Vicky Rideout’s research, discussed in Richtel’s article, “media use among children and teenagers ages 8 to 18 has grown so fast that they on average spend twice as much time with screens each year as they spend in school.” (page 1). New technologies have an influence on students’ academic careers, as well as, their lives outside of the classroom. The teacher’s that were surveyed said that, “technology was as much as a solution as a problem.” (Richtel, page 3).Therefor, efficient implementations and conscious adaptions are essential to the technologies’ educational resources, and the students academic success. This is a clarion call for a healthy and balanced media diet,” said Jim Steyer, the chief executive of Common Sense Media. (Richtel, page 3).

“The internet links million of people in new spaces that are changing the way we think and the way we form our communities.” (Turkle, page 3). Technologies within a classroom can become a positive asset, or a negative interference. The associate director for Pew Surveys, Kristen Purcell said, “that the education system must adjust to better accommodate the way students learn.” (Richtel, page 2). Dave Mendell, a forth grade teacher, supports Purcell’s ideology of adapting teaching processes to accommodate the way students learn. “Educational video games and digital presentations were excellent ways to engage students on their terms.” (page 3). Other teachers that participated in the survey explained that “they were using more dynamic and flexible teaching styles.” (Richtel, page 3). In an educational setting, an accommodating teaching style is nothing new. The evidence is expressed in the introduction of ESL (English is a Second Language) programs, to understanding the differences between visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners. Is there a difference between involving the three different learning styles and introducing the beneficial use of new technologies in an academic lesson? Or is the evolution of educational technologies progressing; producing new obstacles, outdating older technologies, under constant revision, and in a state of acceptance or rejection?

When Turkle discussed computers as a technology, she said “allow us to cycle through cyberspace and real life, over and over. Windows allow us to be in several contexts at the same time.” (page 3). This introduces the main controversial aspect involving the computers influence on it’s users, and therefor the computer’s influence on students. The acceptance argument is “that the Internet and search engines had a mostly positive impact on student research skills, (…), such tools had made students more self-sufficient researchers.” (Richtel, page 2). Whereas the rejection argument is “that digital technologies were creating an easily distracted generation with short attention spans.” (Richtel, page 2). “Windows have become a powerful metaphor for thinking about the self as a multiple, distributed system. The life practice of windows is that of a decentered self that exists in many worlds, that plays many roles at the same time.” (Turkle, page 3). However an agreement can be made by both sides, students are easily distracted, which makes it difficult for teachers to captivate their attention, conscious effort, and constant engagement.(Richtel, pages 1-3). Dr. Christakis said “students saturated by entertainment media, were experiencing a supernatural stimulation that teachers might have to keep up with or simulate. The heavy technology use makes reality by comparison uninteresting.” (Richtel, page 4).

When used in moderation outside of school, as well as, monitored within the classroom, computers can become an accepted academic resource and a successful educational technology.

Coping With Cancer the Creative Way

“More than 1.6-million Americans will be told they have some form of cancer this year.” What a heart-stopping, eerie, concerning fact. To think that over one million people will be diagnosed with such a deadly disease is mind boggling to me. Fellow blogger, Samantha Catlett, tweeted an article from Zite titled “Patients Use Creativity to Cope with Cancer” by ABC News.

Having a family who has been effected with cancer more than we would like, hearing a number like 1.6 million is very alarming to me. Watching family members suffer from this vicious disease is sickening, and I will forever be an advocate for cancer research. Living with cancer is a daily, draining task. Days are filled with pain and exhaustion. Chemotherapy is nauseating and weakening, and for many people, they feel that there is no end in sight for their cancer.intro pic2

During long painful days, it is utterly important to keep a positive outlook on life. I live by the saying “positive thoughts bring positive outcomes.” I used to tell my aunts and cousin this during treatment, and it seemed to brighten up their days and gave them something to focus on other than pain. They often told me that they needed something bright and comforting. “Patients Use Creativity to Cope with Cancer” sounds like something my family members and others should read.

Moffitt Cancer Center Doctor, Jacob Gardinier Scott, says finding ways to cope can be helpful for patients.  “I find that the people who are able to divert the focus back to something else, something important to them are the ones who even do better,” Scott said.

Studies show having a hobby or creative outlet can improve overall health and well-being. Coping ideas include “gardening, dancing, comedy, blog-writing or even exercise.”

A brain cancer patient’s coping canvas is her skin. “Stamping my arm was something I could control. There were so many things outside of my control” she said. Another patient uses painting and music to cope with his lung cancer. He titled is “My Sarcoma” and shows the progression of his cancer’s journey on each canvas.

What better way to let frustration out and distract yourself from cancer and treatments? For anyone effected by cancer, this is an empowering article to read.

http://abc7chicago.com/video/embed/?pid=425012

Happiness is…a Colon and a Right Parenthesis

h3y wutz good 4 2nite?

Although that sentence should read as a strange compilation of letters and numbers, most Internet users will interpret that sentence as “hey, what’s good for tonight”, which can translate even farther to, “Hey, what are we doing tonight?” Somewhere along the line, it become hideously uncool to utilize proper grammar and spelling on the web; a user was categorized as a “nerd” for simply asking about plans in a grammatically correct fashion.

In an article that I tweeted called “I think, Therefore IM” by Jennifer Lee, it is reported that teachers have seen an increasing amount of students using slang such as “im” “ur” and “wut” in academic works. For many students, using Internet slang has become a lot more comfortable than using proper English. In many cases, such as “wuz” and “was”, the slang is the same length as the proper word; students are not replacing proper words with slang due to convenience. The 2000s generation, students who are now 12-17, grew up on the Internet. While many generations are struggling to accustom themselves with the Internet, the 2000s generation only knows life with a power button. In the article, a teacher named Ms. Harding comments, ”It’s acceptable because it’s in their culture. It’s hard enough to teach them the art of formal writing. Now we’ve got to overcome this new instant-messaging language.” Ms. Harding acknowledges the struggle many students have today with balancing comfort with properness. Students are constantly surrounded by text- speak but are expected to forget all about the language as soon as the first school bell rings.

Not only are students becoming more and more reliant on text-speak, but our entire culture is becoming screen dominant. In an article called “Becoming Screen Literate” by Kevin Kelly, Kelly explains the shift our culture is experiencing. He comments on our culture’s shift, “from book fluency to screen fluency, from literacy to visuality.” While books and libraries were once the future, it has slowly morphed into the past. The future is now and it is a world in which screens take over. The extreme want for visuals coincides with the newest obsession of “fast and easy.”

Just like fast food restaurants, literacy has become a matter of culture and popularity. Vegetables are to hamburgers as textbooks are to internet slang. The world is constantly evolving for both better and worse. While some Internet users are still struggling to turn a computer on, others are struggling to turn it off. At this point, it is all about perspective. While schools have started incorporating technology into the curriculum, it is about time schools go a step further and acknowledge the world that is the Internet.  Each generation offers something new, as a culture we must embrace all the new features in order to broaden perspectives and enhance creativity.

iWrite Words: The Handwriting App

As a iwritefuture educator, I am always on the lookout for creative ways to make learning fun for    my future students. With the Common Core‘s heavy presence in the classroom, various forms  of  writing instruction are crucial. Today, technology is so natural to children and is becoming  more popular  in the classroom, so being able to incorporate technology into writing  instruction will be extremely beneficial for the students while making learning fun.

In preschool and kindergarten classrooms, it is important to have the students practice forming uppercase and lowercase letters. Understanding that children must begin to write letters and numbers by tracing them first is key.

The app iWrite Words is something that can be used to do just this! iWrite Words is available on iPads, iPhones and iPods, and is an excellent way to get children interested and involved with the early stages of the writing process both inside and outside of the classroom.

iWrite Words helps to teach kids how to write the letters of the alphabet, numbers up to 20, and simple words using tracing. While it does help if kids already know how to count and read numbers up to 10 in order to play this game, this app can teach children the basics of letters. This app is available in English, French and Italian, making it a great for dual language learners, too.  After the child traces the letter or number, they hear a cheer, then see their actual handwriting appear based off of how they traced the letter.

This app has received rave reviews which include, “The whole app is delightful to behold. Bright background colors are juxtaposed against equally bright and scribbly child-like artwork that convey the word being spelled. You and your child will enjoy tracing your finger along those necessary building blocks of language. With its memorable artwork and way cool physics engine, it is sure to entertain and teach your child,” and many more.

iwrite3

The next time you are searching for the perfect new app to introduce or reinforce the basics of writing, keep iWrite Words in mind for your preschool and kindergartners.

*This app is available on iTunes for $2.99.