Tag Archives: Writing

Child Hunger

The video I chose to look into further is a student made PSA about child hunger in Africa. The creator of the video chose to use emtional images of small starving children, facts and statstics of child hunger in Africa, and stories about specific children and families. Becaus the creator focuses in on certain people, it feels like case studies are being done. The video makes the viewer feel somewhat attached to the stories and the children hunger affects. Although this remix video touches on logos and ethos, it reaches the emotional side the most. Instead of narrative leading this video, the creator decided to use music with appropriate lyrics (Michael Jackson’s “We Are The World”.)

#HashtaggingAllDayEveryday

Hashtags are a thing every living human under the age of about…..30 (?) is highly familiar with. Frustration sets in when trying to explain the purpose of #hashtag to the older generation. My parents who are 55+, for example, are clueless when it comes to hashtagging.

“Why is “#TGIT” on the screen while I’m trying to watch tv? What is #PopeInPhilly supposed to mean? Why can’t they just have a normal title without the pound sign? #YOLO????” -Dad

(Sidenote for my own amusement: There was a bar in Philly that served home brewed “YOPO” beer. You Only Pope Once.)

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It is time to face 2015. Hashtags have become a part of our lives. Being online (Especially social media!) for just five minutes, you are guaranteed to see one of these tags at least twice: #WCW, #TBT, #MCM, #WBW, #selfie. What does all of the nonsense mean??? Simply put, hashtags are a way to quickly click the tag to view other user’s pictures and tweets that are similar to yours. If I were to post a picture with the hashtag, “#OceanCity,” I am sure to see posts from others that focus on Ocean City!

Lindsey Weeston explains in her article, “12 Hashtags That Changed The World In 2014,” that hashtags were used to raise social awareness of trending topics and issues in the news. Weston focused on “#BlackLivesMatter”…a hashtag that took over the scene on Twitter. She explains that hashtags can be so powerful because they bring people together while spreading the word.

A hashtag that has been taking over the Twitterverse these days is “IStandWithPP.” This hashtag promotes supporting Planned Parenthood through all of the negative attention the media is showing them. #IStandWithPP tweeters show support for women’s health issues.

Hashtags can be fun, important, useless, or groundbreaking. While there is no doubt that hashtags can mean nothing, they can be a positive force to promote good! #HaveANiceDay! #ThanksForReading!

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Let’s Talk!

Barton and Hamilton discuss literacy and social practices in depth in their article titled, “Literacy Practices.” The authors explain how mout forms of literacy have always had some type of social connection attached. Weather it be literacy connected to verbal communication, or simply reading for pleasure, there is usually a human connection that occurs. The social response tied to literacy can have drastic differences depending on the discourse communities it reaches. For example: a community living in poverty would have a very different reaction to a news story about…oh I don’t know…free Thanksgiving dinners, than a community living in Beverly Hills would.

Dicpscourse communities are a topic I have studied extensively here at Rowan University, and can be broken down into a definition as simply as, “A community of people who share a common interest and use similar language to communicate…which usually only makes sense among the community.”

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To give a further example of discourse communities: I have studied ballet my entire life, and sometimes write for dance blogs, magazines, or forums. There is very highly specialized vocabulary in the ballet world that only dancers would ever understand. If I used the same vocabulary in my everyday life that I use when speaking amongst fellow dancers, people would look at me like I was insane! All ballet dancers have a deep understanding of other dancer’s lives and can therefore speak freely without worrying about not being understood by outsiders.

This article by Barton and Hamilton was fairly eye opening, but I feel like most people already knew social aspect was tied to literacy. Maybe I’m wrong!

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.

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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).

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

Werdsmith App

WUnknownerdsmith turns your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch into a portable writing studio, so you can write any time, any place. Hundreds of thousands of writers use Werdsmith to capture their ideas, work on their projects and share their writing. It’s the best writing experience on iOS, and we think you’ll love it.”

The interface of Wordsmith is clean and very user friendly. Werdsmith is the perfect for any writer: novice or expert. The best part about this app is that it’s FREE and available to anyone with a smartphone or tablet. The app stresses how convenient is is for users and how it allows you to write freely without being chained to a desk.

Wordsmith is always at your fingertips, and stays in sync between you iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. The app lets user share their work with others so they can receive quick feedback from other writers. Since all work is backed up to the Cloud, the fear of losing your writing Werdsmith-for-iPhone-3GS-iPhone-4-iPhone-4S-iPod-touch-3rd-generation-iPod-touch-4th-generation-and-iPad-on-the-iTunes-App-Store-e1327122493247is never an issue!   images

RU Stuck in a Writing Rut? Do U Need Traction?

Fellow blogger, Samantha Catlett, tweeted an article from Zite titled “How to Get Out of a Writing Rut” by Amber Lea Starfire.

We have all been there before… sitting at your desk staring at the computer screen, trying to come up with something creative to write about. This task doesn’t seem too difficult, but when you can’t seem come up with a catchy enough topic, the supposed ‘simple writing process’ turns into quite the daunting task.

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Being stuck in a writing rut doesn’t only happen to newbie writers, it happens to the best writers out there, and when it happens, it stinks! I am not saying that I am the ‘best’ writer out there, but as a college student, I have had my fair share of seemingly endless nights sitting at a desk in the corner of the library wishing it was socially acceptable to slam my head against the wall.

As a future teacher, I definitely can relate to Starfire in the sense that she feels as if her writing needs to be on the top of its game at all times. Often enough, this is a reason to get stuck in a deep writing rut;  after all, you can’t have your students thinking you sound absolutely ridiculous or grammatically incorrect! In an article I read for class titled What is a Blog?, Rettberg states that “following a blog is like getting to know someone, or like watching a television series.”

If people start to actually follow my blog posts, I need to sound decent and hopefully creative, and being stuck in a writing rut is not the place  I want to be. I want my blogs to be creative and intuitive, not dull and lackluster.

Starfire listed some great tips that could be done to help shovel our ways out of writing ruts and will hopefully give some traction. For one, if you’re in a writing rut, think outside the box! Not only should you think outside the box, but you should also literally get outside of the boxlike room you are sitting in and allow yourself to be silly. Hopefully acting like a child will give you a new perspective on something and will trigger a creative idea to write about.

As writers, I feel it is important to shake things up and allow yourself to be a over the top for a while. After all, life is too short to be serious all the time!

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Starfire also suggests practicing being someone else. Hmmm, this could be interesting! She suggests that writers should “pick a passage by an author you admire and whose style is not like yours, then write a short piece copying that author’s sentence structure, cadence, and pace exactly (or as exactly as you can).”

I really like this idea, and would love to try it in my next post. Maybe instead of a college student, I will pretend to be a successful adult who has four cats and can afford to pay for my own groceries…

Wattpad: The Story of How Stories Became Stored

A recent App called, Wattpad has taken the world of writing and reading by storm. In order to fully understand what this app is capable of, I will review the app in the perspective of new user.

The homepage of Wattpad looks a little something like this:

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It is both clean and simple. A user can either log in using Facebook, or use an e-mail address to sign up; all in all, it takes about 30 seconds to create and account with WattPad.

Next, the app will ask you pick a variety of your favorite reading genres, which will look like this:

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The format, once again, is extremely quick and clean. Users have the ability to pick as many or as few genres as they wish. This is a quality feature when the user wants either variety or focus.

Based off the genre users picked, the app will generate multiple stories for the user to enjoy.

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The instructions are straightforward and allows users to enjoy a variety of different works of any type of genre. On the app, users can scroll through their “library” and pick a title to read. It’s kind of ironic how a library, once associated with the imagery of an abundance of books, has become a collection of virtual goods.

Once a user settles on a book title, a couple of screens will pop up:

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These two screens demonstrate the main point of the app. On the left, is a piece of work found in a collection of poetry. On the right, the app offers the author, comments, suggestions, and sharing. Adding the comment/liking feature allows users to offer their perspective on the work, which is a nice spin for a literary app. Instead of just reading a poem, users can share opinions and ask/offer help. Another progressive feature of this app is the suggestion category. In order to broaden horizons, suggestions to other writers is extremely helpful. Lastly, the social media aspect of this app is helpful to both writers and readers. If a user posts a poem to Facebook, the user’s friends will have the ability to discover new works.

The social media of this aspect has two sides. While the influence of social media is positive in some respects, ethics should definitely be considered while reviewing this app. While Apps usually don’t resonate with words like  “ethics”, an article called “Why Napster matters to writing: Filesharing as a new ethic of digital delivery” by Danielle DeVoss and James Porter, explains why public sharing is an ethical issue. It is mentioned in the article that “digital filesharing forms the basis for a new ethic of digital delivery, an ethic that should lead us to reconsider our policies regarding plagiarism and that, in general, we should consider when developing digital composition pedagogies.” Copyright becomes an extremely prominent issue in the world of apps; it is becoming easier and easier to steal ideas from authors due to the open forum of apps. With the Wattpad, there are a couple of issues when it comes to the delivery of ethics. While the app itself gives credit where credit is due, the sharing features make it extremely easy for users to steal work. The blame in this situation is a bit ambiguous since Wattpad does an excellent job of giving credit to authors. The problem is that users are sharing works via social media; while the authors are getting credit for their works, it is freely passed along for anyone to see.

This App combines Facebook, Twitter, Kindle, Messanger, and E-mail all into one. Not only does it provide stories based off the users’ interests, but it also provides a social media service. Combining multiple different mediums into one is an example of remediation, which is an idea mentioned in an article called “Writing as Technology” by Jay Bolter. The creators of this app made it possible to blend social media with literature and writing, which is a significant advancement in the worlds of technology and literacy.

All in all, for a free app, I think that this app is definitely worth a download. It allows users to discover, share, and explore the world of literacy in a fun and easy way.

Creative Writing in the Age of Twitter

What is a haiku? If you asked me this question just a couple of years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to give you a decent answer. It wasn’t until twitter until I learned about haikus, and started posting them weekly under the then-popular hashtag, “#HaikuMonday.” Twitter is the perfect outlet for tiny samples of creative writing. In fact, one of my favorite accounts to follow is @VeryShortStory. The owner of VeryShortStory tweets out full stories that take place in 140 characters or less! Truly amazing!

funny-cee-lo-green-face-haiku

Blogger, Sam Regina, posted an article titled, “Creative Writing in the Age of Twitter,” written by Wendy Donahue of the of the Chicago Tribune. The question of how can parents encourage creativity in children’s writing was raised. Donahue responds with, “Each kid is like an uncut diamond. Pushing them is wrong. They have to discover which facets have to come off and which stay so they can glow.” It is important to pursue creativity for personal growth, not for an end result.

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Children are exposed to words now younger than ever. Take a look around. Just last night, I saw an 8 year old boy ask a diner manager for the Wifi password so he could be hooked online. Phones and tablets are glued to our kid’s hands, causing them to read more now than ever. With all of this reading happening, surely they are likely to type their own creative thoughts!

Creative Writing: How to get your characters to move along…

As writers, we have the job of creating, developing, and exploring the characters in our stories.  By stories, I am referring to fiction pieces where characters are made up.  While writing a short fiction piece recently I was stuck in a rut of how to further develop my character in the setting and conflict I had carefully placed her.  What direction would she take, what qualities would she display, and  furthermore, how was her story going to end?

A few weeks after struggling through the 10-page fiction story, which is no comparison to the novels that most authors write, I came across the article Creative Writing:  When Characters are Difficult to Get On With by Charlotte Seager.

As it turns out even the great writers like Stephen King and one of my personal favorites, Roald Dahl,  have difficulty from time to time with their characters.

The problem isn’t with the characters though, it is with the writer, according to Seager.  Those problems are greatest when the writer is removed from the situation the character is in or facing.  If the character being created or developed is a child, the writer will struggle with it if they are not around or observing children.  Stephen King noted that when he was writing about blue-collar workers he was  “one step away from manual labor”.  Being closely related or having experience in a job or profession enabled him to successfully craft his characters.  Having been out of the profession for so long at this point, he stated that “It is definitely harder”.

However, difficult characters don’t always have to be a bad thing.  Another author, Neel Mukherjee commented on these challenges stating that “a troublesome character is far from an unwelcome guest”.  These characters force the author to be creative, explore traits and behaviors that they might not have otherwise considered.  The result of this creativity may lead to a better story line, as well as a deeper and more relatable character altogether.  So while the frustration and aggravation that writers endure when faced with a difficult character is not ideal, it may ultimately be beneficial in the long run.

Tips for character development?  I thought you’d never ask!  Think about the people you already know;  how do they act?  What difficulties have they faced?  What makes them unique?  What is the purpose of your character in the story?  Those are great places to start and then move on to research and observation.  However, if that doesn’t help, perhaps this article from Writer’s Digest will:  The 9 Ingredients of Character Development

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Which direction will your character take?