Sunday, November 28, 2010

Barry MacDonald - Implicit Social Contract

"Highly engaging visual ways of communicating thought" ~ Barry MacDonald

In this 90 second clip Barry MacDonald uses the concepts from Jeff Wilhelm's Implicit Social Contract. We all need to be making these types of connections with our boy learners.

First Mr. MacDonald speaks with the boy personally about his "trials and tribulations at school". This is first and foremost in Jeff Wilhelm's description of an implicit social contract, (Page 99) of Reading Don't Fix No Chevys.

Second, Mr. MacDonald zeros in on the personal concerns the boy has, "the boy feels like his intelligence isn't really expressed in his current environment, and has a written output problem" These are individual challenges the boy has. We know this as Mr. MacDonald explains specific examples.

Third, Mr. MacDonald asks the boy about his "discretionary passions", or in lay-persons terms, what the boy does for fun. The boy explains his personal interests include robotics, recording TV with a PVR and creating mash-ups and re-mixes using iMovie and uploading them to YouTube. This is the third important characteristic in Wilhelm's social contract: attend to my interests.

Jeff Wilhelm writes that if a teacher meets even one of these conditions, boys tended to respond positively and learn from and work hard for that teacher. So there is the challenge.

5 Steps to an Implicit Social Contract
by Jeff Wilhelm

1) To try to get to know our boys personally in a professional teacher/student relationship,
care about them as individuals and
3) attend to their interests. The other two are
4) help them learn and work to make sure that they learn and
5) teachers should be passionate, commited, work hard and know his or her stuff.

I try to at least meet one of the social contract indicators (but hopefully more) each and every time I work with boy learners.

Thank you Mr. MacDonald for sharing this powerful example.

Video Source: TedX - UBC

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Time to Talk with Camera in Hand

Yesterday I worked with a group of 6 squirming, active, interested boys as they are now at the stage of filming their anti-bullying themed public service announcement video.

My involvement with these boys, as a part of a larger group of about 60 middle schoolers has been great. The lesson had a lot going for it for boy writers.

First we started last week by brainstorming and writing scripts. Small chunks, short sentences and they had to "solve it in 6 frames". This solve it in six method is a method of problem - solution that I learned from Marco Torres a few years back. This short clear method of storyboarding makes the task more manageable. (watch the video in this post)

Second, it was hands on and an activity (the filming) where standing up and "acting" is allowed. Yesterday, I took a few moments to show the group how to load and unload a Mini-DV tape into one of our Canon cameras. Each of the boys took a turn to load the tape and then eject it. They got a chance to hold the camera, and get a feel for it before filming began.

As we walked to some of the locations for the filming, I remembered how important "the social" is for our boy learners. They were talking about how and where the scenes would take place. "In the hallway here, then the next scene is in the library", I overheard them say.

Who knows what this experience will bring about for these lads. Perhaps a new pleasure in the writing of a script, or the operation of a camera. Maybe one of the boys will become interested in film, or editing when we begin to import our footage tomorrow.

What I do know is that small groups, chunking and hands on, were the order of the day.

I wonder what I'll learn next time.

Video Credit: From Marco Torres Full Day Presentation at NECC 2006 in San Diego

Friday, November 12, 2010

Today's Session - Resource Links

First of all thank you to the 75 or so folks who attended my session today in the Aurora Room at the Sheraton Parkway as a part of the annual conference in Toronto. I really was surprised to see you all, especially since Dr. Thornburg was speaking at the same time!

I wanted to take a few lines here to provide links to some of the resources I mentioned today so it will be a little easier for you to find them instead of scrolling or searching the blog.

I was asked where to start if one was to read more about boys and writing or boys and literacy. My hands down choice is the book pictured above. Jeff (I call him Jeff) Wilhelm's book, "Reading Don't Fix No Chevys" was where I started. My favourite principal handed me a copy in 2005. Little did I know then that reading about boy writers would become an obsession.

Second, the writing continuum matrix (which was ever so hard to read on the screen). Here is a clean .pdf copy of it for your viewing pleasure. It really has been my bread and butter the last few years. It gets me in the door of more schools and classrooms to support our boy writers than any other document.

A few websites that may be hard to find on some of the research I quoted.

1. Caroline Daly's - Literature search on improving boys' writing
2. Boys' Writing Flyers - Talk, Visual Texts, Purpose and Audience, Feedback on Learning
3. Visualizing Literacy - Building Bridges with Media

Lastly, I was asked for my keynote presentation but after some thought I'll not be posting it for a couple of reasons. The first being the privacy part as I used quite a few student samples and second out of respect for copyright, I'd better keep asking my permissions so I will fall in line with what my friend @thecleversheep would advocate.

Again, thank you for the overwhelming response to my session today and please, by all means, join in on the conversation in the comments area. I'd love to hear about your triumphs and challenges with your boy writers and it will give us a chance to continue the conversation.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Pink or Blue

I received this tweet from Mary-Beth Hertz this week. Once I've read the article I'll respond.

Should be an interesting conversation. Check back in a couple of days and join in!