Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Law School Experiment

I have a real treat for ya'll today!

My buddy from undergrad Cesar has a blog too.
Cesar is the kind of guy who once he finishes his least favorite class in Law School for the semester he rewards himself by getting a big tasty burger. That's American for you! American University that is, check out www.thelawschoolexperiment.blogspot.com. Cesar is an excellent writer and his blog is full of great material even if you don't go to law school or care about the law (renegades). The blog started as an experimental diary kind of thing through the eyes of a first year law student at American University and now it's finals week of his first semester. He had a take home final this week in Torts, it took him 8 hours (but I think the professor designed it that way, Cesar's not a dumb guy). Cesar had a great idea, "Why not record the whole thing and play it back in super fast forward?" He did and gave me permission to reproduce it on my blog.

Bonus: he sets it to one of my favorite hip hop jams of all time!

Some things I like in this video:

1. the music
-I fucking love Coolio. I don't care who knows it.

2. it's made on a mac
-i can tell because of the iMovie titles

3. Gators
-look at his shirt

4.The forethought that went into this project
-it takes a special person to even think of doing this let alone follow through. Think of the implications on the hardware alone. Do you have any idea what kind of hard drive can hold 8 hours of video? A HUGE hard drive. that's the answer

5. I have been doing this for the past 3 days
-I have final papers due as well, as do many, almost all, of my friends. We all spent ludicrous amounts of time in front of these screens with no thought to what kind of physical shape we're in or what kind of idiosyncratic tendencies arise...leading to point 6

6.Look at the eyes and mouth of Cesar
-you should have noticed this without me saying anything

7. the pile of clothes.
-I hope it's a grad school thing and not a lazy bachelor from south florida thing that i too have a pile(s) of clothes laying around my apartment.

As an experimental vlog this video get 5 stars. I think it's super neat. And if you do too, tell Cesar, again his url is www.thelawschoolexperiment.blogspot.com

Monday, December 7, 2009

"Ot Azoy"

UPDATE: this post was reposted at www.teruah-jewishmusic.blogspot.com. The author Jack, a real nice guy from Michigan, added some interesting insight into the video and added a performance he found of a traditional klezmer group. So if you find the opportunity check out his blog.

This is my final Studio Project for P650. It's what I call a Docu-Vlog. A variation of the normal Vlog, a Docu-vlog follows a documentary format, unlike the more narrative vlog.

It follows the history of the old Yiddish song, "Ot Azoy" as it has traveled through time, genre, and countries. It ends with an original remix, lyrics and music by me. Enjoy!

technologies used: garageband, imovie, final cut express hd, quicktime x

Some discussion points:
What is it about thematic songs that cause them to be rooted in the human psyche and translate across cultures and time?
What themes become memes in the human psyche of music?
How can Docu-Vlogs, or other edu-tainment tools, help students come to new understandings of cultural themes?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tweeting Characters

This is the Design Paper for P544, taught by Dr. Danish, he's been brought up a few times. I am producing it here for anyone who wants to read it, comment on it, and use it (teachers). I am flattered and happy if anyone wants to implement this unit or variations of it, just please, ask for permission. I have no intention of saying no, I just need to know who is using it.
So here it is, an early draft of Tweeting Characters, a twitter activity for a high school english class.

Tweeting Characters, Design Paper

Jeffrey Kaplan 12/2/09

Design Paper (P544), Dr. Danish, Indiana University


Activity and Framework

This is a participatory and interactive form of character analysis and interactive role-playing common to most ELA (English Language Arts) classes studying literature, emphasizing so

cial media via utilizing the affordances of Twitter (www.twitter.com). The proposed activity will promote critical literacy and build writing-relevant knowledge in the students wherein the tweets are simultaneously several cognitive and socio-cultural tasks. By only allotting 140

characters per message students are constrained by the affordances of the media to write complete thoughts or dialogue in the allotted space. The unit is currently being designed to compliment The Crucible being taught in 2 different ELA classes in Indiana. The first class to implement Tweeting Characters (from here on out to referred to as TC) is Jane Doe's* class at Northeast High* in Bloomington, In. and the second class will be Joe Nutamaker's* class a Eastern Thomas High School*, both classes are Juniors.

TC has each student assuming the role of a character in the play and tweeting as that character. Tweets will consist of an inner monologue and communication to other characters. The goal of the activity, and it’s core importance, is for students to come to new understandings about the play, time period, and characters through creating a personally meaningful and interactive story, while building 21st century skills. The effectiveness of TC will first be evident through the coherent monologue and dialogue of the characters. Secondly, more formal evidence will be proven through either thematic and character analytic constructed response items. There will be great care taken into consideration concerning the assurance that the technology used will be effective and meaningful ways to maximize their potential[i].

Cognitive Theoretical grounding

Twitter lends itself to several cognitive processing tasks such as efficiency of words (considered the affordances and constraints of the media), and interactions within memory schemas in the brain, including genre and topic knowledge. These acquired skills are the foundational cognitive processes of skilled writers (McCutchen, D., 2000). The activities in TC are designed in step with Deborah McCutchen’s (2000) work that building links between working-memory and writing processes will increase writing-relevant knowledge and make our students skilled writers. As students read through the play they will be required to tweet their characters thoughts and/or messages a predetermined number per scene. This activity will activate the short-term working memory (what the student just read) while appropriating that into the long-term working memory (the mindset of their character) and communicating that tweet in a “true to genre” text artifact. For example, in the prologue of The Crucible a tweet from Reverend Parrish may look like this, “@RevParris Thank you to all my friends and fellow congregants for praying for @BeckyParris”. Conversely his house servant Tituba may tweet,

“@Tituba Please don’t let @RevParris blame me on ‘dis too #missingbarbados”. The workings of the memory schema throughout the duration of the readings, coupled with the students keeping in character, while communicating through a constrained media format are cognitive processing tasks (McCutchen, D., 2000; Hickey, D. T. & Kaplan, J. B., In Press). The further the students enhance their cognitive development of topic knowledge and genre knowledge, the more appropriately the students can have discourse (McCutchen, D., 2000) through Twitter creating a bridge into socio-cultural theory at work in TC.

Socio-Cultural Theoretical Grounding

Twitter is a social media platform, meaning the community of practice (in the case of TC that community is 17th century Salem, Massachusetts) bases the success of the media on the participation. Furthermore, each community of practice has its norms, affordances, and constraints. The affordances and constraints were more fully emphasized in the cognitive theoretical grounding; the norms and participation fall into the socio-cultural scope. These norms are ReTweeting (RT), Hash-tagging (a system of cataloging and referencing keywords via the # symbol), and profile referencing (wherein tweets can hyperlink to profile pages via @).

TC would be remiss to not include these tools as requirements for the students participating because these tools are the greatest strengths of Twitter that maximize its potential usefulness. In the earlier example of Tituba profile referencing @RevParris there is a discourse unique to the community of practice. The artifact from that one encounter cues the viewer into a dialogue as well as a personal monologue in the Hash-tag #missingbarbados. The characters act in effect as a surrogate for the students continually appropriate the text from The Crucible in addition to each other’s tweets. In student examples of RTing it is expected that at climactic points in the play there will be an increase in RT activity where the community circulates the tweets. This is fundamental to language use, allows for group membership to grow, and defines the characters in new ways (Hull & Rose, 1989). Exploiting the students’ involvement in social media tools and participatory culture will scaffold the critical and analytic skills they currently possess, as well as providing them with the awareness and confidence they need to be successful Twitter users, and enable them to critique messages that permeate their lives in media and canonical text (Morrell, E. & Duncan-Andrade, J., 2002).


This unit is designed to increase motivation to learn and participate in the classroom while using new media tools and aligning with Indiana Standards. TC aligns to Indiana State Standards that emphasize the need for students to respond to historically and culturally relevant works of literature and to analyze characteristics of different literary genres[ii]. TC also utilizes 21st century skills emphasizing the social media Twitter.com. The students will require cognitive processing tasks as they grapple with the genre and topical knowledge as they appropriate their tweets through the media. That media is socio-cultural by nature as it is defined by a community of practice invested in membership and participation that fulfills the need for critical literacy of literary text creating skilled writers through both learning theories.

* Pseudonyms to protect teachers and students currently in program.

[i] This is sentiment is generally understood throughout the academic community, however the Author would like to highlight the fact this sentiment is particularly present at the blog www.joshuadanish.com and more specifically http://www.joshuadanish.com/2009/11/12/twitter-and-blogs-and-facebook-and/ .

[ii] Indiana Standards in English 11.3, 11.3.1, and 11.3.5 as of 09/09/09