ALP Reflection #bookhenge

This week was the most hectic! It taught me how to be particularly diligent.

The multimedia presentation for my Action Learning Project was overwhelmingly challenging. It kept me ‘wrestling’ with technology from Sunday evening until dawn hours (5:00 a.m.) of Monday May 2. The beauty of it is that I didn’t feel any fatigue or any reluctance. My goal was to produce and to produce creatively.  During the
implementation of my project, the teens’ fascinating involvement and their assiduous
commitment to the task helped me get better inspired and as a result inspire
them more. We worked collaboratively and side by side. We taught each other and
learned from each other. I introduced them to some web2.0 tools and moved back to watch them excel in using them. I gave them the keys, but they found their ways
to the gate of creativity. Each one of them crafted according to one’s own intelligence.          I enjoyed witnessing the variety of skills they had and the multiplicity of outcomes they generated. It was a real social act of learning. Can’t wait to see it happen in my own classroom, a classroom ‘with no walls’.  I am ready!

The course ECI521 (Educational Curriculum and Instruction) is actually the connotation of Exercise Creativity & Inspiration. We did!

Thank you Dr. Crissman

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Post-FOKI #bookhenge

Personal Goals

–  Incite my students to become avid readers by offering them the opportunity to learn vibrantly about conditions they may deal with later in life.

It is true that for the time being I am not working as a teacher, but I get to see and talk to young adults. The teacher in me is always present even in my simple interaction with people. Now, when in society, I find myself sitting with young adults and advocating different YA novels or even discussing one if it happens that a young adult had read. For instance, I remember talking so passionately about Nothing
(absurdity, savagery, hope/despair, that one week later, Laila came thanking me
for recommending this book to her. Actually, I hadn’t literally done so, but I
spoke about it so passionately that she found herself ‘compelled’ to read it. This
is how I envisage myself in a real classroom (a classroom with ‘no walls’, but
with the passion of learning/teaching socially and democratically).

–  Become much more informed about multiple genres of international YAL and introduce
them to my students.

–  Connect students from my class with students from all over the world (especially Lebanon) so that we can broaden the social sphere.

The course ECI 521 has offered me the opportunity to delve into the
numerous poems of Naomi Shihab Nye whose writing is greatly influenced by the
dual cultures of the U.S. and the Middle East. I have introduced some of these
poems to the adolescents who have participated in my Action Learning Project. I
wonder if their impressive immersion in this project is partly related to their
connection with the poet’s origin since they are the offspring of
Lebanese-American parents.

Additionally during this same course, I was introduced to the
graphic novels. Persepolis was probably my favorite novel for this semester and
it totally changed my perception about the graphica genre. For the first time,
I get to realize that this genre highly deserves to be considered among the
other resources offered to young adults. Despite the fact that my ALP was
centered around poetry, I haven’t missed the opportunity of greatly recommending

–  Create online Literature circles and/or a virtual book club.

My Action Learning Project for ECI 521 entailed the creation of a poetry club (on VoiceThread) where a group of five young adults (American/Lebanese) shared different poems for Naomi Shihab Nye (America/Palestinian), read them, interacted with them,
and created through them. The whole process was very engaging and very social. I
am determined to make this circle larger and larger now that I have a better grasp of Web 2.0 tools and got to highly believe in some learning theories such as Vygotsky’s Social Constructivism, Creativity, and Engagement.

–  Fashion media production on the web.

I have created four bookcasts related to four different YA novels – Nothing, Revolver, The Piper’s Son, and The Wager. For the first three I used Photostory while for the fourth
I ventured using the web 2.0 tool Xtranormal.

I have completed two projects with two wonderful classmates. One of the projects was a bookcast inspired by The Orange Houses and the other was a Powerpoint presentation where we pasted strips I had created on Toondoo. This one was inspired by Persepolis.

All of them were uploaded on youtube and displayed in the beautiful Star Island in Second Life.

I can’t believe how much I have learned about technology during this course and I am very enthusiastic about introducing these tools to my students one day. Additionally, I have found out that the key to engagement is connection. Now, I know the tool and I know how to create the connection!

Despite the fact that I am not a teacher in a classroom yet, I am certain more than any time before that this is what I want to do and this is who I want to be. I am better equipped and better prepared.

A million thanks to Dr. Crissman

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It Is Finally Born! #bookhenge

My ALP multimedia presentation

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Update on my ALP #bookhenge

The participants in my ALP have already responded according to their intelligences to different poems for Naomi Shihab Nye. We had trouble uploading audio and video, but we looked for some solutions and we could finally resolve the issue. Now, they are in the process of giving me some feedback on their experiences. The pieces are being put together and hopefully by the end of the week I will witness the birth of my final project.

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Reflection on the Interview with Marchetta and Update on my ALP #bookhenge

Our interview with Melina Merchetta

The experience is just unforgettable!                                                                                                 Melina’s voice (especially with her beautiful and glorious Australian dialect) is still resonating in my ears the same as Finnikin, Evanjelin, and Tom’s voices did when I read ‘their stories’.  Melina and the ECI521 participants were all interacting live on the Star Island in Second Life. Although I was fully engaged in this event, I still can’t believe it is something real! 21st century technology is just outstanding: it can assemble people
from all around the world at any time and under any ‘star’. I had watched some
youtube videos of interviews with her and they were truly appealing; however, observing
her moving, walking, talking, laughing, and even ‘flying’ instantly in the vicinity of her peculiar dwelling had a much bigger impact and a much larger significance.

Melina is very authentic with herself, her characters, and her readers. The rhythms created in her head were so vibrating that I could hear them, feel them, and savor them…

ALP Update

My ALP is coming along slowly but beautifully! My group of young adults                          has been very committed to my poetry club despite their schools’
requirements. We have been reading/relishing some of Naomi Shihab Nye’ poems, sensing
them, interacting with them, and creating through them. Each one of these
wonderful adolescents has been intermingling differently according to one’s
intelligence. We are still editing, adding, deleting, and assessing every product;
and the pieces are still in the process of being put together. What really
matters to me is the lively spirit with which these teenagers have been working
to create their own work of art. Meanwhile, I am being able to take pleasure in
witnessing the growth of the little artist inside each one of them. Very excited
and can’t wait to see the final outcome!

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My Revised Literature Review Lite

Following is my revised Literature Review Lite that is pertinent to my Action Learning Project.


It mainly investigates the following question: How can a work of art turn us from mere observers into real creators?

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If a Word Tells a Story, a Picture Tells Hundred Stories… #bookhenge

How to describe my experience with Skeleton Sky? The truth is the beginning was so frustrating. It started with something like a cat and a mouse chase: I was nervously trying to ‘hunt’ the words; next it developed into mystifyingly traversing a maze: I was befuddled about the sequence to follow; then it ended up like something similar to a video game: once you get to know how to play it, you can’t put it down. With every key you hit, you
live a different experience. Thus, I believe that the more ‘digitally’ oriented your brain is, the more comfortable you can be with Skeleton Sky. This conclusion carries me to the theory of Radical Change introduced by Eliza T. Dresang. This concept is mainly about associating literature with common features of the digital age.

Radical Change is here!

Don’t you believe that the word is a reflection of the world? Personally, I have always valued the existence of the correlation between literature and life. Actually, their bond is more a sort of that reciprocal movement of high and low tides. A quick reflection that has
just hit my mind: both ‘literature’ and ‘life’ start with ‘li’ which in French (pronounced ‘lee’ and spelled ‘lit’) means read. And it is true that literature reads life. What does that entail? When life changes its ‘guise’, so does literature (changes its ‘eyes’). When life becomes more sophisticated, more eloquent, and more engaging, so does literature. When life becomes more visual, more social, more interactive, and more accessed, so does literature. If it fails to do so, a damaging abyss will disconnect them and the main victim
would be the young reader.

Fortunately, literature is aware of this danger. Thus, in a century that reflects what Dresang (1993) calls Radical Change, we have seen works of art which efficiently manifest that change.

I think back of some books I have met this semester in my course ECI521 and that reflect this change. Will Grayson, Will Grayson which stars gay characters reflects an aspect of this change in the fact that it openly and boldly brings forward the marvelous relationship between two gay characters; Nothing does also mirror some f eature of this change: its format allows a more interactive reading and creates a profound impact on the reader who experiences ongoing contemplation by psychologically discovering various altitudes of connotation; Finnikin of the Rock in its visualized settings provided by the given maps at the beginning of the book and the strong visual images that leave the reader with the skillfulness of drawing them imaginatively.

However, the novel that I have just finished reading does thoroughly embrace this Radical Change. Persepolis goes hand in hand with the Digital Age precepts of connectivity, interactivity, and access. The reader can easily make both a visual and mental connection with the book mainly due to the existence of illustrations accompanying the text. The drawings actually play a very substantial role in the flow and quality of reading. They artistically intersect with the words and enrich the experience. You look at the pictures and wonder what they represent, you predict, and then eagerly read the text to validate
your prediction. Hence, the reader changes into an imaginary writer who constantly
adds to the thoughts of Satrapi and who repeatedly ‘makes decisions’. Persepolis does as well crumple old barriers by aesthetically, informatively, transparently, and humorously revealing the flaws of religion, the corruption of politicians, and the blindness of the
illiterate followers through the eyes, beliefs, and feelings of an Iranian young adolescent. This reflection of the digital age gives the opportunity for the reader to embark in an adventure where he/she can actively look, see, interpret, comment, add, feel, laugh, cry, wonder, revolt, forgive, object, accept, and most of all recreate.

While holding Persepolis I felt like celebrating the outspoken history, the visual art, the spiritual melody, the versatile prospects, the human quandary, and the life absurdity as well as its sagacity.

Under the above belief, a graphic book such as Persepolis can be skillfully integrated
in the curriculum by creating an interdisciplinary project where Social studies, Language arts, visual art, music, technology, and drama teachers can coordinate to create. Various Webquests can be led by various groups of students investigating Iran’s various regimes, the defeat of the Shah’s rule, the Islamic revolution, and the war with Iraq. These  Webquests can be accompanied by artistic writing, creative drawing, artistic singing, creative acting and produced under a technological medium that can reach every internet user in the world.

After all can’t we look at this project as being an honest manifestation of the learning theories such as Participatory learning, Engagement, Bloom’s Taxonomy, Multiple Intelligences, Connectivism, Critical Literacy, social Constructivism, and Creativity? And isn’t creating the ultimate goal of a ‘democratic education’?

Dresang, Eliza T. (1999). Radical Change: Books for Youth in a Digital Age. New York.

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