#DS106Radio, 4Life

It will come as no surprise to those that know me that I have been swallowed whole by the vortex of not only Jim Groom‘s Digital Storytelling 106 course, but its off-shoot creation, #DS106radio:

…a free form live streaming station that has been setup for this course, and it is being used as a platform to broadcast the work being created in the class, and a space for live broadcasts as well as for programming shows. The whole point of this experiment is to encourage any and all members of the course (as well as beyond it) to produce something real for anyone who wants to tune in. It’s also provides a global, 24 hour/7 day-a-week happening for the creations of the course and much, much more. And more than anything, ds106 radio is place where anyone can submit their work and help program the course radio station in order to commune and share around works and ideas while at the same time making the web safe for democracy.
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Thinking out loud is dangerous business

Over the past many months, this has created the venue for Talons lessons and projects that have made use of diverse online media and communications in storytelling and culture-creation, given our music department an audience for tour updates and recordings, and introduced me to a tribe of people I have seemingly been searching for the whole time I have been exploring online education and communication (and dare I say a lot longer). It is profound to have made such intimate connections through the avenue of shared sound that, meeting one another for the first time (when the disparate crew who make up the broadcasting core assembled in Vancouver for the recent Northern Voice conference), many of us walked into a room dressed nearly identically, and set about spending a weekend jamming out to mutually loved songs for hours on end without an awkward moment.

"I feel immediately lucky to be bearing witness to this…"

With the new inspiration of having faces, and visceral memories, to put to names and Twitter-handles, I set about getting my own devices set to broadcast live on #Ds106radio. After being initially stymied by Ladiocast (despite Tim Owen’s idiot-proof tutorial), I downloaded the Papaya Broadcaster for my iPhone, and made my first forays into the live-broadcasting arena: performing acoustic road trip songs for Mikhail Gershovich‘s family while they drove through California, watching Kevin Bieksa finish off the San Jose Sharks in this year’s Western Conference Finals with friends all over the continent, and providing radio-listeners with impromptu jams and musical interludes from the choir and band rooms at Gleneagle. This cover of Bob Dylan’s “I shall be released” was broadcast live and captured by Scott Lo, in Tokyo, Japan:

I shall be released (Bob Dylan cover) – #DS106 Lunchtime Jam Session 05.27.11

Eventually I graduated to using Nicecast to broadcast from my laptop, and with the help of Talons peer-tutor and recent #ds106radio convert Olga, set about the task of sharing our Music Department’s Spring Concert live on the radio.

The Future is Now.

The Future is Now.

And while it might have only actually landed at points across North America, the audience for last night’s show was made up of the 450 students, parents and teachers that packed into our theater, and these fine folks:

Both coasts!

Both coasts!

You can listen to the concert in its (near) entirety, below (use the comments in the blue bar to navigate between sets and interviews):

Gleneagle Year End Concert /LIVE #ds106radio by grantpotter

Saskatchewan Street Poetry

My sister saw this poem scrawled on a wall in Saskatoon in the summer of 2010, and shared it with us when she got back. I copied it down and carried it around in a journal for a few months before turning it into this song:

Graffiti

Grafitti by Bryanjack

Tell this story.

Morning Class Retreat

Talons talking erratically

In brainstorming a way to synthesize the myriad tangents and threads being pursued in our recent study of rebellion and revolution in Egypt, as well as 1860s Manitoba, I wound up writing what began as a challenge to myself, and the Talons, to boil down the human affinity for stories of power, rebellion and freedom, and became much more something of a spoken-word take on history, storytelling, and the very purpose of life itself.

Sometimes, it can feel as though the objective of a lesson – so often a shared synthesis of ideas that comes from everyone pulling in the same direction, as we say in Talons – is elusive to even the instructor, or facilitator, whose job it is to bring about and make meaning – data – for the concerned parties (learner, teacher, parent), until each group’s unique questions can be asked, and looking ahead at the next few days and a wrapping up of the unit on Canadian rebellion, I struggled to answer a few of the ‘regular’ questions:

  • What to make of the course material (in this case history)?
  • How to connect it to our modern experience?
  • How might this unit / project connect to the group’s collective and individual self?

In this case, I was trying to make the study of history connect with the class’ consistent call to actualize ourselves in the learning environment, and personal lives as students and citizens, and in some small way perhaps echoing Jim Groom’s call to:

...make open education in praxis fun, accessible, and basically rock!! DS106 is the beginning of this movement, and it isn’t about me, just look around ds106. I mean people all over the world are doing Colleen‘s Playlist Poetry assignment, she is shaping this class not only by her willingness to create and participate, but by our ability to connect that urge with many, many others who share her desire. That is the beginning of a new dynamic that is not simply transactional. The idea of creative teaching hopefully re-imagines that locus—and I need to spend some more time framing this out more because I know it’s right. I feel it deeply in my heart of heart’s, and as Gardner notes in the discussion above, it is time to reinvest our hearts in the process of teaching and learning—I couldn’t agree more with that sentiment and I want to make it so.

I wanted the Talons to take their reading and evolving understanding of our national, and current, history, and give it voice in whatever way they might see. But it can be difficult to generate this type of inspiration without a concrete goal, or set of instructions. My vision, though complex and potentially multi-faceted as the personalities and perspectives in the class, and across the world, was simple at its heart: I wanted the class to tell the story of Louis Riel, and the Red River Rebellion, and in doing so tell the story of our class, each of us, in encountering our history, and one another, at this moment in our shared development.

What else is there in life, really?

I was inspired and enthralled in this idea, as well, by my recent drive-time listening to the Radiolab podcast episode, “Who am I?” delving into engrossing scientific radio journalism in support its episode’s thesis: “The self is a story the brain tells itself.”

RadioLab.org – “The Story of Me”

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p style=”text-align: justify;”> And somewhere in there, in reflecting on the recent action research of the class’ blogging community, and the developing narrative of the class’ collective, and individual successes and struggles, I thought that the best outline I could offer the lesson and upcoming group project was the simple challenge of the brief essay I had written the night before. It is – to date – the strangest introductory material I have given to a history class.

Louis Riel by Bryanjack

Tell this story.

Rebellion, oppression, the will of humans to be free. We are taught the nature of history, and government, communication storytelling in the name of a pursuit of knowledge, of ourselves, and the breadth of our nature to be capable of making something, and living the best life we can. If each person who was given the opportunity to express their perspective in life did so, with the tools at their disposal to record and publish their thinking across distance and time we might know some fraction of the truth in a world inhabited by a people whose singular defining characteristic is to staunchly resist the very changes which contribute to our progress. But these struggles each represent a powerful theme in and of themselves about the truth of humanity’s story: that an indominable human will inevitably overcome a beaurocratic means of suprressing it; that new ideologies can shatter the expectations and realities of the old; and that an age committed fervently to its ideals is rife with the opportunity to be exposed by people few and brave. And we well these people’s stories, and attempt to in some way understand them and the moment they ineherited, and chose to stand up, and not submit to the expectations and realities of their day, so that we might recognize, in our own selves, and our own times, those things for which we need to stand up. Throughout history, we read of continuous examples of peoples who have through violence and ignorance have had their rights supressed by regimes both tyranical and democratic. When people have acted in haste or fits of passion, incorrectly, this has resulted in many deaths. Our present moment asks that we stand and be counted as lives lived to the best of our honest knowledge about what our actions mean. We study the lives and times of men like Louis Riel to know what others have been willing to stand for, when doing so has not been easy. Because it never it easy, and surely will not be when it is our turn, whether we are standing for our lives, our minds,or own opinion in a world where everyone’s from New Orleans’ orphans to the Kings of Spain, is exactly equal.

Don’t Stop Believing (in Santa Claus)

Just a North Pole girl, livin in a snowy world Took the magic sleigh going anywhere Just a South Pole boy, wishing for a special toy He took the magic sleigh going anywhere

Reindeer against the moon Chevy Chase in National Lampoons Christmas Eve and I can’t sleep It goes on and on and on and on

Strangers waiting, sleeping on long winter’s naps Santa’s searching in the night Red and Green light people living just to find some presents under their tree Santa’s

Bein’ good to reach my goal, No one wants a lump of coal. Sending Santa the list I made Just for this day

Some were bad, some were nice Some were picky ’bout their rice Oh the list don’t end It goes on and on and on and on

Strangers waiting, sleeping on long winter’s naps Their Santa’s searching in the night Red and Green light people living just to get some presents Santa’s flying through the night

Don’t stop believing That Santa Claus is real Red and Green Light People

Download an mp3 to recreate this holiday rewrite with you and yours this holiday season!

Music and a math problem

In watching the attached video, you can hear the lunch bell ring at the end of period two about a minute (or so) into the song.

Kyle, who we can assume left Ms. Jung’s foods classroom as the bell was ringing, makes it to his place behind the drum kit sometime later (arrival time will be indicated in the player bar at the bottom).

I’m not a math teacher, but can see the problem solving involved at interpreting every level of this scenario:

  • How far is it from Ms. Jung’s class to mine?
  • How quickly do students fill the hallways following the lunch bell?
  • How fast is Kyle travelling, if he knows there are drums waiting to be played somewhere in the school?
  • As a hallway becomes more crowded (and at what rate does this happen?), how does the flow of traffic affect a traveller (and does their direction of travel matter)?

There are plenty of other metrics and statistics that can be applied to this fragment of recorded data that we have in the Youtube video that makes me wonder what would happen if our school’s various math classes were assigned to calculate Kyle’s average speed, and set out to discover the other resultant facts about the world we inhabit intimately every day.

There would need to be field researchers to look into the variables associated with gathering crowds, theorists to devise formulae, groups to brainstorm the various ways to interpret the available truths in the documented evidence, and innumerable other ways that reveal the hidden numerical, statistical machinery that lies behind things, and in this manner so to reveal the essence of mathematics.

In a matter of weeks, the fundamental elements that drive high school math could go about involving a hundred students, and more than a few teachers in statistically, probabilistically, and mathematically recreating Kyle’s mad dash between the foods and choir classrooms.

This too closely reminds me of when I briefly introduced the theory of plate tectonics to a group of Humanities 9 students setting out to discover the geography of North America. I told them that what is now British Columbia, and much of the Western continental shelf had originally been a part of Asia, and had drifted across the Pacific before colliding with Alberta, Idaho, Colorado, and creating the impact residue we know as the Rocky Mountains. After I had let this idea sink in, I happened to be standing behind two fourteen year old boys who marvelled at one another:

Can you imagine if you were standing there, when that first happened?!

It can be said that neither of the two young gentlemen in question were particularly successful in my course – and were likely not prized math scholars either. But they were excited about this: the idea of finding out what happened when our continent was formed. This characterization pleased a friend of mine, who is working toward his PhD in Geology, and spends the majority of his working year applying mathematics to the history of our continent.

“Basically,” he said, when I told him about the boys being keen to get back to that initial moment of impact. “That’s what I do.”

And what Reid does is math.

It all kind of makes me wish that our school’s didn’t have bells, or walls dividing subjects.

To be clear, I’m no math teacher – and even took Math 12 twice, earning 80% each time. But even with as much as I know about Pythagorean theorems and sin waves, I don’t find myself wondering about how far away a hot air balloon is all that much from day to day (in fact, chances are that if I had a friend in that hot air balloon, our phones could tell us our distances in elevation, the vertical ground between us, one another, Paris, France… the list goes on).

But I want to know about this.

Do you?

What can you tell me about Kyle’s run for the drums?

Final Guitar Class of the Semester

Last day of semester 1: Intro to Guitar 11 from Bryan Jackson on Vimeo.

Though it may not get as much attention on this blog – a fact I hope to erode over the course of the next semester – I am also the guitar teacher at my school, and have just completed teaching the inaugural Introduction to Guitar 11 this past Friday. As a means of celebrating the completed term I set up my laptop in a rehearsal room with iMovie open, and invited students to contribute to a master recording of work they might want to share with the rest of the building, their peers, future guitar students, myself, and anyone else who stumbles upon this page or the link on Vimeo. The results are blended together in the 15′ video above, and are living proof of the often-overlooked talents hiding in our schools.

On his blog a few months back, Dean Shareski said something that I hope will become more and more a part of what happens in our music classrooms – both my guitar classes (2 next semester) and the varied orchestras, vocal jazz ensembles, and choirs under the tutelage of the mightily talented Ed Travato:

If we can show kids that their accomplishments are to be proud of, and that the accomplishments are not anonymous, we can teach self confidence, and true self esteem.

On a daily basis, I am wowed beyond words at the performances, compositions and general talents displayed in our wing of the building that – but for a few concerts strewn throughout the year – go largely unnoticed by these students’ peers, teachers, parents and members of our larger community. And while we do an incredible job of showcasing our brightest academic and athletic lights, the artists (musical or otherwise) in our school could be given much more attention, given that what they often create is kin to magic given their youthful energy, creativity and diverse passions. With the number of students taking guitar doubling next semester – and my proficiency with Garage Band, and iMovie improving daily – expect to hear a lot more from the Music Wing at our school.

Note on the musicians: Though the course is titled “Intro to Guitar,” a few of the players here had some working experience with other instruments or the guitar specifically before the course began. In all, the video is representative of the class’ composition, with approximately a third being “raw” beginners in September (never meaningfully held a guitar), another third with some experience, and a few more who were showing me things on a daily basis.

Don’t Stop Believing (in Santa Claus): Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept it

A huge thanks to Jeff Utecht, Dave Truss, Dean Shareski and Yoon Soo Lim for helping at various times to help crystalize this process. We’re getting there! The following was much simplified and stated in this form by Jeff Utecht, who also supplied the mp3 below.

The Mission:

Here’s an idea for a wave: In preparation for a Christmas sing along in Gleneagle’s front hall, a group of vocal jazz and other music students are rewriting the original lyrics to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.” We plan to record our live performance, and share it via the web. It would be pretty cool if others were to join in here as well… international musical collaboration, anyone?

Option 1:

1. Use the attached mp3 instrumental of this song or your own version, or a student group for the music

2. Use the words below, or have your students create their own original words to sing to the music.

3. Video your students singing the song and upload the video to the Internet, copy and paste the URL to your video here to share with others.

Option 2:

1. You MUST use the attached mp3 instrumental version of the song

2. You MUST use the lyrics below

3. Video and upload your students proformance to the interent. Also if you would like your students to appear in a mash up with other student videos from around the world let us know so we can include them (More details on where to upload video coming soon).

Lyrics:

Just a North Pole girl, livin in a snowy world Took the magic sleigh going anywhere Just a South Pole boy, wishing for a special toy He took the magic sleigh going anywhere

Reindeer against the moon Chevy Chase in National Lampoons Christmas Eve and I can’t sleep It goes on and on and on and on

Strangers waiting, sleeping on long winter’s naps Santa’s searching in the night Red and Green light people living just to find some presents under their tree Santa’s

Bein’ good to reach my goal, No one wants a lump of coal. Sending Santa the list I made Just for this day

Some were bad, some were nice Some were picky ’bout their rice Oh the list don’t end It goes on and on and on and on

Strangers waiting, sleeping on long winter’s naps Their Santa’s searching in the night Red and Green light people living just to get some presents Santa’s flying through the night

Don’t stop believing That Santa Claus is real Red and Green Light People

High Quality Instrumental Sound Track:Dontstopbeliveninstrumental.mp3

Download this instrumental version of the song. If we all use this we can easily stitch together a cool video from all the students.

Don't Stop Believing (in Santa Claus)

International Musical Collaboration, Anyone?

I continually find it interesting which songs become “the Songs” in my Intro to Guitar course. Composed of grades nine-through-eleven students, the class of thirty students represents every walk of life in our suburban highschool: choir and band kids adding to their repotoire of musical genius, athletes and academic high achievers who were seeking balance between Physics, Calculus and AP History, goth kids, metal kids and everything from Taylor Swift to Train to Nirvana in between.

I print out booklets of songs suggested by the class, or which I remember being helpful when I was learning guitar (as a 22 year old, and decidedly not a natural musician), and am always surprised when songs like “Wonderwall,” “Let it Be,” and “Heart of Gold” become the Class Songs ahead of the likes of Taylor Swift and Kelly Clarkson (despite the fact that “Since You’ve Been Gone” contains an outstanding guitar riff lifted from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs).

Perhaps the biggest surprise of these songs has been Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.” Something about the chord progression (the same as in other such megahits as the Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ “Under the Bridge,” and Bush’s “Glycerine“) and the comically earnest melody performed by Steve Perry brings out an exuberance not usually seen in kids who until then had been reluctant to sing during our class jam sessions.

When it came time to assemble a group of our vocal jazz students, and a handful of guitarists and other musicians to host a Christmas sing-along during our final week of school, the initial rehearsals made it clear that a rendition of “Don’t Stop” should be worked into the set list – otherwise composed of “Winter Wonderland,” “Holly Jolly Christmas,” “All I want for Christmas (is you),” and other traditional numbers.

Shortly after, it was decided that we should change the lyrics to suit the season, leaving the vocal acrobatics, infectious piano riff and shimmering guitar solos intact. And thus was born: “Don’t Stop Believing (in Santa Claus).”

Tentative Lyrics

Just a North Pole girl, livin in a snowy world Took the magic sleigh going anywhere Just a South Pole boy, marched with a flock of penguins He took the magic sleigh going anywhere Reindeer against the moon Chevy Chase in National Lampoons Christmas Eve and I can’t sleep It goes on and on and on and on Strangers waiting, sleeping on long winter’s naps Their Santa’s searching in the night Red and Green light people living just to get some presents Santa’s flying through the night Bein’ good to reach my goal, No one wants a lump of coal. Sending Santa the list I made Just for this day Some were bad, some were nice Some were picky ’bout their rice Oh the list don’t end It goes on and on and on and on Strangers waiting, sleeping on long winter’s naps Their Santa’s searching in the night Red and Green light people living just to get some presents Santa’s flying through the night Don’t stop believing That Santa Claus is real Red and Green Light People

I came home from work Friday afternoon and thought I would take the opportunity to both hone the lyrics to our budding Christmas Carol and experiment with Google Wave, and posted this message on Google’s new revelation to a group of teachers, technologists and bloggers whom Malcolm Gladwell might characterize as Mavens or Connectors:

Song Parodists Seek Collaborators

Here’s an idea for a wave: In preparation for a Christmas sing along in Gleneagle’s front hall, a group of vocal jazz and other music students are rewriting the original lyrics to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.” We plan to record our live performance, and share it via the web. It would be pretty cool if others were to join in here as well… international musical collaboration, anyone? Feel free to add suggestions where they may be necessary, or include others in the project by invite whom you feel would be able to contribute to a project of this nature. So far, members of this wave are: Bryan Jackson – guitar teacher at Gleneagle Secondary. Jeff H. – guitar student (and student ensemble co-leader) at Gleneagle. Elaan Bauder – teacher in Coquitlam, and co-conspirator in Waves and technology;  Lindsay Jackson – Bryan’s sister, and documentary filmmaker living in Coquitlam. Sue Waters – Edublogs.org’s own Sue Waters was looking for a Wave to join over the weekend, I heard. Plus, it would be cool if Sue had musical connections in Australia… Dave Truss – SD43 Teacher & Administrator currently living and working in China with his family. Dean Shareski – Originally invited Bryan to Google Wave, and knows a heck of a lot about shar(eski)ing things through video. Jeff Utecht – Former West Coaster living in Thailand, where he works with a great many classrooms at an International School that would no doubt be a great addition to the proceedings.

With connectors already on three continents, I sent out a request to my Twitter network “seeking #music teachers who would be interested in a collaborative student performance.” Within a few hours I had three more responses, adding teachers in Comox Valley, BC, Philadelphia, Pa, and Vancouver, BC to our ranks.

As this swell develops into an outright wave, I am thinking that we need to run with this. That Google Wave needs to be a blog post, and our performance and development of the song must be shared. In the two weeks left before (our) school lets out for the winter break, it would be something to create a movement that could encircle the globe. Whether that means synchronized, streamed performances, or collaborative recording and video-editing, Skypes and other forms of communication, we will have to see. With the publishing of this post it seems that the direction is no longer mine, or even the small collection of students’ who developed the idea and have spent the last few lunch hours rehearsing in my classroom.

It is everyone’s.

Help up spread the word by ReTweeting this post, and have potential collaborators contact me or search for our public Wave by entering the following in a Google Wave search box:

with: public Song Parodists Seek Collaborators

I haven’t tried that search yet… I will update this post as I recieve feedback on the Wave being reach-able or not.