Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Reader.Writer.Scholar: Reflections for #WalkMyWorld

Is poetry still relevant in a time when educators prepare students for high-stakes testing in school while students read and write on cell phones, iPads, and laptops out of school? I asked this question during my first semester in graduate school and used the findings to write a blog post for the International Reading Association’s TILE-SIG blog. As I reflect on my experience with the #WalkMyWorld project, I realize I was replicating my first study. Instead of examining the effects multimodal composition had on 5th grade students’ engagement with poetry, I was examining the effects multimodal composition had on ME. Here are my findings.

READER: My engagement in #WalkMyWorld began as a reader. As I scrolled through the Twitter feed, I selected poems by the media that provoked curiosity. I was amazed at the quality of poetry and found myself rereading poems with a critical eye to determine how the author crafted the text or used multiple modes to evoke emotion. In order to improve my ability to write, I used the author rather than the media as the criteria for selecting which poem to read. Eventually, I moved away from my night time routine of reading facebook posts to reading Twitter #WalkMyWorld posts.

WRITER: My engagement as a writer evolved from isolated poems to recursively generating a poem throughout the day. Initially, I took a picture, wrote a poem, posted it to #WalkMyWorld, and then crossed the task off my “to do list.” Now, a word might spark the need to take a picture or a picture might dictate the words. As my involvement in the project increases, I notice a greater sensitivity to the natural world and language that surrounds me. I learned the importance of taking a picture the instant nature sparks my attention. Thinking about my audience motivates me to go back and retake a picture in order to adjust the quality. In the beginning, I generated poems by selecting words from my own schema. Now I collect words and phrases throughout the day by typing them into the notes section in my cell phone. This recursive shift continues to improve the quality of my writing and enjoyment in the composition process.

SCHOLAR: My engagement as a scholar integrated my theoretical understanding of multimodal composition and my passion for poetry. The #WalkMyWorld community held me accountable for increasing my creativity. At the same time, #WalkMyWorld collaboration gave me support as I tried new techniques and technologies. For example, @dogtrax interactive poem inspired me to write an interactive poem about the sunrise. Even though Twine was easy to use as a multimodal composition tool, I struggled to embed the poem on the Internet. I used Twitter to contact @dogtrax for help and we spent several days collaboratively working to solve my technical issues. I also used Twitter to invite the #WalkMyWorld community to write a poem on Goggle Drive. This way I was still involved in the learning event but I shared the responsibility to write a full poem. I was so excited to see how the poem grew and changed as different authors added their voice.  Click HERE if you want to read or write more into the poem.

By breaking down barriers of creating, collaborating, and sharing multimodal poetry the #WalkMyWorld project aligned theory, research, and social media. Today is your chance to make poetry relevant by joining the #WalkMyWorld project. Share your thoughts on how the project enriched your experiences as a reader, writer, and scholar.