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Posts Tagged ‘art

The Self-Publishing Classroom: Glossy Magazines with Magcloud

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Who needs to work for Condé Nast or Time Warner when you can publish professional-quality magazines in your own classroom? In an article entitled Do-It-Yourself Magazines, Cheaply Slick, the NYT introduces H.P.’s new service called Magcloud.

In the words of H.P.:

MagCloud enables you to publish your own magazines. All you have to do is upload a PDF and we’ll take care of the rest: printing, mailing, subscription management, and more.

How much does it cost?

It costs you nothing to publish a magazine on MagCloud. To buy a magazine costs 20¢ per page, plus shipping. For example, a 20-page magazine would be four bucks plus shipping. And you can make money! You set your issue price and all proceeds above the base price go to you.

How are they printed?

MagCloud uses HP Indigo technology, so every issue is custom-printed when it’s ordered. Printing on demand means no big print runs, which means no pre-publishing expense. Magazines are brilliant full color on 80lb paper with saddle-stitched covers. They look awesome.

I pay particular attention to how students publish work. There are many (reasonably priced) self-publishing websites that give students an authentic medium to publish their work. The process of choosing prices of books (on websites where the books are put up for sale) is a learning and community-building experience. Magcloud opens up a new medium where students can produce professional quality work in the classroom.

Many schools do not have software that exports high resolution PDFs (Adobe InDesign, Quark, etc). If you know of free alternatives, please tell us about them via comment.


Teacher Geek Sites of the (Mid) Week (March 25, 2009)

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It takes a good website to get me through the middle of the week. Here are a few I’ve been geeking out to (in a teacher kind of way) this week:

For the art historian:

The note from the creators says it all: “ is a free multi-media web-book designed as a dynamic enhancement (or even substitute) for the traditional and static art history textbook”. Artwork is organized by theme, artist, time period, and other topics. There are videos, podcasts, and other multimedia enhancements to explore themes, history, and the artists.


For the wordsmith:

Oxford Dictionaries wants us to adopt words using this cleverly designed website. Words call for your attention and you choose the ones you pledge to use in conversation.


For the escapist: (twitter: @trazzler)

I love Trazzler’s twitter feed: “Explore the world of travel with Get a new hand-picked dream trip every day”. I love my 5th graders, but we all need a vacation sometime….


For the audiophile: New Release FULL CD Listening Party

Listen to new releases in full with no restrictions (you can skip around tracks, play and pause, skip time within tracks, etc) before you buy.

Enjoy the rest of your week. Day dream about a Spanish island vacation or impress your friends with your grandiloquence.

Written by TeacherC

24 March 2009 at 11:54 pm

Daystreaming Allowed.

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On the Moodstream (Getty Images) website, students can create their own visualizations using many different settings (image via the Moodstream website):


After students choose their mood and style (happy or sad, humorous or serious, black and white or color, nostalgic or contemporary, etc.), the website streams continuous video, still images, and sound. If students see or hear something that they like, they can add it to a Moodboard and find out more information from the Getty Images website.

Uses I think of right now involve language arts, social studies, and art inspiration/writing prompts. Students can create a stream and then do projects inspired by the stream (poetry, short stories, reflections, artwork, research, etc).

Can you think of other ways to use this tool in the classroom? Have you streamed today?

Are We There Yet?

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I ran into the City of Memory project via Gothamist:

An organization called City Lore has created an interactive map that fuses NYC cartography with its residents’ oral histories. Whether on the news, the subway, or even online, New Yorkers see mapped representations of their town several times a day. City Lore’s City of Memory map has deepened that visual familiarity by creating an interactive environment where users can hear vignettes from other New Yorkers about their lives. The organization, which is sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation among other groups, has produced a number of the stories itself, but the general online public is free to submit their own stories for placement on the map.

This amazing project got me thinking about lesson plans involving oral histories and interactive maps. Google has easy to follow video and text tutorials that show users how to personalized Google maps including place-markers, videos, shapes, pictures, and other annotations.

I found examples for how interactive maps and oral histories can be used across the curriculum:

Stay tuned for a more complete lesson plan.


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DESIGN 21: Social Design Network’s mission is to inspire social activism through design. We connect people who want to explore ways design can positively impact our many worlds, and who want to create change here, now.

Q: What is Social Design?
A: It’s design for the greater good.

We want to use the power of good design for greater purpose.

We believe the real beauty of design lies in its potential to improve life. That potential first manifests itself as a series of decisions that result in a series of consequences. The practice of social design considers these decisions on a greater scale, understanding that each step in the design process is a choice that ripples out into our communities, our world and our lives. These choices are the result of informed ideas, greater awareness, larger conversations and, most importantly, the desire to do good. Social design is design for everyone’s sake

– Website of the nonprofit/UNESCO project Design 21

Design, usually considered in the context of applied arts, engineering, architecture, and other creative endeavors, is used both as a noun and a verb. As a verb, “to design” refers to the process of originating and developing a plan for a product, structure, system, or component. As a noun, “a design” is used for either the final (solution) plan (e.g. proposal, drawing, model, description) or the result of implementing that plan (e.g. object produced, result of the process). More recently, processes (in general) have also been treated as products of design, giving new meaning to the term “process design”.

Designing normally requires a designer to consider the aesthetic, functional, and many other aspects of an object or a process, which usually requires considerable research, thought, modeling, interactive adjustment, and re-design.


My goal to create designers – students who are able to draw upon diverse sources of information to create end products and processes that are innovative, functional, and promote the “greater good” (see my post on acts of post modern assemblage in the classroom). Design is a multidisciplinary process – history, science, art, psychology, sociology, communications, technology, and math are all relevant. At the root of all design, whether it be  for engineering, social justice, or fashion, is a profound understanding of the personal narratives of others. As dy/dan says:

Storytelling is the umbrella above design. It’s harder than design and simultaneously accessible to every single person on Earth, young and old, regardless of education or station or toolbox. It’s been around since forever, the setting up of heros and villains (your “characters”), the establishing of a guiding goal (your “narrative”), the careful positioning of challenges between them and their goal (your “obstacles.”)

My point is that, if you know how to tell a precise, articulate, and moving story, if you know how to build intrigue about a character in the first act, how to lull your audience into a happy, contented place in the second act, only to punch them precisely in the gut in the third, you have this fantastic skill which applies absolutely EVERYwhere.

Essay writing. Music composition. Graphic Design. Videography. Salesmanship. Teaching. Especially teaching. Especially these days. This list keeps building in my head during hours when I oughtta be sleeping.

Storytelling is the skill. Everything else is just its instrument.

I had a similar epiphany about human communication when I first started debating in college. I realized that debate was is about three stories. The most important story is the one in the judge’s mind. The secondary story is the one I’m trying to tell (or sell). The least important story is that of the opponent. Winning a debate round is a triumph of design: molding intellectual matter into a compelling narrative that intertwines with personal narratives of others (sometimes design is a violent process that displaces the narratives of others altogether – I’ve been compared to the character Nick Naylor from Thank You for Smoking, but that’s another post altogether).

When I stumbled across the Design 21 page (linked on Wanderlust‘s blog), I realized that I have to view teaching and activism through the lens of design. The most important narrative is that of my students – their goals, triumphs, tribulations, needs, and hormones. There are many other narratives that compete for supremacy in the classroom – teacher, parent, school, district, state, socioeconomic status, gang/violence/negative influence, peer, religion, and the list goes on (forever). Teaching branches into morality because we choose which narratives inhabit our sphere. I hope that I can intertwine the narratives of students with the right combination of secondary narratives so that students grow into thoughtful, functional, and interesting human beings. In order to function in our democratic and capitalist society, students need the skills to create their own narratives and influence the narratives of others.

Check out the Design 21 website. There are design competitions that involve education. What will you design today?

My design to-do list for 6 June 2008:

– A cute bento

– Something for the sake of activism and social justice.

– A Father’s Day gift to mend broken bridges.

An Educator’s Guide to Post-Modern Authorship and Literacy in the Classroom

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Blog Post Summary: Teachers hold a unique and powerful position in the debate about what constitutes authorship and plagiarism. These debates are important because they shape the future of scholarship and art. When a teacher sets an intellectual boundary for what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable work, they are molding the intellectual processes of students. Educators must help students understand the rights and responsibilities of authorship while allowing for innovative acts of assemblage.

This post is adapted from a paper I wrote and presented at the Thinking and Speaking a Better World Conference (April 2008, Slovenia).

What is plagiarism?

If you search for the terms “plagiarism”, “college”, and “high school” in the Lexis Nexus academic databases, you’ll get over 1,000 article hits from around the world. The Guardian, Korea Times, the Statesman (India), the Times (London), the Independent (London), and the Sunday Times (South Africa) are just a few of the international news outlets that published stories about the issue over the past six months. Many articles sounded alarm at the incidence of cheating on high school and college campuses, by students, professors, and university leaders alike. An article in the Sunday Times titled “Institutes of Higher Cheating” lists over 80 incidents of cheating at six institutions of higher learning. Doctoral thesis were rejected, lecturers fired, degrees revoked, and students suspended and expelled because of these incidents. In “Schools Fighting Plagiarism”, the Korea Times reports that the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education will deduct points off of assignments, and seek harsher penalties for secondary students who plagiarize. In September 2003, the New York Times reports that a study of 18,000 students at 23 colleges and universities found that 38% of students engaged in “cut and paste” plagiarism during the previous year.  Academic communities around the world perceive a thriving culture of plagiarism.

It is nearly impossible to come up with a universal definition of plagiarism. Buranen says that:

“One of the major problems with the word plagiarism itself is its use as a kind of wastebasket, into which we toss anything we do not know what to do with: it can refer, at various times, to outright cheating (for instance, purchasing a research paper and presenting it as one’s own work); to appropriating large blocks of text without attribution; to omissions or mistakes in citations; to paraphrasing an original too closely; to collaborating too closely—and then there is the question of intent…” (64).

In the New York Times article entitled “Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Lend Me Your Speech”, David Greenberg explores charges of plagiarism surrounding Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign speeches. Governor Deval Patrick and Obama share speechwriters. Answering a claim of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton that the Obama campaign is all rhetoric with no substance, Obama said famous political lines from history, and repeated the refrain “just words”. It turns out that the Patrick campaign used this set piece during the gubernatorial elections. Obama says that it is “silly” that the Clinton campaign would bring plagiarism charges against him, and that he committed simple citation error. In the article, Greenberg quotes Thomas Mallon, author of Stolen Words: “Political language is unusually fluid. Politicians routinely borrow from one another, especially during campaigns, when they make use of any themes or mantras that seem to work. What Democratic candidate hasn’t vowed to ”fight for working families”?”. It is common knowledge that politicians use speechwriters who borrow phrases and themes from political works. When politicians use these speeches, voters understand that the spoken words are not the politicians’ own language. These speeches influence voters’ decision-making. A good stump speech or debate performance can lead to increased support on the ground, millions dollars in new donations, and more votes on election day. It seems that voters take a post-modern view of political authorship, where candidates participate in collaborative efforts of assemblage. Applying existing ideas and texts to new contexts is an accepted practice.

The definition of plagiarism depends on the institution. Many schools have handbooks dedicated to the issue that spell out offenses and punishments.

Why should teachers care about plagiarism?

Teachers hold a unique and powerful position in the debate about what constitutes authorship and plagiarism. These debates are important because they shape the future of scholarship and art. When a teacher sets an intellectual boundary for what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable work, they are molding the intellectual processes of students. Plagiarism is a moral construct that institutions use it to separate “high” scholarship from “low” scholarship. Howard believes that educators’ current understanding of plagiarism creates an intellectual class system. According to Howard, the academy views collaborative composition is “low” literacy. This is a broad category of work includes patchwriting (copying text word for word and then substituting different grammar and word structures) and purchase of term papers. “High” literacy is at the top of the hierarchy: a student exhibits high literacy when readers can identify both original and borrowed elements in writing.

These intellectual hierarchies are used to guide instruction and assessment in classrooms. For example, the California English-Language Arts Content Standards say that by grades nine and ten, students should be able to “reflect appropriate manuscript requirements” including “integration of source and support material (e.g., in-text citation, use of direct quotations, paraphrasing) with appropriate citations. Correct citation is considered to be an advanced writing skill that builds upon knowledge learned in previous years of schooling. Students must perform citation behaviors correctly to be considered “at grade level”. Students who do not perform these behaviors are considered to be a low level of scholarship. Johnson-Eilola and Selber say that “When all is said and done, teachers seem to ask students the question: After you have read all the background material and assembled your evidence, what did you, just you, produce? Show us your words; let the words of others fade into the background” (379). Johnson-Eilola and Selber and Howard believe that the original author versus plagiarist binary has overtaken the notion of hierarchy.

These pedagogical issues fit into a broader discussion of what constitutes authorship in the post-modern world. What is an author? What rights do authors have? There are no clear answers to these questions. Although modern legal frameworks are centered on the idea of an original author, post-modern and post-structural schools of thought question the existence of originality and individuality in authorship. Pennycook says that modern notions of individual creativity and originality may obscure the subjective and intertextual nature of our identities:

“If, instead of a Self or an Identity, we consider the notion of subjectivity, or indeed subjectivities (we are, in a sense, the fragmented products of different discourses), then we arrive at more or less a reversal of the speaking subject creating meaning: We are not speaking subjects but spoken subjects, we do not create language but are created by it. As I suggested earlier, the question then becomes not so much one of who authored a text but how we are authored by texts.” (Pennycook 10).

Post-modernists reject the idea that originality, creativity, and authorship resides in a divine or human creator. Instead, human identity is a web of interpretations. This shift away from “original authorship” can be seen in music, architecture, television, film, and written works. In the 20th century, one of the key advances in music was the development of drum machines, synthesizers, cassette tape recorders, turntables, and other audio mixing tools that allowed the average person to sample music from the radio and remix it, creating a new work. The hip-hop genre relies heavily on the ability of listeners to re-shape old songs into new ones. File sharing technologies and creative commons licenses give artists even more freedom. There are many classic and modern texts that are considered to be a work of pastiche rather than plagiarism. Examples include the works of Virgil, Shakespeare, and Michael Cunningham.

The concept of assemblage is an important element of post-modern authorship. Johnson-Eilola and Selber say that assemblages are “texts built primarily and explicitly from existing texts in order to solve a writing or communication problem in a new context” (381). The authors believe that the binary of plagiarist versus original author is inadequate to address issues of intertextuality, the effects of previous discourse, and the need for students, artists, and citizens to problem-solve using information that exists in the marketplace of ideas. The modern copyright and intellectual property framework is evolving as courts hear cases about process copyrights, file-sharing, and the rights of collaborators.

Problem-Solving and Acts of Assemblage

I agree with these authors and believe that teachers need to embrace assemblage, patchwriting, and other collaborative processes because they are good pedagogical practices that reflect new modes of authorship. We want students to engage in acts of assemblage: to be to synthesize information from a wide variety of sources to solve new problems. Collaboration is changing the face of communication (Web 2.0), music, art, business, and politics. We want students to have the ability to engage in acts of assemblage and new modes of problem solving. On the other hand, students need to understand their roles as readers, authors, and artists. Each of these roles comes with rights and responsibilities that change based on the context (see the political speech example above).

Educators engage in acts of assemblage everyday. They blend together research on best practices, institutional standards, lesson plan ideas from other teachers, and instructional tools in order to help students succeed in the classroom.

What should educators do?

  1. Examine state curriculum standards, school honor codes, and other sources to figure out your institutions’ stance on plagiarism and authorship.
  2. Engage in Edupunkism – find lesson plans that help students understand their roles as authors, readers, and artists (these roles change from task to task). Push students to express themselves in new ways (digital storytelling, art, etc).
  3. Have conversations with students about what constitutes art, authorship, and plagiarism.
  4. Help students understand why the rights of authors are important. Link instruction about citation methods and scholarship to real world examples (plagiarism in the news, university standards, curriculum standards, debates about art, etc).
  5. Research authorship, plagiarism, and copyrights and take a stance on these issues.

Works Cited (plus more sources)

17 USC Chapters 1 – 5. 2007 Ed.

Adams, Hazard, and Leroy Searle, eds. Critical Theory since Plato. Third ed. Boston: Thomson Wadsworth, 2005.

OWL at Purdue University. “Avoiding Plagiarism.” 08 Apr 2008 <>.

Bellarmine College Preparatory (San Jose): Parent-Student Handbook.01 Apr 2008 <>.

National Forensic League. “Benefits”. 01 Apr 2008. <>.

Buranen, Lise. ” But I Wasn’t Cheating: Plagiarism and Cross-Cultural Mythology.” Perspectives on Plagiarism and Intellectual Property in a Postmodern World. Ed. Lise (ed and introd ). Buranen, Alice M. (ed and introd ). Roy, and Andrea (foreword) Lunsford. Albany, NY: State U of New York P, xxii, 1999.

Greenberg, David. Friends , Romans , Countrymen , Lend Me Your Speech. The New York Times. February 24 2008, sec. WK; Week in Review Desk; THE NATION: 3.

Content Standards English-Language Arts, Grades Pre K – 12. Sacremento: California Department of Education, 1997.

Harvard-Westlake School. “Plagiarism and Tutoring”. 01 Apr 2008. <>.

“Institutes of Higher Cheating.” Sunday Times (South Africa) June 10 2007, sec. EDUCATION: 13.

Johnson-Eilola, Johndan, and Stuart A. Selber. “Plagiarism, Originality, Assemblage.” Computers and Composition: An International Journal for Teachers of Writing. 24.4 (2007): 375-403.

National Association for Urban Debate Leagues. “Value”. 01 Apr 2008. <>.

NFL District Tournament Manual: National Forensic League, 2008.

Planet Debate. “Subscriptions and Products”. 2006. Harvard Debate, Inc. <>.

Pennycook, Alastair. “Borrowing Others’ Words: Text, Ownership, Memory, and Plagiarism.” TESOL Quarterly 30.2 (1996): 201-30.

Perspectives on Plagiarism and Intellectual Property in a Postmodern World [Electronic Resource] / Lise Buranen and Alice M. Roy, Editors ; Foreword by Andrea Lunsford. Ed. Lise Buranen 1954-, Alice Myers Roy, and Inc NetLibrary. Albany : State University of New York Press, c1999.

Re-Tooling for the Future: 2007 – 2008 Parent/Student Handbook: Claremont High School.

Rimer, Sara. “A Campus Fad that’s being Copied: Internet Plagiarism Seems on the Rise.” The New York Times September 3 2003, sec. B; Metropolitan Desk; Education Page: 7.

“Schools Fighting Plagiarism.” Korea Times October 12 2007.

Instrument of Student Judicial Governance. “Section II, Part B: Academic Dishonesty”. Feb 2003 2003. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. <>.

Sonora High School. “Academic Honesty Policy”. 01 Apr 2008. <

Stearns, Laurie. “Copy Wrong: Plagiarism, Property, and the Law .” Perspectives on Plagiarism and Intellectual Property in a Postmodern World. Ed. Lise (ed and introd ). Buranen, Alice M. (ed and introd ). Roy, and Andrea (foreword) Lunsford. Albany, NY: State U of New York P, xxii, 1999.

Student, Parent, and Employee Information Handbook. San Jose Unified School District, 2007.

University of Oxford. “Education Policy and Standards: Plagiarism”. 01 Apr 2008. <>.

Zebroski James, Thomas. “Intellectual Property, Authority, and Social Formation: Sociohistoricist Perspectives on the Author Function.” Perspectives on Plagiarism and Intellectual Property in a Postmodern World. Ed. Lise (ed and introd ). Buranen, Alice M. (ed and introd ). Roy, and Andrea (foreword) Lunsford. Albany, NY: State U of New York P, xxii, 1999.