Friday, November 26, 2010

Iceland's interesting approach to writing a new constitution

It looks like Iceland is taking an interesting approach to writing a new constitution in the wake of fallout from its spectacular economic meltdown.

Not quite as radical, perhaps, as doing it by way of a wiki. But something of a step in that direction.

Mind you, I guess that a wiki approach would require some kind of closure to editing. Some texts probably can't always be in the process of becoming.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Distributed, collaborative writing... with Tim Burton!

Tim Burton is the director of truly fantastic--in all senses of the word--movies (e.g., Edward Scissor Hands, Sleepy Hollow, Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory remake, Alice in Wonderland remake). Right now he's inviting all of us to collaborate with him on writing a narrative about one of his recurring  characters, Stain Boy (see for example, the Stain Boy story in Burton's delightful The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories, 1997). Collaborators can submit a line to the story via Twitter. These are compiled using the tag #BurtonStory and the best are posted to the project's website. The latter also provides a few details about the project, too:
So what are you witing for? Jump in add your own literary gems and sentences of staggering genius!

Pic source.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Discourses and Identities in Contexts of Educational Change: Book Launch in Mexico City

Last night we teamed up with our friend and colleague, Judy Kalman, to launch the Spanish language edition of the book “Discourses and Identities in Contexts of Educational Change”, edited by Guadalupe López Bonilla and Carmen Pérez Fragoso.

Judy has just recently had a book, co-edited with Brian Street, come out here in Mexico: “Lectura, Escritura and Matemáticas como Prácticas Sociales: Diálogos con América Latina.”

The book we launched last night, for which I have written the Introduction chapter, will also shortly come out in English from Peter Lang Publishing. This book involves a complex collaboration between Mexican and US academics. Besides the editors, who have each contributed chapters, the contributors are Hugh Mehan, Nadia Khalil, César Morales, Elizabeth Birr Moje, Jim Gee, Ana Inés Heras, Judith Green, Alma Carrasco Altamarino, Rollin Ken Serna, Karen Englander and Guadalupe Tinajero Villavicencio.

As you can see, it was a happy occasion, and we felt honoured to be a part of it.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Calling all early childhood literacy researchers--here's a special journal issue you might want to be part of

Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood

SPECIAL ISSUE Early Literacy in Contested Spaces
Guest Editors: TAMARA GLUPCZYNSKI SPENCER, Montclair State University & MARÍA PAULA GHISO, Teachers College, Columbia University

Early childhood contexts across the globe increasingly have become shaped by top-down policy initiatives, particularly with respect to the teaching and learning of literacy. In many cases, this trend has resulted in the privileging of narrow skills-based notions of literacy and the standardization of pedagogy, to the exclusion of the many and varied ways that children read words and their social worlds. Despite a wealth of earlier research documenting the importance of literacy learning as embedded in opportunities for young children to actively make meaning from texts as connected to their lives–through, for instance, language play–there has been a resurgence of policies and programs that circumscribe early literacy learning into a predetermined trajectory. Such initiatives are often at odds with children’s multilingual and multimodal literacy practices, social impulses, and cultural knowledge, as well as with educators’ professional expertise in creating opportunities for children to flourish in early childhood contexts.

In this themed issue of the journal Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, we aim to bring together international perspectives on literacy within the increasingly contested space of early childhood education, in order to consider how such settings might provide opportunities to attend to the diversity of young children’s identities and literacy practices. Potential questions to address include: How do children from birth to age 8 engage in and play with literacy away from direction of adults or a prescriptive curriculum? How does their engagement with literacy relate to/resist/transform early childhood literacy mandates as they affect particular contexts? How do early childhood professionals make space for early literacy play within and/or against the constraints of curricular and policy mandates? How do schools and community organizations (e.g. parent groups, cultural centers, out-of-school programs) construct alternative visions of literacy engagement for young children that take into account their cultural, linguistic, and social knowledge? How do (or can) educational spaces nurture the wellbeing and flourishing of young children in the broadest sense – intellectually, socially, creatively, physically?

Manuscripts are due by April 1, 2011 and can be submitted via email to:
Tamara Glupczynski Spencer (

April 1, 2011: deadline for submitting manuscripts for special issue
April-June 2011: review process
June-August 2011: revisions of selected manuscripts
November 2011: finalization of issue

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Some online housekeeping tips

We're currently thinking and writing about social network practices and we came acros this interesting article today by Jacqui Cheng titled, "What Google knows about you and how to tweak it. Cheng has lots of good advice in her article--including to log-on to your Google Dashboard every now and then (at least once a year) and check on what you've signed up for and what is linked to your account and ID.

I found this a really timely article, not least because trying to sift and sort through what apps I've installed (and that have access to my profile and personal information) on Facebook is like fighting an army of hydra-headed zombies (i.e., you feel like you're getting nowhere fast!).

So have you checked your networks today?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Steampunk Town: Yesterday's future today

We've been a fan of steampunk--as both a literary genre and a mechanical practice--for quite a while now. Basically, steampunk
[blockquote]involves an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century and often Victorian era Britain—that incorporates prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy. Works of steampunk often feature anachronistic technology or futuristic innovations as Victorians may have envisioned them; in other words, based on a Victorian perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, art, etc. This technology may include such fictional machines as those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne or real technologies like the computer but developed earlier in an alternate history.(Source: Wikipedia)[/blockquote].
Steampunk is inventive, futuristic (in a retrospective way) and deeply analogue in nature--and steampunk creations can be incredibly beautiful.
So it's been especially nice to read up on an entire town in New Zealand that's gone steampunk!

Oamaru is being touted as the world's first steampunk town and the townsfolk--with the help of their local League of Victorian Imagineers--have been involved in what seems to be a year-long series of events leading up to this month's grand exhibition of steampunk creations and artwork.

One especially nice dimension of this large-scale civic event is the involvement of local school kids and their teachers, as well as other community groups. This includes blogging about local steampunk events (including a school kid challenge to design a steampunk raygun!), and a video documenting the construction of an Intergalactic Promulgation Transmogrification Appliance (otherwise known as an alien language communication device). Both the device and the documentary were created by the Literacy North Otago group.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A better way to academic success?

Many years ago, as an undergraduate student, I voted in a referendum about whether or not to introduce serious on course assessment into the degree program. At the time we had an arrangement called "terms", where you had to hand in certain papers and sit tests, but the results basically counted for squat. You had to hand them in to be allowed to sit the exam, but the quality of what you handed in had no serious weight on the final outcome. It was pretty much all on the exam.

I loved that system and voted against changing to on course assessment. It seemed to me a much better arrangement to be able to have fun for 80% of the year and then just sample the previous few years exam papers, predict what was likely to come up, and then build a few small data sets that would provide fodder for developing arguments on the topic during the exam. It was a pretty good system that left loads of time for movies, music, golf, back yard cricket and a bit of socialising.

The bad thing about the vote was that my side of the referendum lost. The good thing, at least for me, was that it occurred in the final year of my undergrad degree, so the outcome had zilch impact at the personal level.

The damage was done, however, and subsequent generations of students have endured the scourge of continuous assessment. That, of course, is ancient history.

But now there is another way, although it costs some beer money.

Not too much, it seems.

The last laugh, sadly, is on me. Just yesterday we finished a chapter on the topic of online collaborative writing. I thought we'd covered the most important bases, yet already it seems so five minutes ago ......

Project Project

Wow, I hear Project Titan is really coming on Monday.


I'll stick with Project Runway.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Day of the Dead in Coyoacan's Historic Plaza

Here are some more photos of the public face of the Day of the Dead celebration we took on Sunday in the old plaza in the heart of Coyoacan. It was a lovely warm sunny day and the plaza and immediate surrounds were packed. The colour and vitality of the scene belied the grim realities in so many other parts of this magical land.

We are posting more pix over at our photo blog.

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