Use PowerPoint or Keynote to Create Text Images

I’m in the process of setting up another site, Trailing Eudora, and the way I have it set up requires that I apply a thumbnail image to each post.  That stumped me a little because the right image can be trouble to find or create.  Then of course there’s the issue of whether or not the image is actually legally or ethically available to post once it’s been found.  Plus, though I do appreciate the use of images in blog posts, I don’t feel the need to always have one every single time.  Sometimes I’d rather have just a colorful text box with a short excerpt from my post calling attention to it rather than a photograph, I told myself as I contemplated the how of coming up with a thumbnail image for every single post.  That’s when it struck me that the easiest way in the world to create a colorful text box that can be posted to a blog as an image is to make it as a slide in PowerPoint or Keynote.  From either program, an individual slide can be exported as a jpg image.

Easy peasy.  Problem solved.

And the same technique can be applied to adding text-based images to flyers or other documents as well.  Sometimes the easy answer is really the best one.

March 26 Symposium for Two-Year College Teachers

What is Composition in the Digital Age?
A Symposium for Two-Year College Teachers
1:00-5:00, Friday, March 26
102 Liberal Arts Building
University of Southern Mississippi
Hattiesburg, MS

Click here to access the registration form, and here to view the flyer.

Registration is free to TYCAM members. You are asked to pre-register only to help us judge how many to expect.

NCTE and CCCC members can look for articles in CCC by Cynthia Selfe and Doug Hesse on the topic of composition in the digital age as a preview to the day’s discussion.

Presentations will include lesson demonstrations from graduate students in the Composition and Rhetoric program at USM. Panelists will represent both two-year colleges and universities. Please join us if you can. We expect innovative ideas and stimulating discussion in addition to delicious cookies.

The symposium is from 1:00-5:00. We will also offer a morning session on personal writing if enough people are interested. You’ll be contacted with details if you check “yes” to the morning session on your registration form.

And did I mention cookies? There will be cookies. You will not regret taking the time out for this event.

Twitter as Writing Prompt

I personally love the idea of using Twitter as a prompt for blogging. One form of digital writing compliments another. Send students to Twitter to find what people are saying on a given topic and then take some of those quotes back to the blog for responses. They could, of course, simply reply on Twitter, but taking the Tweets to a blog for response allows for more involved reactions and, we hope, more depth of thinking.

Students don’t have to blog to use Twitter for writing prompts, though, not even of the deep thinking variety. They could write their responses in a journal, or they could type them in a word processing document. The act of mining Twitter for ideas and thinking through those ideas in writing will be the same either way.

They might also look for creative writing prompts on Twitter. Photos make great writing prompts, for example, and Twitter is filled with photo-bloggers linking to their sites. One of my current favorites is @unhappyhipsters.

I also love the Twitter-related sites that pull in Tweets for comic purposes, such as the site Tweeting Too Hard. A good creative writing exercise might be to write a scene with a character who might have written one of those tweets (without actually stealing the tweet, of course). Another of these sites that leans toward hilarious is favstar.fm. Not all of the tweets are PG, however. Depending on where you work and how old your students are you may have to select some tweets for them to use as prompts. I believe in standing up for creativity wherever possible, but there is such a thing as asking for trouble.

Use your imagination. Ask your students to apply theirs. The possibilities for finding writing prompts on Twitter are virtually endless.

Twitter and Assignment Management

My previous post talked about making lists to organize the people you follow on Twitter. I was thinking more along the lines of personal and professional networking in that post, but lists can be essential to classroom management of Twitter assignments as well. If you have your classes Tweeting, a list means you can pull up only class posts on one screen. That makes assessing what they are up to as a group actually possible even if you follow a large number of non-students on Twitter. What’s more once you’ve made a list of the students in your class, those students can then follow your list so that they will know who is in their class. Everything class-related can be tied together in a nice package that way.

Another way to manage twitter assignments is through hash tags. Putting a # in front of any term creates a tag for that post, meaning it can be pulled up then within a stream of posts all identified as being about the same topic. In a class researching digital ethics, for example, tags might include #plagiarism, #cyberbully, #timetheft, or any number of other terms students are researching. The tag will become a hyperlink once the tweet is posted, allowing the students to just click to see a stream of posts with the same tag from the Twitterverse at large. It will also allow them to scan through their classmates’ tweets to quickly find information related to their own topics.

You might also consider assigning a class hash tag: #gerald1123 or something that will identify the tweets as belonging to a class group. This could become essential considering that the tweet stream is in constant motion. Unless you are Professor Johnny On the Spot, assessing Twitter projects might be problematic without more than one way to access class tweets.

As with most technologies, the best approaches to Twitter as assignment might be a matter of engaging in a little trail and error to find what works best for you and your students. These few simple items of Twitter literacy could prove very helpful, though, in working through that process.

Twittoum: A Poetic (and Twittery) Experiment

Twittoum by Sharon Gerald  
Download now or listen on posterous

Twittoum.mp3 (8597 KB)

Steeped in the tea kettle’s whistle, thinking of the you you made for me,
I toggle my wants and repulsions to the beat of your inattentiveness.
Last night I dreamed I played a flute again and talked, like Yeats, of poetry,
Our love for it and each other large like it was on the day we now call once.

I toggle my wants and repulsions to the beat of your inattentiveness,
Drawing us, each to the pitch of our own uncertainties, toward a single line,
Our love for it and each other large like it was on the day we now call once.
I want to sit for hours in the labor of articulate sweet sound, like this.

Drawing us, each to the pitch of our own uncertainties, toward a single line,
Where we shed the rhythms of the noisy set to keep time with one another.
I want to sit for hours in the labor of articulate sweet sound, like this.
Thinking of the you you made for me at one summer’s end.

***

Thinking of the you you made for me at one summer’s end,
I want to sit for hours in the labor of articulate sweet sound, like this.
Where we shed the rhythms of the noisy set to keep time with one another,
Drawing us, each to the pitch of our own uncertainties, toward a single line.

I want to sit for hours in the labor of articulate sweet sound, like this.
Our love for it and each other large like it was on the day we now call once.
Drawing us, each to the pitch of our own uncertainties, toward a single line.
I toggle my wants and repulsions to the beat of your inattentiveness.

Our love for it and each other large like it was on the day we now call once,
Last night I dreamed I played a flute again and talked, like Yeats, of poetry.
I toggle my wants and repulsions to the beat of your inattentiveness.
Steeped in the tea kettle’s whistle, thinking of the you you made for me.

Posted via email from Just Haphazardry

Twitter is who you follow; Twitter is how you follow

Twitter seems inspire both love and loathing in equal measure. Some crusade to win converts to their tweet streams. Others denounce the practice of tweeting at every opportunity. It’s been called a vehicle for mass narcissism, and that’s one of the nicer descriptions. I won’t deny the accusations can have merit. Twitter can be silly. It can be self-absorbed. It can be boring. It can be an utter waste of time. That depends not on what you tweet so much as who you follow. If Twitter is a broadcasting device, it’s a two-way radio. Talk into it all day long, but if you aren’t picking up good stations in return, it’s probably useless to you.

I use Twitter primarily to discover information. Some people use it more for casual chat, and that’s okay. Still, the main difference in what one person gets out of Twitter and what another person doesn’t get is in who is talking to them. Twitter is enormous. It’s silly to say everything on it is a waste of time. That would be like saying everything in the library is a waste of time because you didn’t care for the first few books you picked up. If you are interested in it, you can find it somewhere on Twitter.

Because I’m interested in discovering information, I follow newspapers, journalists, bloggers, and people who like to share articles on topics important to me. I follow whole networks of people I associate with particular online communities, such as tech rhetors, poets, and Mississippians. The topics are important to me; therefore, the tweeters are interesting to me.

Twitter is who you follow.

This is not to say I haven’t had trouble sorting out what is worth my time and what isn’t in my tweet stream. I have, and I think that issue comes up more if you follow a lot of people, and/or if you follow people who don’t easily fit into a category. I unfollowed someone who is a professor and whose professional tweets are of interest to me because she happened to hate the Saints. I didn’t unfollow everyone who tweeted against the Saints. Only this one person bothered me because she wasn’t cheering for a team. She was just posting anti-Saints tweets every week during Saints games. I decided I wasn’t going to go through a Super Bowl like that, so I just culled her from my stream.

I have no doubt others have unfollowed me for similar reasons. They may have followed me in the first place when I tweeted about poetry, but then they lost interest when I tweeted about Mississippi. That’s okay. Relationships, like information, are transitory on Twitter.

It isn’t necessary, however, to start unfollowing people just because you are having trouble keeping up with the kind of information you want to find. That will all become much easier if you organize the people you follow into lists.

Twitter is how you follow.

If you want to only read tweets from Saints fans during a Saints game, make a list of Saints fans, and watch only that stream while the game is on. Likewise, make a list of people who share your professional interests to refer to when you are looking for job-related information. Make as many lists as you need to organize your stream into manageable categories.

Twitter is one long continuous conversation, but if you’ve ever sat in the middle of a big dinner table trying to hold a conversation with everyone in your immediate vicinity, you’ve probably felt that slight sense of disorientation that comes when one conversation is really several overlapping conversations. Twitter can be disorienting like that. It can also be stimulating and informative. Making lists is just one way to help control which it becomes for you.