Hacking The “How To”

All, CLMOOC, Teaching, Technology, Writing

How To Be Deanna MascleI spent my writing time during the Morehead Writing Project Invitational Summer Institute creating my first “Make” for the 2014 Making Learning Connected Collaboration. I was actually planning to skip this “Make” cycle because I have a lot going on but when I saw the prompt I was just pulled in!

We were challenged to make “How To” guides but in true #CLMOOC fashion there is a twist – these are “how to be” guides. We were challenged to create personal “how to be” guides, so I created a “How to be Deanna Mascle” guide, and locate some examples of “how to be” guides that interested us. As a Walking Dead fan I was drawn to this “how to be a zombie survivor” and as a writer I enjoyed this “how to be a writer” guide but I have been inspired by our #MWPSI community to see the many different ways that teachers can use this genre. One of my favorite examples from #CLMOOC that I have seen so far is Amy Brown’s “How To Become A Teacher.”

There is the obvious icebreaker – community building – personal narrative type of uses, but once students have created a personal “how to be” and understand the genre there are so many other uses. Brandis Carlson teaches kindergarten in an Ipad classroom and loves the idea of using Haiku Deck as I did to create those personal “how to be” guides as an early writing assignment for her students. However, we also thought it would be great to then build on that experience and they could create “how to be” research projects for career aspirations (how to be a firefighter, for example). Vickie Moriarity teaches seventh grade language arts and thought these “how to be” projects could be great to establish policy, procedure, and/or expectations at the beginning of the school year and Brandis agreed that it could be a great classroom welcome her students to create a “how to be a kindergartener.” We then thought these could be great projects for all kinds of content from literature “how to be Atticus Finch” to science “how to a cumulus cloud.” I’m already thinking about ways that I can use this assignment to transorm my Group Learning Document assignment.

These are just the applications that we brainstormed over coffee. Just imagine what the collective NWP teaching community can dream up! I am suggesting this genre as a possible way for the Morehead Writing Project teachers to deliver both personal and professional writing pieces during our ISI and MOSI!

Note: My students used “how to be” pieces to introduce themselves this semester and it was a nice icebreaker and community building activity.

One thought on “Hacking The “How To”

  • Deanna,

    I’m excited to hear that the make cycle pulled you in. Thanks for sharing this reflection. I’m particularly drawn to the range of use for the how-to, from creative introductions to potentially interest-powered research about career paths. Your optimism about what the network can surface in this make cycle and in this mooc resonates with me, mostly because of the powerful- often informal- conversations happening face to face at writing project sites like yours right now.

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