Sunday, August 05, 2012

Defining Writing

Yesterday's post touched briefly on how I define writing. I began to question this early in the summer when I participated (at least to some extent) in ds106. That course had me telling stories through images, sounds, design, and more. It pushed the way I view telling a story or creating meaning. I began to wonder what this could mean for my students.

Then I spent four weeks with brilliant teachers in NVWP's ISI. The room we were in from 9-4 Monday through Thursday and on Friday mornings was a cave. It is a basement room with no windows. The walls were lined with lockers, cabinets, and drawers full of maps and other things used by the geology department. It was crowded. One participant referred to it as a bunker. A friend and I decided before the ISI even began that we would have to do something to make the room feel comfortable and like we belonged there.

We hung up quotes from writers and work we did each day. On the first day we looked at several different short texts in unusual genres and had blown-up versions of each one. Those were hung up for the lesson and remained up til the end. Another day we each wrote haikus on post-it notes. Those went up and stayed up. We made a graffiti wall where we wrote quotes from the summer, said by participants and presenters. Some were serious. Some were not.

We also set up a mind map that said, "What is writing?" in the center. This didn't get much attention. It clearly didn't capture the interest of most of the participants. It went up because that question has been burning in my mind. I still don't have a good answer. If you have thoughts I would love to hear them. If you've read something on this idea I'd greatly appreciate knowing about it.

What does it mean to write something? Does it require paper or a computer? Does it require words? Does it have to convey meaning? Are there other ways to view writing that will still help a person become better at the traditional idea of writing?

Does any of this make any sense?

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