SOL17 DoodleaDay 15 Blowin’ In The Wind

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I spend time each day to learn from others by reading their ideas linked to in tweets on Twitter. Before November 8th, this daily activity inspired me and my work; the twitter feed offered the opportunity to share, learn, grow, reciprocate, and remix to make the world a better place.

After November 8th, I took some time off. I found the world had shifted off the humane course of a world seeking peace– seeking liberty and justice for all. It careened of a cliff and away from but a call to:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

~Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson

I don’t know if you felt it, that tremble under your feet that knocks you off balance; a feeling of dread that the world beneath your feet is crumbling away. Before November 8th, our country opened up that joyous word: freedom — it acknowledged and upheld differences; it celebrated a world that includes everyone. Yes, places in the world were still horrific, and the world was trying to help that. Yes, sometimes the opportunities were not available as easily for some than others. Yet, we were as a country working on those. We were not perfect, but we were open; we had avenues to take to promote freedom and justice for all.

Then we elected oligarchs, white supremacists, anarchists, illiterates whose sole purpose is to disrupt and control.

I thought that the Republicans were American patriots — that they would see the evil in the actions and the power negating freedoms, but now they are complicit.

I am a fool; I thought our government of the people, by the people, and for the people through our elected representatives would govern for all the people.

I am a fool.

Today, I looked at the blogs of people I follow on Twitter. One post, My Un-Representative by Alan Levine [@cogdog] really hit my heart- the ideas touched exactly how I’m feeling.

Look at the graphic at the top of the post — this is a Wikimedia Commons public domain image representing the House of Representatives, 2017.

houseofrepresentatives2017_publicdomain.jpg

There are, indeed, more Republicans [red] than Democrats and others [blue].

Yes, we elected them, but how did we elect them? In fact, the Republicans selected us, the voters by rigging the voting districts. It’s called gerrymandering, and this January, 2016 Washington Post article explains this concept and this fact [bold, mine]:

The GOP scored 33 more seats in the House this election even though Democrats earned a million more votes in House races. Professor Jeremy Mayer says gerrymandering distorts democracy. (The Fold/The Washington Post)

I knew gerrymandering existed, but did not think it was that bad, and in fact, I thought my state [Washington] was fair with a bi-partisan system. It turns out I’m wrong: Read the DailyKos article on why this doesn’t work either.

Some resources to correct the effects of gerrymandering:

End Gerrymandering

The Fold/The Washington Post

Brennan Center for Justice

FairVote

Still, despite knowing about gerrymandering, I’m still a fool. Because although there are more red than blue representatives and senators, I believed they represented ALL the people, not just their party.

Yes, I thought the people elected still had to be Americans and consider all Americans in their elected responsibility as my representative in the House or Senate.

freedom_iconsre Yes, I believe in our freedoms, our rights, and the freedom to live one’s life in one’s own way.

That means that our representatives need to consider all the people, to hold up those rights for all Americans. In the past, we have expected our rights to extend to anyone in our country. But that was then, now we have the inhumane, unAmerican travel ban.

Since we all live with others, freedom comes with responsibilities. One of those is to respect the freedoms and ideas of others, which I certainly expect my congresspersons to do.

respect_iconsre

Respect means listening to and accepting other ideas, tolerating that which is different, and acknowledging ways to allow those differing ideas a voice and a life in our complex and dynamic communities. I expect this of our elected officials in Congress.

In my classroom, it means we have a talking stick, a Native American way to hand off a time to share and give one’s voice [and everyone has a  voice to solve an issue].

compromise_iconsre

Another responsibility key to our democracy is compromise. We find common ground so that our country of diverse ideas and cultures can live together in peace and respect. I expect that elected officials work together to compromise so all people are represented, not just the elected person’s party.

And in my classroom, sometimes we compromise on how we spend our  time– some students want more time with the teacher and others want to work in their own small groups. I shorten up my part, and then students set their goals and work in the areas and ways that best help them succeed in their projects.

cooperation_iconsre

In order to compromise, listening and understanding respectfully is a must and so is cooperation. I expect that when a law is created, that bi-partisan cooperation takes precedence over party political manipulation.

In my classroom, students and I cooperate– giving each other ideas and feedback on our writing or videos or blogposts. We help each other be successful.

collaboration_iconsre

Sometimes issues are so complicated, that we need to collaborate to get things done — the people we elect need to research and present different ideas to each other in order to analyze what would work best to solve the issue in cooperation and compromise.

In the classroom, sometimes students have different jobs [researcher, interviewer, composer] and sometimes they have parts of topics for which they are responsible for so when their team meets, everyone has part of the information needed to complete a project. That’s collaboration, which then requires cooperation and compromise respectfully to consider and solve the big picture issue.

doodleaday_iconssre_freedomI know these concepts: freedom, respect, compromise, cooperation, and collaboration work together — and I know that they work because that’s how things happen in  the real world.

So I’m expecting the elected officials, Democrat, Republican, Independents, work together for all Americans, and not just for their party.

How about you?

Look for and support those officials who seek each other out and begin the listening process to uphold the Constitution and our American values which are now under siege by the current and very lost administration. Help them find the way back to the great America, the one that fought for and created laws — not for order — but for liberty and justice for all.

The answer is blowing’ in the wind — and we must listen in freedom for all to find the answers together.

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Maybe just you can,

Maybe you say,

Maybe you shut me up,

Maybe you pray your way.

Maybe you slam the door

Maybe you build a border

Maybe you block me out

Maybe you hear my shouts.

Maybe I stand louder

Maybe you can’t ignore

Maybe in the crying

Maybe you’ll feel your heart.

Maybe you’ll open up,

Maybe you’ll listen,

Maybe you’ll see the person

Maybe you’ll step up.

Maybe you’ll open a window,

Maybe you’ll open a door,

Maybe you’ll take my hand,

Maybe together we stand.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Part of Slice of Life 2017 by The Two Writing Teachers

Part of DoodleaDay by Royan Lee— today: icons: metaphors for concepts

Doodling Song: Peter, Paul, and Mary Blowin’ in the Wind

House of Representatives 2017 Image: “United States House of Representatives 2017” is a Wikimedia Commons image place in the public domain.

SOL17 DoodleaDay Stand Up

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Do not make

the mistake of thinking

that you have to agree

with people and their beliefs

to defend them from

injustice.

~ Bryant McGill in his Preamble to the Voice of Reason

What is the DoodleADay today? Our thirteenth DoodleADay is to doodle a quote from someone we admire. I wanted to continue on my theme of social justice, so I had so many quotes to choose from — the founding fathers, Martin Luther King, JR, Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Elie Wiesel, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Blackwell, Geraldine Ferraro, Rachel Carson, Sandra Day O’Connor, Margaret Mead, etc.

But one thing I worry about is hesitancy. When should we speak up? For that, I found Bryant McGill’s quote most important. If we don’t speak up for the human rights of all of us, then change won’t occur.

Bryant McGil also said in this Preamble to his book, The Voice of Reason:

Without love and compassion, nothing is sacred. No marketplace, free or otherwise, is good when it fails to consider the basic human state of needs at every stage of life. No political body is sacred, sustainable or under protection, which allows the exploitation of its people, or capitalization from the subdued life-force of its weakest members. No nation’s flag is great or glorious if it flies over the weak and downtrodden, even if they raise and protect it out of misguided allegiance. No belief or idea is sacred, unless it treats all people as sacred. And no construct on earth will stand, that does not stand for the least among them, as their advocate and humble servant. ~Bryant McGill

I’ve not found any content related to our current dilemmas from Bryant, but it’s important to put this time in perspective, and why it is important to stand together and speak up in whatever ways we can.

I know someone I truly admire who did fight for injustice: Abraham Lincoln.

And he said this:

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But what is even more important is why he said this — and how it reflects on our current two-party system and the Democratic and Republic Parties as they stray from the core principles laid out by Thomas Jefferson, a founding father who wrote, with discussion with others:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

~Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson

His emphasis was the people, above property; people, as the government. How far have we strayed from these founding ideas?

Read the letter written by Abraham Lincoln to H.L.Pierce in 1859: Click to Letter and form your own thoughtful conclusions.

Hopefully, these quotes may guide us. My elementary and high school year history classes during the 50s and 60s engrained these founding fathers and their ideals and ideas into my beliefs of our country. Do you see the infringement today by our leaders– to put profit and their religious rules above the people — all the people– and their rights and freedoms? I think instead of #resist we should #standup !

Freedom is nothing if it is only your rights you support.

Abraham Lincoln, on Saturday Evening, July 10, 1858, at Chicago, Illinois, said:

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Freedom rings true

to me and to you,

a compromise

at times must do

For yours to be

And mine to be too.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Part of Slice of Life 2017 by The Two Writing Teachers

Part of DoodleaDay by Royan Lee— today- a quote from someone you admire

Today I doodled to Ani DiFranco‘s Paradigm

SOL17 DoodleaDay 4

 

hope-renaissance

I am finding hope in these dark times. I know that many of my friends voted for Trump, and I know them to be kind and caring. Therefore, I know we can come together somehow in steadying the foundations of our America.

Hope: In the New York Times, Timothy Egan wrote an uplifting article entitled “A Great New Accidental Renaissance.” Attending a “Search for Hope” conference at a Seattle University, he thought a few people would show up to each event. Instead, the conference was sold out; he writes:

In the winter of the American soul, people thronged to hear advice on how to “live a life of significance and impact” and to “find meaning in times of change, challenge and chaos.”

And he credits Trump for the renaissance:

…because the threats to truth, civility, rational thought and brotherly love coming from the White House have prompted a huge counterreaction.

Although the tweeting Trump supporters consider others lacking in truth, civility, rational thought, and love, in reality, their love is not for all. The people, however, who are protesting are protesting for the rights of all Americans, not just themselves. That’s a huge difference. And this “winter of the American soul” created by the president and his GOP followers has created the inspiration to engage in civic discourse, to assemble together against intolerance and ignorance, and to actively and collectively emphasize the American values this administration seeks to dismiss and mock.  As Timothy Egan says:

we may be experiencing a great awakening for the humane values that are under siege by a dark-side presidency. People are going inward, to find something bigger than Trump, and outward, to limit the damage he inflicts on the country.

Be aware that the GOP are fighting in at least eighteen states against our constitutional right to assemble and our free speech. Although the GOP fight for the right to own and carry any kind of gun as their right according to the Second Amendment of the Constitution, they are perfectly willing to deny your First Amendment right to assemble, to freedom of speech, to petition the government:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

We will no longer take the values of “truth, civility, rational thought and brotherly love” for granted as if they were the natural progression of a civilized society, but rather we will learn and gather together with non-violent and civil strategies to uphold these values in our communities as the great America we know and love.

Gandhi said, “The science of nonviolence can alone lead one to pure democracy.”

This is our time to strengthen our democratic republic and limit the damage to its institutions and Constitution. And the key is civil action by the informed actions of concerned citizens through nonviolence.

Resources:

A Commitment to Nonviolence: The Leadership of John Lewis

Six Principles of Nonviolence by Teaching Tolerance

What nonviolence is [Gandhi].

A Time for Justice: A Teaching Tolerance middle school guide on Civil Rights

Movie: Gandhi — who freed his country, India, through nonviolence

Please add any other resources on nonviolence in the comments.

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Song: Freedom Now by Tracy Chapman, about the life of Nelson Mandela who spent twenty-seven years in jail before freed to fight against Apartheid in South Africa. He and President FW de Klerk won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, and in1994 Mandela became South Africa’s first democratically elected President.

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Twilight slides to dark

as communities of stars

lead hope towards sunlight.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Find your communities. Gather in nonviolent actions to retain our values, our access to knowledge, and our spirit as Americans. Always strive to invite the other side to rejoin and reconnect as the one America we have been; ending the divisiveness is a main goal.

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HOPE

Hear each other;

Open communication;

Practice peace and conversation;

Energize communities.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Part of Slice of Life 2017 by The Two Writing Teachers

Part of DoodleaDay by Royan Lee— today: Practice @DaveGray‘s Visual Alphabet

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SOL17 DoodleaDay 2


I have, I now understand, taken for granted the idea of freedom and the idea that my country was the greatest on earth, to which people around the world dreamed of becoming a part of one day. And many came to save their families from their worlds, and now we, whose Stature of Liberty welcomes them, we, whose descendants were immigrants or refugees, we treat them as enemies. That’s what it appears we are doing.

Read the data about immigrants by Media Matters: they are less likely to commit crimes. There is certainly no valid reason for creating a list of immigrant crimes: Media Matters. A Canadian friend shared this article in the Toronto Star in which the first paragraph explains how these disparaging lies and this list are just like Hitler in Nazi Germany.

And it’s not just immigrant and refugees: it’s health care, voting rights, environmental protections, and civil rights that seem to be disappearing slowly, but surely.

So for doodling today, I chose “Chimes of Freedom” by Bob Dylan in Another Side of Bob Dylan to listen to while I doodle. The song shares images of the downtrodden underdogs as a the narrator ducks into a doorway in a thunderstorm which eventually subsides, the thunderous chimes give way to hope as chimes of freedom.

As I was listening, an article from Huffington Post appeared in my notifications that a 22-year-old woman, who arrived here with her mother at age seven and who spoke to the media about her hopes for herself and others, was arrested and will be deported. I found this a shameful action on our part. For all her years since she was seven, she’s been an American.

So, I am wrong about my country. Someone has changed it. And my heart breaks for the “tongues with no place to bring their thoughts” because we arrest them for speaking up about their dreams as a free person in the United States, which they thought was the greatest country on earth. We were once the role model for human rights; that is no longer true, as this incident denied her rights as a human being. Are we not all enraged and sad?

For resources on immigrants and resources, see Larry Ferlazzo’s post.

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Chimes of Freedom Dying
“Lock her up” is their call

Lock every one up

Refugee, immigrant,

Perhaps you and me.

Freedom dying.

Call them rapists

Call them criminals

Ignore the facts

Knowledge, a closed door.

Freedom dying.

Hunt them down

Deport them.

Flight from death, they came

Dreaming of U.S. freedom’s light.

Freedom dying.

Other leading countries

with health care provided,

Instead, in the US

GOP says that’s dead.

Freedom dying.

Greedily corporations

Polluted our water, air, and land

So rules these abated

Now, the president says NO!

Freedom dying.

Every help from progress,

Humane and civilized,

Now totally deconstructed,

Power-punch the people: pow!

Freedom dying.

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Important note:

I want to thank Karen Fasimpaur‏ @kfasimpaur and Helen J DeWaard‏ @hj_dewaard for their tweets which have provided me a way to get back into writing as I try to find understanding and solace is this underworld we find ourselves in.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Part of Slice of Life 2017 by The Two Writing Teachers

Part of DoodleaDay by Royan Lee— today: lines, circles, shapes

SOL17 DoodleaDay

Surviving the paralyzing inhumanity I feel in the country today, I have finally found solace in a daily activity for the month of March found in a tweet by @royanlee.


As his intro explains, just doodle while listening to a song and share the doodle with the #doodleaday hashtag. Tie this in with Slice of Life by the Two Writing Teachers, and discover a distraction that will help focus thoughts that will help clear the mind for positive action in bringing our country back to its greatness, through our humanity of caring for our neighbors and strangers and the earth as a whole world, one planet for all. I mean that by doodling each day to music that soothes or inspires, the creative juices will flow towards the positive. By writing a slice of one’s life, a moment of the every day, the humanity will shine past the worry. Then, the focus can be on action. Whether Trump’s greatness is your greatness, or the values of our country before November 9th are your greatness — work to make that greatness. Hopefully, that will mean caring for others and the earth.

This is my slice, doodle, and hope for today, March 1st. I am not an artist, so my doodles will be a mess, but they will probably improve throughout the month. I listened to John Lennon’s Imagine, because I must imagine a world in peace, a world where we invite and welcome all people, a world where we conserve and preserve our Mother Earth, a world built on hope and love, and not fear, especially fear of others. I had set a goal in January to write every day, to write a Slice of Life every Tuesday, but my heart was broken, broken at the the death of my son and broken by the loss of hopefulness and love in my country. But this simple step of creative hope must be a way to get my hopes up again. I hope.

And I thank Royan Lee for the inspiration!

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And, A poem: Imagine
Imagine

Living in a world

Where children don’t

Grow to adulthood

From the horrors

Of the evil around you.

Imagine

Dreaming of a country

Where children do

Grow to adulthood

For the hope that lives

In the opportunities around you.

Imagine

Sending your child

Walking thousands of miles

To slip away from death

And into freedom

By the only way available.

Imagine:

It happened in the 1930’s in Germany.

It’s happening in Latin America today.

It’s happening.

Would you save your child?

Would you send that child back?

DigiLitSunday: Free from Fake

Is our freedom real or fake?

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Fake or real? I don’t think that is the real issue. The real issue is whom do we consider to be our journalists, the voice of the people; they let us know. It’s their job.

thebasisofour

Yes, we need ways to discern that what we read is valid and true. Margaret Simon shares how her students think about and validate their sources in her post, DigiLitSunday: Fake or Real?  And they discovered that the truth is not easy to assess — a person in articles may say one thing on one day and change their mind on another. But the point is, the students are verifying the information:

  • what type of site? [edu, gov, org, or ??? ]
  • are their links to their sources?
  • are their cross-references?
  • is the ‘news’ on multiple sources?
  • is information or opinion verified with evidence?

Margaret shared Kevin Hodgson‘s Google Slideshow, which he shares with his students to help them sort real from fake news: Fake News and How To Spot It.  Anyone can put any information online. Who sponsors the site? Who are the donors and supporters? What is their purpose? How do they get their information?  For more ideas on Fake or Real News, see this Google collaboration started by Eric Hill.

As I said, the real issue asks this question: Whom do we consider to be our journalists, the voice of the people? They let us know. It’s their job. We get news from journalists who provide the information about the world and our leaders so we can hold them accountable.

So what is journalism? I trust you’ll find resources and share them below in comments, but here’s part of a definition from Journalism Requires a Definition at mic.com, which reflects a view that follows Thomas Jefferson’s idea that journalists are our voice:

“nine-point explanation given by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosentiel:

  1. Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth
  2. Its first loyalty is to citizens
  3. Its essence is a discipline of verification
  4. Its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover
  5. It must serve as an independent monitor of power
  6. It must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise
  7. It must strive to make the significant interesting and relevant
  8. It must keep the news comprehensive and proportional
  9. Its practitioners must be allowed to exercise their personal conscience”

Journalism Requires a Definition at mic.com

So, the first thing today is to search for news from organizations who follow, and whose  journalists follow, those tenets. That would be news sources such as The New York Times or the Washington Post or your local newspaper. We have forgotten that the “news” is for us– by journalists who follow and report on issues that we, the public, the citizens, need to know.

If you don’t like the news you hear, or you disagree, write a letter to the editor or your own blog post. However, this year, journalists have been denigrated by fake news sites and even by our leaders, whom we have elected. Journalists look for the truth with facts — they inform us so we can act. So we might not want to hear this from the New York Times about President Obama:

“He warned us against retreating into our bubbles, but he was never able to escape his own.” New York Times

And we might not want to hear when President-Elect Trump states a lie and is called on it:

“Can you imagine that if Donald Trump got the questions to the debate — it would’ve been the biggest story in the history of stories. And they would’ve said immediately, ‘You have to get out of the race.’ Nobody even talked about it. It’s a very terrible thing.”

That “nobody even talked about it” is a trademark Trump lie; the supposed revelation dominated the news for days.  The Nation

We don’t want to hear those things — but we need to listen.

And we need to use our own strategies for verifying all news sources — using more than one newspaper or media about the issue. We need to read world news– from other countries. We need to support valid “news” organizations.

Why? Here are a few reasons:

  • Twitter is Instant Unverified Statements: “Mr. Trump expertly exploits journalists’ unwavering attention to their Twitter feeds” New York Times
  • Basic facts are needed for citizens to discuss: “When political actors can’t agree on basic facts and procedures, compromise and rule-bound argumentation are basically impossible; politics reverts back to its natural state as a raw power struggle in which the weak are dominated by the strong. That’s where Donald Trump’s lies are taking us. By attacking the very notion of shared reality, the president-elect is making normal democratic politics impossible. When the truth is little more than an arbitrary personal decision, there is no common ground to be reached and no incentive to look for it.” ThinkProgress
  • Our Freedom of the Press is treated by the President-Elect just like Putin’s Puppet Press: “Putin always comes off as an omniscient and benevolent leader tending to a flock of unruly but adoring children.” Alexey Kovalev on Medium
  • We’ve been “Framed”: “You just keep repeating the things that you’re negating. And that just strengthens them.” George Lackof interview by Paul Rosenberg in Salon

These reasons show how we Americans have been inundated with a political strategy that has turned us against those who would keep us free: journalism and Freedom of the Press.

We must understand these and call them out. We must support our journalists and hold them true to standards built over the course of history in our democratic republic and founded in our most sacred documents. And we must hold our leaders accountable to the truth — we must discern any lies and deception by verifying the information. If even our President is creating fake news, make it known. See “Conspirator-in-Chief” from Salon.

Fake or Real? We must build up those who have spoken up through history.

If we let our journalists be bullied, ignored, and disgraced, we all lose our freedom and our ability to hold our government accountable. We must demand that our President respect this fundamental aspect of our democratic republic. This is the first president in my history who has deliberately generated, as a strategy, division, animosity, and threats to our journalists. I may not have liked President G. W. Bush, but he was my president and he did not divide the country with rhetoric nor did he threaten the press. Our President-Elect is different; his strategy is to engage his followers and deny, defame, and divide anyone who questions him. Our historical beginnings formed from fighting tyranny, and although I want him to be great — so far, he has spread only derision and disdain for many of us, the citizens whom he represents, and the journalists who represent us.

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We have a right to speak up. We have a right to speak up against websites that create fake news and misinformation. We have a right to speak up to leaders who also do so. And journalists are part of that right. Without freedom of speech, freedom to assemble, and freedom of the press, we are not free. [ Bill of Rights ]

Fake or Real? It’s more than that: we need to expect our highest leaders in our local, state, and federal offices to be honorable, truthful, and supportive of those institutions and founding ideals that make us great.

How?

  • Subscribe and follow reliable news organizations
  • On Facebook, follow those reliable news organizations
  • On Facebook, hide fake news, biased news, misinformation; report fake news
  • On Facebook, share important news from reliable news organizations
  • On Twitter, follow those reliable news organizations
  • On Twitter, choose “I don’t like this Tweet” for false, fake, and lies
  • On Twitter, tweet important news from reliable news organizations
  • Write blog posts about the importance of journalism
  • Write blog posts based on reliable news
  • Encourage students to write letters to the editor
  • Encourage student journalism

Journalism
can never be silent:
that is its greatest virtue
and its greatest fault.
It must speak,
and speak immediately,
while the echoes
of wonder,
the claims of triumph
and the signs of horror
are still in the air.

Henry Anatole Grunwald
Former Editor, Time Magazine

Do more than determine if ‘news’ is fake or real — support the voices of the people: journalists. Make our freedom real!


[Bill Moyers: 10 Investigative Reporting Outlets]

img_3496 Part of Margaret Simon’s: DigiLitSunday

Topic: Fake or Real?

#140WC Thanks #Givercraft

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It’s been an amazing adventure: GiverCraft. We read The Giver by Lois Lowry; we joined the GiverCraft MineCraftEDU community. We built a community based on evidence from the story, then were thrown into chaos as the memories returned when Jonas, the Receiver, left, leaving the memories to be found around our GiverCraft community. We built the memories and shared them in snapshots of GiverCraft and in words that expressed our interpretations of the story: What if the memories returned to everyone?

Everything we did, we brought back in discussions to the text — what would Jonas have done? the Giver? What would the other characters do? Why do you think so? How has the community changed? But we learned more than “find the central idea” and “use evidence from the story.”

As we worked through our memories in the new chaos, the students were concerned that some of the players did not follow the agreement we had all signed, to play nicely and not interfere with others’ work. Yes, we were thrown into chaos, but we asked the person to stop. We asked again. Each time, he said, “No.” Twice he provided food, but most often, he interfered.  It was a difficult discussion for my students, many of whom know that life is not always easy and structured perfectly; that struggles and difficulties can happen daily by events beyond their control– they are independent-minded and are expected to solve their own problems, and they are family-oriented and are expected to help each other. And here, in their game, where they had agreed to certain constraints, here were people who did not follow the norms to which our students agreed and followed. They had the power to help each other, but not to stop the problem. They were indeed in a “new world” from which they could learn about life.

“What do you think?” I asked.

“We think there should be rules.”

“There should be rules for people who just do anything anytime even in others’ places and stuff.”

“The should go to ‘grievers,’ or be kicked out for the day.”

“We can’t stop him; there needs to be rules.”

And they wrote about it:

We are like the Giver because they had rules just like us. There are rules so people don’t go in to other peoples things. Also because if we didn’t have rules people would do whatever they wanted.

If you find a house don’t go in it because we need a law to not to break stuff.

There was some people who was throwing potions at my friend’s horses and they ran away but we got them back and they were throwing invisibility harming; we should have a rule for no bad potions.

If I had to make a law about the new world it would be that you wouldn’t be able to break block unless you were ask to break that block for the player and the consequence would be that you would be kicked from the games for two days.

I’m going to make a fence around my property and I’m going to make signs that say “please stay out or please don’t destroy”, please and thanks too. We have laws In the real world; they don’t go on to other people’s property without permission– that you can, you can’t hurt anybody but since we have nobody to tell us what to do people can do what ever they want. But In the real world, people can do whatever they want If we didn’t have laws.

We have laws in the real world because if we didn’t have the laws we wouldn’t be learning in our schools right now. We have rules in Givercraft and we follow those rules because if we don’t we wont be doing the project about the Giver. Also if we didn’t have laws people would be able to do what ever they want to do and steal stuff, hurt people,and say mean words to everybody.

The students understood why we have rules and leaders, and they found ways to solve their problems in positive ways. This is learning beyond the stuff of standards; its learning in life.

One other school group was recognized for revolting against the elders [which would be unheard of in our real-world community — elders are respected and cared for]. The players apparently wanted more freedom and captured the elders. I understand that sometimes rules interfere. But I also heard the voice of those during the chaos — that in their efforts to survive, their work was hampered not just by the new memories, storms, and dark of night, but also by players intent on adding to the chaos. The students tried to have a meeting to consider their choices; they put up signs to protect their stuff, and they talked to the person. They felt powerless, and struggled with their desire to maintain their agreement and their frustration with not being able to form a community better than sameness: free, but with an agreement — free to build with their memories, with the freedom to work through the memories, and without someone interfering. They did not want sameness, but they wanted freedom to work together.

So today was the last day to build memories, even with our intruder. And they felt good about their decisions to find positive ways to work together — to collaborate — around the extra chaos. That’s an important lesson as well.

And today was the day we were honored with an interview in Google HangOut with the author, Lois Lowry. One student already reflected on the experience:

Scene 2 final day
Today we watched the interview with Lois Lowry. There was a lot of people there. The person [Lois Lowry] said that she based the books on her father. The father is forgetful because he forgot that his oldest daughter had die when she was 28 years old. A lot of the kids had to tell how they finished the memory and what they did to finish the memory.

The students heard the author’s process, a “What if….” and imagining a character for the answer. They heard how the community of sameness developed:

[paraphrased from author] My family was in the military. We’d have a wall around the base and community and everything was orderly with lots of rules. Every evening a bugle would play. We’d have to stop what we were doing and stand at attention to watch the flag lower. It was filled with rules, no crime, but not like real life and that’s what I was thinking when I created the Giver.

They learned that many kids write to Lois Lowry about the book. “There could be love,” is a quote from the Giver and a tattoo on a boy’s arm; the boy sent her a book to be autographed with a return envelope.

They heard how to build memories, especially “a wedding memory,” which helped them in their last play at GiverCraft.

We learned so much, thanks to GiverCraft and Lois Lowry and her book and interview. We learned how authors get ideas, we learned that sameness is “mean and boring,” but that chaos is frustrating because “In the real world, people can do whatever they want If we didn’t have laws.” And we felt good about ourselves for choosing to work together in positive ways, as we had agreed. Because we learned from The Giver, “There could be love.”

Thank you, Lois Lowry and GiverCraft.

WC: 1242

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Crosspost at Ms Edwards