Thursday, June 11, 2015

Paper Circuitry and the Writing Process

I started with a drawing.
Inspired by Nexmap's 21st Century Notebooking idea (done in collaboration with the National Writer's Project) I am attempting to blend paper circuitry with my own writing process.  This might sound easy, but I was surprised to find it more challenging than I thought I would. I love making the circuits, and even drawing or making collages of images that are in my imagination; but, when it comes to writing down the words, I sometimes struggle.  

While a goal of integrating paper circuitry into the writing process is to provide another communication tool, it should be noted that this doesn’t necessarily mean that the writing that you desire to inspire in yourself or others will be particularly good or flow easily. If I'm being completely honest, my writing process has been labored, even though I'm doing this as my own personal challenge.  I’ve found myself procrastinating and looking for permission to take a low-stakes approach, such as creating a blackout poem, composing a haiku, or illustrating a borrowed quotation. These options seem less daunting than documenting a personal metaphor or attempting to write something profound and magical. Still, I believe that this is a process worth exploring; we all need encouragement to practice telling our stories in different ways in order to find our most authentic voice.

I allowed myself to start writing in haiku. 
I created the circuit last.
So, when I struggle to find the right words, or worry that they won't be good enough, I need only remind myself to trust the process and play.  

I started my haiku by creating a drawing that reminded me of where I grew up. With some effort, and slightly adjusted expectations, the words followed.  With a little revision, I was happy enough with the outcome to share it here.

The thing that I like most about my finished piece is the way the illuminated flowers really look like jewels.

This is the first time that I let my content drive the circuit, instead of vise versa.

As I continue my exploration of paper circuitry as a literacy tool, I am wondering how I may build upon this experience to create meaningful learning opportunities for students. I personally love making things with my hands, so I naturally gravitate toward this sort of work.  

Conversely, I am wondering what research has to say about the use of paper circuitry in the writing process. I know some audacious educators have already been practicing this process in their classrooms, but I haven't seen a lot of examples of student work. Beyond the gleeful anecdotes and gee-whiz appeal that blinking lights are sure to conjure, I am curious to know how effective notebook hacking really is as a tool for improving communication or increasing creativity. The process has value on a personal level, but I'm eager to find out what students think.

Forgotten Jewels
Dusty petals croon
against a blanket of sand.
Sing, desert blossom.

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