What’s up with that digital writing project?

2 12 2009

Mom, Uncle Jim and Grandma J.

Well, let me tell you, I have done a lot of work over the last couple months, and some surprises have surfaced along the way.  As a Christmas gift for my mom,  I have taken on a huge project:  3 VoiceThreads (one by my dad, one by my mom’s three sisters, and one by my brother’s family), a musical playlist designed for my mom, a Photo Story about my mom, and a movie poster to advertise the Photo Story (well, multi-genre sounded like a good idea at the time).  The good news is that I had already experimented with Photo Story a couple months ago so I had already gone through the process of learning many of those skills.  However, the writing of the story for my mom has been a challenge.  Why?  Well, the first time I shared it with friends a couple months ago, it had the emotional piece that I wanted.  But as I began to revise it to fit the guidelines of a 3 minute production and share it with my writing group, I discovered that all of the emotion had been removed.  So now I have decided that even though it is a little long to be a Photo Story (about 5 minutes), that’s okay.  It’s a tribute to my mom, and I have to be able to keep the emotional piece alive.   

Other challenges?  Finding a common thread has been haunting me for the past couple weeks, but I finally came up with the topic of gifts:  the gift of marriage, the gift of sisterhood, gift of extended family, gift of friendship, gifts of love…Now that was a real accomplishment.  And let’s not mention the issue of photos…from the fact that I had to constantly ask my mom for photos about specific topics without her becoming suspicious to having to spend a lot of time scanning photos onto a disc (twice the time, actually, since the machine at the store lost all of my saved scans), it has been a lot of work.  And the whole process of choosing photos was difficult because there were so many I wanted to use to tell her story.  How do you know which one is exactly right? 

I have also discovered that it is difficult to collaborate with people and get them to respond in the way I had envisioned.  For example, I had asked my aunts to write letters to my mom, sharing a favorite happy memory.  Well, one of my aunts chose to share a story about my mom getting mad at her on the day of mom and dad’s wedding because she wasn’t smiling in the pictures.  My aunt read it in a way that made me feel like she was still upset, and of course, I didn’t want my mom getting a gift that had someone taking out their anger on her. I mean, it was enough work just to figure out how to get my aunt a microphone and to have someone help her with recording it.  And if I deleted her part of the VoiceThread, I knew I would be in trouble too.  So my dad listened to it, and just said, “That’s just your aunt.  Don’t worry about it.”

Equipment issues and training for collaborative writing?  Again this is tricky.  I will be taking a special 3 1/2 hour trip the week before Christmas just so I can help my other two aunts post their VoiceThreads.  And then I wanted the rest of my family to be able to post favorite memories of my mom on my blog.  However, most of them are not technological, and I even had one cousin say she wasn’t going to get a Google account.  “What?  It’s free, and you have an e-mail account.”  So…yesterday I sent my relatives a step by step sheet of how to post on my blog.  I don’t even know how many of them have ever read a blog, but we’ll see how it goes.  If anyone out there wants my step by step sheet to send to their family and friends, here it is.  Feel free to revise so it fits your current blogging situation and pass along to anyone who might need it.

Blog Access for the Technologically Challenged

I can’t wait to see the expression on my mom’s face when she gets this gift.   Plus, I have learned invaluable skills that I am now taking into the classroom with me.  Parents have already told me how much fun their children are having searching for photos to match their VoiceThread stories, and I can’t wait to get started when we finally have access to the computer lab this Friday.  Wish me luck!

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2 responses

3 12 2009
Zach Prowell

It sounds like you put a lot of engery into this project. Memories are such a great thing to collect and always have. Plus, what a wonderful way for you to share your thoughts and even have it avialble to those who would like to share their comments later. I also like your theme. Gifts. Everyday day has a gift to offer, and what a wonderful way to capture them.

10 12 2009
candance

Michelle, you have really taken on the task of collaboration and collective intelligence with this project and what a wonderful gift it will be not only for your mom but all that are involved.

p.s. The how-to-post-on-my-blog handout is great!! This will come in very handy if you every want to give it to parents to have them comment on a class blog. I may have to share with others in the future.

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