Songhai Concepts

Media Literacy/Digital Archiving Instructor

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Jambo & Baraka

All of your instructors at New Media plan to raise the academic bar even higher for you in 2007. If you earned an A in the first semester, you will need to work twice as hard to maintain that A. If you earned a B and hope to raise your B grade to an A, then you will need to write, research and publish three times as much material as you did first semester.

Of particular importance in 2007 will be the overall presentation of your work.
All work must be relevant, engaging and edifying - and it must look good too.

Before you publish work onto your blog or wiki, please check your writing thoroughly for spelling, punctuation, grammar and capitalization errors. Ask your parents, an older sibling, a colleged cousin, an erudite uncle, a fearless friend to check and review your work (with you ) before you publish it on your blog. Posts containing more than five spelling, grammar, punctuation or capitalization errors will need to be removed from your blog.

Posts containing more than five errors will need to be SAVED AS DRAFT and removed from your blog until the necessary corrections have been made. After you make the corrections and once I approve the draft, then, you may republish the work back on your blog. Proofread all of your work before you publish it. I will not accept work written in Instant Messaging or Text Messaging code. All words must be written out completely and your ideas and responses need to be in sentence form.

On the other hand, I do encourage you to insert hyperlinks inside your essays, poems and reflections. Wesley Fryer, a noted blogger, educator and podcaster, calls hyperlinked writing "the most powerful form of writing that human beings have ever created" and I strongly agree with him. In 2007 I expect you to use hyperlinks generously in your autobiographical chapters, your tag wall reflections and your larger projects.

We will review inserting hyperlinks and editing your blog template in January.
If you want to add your favorite links to your blog then you need to edit your blog template. I will show you how to replace the Google News, Edit-Me links on the right side of your blog with links that you choose. It's a tricky process, so don't fiddle around with your blog template unless you are absolutely certain about what you are doing, otherwise, check with me first.

Also in January I plan to get deeper into how wikis work - creating wiki pages, editing wiki pages and adding hyperlinks to your wiki.

In 2007, expect to continue using the Web 2.0 tools we used in semester 1 - Survey Monkey,, Skype and a host of useful new and not-so-new Google widgets. We expect you to seamlessly integrate these tools into your projects, your activities and your presentations. Sign up for a Google account today if you don't have one.

Got a myspace account? Do you like visiting myspace during school hours? Can't get enough digital social networking? Then wait until you get a taste of the exciting myspace activity I have planned for you in 2007. Hint - Print Screen Key.

I expect all students to download Audacity, the free audio editor and recorder. Download Audacity today and start recording your written work immediately - your autobiography chapters, your poetry, your reflections and more. Practice saving your recordings to your flash drive - one file at a time, then try burning a collection of your tracks onto a CD. Please attempt this before we begin school on the 8th of January. Please purchase a computer microphone from any computer/electronics store. A microphone will make your voice sound clear and professional through any speakers or headphones.

All students should have a USB flash drive. You will need a USB flash drive to transfer the audio that you create in Audacity from your home computer, to the school computer and back again. You will also need a flash drive to copy and listen to various podcasts, video clips and other education materials that we share with you during the semester.

From this point forward, we expect you to manage, produce and organize your files smartly. A 512 MB flash drive or larger can hold a fair amount of multimedia and text files. Keep your flash drive clean and organized. Delete old files from your flash drive and make back ups of important ones on your home computer.

A major part of your classwork in 2007 will involve editing and producing your autobiography chapters. Your autobiography chapters must be posted on your wiki first, then recorded for either audio or video. Right now we are up to chapter 4. The chapters so far are:
1. Who Am I?
2. Before I Was, There Were
3. School 'Daze', The Early Years
4. I Grew Up Here.

Start writing and recording your autobiographical chapters now - at home. Start now, during the break, while you have some extra time on your hands. It's just as efficient and helpful for me to critique your audio and video recordings as it is for me to edit your wiki posts.

You are strongly encouraged to take photographs of and record video of the key people, places and things that you describe in chapters 1 through 4 (parents, grand parents, siblings, day care, elementary school, neighborhood, etc).

Start archiving your media for this project today. Create a folder for each chapter and as you amass your media drop it in its proper chapter folder. For the best results, please use a microphone when conducting interviews with a video camera.

2007 is dedicated to James Brown. May his genius and spirit inspire you to Do It To Death.
He said I Don't Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing Open Up The Door, I'll Get it Myself.

Do you hear me?

Happy New Year,

Mr. Songhai


James Brown
"Godfather of Soul"
May 3, 1933 - December 25, 2006

I Don’t Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing
(Open Up the Door I’ll Get it Myself)

James Brown (1969)

Let James Brown's words be an inspiration to you this year. Take your
education into your own hands. Don't wait on anybody to give you anything. Open up the door and get it yourself.

Mr. Songhai

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

When We Were Freshmen?

By now it's no secret that I don't own a single paper, project, report card, picture, book bag or bus token to prove that I was once a freshman. Well, I do have my diploma and I still have a few buddies from Central that I keep in touch with - mostly at class reunions, but seriously, other than a few hastily written phone numbers and e-mails that I collected at my 30th year high school reunion, I have no proof that I was ever a freshman in high school.

I still have a few literature books from my years at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. I have a few newsletters, and a handful of photographs. I have my college degree and I still keep in touch with a few guys who attended IUP with me, but other than fond memories, that's all I've got.
My daughter graduated from IUP two years ago. It seems like yesterday that she was in the 5th grade.

You, on the other hand, have the ability to accumulate, organize and design a body of work that you can refer to for the next 20, 30, 40 years after you graduate.
As long as there is an internet, you will be able to show your children and your children's children how you were taught and what you learned when you were a freshman.

This is a very exciting time to be a student. Your blog, your wiki, your surveys, and your social bookmarks will be accessible to you as long as there is a World Wide Web. Can you imagine in the year 2020 pulling up your blog page that you started in 2006? What will it look like? What will you be talking about then? Remember, your World Wide Web profile carries as much clout as your physical/hard copy profile.

Always be dilligent. Continue to work hard every day. It will pay off for you tomorrow.

Will there be homework over the holiday break?

Did Charlie Parker play the alto saxophone?
Did Amiri Baraka write Ka'Ba?
Did Paul Laurence Dunbar write Lyrics of Lowly Life?
Did Katherine Dunham know how to dance?
Is Smokey Robinson a poet?

There is you answer.



What is significant about today - December 21st?

What is significant about the same day in June?

Have you ever had a 6/21 day in winter?

Have you ever had a 12/21/ day in summer?

Please explain your answers in two or more paragraphs.
Please post on your blog and your wiki.
Title this post Seasons.

p.s. The significance I'm looking for goes beyond the fact that these days are the first days of winter and summer.

Mr. Songhai

Painting, Mixed and Mixed Up by Kenneth Brooker

Saturday, December 16, 2006

I hope you enjoyed watching The Boys of Baraka. I hope you studied it carefully and took notes. For the next several days, until we break for the holidays, we will watch and examine similar movies with an educational theme. As always I would like you to post your reflections of the movie on your blog page. Click here to access the questions for The Boys of Baraka.

Mr. Songhai

Monday, December 04, 2006

Tools You Can Use

Stay a jump ahead! For less than $25.00 you can build a digital recording studio. The possibilities are endless if you have the right tools. Record the narratives for all of your projects in the comfort of your own home. Add an instrumental track beneath your voice. Drop special effects like echo, distortion and reverb on your voice and beat track. You can even record live instruments. All you need is a microphone or a digital voice recorder! Check any electronics store in your neighborhood - Office Max, Radio Shack, Circuit City, Best Buy. Next, download Audacity to record your tracks. You can't miss.
Here's another tip. If you do not have Microsoft Office, download OpenOffice. It is free and it has all of the features and programs that Microsoft Office has and more.
What are you waiting for!

Mr. Songhai

Saturday, December 02, 2006

All Ninth Grade New Media Students

I know it has been a rather hectic first semester for all of us - not enough computers, no dedicated (quiet) space to record our projects, not enough cameras, the Macintosh computer fiasco, MySpace control and much, much more. But according to my timeline, all 9th grade students should have submitted their project conclusions on Friday, December 1, 2006.

Two and one half hours a day may seem like a lot of time to work on your projects, but when you consider there is no project time on Thursdays because of Physical Education class and when you consider we have Spanish class on Tuesdays and Wednesdays - that only leaves us with Monday and Friday afternoons to spend a full two and one half hours on projects.

The last two weeks prove just how precious project time really is. Two weeks ago we were off for the Thanksgiving holiday and we had no school on Friday. Wednesday the 29th of November we had the talent showcase and Friday we spent all morning talking about Sonny Rollins, hip hop, basketball and tennis. By the way, did any of you go check out Sonny Rollins on Friday night at the Kimmel Center?

Yet despite the obstacles, detours and seemingly "out-of-the-blue" teachable moments that we face in life, at home and in the classroom, we are still responsible and accountable for delivering our work on time. In fact, instead of writing this blog post, I should be entering your grades for the first semester. But somehow and some way, between now and the fifth of December, when your grades are due, I will finish the job.

Until that time, I want to know where you are and how you plan to complete your cell phone project. And what better way for me to gague where you are in that process than by having you take a survey. Please begin the last question of the survey by typing in your name so that I know who has responded.

Click here to take survey


Mr. Songhai