Hacking books

Note: I cross-posted this as a resource at the Digital Is website!

Last month I went to the Educon conference at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia for the first time and was so excited to see all of the amazing work being done by educators to incorporate digital literacies into their practices and classrooms. I was particularly inspired by the hackjam run by Meenoo Rami and Chad Sansing (watch it livehere or read about Chad’s reflections on it here). Immediately I saw how this activity might be a generative one for my digital literacies class at the University of Pennsylvania to help us consider more carefully the ideas of participatory learningcomposing as making, and hacker literacies.

One of the central ideas I was hoping we could explore was how play and Making can help to transform our teaching/learning practices. Hacking (or tweaking, reworking, or disrupting) dominant narratives and technologies is a kind of current participatory practice we have been contemplating this semester. So, as Chad recommends, we began with the material in order to then draw metaphors from this material work to the hacking of our own practices and broader systems (e.g., schooling).

So we hacked children’s books! Some of the teachers in the room felt uncomfortable destroying beloved favorites:


but others found it liberating to deconstruct these narratives:


Small groups began by meeting and reading the stories and then considering how they could disrupt the narratives, the linearity of the print medium, and the ideologies of the stories (the group who explored Disney’s Mulan text were particularly troubled by the essentialized gender and cultural tropes). Groups pondered a variety of material objects I brought to work with as potential tools for disruption (we were also located in a computer lab so they had digital resources also at their disposal):


Groups then spent the next 30 minutes negotiating how their revised stories would take shape, and they painted, glued, cut, and crafted their joint projects:


We then went around the room and shared the ‘final’ products, many playing with temporality, linearity, intertextuality, and revoicing:


All of the digital literacies participants are blogging this semester as part of the course, and some of them offer insightful reflections on this hackjam experience, like pondering “A change in Arthur-ship” or “Imagination.” Here’s the link to all of our class blogs for more amazing reflection/commentary on digital literacies, imagined broadly: http://storify.com/amystorn/545-blogs

Next up: Musings on curation and links to identity


One thought on “Hacking books

  1. Reblogged this on making me(dia) and commented:
    Hacking Picture Books. I love this concept. It is such a literal use of “cut and paste” and yet such a fundamental practice for critical literacy. Thanks to Amy Stornaiuolo for sharing her photos of the messy yet critically freeing process.

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