Monthly Archives: March 2014

Off to the Past

For those of you who have been brave enough to watch videos Out of Time, thank you. I realize it’s been some time since we first chatted about this young adult time travel adventure, and perhaps you have been wondering what Charley and her friends have been doing since that autumn introduction.

Or maybe not.

But if you’ve tuned in at all, you may have noticed that our modern-day Renaissance genius is a very ambitious teenager. Where some teens dream of becoming tech-geek gazillionaires before the age of 25 (back in the day, when I was growing up, we used to think 40 and a cool million was aggressive!), Charley’s goal is to learn a good chunk of something about, well, everything, by the time she applies to college.

Davinci_formulaBecoming a Renaissance genius back in Leonardo da Vinci’s day would seem to have been a lot simpler. It’s simply a matter of degree.

Anyway, though I’d catch you up on what’s been going on.

LegolandIntroducing Charley: self-proclaimed teen genius. Finds Leonardo’s plans for a time machine in one of his notebooks and decides to build it for the school science fair with her smartest-geek-in-the-class pal Billy Vincenzo. Teacher says, sure, why not. BFF Beth Jacobs says, ha-ha-ha, Charley. You do too much. Besides, I’ve got my heart set on being a normal, fashionista teen with a huge crush on school hot-jock Lex Campbell. So go build your stupid time machine.

Build up: Charley convinces Billy the time machine is doable. Billy knows the science: Higgs-Boson may make faster-than-light travel possible in the quantum field, but in the physical world…fugheddaboutit.

But Charley goes to Take Your Child to Work Day at her dad’s Homeland Security-agency contracting company and learns that, amid the spook agencies of government, there’s something quantum afoot in the physical world. Logging on to Dad’s Top Secret-secured computer while he’s in a meeting, she gets the download for a mysterious formula that seems to tap into a reality-as-hologram science with the Qualia Rosetta. Part of mysterious Operation Firenze.

The messenger is the equally mysterious Kairos, a teen just a bit older than Charley who gives her two keys to time travel, the formula that unravels the Qualia Rosetta with coordinates set to 1492 Florence, and a mini-sculpture—the model for Leonardo’s Man-and-Horse. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth (LOL), Charley takes the key and runs with it!

Billy’s done more research, now he meets with Charley in her garage to assemble Leo’s version of the time machine. Still skeptical, even after Charley shows him the evidence, Billy knows their science grade—and winning the Da Vinci Middle School Science Fair depends on creating a model that would work if it could.

Meanwhile, aforementioned Lex, clueless to Beth’s crush on him, decides Charley’s time machine is key to his finding out when he’ll be drafted into the Major Leagues…and by what team. He’s holding out for the Nats, when he’ll beat out Bryce Harper for youngest player to join the pros.

Billy goes home and Lex corners Charley thinking she can send him into the future. An awkward embrace and an accidental triggering of the time machine and—poof! Fire, smoke, an inside tornado breaks out. Coughing and teary-eyed, Lex lets the smoke settle before he gets brave enough to set out and warn the kids: Charley’s disappeared!

And the rest is history! Charley whirls through the eye of time into a wild and weird alternate universe, or so she hypothesizes, until she crashes into a rocky outcropping on a field in the black of midnight amid a hail of cannon fire. The first-person shooter: none other than Leonardo da Vinci himself.

When the smoke clears, Charley is astonished to find herself in a close encounter with her Renaissance idol, and a badly banged up foot.

Charley’s been busy getting herself into some interesting new adventures with Bethy II and now involving a pig named—of course—Wilbur, and Billy’s beginning to get into the act. And Gwen may be ill!

No spoiler here… Not wanting to give up the ghost but there is a specter that hangs overCharley in this time and her own.

Pen and ink

Working now on what’s next: suffice it to say that there are Machiavellian manipulations that have Charley worried about her mother and keep her own future—and that of history—in doubt.

Keep your compass turned in this direction for more adventures through time and all around the globe. And join in tweet storytelling @OutofTimeMovie!

#TwitterFiction 2014: the Festival

The Twitter Fiction Festival has begun. Charley is tweeting daily, although not with much enthusiasm for the form. I am following the hashtag #TwitterFiction on TweetDeck, but #TwFictionFestivalhonestly, for all its vaunted potential, I find the content disappointing. Although Twitter, Andrew Fitzgerald (@MagicAndrew) and other organizers have held out for pushing the envelope on its uses, including making the most of the social aspect of the medium, the majority of authors seem to be marking the celebration by simply tweeting out their novels/screenplays/short stories line-by-line. What could be less fascinating than dribbling out a 10,000 word tome 140 characters at a time?

For @OutofTimeMedia, the challenge has been to attract a sizable enough regular following to encourage regular conversations between my characters and an appropriate audience. Since Out of Time is time travel fiction aimed at young adults, that means attracting the eyeballs of teens–who don’t regularly pay attention to anything they don’t have to…unless it’s something they personally feel passionate about. To legions of Harry Potter fans, if J.K. Rowling started tweeting as Harry, she’d undoubtedly start a Twitter landslide. If Katniss Everdeen jumped in online, fans would go ga-ga.

But pre-publication, this is a tougher sell. I am mid-creation, somewhere between half- and two-thirds through writing the novel. That means my story, despite its unveiling on multiple platforms (an example of an emerging trend in #transmedia storytelling, with an emphasis currently on kid-vid as an anchor), still lingers in the pre-naissance twilight. But more on this trend to come.

Charley and I soldier on nonetheless, and are slowly, but surely, attracting eyeballs and activity to the open-ended tweet-story–where you direct the action and the outcome. Check out a recent slice of the convo.

@braddo @OutofTimeMovie convoWhat’ll it take before the story gains online traction? First priority: publication. Get the actual story out there. Second up: take it to school. High hopes that bringing the opportunity into classrooms, around discussion of how stories are universal…how creating a story leads to strengthening writing skills through research, planning and organization (good old pre-frontal cortex action!)…how they build empathy and compassion in readers who come to care about the characters and identify with their journey…how, for teens in particular, building identity is Job #1…and, in particular, providing strong female role models around STEM learning and careers…all these benefits may accrue from participating in an online tweet storytelling adventure.

But more about all the benefits of learning through story to come.

Meanwhile, tweet some fiction with Charley M & Friends at www.outoftimemedia.com. Are you up for the journey? Pack your bags…we’re taking a ride back in time. Where will Charley and her friends go? Who, among the superheroes of history might they meet? What will they see, hear, smell, taste or touch? What do you want to learn?

The adventure is in your hands @OutofTimeMovie.Tweet on!

 

SXSWEdu 2014: Learning for Smarties

Just back from Austin, where I gave a flash talk on Transmedia Storytelling and Learning through Narrative Engagement Out of Time.  I was humbled to participate on a panel with 12 amazing women who are literally cracking the code of educational technology, and laying the ground work for coming generations of STEM-smart women to lead the way in educational innovation.

But the greater engagement was in time, with the many remarkable people with the common mission of unlocking the potential in the young minds now learning, to enable them to create their own more vital, dynamic and engaged world. It gives me hope.

In fact, Twitter seemed to be the note-taking mode-of-record. A quick review of SXSWEdu via the micro-blogging platform (including most-tweeted) show the highlights of my own experience–and but a slice of the buzz around how technology, research, assessment and student engagement are transformed in the global open classroom:

Brad Ovenell-Carter, talking to an SRO crowd on how to spur student curated content creation and thinking, aka, Tweeting your class notes to spark deeper discussion using critical thinking. The idea: promote transparency and share your work with your classmates and the world, because learning is iterative: what we know today builds on what others have learned before.

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  Learning how to be the boss of your brain–a growth mindset, as opposed to the fixed mindset that “I can’t do math” or “I’m so dumb I’ll never get it” through metacognition training with Tracy Clark.

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EdTech Women speaker Erica Gruen talks about being only the second woman ever to head up amajor cable company. “My mom called me my first day on the job and said, “Is what I hear thesound of glass shattering?”

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And one shameless plug here, a visual captured from my presentation on Transmedia Storytelling and Learning through Narrative Engagement through Out of Time at the EdTech Women panel: to enter and engage in learning on a range of subjects, from the physics of time travel to language learning to 15th century Renaissance culture and society.

Screen Shot 2014-03-08 at 11.30.41 AMCan’t help but be impressed at the panels, workshops and presentations at #SXSWedu. With so many creative minds at work on the problem of adapting learning beyond acquiring information to making deeper insights and building skills for the digital age, the potential for engaging young minds in learning today, to prepare them for the challenges of tomorrow, is limitless.

In fact, I think we’re already on the way!