“Mash-Up” Writing

I’m hanging out at COATT Camp this week, so don’t be surprised to see a flurry of posts as I hop from seminar to seminar.

During a hands-on PDA session (I’ll have a really neat, and free, download for you by the end of the week) I was reconnected with the HI-CE group at the University of Michigan. The HI-CE group (Highly Interactive Classrooms, Curriculum, and Computing in Education) is a down right brilliant think tank that was formed to create inquiry based learning technologies for the K-12 classroom. They’re the ones responsible for the “Cooties” PalmOS program that shows how infectious diseases spread via the beaming ability of PDAs in case that helps jog a few memories.

However, it was not what the presenter was showing off, but rather something she said, that got me thinking. She made a reference to “bell work” that students would perform on their PDAs and that got me to thinking about the 5 to 10 minutes that we as educators have before and after the bell rings. I have a quick little writing game that I’ve done on computers, but it would work much better on PDAs. Each student starts with a fresh memo or other blank word processing sheet. They write one or two sentences, they then beam what they’ve written to each other and combine the sentences into a paragraph. Some creative writing is required to connect the two separate thoughts, but once done you then beam the entire paragraph to somebody else, and receive a new paragraph of your own. Using some quick copy and paste (probably better with upper el or secondary students), they now have a “mash up” story starter. They’re welcome to rearrange the sentences and ideas however they’d like, but when they’re done finished writing their stories they can then share them with the students they beamed to earlier. The students will be able to work collaboratively, model creative writing and editing to one another, and begin to develop an understanding of writing styles as they find other learners in class that they are able write better with than on their own. Using the digital nature of the PDA, it’s also much easier to manipulate the text, rearrange it, and edit.


  1. There is another form of writing similar to this. When I was taught this form, we all sat in a circle with a little notebook. We observed our surroundings and each of us wrote a sentence on one page. We then would turn the page and hand the book to the next person who would make another observation and so on. When everyone wrote a sentence in every book, we would read the entire poem from beginning to end.

    This sounds similar to the “Mash Up” writing. I don’t remember the name of this type of poetry, but it was attributed to the Japanese. It’s a way to observe your surroundings in order to calm your thoughts.

  2. Poetry would work just as well with the “Mash-Up”. I sort of stole that name from the poular music concept floating around at the moment. Using PDAs would allow the students to trade, edit, and “mash” their poetry easier than with pen and pencil.

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