Remix!

This week’s reading was chapter 4: New Literacies and Social Practices of Digital Remixing.  The main takeaway I got from reading this chapter is that I need to stop thinking that any aspect of this class will not benefit me as an elementary school teacher.  Before reading this chapter, I thought (or, more accurately, didn’t think at all about) remixing as something that DJ’s do in types of music that I don’t generally listen to.  But, of course, remixing is so much more.  We remix everything – from music, to art, to government – and when you look at the word in this broader context, remixing is simply “taking cultural artifacts and combining and manipulating them into new kinds of creative blends and products” (Knobel 94). 

This chapter took a look at what remixing means in terms of new literacies and touched briefly on several different examples.  There was a discussion of musical remixing, and the copyright and ownership implications that come from music being so easily accessible for remixing purposes to the general public, before the chapter dove a little deeper into remixing as a new form of writing by looking at such literacies as fanfiction and anime.  The fanfiction section was perhaps the most interesting section, to me, as I found myself thinking over and over that I could use these ideas in my classroom.  There were countless ideas from having students insert themselves into a story, to creating hypothetical movie trailers that I am excited to try in my own teaching practices.  Writing has always been a tough subject to teach as often times the desire to write just isn’t  there with fourth graders.  These remixing ideas (and even simply the idea of referring to their work as remixing) give me hope for more buy in.

The anime and fanfiction sections explained how much of this remixing relies on the suggestions and interactions of peers within the genre.  This got me thinking of how I can get my students to be more interactive with one another on their own writing pieces.  When my students are working in google classroom I am constantly leaving them notes and suggestions, but I would like to start incorporating more time for them to do the same to each other’s work in a more meaningful way.

As excited as I was to try and implement these remixes into my daily teaching, I had concerns about the copyright aspects and teaching my kids to give credit where credit is due.  I find this to be a struggle for a lot of fourth graders  even in the most basic sense of citing their sources when they use quotes, so I imagine it would be even more difficult in the world of remixing.  This led me to a couple of different articles on the subject. The first article I found was from the Mind/Shift blog and spoke about how to teach the difference between remixing and creating at an elementary level.  The article took a look at one remixing software, Scratch, which is a visual programming language for ages 6 and up.  In the program, users put different blocks together that determine different factors such as motion and color to build scripts.  It seems to be a pretty user friendly (and fun!) platform to start remixing digitally as new users can download the graphics and source codes from previously uploaded projects and remix them into their own creations.  This ability to so easily share creations has led the community that uses Scratch to an interesting conversation about “the importance of understanding what it means to build upon others’ work and what it means to give credit to others when you do so” (Watters).  I think this software could not only be a great no pressure starting point to understanding what it means to remix (that can be used as background knowledge when we start looking at remixing in terms of writing), but the conversations have already been started about plagiarism and even the feelings associated with having your work used and not being given any credit for it.  I think this might give my students a deeper understanding of the implications plagiarism can have.

If you want to read more on this subject (and how it relates to  higher level education) I found this article to have a lot of interesting ideas on plagiarism in remixing as well as ideas on actually implementing remixing strategies into the classroom.

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