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Come to SLAM School


I am co-launching SLAM School alongside current SLAM leaders Robyn Seglem and Nicole Mirra. Starting next week, we’re hosting bi-weekly online classes that offer specific strategies for teaching and participating in a fight for U.S. democracy. We’re inspired by the international activism we have been a part of and hope to help teachers leverage the specific skills and resources available within and around our classrooms. I’ll be tweeting links to the school sessions starting net week. I hope to see you there!

Here’s the official announcement:

Announcing SLAM School – A Bi-Weekly Series for Educators and Organizers hosted by the NCTE Studies of Literacies & Multimedia (SLAM)
From discerning fake news to learning how to contact your congressional representatives to strategically organizing and communicating online, the skills and expertise of English teachers are more important than ever before. The Studies of Literacies and Multimedia (SLAM) Assembly is launching SLAM School, a bi-weekly online web series. Every two weeks, beginning on February 8th, SLAM members will offer guidance and instruction for using specific digital tools and curricular ideas to support civic engagement, protest, and discussion of the crucial issues that are shaping classroom and broader culture. These short (20-30 minute) online sessions are offered free and will be archived via an NCTE Youtube Playlist. Recognizing that the world inside and outside of our classrooms is changing rapidly, SLAM School will offer instructional tools for helping youth critique and learn about the current events around them while also giving teachers critical tools for leading the defense of public education and broader U.S. democracy. We hope you will join us.

Initial SLAM School Dates:
2/8: Organizing and Communicating Through Twitter – 4 p.m. PST/7 p.m. EST
2/23: How to Contact Legislators – 5 p.m. PST/8 p.m. EST
3/7: Topic TBA – 3 p.m. PST/6 p.m. EST
3/22: Topic TBA – 4 p.m. PST/7 p.m. EST
Dates will continue roughly every two weeks and will be announced at
Links to attend SLAM School will be posted at and on the Twitter Hashtag #SLAMEdu. For more information about SLAM and to suggest topics for future SLAM School sessions please visit

“This chapter says ‘Put it out of your mind’”: Books Read in 2016


I’m slowly flipping through Tim Ferris’s Tools of Titans and a couple of academic books, so I think it’s time for my annual tally:

Books read in 2016: 156
Comics and graphic novels included in reading total: 30
Books of poetry included in reading total: 2
Books reread included in reading total: 2
Academic & Education related books included in reading total: 26
YA and Junior Fiction books included in reading total: 13
Roleplaying Game-related books (rules, modules, settings – related to this research): 14

A few thoughts (As usual, here are my posts on books read in 20152014,  2013201220112010, and 2009):

For gaming research that will probably start to see the light of day in 2017, I’ve been thinking a lot about systems. Taking a large portion of the early part of 2016, Robert Caro’s hefty biography of Robert Moses, The Power Broker, was just as good as everyone says. It points to how sprawling inequities and stratified geographies in New York weren’t accidents but rather human-driven activities. Likewise, Matthew Desmond’s Wire-like opus Evicted—as full as it is of vignettes and nuanced depictions of individuals—points to how systems beget further systems of financial and social hardship. It’s the most accessible academic book I read this year (and for the nerds, I think this book has the best footnotes I’ve come across!). Finally, I have been revisiting this quirky book on system theory from the ‘70s. With pages of random doodles alongside significant contributions to why system-driven individuals build layers of problems, Gall’s text has been helpful in connecting gaming concepts to broader social and learning connections in my own research.

The best music-related read all year was Jace Clayton’s (aka DJ Rupture) book Uproot. Looking at the globalized nature of digital music, Clayton’s book connected much of the broader music ecosystem to concerns I’ve had with celebratory digital tinkering in education. The online listening guide for the book is excellent. I hadn’t been this fascinated by autotune as I had since its absence in this T-Pain performance.

I read all six of the Expanse-series books. I haven’t seen the TV adaptation yet, but I appreciate the direction and world-building across each of the lengthy tomes. For page-turning sci-fi, I think Leviathan Wakes is a good beginning to a series that only starts to show some stress from the weight of its many storylines in the most recent, sixth volume.

This also seemed like a great year for comic books. And despite the titles of Wakanda gathering mainstream accolades, two trades by Tom King most impressed me. The current run of Vision is the stop-what-you’re-doing-and-read-this-already title I would universally recommend. In both content and form, King and colleagues are doing some incredible work here. Likewise, King’s Omega Men was a continually surprising read. This video breaks down some of the ways King is reinventing the possibilities of the traditional, 9-panel, comic page.

Finally, I’m not sure where I heard about or why I decided to read The Man Who Heard Voices. But for a book about a film director I don’t like (M. Night Shyamalan) making a movie I despise (Lady in the Water), it’s a pretty fascinating look at an uncompromising artist and a deeply flawed film. Go figure.


Musically, this was a rough year. I listened to Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo much more than any other release. The album is a flawed masterpiece and I think it’s release points to the possibilities of what it means to make an “album” in the 21st century. That being said, as much as I’ve written lots (and lots) about Kanye in the past, I can’t overlook his recent statements or behavior. I am also cautious not to disregard the fact that Kanye’s every word is scrutinized, he became the father of his second child this year, and his wife was held captive and robbed. I’ve been thinking about this Chappelle interview in regards to Kanye, lately.

Finally, I haven’t been able to face Prince or Bowie’s deaths head on this year. (I teared up listening to Starfish and Coffee recently.) Instead, the Prince collaboration with Kate Bush is probably the singular song I played the most this year (and lends it’s opening line to this blog’s title):

Likewise, the NY Times Popcast speculated that the title of Bowie’s final album comes from an Elvis Presley song. This too, has been a haunting track echoing across a harrowing year:

I can’t say 2017 looks to bode better than 2016. I’m hoping to temper what looks like a battle-heavy year politically with texts of optimism and laughter. Suggestions are welcomed.

Our Teaching Mandate

The election hasn’t been officially called, but I’m embedding a series of tweets that will stand regardless of any hail-mary shifts in the coming hours.

Addressing “I don’t even wait” in Classrooms

After three days of circulating of Trump’s boasts of sexual assault, pundits weighing in, Facebook friends repudiating or uplifting the comments, and online memes and talk shows making light of an atrocity, kids across the country return to school today.

Students have literally heard the phrase “grab them by the pussy” normalized in the news cycles and quotes on various networks. They’ve heard that “when you’re a star, they let you do it.” They heard Trump say, “I don’t even wait.” These are comments that were repeated and discussed over and over.

While we should be vilifying an awful man who brags about doing deplorable things, what we haven’t talked about is how this plays out in schools and classrooms. School discourse for young people means that some classrooms will debate this (but really – what is to be debated?). However, too many classrooms will say their kids aren’t prepared to handle the mature topic of sexual assault. They will reinforce the false argument that this is boys being boys. Too many classrooms will be focused on curricular pacing and classroom content; they don’t have time to talk about responsibility and what rape culture means.

The omission of dialogue about the tape and its implications is a lesson for young people. We don’t talk about it, it becomes normalized, lessons learned that yes such grabbing is okay if you’re a star. Boys and girls alike hear it’s okay for boys not to wait. It is not okay to not denounce this and break it down with students of all ages.

Media moves fast. Kids aren’t dummies. Don’t let the energy surrounding the election get in the way of the needed civic dialogue in classrooms today.

“In a city of the future it is difficult to concentrate”: An Overdue Update


Don’t bury the lede: In January I am joining the Stanford Graduate School of Education as an assistant professor. I am looking forward to working with amazing colleagues there and will be sharing more about what my work looks like as I get up to speed in the coming months. Ally and I are in the not-at-all-stressful OMGMOSTSTRESSFULPROCESSEVER of selling and looking for and buying a house. Humblebrag: Ally will be managing a library as part of the San Mateo County Libraries system.

I have only amazing things to say about my experiences at Colorado State University and look forward to continue collaborating with and learning from my colleagues and students. If you are reading this and also on the English Education job market, please consider applying to join the fantastic faculty at CSU here.

To be clear, I am continuing to do similar research to what I’ve been exploring on this blog for nearly a decade. The intersection of literacies, gaming, technology, equity, and teaching remain at the heart of the work I do.

Phew, okay, that’s out of the way. As a bit of catch up, I’m going to just share a bunch of links to articles, presentations, and other opportunities you might be interested in below.

  • Next Sunday, I’m thrilled to be co-presenting the opening keynote for the4T Virtual Conference on Digital Writing with my always awesome friend and co-author, Nicole Mirra. The digital conference looks great (and is FREE!), so take a look here.
  • I have begun editing a column for the Journal for Adolescent and Adult Literacy called “Challenging Texts.” The first column is accessible online and sets out the stakes for the column over the next two years. If you are interested in reviewing and writing for this column, please get in touch!
  • I’m still regularly blogging for DMLcentral, my most recent post was last week’s discussion of “compojing.”
  • I had a recent article in the ALAN Review titled “Networked Teens and YA Literature: Gossip, Identity, and What Really #matters.” The article is currently print-only, but please get in touch if you’d like to take a look.

The next few months remain a bit busy logistically, but I’ll check in a few more times before 2016 wraps and hope to get back into a regular posting schedule soon.

For those curious, this post’s title quotes Radiohead’s “Palo Alto,” a song I’ve been thinking about lately that you can hear here.


“You don’t mind if I borrow this, do you?”

(Psst: this is not a book.)

San Diego Comic Con and the (FREE!) Comics Conference for Educators and Librarians

Avengers assemble!
If you’ll be in downtown San Diego next week – either for Comic-Con or because you like streets congested with nerds – consider spending some time at the San Diego Public Library.

In collaboration with Comic-Con International, the downtown branch of the library is hosting the first Comics Conference for Educators and Librarians. And while Comic-Con is very sold out, the events at the library are free. Interested participants just need to register for here.

Along with several friends, I’m excited to host the first workshop of this new conference on Wednesday afternoon from 4-6 p.m.: “Teaching with Comics: An Interactive Workshop for Educators” (And yes, for you Comic-Con attendees, this gives you time to head to the convention in time for Preview Night).

For more information about the Comics Conference for Educators and Librarians and other events happening at the library, take a look here.

Also, if you will be at Comic-Con, Peter Carlson and I will be presenting a poster as part of the Comic Arts Conference on Saturday afternoon. Expanding on work we’ve been developing, we’ll be discussing representations of transformative resistance and critical race theory in recent comic books. Info on that session can be found here

Hope to see you soon!

Presentation at UC Davis 5/3

I will be giving at talk as part of the first Emerging Scholars Panel at the UC Davis School of Education this Tuesday from 5-7 p.m. Those of you in the area (or in the need of an excuse for a road trip toward 80+ degree weather), come by and say hello!

Emerging_Scholars_May16_v3 copy

Discussing Teacher Education and Public Scholarship at #AERA16

At last week’s AERA conference, I was thrilled with the conversation (both in person and online) that emerged from the session, “Talking Back: Public Scholarship, Productive Practice, and the Future of Teacher Education.” Organized by Lauren Anderson and Jamy Stillman, the session was framed around sharing photojournals what teacher education work looks like and our role in terms of public scholarship.

Because we were limited to five minutes for discussing our work, I wrote out my notes for the session and I am sharing them below. Prior to diving into these comments, I really encourage you to look at the photojournal here and to look at the other photojournals my amazing co-presenters shared. My page looks like this:

Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 10.16.24 AM

And my comments:

Thank you Lauren and Jamy for inviting me to share my work with all of you.

As I assembled my final photojournal, I did a lot of deleting of words.

There are voice memos sprinkled throughout my journal and they are full of blemishes: ums, uhs, and even blasphemous “likes.” There are more photos of sitting in meetings or of traveling than there are of my students and work in schools. There are a lot of photos of computer screens.

And so while I first attempted to justify these pieces of media with flowery prose, I eventually deleted those words to allow a public image of my scholarship and its processes stand on its own.

There is a rambling video introduction at the beginning of my journal and at the risk of being redundant, I’m going to cover and expand on a few of the main principles I ummed, uhhed, and liked my way through in that video.

When I was in graduate school, one of my advisors, Marjorie Faulstich Orellana, talked about the fundamental differences in time and the various professional and home demands on it. Case in point: regardless of what kinds of deadlines, meetings, or piles of letters of recommendation that are awaiting completion on my desk, the raising-children-training-wheels that my wife and I have: two headstrong, scent-driven beagles must be walked.



Sure, if things are busy you could hypothetically not walk them, but they have Machiavellian plans a la Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone – they will destroy the house (and destroy it gleefully) if unwalked. This is a blood oath they have both forsworn the moment we adopted them from the shelter.

And as much as I can get frustrated by finding the balance between home time and time for scholarship, I believe they are two sides of the same coin. Aside from listening to audiobooks and podcasts, I find the time for reflection on our meandering jaunts to be fundamental for helping clarify my thinking; it is the generative space in which reflection helps bind the theoretical with the pragmatic in my scholarship.

And so, to the extent that home time funnels, focuses, and shapes the day-to-day public scholarship that I engage in, so too must I be direct in noting that teacher education is not confined to classrooms.

I deliberately only offered a few sections of photos that are classroom-focused. I think that we educate teachers and teacher education through modeling the various other non-teaching responsibilities we take on in the many spaces that we inhabit. Like my colleagues’ photojournals illustrating digital life and activism, I believe we need to emphasize scholarship that does not so easily appear as peer reviewed publications or get checked off as professional service. I take my responsibility of making the educational landscape more just seriously. And I don’t find the time engaged in dialogue in spaces like Twitter, building consensus with other educators, or even reflecting during walks as flippant or “extra” to my professional responsibilities; they are all interrelated.

Which brings me to a lingering question about public scholarship and teacher education: public for whom? As I think about the work that I am doing as equity driven and scholarship that happens alongside the teachers, students, and community organizations I see as colleagues, I am reminded that we are myriad publics today.

In light of online and offline persecution of young people of color, individuals by race, class, sexuality, legal status, and placement within societal gender binaries, ours is work about addressing varied publics, and looking for intersections for uniting, coalescing, and growing.

Probably weekly I say to my preservice teachers that ours is political work. It cannot not be. The work of education, political as it is, does not start and stop in classrooms. It seeps into the conversations we have, the ways our income is disbursed through the purchasing decisions we make, and the roads we make by walking – to riff off of a book-length dialogue between Paulo Freire and Myles Horton.

In this sense, public scholarship is something of an embodied stance.

To return to my opening thoughts on a false binary between school time and life time, I would add that this is about scholarship that – particularly in today’s digital, participatory culture – unfolds over a lifetime.

We may warn our youthful future teachers to not put up any personal material on social networks or they will be fired and die. However, this is precisely how dialogue happens. My public work is inherently social work too. My educational scholarship is public scholarship.

I hope this journal reflects most wholly my own participation in a public sphere – be it in the generative and reflective processes while tethered to two beasts hot on the scent of a dastardly squirrel or while presenting at conferences or facilitating classroom activities. Ours is nuanced and complicated work.

Thank you.

AERA 2016 Schedule and Some Belated Updates

I want to briefly share my AERA schedule for this week:
Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 11.46.12 PM
Some details on these presentations:

  • My Saturday morning session is built around a broader project and AERA Presidential Session in which I was invited to produce a photojournal reflecting on my role as a teacher educator. I would encourage you to take a look at the project website here and my specific photojournal here. Here’s the abstract for the entire session:

    Abstract: This session challenges the overly simplistic public and policy discourses that treat university-based teacher education as fundamentally responsible for low-performing schools. It offers snapshots of innovative teacher education work and explores how such work might be presented more effectively to the public and policymakers as they consider approaches to high quality teacher preparation. The session features four equity-minded teacher educators/scholars whose innovative, politically engaged work reflects and expands upon the field’s longstanding commitment to producing public scholarship that connects research to practice in schools and communities. These four presenters – Elizabeth Dutro, Antero Garcia, Bettina Love, and Bree Picower – will base their brief comments, in part, on open-access digital photo-journals they created to capture and communicate their work. Two discussants – Ken Zeichner, senior scholar of teacher education, and Melinda Anderson, education writer and parent – will offer response that address teacher education’s future, specifically how to educate better the public about teacher educators’ work and its impact.

  • My poster session shares (very) preliminary findings from my ongoing ethnographic work studying tabletop roleplaying games. However, my D&D dice are packed and the bulk of the poster real estate is devoted to a gaming playmat: I fully intend to play through this poster session, so come grab a pre-generated character sheet from me!
  • Finally, my presentation Sunday morning is built on my work with teachers in Los Angeles engaging in “Player Professional Development” and community-drive game jams (described previously here). I will be presenting a paper co-authored with my nemesis, Mark Gomez.

I should briefly add that an update to this blog is long overdue! In the short term, let me say that I have still been blogging monthly(ish) at DMLcentral (recent posts here, here, and here) and have been mumbling through blog-like thoughts using Anchor, like this:

A few other housekeeping things:

I am co-facilitating a workshop based on Youth Participatory Action Research for the 2016 Digital Media and Learning Conference. My co-facilitators, Nicole Mirra and Danielle Filipiak, and I discussed the workshop recently:

You should consider joining our workshop!

I have a chapter in the recent collection The Role-Playing Society: Essays on the Cultural Influence of RPGs titled “Teacher as Dungeon Master: Connected Learning, Democratic Classrooms, and Rolling for Initiative”. It’s a scorcher!

Finally, back in January I delivered the keynote for the 2016 Technology in Education Conference presented by the Collaborative for Educational Services. If you’ve got an hour to kill, you can watch the whole thing below (my presentation begins at 6:20).

Beyond “Dead Channels”: Technology in Education Conference and Expo Keynote

If you happen to be in Western Massachusetts, I am giving the keynote at the Technology in Education Conference and Expo tomorrow, January 14th. With this year’s conference theme focused on Connected Learning, I am looking forward to engaging in conversations about the role of educators in shaping the contexts of connected learning in schools. In particular, I hope to focus on youth understanding of civic and social nuance of how they learn in participatory environments.

I’ll also be signing copies of Pose, Wobble, Flow and Doing Youth Participatory Actions Research.

If you’re at the conference, please say hello!