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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

Speaking in Second Life — and a Request

Yesterday I Got to Give a Talk — with Power Point — on Race in Second Life

It was neat, avatars from anywhere in the world could attend — one set of questions came from a person in Morocco, so it was truly a world conference. I played a slide show that I use in high schools, and then we looked at a few images of the Race site being built in Second Life. Kevin Jarrett, who has posted here, hosted it and made it all possible. There were some glitchy bits — I am very awkward in SL, not really used to how to movey avatar, or its angle of vision, much less make use of the digital capacities all around me. I don’t have a microphone on my computer, so we had to communicate by short written statements — which was worse all around. But in a way the glitches and the use of text instead of speach just emphasized that this was an experiment, a testing-of-the-waters. And by that standard, I was thrilled. I see this as a terrific way to share ideas with people from any and everywhere.

This was, to be clear, in Second Life, not Teen Second Life. We could do the same thing with school groups in TSL. This time, though, the talk was open to whoever wanted to come – upwards of 40 people did, and there were teachers, college students, and just curious folk. Someone asked if I would come back to teach a class on race throughout history, and of course I will — and invite all of you who write on related subjects to join me.

Here are some snapshots of the talk: http://flickr.com/photos/kjarrett/sets/72157611267099335/

Here is the request for guidance, which this new author first posted to CCBC:

"I’m editing an Iraqi teenager’s blog into a book for young adults in the
U.S., to be published by Haymarket Books. (The book’s titled _IraqiGirl:
Diary of a Teenage Girl in Iraq_, based on the blog
http://iraqigirl.blogspot.com. A book based on the same blog is being
published in Sweden as well.)

In addition to the contents of the blog, we are adding various supplementary
materials — a timeline of the Iraq war; an interview with the author about
what she’s doing now, as a college student still living in Iraq; maps and
additional photographs; excerpts from other Iraqi blogs — particularly
intended to increase the book’s classroom usefulness.

So, my questions for the list: What sorts of supplementary materials have
you found most useful in non-fiction books for younger readers, like this
one? Is there anything you have wished for, but not often seen, in this kind
of book? If you are a teacher or a librarian, is there anything about how
you would use a book like this that would make you want particular kinds of
materials included? 

Thanks very much in advance
for any suggestions or comments.

Best,
Elizabeth Wrigley-Field"

seems like a good set of questions for this blog

Comments

  1. Jeannine Atkins says:

    Elizabeth, I’m not a high school teacher or librarian, and I hope you hear from some about your interesting project. Since I’m not the person you’re directing the question to, my response may not be helpful, but your question reminded me of some of what we’ve discussed here recently about shaping material for teens. My feeling would be to keep the backmatter to a minimum, as this is a personal voice — probably what first drew you to the project — and that voice may be what most draws teens in, too. If there’s too much backmatter, it may, in my opinion, keep some teens away, making it seem too much like a textbook. I like the idea of visuals -maps and photographs — but timelines of the wars and such may feel too school-like. I think Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis was so successful with adults and teens because the book is first and foremost about Marjane. We learn some about the politics and art of Iran but always through her lens. Good luck!

  2. Elizabeth Wrigley-Field says:

    Jeannine, thank you very much for these thoughts. I agree with you about the author’s personal voice being the key to the project. One thing I like about her blog is that is captures both the terrible fear and anxiety of living in wartime, but also the author’s attempts to go about living her life. She’s a teenager, after all; she’s fighting with her sister, reading Harry Potter, and studying for exams… but she’s also doing those things without electricity, with her school getting closed by curfews, and with a constant threat of violence. I think that combination really helps readers to put themselves in her shoes and imagine this being their life. Our dilemma is that we have also heard from a lot of teachers and librarians that they feel a dearth of materials, especially non-fiction materials, about daily life in Iraq, and would appreciate materials that they can use in a classroom setting. We’ve been trying to balance this, for example, by deciding to put timelines in the back of the book (instead of an original idea of having them on the side of the page). In part, it’s a balance between what teachers will find useful and what teenagers will want to pick up on their own. I would really appreciate others weighing in with thoughts on this.

  3. Marc Aronson says:

    So much depends on how you see the book. If you aim mainly at interest on the part of readers, backmatter should be in the back — or, better, on the web. If you see the book mainly as something to be read and used in class, then there is a value in giving teachers an easy package. That brings up the matter of format — are you publishing in hardcover or paperback? Could you publish a teachers’ edition that has a lot stuff, and a url for more, and a cheaper pb aimed directly at kids?

  4. Kevin Jarrett says:

    Hi everyone, hope you’ll pardon this jump into the middle of your conversation, I left a lengthy comment for Marc immediately after his presentation in Second Life and the SLJ blog software ate it… :/

    Marc, thank you so much for coming inworld and sharing your expertise with us at ISTE Island in Second Life. I’ve uploaded your slides here for all to see: tinyurl.com/5ygskp. We had over 60 avatars at one point making your presentation one of the most popular in recent weeks.

  5. Kevin Jarrett says:

    Hi everyone, hope you’ll pardon this jump into the middle of your conversation, I left a lengthy comment for Marc immediately after his presentation in Second Life and the SLJ blog software ate it… :/

    Marc, thank you so much for coming inworld and sharing your expertise with us at ISTE Island in Second Life. I’ve uploaded your slides here for all to see: tinyurl.com/5ygskp. We had over 60 avatars at one point making your presentation one of the most popular in recent weeks.

    Glitches aside, your material was extremely compelling (as I knew it would be), even though only about ’60% of you’ (my estimation) came through during the talk. It’s terrific that you are willing to come back inworld and continue this conversation. I’d be happy to facilitate in this regard if I can!

    Happy holidays to all,

    Kevin Jarrett
    ISTE Second Life Speaker Series Chair
    kevin.jarrett@gmail.com

  6. Elizabeth Wrigley-Field says:

    Hi, I just wanted to thank Marc and Jeannine for the thought-provoking responses to my question (and Marc for posting it in the first place). Many options to explore!