Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Global Collaboration: 1001 Flat World Tales Project

Michele has a couple of posts where she describes the initial steps in a global collaboration between her class and classes in Korea, Canada and China (so far). The idea originated with Clay Burell, who teaches at the Korea International School in Seoul, South Korea.
Clay's idea is to have students read portions of the Arabian Nights and have them then write stories about their culture, their lives, starting with truth and bleeding into fiction. The premise is a frame story (an alien has landed and you've been asked to explain our world). Students will create a Thousand and One Flat World Tales, a storybook online...students of all grades, from around the world. We'll focus on 6+1 traits, fiction techniques, and hopefully our students will see a common thread between all the stories. Maybe they'll have a bigger perspective of the world (sometimes hard to create at age 13 & 14) and leave English 9 a little more focused on their dreams, their future.
Check out the wiki that Clay has set up, and also take a look at the FAQ page. This is just getting started, so only Clay's students have any stories up yet. But this is an ongoing project (K-12 so far, any college folks want to jump in?), so contact Clay if you'd like to join.

Communication so far has been via e-mail, skype, and the discussion pages on the wiki.
I just got my account on Skype and tried out the instant messenging this morning. It was 6:45 am here and 10:45 pm in Korea. Clay Burell ( and I traded ideas, asked questions and held a free, international conversation all 15 minutes before my English Lit class started. The world has just gotten flatter in my little world.
When the stories are "finished," they will then be published on student blogs (linked from the wiki). Clay has coined the term "blook":
We gave the name blook to the idea of a new type of publication, never possible in the history of reading and writing until the invention of wikis and blogs: a "book" of short stories that is published on inter-linking student blogs. A blook.

The official list of published students will be maintained on this wiki. Whenever students officially select (and teachers perhaps agree?) a student's story for publication on the 1001 Fllat World Tales blook, the story and writer will be "promoted" from the wiki to the student's blog.

Each additional story will be added to the blook's Table of Contents on this wiki, and linked to each additional student's blog.

Readers of the blook will thus read each story on its own writer's blog, and click the hyperlink to the next successful student writer's blog, on and on. Think of the benefits of an ever-growing world audience for these students on their blogs. (And yes, we have security guidelines and advice!)

Our goal is to match--then surpass--the original 1001 tales with "1001+" of our own!
So, how did all this get started? Clay started blogging (okay, prolifically blogging - I don't think Clay sleeps much). He read The Fischbowl and linked to a couple of items. The links came into my RSS aggregator so I checked out his blog and commented. He posted the 1001 Tales idea on his blog and I commented. I shared some ideas via email (and in person) with my language arts and social studies teachers. Michele jumped in with both feet. I also have three social studies teachers that are discussing with Clay ideas for how they can work together. The most promising idea so far is taking a look at the Cold War - from the American and the Korean perspective, and specifically spending some time looking at the Korean "Conflict".

Umm, somebody explain to me again why we can't do this?

Image Citation: The Arabian Nights, originally uploaded by Shenghung Lin.


  1. Karl,

    Thanks for your help in all of this. Serbia just asked to join today :) Hawaii is coming in too.

    No deadlines. Room for everybody on the wiki!

    We're really serious about the "1001+" goal. So come on in.

    Re: your last question: Two of the most dangerous (and depressing) words in the English language: "I can't."

    "Us and them" beat "I can't" by a nose, in my book :)

  2. I truly think that this in incredible. People who are not reading the Fischbowl don't know what they are missing and probably don't realize how fast the face of education is changing. Korean and American students together discussing the Korean Conflict. Can learning get more authentic than this?
    So how can we tie language into this? How can I set up a Wiki that gets enough PR to reach teachers in Spain, Mexico, Costa Rica, etc.? I am going to go to the class given by Michelle on Wikis, maybe this will help?!

  3. FYI, bkitch,

    Another Spanish teacher asked to join 1001 tales, and we set up a "world languages" page.

    So be in touch and i can hook you up :)

  4. I have only one word: INCREDIBLE!!! I've just checked out the Wikki at the link to "Thousand and One Flat World Tales," and am in awe. What an amazing project this is.

  5. The words "I can't" are truly words that I stay away from and if I worried about time, things working right, or making a fool of myself, I would not be involved in this project. Having knowledge of wikis was certainly helpful, Clay's easyi-going, we'll figure-this-out-attitude also has helped, but just willing to try is the biggest component of literacy in the 21st century. We have to forge ahead and be a learner right along with our students. What a better way to model than authentic learning, questioning, wondering, and reflection. Thanks for all the encouragement, and I'd love others to join in. Any World Language teachers willing to get involved? Clay has started a page just for you!

  6. Bravo. What an amazing feat. Is it also a goal of this project to publish the book outside the internet world for those of us tangible book lovers? How amazing if these students could have a permanent, tangible artifact of this learning experience.

  7. We'll see where this goes. Clay, any thoughts?

    The Colorado students have posted their 1st drafts. We start critiquing globally later this week!