Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Combining and Remixing to Create

"Being able to connect and combine non-obvious ideas and objects is essential for innovation and a key part of the creative thinking process."
inGenius, Tina Seelig
The basic act of creation is one often one of remixing or recombining ideas.  

You can push students past the obvious responses to literature by having them combine unrelated genres or styles of writing.

Here we see an example of a sci-fi movie, Star Wars, with a classic children's fantasy author, Dr. Seuss.

The constraint of retelling a story using the genre characteristics of another forces students to stretch their minds and imaginations, to be thoughtful, to prioritize, and to be as innovative as possible.

Besides mixing genres you can mix:

  • characters
  • settings (time and/or place)
  • conflicts
  • plot structure
  • style
Give students a choice about how they can represent their remixes.  My students have enjoyed:
  • making videos
  • using digital photographs
  • creating posters
  • creating a graphic novel type response

If you or your students are interested in other examples of remixing they can study examples from music (Led Zeppelin), movies (Star Wars) or literature

To spin the idea to a different level you can use the picture or the links provided above and ask:

"What are the ethical issues surrounding the consequences of remixing someone else's idea?"

As it gets easier and easier to borrow and sample from others on the internet at what point does remixing became stealing?  It is a great conversation to have with students before they cut and paste their next research paper.
To further discuss the ethical ramifications of what is innovative and what is stealing you can share the following examples:

Napster - share the history of the start-up and then let students decide if it was innovative or stealing.
Xerox, Apple and Microsoft - share the story of the remixing of ideas from one company to the next.  
Led ZeppelinStar Wars and literature - was it okay what these artists did in modifying other ideas for their own "original" stories.
Add in examples that you have seen in your building of making copies or showing videos or borrowing lesson ideas from other teachers.

Students evaluate the traits of the work and determine where that work would score on a scale that moves from innovative to stealing.  Before you share how the story ended in a court of law students discuss why they feel an idea is innovative or stealing.  This should lead to some interesting conversations. 

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