First Make Cycle for #clmooc! #untro

So I am really new to #clmooc and the whole idea of unmaking things. This is my #untro – “unintroduction”, our first make cycle for the course. For those unfamiliar with the concept (like I was) this is a way to introduce yourself in a non-traditional, non-conventional way. I was very confused about this at first because, although I understood it theoretically, when I saw people’s #untros they did not make any sense to me. But then I thought the reason it didn’t make sense to me is because they are not the traditional way of getting to know someone and so it makes sense to that person in their own way, and I found that really beautiful. Thankfully a couple of people from the #clmooc community on Twitter explained and clarified the whole concept to me, gave me feedback on the idea I had and even showed me their own #untros to help me understand it better. I can honestly say I would have never gotten this if it weren’t for them. So I’d like to thank @MWeller77 , @EatcherVeggies and @Bali_Maha J


The Graphic Designer in me tells me I am not supposed to accompany my design with an explanation because it’s supposed to stand out clearly on its own. So at the end of the post I will only explain my thought process (i.e. reflect) and not the photo collage itself.

My #untro make

Processed with Moldiv

Processed with Moldiv

It’s obvious from the collage and the text on it that these are photo examples of the things I like to spend my time doing. That’s not say that these are the only things I do, it’s more of what I enjoy doing and most of the time I try to keep it that way. I try to only do the things I enjoy doing, and when I was thinking about where the majority of my time is spent, I found that I am somewhat successful in doing just that. These things include, but are not limited to, reading, learning, spending time with my family and friends, graphic design, educational technology, pedagogy and content development (which is my job and thankfully I am one of the lucky people who love their jobs), coffee, inspiring and being inspired, rock climbing (and doing other adventurous, adrenaline-inducing activities), relaxing by the beach and in the company of mountains, running and eating healthy (when I am actually successful at not throwing myself – face first – into a jar of Peanut Butter). In a way I feel like all these things are represented in the photos (maybe not perfectly because I tried to get only photos that I personally took or had taken of me and didn’t use stock photos – except for the running shoe photo and that’s only because when I go running I don’t usually take off my shoes in the middle of the track and start snapping instagram photos hehe -). Even the things not represented in the photos could sort of be figured out from the combination and representation of the collage as a whole, I mean there are no photos of me, for example, designing but my choice of a clear, neat photo collage with colors that match along with the placement and choice of typography kind of indicates that I sort of have an artistic and layout design sense (I hope!).


I purposefully chose to put the photo before my reflection so the photo collage visual would be the first impression you have of me and then the reflection would be our first conversation. Pleased to meet you 🙂

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17 Responses to First Make Cycle for #clmooc! #untro

  1. Maha Bali says:

    Love the untro and ur reflection

    Love also that u admitted ur confusion which i think can help other ppl who would be similarly confused

    Enjot the rest of #clmooc – u already found two of the best ppl i met last year in #clmooc

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you dear! Yeah I’m really happy they responded to my tweet. It’s an absolute pleasure to have met them and I’m super excited for the rest of #clmooc!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Michael S. Weller says:

      “Love also that u admitted ur confusion which i think can help other ppl who would be similarly confused”

      This is an excellent point! It ties in to your recent reflections on inclusion/exclusion.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Susan says:

    So THIS is what a collage looks like when a skilled designer makes one! I wonder if you are appalled by the ones we throw together! LOL

    SO happy you are CLMOOC-ing. I love the way you approached this task – really trying to understand, then asking for help, then using your skills and humor to truly represent yourself in a unique way.

    I have to say I love the quote in the middle, and I have a good friend who is 65 whom I am always telling to get out of his rut and try new things. I can sometimes get into too much of a routine, too, but am really working this summer to push myself.

    You have a beautiful family and it makes me happy that you love your job.

    Can’t wait to see what else you come up with in the next few weeks!
    Susan (@eatcherveggies)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Susan! haha no! absolutely not appalled at all. On the contrary, I saw a lot of artistic elements in a lot of them (or the ones I managed to see). Like I said, my only problem was not understanding the concept and if I am looking at them from the perspective of art, I know it’s not always clear to the viewer and that’s almost always the point but still wanted to get one or two things about the person upon seeing their untros. When you sent me yours and Michael also linked me to his series of posts it made a lot more sense to me than it did upon first attempt 🙂

      I’m super psyched about CLmoocing as well. The way I came to join is that I saw the announcement on one of the Twitter hashtags I usually follow while sitting next to Maha at a workshop we were co-facilitating together (we were waiting our turn). While I was browsing the website on my laptop she told me “yes, you should totally join it this year, you’ll love it.” I have to say I had already decided to join before she told me that but her comment made me even more excited to connect and meet all of you and other clmoocers out there 🙂

      Thank you, I’m really glad you liked it and really appreciate that you helped me make sense of it all! I usually blog the way I talk so maybe that alone gave a feel of what my personality is like 🙂

      Re the quote in the middle, I have to say it struck me really hard when I first came across it. Only this past year have I been trying to do different things and embark on new adventures like travel to places I’ve never been to, meet new people, doing all those things I’ve always wanted to do (like rock climbing) rather than just waiting for when “the time is right” because almost always it never is, so I just figured it’s right when you decide it is. I think that to me was the driving thought that made me go out of my routine-driven, comfort-zone oriented life. I guess that might be one approach you could take while talking to your friend? If you’d both like, we can all meet up online and start chatting about that topic?

      Well the people in the photo aren’t entirely my family, that’s my sister and two very fun friends of ours hehe 🙂

      I can’t wait to continue making and connecting with you as well as everyone else in #clmooc. I’ll start looking at the second cycle now!

      PS: Let me know if you want to continue this conversation in a DM!



  3. Michael S. Weller says:

    “I purposefully chose to put the photo before my reflection so the photo collage visual would be the first impression you have of me and then the reflection would be our first conversation.”

    I love this idea of the text being the first conversation. 🙂 I’m curious, where did you take the photo of the boats & beach?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Michael. Yeah, I figured since we are untroducing ourselves through these blog posts, whoever will read it will sort of have had a small conversation with me 🙂 So I’m glad you liked that idea! In a way I also had one of my first conversations with you when I read the series on your blog. I actually came across this 6 word story idea a while ago, I think the local radio station anchors were discussing it one day, but I never got around to deeply thinking about it. Your posts made me reflect on that and want to come up with my own. Will send them your way when I get around to it 🙂

      The photo of the boats and beach is taken in Sinai, specifically in a city called Sharm El Sheikh. In some parts of this city the views are breathtaking. Have you ever been to Egypt?


  4. Michael S. Weller says:

    The 6 word story is interesting…last year in CLMOOC, people were write 5-image (or 5-emoji) stories, too, but I never finished mine. If you’re interested, I can find some of the work that people did with that idea.

    I haven’t been to Egypt, though I would love to visit. The scene in your photo is quite lovely! I’ve only been to the Eastern Hemisphere twice, both times to Europe. I fell in love with the North African food I ate in Paris & Brussels, especially harissa, but Maha told me that Egyptian food is very different from Algerian or Tunisian. 🙂


    • Wow the 5 image and emoji idea sounds really cool! Yes, I am very interested actually, would you please? I’ll start thinking of ideas for mine 🙂

      The scenery in Sinai especially is beautiful, although I’ve been quite a few times I never get tired of it. And there are always new places to explore over there. Well then if you haven’t been around here, maybe try making it a destination next time you’re able to travel to this part of the world and see for yourself how awesome authentic Egyptian food, and scenery, is. Bring your fiancé, she’ll love it as well! And yes Maha was right, Egyptian food is very different from Algerian, Tunisian and Lebanese food as well. Come see for yourself!


      • Michael S. Weller says:

        I would love to visit Egypt. We’ve made 2 trips to Paris, in part, because my friend Anne, who is the French teacher at the high school where I teach, fundraises with students in the French Club and then takes a group to Paris & Belgium every other year (her mother is Belgian). In exchange for chaperoning, we get a really good rate on the trip and a guided tour from a Francophone. 🙂 My wife loves Paris, and I really fell in love with Belgium while we were there last summer. We’re hoping to go again with the French Club next summer.

        I’ll see what I can find from the 5 image/emoji stuff last year & put the links in a Google Doc. Today was the first day of the summer writing camp that I co-direct at Cal State Los Angeles, so I haven’t had much time to CLMOOC…but tomorrow should be a bit less busy. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh wow that sounds so nice! Great cause in a beautiful city, what more can someone wish for, right?
        I’ve been to Paris a couple of times myself and absolutely loved it as well, but didn’t know Belgium is as great as you say. I could consider a short trip there this summer. If I do I’ll ask you about all the places you’ve been and would recommend 🙂 Good that you clarified a bit of a confusion by saying ‘my wife’ haha cuz when I told you in a previous comment ‘your fiancé would love Egypt’ Maha told me she’s sure you’re married but I got that you’re engaged from your blog posts, but then again these are a bit old so. Maha was right after all, and that makes sense since you guys know eachother well 🙂

        Perfect! If you are busy or you can’t find stuff from last year please don’t burden yourself, I can try and find things on my own if I put my mind to it. I just don’t want to put more on your plate when you’re already busy. Great news that the writing camp started! Good luck, enjoy and may all those youngsters enjoy it as well 😉
        Yeah I get how things could get busy, I’ve been swamped with work the past few days, I am working on designing 3 different publications that need to be designed, approved and printed within the next couple of weeks, so I haven’t had time to do more than respond and slightly interact on Twitter. Second make cycle is coming up, what are your plans for that?


  5. Michael S. Weller says:

    I just wrote a blog post about my idea for Make Cycle 2. 🙂 What are your ideas?

    I think “Belgium recommendations” would be a good topic for a blog post. 🙂 We didn’t have much time in Brussels, but we did visit two wonderful places: the Grand Place & the Musée des Beaux Arts. Are you familiar with the painter Brueghel? There is a poem by W.H. Auden based on his painting The Fall of Icarus, and a William Carlos Williams poem based on his painting The Kermess; I’ve loved both of those poems since I read them in high school; and in the Musée des Beaux Arts, both paintings are in the same room! 🙂

    My favorite part of the trip, though, was when Anne (the French teacher) took us to her family’s village in southern Belgium. Her family’s house, she said, was occupied by the Germans three times – in both World Wars & also in 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War. In southern California, buildings from the 1930s are considered very old, and a 19th-century building is practically ancient, so this bit of history was quite astonishing to me! Another astonishing sight was in the village cemetery, where I saw a headstone that identified the woman buried there as “Résistante, 1940-1944.” The stone didn’t give her birth year or year of death, only the years she spent in the Resistance. It brought me to tears thinking of the bravery of this woman, and of all the people who were involved in resisting the Nazis. Along with the people who participated in the civil rights movement in the 1960s in the U.S., these are my heroes.

    What are your three different publications about? What do you have to do to complete the design?


  6. Wow. I’m pretty speechless at this description. I felt your excitement, feelings of sadness and surprise upon reading this and even imagined it happening in a video from how descriptive your writing style is. Talk about remediation! One of the ways your short description spoke to me was the historical twist. I minored in History in my undergrads (wish I could have majored but was too late) and my love of history makes me always sort of visualise scenes like these and love collecting enough visual data – whether from images, videos, museums, cities, you name it – to be able to properly visualise these events.
    This makes me want to go to the Expedia website now and book my ticket, honestly! I’m considering going there this summer when I get some time off. Will let you know if that’s gonna happen 🙂

    I will go read your blog post now, probably will comment there with any ideas I get. I haven’t entertained one or more ideas yet. Still stuck in the brainstorming phase, so hopefully reading your post and others’ will help clear the block.

    Well, since I design most of the publications for CLT, I am working on an infographic of the services and programs the center offers (just tweeted a version of that a couple of days ago, not sure if you came across it). Second thing I’m designing is promotional material for an event we are planning on having soon and, last but not least, the CLT annual report, which I am also proofreading and writing parts of. Well I design them entirely, from layout to colours to typeface to choice of images and/or quotes, take care of printing, the whole nine yards. Some designs are more towards being printed than others so they’re not all at one stage and so I have to do different things to complete different designs, if that makes any sense?
    Thanks for your interest in asking 🙂


  7. Michael S. Weller says:

    Thank you for your kind words about my writing. 🙂 I realized from this Make Cycle that I am most comfortable with text as a mode of composing. I can compose in other media, but I am so much more comfortable and experienced with text. As a result, I tend to resist the idea of remediation – just let me sit over here with my notebook & my word processor & my inquiry questions, thank you very much! 🙂

    But I have learned that good things happen when I push myself out of my comfort zone, so I resisted my urge to sit in the corner with my notebook, lol, and I found out a lot from efforts to participate in this Make Cycle: mainly that remediating my inquiry question helped me to understand my inquiry from a different perspective, and as a result, I think, gave me a more complex understanding.

    I haven’t done anything groundbreaking with other media, lol, but in mapping my perceptions of the power relationships at my school, I realized that there’s a whole new set of questions that I can consider as I think about how to make my classroom more democratic. I’m going to share these questions in my blog post so I don’t take up pages and pages on your comment space. 🙂

    Another idea I discovered – this came up in the Twitter chat – was that remediation itself can be a way of democratizing my classroom. That is to say, if I’m most comfortable with text as a medium but less comfortable with, say, graphic design, then surely there are students whose preferences are the opposite of mine. Of course, we need to push ourselves – the graphic designers need to be able to grow as writers (in the old sense of “writing” as “producing text”) just as I need to push myself to learn more about visual ways of communicating. But if we account for these differences in the way we design our learning environments, then we give students more chances to be successful than if we privilege one medium over the rest.

    This is something I’ve known on a superficial level since I was a beginning teacher, but the experience of trying to remediate my work makes my understanding deeper – closer to being what Jonathan Jansen calls “knowledge in the blood” than a mere intellectual understanding. This is important because I’ve found that I act more effectively, and persistently, on my “knowledge in the blood” than I do on ideas that I have only understood intellectually.

    I love history as well! In fact, I’ve just learned that there is a good chance that I will be teaching US History this fall. (Our teaching schedule is a draft at the moment and is subject to change, but my principal told me that he wanted me to take on some social studies classes – previously I’ve only taught in the English department – so it would probably only change due to unforeseen circumstances.) What are your favorite area(s) of history?

    Thank you for sharing about your design work. Another of my good friends at my school is the graphic arts teacher, and I’ve learned a lot about design from working with him. I also teach the journalism class at my school and advise the student newspaper, so I’ve had to learn about composing layouts for my work with the kids. One of our editors-in-chief from this past year is a brilliant designer; I learned a lot from her as well. She graduated last month, but will be attending college in the area, so I’m hopeful that she’ll continue to help as a “consultant” to our staff. 🙂

    If your schedule allows, would you be interested in collaborating on one or more of the Makes this summer? It seems like your visual composing talents and my verbal skill (such as it is) might make a good combination.


    • Oh absolutely! I was actually going to think of ways for us to make something collaboratively, so i’m totally on board with that idea 🙂 Let’s talk when Make cycle #3 is out?
      I am still trying to figure out my remediation to be honest. Yes, it’s taking me a while but that’s because it’s Ramadan this month (not sure if you’re familiar?) For us Egyptians it’s not only a holy month where we spend time praying but it’s also the month of gatherings and getting together with family members and friends and being invited to break the fast in so many places, so I barely have time to even look at my phone, let alone my blog. So I apologize for not being online or as interactive this week, it really has been crazy. The biggest challenge is not having time and when there’s time there is absolutely zero energy from lack of sleep, and in my case lack of caffeine. That’s because we fast for about 16 hours and break the fast for only 8 (from 7 pm till 3 am) and I try to go to bed around 11 or 12 because I’ve got to be at work at 8:30 am, which means I am only eating for 3 or 4 hours a day (and obviously not continuously so it ends up being one meal and then just water). I don’t if, from this small explanation, you are able to imagine how it is. But oh well, it gets you spiritually pure and teaches true gratefulness for the blessing of food and water and the ability to have them, so it’s not all difficult hehe.

      I entirely agree with your point on needing to push yourself to develop in areas that aren’t necessarily your strengths. In fact I’m guilty of the same thing, I usually invest more of my time designing and doing visual things, but I really enjoy reading. So it’s not that I’m a purely visual person. I also love text and words but I don’t write as much as I’d want to. It’s not that I can’t write, but I don’t write often and so when I need to write something it takes me some time and effort because I don’t practice. I don’t know if that makes any sense. I never thought of myself as the writer type, even though I really enjoy writing and cannot even express how much I love reading. Thinking of ways to achieve this. This is the thought I had for my remediation, converting something into text but I haven’t entertained the thought enough to decide on a make idea. What do you think?

      Great news about teaching history! I was actually offered a history teaching position in a school before I was offered my now current job. Well my favourite areas in history are world history generally, civilisation history and aspects related to historical geography; how borders were created, how certain countries came to be…etc What are yours? What are you going to be teaching exactly? If you’d like to discuss ideas of interactive activities or assessments or even develop an idea for your classes, I’m available and would love to help out in whatever way I can, even if just by talking about it (because I know talking about something helps you think about it clearly and helps to consolidate ideas, at least for me).

      I have to say my comfort zone leans more towards reading and watching stuff (that’s why Maha told you I’m a fan of hangouts). I would honestly just love working on making writing more of an accessible and enjoyable habit of mine. I’d like to reach the point where it fits in my comfort zone, or in other words I’d like to extend and widen my comfort zone to include writing.


      • Michael S. Weller says:

        So I don’t know if you had a chance to look at Make Cycle #3 yet – it has to do with game design. I started writing a game in Twine – maybe we could work together on that? I’m open to other ideas as well. 🙂

        It would be interesting if we collaborated on one make by using our strengths – writing for me, design for you – and then switched roles for a second make, so that you write and I design. I think it would help us push our comfort zones out a little further, and it would be interesting to compare the final products.

        Thank you for sharing your experiences with Ramadan. I am deeply impressed with the idea of fasting as a way to develop compassion and show gratitude. I know a little about Ramadan from my conversations with Maha, and learning about your experience helps me understand a little better. For example, I knew that breaking the fast was important, but I didn’t realize that how social it is – I wonder if it’s a little like the Christmas season in the West in that way?

        If you don’t have time to do a remediation make, that’s totally okay. Last year I don’t think I finished all the makes myself because some weeks were busier than others for me. If you’re still interested in working on that make, though, that’s great too. Since you want to make writing more of a habit, what if you combined this goal with your remediation make? What I’m thinking is, take an image that you find interesting, and try to express what makes that image interesting in a paragraph or two. And then do it again the next day…and the next…lol…maybe for 10 minutes each day. Does that make sense? It might help you establish, or begin to establish, writing as a routine.

        I’ll be teaching U.S. History; when my principal asked me to teach social studies, I asked for U.S. History because it is my area of greatest expertise and I’ve never taught history before. My undergraduate degree was in Greek & Latin, so I know a bit about the history of ancient Greece & Rome. I also know a fair amount about world history from 1930 to the present. Recently I’ve become interested in the pre-Columbian Americas, especially California before the Spanish conquest and settlement, but I don’t know as much about this. I’m interested in the history of colonies and indigenous people, in general, because I’ve begun to learn about how damaging European and U.S. imperialism have been; I’d like to know more about the wrongs that my country has done so I can advocate for a just foreign policy.

        I’d love to talk with you about ideas for teaching history…thank you for offering! Maybe in a couple of weeks? I’ve just started looking at the curriculum materials, so I’m not even sure what my questions are yet, lol. 🙂


  8. Awesome idea about the collaboration and shifting roles, totally on board with that. Let me read through Make Cycle #3. Quick question, how do you want to communicate? Should we continue working on Twitter or switch to email? Both are fine with me, except for longer conversations that would be annoying to do on Twitter maybe we can choose a platform with a little more room for discussion and collaboration? Let me know your thoughts on that.

    Well. Ramadan is becoming more social by the year. It’s blended in the culture so much, I don’t know how it’s like in other Arab and Gulf countries but Egyptians take invite family and friends over for iftar (breaking the fast). So in a way it’s like Christmas in that the family gets together, but Christmas is a holiday and people usually fly home to spend a few days with the family, so it’s different in Ramadan in that it’s not a holiday, we just gather up for a few hours, eat together, catch up and then everyone goes home (or to the mosque to pray) and then to work the next day, you know what I mean?

    You can’t imagine how much I love this idea of picking a photo and writing about it or about how it makes me feel. I will absolutely start doing that. Maybe not every day but I will start by doing this for my remediation make (don’t think it will take a lot of time because it will only involve picking a photo and writing). Thank you so much for suggesting this, this might very well be my first step towards writing more. And PS: I would love to get feedback on my writing from you (if you don’t mind of course).

    Wow, impressive that you studied Greek and Latin. I would be interested to know what made you choose that as a field of study. Also, for a historical discussion or conversation, I would want to know how you came to this realization (or conclusion) about American and European imperialism. Indigenous peoples and industrial/pre-imperial communities are also very interesting areas of history, let me know if you come across any books or texts that were impressive so I’d take a look 🙂

    Awesome, well have a look at the curriculum and I’m here to discuss whatever, whenever! 🙂


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