Down Time

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Where are you in the recess challenge? Scholastic writes a great review of issues and a history.

Before a decision is made, see this NPR program on recess and the brain.

As a teacher, I see how breaks in the day and lessons help kids relax enough to let what they’ve learned sink in and to free the mind to focus again.

Here’s a story in The Atlantic that explains the effects of frequent and free play recesses.

Now, what is your idea about recess and how does your school match the research?

#clmooc unflattening

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Mom had an old book of puzzles. I loved it. These were my favorite; simple sketches that suggested something. What do you think the above image is?

Unflattening the world has been part of my life – my mom could see beyond the obvious, and helped me look at the bigger picture. As a young mother rushed in front of us in the grocery line, mom would say, “She needs to get her back home for baby’s nap.” That might not have been true, but mom always took a step back to see a bigger idea and a step into the shoes of others.

Is it a bear climbing a tree? A giraffe walking by your window? A snake slithering across your beach towel?

We need to step around to see. Turn things around, and get a different view. Try to think from another’s perspective. Believe in your own!

These are things we discussed today in a learning / school context with Nick Sousanis, author of Unflattening, who wrote the first ever PHD dissertation as a comic.

We’ve got to focus on students, not the test, not the same-for-all; students are not widgets to be boxed up the same. [Pete Seeger — Little Boxes].   We need to be guiding student to discover who they are and what are their passions, which will inspire learning. Instead we have this:


We have a mission, those in the #clmooc, to spread the word of connected learning, which does not necessarily mean always through technology. We are poets and historians, authors and artists, scientists and coaches, engineers and ecologists. And we must as learners discover this by seeing the world in our own and in others’ ways. Learners, both we and our students are co-learners together.

Nick shared his ability to extend the view of the world –“stepping back to no longer seeing things head-on, but to also see from the sides” and more. Here’s an example. Think of the Buddha. Now in comic form, from our Google Hangout Out On Air with Nick, we can look just at the Buddha, but also step back to see the whole world around because comics are in “sequence with simultaneous recognition” of what might be missed:

nick's buddha

With our every breath, there is always more to think about. So it is with learning, as Terry Elliot always reminds us: [should be adjacent possible]

 


Learning is messy, and our students need the freedom to learn in their way and time — their passions and interests. We must allow the “adjacent possible” which occurs every day to lead us to the learning that is important to the student. And during that journey, all the other content and culture, skills and strategies, will fall into place — not the same for each student, but they will be what the student needs. This is the personalized and connected learning of today.

It’s the process of struggle and questioning, sharing and conversation, feedback and feed forward, that promotes deeper learning that sticks. Yesterday, I wrote about inquiry, and changing my classroom to allow authenticity and creativity to play the largest role in my classroom, and Nick’s invitation to see the world with new eyes and in new ways supports that. It takes longer, but the learning is deeper. Nick’s process blog posts show how learning and thinking take time; he shares the many iterations of his comics before the final version develops. That’s how learning is: time to try, think, reflect, discuss, revise, refine, start over, etc. And he’s creating for his purpose and his audience; it’s authentic. And so school should be.

How would it feel to see in new ways? Nick asked us to take a plan sheet of paper, any size. Fill it with shapes of your day — the way your day is and feels. Here’s mine:

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You can “read” it for yourself, and I have my own story for each line and box and curve and angle. I told about calm, happy, whimsical, social, sad, anxious, all in the day of shapes. Try it. See what your day is. For me, I was able to be thankful for the goodness, and reflective and at peace on the sadness. What a great idea for the classroom to open the mind to another way of seeing and expressing one’s narrative. So many teacher writers have shared the need for diverse pathways to writing [Ralph Fletcher, Georgia Heard, Donald Murray, to name just three], and for whatever we teach, we need those pathways so our students can be thinkers, not just copiers.

We learn by doing, and that is one of the main points Nick shared: let’s not talk about it — let’s start drawing and doing!  Thank’s Nick Sousanis for your time and for inspiring us.

Want to be inspired? You can be inspired too by watching here and adding your “Spaces of My Day” #dayincomics to this Padlet that Kevin Hodgson started.

The Make with Me with Nick Sousanis is part of the CLmooc , Connected Learning Massive Open Online Collaboration, whose principles brought this group together:  we are networked peers supporting each other in our interests and shared purpose, which powered Anna Smith to invite Nick to share his ideas [academic / production-centered ] so we could create and make and transform.

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Connected Learning

Now, go see the world in new ways. Come back and share what you see.

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Photo Credits:

Puzzle Doodles 1 and 2: by Sheri

Screenshot of Buddha from Nick’s presentation in Google Hangout On Air

My Day Sketch: by Sheri

Connected Learning Principles: Connected Learning

John Dewey: by Sheri

#clmooc Puzzling

Puzzles are systems, as Steve Wheeler explains in his blog about the above picture sent to him by Simon Ensor for Steve’s #blimage challenge [send him an image and he’ll blog about it related to learning]. I like what he said, and it’s helping me with my own inquiry.

1–

you don’t really know exactly how you’re going to get to the end (if there ever is an ‘end’), or how long it will take, but you do have a an image on the front of the box that contains the pieces, as a reference point to what it should look like when completed.

True, with learning – we don’t always know where we’re going until we get started. Then as teachers we need to figure out a strategy, a system, to help each student.  As the puzzle pieces in the image show, there’s quite a bit of blue ocean to dive into and catch the wave or current that will get you and the student where they need to be. I see texts and images [media] to read and understand. I see buildings which might be resources needed to learn. I see roads to build or follow to guide us. I see wooden planks, because we might have to build our own support. I see a cup filled with nourishment to sustain the whole child, perhaps feedback or an organizer — or just a snack to beef up a hungry stomach. I see a basket to hold our strategies, or save them to share with others who might need it. I see lots of unknowns that might or might not fit the needs of the learner, but at bottom in center is a child: and that’s who all our efforts are for.

2

Who is to say which method is a) more effective and b) more enjoyable?

 I would say the teacher and learner will decide this [certainly not a test]. Learning is a puzzle and we try one piece and then another. We watch how others work through it and try our own way. Ah, is such a good feeling after a journey of trials. How do we sort out the puzzle and the journey together?

That is what some of us in #clmooc [Connected Learning Massive Open Online Collaboration] have set about understanding through an inquiry, a puzzle, a question of our own.  Margaret Simon is wondering, “How can I create an environment for student writing that encourages individual expression while covering necessary benchmarks?” She included this graphic by Christy Ball as a possible way to to include the student  and the student’s passion in a process that will allow creativity while meeting the standards. We’ve got to find the way that is effective for each child.

Which brings us to another idea, an idea that is like the diverse group of students who flow into our rooms each morning, as random as puzzle pieces dumped out of a box — yet each in its own way beautiful and unique, worthy of and needing the opportunity to develop into a talented and whole person [or puzzle]. How do we make that happen?

3

These questions are reminiscent of a postmodern perspective on education – where learning is random and chaotic, has multiple layers and diverse possibilities, and where the rules might just as easily be thrown out of the window. Ultimately, we know that not everything that is taught is learnt, and not everything that is learnt is taught.

When the box cover is followed, we’ll finish an exact replica in our puzzle. Children and their learning are puzzle pieces as well — and our curriculum the box cover, as Steve suggests. However, what we teach is not always what students will learn — they notice what they need to know at that time. And that’s our puzzle – to accept that and go with it, perhaps adding in what we originally taught, or perhaps finding a new path also needed. A box cover is not what we need today. Technology brings us tools to personalize, to allow students to lead the way as we guide and offer feedback [along with peers] in a learning community that extends beyond the classroom walls. Curriculum is not just standards or content, it is also how to learn, reflect, connect, create, collaborate, and curate.

I think curriculum is a wardrobe, each different for each child, and filled with the choices in clothes and accessories needed to learn and succeed at goals. Imagine the choices an author, historian, mathematician, biologist, journalist would make or need. And many students would need to sew their own. Sometimes we could layer the items for a needed effect. One day we may need Rachel Carson’s boots as she explores the Atlantic shore or on another day grab our Flair pens to become architects like Frank Lloyd Wright. But there they are, waiting for us when we have chosen our interests and passions.

And it’s true that each student will take a different path, similar supports in curriculum can be implemented for small group learning, and teachers see where the students are headed and begin to lay out suggestions. Or, as in Narnia, we may find a wonderful surprise.

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This is what I have been considering for my inquiry question, which is “How do I create authentic learning spaces of making and reflecting that empower self-directed learning?” I’ve been reading Creative Schools by Sir Ken Robinson and Digital Portfolios by Matt Renwick, participating in book clubs with like-minded educators for each of them. So when Margaret started her Padlet on Creativity, I bookmarked it as resources for my inquiry as well.

Like the learners in my classroom, I’m puzzling about something for which I am passionate: to enable my students to become thinking, caring, and productive persons who follow their own passions and learn and adapt the passions of their peers in our learning community. And I’m starting by doing something: sharing with my peers and reading and discussing to figure out a path to do so. I get feedback from my peers and I begin to take a direction. Now, I’m not studying or practicing any Common Core State Standards in particular, but I am deeply applying many while I do this. And that’s what John Dewey said:

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In the puzzle of education, we’ve forgotten that is the doing that brings the learning.  So I created my own process to start with — based on many choices the students and I discuss together:

Notice that the standards aren’t even considered until after discussion and when we are sharing out plans for the first time. Just like in this blog, I”m writing for information with an introduction, body, and conclusion, building in evidence and flow — after much conversation, thinking, and doing. The flow around the above cycle is not sequential; I’ll need to change the arrow to dotted to show that there is not a linear flow, but a recursive sense with lots of reflection, feedback, and revision in our process and product.

So, back to the beginning, I’m puzzling through this authenticity and creativity in my language arts classroom, with Michael Weller and others. Some of my thoughts from my Evernote musings are:

YouthVoices would give a focus for both students and teachers — their interests and our curricular requirements.
There’s also Teen [ http://tweentribune.com/teen ] and Tween Tribune [ http://tweentribune.com/ ].
My fifth grade students loved the March Slice of Life challenge, and that is also a weekly Tuesday challenge [ https://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/challenges/ ]; some connected teachers set up their own challenge among their blogs [ http://mserin202.blogspot.com/2014/08/slice-of-life-writing.html and http://kidblog.org/class/EaglesWrite15/posts/p464617:601 ].
There’s also KQED’s Do NOW, which I have not participated in, but is so engaging and thoughtful [ http://blogs.kqed.org/education/category/do-now/ ]
As I write this, I’m thinking of a menu of choices for writing, with student interest in mind, and an authentic purpose of sharing. 

I’ve also created a BlendSpace for my resources and ideas, a sort of wardrobe to organize and pull from as needed.  And I thank Steve Wheeler, Margaret Simon, Michael Weller for helping put my puzzle, and my students’ puzzle together in a way that’s a system that fits each learner and teacher.


MY #DigiLit Sunday:  MindMeister Maps / Image Writing Prompt

#DigiLit Sunday Sponsored by Margaret Simon: Visit her blog for other DigiLit Sunday bloggers.

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Photo Credits

Simon Ensor puzzle

Christy Ball infographic

Sheri Edwards: Screenshot of Creative Commons “Wardrobe” image search

Sheri Edwards Dewey and Mind Meister MindMap

Margaret Simon: #DigitLit Sunday Badge

#clmooc #lightandshadow

I’ve been missing Kim’s Friday Photos.

I wondered where I would find light and shadows in my yard. The day is cool and crisp today but the sun is bright, peeking over the edge of hill across the river, illuminating the blossoms on our pear tree.

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I zoomed in and snapped a screenshot to view closer the shadows created by even the thin filaments of the stamen. Isn’t that amazing?

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I actually couldn’t believe the shot; I just reached up above my head with my iPhone and clicked. Then I had to research pears, because the trees were here when we moved in 25 years ago. We’re wondering if we should try this: Thanks for the great ideas for photography Kim and Kevin. Sheri

cross posted at iAnthology Ning

And Haiku

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Google Education Groups

There’s an exciting thing in the Google World — Google Educator Groups [GEG ] in each state. We’ve even got one in Washington State:

GEG WA

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I just watched the recording of our first virtual meetup, hosted by +Justin Talmadge, with special guests +Andrew Marcinek, +Kimberly Allison, +Jeff Utecht, +Brian Cleary, +Mike Schwab and+Alexandrea Alphonso . It was a great conversation about Google Classroom, Google Sites, Google Docs.

I had planned to attend, but a teacher meeting popped into the schedule. I’m so glad I watched the recording.

I am a classroom teacher [language arts middle school] and the super-admin for our Google Apps for Education [GAFE], which we started way back in 2009 when domains were either public or private, so we are one of the schools with two domains: one for staff and one for students and their teachers. I’m wondering if we should combine those now… as a small school, we could. It would be a lot of work to set that up; as a K-8 School, we’ve set up more restrictions on the student end.

I really appreciate the PSESD’s forward vision, and participated in their CCSSBlog this summer. And I am so thankful for GEG WA.

Our Tech Team carefully compared [in 2009] GAFE and MicrosoftLive [wasn’t it 360 then?] and GAFE was so much further along for collaboration, options, and apps. It was the obvious choice because of that and for one other important reason: Google Sites! Your conversation really emphasized that — we needed to save money and Google Sites became our free district website that was so much more customizable than the expensive platform we were using.

I wish there were a Blogger-edu, but we use Kidblogs and Edublogs for blogging in middle school. But the conversation about portfolios was terrific: What is the purpose? Is there reflection? Is there a capstone project? Is the data portable and interoperable? Because we are a K8 school, it’s not that much of an issue; students who are 13 work with their parents and me to transfer their best stuff to a personal account.

My students love Google Apps; we use Hapara Teacher Dashboard to monitor and quickly provide feedback to student work. Kids in the eighth grade already work with tech that is invisible to what they do — they choose the tool [docs, slides, blog] that fits their audience and purpose, taking care to cite their sources and use Creative Commons images. We are just learning the research tool – that is so awesome. We also use Diigo to highlight and annotate.

I’m so thankful for GAFE because it provides that platform for learning — for sharing and creating not just evidence of learning, but authentic places for student voice, choice, and community or world solutions. Thank you, Google!

A couple other reflections from the conversation:

–Love the search in Chrome’s URL bar

–Love Google Sites

–Agree with Kimberly that the new “ease of use,” consistent drive menu takes getting used to — and the search for documents is limited to whichever space you’re in, which is inconvenient.

–Most of our small staff is reluctant to learn because they haven’t grown up with it, and our previous admin hadn’t made it a priority; I’ve provided links, help, resources as much as possible, but it takes vision and encouragement to change mindsets. Fortunately, our current principal has vision and realizes the benefits of collaboration with GAFE!

Finally, it’s important to keep the vision. Again this year, with new district administration and new fiscal managers who are not current in educational technology and possibilities, that vision must be reviewed; I really appreciate the inspiration from my my Google PLN and new principal!

So find a GEG Group today to keep your vision!

 

#clmooc Writing Hacking Defining Week 4 Reflection #k6diglit

Writing Hacking Defining

14192_voice_elliot_friToday, I celebrate conversation, and the continuing celebrations each day at #clmooc. In the Hangouts and chats, in our posts, we continue the conversation about writing and making and hacking.

I keep thinking about the conversations about defining ‘hack.”

I think about what I do at home when I need a hack to fix something. It fixes something. It’s a positive. Maybe that’s not a hack. It’s fixes something, making it better.

So what do I do? I have read the excellent history of hacking from  Terry Elliot’s post on hacking, and it is the celebration of what is true in life: there’s good and bad.

Even so, I’m not convinced what I do in writing is destructive, nor does it need to be in order to be a hack, because there are two sides.

And I need to think of my presentation to middle school students; what do I want them to understand and consider?

So, I’m hacking a definition for hack. Well, I’m sharing how the word has evolved with my voice, and how my students will find their voice through their hacks.

 

Here’s my thoughts, with thanks to Deanna Mascle, Kevin Hodgson, and Terry Elliot:

I saw throughout the week this reshaping,

re-imaging of ideas–

IDENTITY Re-imagining

My favorite Hack is from Larry Hewett, an About Me project to begin the year. I’ve done something similar, but I love this. Here’s what he did, hacked slightly by me:
1. Choose three words that describe yourself.
2. Pick one song for each of your three words that represents that word.
3. Find the lyrics of the songs.
4. Lift words, phrases and entire lines from the three lyrics in order to create an original song about yourself.
5. Find an image to represent both the word and the lyrics you choose.
6. Decide how you will present “Your Song” (lyrics / images / words).

Connecting, Modifying,  and Re-imagining Meaning

Love what Amy Cody Clancy did with HyperText and more. Check out all her posts and blog.

Students connect in their writing in Google Docs through hyperlinks that link to content that explains their meaning.

Or students highlight only the key words for a poem or insights into their topic, adding hyperlinks to more information or images.

Not only could you create a “choose your own adventure”, but I think this is a great way to start or end a collaborative research project. Students find links / resources to add to the document. Then students take their focus of their first search to create what +Charlene Doland mentioned — their part of the conversation. They could create something that explains the research but adding their insights. Below the initial text then could be placed a thinglink or list of the collaborative research — with a final collaborative paragraph as a hypertext team syntheses as a summary.

Devising New Meaning

Next, Kathleen Galarza gave a great idea which I thought could inspire kids to write in their homework journals.  While listening to one of her favorite TV shows, she jotted down lines she linked. She used those to write a “one-sided phone conversation” which looks like a poem, and we infer the message from those lines.
Kids could do the same — maybe at school, they could make a poem for two voices by combining with a friend.  Could prove interesting. They will have devised new meaning from the same words. Responding to the conversation concept, Mary Morgan Ryan did continue the conversation from the same TV serious but different show to counter Kathleen’s conversation. You can see the fun, and the discussions about writing that could begin.

Devising New Meaning for New Audiences

Mary Morgan Ryan hacked her school annual report to be a poster for students in her library. Same words reapplied for different purpose and audience.

Audience and Purpose

So, in very positive ways, writing was hacked to modify or devise writing through insightful choosing of words — cutting the clutter, rearranging, or linking to make meaning more clear for different audiences and purposes.

As #clmooc organizers reflected this week:

The highly participatory nature of the cultural moment we live in demands a new kind of critical literacy. As educators we want to empower our students to become engaged complex thinkers. Meenoo Rami stated “I want my students to code, decode, make, break things. I want them to shape an argument, to engage civically, to be critical thinkers.” Perhaps hacking (as a methodology applied to writing) might help us get there.

Another excellent reflection on this comes from Kevin Hodgson [who introduces us to the Hack for Change movement] and also asks, what ran through my mind:

What concepts bubble up when you “hack writing”?

  • Agency of the writer/composer

  • Lens of the reader

  • Word choice/Image choice/Video choice

  • Ownership of content

This is what I think of while teaching and learning with my middle school students. So, again, celebrate our conversation — and choose your path.


 Connected Learning / DigLit Sunday

How was all this hacking accomplished?  Many ways– and we should celebrate what we’ve done and what we’ve learned:

First, the folks at Connected Learning Alliance created a Connected Learning Massive Open Online Collaboration through a Google Plus Community whereby participants could network, connect on topics of interest, and openly share their creations and hacks. Participants’ interests determined collaborative projects and conversation [see above], and when issues arose, questions were asked, and peers supported each other with tips, solutions, and further collaboration. Throughout the production-oriented “hacking” week, posts included possible applications to the classroom [ academically oriented]. We were connected learners.

Besides the CLMOOC blog, Make Bank,Google Hangout, and Google Plus Community, Kim Douillard started a CLMOOC Flickr group for participants to openly share their work. Hopefully, people there will license their work as Creative Commons so others may reuse, remix, and hack their originals for further sharing and hacking. And of course, Twitter sharing and conversation [clmooc chat].

Other Tech Tools that provided opportunities to collaborate, share, present, and remix are:

Blogs [see Blog Hub ]

Visual Poetry

Google Docs

Google Forms to submit Kevin Hodson Comics and join Voxer Chat

Voxer

Vocaroo

Prezi [ above]

Animoto

YouTube

Vialogues

Zeega

Wordle

Various Photo Apps depending on devices, for the various Kim Douillard Photo Challenges

Tackk.com

 

Technology is a tool that allows literate learners to connect and collaborate. Let’s celebrate our conversation and collaboration. If you are new, choose a tool, and join #clmooc today — just to lurk around and learn one thing new! Then celebrate one thing you learned today!  Let us know!


#clmooc Invitation Middle School Educators

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An Invitation to Connect Middle School Educators
Teachers, Principals, Librarians, etc.

As a member of #clmooc, I created two collaborative spaces: Connect in the Middle and Connect 2 Learn to provide a space for middle school educators to connect and plan for their own and their students’ collaborative efforts. This platform is free up to 100 members, so it can help us stay connected as a a group.

I teach language arts to grades 6, 7, 8 in a very rural area of Wa State. 

Join me in Connect in the Middle https://mightybell.com/communities/connect-in-the-middle
Connect in the Middle provides a space for middle school educators to connect and plan for their own and their students collaborative efforts

Our goal is to establish a community where members can connect to share ideas, or form a circle within the community to plan collaborative projects or other needed discussions (CCSS, for example.).

A circle within the Connect in the Middle MightyBell Community is Connect 2 Learn on Mightybell https://mightybell.com/spaces/85832 

Middle School Educators who would like to connect classrooms through prompts on a collaborative blog can discuss that idea here
I teach language arts to grades 6 7 8 in a rural are of Wa State. I would like my students to collaborate or connect with other students in authentic writing to guide them in online citizenship and in their own passions through their own writing and making.

I blog here whatelse.edublogs.org/
And created this blog
connect2learn.edublogs.org as the connective blog for students to find tasks of interest to them to connect, perhaps collaborate, with other students.

This space provides a place to discuss how to develop these connections and prompts.

I hope you join.