Slice of Life Possibilities

 

It’s March Slice of Life Challenge by the Two Writing Teachers:

Write a slice of your life every day —  a moment of an any day or every day experience. Write it so others can live through it.

How It Began

Slice Challenge 2017

When I was a middle school teacher for thirty-one years, I discovered this wonderful motivational challenge. My students loved writing every Tuesday for Slice of Life Tuesday, and twice many of the students accepted the March: Write a Slice a Day challenge.

Some students had occasional mental blocks, so I created a Google Slides menu of suggestions, along with some writing expectations for digital safety and for writing class. We adapted these as needed, but below are the possibilities and the Slice Menu options for 2017.

If any of my former students or others would like to participate, just add a link to your Slice blog post or document in the comments for this post so others can find and read your Slice stories. Please also comment [using your positive netiquette — see slides] and encourage each other.

I look forward to the stories for this year. Write and enjoy your memories.

#clmooc Reflection Open and Not

CLmooc is awesome!

I am so thankful for another opportunity to learn and grow and share with others who look forward to the possible, however adjacent it may be.

Reflection:

Some things were different and disappointing, but mostly CLmooc helped me gain new perspectives again.

 

So many people to thank for their encouragement and insights:

Karen Fasimpaur

Michael Weller

Julie Johnson

Terry Elliot

Kevin Hodgson

Susan Watson

Deanna Mascle

Melvina Kurashige

Janis Selby Jones

Wendy Taleo

Mallory McNeal

Charlene Doland

Scott Glass

Anna Smith

Christina Cantrill

Monica Multer

Simon Ensor

Christina DiMicelli

Jeffrey Keefer

Fred Mindlin

Tania Sheko

Daniel Basill

Annelise Wunderlich

Ida Brandão

Anu Liljeström

Helen DeWaard

and all of the #clmooc participants and facillitators…. all hundreds of you active and lurking connected learners!

Thank you!

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#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 #digilit Random Me

clmooc imageAgain an exciting summer of self-chosen professional development to become a better writer and a better teacher. My summer PD with CLMooc often includes poetry. Last year we played #poettag and this year we play #clPoem, suggested by Jeffrey Keefer. That’s the thing about clmooc: It’s a connected learning massive open online collaboration where participants lead the way.

We started with “untros,” a reflection and analysis of our identities, a shattering of our different identities in various communities which allowed us to understand the essence of those identities. And although suggestions were made for how to “untro,” each person finds their own journey, which can be overwhelming to new participants wondering where to start. Sometimes participants just want to know the idea and take off on their own. In this seeming chaos, Jeffrey pondered about community with a poem and an invitation to others to write poetry tagged with #clPoem.

And so it begins: the cascade of ideas, remixes, invitations, all for a shared purpose: to learn together with the tools that fit, digital or analog.

As the #clmooc introduced the untro for Cycle One, I was captivated by the ingenuity of the responses by participants and intrigued with the traits behind the person and the making. [ Specific examples ]  In my meandering aechoinggreennd following Twitter links, I discovered Echoing Green, an organization that supports young graduates to “Work with a Purpose.” At the bottom of each page was a blue logo, which inspired me to try to rebuild my identity so I created this poem make on “Unshattering Identities,” asking participants to:

Challenge: Consider your beliefs. Using six words, arrange them as phrases read horizontally and vertically to express an essence of your identity.

The slides are filled with reflective six word poems that can be read in different ways; each participants take is unique as we embrace the connected learning principles of interest-powered, peer-supported, production of learning creations.

As you can see, this journey meanders as participants pick the projects in which to participate, create remixes or original makes to fit the topic in their way, and share and reflect on the process, the creations, and the pedagogy. We use tools to create in the physical world and the digital world; we share on Twitter, Facebook, and the Google Plus community — and Soundcloud [#adhocvoices], the blog hub [where this post will find its way], Thinglink, etc. Our connections and our community is a neighborhood built by our choices. Technology provides the ship we sail on to connect and learn collaboratively.

Michelle Stein provides another example: she started a poetry make on identity. She asked us to:

1. Randomly choose a word for each letter in your name.
2. Add a verse to this narrative poem, using each word you have chosen as the focus of a sentence.
3. Revel in the awesomesauce that is CLMOOC.

I chose to do this project because it’s writing, and I enjoy writing poetry, simple as it is. In my response, it’s more narrative poetry, but I wrote it not just for #clmooc and Michelle, it’s a gift to my family. And that is another part of #clmooc: authenticity — the participants make from the interests and who each is and what each needs at the time.

So, if you’re looking for projects both digital and analog, and you want to work with creative people and build your PLN: join CLMooc !

 


Here’s my response to Michelle’s “Make,” starting with random words:

This post is also part of #DigiLit Sunday, started by Margaret Simon to help blogging educators share their digital learning.

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#DigiLit Sunday GiverCraft #EDGamify

DigiLit Sunday is a Sunday post on literacy, an invitation by Margaret Simon, to share literacy strategies and tools for the classroom. This week’s list of bloggers: Sunday, November 16, 2014.

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Something exciting is happening to the balance of my classroom. It’s tipped to student control. We’ve been invited to participate in a Minecraft EDU based on the book, The Giver. The project is called Givercraft and was created at the University of Alaska Educational Technology EDET 698: Gamification and the classroom can be found on twitter at #EDGamify.

The purpose is:

“As educators it is our mission to provide high-quality, developmentally appropriate and engaging instruction to students. Through the use of MinecraftEDU students can demonstrate knowledge and understanding through building, collaboration and creativity. We hope to help fellow educators become familiar with alternative methods of assessment and instruction that integrates multiple subjects including technology.”

I have seen my grandchildren play Minecraft. I have tried it [installed on my iPhone]. All I can do is punch holes. Bam. Not good. So this is my chance to learn what my students want to use to learn with. It’s my chance to see how it works — -to become “familiar with alternative methods of assessment and instruction that integrates multiple subjects including technology.”

I participated in a practice session and failed. Miserably.  Have you ever taken a gaming personality test? I think this is the one I took last year. I’m an Explorer— off the charts. So I get frustrated with all the bangs and zombies and tedious builds. As Wikipedia says, “The Explorer will often enrich themselves in any back story or lore they can find about the people and places in-game” and “They often meet other Explorers and can swap experiences.”  That would be me.

So although I fail the MinecraftEDU teacher practice mission, I am thoroughly excited that my students will be able to create a Giver community based on the details of the book, working as a team to create the world of a “Nine.” And my students are thrilled, and that’s just the first task. The creators have developed modules that will require critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and problem-solving based on evidence from the book to meet Common Core State Standards. Students take screenshots of their work in MineCraftEDU GiverCraft and upload them to a private wiki to explain their evidence. This is awesome.

I succeed at being willing to let go of the control and allow students to take the lead. I’m the guide. I’ve done this with other tech platforms, such as BitStrips for Schools. I create the activities, and students learn the tool that demonstrates their understanding.

What do I mean by tipping the balance to student control? With our invitation, we had only two weeks to read the novel — and even then we had obstacles – my training days, sports, testing. We didn’t think we’d make it, but we will. Tomorrow we finish the book in time to start the game.

The control I tossed to the kids. Instead of worksheets and teacher guides, I handed the kids Post-It Notes. We knew we needed to understand the meaning of the book with evidence to support our ideas. So students listened to the story and added notes to the areas they thought were important. We’d stop and they would share  and discuss the story: its characters, its plot, its setting, its community, its rules, its world. Their ideas. Their analysis. Not my preconceived ideas. They took notes — on their own in their journals to remember the details of this “same and mean” world, as they summarized. This they do willingly, thoughtfully, even as usually struggling readers. I’m impressed.

In Givercraft, they will partner up and help each other with book and journal ready; but again, they will be in charge: thinking, communicating, collaborating, solving together with evidence from the text. They’ve signed their agreements of rules of behavior for GiverCraft and understand  this will be different than the game they usually play; they understand this focus is on learning from reading by creating and collaboration, and from writing by sharing their creations and explaining their evidence.

We can do this, and I [we] will learn how to build more units that take our required standards to a new level that totally engages students and promotes deeper learning. We will be a community of learners.

I’m so glad I dared to learn, just as I expect my students to do every day. It’s a great feeling to do this together, student and teacher.

#DigiLit Sunday #NaNoWriMo Google Apps

DigiLit Sunday is a Sunday post on literacy, an invitation by Margaret Simon, to share literacy strategies and tools for the classroom. This week’s list of bloggers: Sunday, November 9, 2014.

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Our students in grades seven and eight are participating in #NaNoWriMo again this year. Each students sets their own goals and we continue to follow the Common Core State Standards aligned curriculum by Young Writers NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month. I wrote about it last week, and this was our first week.

We actually have only twelve days of classroom time to allot for this due to trainings, conferences, and Thanksgiving. However the students are writing about what they know: their hobbies and interests. They took that lesson to heart: writers write about what they know [or research]. So students are writing about friendships made and lost, sports goals and goofs, and characters new and ancient.

Students draft their writing in Google Docs.  Our Teacher Dashboard by Hapara allows me to quickly see new additions, view, and click to add comments to encourage their continued efforts. I point out the positives to encourage their continued use of those strategies such as dialogue and description to help set the mood and tone for their action.

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Students share their novels with each other to also add comments and encourage each other. Students or teacher and student can carry on a feedback conversation through the comments and when completed, just click “Resolve.” The collaborative aspect of Google Apps for Education encourages writing by students through this process; it’s personalized learning at its best.

When not writing for NaNoWriMo, the apps allow for students to choose the app that best fits their audience and purpose: a blog? a Google site? a document? a slideshow? a survey [forms]? a spreadsheet with charts for data? a HangOut with experts? To meet the Common Core State Standards, collaboration and multi-media information are key. I’m so thankful our school district adopted this for our students.

 

 

Connected Learners #ce14 #clmooc #DigiLit Sunday

Connections.  Everywhere. A network of sharing and growing.

That’s what being a connected learner is.  My connection with #clmooc has expanded my focus from one classroom and one teacher, to a networked community from which I can give just as much as I can learn.

Here’s a network, a small one:

Note: You can enlarge the MindMap and click the related links.

Create your own mind maps at MindMeister
I’ve made several connections by following blogs of people I admire and learn from on Twitter and in other communities. Here you see and can link to the Two Writing Teachers and Grant Wiggins. Their blogs brought me information about projects, workshops, rubrics, and checklists. I had already read about and started using the question strategies noted in the Right Question book, but Grant Wiggins brought it new dimension.

I designed a project based on a focus question:

Thousands of kids from Central America are entering the United States illegally — and alone.”



Students wrote and considered open and closed questions before reading an article about it. Then they answered their top three questions.

By this time I had read the blogs and Grant’s book, so I designed an authentic task that would include several Common Core State Standards as students collaborated, investigated, discovered relevant content, designed a campaign, and edited each presentation:

“With a team of peers, collaborate to create an informational or persuasive campaign for an audience of your choice to share the information you research about “Thousands of kids from Central America are entering the United States illegally — and alone.” Each team member will create a project for your campaign that meets the expectations of an investigative researcher and project designer. Together, your artifacts will present a thorough, factual, and detailed explanation, and perhaps solution, of the topic. “

Along with the task, considering the Common Core State Standards,  I drafted a set of Essential Questions which we will consider all year:

Essential Questions:

  • Investigate: How do researchers investigate successfully?
  • Collaborate: What strategies and processes do collaborators need for success?
  • Discover and Develop Content: How do readers and writers determine and develop relevant, accurate, and complete topics?
  • Design and Organize Presentation: How do publishers design and organize content for their audience and purpose?
  • Edit Language: Why and how do editors and speakers use and edit with the rules for standard English grammar and language?

I had already drafted a rubric, and now revised it to include the Standards and the five topics of the Essential Questions. Finally, I created draft checklists that explain the rubric and allow students and I to connect and confer on the progress and growth of their work. We now have authentic work: Kids Alone.

Student chose their focus, audience, and purpose and began their investigations, collaborating in teams. I confer with each team as we discuss the checklists and transfer our progress to see how we meet the expectations on  the rubric.

Here are the project documents:

As we work on our campaigns, students are connecting with each other and with me. I provide feedback towards learning goals and standards, and peers teach peers as well. Here is one example from a team of four students: Debate: Are You For or Against Obama?  There audience is bloggers, and their purpose is to consider both sides of an issue.

So, through my connections in blogs, on Twitter, and through blogger’s books, I have developed a learning progression that differentiates student learning, expects high standards of work, and provides a venue for students to connect and collaborate as well. Since many have chosen to publish work online, their connections could grow globally.

We are all connected learners.

 


Post also part of NSD21 and DigiLit Sunday:

DigiLit Sunday is a Sunday post on literacy, an invitation by Margaret Simon, to share literacy strategies and tools for the classroom. This week’s list of bloggers: Sunday, October 19, 2014.

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