Maker MIndset #clmooc #teachdonow

Jackie Gerstein at UsergeneratedEducation pushes us constantly to think through the educational mandates and silver bullets to focus on students and their learning. What will best guide students to become thinking, caring, productive persons?

The first thirty-eight slides of her presentation [ below ] provide thoughtful background theories and key questions to consider for our classrooms.


Slide 8: Something to do. We lost this when state standards developed in the 1990s. We removed the authenticity of doing and replaced it with intangible verbiage, which would have been the learning had we continued with the doing.

Slide 22: The most important question for classrooms – because doing is learning.

Slide 27: Love this question. After all, aren’t we trying to make the world better?

Slide 29: The Soft Skills – the process of planning, searching, gathering, sharing, collaborating, listening, debating, revising. The skills we learn through doing and doing together.

With each of these first thirty-eight slides, I say – that’s what what we need to consider! That’s our goal… I appreciate that Jackie shares these slides and continues with examples in the latter part.

Jackie’s Thinglink provides more information to consider:

Refer to the work of those who focused on learning as opposed to standards or skill objectives. Review the work of Dewey [and here], Vygotsky, Bruner, Papert [and here]. For Language Arts, see the work of James Moffett [ and here ].

Consider these ideas and questions. Consider the students in your classroom. When did we lose the doing? We learn what we need while doing something. We learn the strategies as we go, with support from our collaboration with peers or colleagues. Every time we do something, we build on what we learned before. That is the power of project-based learning. Students today are fading out in classrooms, bored with the posted objective; they want to learn what is of interest to them — or a question, an issue that piques their interests. With information readily available, it is the questions asked about that information that leads to learning and understanding it; it is what we want to do with the information that allows us to learn deeper. It is the sharing and collaborating with a shared purpose that propels us to do more and better to discover an answer and produce the results for others to contribute; this is learning. It fits in any classroom.

How will we as educators bring the power of the question and the doing back into our classrooms?



Source of Quote

Dewey, John. Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education. New York: Macmillan, 1916. Print. p. 181
Cross Post

#clmooc #geniushour #makerfaire Inspired by 82nd and Fifth Museum Art


Have you been participating in MakerFaire, Connected Learning [#clmooc ], or Digital Storytelling DS106? Has your school embraced #geniushour ? All of these deal with our passions, interests, and sense of community. We love to create things from our interests for fun or for fixing the something in the world.

We have been steeped in information overload, and are beginning to take command of it: we are now sorting and celebrating connections and communities — moving into what we need or love, connecting in ways never before possible with others of like [ or different ] minds, and creating according to the need, sharing and showing what we know so that others may also grow with us. From this, we add to that wonderful web of information in ways that add sense, sentiment, and celebration so the “overload” becomes a stream of stings, knotted in our places, our communities, and organized for our interests. We pull the strings as needed in and out of the net: finding balance in our worlds–face-to-face and online with so much more access and knowledge to help us [and we help others] in both worlds.

This summer you may want to spend some time in and out of the Connected Learning [#clmooc ] — joining when and where you can. It filled my last summer with inspiration from the many new friends I met and from the “makes” I created myself or in collaboration with others.


Today, while browsing on the Tumblr [and I apologize — I’ve lost the post] I was directed to the 52nd and Fifth NetMuseum online where 100 of it’s exhibits are narrated in two-minute explanations of marvelous art work. So here is a quick and easy way to bring art in bits into the classroom for wonder and discussion.  The first exhibit I clicked on, French Dressing, inspired a “make.” I had to see if I could “make” this amazing artifact of historical MakerFaire! The object, a gown by Paul Poiret [1919], is made of one piece of fifteen-yard fabric with only one seam. You have to see it to believe it, and to sigh at its beauty.

So I grabbed a tissue and folded it as in the selected clip watching carefully to discover exactly where to “sew” the seam.


Below in Figure 1 you can see the tape at the top for my seam. I taped all the way across to the right of the middle fold, not to the left of the middle fold. See the video link. Then just like in the video I opened it up with the seam vertical to the workspace and inserted a dolls arms into the opening. The far right fold becomes a cape draping around the shoulders.


Figure 1








You see in Figure 2 that the frayed edge becomes the front to wrap and secure with a belt/buttons.


Figure 2


Figure 3











In Figure 3, you can see the cape top, a draping of the original far left fold in Figure 1. The fold in the middle is created to add the extra material to do the draping. Beneath the “cape top” is nothing. You can see the model wears an evening gown beneath this gown-wrap. Mystery of  “How does that work– one seam in a folded strip of fabric?” Perhaps someone who really is a seamstress will actually sew one of these!  Let me know! I have looked at reversible fabric… but…

And now, what will inspire you?  What will make today? What will you create, and what inspired you?

Take a look at Connected Learning [#clmooc ], and please join us — Sign up today!



Writing: Collaborative Learning #clmooc #makecomp


“Writing is hard fun.” Donald Murray

Throughout the last century, writing instruction has evolved from basic handwriting to five-paragraph-essays to writing workshop to writing process to digital writing with media. Writing teachers build on the work of James Moffett, Jerome Bruner, Lucy Caulkins, Donald Graves, Donald Murray, Janet Emig, Peter Elbow, Judith Langer, Nancie Atwell, Ralph Fletcher, Robert Marzano, Ken Macrorie, Harvey Daniels, Will Richardson and Troy Hicks.

Their work in writing is rooted in social learning and educational psychology through the eyes of John Dewey, Lev Vygotsky, R. C. Anderson, Jean Piaget, Paulo Freire, and Seymour Papert.

As the internet became interactive, social, and productive, David Warlick, Marc Prensky, Daniel Pink, Henry Jenkins, Pew Research Center, and the National Writing Project contributed to extending writing into a broader literacy: communication literacy through text, image, audio, visual, and social interaction.

What came before is now evolving. The Common Core State Standards embeds this communication literacy with online media throughout its document.

What does this mean?


Getting Started

Consider your own writing (and reading) in a normal day. Have you:

  • Checked and responded to email?
  • Texted?
  • Checked and responded to Facebook?
  • Check and responded to Twitter?
  • Checked and responded to a Google Plus community?
  • Googled?
  • Received a YouTube video link?


If so, you are “communication literate,” or at least passively. 

If you are a teacher, consider this: 95% of all  teens use the Internet. Students of lower income families have less opportunities to do so.  See Pew Internet Research on Teen Internet Use.


What does this mean?

If you are a teacher, this means your students expect to use the Internet, socially, interactively, creatively. If you teach in schools with students in lower income brackets, your teaching with technology helps them close the equity gap.


What does this mean for writing?


Another Framework

Liz Stephens and Kerry Ballast (Liz Stephens and Kerry Ballast (2011). Using Technology to Improve Adolescent Writing: Digital Make-Overs for Writing Lessons) present a new paradigm for writing lessons that includes four frames, four lenses to view process writing and assignments.

Four Frames

  1. Inside Writing: investigating and discovering a topic by connecting with text, images, sounds, videos, etc.
  2. Responsive Writing: communicating face to face and online to collaborate through interactions and feedback to make sense of a topic by defining, labeling, questioning, challenging, and validating topic information
  3. Purposeful Writing: investigating and presenting one’s own interpretation of the topic for an audience to review
  4. Social Action Writing: exploring and collaborating to create a multimedia production to move others to action using persuasion with digital tools that emphasize the message


A Comparative Visual

As a teacher of digital learners, I see how this paradigm for writing compares with previous writing strategies: writing process and six traits of writing. I also see how it fits with design theory and connected learning. How do these various “frames for writing” fit together?


Over the past two years I have noticed that I start with connecting students to topics — to engage their interests in the ideas about which we will write (inside writing). As we draft ideas and responses, we share ideas and compare information and vocabulary, adding or revising as necessary (responsive writing). With ideas in hand over different days and topics, students choose something of interest to explain to a chosen audience using elaborative strategies and precise vocabulary (purposeful writing). In seventh grade especially, we practice persuading others to take action on a topic, usually a prompt practice for our state test (an attempt at social action writing).

With this framework from Stephens and Ballast, I can now refine our lessons and choices and reflect on the process and results. I can continue the “connected learning” strategies from the #clmooc and further efforts to add to #makecomp.

clmooc Summary of Report

Have you experienced the four frames for writing in this way? What has been your experience?


Liz Stephens and Kerry Ballast (2011). Using Technology to Improve Adolescent Writing: Digital Make-Overs for Writing Lessons

Connected Learning

Design Process

PEW Research

Six Traits

Writing Process