#DigiLit Sunday Essentials #ce14 #ccss

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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 12, 2014.

DigiLit Sunday  this week is a review of what is essential.  That’s been my focus this weekend as I develop tasks for students that are authentic for readers, writers, and researchers. What does that mean?

essentialquesitonsFortunately, I read in my Kindle App the book Essential Questions.

It’s great review for those of us who focus on projects because, no matter what, it’s student learning that is important. Grant Wiggins also wrote a great post on inquiry, PBL, and UbD — provides this gem:

“And that gradual release idea is the essence of backward design in UbD – and a great place to reflect this weekend. How am I designing the year to make it most likely that students become increasingly autonomous as questioners and arguers (in the Common Core sense) – while still learning and understanding content of value? Viewed this way, there is no dichotomy at all between UbD and inquiry-based pedagogy.”

“How am I designing the year to make it most likely that students become increasingly autonomous as questioners and arguers (in the Common Core sense) – while still learning and understanding content of value?”

If my students are to become independent, they need to have choice in doing the work of readers, writers, and researchers. They now need to develop from our work in previous years their own projects that present their work. They work to be collaborative and authentic.

Essential Questions as overarching and transferable elements of language arts are key. So I looked at the verbs and nouns in the Common Core State Standards for Language Arts and developed a set of questions to start the year — and will add to them as our projects dictate. Because I teach Language Arts, students have some options in content, and so I am releasing some questioning responsibility to students as we follow the Right Question strategy.

I realize that essential questions can be the guiding work of our coarse and also the specific questions of content.  So we consider Essential Questions, and a guiding rubric scale that includes more specific questions and criteria for the language arts content. But what does that mean? If I’m teaching and releasing responsibility, I need even more. The Two Writing Teachers reminded me of writing checklists, so with our new standards, we need new checklists, which I created for each of the essential components that guide our work: collaboration, investigation, content, design, and language. These are our beginning.

And how do we bring this all together for students? A ThingLink:

As we change our task — to choice or teacher driven, we have a basic set of essentials to guide our learning. It’s not perfect yet, but we are moving in the right direction, together.

So, in our work together, students and I are guided by essential questions, focused questions, scales, and checklists. Our work is open in ThingLink [Kidblog for students] and Google Apps.

How do you keep your projects open for students, including the essentials of learning?

#DigiLit Sunday Google Slides, Wordle, Veterans Day

My favorite presentation tool: Google Slides.

First of all, it has really advanced since the time my students created the project I will share. Take a look at this Parent Night Slideshow. Google Slides has transitions, animations, and themes to really help students learn talking points and design.

That’s part of what two students did in my class a while back. The loved Wordle.net, but wanted to bring it in line with what we were learning about presentation, and to connect it with Veterans Day.

Every year the Nespelem American Legion Auxiliary sponsors a contest for Veterans Day. The theme is usually “Honor All Veterans.” Veterans Day is an important event in our community. In all the towns around, breakfasts, dinners, school assemblies, and Pow Wows honor those who served our country to keep us safe and free. We thank all those who sponsor activities, and especially the Nespelem American Legion Auxiliary.

The seventh and eighth grade students started with a prewriting plan in Google Docs which helped them think of nouns, strong verbs, and actions of those who served in the Armed Forces. Next the students revised and edited their work.

Two students, Tristen and Mysti, asked the  students to create word clouds using their essays as the source for the words (Wordle.net ). Each then saved the images, uploaded the wordles, and pasted their essays into a Google presentation. Each student explained why they chose the colors, word arrangements, and layout. This is their gift. Thanks to Tristen and Mysti for asking their peers to join.

We asked other schools in our Quad Blog Team to comment about our project and about Veterans Day. You can read those at our student blog here.

It was an engaging way to learn writing and design while also honoring our veterans. We may just do that again this year. How about you?

Based on this post: Writing Class Veterans Paragraph

 

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 5, 2014.

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#ce14 #clmooc #etmooc Student Agency

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How do we help students develop the insight and initiative to be life-long, productive learners contributing to a better world? How do we develop student agency?

We know that motivation comes from a desire to learn, a purpose, an authentic interest, and a belief that success is possible. We know that learning is a social activity, that involvement with others enhances our reflection and goals. We’ve come to understand that reflection and feedback in authentic tasks in which we can improve and develop before publication or presentation builds motivation and agency.

So we also know that project-based learning can form a structure that develops the critical thinking and reflection habits that help learners make choices that guide improved learning.

But sometimes  these more open venues based on passion or student interest can flop. We need to understand that each student is at a different stage in their learning journey.  Here’s a review of this idea in an old video I made for #etmooc:

ETMOOC Slice from Sheri Edwards on Vimeo.

How do we provide the structure, the connection to the learning and the people, so students develop their voice to create their agency?

In this year’s #clmooc,  the organizers developed a support team to monitor and collaborate with members as an encouragement to participation. Because a sense of belonging and a connection with other members provides the support needed to make choices, and the freedom to choose what and when to participate allowed members to grow in their learning at their pace and for their purpose. People skipped some projects, and then became deeply involved in others. Learning is personal; learning is social. But the key to all of this really is based on what Daniel Pink suggests: People need autonomy, purpose, and mastery for motivation. If we review the literature on motivation and behavior, William Glasser’s work provides a background for autonomy, purpose, and mastery. Glasser suggests that we “behave” to meet the basic needs of freedom [autonomy], belonging [purpose], power [autonomy, mastery], and fun [purpose].

One of the best explanations of student agency connected to Glasser’s work is by Jackie Gerstein: Learner Agency, Technology, and Emotional Intelligence.

To build agency and voice in the connected learners of today, freedom to choose the learning is high on the list — autonomy and purpose.  But to make the choice, learners need to feel they belong and that they have the power to master the undertaking.  And our task is to be the support team, the guides to understand where and how the learners will take  that next step.

Both #clmooc and #etmooc provided the connections, collaboration, and support for their learners.  How do we translate that into a transformed classroom for today?

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!

 

#leadershipday14 Leadership – Be the Compass

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It’s Leadership Day 2014, a call from Scott McLeod to offer insights for leaders in education. One topic of importance Scott addressed when he first started this discussion is

  • “what it means to prepare students for the digital, global world in which we now live.”

For leaders today, take time to do four things:

  1. Consider the Common Core State Standards for their Technology Integration; Beth Goff has done this for you here.
  2. Consider the ISTE NETS Standards for Administrators
  3. While considering these, watch kids: Not in the classroom, but wherever they gather
  4. Consider the world outside education, and what is “college and career ready”

1 Consider the Common Core State Standards for their Technology Integration

The  Common Core State Standards [CCSS] and the new assessments for these standards expect students to read online, research online, annotate online, compose online. Take a look at Michael Graham’s Google Apps Meets the Common Core. If your school is a Google Apps for Education [GAFE] school, then you already have an advantage for those integrated and expected technology skills in the CCSS. Students can research within their Google Docs with the research / scholar tools, share and collaborate on projects, revise and offer feedback, consider their revision history, and publish to an audience. They can use Calendar to plan their own or collaborative projects; they can call experts to interview through mail or hangouts; they can create websites of information that address issues. Teachers and students work together; assessment can be interactive or individual – with immediate personalized feedback; families can view what students are doing. Virtually all technology integration for CCSS is covered as a GAFE school.

2 Consider the ISTE NETS Standards for Administrators

Just look at the Admin Essentials. Here are a few:

Shared Vision–Proactive leadership in developing a shared vision for educational technology among all education stakeholders, including teachers and support staff, school and district administrators, teacher educators, students, parents, and the community

Empowered Leaders –Stakeholders at every level empowered to be leaders in effecting change

Curriculum Framework –Content standards and related digital curriculum resources that are aligned with and support digital age learning and work

Student-Centered Learning–Planning, teaching, and assessment centered around the needs and abilities of students

Assessment and Evaluation—Continuous assessment of teaching, learning, and leadership, and evaluation of the use of ICT and digital resources

Engaged Communities–Partnerships and collaboration within communities to support and fund the use of ICT and digital learning resources

Each of these requires the use of more than email. Today’s technology allows teachers to assess standards efficiently for focused instruction today.  I’ve already mentioned Google Apps ability to assess. GAFE also works with the free learning platform called Edmodo, which has just offered a free CCSS assessment tool, Snapshot. Ask your techy teachers; they’re already aware and willing to share. Build that shared vision together; empower your teacher-leaders. Help them build that curriculum centered on students. Build an engaged community with today’s tools: shared documents, video chats [hangouts], shared calendars. If collaboration is key, and the newest NWEA study indicates so, then using these tech tools to do so makes sense; the adults need to learn these tools as well to understand what students today already do.

3 While considering these, watch kids: Not in the classroom, but wherever they gather

Do you see many kids watching TV these days? Nope: they watch YouTube. YouTube is the go to place for learning. Need to know how to cut your bangs? Go to YouTube. Need a quick gift to make? Go to YouTube. Like the new duct-tape gifts — go to YouTube. Need to know something on Minecraft — go to YouTube.  Kids today find what they want to know online. Need help writing that essay for English — text or Facebook for help.  And they are creating and sharing what they know online. The are producing, not just consuming.  What does that say for rows of desks and your textbook? It’s time for change, with students at the center and technology as the tool for research, collaboration, and creation.

4 Consider the world outside education, and what is “college and career ready”

The world is flat; we don’t need to fly to Florida. We can confer with technology. Everything is interconnected. Information is everywhere, anywhere, anytime. Knowing how to build relationships and connections, to gather relevant and valid data, and to synthesize that for the project for your business requires new literacies and new collaboration skills. That’s why the CCSS integrates and expects students to use those tech tools.

 

There’s a great post by A J Juliani about how little our classrooms have changed — at least when considered from the outside, because many teachers are already innovating and reforming their classrooms.  A J Juliani picked up on the sad state of outside views of education in his post, Hey @Disney, Here’s What the Modern Classroom Looks Like. The Disney movie showed the same rows of desks with teacher at front as you would see in 1900’s. He says:

“If society continues to see this view of teaching and learning in shows and movies then their perspective on the educational system will be one that is outdated. Worse, it will be one that sees no need for change.”

Leaders, we’ve got to tell our stories — and wake up to the needed changes. So, leaders: let’s consider together: “what it means to prepare students for the digital, global world in which we now live?”  What do those tech standards in the CCSS really mean for today — and tomorrow? How much do our students know — and how can we guide them towards those collaborative and connective skills so needed in their world tomorrow?

Let’s collaborate on getting ourselves and our students into today’s connected world. How about I share a Google Doc and we get started thinking about what we can do? Let’s be the compass that guides us forward together.

CC Flickr by TheKarenD

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DigiLit Sunday #clmooc Writing

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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 I’m rethinking the writing process and tools.

Prior to digital tools, students would prewrite, draft, revise, review, revise, find feedback, and publish on paper. I’m not sure how many writers actually write this way. I know for fiction, I just start writing in Google Docs and let my characters start their journey. How would I help students experience this? How would it help develop word choice and plot?

Digital Tool

I’ve discovered a new tool I love, tackk.com . Be sure to sign up at the Education version if you chose to use this. It shares to Edmodo, and can be assigned through Edmodo so students can login with their Edmodo credentials. The Global Read Aloud is even using Tackk this year.  Public, or private, designing with Tackk is super easy. I like to know these things up front before I get excited about a new tool.

How can I help students experience the on-demand and online strategies of writing and revising?

Digital Prompt and Model

I designed a Tackk: FindWay as a story prompt and model to share with students. The prompt starts with the story and ends with directions and revision questions for peer collaboration.

Prompt and Model: Finding My Way

I created this story online, starting with a quest to find relief from the heat in a favorite swimming spot with friends. Tackk allows you to find glyphs, images, and videos to augment your own text using their built-in search for each. In addition, you can upload your own images and video.  It’s easy to move sections up and down and revise as needed.

During the story writing, I composed as a I wrote [see Directions at end], to fit the images that I could find. I prefer stills; I like the that I put myself into the image, instead of having action of a video clip take over my and my readers’ imaginations. It’s my choice; each writer must choose their own. I noticed many animations in the ‘gliphy’ search, which could work well for student stories.

During the story writing, I edited/revised as I wrote — descriptions, dialogue, imagery, action, etc.

During the story writing, I found the repetitive phrase to bring the good luck/bad luck of the story together: I sighed; I smiled.

When I present this, these are discussions for our class, including asking students for feedback on my work, which I ask them to do as they finish their stories. Of course, they could opt to create a story, revising together as I did.

Tackk, as you see, illustrates beautifully, including sound. The right sidebar offers choice in design, easy to discover, and a custom URL can be created.

Finally, Tackk lets others collaborate or comment. It can be shared with many sites, like Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, and more. And it can be embedded in a webpage or blog [see below].

Digital Writing

What do you think?

I can see this for sharing nonfiction ideas as well as fiction. I found it very easy to revise as I designed and composed with many options inserting media.  Students would be able to follow a creative process and share their efforts. This is a powerful tool for composing: thinking and revising with text, images, and video alone or in collaboration.

How could you use Tackk in your classroom?


 

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?

dewey_doing

 


Source of Quote

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