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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#DigiLit Sunday Differentiation

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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, September 28, 2014.

 

How do I differentiate reading materials so students can approach grade level standards?

I’ve discovered four valuable resources with a Common Core State Standards focus:
Actively Learn   Link to your Google Account; set up classes for students with different levels of reading material.

NEWSela  Link to your Google Account; set up classes for students with different levels of reading material

ReadWorks Leveled Reading Passages

ReadWriteThink Lessons, Online Inter-actives

I love that I can find leveled texts to challenge students or to bring them into the conversation so they can think critically and collaborate to learn the skills needed to be life-long readers.

What sites have you found to help your differentiation of reading materials?

#DigiLit Sunday Assessing Blogs

How do you assess blogs?

What is your purpose?

That is the question.

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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, September 14, 2014.

This week’s DigiLit Sunday is a follow-up to Margaret’s question last week: How do I turn this activity into data? 

How do you assess blogs?

What is your purpose?

That is the question, and that determines the data.

For some, the purpose may be writing fluency. Then assessment would be to provide feedback on the increased number and length of posts.  [ CCSS: 10. Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences. ]

As students develop fluency, suggest organization of paragraphs — not the five-sentence paragraph, but the idea of topic and support. [CCSS: 4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. ]

Next, add in conventions — sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc.

If fluency and foundational skills are not the focus, then consider:

  • design — the theme, layout, widgets, links, focus, invitation to participate, categories, tags [CCSS: 6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.] 
  • content — topic, support details, vocabulary, questions, style [ CCSS: 1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence. 2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content. 3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences. ]
  • conventions

Perhaps the focus is writing:

  • organization
  • ideas
    •  [CCSS: 4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. ]
  • voice
  • word choice
  • sentence fluency
  • conventions
    • [CCSS: 5  Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach. ]

Perhaps the focus is collaboration:

  • research
  • connect
  • share
  • collaborate
    • [CCSS: 6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others  7  Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation. 8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism. ]
    • [CCSS Speaking and Listening 

Comprehension and Collaboration 1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively. 2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally. 3 Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas 4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. 5 Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.]

For a thorough review of blogging with students, see Silvia Tolisano’s work at Langwitches:

I especially like this rubric she created [click to enlarge]:

Silvia Tolisano’s Rubric

My hope is my “assessment” is a conversation with students and students with each other, so that the learning is a growth goal of which reflection inspires improvement. Therefore, an ongoing component of blogging would be a reflection by the student of the growth their blog demonstrates. If I must give score from a rubric, the important part is still the conversation, goal-setting, and reflection!

What are your thoughts about assessing blogs and gathering data?

#DigiLit Sunday #Chalkabration Poetry

sundaydiglitIt’s 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, Aug 31, 2014.

 

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We also join Betsy Hubbard’s Chalkabration.

 

 

To be digitally literate means that you communicate with the tool that fits best. Betsy asks us to share poetry in chalk, on chalkboard, on black paper, or on the sidewalk. Some people may even want to play with neon writing in apps as an adaptation. If you write or draw your poem, you’ll need a tool to snap the image and upload it to your computer to place in your blog: that could be a digital camera or phone. And perhaps your poem is fits with a video format, using an app like Vine.

 

The important idea is to choose the tools – digital or analog – that fit your audience and purpose.

summer_chalkabration

What about the poem? Of course, you’ll need to write your poem, using powerful words and chalk that colors that make your idea pop. Don’t have an idea? Read others’ poems to for a spark of an idea. Then use your powerful writing strategies to write your idea, to create an image in the reader’s mind. Snapshot. Figurative Language.

Writers don’t just prewrite, draft, revise, edit, publish. Writers are always thinking about the end — what the words look like and sound like, and how to best get those word ideas across – with color, image, video, illustration, etc. It’s a recursive process, moving back and forth into drafts to make the words, and the accompanying media, work together.

If you look at my poem in the image or Vine, you won’t see how I thought about the end of summer and moving into fall. I didn’t use “Fall” or “Autumn.” But I inserted the word “slip” as another word for fall to complete the alliteration of “Summer slips slowly.”  I then thought of “falling” to bring “Fall/Autumn” in with “slip,” adding “with leaves” to complete the connection. My colors start with spring green, summer great, yellow, and two shades of orange to move the words through the seasons. The small leaf added the final touch, the end of summer. Since the breeze kept blowing away my leaf, I added the vine, a perfect tool to accentuate the poem.

So, the writing process started with the spark of the end of summer, and through thoughtful give and take of ideas and words, my poem came alive — using the tools needed to share with other #chalkabration writers.

How about you? How do you show your digital literacy? How is your process?

 

 


Common Core State Standards

Anchor Standards

Writing

5. Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.

6. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

6.3E Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to convey experiences and events.

Reading

6.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone

7. Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

#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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#clmooc #teachdonow Social Media PLN

Social Media and Ed Tech: Reflection on Professional Learning

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 1 What did your professional learning look like 6 years ago, and how has it changed?

 Six Years ago, I was still a lurker on Twitter, but was a Saturday participant in Classroom Live 2.0. Now I share and connect on Twitter, Google Plus,  and Nings.

Now I’m participating in and supporting MOOCs [etmooc and clmooc ] to connect, share, converse, and collaborate on learning issues.

My Twitter friend Denise Krebs and I planned a beginner’s presentation online through twitter and google docs to present at Connected Educator Month 2012.  We started a teacher Flickr group and we have met in person!

I’ve vlogged with colleagues through Ben Wilkoff’s Fellowship of the Open Spokes, something that is still scary to me.

Middle School teachers from clmooc  are creating spaces [google, MightyBell, blogs ] to collaborate as teachers and with our students.

I’ve joined the conversation online, and am trying to bring our staff online.  Yet, as Vicki Davis suggests, Title One schools are focused on drilling kids to learn, and in the process are enlarging the digital divide. Fortunately, we are moving forward in that area, to use the tools students will use in their futures, such as collaborative tools. Therefore, we are a Google Apps for Education school. Our new principal understands that tech tools provide access to learning for many kids.

2 What are the best resources you have found? How have they impacted your teaching and learning?

The number one game changer for reading and writing and feedback is Google Apps for Education. It is an ecosystem of tools that engages students in searching, creating, revising, and collaborating on topics. I’ve written about that ecosystem here. It’s a game-changer for my students and myself. As mentioned, I’ve planned many collaborations through Google Docs.

Edmodo and Kidblogs provide forums for sharing and conversation. Bitstrips and Voki classroom have helped students express the synthesis of their learning.  I’ve blogged about using the tools to read and write to learn Common Core State Standards as a guest blogger; the focus is not the tools, but the goal.

GooruLearning is a platform that allows teachers and students to research and collect resources through our Google Apps for Education. Search, research, and teamwork are all things we are beginning to do.

Of course, Twitter is my goto place for learning and sharing — I’ve found most of my tools, webinars, connections through the amazing people in my PLN and I cannot thank them enough! And, I’ve reciprocated with help to those asking.

3 What gaps or challenges do you feel exist between your current learning environment and your aspirational learning environment?

As mentioned, search, research, and teamwork are all things we are beginning to do in my classroom. I’ve taken and reviewed Dan Russell’s Google Search and shared that information at Rotary. We are learning these strategies in the classroom, adding more each year. My students know to cite sources and to use Creative Commons, but we need to dig deeper and be the explorers and collaborators for real issues of interest to students. That’s why I’ve started [late] to participate in the #teachdonow course as much as I can now that clmooc is winding down. As it says on my blog: “Students today enjoy the connectedness of social networking; it is part of their very being. My goal is to bring my instruction into that cloud to teach the content required in ways that inspire online responsibility and ethics in this new, very public world.”

4 What is your preferred learning style? How do you adapt your learning style to networked learning?

I prefer to learn by observing and then trying. I like encouraging feedback. Because I am a shy person outside of my classroom, the network has been so beneficial — just tweet and respond. I can do that.  Google Plus? Just post and search and comment; join communities. Discuss alternatives or differences. It’s much more involved and deeper than just studying from a book or sitting through a training. Google Apps for Education, Edmodo, and blogging have brought this positive learning environment to my students. Wowser!

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5 Why do I connect with others? I want to help my students to connect to the global network as positive, problem-solving citizens.

Thanks to Michael Wesch  and Mindshift for explaining why this is important….

How about you? I want to do something. [ and did ] I want my students to know they can do something.

#CCSSBlog Think Integrative Think Interactive

Common Core: What Works?

Common Core Cognitive Verbs

On a field trip with my sixth grade students, we stopped at a park across the street from an ice cream parlor. As I walked back from the store to the park with the last group of kids, one of them looked down at the crosswalk markings and asked, “What are those white lines for anyway?

Crosswalk. That’s a pretty important word for city kids for safety. It’s doubly important for a rural kid visiting the big city. But until we were there, walking in the crosswalk, the whole implication for its meaning was just a blur, a word we said without real understanding.

Vocabulary. The Common Core State Standards has plenty. Robert Marzano pulled from the CCSS a list of the common core cognitive verbs representing the thinking strategies students must do when accomplishing the standards. His ASCD article explains six steps to teach these cognitive verbs.

However, like the word crosswalk, like any word or concept, we must “Experience first; live in the world that the language is about,” says James Paul Gee in this Vialogue on Learning and Literacy  He adds, “If you have lived in the world the language is about, if you have an image and actions and practices with other people to associate the words, then it’s easy.”

As language arts teachers, we understand this. Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey remind us that:

 “In particular, students need to use target vocabulary in their spoken language before they can be  expected to use it in more formal written language. As Bromley (2007) reminds us, Language proficiency grows from oral  competence to written competence. All  students benefit from purposeful use of new vocabulary within the context of meaningful and engaging activities. This is even more  critical for adolescent English language  learners who are simultaneously learning English while learning in English (Fisher,  Frey, & Rothenberg, 2008). “p. 4 [emphasis added]

Therefore, we and the students need to be doing these thinking activities and using the language, talking about them before we expect students to understand them and apply them in their reflections on “I can….”

With so many words and concepts to learn, and so many standards, how do we accomplish this?

Think Integrative. Think Interactive.

literacy2bssre

Integrate the standards into projects that promote interactive teamwork and discussion to create a product. During the discussions and conferences, use, define, and act on the concepts, strategies, and vocabulary relevant to that integrated goal. Live the experience of the goal.

For example, last February as Digital Literacy Day approached, many of our language arts students wondered these questions:

How do we share our information in a more interesting way, like a website does?

How can images add to and make more clear [complement] information?

On our topic, what information should be backed with media and how will we choose?

So we adapted an activity suggested by Digital Literacy Day at: Paper Cut Outs to live those ideas and decisions. See the activity in the embedded document at the end of this post (or here), which includes the integrated standards and the interactive team components [ “Team Discussions”].

At each step, students are collaborating to analyze the information and media in their research and their own decisions for media that matches their topic for their blogs.  As facilitator to the groups, I pop into their discussions to guide them in vocabulary, collaboration, strategies, concepts, decision-making, etc. This is where students “live in the world that the language is about.” This is the “context of meaningful and engaging activities.

As Fisher and Frey explain:

“Effective vocabulary instruction requires that words are taught within context, that definitional and contrastive meanings are provided, and that students have multiple, authentic experiences with using words in their spoken and written language (Beck, McKeown, &Kucan, 2002; Blachowicz & Fisher, 2000;   Graves, 2006.)” p. 9 [emphasis added]

With each team, questions are asked that include content, vocabulary, and processes; students discuss using the vocabulary:

How did you gather relevant information?

How did you analyze the information from the text to determine the central idea?

What in the text helped you see how this idea developed?

How did you paraphrase the conclusion?

How did you compose an objective summary?

How did you create visual displays that demonstrated the salient points?

How do you explain how the ideas and visual displays clarify your topic?

How did you build on each others’ ideas?

How did you cite your sources?

 It is during these intentional conversations that the concepts of content, vocabulary, and process come alive for the student, a crosswalk, a safe and guided path to understanding. We want to them to engage in a crosswalk, not just tell them or provide one model.

So, in teams and with frequent feedback and discussion with each team, the students who chose this goal completed their integrated project. The model and prompt provided guidance for students to plan, design, and publish their information in Kidblog. Other students chose other integrated goals.

Fisher and Frey explain an effective vocabulary program is one that:

 “offers carefully selected words that are presented in context and modeled by the teacher; associative experiences that emphasize both the definitional and contrastive meanings of words, accompanied by student interaction with words and one another; and generative experiences that allow students to make it their vocabulary. p. 9” [emphasis added]

But consider this part of the larger picture of the Common Core State Standards. If we want students to dig deeper and think critically, then they need to live this in authentic interactions and experiences, to verbalize with each other the concepts and processes to make them theirs.

Let them live in the language to understand it, whether it is a process, a strategy, a concept, a behavior, or vocabulary. Give them a crosswalk to understanding.

Common Core: What works?

Think integrative. Think interactive. Think living in the language.

Literacy_James_Paul_Gee

 


Fisher, Douglas, and Nancy Frey. “The value of intentional vocabulary instruction in the middle grades.” Professional Development Series 16 (2010): p.4, 9.

“Vialogues : James Paul Gee and Embedded/embodied Literacy.” Vialogues. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 July 2014 (about 06:20-30).

 


Digital Literacy Day Project