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.


#ce14 #clmooc #etmooc Student Agency


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?

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 #connectedlearning principles

A Reflection on My #CLMOOC Work

Thanks to all for a marvelous, connected six weeks!

 Why connected learning? Why digital learning?




Thanks to Margaret Simon for hosting DigiLit Sundays where educators share how they are using technology in their classrooms.  Please visit her site to read other posts.

#clmooc Mindset to Mindwave




 Growth Mindset: Embrace and Persist

Fixed Mindset: Avoid and Give Up

Carol Dweck’s advice [ via Jackie Gerstein’s Mozilla Popcorn ]:

We are both. Accept the fixed, then talk back to that voice with a growth mindset.

Mindset What?

During our Twitter Chat last Thursday, August 1st, a question about mindsets was asked. These resources were tweeted back:

Deeper Learning Mooc Resources

Mindset Carol Dweck site

Learning Theories and Online Learning [mindsets of learning theories!]

And today, Jackie Gerstein has added more information about Mindsets. Her post, The Educator and the Growth Mindset, shares her infographic [below] and slides — click to view– amazing video embedded there. So, how strong is your growth mindset? Here’s a survey to find out: MindsetWorks Brainology 

So set your mind for connected learning and grow your connections!


Mindsets 4 Students, How?

Jackie’s slides also included Karen Fasimpaur’s “Lens into the Classroom” tuning protocol to help students develop a growth mindset.

 Important points:
“*Helping students develop systems and habits that translate to success

• Weekly goal-setting for academic performance.

• Frequent and specific teacher feedback on how to write goals that translate into action (learning strategies). Also coaching on academic mindset messaging.

• Weekly student-reflection on progress and how/if the specific action tried led to reaching their goal of academic success”

Help students set specific goals and monitor the progress with feedback and reflections. Help them grow a growth mindset.

Mindset — What Else?

It’s not easy to do this — students may say they believe, but often their actions do not support that belief.

So what else can we do to help students by changing what we do and believe?  Several possible ideas crossed my path today:

Elana Aguilar’s Best Year Ever Edutopia Post  [Dive into your own PD; Enjoy your work (journal the positives); Connect with others]

From Walter McKensie’s post  3 TED Talks That Can Change How You Learn, Teach & Lead from Jeff Dunn’s post at Edudemic.

Renata Salecl: We have a choice in what kind of society we want to live [ starts at 13:00]

Joi Ito, Head of MIT Media Lab: Citizen Scientist and Now-ist – choosing to do something; learning over education; compass over maps;

“a new approach to creating in the moment: building quickly and improving constantly, without waiting for permission or for proof that you have the right idea.”

Roselinde Torres: What it takes to be a great leader

Where are you looking to anticipate change? [see around corners; shaping their future]

What is the diversity nature of your network? [solutions from diversity]

Are you courageous enough to abandon the past? [great leaders dare to be different]

5 Terry Elliott’s presentation of David Foster Wallace’s This is Water


“This is the freedom of real education.”

“You get to decide how you see it.”

“This is water.”

 Mindset, CLMOOC, and What will you do?

How does this help?

1. I see that as much as I try, I also have some fixed ideas; we all do. One thing CLMOOC helps with is that positive modeling – that support for those trying new things. In this post are lots of support helps to remind me to keep trying, to talk to that doubter and to keep going. I’ll refer to Jackie’s Thinglink and Elana’s post [love the writing positives idea] and share them with others to discuss. Move forward. See around the corners. NOTE: you know you have eyes in the back of your head, so seeing around corners shouldn’t take that much more effort.

2. If I need support with maintaining a growth mindset, my students certainly do as well. CLMOOC demonstrated that conversation and relationships build the community needed to grow together, to support each other in trying new things. Taking time to “make” conversation through different venues [in class, on paper, in blogs and comments, in Google Docs/Slides, in images and labels, etc.], we can build that community that sees success is possible. Discussing both product and process, in person and in reflection, online or off, will promote a positive learning environment. We’ll connect for shared purposes on academic goals; we’ll share our interests and build in collaboration and peer support and feedback; we’ll develop protocols together for feedback and asking questions. By the end of CLMOOC our community had even more participants, some lurkers joining in before the end — the support and acceptance provided that choice and freedom; it’s how our classroom communities will grow as well.

3. From Renata, I know I must stand up to make this choice for myself and my students. From Joi Ito and CLMOOC, it’s the NOW-ist that counts– what is needed today to get us to our vision? It’s the compass over the map– the vision guides our path and choices. And from Rosalinde, I know that my online Professional Network is diverse, as is my school community. Listening to all ideas will guide choices and solutions, and part of my learning will help in school, as I speak up with a different voice, backed up by the CLMOOC-PLN. I will definitely need to “see around the corner” because mandates hold us in the past, but I will remember “this is water” and “I get to decide how I’ll see it.”

4. So, consider this: I accept the challenges ahead and will discover solutions with peers that include steps towards new ideas in our shared purposes through alternative avenues that my students and I try, share, and reflect on. We’ll listen to our voices, and choose to move forward, daring to be different in our diligence, and creating a dialogue of reflection to build success together. Our projects will move from our requirements and add student interests; we’ll connect with others and carry our conversations to them. We won’t have a mindset, we’ll have mindwaves that ebb and flow with mistakes and learning. Our focus will always be a mindwave forward.

5. That acceptance of a challenge and diving into the flow of possibilities has already resulted in action. Several Middle School teachers have already considered collaboration. Michelle Stein has created a poll daddy survey to help connect us with a focus. We’ve started a current in the stream of our CLMOOC-PLN and are starting the mindwave forward.

6. To my CLMOOC-PLN, remember that we always have a choice; it may include sidesteps, alternative paths, or need for support, but we know the mindset of accepting challenges and moving forward without giving up. Check back at CLMOOC and EducatorInnovator, refer to the Mindset supports here, and begin a strategy [see step 5] to stay connected.

What will you do?

I leave you with Jackie’s Mozilla Mindset Popcorn and “This is Water”

#clmooc #middleschool Inspiration



Inspiration is all around. One place is #clmooc. That is a Connected Learning Massive Open Online Collaboration. I was involved as a participant and as part of the support team. Read about my #clmooc experience and learn about Connected Learning. It really isn’t anything new — except in how we are connected. Not through snail mail pen pals, not through TV news, not by traveling places. Although all those are available, in today’s world, we connect online through Google Hangouts, online communities like the clmooc Google Plus community, through social media, and through blogs, tweets, photo apps, etc. I can be connected right now to my friends around the world with a click of my mouse. That’s what has changed. That means we can pursue our interests, with peers around the world, for shared purposes, to learn academic goals, in an openly networked community to create products of interest for personal or societal reasons.

So education has changed, and I’m ready.

I’m ready and supported and inspired by my clmooc Google Plus community and my Twitter PLN, as I reciprocate the collaboration. I thank my CLMOOC connections and Twitter PLN for reaching out and connecting as peers in this networked world.

Some of the middle school educators have started a community of our own: Connect in the Middle at MightyBell. We’ve started small circles to plan and implement curriculum on Social JusticeePortfolios, and Connect2Learn, a collaborative blog for student writing prompts.

If you work with middle school students, please consider joining Connect in the Middle. Librarians, principals, teachers, etc. Join and add to our collaborative spirit; get inspired and connected, ready to help your students become Connected Learners.

See you there!