#write2connect Session with Stephen Downes #ce13




What a joy this Sunday morning to listen to Stephen Downes. Through an email invitation — a  connection,  from WizIQ on Friday, I added the event to my calendar, a connection for Sunday’s NCTE National Day of Writing, whose focus this year is #write2connect. What better way to celebrate than to connect to learn about Connectivism from one of its founders, Stephen Downes, as he explains “Habits of Effective Connected Learners.”

And I am so thankful I did. It felt like a conversation in my living room with many amazing people chatting and learning together. What did I learn? I clarified my own ideas, and considered a better way to help my students.

First, these ideas are my connections, my perceptions on connectivism from my engagement with this presentation:

  • Publishing your own stuff is secondary to reading and commenting on other people’s stuff
  • The first thing any connected person should be is receptive. Open.
  • In order for what we are saying to make any sense, it needs to be a response to something.
  • Find places where you can add value rather than pursue a particular goal or objective
  • In almost all fields, connecting with others IS the work.
  • Connecting is all about adding value and flow (input, output, feedback, plasticity)

I loved the idea that it’s about adding value; that we all can add value to the wide world. And that we don’t need to worry about those that are not. When connected, look to add value; when connected, look for the shapes and patterns of your perceptions and add value. It’s not to promote or make a point, but to cooperate in the conversation in relevant ways to add to the whole. “Connecting IS the work,” and in connecting — receptively– we respond.

Sylvia Gulnan (sp) asked, “What can you cook from the melting pot of thoughts?” Here are my new ingredients:

  1. Read and comment on blogs; blog a response (this is my response).
  2. For my students, we will now read others’ blogs first, blog our response of those that touch our hearts and minds, and comment back with a link to our posts.

Yes, we have written posts and then read others’ posts and commented, but I think the better idea is to learn from others first, to find a connection to which value can be added in one’s own world, one’s own blog. Do you see the difference? It brings the conversation and the connection home; a relationship, which may blossom into further discussions or simply be a recognition and acknowledgement of the learning conversation.

I’ve always felt I was missing something, and I can still blog for myself, but the connectivity is in adding to the nexus of the cloud, building a bit of relationship with those nodes. Thanks, Stephen. I may not have gotten everything right, but I learned. And it certainly encourages us to expand our connections as educators for Connected Educator month (#ce13).

And so I’d like to finish with another example of connectivism.

I followed a tweet link to this wonderful post on grading, points, and feedback by @differNtiated4u (Charity Stephens). I know about grading issues and that feedback results in more learning that a score or red marks on the paper. I know that students need to know what is expected, the goal in process and product. But the idea I loved is this:

  • Scaffold what you want students to know and be able to do for each letter grade. What will it take to get a D, C, B and A?  Have handy your Bloom’s Taxonomy, D.O.K chart and/or Rigor & Relevance Framework because you will need to identify verbs/actions for each learning objective for each desired level of understanding. SHARE these levels with students at the start of the unit. Post them on your class wall along side your learning objectives.  This will serve as their roadmap for understanding…
  • Scaffold the summative assessment and assess performance for each level of understanding.This means that if on the unit assessment a student can perform only the basic levels of understanding (even if this is only 1/4th of the assessment) this means the student’s grade should be a passing grade as they demonstrated the basics of the unit.

Now that makes sense more than a percentage score of total points. An A means …., A B means… A C means…  Years ago, before all the testing and specific objectives focus, I created units of instruction based on Kathy Nunley’s layered curriculum model. That raised the bar on expectations and allowed all students to succeed. With the emphasis now on interest-based learning and the use of technology tools, the units could offer choices and negotiation of projects to meet student interests, with the emphasis on stretching to meet ever higher goals based on a teacher/student developed framework of expectations.

Charity’s source: Wormeli, R. (2010) Assessment and Grading in the Differentiated Classroom:  Formative and Summative Assessment Critical Feedback for Learning   Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJxFXjfB_B4

As I develop my Common Core State Standards units and those specific objectives, I will consider Charity’s advice, and I thank her for helping me grow into another way of seeing how this could work.

What about you?

Are connected?

Are you adding value?

Are you responding to the gifts from others?

Thanks Charity and Stephen for helping me grow.  Open is Hope.

#RSCON4 Inspirations for #CE13


Don’t miss your chance!

Teachers now have access to free quality professional development via current online technologies. Experience this live with thousands of educators from around the globe by listening to the 4th annual Reform Symposium Online Conference, RSCON, which took place October 11th to 13th in conjunction with Connected Educator Month. You can still attend this free online conference from anywhere that has Internet access by viewing the recordings, check  Twitter (@RSCON4), Facebook, or Pinterest.

I participated this weekend for an inspirational uplift that hopefully will also enlighten my colleagues as they peruse the recordings.  What did I see?  What did I learn?  Here are a few highlights with links to the recordings.

Joan Young RECORDING Facilitating “Wow” Learning through

Humor, Novelty, Awe, and Fascination:

Humer    Novelty


Judy Willis

Todd Nesloney RECORDING Connecting You AND Your Classroom GloballyEduAllStars Episode 12

Jack Andraka, high school inventor


Todd says: join Twitter:

connect!Show the tweets that helped you.


I’m thinking:

How about emailing them?

Or a blog of your favorite tweets for teachers?


Josh Stumpenhorst RECORDING Keynote:Recognize authentically.

Share what inspires you

about your colleagues and students.


Josh says: hand written notes.

I did: Hand written cards created

with student art/photos.


Abraham Lincoln says:

“Don’t worry when you are not recognized,

but strive to be worthy of recognition.”


Sylvia Guinan RECORDING How to turn your learning management system into an online playground



Creative Activities

Connect students globally

(empathy, midnight, social intelligence).

Use multimedia and creative activities for the fun piece

(artistic book clubs; journalling; collaborative poetry;

music; comics; citizen journalism; real life projects).

Apply brain-friendly principles (color / visuals).

Use Collaborative Tools


Be someone.

“No matter what he does, every person on earth

plays a central role in the history of the world.

And normally he doesn’t know it.”

Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist


We do this with:

Google Sites


Google Apps


BitStrips for Schools




Chris Lehmann RECORDING KeynoteScience Leadership Academy (high school)

core values of

inquiry,research, collaboration,

presentation and reflection

are emphasized in all classes.


Project based learning–

authentic learning

Google Apps


Tough times in education

with current emphasis.


Education is Broken

Michael Berry RECORDING Shadowing Students as anEffective ObservationStrategyfor School-wide Leadership and


What do the students see?How do they feel?

Follow a student.






RECORDING Rethinking The Way We LearnHow would this transformation

redefine student learning?

Joe Dale:

build a PLN that is content rich;

pedagogy broad


all teaches should help students

become connected students

and to do so the teacher needs

to be a connected learner


Amanda: How do we help teachers

understand that “teaching is learning?”


Ika Chieka: Yes, ask students for feedback.


Laura Gilchrist: Teacher learning is overlooked.

Teachers just as important as student learning!

Teacher learning should be a top priority

in all buildings/districts.


Polly: Learners need to be constructing

their own knowledge and learning.


Paula Naugle: Give students plenty

of opportunity to demonstrate what they are learning.


Sylvia: Amplify! think bigger!

Communicate outside and present in different ways.

Over a hundred events took place: Have a go at one:

2013 RSCON Recordings – The Future of Education

I would recommend the following RSCON4 sessions by my PLN friends:

Paula Naugle RECORDING Mystery Location Calls via Skype or Google Hangout
Denise Krebs RECORDING The World Needs Your Contribution–Really! How my PLN Changed Everything
Gallit Zvi RECORDING Genius Hour

I’d also recommend a look at the following:

What is Connected Learning | Connected Learning


Connected Learning For Educators | Connected Learning (home page)

Read the information and learn how today’s world is connected; people are connected not just face to face, but globally as they build relationships and collaborate on projects to learn together.  The internet allows us all to participate (equity / participatory ) on shared interests for shared purposes. You may want to read more about this from my post for Connected Educator Month. The second link is a pdf for envisioning how to become a connected learning and school.


Connected Educators | Helping Educators Thrive in a Connected World

CEM: Getting Started | Connected Educators

This is the official sites for Connected Learning for Connected Educators. How do you learn? Do you want to join the world’s most connected people?  Click the second link for how to participate.


Digital Is | NWP Digital Is

The National Writing Project provides this site for teachers to share and interact with quality language arts lessons, ideas, and strategies. Please join.


National Day on Writing

#write2connect: The 2013 National Day on Writing 10/10 by NWP radio | Education Podcasts

Consider the National Day of Writing on October 21st.  Celebrate it in your classrooms on Friday, October 19th or Monday, October 22nd.  How will your write? How will you encourage your students to write? Listen to the podcast — it is excellent (second link above).

Blogging: Get started!

If you are a teacher at our school, please ask how to start — our platform is Blogger and our naming protocol is nsdyourlastname.  So my blog is: http://nsdedwards.blogspot.com  Just log in to Blogger with your usual username and password and click: Create my blog. A few of you have started. See me if you aren’t sure.

How To Blog and Challenges by our friend, Sue Waters at Edublogs:

Personal Blogging | Edublogs Teacher Challenges   Start your professional blog this week. Here’s how.

Edublogs Teacher Challenges | Free professional learning for educators by educators

Take part in a teacher challenge.

Blogging With Students | Edublogs Teacher Challenges

Learn to blog with students.

Creating a PLN | Edublogs Teacher Challenges

Learn to build your Professional / Personal Learning Network.


Next, I watched Sue Waters video on Flipboard Magazines as a way to curate your favorite sites and tweets hashtags.  Learn about it here:  Digital Curation by Sue Waters


And lastly, I connect with you by creating this post and Flipboard of resources.

Thanks to all of the above for their excellent work, connecting with others in an open and transparent way so we all learn and grow together.

What did you learn at RSCON4 or Connected Educator Month? What’s your best learning?


Join us and Extend the Conversation – Jump In!

"Extend the Conversation... Have you joined twitter? Are you lurking on the sidelines to learn from others? Are you retweeting?

Have you started blogging? Are you participating in the Connected Educator’s Month Blogging Challenge? Between tweeting and blogging, I know have many new friends and colleagues all over the world, including Denice Krebs, and my life has been energized ever since.

Denise and I have collaborated with our classrooms and students. Whether it’s blogging or Google Docs, our students have been connected, and we as teachers have reflected on how access to the Internet and technology has improved both our professional and our students’ lives.

We have created and curated a Flickr TFotoFri group … but there’s so much more to share about our stories:

How do you become a connected educator — and why?

That’s our next project: sharing our story of connection — and how you, too, can become a digital learner, a connected educator.Thanks to Karen Fasimpaur at P2PU for encouraging and sponsoring us.  Join us this Saturday, August 18th at 10:00 AM Pacific and 1:00 PM Eastern for Connected Educator’s Month to learn how you can Extend the Conversation. Denise share’s a bit here: Join Us! and here are two trailers to pique your interest:

Will you join us?

Cross-posted at NSD21