#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.

Expanding Hubs Vlog 2 #etmooc

Connected Educator

In the image above you see part of the “hubs” of my world, from local to global, personal to professional. If you click the image, it takes you to my Flickr image, complete with links. From each of these parts of my life, I learn and grow, share and collaborate, create and remix.

The Hub: What is it?
019_2013_comfortable_spotIt might be learning drawing in a Google hangout with a granddaughter; we share art in Scoot and Doodle. I share it in my 365edugood #edugood photo group for the “coziest spot in my house” photo.

It might be teaching my granddaughters how to crochet, and one of them returns to teach me to knit.

It might be a student telling me how to pronounce “PSY.”

It might be a colleague sharing a Common Core State Standard lesson or video.

It might be a colleague on Twitter collaborating to create a presentation (using Twitter, Google Hangout, Google Docs) to encourage others to jump in and extend the conversation.

It is a group of middle level educators gathering together through Diigo, a wiki, and their own blogs to figure out the new literacies and connectedness that our students need in our curriculum. It is asking, “How do we remix what we do to transform our teaching into learning worthy of our students’ futures?” It is working together to answer that question.

So is the hub you, the center of your world, choosing to interact and interconnect to learn and grow and create with others? You make the choices. You decide which connection to nurture. It changes, depending on the life that happens to you that day. So perhaps we’re more like droplets, forming bonds, wanting to connect and reconnect as the fluid, the ideas, warm up. And in the stream you choose to follow, flowing together, the effect moves from “me” to “we.”  Denise Krebs on a Google Plus Post, with comments from Ben Wilkoff and Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, suggest the “me to we” concept. Sheryl said, “Networks are me directed. Communities are we directed. ” Ben asks how do show which hubs are more valuable?

I can’t put importance on a hub or connection; because each IS important. On any given day, because “life is what happens when you made other plans [John Lennon],” the connections can change; they are more fluid for me, even if I choose them as the “me.” And when I’m in the flow with one connection, we become “we” and flow together. I think again that perhaps we are more like droplets than hubs, droplets that yearn for connection and acceptance, flowing about and choosing the bond that at that time and place fit. When the energy changes, the bond breaks and moves on, perhaps never returning, or perhaps always returning because the mutual connection is so strong.

So many metaphors work: hubs, spokes, wheels, droplets, strings, and threads in a tapestry. My new friend, Lorraine Boulos, in a comment on my blog, says, “I see this incredible tapestry and how we are all threads in this tapestry. Each one of us unique and different, but together, creating something new. It makes me think of Covey’s sixth habit – Synergy. The whole is actually greater than the sum of its parts.”

I think we are dropping threads into the hub, allowing them to weave to and fro, connecting here and there until something sticks. And in the sticking, the tapestry grows.

What is my world, my hub, my droplet in the fluid of ideas?  You will see the movement from “me” to “we” to “me.” You will see networking and community. Listen and watch:

1 22 2013 vlog from Sheri Edwards on Vimeo.









We are:


Each of us: A Hub,
A droplet in the fluid of ideas
A thread in the tapestry of community.
Worlds within worlds
Local –> Global

Each of us: A Hub
A droplet bonding with the next.
A thread blending into the next.
Reaching out
Gathering in
Making sense
Self –> Worlds


Each of us: A Hub
A droplet flowing with the stream.
A thread twisting with another.
Worlds –> Worlds

Each and Together: Hubs
A droplet bonding to another.
A thread fusing to the form.
Remix –> Create

Each and Together: Hubs
Droplets whirling into pools.
Threads  knotting into multi-dimensions.
Purpose and Action
Fluid Reactions
Learning –> Change

Each and Together: Hubs
Drop and droplets
Thread and tapestry
Linger here
Stay there
Learn and Act
Worlds –> Renewed

"Extend the Conversation...

How do your communities form and grow? How are you stretching your connections and building new communities?


What say you? How do you move your “network” to our “community?”  Share your ideas.