— Simon Ensor (@sensor63) July 19, 2015
Puzzles are systems, as Steve Wheeler explains in his blog about the above picture sent to him by Simon Ensor for Steve’s #blimage challenge [send him an image and he’ll blog about it related to learning]. I like what he said, and it’s helping me with my own inquiry.
you don’t really know exactly how you’re going to get to the end (if there ever is an ‘end’), or how long it will take, but you do have a an image on the front of the box that contains the pieces, as a reference point to what it should look like when completed.
True, with learning – we don’t always know where we’re going until we get started. Then as teachers we need to figure out a strategy, a system, to help each student. As the puzzle pieces in the image show, there’s quite a bit of blue ocean to dive into and catch the wave or current that will get you and the student where they need to be. I see texts and images [media] to read and understand. I see buildings which might be resources needed to learn. I see roads to build or follow to guide us. I see wooden planks, because we might have to build our own support. I see a cup filled with nourishment to sustain the whole child, perhaps feedback or an organizer — or just a snack to beef up a hungry stomach. I see a basket to hold our strategies, or save them to share with others who might need it. I see lots of unknowns that might or might not fit the needs of the learner, but at bottom in center is a child: and that’s who all our efforts are for.
Who is to say which method is a) more effective and b) more enjoyable?
I would say the teacher and learner will decide this [certainly not a test]. Learning is a puzzle and we try one piece and then another. We watch how others work through it and try our own way. Ah, is such a good feeling after a journey of trials. How do we sort out the puzzle and the journey together?
That is what some of us in #clmooc [Connected Learning Massive Open Online Collaboration] have set about understanding through an inquiry, a puzzle, a question of our own. Margaret Simon is wondering, “How can I create an environment for student writing that encourages individual expression while covering necessary benchmarks?” She included this graphic by Christy Ball as a possible way to to include the student and the student’s passion in a process that will allow creativity while meeting the standards. We’ve got to find the way that is effective for each child.
Which brings us to another idea, an idea that is like the diverse group of students who flow into our rooms each morning, as random as puzzle pieces dumped out of a box — yet each in its own way beautiful and unique, worthy of and needing the opportunity to develop into a talented and whole person [or puzzle]. How do we make that happen?
These questions are reminiscent of a postmodern perspective on education – where learning is random and chaotic, has multiple layers and diverse possibilities, and where the rules might just as easily be thrown out of the window. Ultimately, we know that not everything that is taught is learnt, and not everything that is learnt is taught.
When the box cover is followed, we’ll finish an exact replica in our puzzle. Children and their learning are puzzle pieces as well — and our curriculum the box cover, as Steve suggests. However, what we teach is not always what students will learn — they notice what they need to know at that time. And that’s our puzzle – to accept that and go with it, perhaps adding in what we originally taught, or perhaps finding a new path also needed. A box cover is not what we need today. Technology brings us tools to personalize, to allow students to lead the way as we guide and offer feedback [along with peers] in a learning community that extends beyond the classroom walls. Curriculum is not just standards or content, it is also how to learn, reflect, connect, create, collaborate, and curate.
I think curriculum is a wardrobe, each different for each child, and filled with the choices in clothes and accessories needed to learn and succeed at goals. Imagine the choices an author, historian, mathematician, biologist, journalist would make or need. And many students would need to sew their own. Sometimes we could layer the items for a needed effect. One day we may need Rachel Carson’s boots as she explores the Atlantic shore or on another day grab our Flair pens to become architects like Frank Lloyd Wright. But there they are, waiting for us when we have chosen our interests and passions.
And it’s true that each student will take a different path, similar supports in curriculum can be implemented for small group learning, and teachers see where the students are headed and begin to lay out suggestions. Or, as in Narnia, we may find a wonderful surprise.
This is what I have been considering for my inquiry question, which is “How do I create authentic learning spaces of making and reflecting that empower self-directed learning?” I’ve been reading Creative Schools by Sir Ken Robinson and Digital Portfolios by Matt Renwick, participating in book clubs with like-minded educators for each of them. So when Margaret started her Padlet on Creativity, I bookmarked it as resources for my inquiry as well.
Like the learners in my classroom, I’m puzzling about something for which I am passionate: to enable my students to become thinking, caring, and productive persons who follow their own passions and learn and adapt the passions of their peers in our learning community. And I’m starting by doing something: sharing with my peers and reading and discussing to figure out a path to do so. I get feedback from my peers and I begin to take a direction. Now, I’m not studying or practicing any Common Core State Standards in particular, but I am deeply applying many while I do this. And that’s what John Dewey said:
In the puzzle of education, we’ve forgotten that is the doing that brings the learning. So I created my own process to start with — based on many choices the students and I discuss together:
Notice that the standards aren’t even considered until after discussion and when we are sharing out plans for the first time. Just like in this blog, I”m writing for information with an introduction, body, and conclusion, building in evidence and flow — after much conversation, thinking, and doing. The flow around the above cycle is not sequential; I’ll need to change the arrow to dotted to show that there is not a linear flow, but a recursive sense with lots of reflection, feedback, and revision in our process and product.
So, back to the beginning, I’m puzzling through this authenticity and creativity in my language arts classroom, with Michael Weller and others. Some of my thoughts from my Evernote musings are:
I’ve also created a BlendSpace for my resources and ideas, a sort of wardrobe to organize and pull from as needed. And I thank Steve Wheeler, Margaret Simon, Michael Weller for helping put my puzzle, and my students’ puzzle together in a way that’s a system that fits each learner and teacher.
MY #DigiLit Sunday: MindMeister Maps / Image Writing Prompt
#DigiLit Sunday Sponsored by Margaret Simon: Visit her blog for other DigiLit Sunday bloggers.
Simon Ensor puzzle
Christy Ball infographic
Sheri Edwards: Screenshot of Creative Commons “Wardrobe” image search
Sheri Edwards Dewey and Mind Meister MindMap
Margaret Simon: #DigitLit Sunday Badge
Again an exciting summer of self-chosen professional development to become a better writer and a better teacher. My summer PD with CLMooc often includes poetry. Last year we played #poettag and this year we play #clPoem, suggested by Jeffrey Keefer. That’s the thing about clmooc: It’s a connected learning massive open online collaboration where participants lead the way.
We started with “untros,” a reflection and analysis of our identities, a shattering of our different identities in various communities which allowed us to understand the essence of those identities. And although suggestions were made for how to “untro,” each person finds their own journey, which can be overwhelming to new participants wondering where to start. Sometimes participants just want to know the idea and take off on their own. In this seeming chaos, Jeffrey pondered about community with a poem and an invitation to others to write poetry tagged with #clPoem.
And so it begins: the cascade of ideas, remixes, invitations, all for a shared purpose: to learn together with the tools that fit, digital or analog.
As the #clmooc introduced the untro for Cycle One, I was captivated by the ingenuity of the responses by participants and intrigued with the traits behind the person and the making. [ Specific examples ] In my meandering and following Twitter links, I discovered Echoing Green, an organization that supports young graduates to “Work with a Purpose.” At the bottom of each page was a blue logo, which inspired me to try to rebuild my identity so I created this poem make on “Unshattering Identities,” asking participants to:
Challenge: Consider your beliefs. Using six words, arrange them as phrases read horizontally and vertically to express an essence of your identity.
The slides are filled with reflective six word poems that can be read in different ways; each participants take is unique as we embrace the connected learning principles of interest-powered, peer-supported, production of learning creations.
As you can see, this journey meanders as participants pick the projects in which to participate, create remixes or original makes to fit the topic in their way, and share and reflect on the process, the creations, and the pedagogy. We use tools to create in the physical world and the digital world; we share on Twitter, Facebook, and the Google Plus community — and Soundcloud [#adhocvoices], the blog hub [where this post will find its way], Thinglink, etc. Our connections and our community is a neighborhood built by our choices. Technology provides the ship we sail on to connect and learn collaboratively.
1. Randomly choose a word for each letter in your name.
2. Add a verse to this narrative poem, using each word you have chosen as the focus of a sentence.
3. Revel in the awesomesauce that is CLMOOC.
I chose to do this project because it’s writing, and I enjoy writing poetry, simple as it is. In my response, it’s more narrative poetry, but I wrote it not just for #clmooc and Michelle, it’s a gift to my family. And that is another part of #clmooc: authenticity — the participants make from the interests and who each is and what each needs at the time.
So, if you’re looking for projects both digital and analog, and you want to work with creative people and build your PLN: join CLMooc !
Here’s my response to Michelle’s “Make,” starting with random words:
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, November 16, 2014.
Something exciting is happening to the balance of my classroom. It’s tipped to student control. We’ve been invited to participate in a Minecraft EDU based on the book, The Giver. The project is called Givercraft and was created at the University of Alaska Educational Technology EDET 698: Gamification and the classroom can be found on twitter at #EDGamify.
The purpose is:
“As educators it is our mission to provide high-quality, developmentally appropriate and engaging instruction to students. Through the use of MinecraftEDU students can demonstrate knowledge and understanding through building, collaboration and creativity. We hope to help fellow educators become familiar with alternative methods of assessment and instruction that integrates multiple subjects including technology.”
I have seen my grandchildren play Minecraft. I have tried it [installed on my iPhone]. All I can do is punch holes. Bam. Not good. So this is my chance to learn what my students want to use to learn with. It’s my chance to see how it works — -to become “familiar with alternative methods of assessment and instruction that integrates multiple subjects including technology.”
I participated in a practice session and failed. Miserably. Have you ever taken a gaming personality test? I think this is the one I took last year. I’m an Explorer— off the charts. So I get frustrated with all the bangs and zombies and tedious builds. As Wikipedia says, “The Explorer will often enrich themselves in any back story or lore they can find about the people and places in-game” and “They often meet other Explorers and can swap experiences.” That would be me.
So although I fail the MinecraftEDU teacher practice mission, I am thoroughly excited that my students will be able to create a Giver community based on the details of the book, working as a team to create the world of a “Nine.” And my students are thrilled, and that’s just the first task. The creators have developed modules that will require critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and problem-solving based on evidence from the book to meet Common Core State Standards. Students take screenshots of their work in MineCraftEDU GiverCraft and upload them to a private wiki to explain their evidence. This is awesome.
I succeed at being willing to let go of the control and allow students to take the lead. I’m the guide. I’ve done this with other tech platforms, such as BitStrips for Schools. I create the activities, and students learn the tool that demonstrates their understanding.
What do I mean by tipping the balance to student control? With our invitation, we had only two weeks to read the novel — and even then we had obstacles – my training days, sports, testing. We didn’t think we’d make it, but we will. Tomorrow we finish the book in time to start the game.
The control I tossed to the kids. Instead of worksheets and teacher guides, I handed the kids Post-It Notes. We knew we needed to understand the meaning of the book with evidence to support our ideas. So students listened to the story and added notes to the areas they thought were important. We’d stop and they would share and discuss the story: its characters, its plot, its setting, its community, its rules, its world. Their ideas. Their analysis. Not my preconceived ideas. They took notes — on their own in their journals to remember the details of this “same and mean” world, as they summarized. This they do willingly, thoughtfully, even as usually struggling readers. I’m impressed.
In Givercraft, they will partner up and help each other with book and journal ready; but again, they will be in charge: thinking, communicating, collaborating, solving together with evidence from the text. They’ve signed their agreements of rules of behavior for GiverCraft and understand this will be different than the game they usually play; they understand this focus is on learning from reading by creating and collaboration, and from writing by sharing their creations and explaining their evidence.
We can do this, and I [we] will learn how to build more units that take our required standards to a new level that totally engages students and promotes deeper learning. We will be a community of learners.
I’m so glad I dared to learn, just as I expect my students to do every day. It’s a great feeling to do this together, student and teacher.
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:
- 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.
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.
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?