#clmooc unflattening

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Mom had an old book of puzzles. I loved it. These were my favorite; simple sketches that suggested something. What do you think the above image is?

Unflattening the world has been part of my life – my mom could see beyond the obvious, and helped me look at the bigger picture. As a young mother rushed in front of us in the grocery line, mom would say, “She needs to get her back home for baby’s nap.” That might not have been true, but mom always took a step back to see a bigger idea and a step into the shoes of others.

Is it a bear climbing a tree? A giraffe walking by your window? A snake slithering across your beach towel?

We need to step around to see. Turn things around, and get a different view. Try to think from another’s perspective. Believe in your own!

These are things we discussed today in a learning / school context with Nick Sousanis, author of Unflattening, who wrote the first ever PHD dissertation as a comic.

We’ve got to focus on students, not the test, not the same-for-all; students are not widgets to be boxed up the same. [Pete Seeger — Little Boxes].   We need to be guiding student to discover who they are and what are their passions, which will inspire learning. Instead we have this:


We have a mission, those in the #clmooc, to spread the word of connected learning, which does not necessarily mean always through technology. We are poets and historians, authors and artists, scientists and coaches, engineers and ecologists. And we must as learners discover this by seeing the world in our own and in others’ ways. Learners, both we and our students are co-learners together.

Nick shared his ability to extend the view of the world –“stepping back to no longer seeing things head-on, but to also see from the sides” and more. Here’s an example. Think of the Buddha. Now in comic form, from our Google Hangout Out On Air with Nick, we can look just at the Buddha, but also step back to see the whole world around because comics are in “sequence with simultaneous recognition” of what might be missed:

nick's buddha

With our every breath, there is always more to think about. So it is with learning, as Terry Elliot always reminds us: [should be adjacent possible]

 


Learning is messy, and our students need the freedom to learn in their way and time — their passions and interests. We must allow the “adjacent possible” which occurs every day to lead us to the learning that is important to the student. And during that journey, all the other content and culture, skills and strategies, will fall into place — not the same for each student, but they will be what the student needs. This is the personalized and connected learning of today.

It’s the process of struggle and questioning, sharing and conversation, feedback and feed forward, that promotes deeper learning that sticks. Yesterday, I wrote about inquiry, and changing my classroom to allow authenticity and creativity to play the largest role in my classroom, and Nick’s invitation to see the world with new eyes and in new ways supports that. It takes longer, but the learning is deeper. Nick’s process blog posts show how learning and thinking take time; he shares the many iterations of his comics before the final version develops. That’s how learning is: time to try, think, reflect, discuss, revise, refine, start over, etc. And he’s creating for his purpose and his audience; it’s authentic. And so school should be.

How would it feel to see in new ways? Nick asked us to take a plan sheet of paper, any size. Fill it with shapes of your day — the way your day is and feels. Here’s mine:

ShapesMakeMyDay copy

You can “read” it for yourself, and I have my own story for each line and box and curve and angle. I told about calm, happy, whimsical, social, sad, anxious, all in the day of shapes. Try it. See what your day is. For me, I was able to be thankful for the goodness, and reflective and at peace on the sadness. What a great idea for the classroom to open the mind to another way of seeing and expressing one’s narrative. So many teacher writers have shared the need for diverse pathways to writing [Ralph Fletcher, Georgia Heard, Donald Murray, to name just three], and for whatever we teach, we need those pathways so our students can be thinkers, not just copiers.

We learn by doing, and that is one of the main points Nick shared: let’s not talk about it — let’s start drawing and doing!  Thank’s Nick Sousanis for your time and for inspiring us.

Want to be inspired? You can be inspired too by watching here and adding your “Spaces of My Day” #dayincomics to this Padlet that Kevin Hodgson started.

The Make with Me with Nick Sousanis is part of the CLmooc , Connected Learning Massive Open Online Collaboration, whose principles brought this group together:  we are networked peers supporting each other in our interests and shared purpose, which powered Anna Smith to invite Nick to share his ideas [academic / production-centered ] so we could create and make and transform.

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Connected Learning

Now, go see the world in new ways. Come back and share what you see.

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Photo Credits:

Puzzle Doodles 1 and 2: by Sheri

Screenshot of Buddha from Nick’s presentation in Google Hangout On Air

My Day Sketch: by Sheri

Connected Learning Principles: Connected Learning

John Dewey: by Sheri

#clmooc Puzzling

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.

1–

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.

2

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?

3

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.

Screenshot 2015-07-19 at 6.32.16 PM

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:

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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:

YouthVoices would give a focus for both students and teachers — their interests and our curricular requirements.
There’s also Teen [ http://tweentribune.com/teen ] and Tween Tribune [ http://tweentribune.com/ ].
My fifth grade students loved the March Slice of Life challenge, and that is also a weekly Tuesday challenge [ https://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/challenges/ ]; some connected teachers set up their own challenge among their blogs [ http://mserin202.blogspot.com/2014/08/slice-of-life-writing.html and http://kidblog.org/class/EaglesWrite15/posts/p464617:601 ].
There’s also KQED’s Do NOW, which I have not participated in, but is so engaging and thoughtful [ http://blogs.kqed.org/education/category/do-now/ ]
As I write this, I’m thinking of a menu of choices for writing, with student interest in mind, and an authentic purpose of sharing. 

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.

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Photo Credits

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

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?

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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 Blog Conversations

Bangkok Street Portraits 8 - Mindful

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Collin Key via Compfight

 

What is a conversation?

A conversation, the give and take of ideas among people. We converse in the hallway, at dinner, or any time we meet. We listen to the stories of our friends, and we share our own. We ask questions, and answer those of others. We laugh. We cry. We agree. We disagree. We consider what our friends say. We may even change our own ideas. But the important thing is, we share, consider, and continue the dialogue. That’s a conversation. Isn’t it?

What is a blog conversation?

As you have been practicing, good bloggers spend time reading and commenting on others’ blogs. We look for posts of interest to us and leave a comment expressing our ideas and appreciation for the topic information. Commenting is a form of conversation with the author of the blog.

As bloggers, we can do more to extend the conversation. We can add value to others’ ideas by extending the conversation into our own blogs.

When we read others’ blog posts. We enjoy, learn, or disagree with them. In our minds, we have a response. That’s what we want to capture, that spark of connection when we read the posts.

Read to find that spark, that connection — the place in the blog post you think, “Ah.” or “What?” or “Yeah.”

At that point, that’s your cue to add to the conversation. It’s your gift back from the value given in the post. Copy that part of the idea.

Then, with the best digital citizenship in mind, we write a post about that idea, and your gift back: do you agree? disagree? learn something? have a different or new idea?

Go for it: Share their idea and your response — being overly positive as we always do so the author feels accepted and not disrespected.

Link back to the original blog.

Then comment on the blog with a link to your response post.

You’ve just started a blog conversation!

 So, How do I start a blog conversation?

  1. Find a post with a spark — an idea that you connect with other ideas
  2. Copy that part of the post
  3. Start your post with that quote and the author’s name.
  4. Link the author’s name to their blog (put the URL of that POST as a link from the name)
  5. Thank the author for their idea
  6. Add your ideas: a new idea, a different idea, an agreement and why, a respectful disagreement [I wonder if…], a question and your answer
  7. Publish your post
  8. Go back to the original post and comment with a link to your post
  9. Smile: You’re a blogger!

 Blogging is a Conversation

If you blog, you’re a writer, an author, but take it further, be a the blogger that adds value to your connections. Be a connected learner.

This blog post is an extension of a conversation learned in a WizIQ webinar I took with  Stephen Downes, which I wrote about here, to share my learning and my response to that webinar learning. I learned that the connections are what is important:

  • 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)

That post of mine and this post for you are part of the flow, the extension of the conversation from the gift of learning from  Stephen Downes. I decided to make changes in my blogging practice and to share that with you:

  1. Read and comment on blogs; blog a response (this is one of my responses).
  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.

I appreciate and thank Stephen for extending my ideas about blogging. And thanks to The Edublogs Team for their blogging challenges for Connected Educator Month.

Do you see how I have:

  • Included a link to  Stephen Downes?
  • Include the learning [bullets above] from  Stephen Downes?
  • Linked his name back to his blog and also to the WizIQ webinar information?
  • Added my ideas [directions to you; two changes I will make]?
  • Thanked the author [Stephen]?
  • Lastly, I wrote back on the webinar site [not available publicly] to share my blogpost, which is my “comment back.”
  • And, for writing class, did I:
    • Write clearly
    • Write with evidence
    • Write positively
    • Write in paragraphs
    • Write with correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, capitalization?

Ready? Have a go —

Find an inspiring post and write your own extension to the conversation, adding value to the ideas of the original author!  And ask yourself:

  • Are  you connected?
  • Are you adding value?
  • Are you responding to the gifts from others?
  • Are you extending the conversation?
  • And , for writing class, are you:
    • writing clearly with evidence?
    • writing positively [respectfully]
    • writing in paragraphs with correct conventions [grammar, spelling, punctuation, capitalization]?

Have a go,

…and come back here to comment on the results…

Cross-posted from Eagles Write

The thing about learning is we forget; #etmooc

The thing about learning is we forget… Jamshed Bharucha

Thank you, Gabriel Bunster, so much for leading me to this TED TALK by Jamshed Bharucha. I have been pondering this dilemma for years as I am required to post and teach specific objectives the students will learn. Yet, as I understand this TED Talk, contrary to current pedagogy, when working in context, the whole process is part of the learning and builds context so that the learning is remembered.

Learning by skills provides no context and while the initial “learning” test indicates a high level of learning, the retention of those skills is not as successful as when learning within a context– a project — a “doing” of the process.

When reading with dialogue about the story as in a Socratic Seminar, the reader builds context and responds with inference and generalizations based on the text. The learning is practicing the complex skills of a good reader. The learning IS learning the more complex skills and the basic skills by “doing” the reading and dialogue. This has more impact on retention and learning than saying, “Today we are practicing our ‘inference’ skills.”

In my own experience, this is what works with kids: the project requires students to practice and apply, and therefore, learn the skills. It is the process of learning by doing holistically that allows students to improve and grow with even complex skills. Currently we are breaking “reading” and “writing” into step by step skills instead of allowing students the dignity of doing real reading and writing, and building from their practice through our discussions, conferences, collaboration, and sharing. Thank you for sharing this marvelous video.

 

Jamshed Bharucha”The dirty little secret about learning…: Jamshed Bharucha at TEDxCooperUnion

How does this relate to Genius Hour ( #geniushour ) and project/problem/passion based learning (PBL)? I think it makes the case for more time on authentic learning and less time of intervention skills.  What say you?