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.


#DigiLit Sunday Assessing Blogs

How do you assess blogs?

What is your purpose?

That is the question.


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 14, 2014.

This week’s DigiLit Sunday is a follow-up to Margaret’s question last week: How do I turn this activity into data? 

How do you assess blogs?

What is your purpose?

That is the question, and that determines the data.

For some, the purpose may be writing fluency. Then assessment would be to provide feedback on the increased number and length of posts.  [ CCSS: 10. Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences. ]

As students develop fluency, suggest organization of paragraphs — not the five-sentence paragraph, but the idea of topic and support. [CCSS: 4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. ]

Next, add in conventions — sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc.

If fluency and foundational skills are not the focus, then consider:

  • design — the theme, layout, widgets, links, focus, invitation to participate, categories, tags [CCSS: 6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.] 
  • content — topic, support details, vocabulary, questions, style [ CCSS: 1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence. 2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content. 3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences. ]
  • conventions

Perhaps the focus is writing:

  • organization
  • ideas
    •  [CCSS: 4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. ]
  • voice
  • word choice
  • sentence fluency
  • conventions
    • [CCSS: 5  Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach. ]

Perhaps the focus is collaboration:

  • research
  • connect
  • share
  • collaborate
    • [CCSS: 6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others  7  Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation. 8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism. ]
    • [CCSS Speaking and Listening 

Comprehension and Collaboration 1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively. 2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally. 3 Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas 4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. 5 Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.]

For a thorough review of blogging with students, see Silvia Tolisano’s work at Langwitches:

I especially like this rubric she created [click to enlarge]:

Silvia Tolisano’s Rubric

My hope is my “assessment” is a conversation with students and students with each other, so that the learning is a growth goal of which reflection inspires improvement. Therefore, an ongoing component of blogging would be a reflection by the student of the growth their blog demonstrates. If I must give score from a rubric, the important part is still the conversation, goal-setting, and reflection!

What are your thoughts about assessing blogs and gathering data?

DigiLit Sunday #clmooc Writing



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 I’m rethinking the writing process and tools.

Prior to digital tools, students would prewrite, draft, revise, review, revise, find feedback, and publish on paper. I’m not sure how many writers actually write this way. I know for fiction, I just start writing in Google Docs and let my characters start their journey. How would I help students experience this? How would it help develop word choice and plot?

Digital Tool

I’ve discovered a new tool I love, . Be sure to sign up at the Education version if you chose to use this. It shares to Edmodo, and can be assigned through Edmodo so students can login with their Edmodo credentials. The Global Read Aloud is even using Tackk this year.  Public, or private, designing with Tackk is super easy. I like to know these things up front before I get excited about a new tool.

How can I help students experience the on-demand and online strategies of writing and revising?

Digital Prompt and Model

I designed a Tackk: FindWay as a story prompt and model to share with students. The prompt starts with the story and ends with directions and revision questions for peer collaboration.

Prompt and Model: Finding My Way

I created this story online, starting with a quest to find relief from the heat in a favorite swimming spot with friends. Tackk allows you to find glyphs, images, and videos to augment your own text using their built-in search for each. In addition, you can upload your own images and video.  It’s easy to move sections up and down and revise as needed.

During the story writing, I composed as a I wrote [see Directions at end], to fit the images that I could find. I prefer stills; I like the that I put myself into the image, instead of having action of a video clip take over my and my readers’ imaginations. It’s my choice; each writer must choose their own. I noticed many animations in the ‘gliphy’ search, which could work well for student stories.

During the story writing, I edited/revised as I wrote — descriptions, dialogue, imagery, action, etc.

During the story writing, I found the repetitive phrase to bring the good luck/bad luck of the story together: I sighed; I smiled.

When I present this, these are discussions for our class, including asking students for feedback on my work, which I ask them to do as they finish their stories. Of course, they could opt to create a story, revising together as I did.

Tackk, as you see, illustrates beautifully, including sound. The right sidebar offers choice in design, easy to discover, and a custom URL can be created.

Finally, Tackk lets others collaborate or comment. It can be shared with many sites, like Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, and more. And it can be embedded in a webpage or blog [see below].

Digital Writing

What do you think?

I can see this for sharing nonfiction ideas as well as fiction. I found it very easy to revise as I designed and composed with many options inserting media.  Students would be able to follow a creative process and share their efforts. This is a powerful tool for composing: thinking and revising with text, images, and video alone or in collaboration.

How could you use Tackk in your classroom?


#clmooc teach writers

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Please read this important post by Kim Douillard:

I’m thinking about these powerful words Kim wrote

“I worry about who in our schools gets the most formulaic writing. Why are our English learners, our students of color, our students who live below the poverty line most likely to get writing instruction that is pre-chewed, scaffolded to the point that no thinking is required? In the name of being helpful, we are robbing students of the opportunity to make sense of their thinking through writing.

And yet, letting go of the formulaic means inviting messiness, losing control, welcoming confusion in order to find clarity and coherence. What replaces the formula? That is a question that I am asked over and over again. The answers aren’t easy, they aren’t neat, and they mean teaching writers rather than writing.”

The answer is there:
“teaching writers rather than writing” so that they can “make sense of their thinking through writing.”

We offer many choices for authentic writing and teach the writer– the wordsmith.

We can accomplish this through student planned frames rather than formulas. I’ve written about it here:

I’m also remembering the work of James Moffett: Active Voices- Writing across the Curriculum and others books.

His work reflects much of the Connected Learning Principles as students write in genres they choose for their audience and purpose. Important is oral language, peer feedback, and and choice in a workshop approach to teach each writer.

Isn’t that what we’ve learned from technology as well? We teach writers what they need ‘just in time’ for their needs and purposes.

What do you think?


#nablopomo #nablopomoed Weather

Reflection of reflection...!!!

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Denis Collette via Compfight













#nablopomo #nablopomoed

Day 13: weather description, a sample of setting…

Perfect prompt today as we continue reading Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. for the Global Read Aloud 2013. We’re at the important part of the story. The weather is loud with thunder and pouring rain. Everyone is in a foul mood and some are sick; nothing is right. And nothing was right.  And something happened.

“I shrieked, I screeched, I yelled. The rain poured. The thunder roared.”

Chapter 30, page 275.

It’s an intense chapter in which weather adds to the struggle. It’s perfect chapter to show how setting, and weather, can add suspense, especially if students are also writing novels for NaNoWriMo.

I especially the lesson when students then apply the strategy:

“Today the Eagles will play the Chargers. You remember the last time they went back in forth in nice, clear weather. Today they will play in rain and loud thunder. Eagle fans asked if they are going to cancel the game, and the coach said, “No. They’re tough; they want to play.” [ from Bad Weather chapter in Ray’s Novel ]

So if the clear weather brought a give/take score, will this rainy weather create a give….. or a take score pattern?  I can’t wait to find out.

So this day included a ray of sunshine as well as some suspense in two novels! And this is how my weather started:

To the east in the foothills, clouds shrouded the pines, which were ghostly slivers of darkness fading and appearing within the steel grey of fog. On my way north, the the low lying clouds lightened, softening into billows of white with only a hint of grey-blue below each. The red willow branches still held the sliver of yellow leaves, holding on to the last leaves of life, while the elms had either shriveled brown balls of leaves, or none, leaving only the deep brown outline of once stately trees. But to the west, the low clay hills rolling in sage and bunch grass, remained in shadow below as the tops popped in golden hues as the light of the world whisked away the fog and shimmered them in morning yellow.

Today would be a good day after all.

Writing Today #clmooc in the future

Connected Learning Notes

Writing. It’s thinking. It’s planning. It’s research. It’s design. It’s everything about being a digital learner, and more for connected learners. If you aren’t sure what that means, visit the National Writing Project’s Digital Is community,  DML’s Connected Learning site, the Connected Learning blog, the Connected Learning Mooc, follow the Twitter hashtag #clmooc.

The many members of this community “made” many projects and wrote about them all over a six week period.  See many of the “makes” in the posts at Connected Learning Mooc and in the Make Bank. However, the goal or the project is the application of these ideas, projects, “makes,” and the thinking/writing/design processes they embody in the classrooms and programs coming up in the next school year.

What does that look like? Here’s a group of teachers collaborating to figure it out, a Google Document shared by Stephanie West-Puckett. Or how about Scott Glass’s Mozilla Thimble make, “remix-of-create-your-own-comic-a-starter-make.” Notice the “Remix” button in the top right? If you click that, remix your own. Here’s mine (Make Comp Plan), a plan to share with students on developing ideas for writing compositions, or to plan for something specific using code, images, and captions.

Who are these people? Mostly strangers with an itch to stick together the fabric of education so it works again, for students and teachers. That is what connected learning is: connected learners of all ages and places connecting their ideas, projects, resources, and reflections to learn, share, and collaborate together to improve education. And we are thinking, planning, revising, designing, reflecting, sharing, collaborating, remixing, and on and on.

Why not join us at the Connected Learning Mooc? We’ll share all the plans we’re making for applying our ideas to the classroom and to our communities.

Cross posted at: Wordsmith Agora

#clmooc Writing is Making

CC3.0 by teach.eagle on Flickr


Did you attend the  Writing as Making / Making as Writing event? 

List of Hangout Participants

See the Google Doc Group Notes for resources, and watch the rerun (!) to understand the issues around writing as making.


On my wall at school is this quote: “Writing is hard fun. ~ Donald Murray” This sets the tone for learning about writing — for the work of pulling out the personal imaginings and transforming them into thoughts on paper, on media, in digital to discover the joy, the fun, of creating something that others also appreciate. Because writing is hard fun.

After the event, I created this hack of @dogtrax thimble: Writing as making: thinking as form.  Go ahead. Just type ‘edit’ after the URL and you can hack this one!

Writing is making; it’s making a tangible form out of the imaginings of our thoughts; it’s communicating to others or ourselves. It is an act of creation.

If you have a hard time grasping this idea, read about my experience with NaNoWriMo here, try NaNoWriMo yourself — try Camp NaNoWriMo now this July (set any word count, and you could choose to use your #clmooc reflections as your writing!)  This post meets my writing goal for today!

Do join #clmooc and have fun “making” along with writing about it.

What do you think? Is writing making? Do writers have something to learn from makers, and do makers have something to learn from writers?

As a writer: Yes.  We’ll find more in common than not. Writing and making are hard.  Writing and making require thoughtful reflection and revision. Writing and making are fun.

What else might you learn from the event?  Check below:


“We need to focus on creating, not just consuming. That cuts across the making community and the writing community.” – Elyse

 “When we write we create something” Elyse

“No one has tell you you’re a writer or bless you as a writer. You can just start writing, you can develop an identity.” – Elyse

“Writing is mostly connected to testing & academic performance…writing should belong to the writer & the reader, which is a different relationship than the teacher & the student.” – Elyse

dogtrax: Art happens naturally …. if the path is there, and love and passion is there, and encouragement is part of the environment.

Bud Hunt: writing is hidden in the process side of making

jackiegerstein: Love the idea of “metacognitivising” the writing process; Scott Bekrun did a How to write 1000 words (time lapsed video)

JonBarilone: That’s a great one-liner from Elyse: “Let’s help youth find an interest and follow it through to a more ambitious outcome.”


These are some of the links from the chat:

Writing as Making/Making as Writing | Connected Learning

I’m Not Waiting | Bud the Teacher

Live version: How to write 1000 words (time lapsed video)

New Design High School

To Be Heard | A Documentary

resistance in the materials « Bethany Nowviskie

discoverychange / Writers’ Workshop

A Librarian’s Guide to Makerspaces: 16 Resources –

It’s Not About the Circuits. It’s About the Making. | Bud the Teacher

Interviews, Writers, Quotes, Fiction, Poetry – Paris Review

Maker and Hacker Activities for Young People

Skills – DIY

Minecraft Controller

The Center for Make/Hack/Play


Home – Mozilla Webmaker

Guest Lesson | Gearing Up for a Summer of Making, Connecting and Learning by Doing –

Power Poetry | The largest mobile/online teen poetry community

Making Learning Connected — A Massively Open Online Collaboration about Connected Learning

Digital Is | NWP Digital Is

Making Learning Connected (#clmooc) – Google+

Connected Learning – Google+

Connected Learning – Google+

Group Notes – NWP: Making As Writing – 7/2/13 – Google Drive


Get skills. Be awesome. – DIY

Today’s Featured Discussions | Youth Voices