Building Neighborhoods #etmooc #midleved : an invitation

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We’re building a new neighborhood. Want to visit for a while?

As I learn more about PLNs through #etmooc, especially from @bhwilkoff, I realize I have a responsibility to help find and support the sub-committees that have a common focus.  Ben Wilkoff calls these sub-committees “neighborhoods.” These neighborhoods support each other in efforts to transform education, to make changes for our students’ futures.

The people listed in the image at left are connections I’ve recently made through ETMOOC  blogging, Google Plus, and Twitter. The educators are passionate middle level educators — teaching students in grades 5-8 (10-14 years of age). From their tweets and blogs I am learning more about educational technology and student engagement.

As a middle level educator, I find we have needs that differ than other levels. So, I’d like to invite middle level educators to connect in order to support our efforts to develop curriculum, pedagogy, and strategies to infuse technology and student engagement through other strategies, such as project/problem/passion-based education or the #geniushour. I appreciate the inspiration received from my friend, Denise Krebs, a fellow middle level educator in our neighborhood.

What if we connect and reflect together via Google+, Twitter, and blogs? We can add common documents and resources to the Connect In The Middle wiki and share resources in this group Diigo. We can connect our blogs, and reflect/comment on our questions and solutions together. Perhaps we can design student projects that connect these middle school students in a safe environment as they apply their digital citizenship to complete these projects.

The possibilities are endless, and involvement would be only as needed for each of us. Some might visit for a while; others might connect more fully, and some visit occasionally.  After all, we would be building a neighborhood that we visit for different purposes.

The first questions I’m considering, based on the first week of ETMOOC are:

    • How important is connected learning? Why?
    • Is it possible for our classrooms to support this kind of learning? If so, how?
    • What skills and literacies are necessary for connected learning?
    • How do we develop these?

Please read my responses here: Connected In The Middle Post. Do you have ideas about these questions? What are your questions? How can we help each other?

Please consider joining the conversation / connections for middle level educators to act on the conversations in ETMOOC and beyond.

To build your middle level neighborhood, please follow these educators who have inspired me this week.

Laura Gilchrist ‏ @LauraGilchrist4

Bernice Homel ‏ @BHomel1

Gallit Zvi ‏ @gallit_z

Rhoni McFarlane ‏ @rhonimcfarlane

Scott Hazeu ‏ @scotthazeu

Laura Coughlin ‏ @CoughlinLaura

Ben Wilkoff @bhwilkoff

Joy Kirr ‏ @JoyKirr

Lorraine Boulos ‏ @RaineCB

If you would like to join the middle level neighborhood, please comment below, and join the Connect In The Middle wiki.

Thank you, @grammasheri and welcome to the Connect in the Middle Neighborhood !

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  30 comments for “Building Neighborhoods #etmooc #midleved : an invitation

  1. Scott Hazeu
    January 28, 2013 at 8:06 am

    Thanks for the invitation, Sheri. I don’t have a mid-level course this semester, but I’d love to move into the neighbourhood. I have a new wikispaces account, but haven’t been able to join “Connect in the Middle” yet. Do I need some clearance? Perhaps my iPad is holding me back at the moment. Looking forward to learning with everyone.

    • January 28, 2013 at 7:15 pm

      Hi Scott — you are now added. So glad you joined — and your previous experiences with midlevel will certainly provide insights for the rest of us. Welcome to the neighborhood?

  2. Debbie Fucoloro
    January 27, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    Hi Sheri! Please count me in! I am a former middle school teacher who recently taught World Cultures and Geography to 6th graders for the past six years and Human Biology and Heredity to 7th graders before that. In addition, I taught a exploratory class in digital video to 6, 7, and 8th graders for the past nine years. I LOVE middle schoolers and would love to learn and share with this group.

    • January 27, 2013 at 10:36 pm

      Debbie, so glad you are joining us. Your experience will help us all! I would love to be able to just teach digital literacy, but we are a test heavy school, and I teach reading and writing. I hope to hear about your video experiences; my students do enjoy that. And thanks for joining the wiki also. Add any resources or questions so we can begin our journey.

  3. Laura Coughlin
    January 27, 2013 at 5:12 am

    Great idea Sheri! 5 of the others on your list are people I didn’t follow on Twitter (until I read this and followed them all!) The next step for me is to put links to others’ blogs on my blog — another little map of our neighborhood!


    • January 27, 2013 at 10:23 pm

      I know Laura. I’m finding more people now with similar issues who can support each other, even if it is only reading tweets and blogs. Thanks for being a part of this.

  4. Gallit Zvi
    January 26, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    Love this idea, Sheri 🙂
    I am going to check out the wiki right now…thank you for taking the time to write this blog and for inviting me into your neighbourhood <– with a 'u' b/c I am Canadian 😀 hee hee.


    • January 26, 2013 at 6:52 pm

      Hi Gallit, So glad you’ve joined the neighbourhood. It wouldn’t be the same without “u” in it 🙂 I’m sure many people will be interested in genius hour and project based learning. Your experience will show how to take the steps to start. Thanks for joining!

      • Denise Krebs
        January 27, 2013 at 2:09 pm

        Great “u” joke, Sheri! How have I never heard that before? I wonder if Gallit hears it more often? I have thought on occasion that Americans are able to tweet a small percentage more than our Canadian, Australian and UK friend since we leave out the ‘u’.

        • January 27, 2013 at 10:38 pm

          🙂 I’ve thought the same; of course we all eliminate the vwls whn we nd 2.

  5. Joy Kirr
    January 26, 2013 at 8:26 am

    This is a SUPER idea! I’m not in the #ETMOOC this time around, but I sure am glad my Twitter middle-level friends are!
    I’ve joined the wiki, and if you’d like to add my website, feel free. (
    I’m ready to start sharing, and have even added a new notebook (titled “Middle Level Neighborhood”) to my Evernote notes with this being the first note I have in it. I love the idea of visiting the neighborhood when we can – it’s not too much pressure that way.
    Thank you for including me and for tweeting me out this post so I was sure to see it! My time on Twitter was sporadic at best this week! I am excited to learn from others on your list who I have not heard of yet, as well.
    So… what’s next? 😉
    Happy to be in the neighborhood,

    • January 26, 2013 at 6:41 pm

      Joy, I’m so glad you are here, ready to jump in and participate as is possible. Really, that’s all we can ask — but isn’t it amazing that we can build a neighborhood that offers support and suggestions, projects and promise as we move our classrooms forward and share what works and what doesn’t with each other? I’ve added your blog to the wiki and to my blog roll. Look forward to continued learning and growing with you.

    • bhwilkoff
      January 27, 2013 at 7:14 am

      I love the idea of a collaborative Evernote Notebook to add things to. I could probably pull about a dozen things in directly. Do you to put up a form on the wiki to request invites for collaborative access? Not trying to push too hard here, but I thought it was a great idea!

      • January 27, 2013 at 10:34 pm

        Ben, Do you mean access to the wiki? Isn’t there a link to request access to join? Or do you mean for an Evernote notebook? I put a link to a shared notebook “ConMid” on the resources page. Let me know if it works. Thanks for adding to it. Another great idea!

        • bhwilkoff
          January 28, 2013 at 8:29 am

          I was speaking about the evernote notebook. I can click on the link you provided, but for some reason, the page is blank. I checked with one of my shared notebooks, and it seemed to be working fine. Not sure what is going on there. What I was referring to, however, was the fact that people can join a notebook in “view mode”, but unless you specifically invite them, they won’t be allowed to add anything. So, I was thinking if you embedded a Google Form to allow people to write in their email addresses, you could share the notebook directly with them and they can add to it as they find more great things. You could also pretty easily do it with a Google Drive/Docs folder. Just a few thoughts. Let me know if you would like to think it through with me any more, though.

          • January 28, 2013 at 7:16 pm

            Ben, I tested the Evernote link, and it worked for me with the choice of to join or to view. Would you mind trying again? Thanks, Sheri

            • Ben Wilkoff
              January 29, 2013 at 10:50 am

              Okay, I was able to join this time, but I still can’t add to the notebook. Can you change my permissions or do you have to add me via email?

              • January 29, 2013 at 11:37 pm

                I also got the “blank page,” but after a minute it showed up. I don’t know what that means. Sometimes it’s the browser cache. I did invite you via email to the Evernote notebook. I hope that works.

  6. Ben Wilkoff
    January 26, 2013 at 7:08 am

    I’m so glad you are starting off this middle level neighborhood. Although I no longer work only with middle level learners, I still have a soft spot for them in creating learning experiences. I joined the wiki and I look forward to seeing what it is that you will build together. Please let me know if there is anything that I can help with as you establish this space. It has been a while since I used wikispaces, but here are the few that I used with my middle schoolers:

    • January 26, 2013 at 6:21 pm

      Ben, Thanks so much for the resources; I’m sure they will spark some conversation and projects as our neighborhood chooses a focus, or neighbors join on their own journeys to share within the neighborhood. This is my first real attempt at wikispaces, as I have always used PBWorks in the past. We have quite a few educators interested in the possibilities now. Here we go…

      • bhwilkoff
        January 27, 2013 at 7:17 am

        So glad to be of help. Can’t wait to see what you decide to pursue. In my experience with wikispaces, I had to think of them as long term spaces and not to get discouraged if/when the excitement fades. Small edits are what makes a wiki great, not the big changes that happen toward the beginning. I hope that makes sense.

        • January 27, 2013 at 10:22 pm

          Ben, Thanks, that is an important point. It is a resource that we build together. Thanks; it does make sense.

  7. Mrs. McGriff
    January 26, 2013 at 5:47 am

    Definitely count me in! I’ve been teaching 8th grade for 14 years now and am always looking for ways to get better. I have a blog at My students also each have a blog. Their blogs are linked to mine.

    • January 26, 2013 at 4:29 pm

      Kay, Thank you for joining us. With your experiences, others may find solutions to their issues and together find projects that fit the needs of our students. I look forward to learning from you. I have added your blog to my Connect in the Middle blog roll and will follow it. Thanks, again.

  8. Denise Krebs
    January 26, 2013 at 4:09 am

    Exciting, Sheri! I love the idea. I’m off to invite more middle school educators I know to our neighborhood!

    • January 26, 2013 at 4:27 pm

      Super Denise! — hopefully we will help each other learn and grow so our kids are prepared for their futures. Each of us has differing issues in our local arenas, but with support can find strategies that move us forward with connective and inquiry based learning. Let’s start building…

  9. Mary
    January 26, 2013 at 1:20 am

    Hi Sheri.
    I am new to middle school this year teaching 5/6 in Melbourne, Australia. I would love to join your network and share the wealth of experience and collective knowledge. My own blog is
    And I have a class one also
    As our school year doesn’t start til next week, there is not much happening on that yet but there will be!

    • January 26, 2013 at 1:27 am

      Hi Mary, I already added your blog to my “Connect in the Middle” blog roll! Thanks so much for joining the conversation; it will be a wonderful journey! What area do you teach? I teach Language Arts. We have a class blog we haven’t used this year: Eagles Write and a kidblog We need to be more productive there, and I hope this community, neighborhood, we’re building will help with that. Welcome, and I’m excited to learn with you and your class.

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