Curriculum Mapping BOOT CAMPS - Heidi and Marie in NYC. Click here for more info.

4 Big Ideas Around the Connected Educator

Cross posted to the Langwitches Blog by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano

 

We are in the middle of the Connected Educator Month.

I am looking at 4 big ideas around the connected educator through the lens of connected professional learning.

Globally Connected Educator- Beyond Plugging In.001 I think about the isolation of a teacher within their classroom walls and how connectedness to a global network of experts and peers could expose and add multiple perspectives to their world view and professional practice. I am amazed every time by the transformative nature of teaching and learning, when harnessing the power of a network to crowdsource authentic data, resources, connections and collaborators. Last, but not least, the idea of being able to model for our students what connected learning in an interconnected world means is a moral imperative for educators who are charged to prepare our kids for their future.

Globally Connected Educator- Beyond Plugging In.002Local Isolation as an Educator

Interesting, that when thinking about being connected, my first thoughts turn to the opposite, of being isolated as a teacher. How to break out of the loneliness one can feel as a learner, reflective practitioner and someone looking for feedback when spending most of one’s work day inside a classroom with the doors closed. Traditionally, teaching has been and is one of the most isolating professions.

  • Isolated in a physical classroom.
  • Isolated as the only Spanish teacher in the entire school building.
  • Isolated as the only member on a non existing grade level team.
  • Isolated by being surrounded with children the entire day without speaking to another adult.
  • Isolated when only hearing oneself speak when lecturing to a roomful of students, class period after class period, repeating the same lecture over and over again.

6 Ways to Avoid Feeling Isolated in the Classroom by Rebecca Alber (Edutopia)

Globally Connected Educator- Beyond Plugging In.003Being Exposed and Gaining Perspective

How can teachers open up the walls of their classroom and become connected to experience and gain perspectives from other educators around the world? Being connected to other educators and experts gives teachers, for the first time the exposure of multiple perspectives and constant opportunities to access different points of view.

  • Opportunities from someone who does not live in one’s zip code
  • Opportunities to connect with someone of a different country, culture and language
  • Opportunities to learn from people regardless of stereotypes of age or sex
  • Opportunities to learn from newbies and experts.
  • Opportunities to see through the eyes of eye witnesses

Globally Connected Educator- Beyond Plugging In.004Take Advantage and Harness the Power of the Network

Once connections are established, trust has been given and received, the network machine has started to function. It is the moment when sending a “shout-out” into your network is not just met with silence. A shout-out is met with a response, an answer, a re-tweet, a comment, feedback, a push back, added value, etc. This goes far beyond traditional face to face network connections though. Traditionally one expected the response from a few people.

Crowdsourcing though”is the process of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community”. The response could easily be co-created by fifty, hundreds or even thousands of people contributing. Part of network literacy is the understanding of and harnessing this type of network intelligence. As David Weinberger in his book “Too Big to Know” stated “The smartest person in the room is the room”. It is the exponential potential that makes being a connected educator transformational.

  • Crowdsourcing for authentic data collection
  • Crowdsourcing for multiple points of view and perspectives
  • Crowdsourcing to collect resources
  • Crowdsourcing to gather different approaches to solve problems
  • Crowdsourcing to increase efficiency
  • Crowdsourcing to assemble individual pieces to make a whole with small contributions of each individual
  • Crowdsourcing to participate in and collaborate on projects

Globally Connected Educator- Beyond Plugging In.005The Moral Imperative to Model Network Literacy and Learning for our Students in an Interconnected World.

One of the modern literacies is Network Literacy. In the Harvard Business Review, Eric Hellweg, outlines 4 key attributes to this network literacy. The capabilities to

  1. Obtain a basic understanding of network technology.
  2. Craft your network identity.
  3. Understand network intelligence.
  4. Understand network capabilities

I strongly believe that if we want globally connected students, we need to have globally connected teachers.

  • Students need teachers who model connected learning and not just talk about it.
  • Students need teachers who have experienced connected learning in order to translate and tweak that experience into their classrooms.
  • Students need connected teachers, who can connect them with an authentic global audience, peers and experts.
  • Students need teachers to model building an academic learning network.
  • Students need teachers who are adept in applying global pedagogy (approaches, strategies and techniques to facilitate learning) to their curriculum.

When you think of connected educators, what are your big ideas that surface? Connect your thoughts, come out of your isolation, share your perspective, add to a crowdsourced collection of global pedagogy examples and how you model connected learning for your students.


A Critical Look At The “Close Reading” Standard

“Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.” — English Language Arts Standards » Anchor Standards » College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading » 1
mfisher-164by Michael Fisher
Close reading is not a thing.
It is not a skill. It is not a big idea. It is not new.
It is an iteration of New Criticism in a new Common Core chrysalis. The caterpillar—traditional literary lenses, among them Formalist criticisms, Reader-Response criticisms, and, perhaps, Structuralism—went through a transformation and have emerged as a new butterfly of comprehension and evidence.

Let’s read the close reading standard more closely

If we look at just the words read closely in a contextual way, what do you think the relationship is to the remaining words in this anchor standard? When these two words are separated from the remaining 29 words, a misinterpretation of the standard emerges as a potential separate skill, though other necessary skills here are more distinctly apparent and important (if one closely reads the standard):
  • determine what the text says explicitly,
  • make logical inferences,
  • cite textual evidence,
  • support conclusions.
boy-magnifier-book-trimReading closely then is the magnifierto ensure the suite of four related skills in this standard are achieved. In other words, close reading serves as a magnifying glass strategy.
If we want to dive into a specific portion of text (or comparison of texts) with a purpose, everything that is viewed through the magnifying glass deepens students’ development of the entire anchor standard’s learning expectation.
Using the magnifying glass is not a skill to be learned, it is simply a tool to amplify this standards’ priorities.

Reading closely is never mentioned elsewhere

Consider this: the anchor standard is the ONLY place that the phrase “read closely” is mentioned; it is not used again in any grade-specific reading standards.
When we focus on only a portion of a standard or decide to agree with what vendors tell us, then we lose the intention of the standard. The intention of this standard, and all of the other reading standards, is for students to comprehend what they read. Reading closely is great, but that is not the objective. Reading comprehension is the objective.
In order to get to comprehension, the focus should not necessarily be on all the ways students could closely read a text, but on the evidence students provide for thinking what they think. Perhapsmetacognition could be the real focus. The important words in the standard are not necessarily “read closely…” but rather “…what the text says explicitly.”

The expectations change in sixth grade

ExploringCloseReadingStandard-cvrThe grade level standards are pretty clear about what students need to know and be able to do. At the lower grade levels, they must be able to ask and answer questions about specific details in the text. Then in sixth grade, the verb changes.
In sixth grade, the students have to “cite evidence” that supports their thinking, which becomes sophisticated over time depending on the best evidence to support their thinking and evidence across multiple texts.
These growing expectations can be met through close reading (as a label for textual analysis) and also through new questioning habits that focus on the details. This can be done whether we are developing “close reading” lesson plans or not.

Let’s put “close reading” in its place

Close Reading is a lens through which we view the multiple ways in which we analyze text. Close reading is about the way we use evidence in text and the way we engage with the text when we ask and answer questions about it. Close reading is primarily about developing better comprehension habits.
What do good readers do when they read? They examine. They connect. They decode. They acquire. They discover. They think. They annotate. They visualize. They comprehend. They uncover.
These are the verbs. These are the skills. These are what really matters.
For more about Mike Fisher’s stance on Close Reading, his new eBook, Exploring the Close Reading Standard: Ideas and Observations, is now available on Amazon Kindle ($4.99).
sf114045bMichael Fisher is a former middle school teacher and digital learning consultant who writes frequently for MiddleWeb. He is acontributor to the new Solution Tree series,Contemporary Perspectives on Literacy, which tackles global, media, and digital literacy. In addition to 2012’s Upgrade Your Curriculum, written with Janet Hale, Mike is the author of the 2013 ASCD/Arias book Digital Learning Strategies: How Do I Assign And Assess 21st Century Work?  Find Mike on Twitter @fisher1000 and visit his website The Digigogy Collaborative.