NOW AVAILABLE: Curriculum Mapping Package - 20 Webinars Recorded !!

Student Voices: Using Social Media to Share Your Passion and Affect Change in the World

The GIN (Global Issues Network) conference brought together an amazing group of young people, all united in their desire to change the world for the better and collaboratively find solutions to the world’s problems.

The Global Issues Network (GIN) empowers young people to collaborate locally, regionally and globally to create solutions for global issues. Each year, thousands of students worldwide engage in GIN-related activities.

langwitches-GINI had the opportunity to work directly with students during two breakout sessions about the use of Social Media (Thank you Lisa Goochee for your support and participation) Students had been researching, planning and working together on a solution under a chosen topic listed in the twenty global problems identified by Jean-François Rischard in his book High Noon: Twenty Global Problems, Twenty Years to Solve Them (2002).

They had created video trailers showcasing their projects and prepared presentations to share with their fellow GIN conference attendees from International schools all over Central and South America.

How could these students:

  • reach an audience beyond the conference attendees?
  • strategically build a network to connect with other students interested in global issues?
  • disseminate their challenges, solutions and ideas to receive feedback and gain support?
  • make contact with NGOs, experts in their field of interest or potential funding partners?
  • continue working with other teams and schools to continue to grow their projects beyond the physical dates of a face to face conference?

The answer: Building a social media network. While there are many different social media platforms that anyone can use to build a network in order to affect social change, the basic idea behind the potential of connecting, collaborating, communicating, crowdsourcing or crowdfunding is similar to all platforms.

  1. Create a “storefront”, a profile or bio to let others know who you are and what you stand for
  2. Build a network by strategically choosing people/organizations/companies to follow
  3. Encourage the “right” people to follow you back
  4. Contribute quality content
  5. Participate in conversations (give feedback, ask questions, add perspectives, add value)
  6. Build a brand (document your work, share , interact, inspire, present, showcase, etc.)
  7. Grow, weed and maintain your network

I challenged the group of teens in my session to take another look at a Twitter . Most had an account, but we encouraged the ones who did not to create one.

  • How could they use the account to connect and promote their project?
  • How could social media help them build a positive digital footprint and become part of their portfolio?
  • How could they build a network of peers and experts?

The rest of the session was hands-on.

  • create a Twitter account (if you didn’t have one)
  • choose a username
  • create a profile description
  • Tweet1:INFORM: share something with follow GIN attendees (use the hashtag)
  • Tweet2: CONNECT: mention a keynote speaker (give feedback, ask a question, connect….)
  • Tweet3:REFLECT: share your aha moment
  • harvest usernames of other GIN attendees to add to your network

Twitter-challengeHere are a few examples of students sharing a tweet with their network.

Who else is teaching social media skills, techniques and strategies for students to start building their own learning/professional network? How are we supporting students to harness the power of social media? How do we encourage students to add their voices about the issues they are passionate about to the conversation? Can you share your strategies as a teacher with the rest of us?

Professional Development: Got a Twitter Minute?

by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano
cross posted to the Langwitches Blog

Funny how a Learning Network trail can lead one to unexpected destinations :) Follow along the bread crumbs to see where the trail came from and what it led to…

1. I shared a presentation on Sketchnoting For Learning
2. Sharon Bowman, left a comment on slideshare and tweeted the link

Sharon_Bowman___sbowperson____Twitter3. I followed the link to Sharon’s website, and purchased one of her books titled: The Ten Minute Trainer: 150 Ways to Teach it Quick & Make it Stick.

As a professional development provider, I enjoyed her suggestions of 1-minute activities with the objectives of:

  • understanding
  • reflecting
  • reviewing
  • focusing
  • articulating one’s own thinking
  • making thinking visible
  • creating connections
  • sharing

Sharon used analog material, such as paper, pencil, index cards, sticky notes and face to face dialogue and conversation in her workshops. There is NOTHING wrong with that and EVERYTHING right with her approach to take lecture type presentations and divide them into small easier digestible chunks, then give the attendees time to review, reflect, discuss and share what they learned.

“shorter segments of instruction are better than long ones, and learners remember more when they are involved in the learning”

4. My thoughts turned to ideas how we could amplify these short activities beyond the attendees of the workshop and at the same time include an activity that:

  • exposes participants to network literacy
  • helps them contribute to and build a Personal Learning Network
  • collaborates and connects with a larger number of other workshop attendees, as well as a potential global audience
  • documents their learning beyond the physical time of the workshop
  • supports reviewing, reflecting, discussing and sharing their learning

5. Many of Sharon’s activities seemed to be a natural fit for amplifying them into Twitter activities, embedding the SAME learning objectives she has for her analog activities.

6. I sketched the following notes

got-a-twitter-minute-based-on-10-min-trainer7. I look forward to sharing the following 1-minute activities at my next workshop as an option for attendees in addition to some of the analog ones.

Connections

  • Share something you already know about the workshop topic
  • use the #workshop hashtag
  • follow someone who is also using the #workshop hashtag

Pair Share

  • share the most important fact or concept you just learning in the last 10 minutes
  • tweet it out and specifically @mention someone else

Shout Out

  • shout out a number between 1-10
  • tweet (that amount) of ways that can impact your practice
  • use #workshop hashtag

Doodles

  • Make up a metaphor of the most important concept you learned
  • sketch the metaphor
  • take a photo and tweet it using #workshop hashtag

Signal

  • make a noise signal, if you have a “tweetable moment”
  • articulate and share your tweetable moment
  • tweet it out
  • use the #workshop hashtag

Time Sponges

  • tweet out two things you want to learn at the workshop
  • reply to someone else’s tweet by answering their question

Think & Write

  • tweet one sentence that summarized the information you heard about
  • use #workshop hashtag

Exit Ticket

  • Tweet 1 opinion about an issue related to what you learned
  • tweet a question you sill have. “How about…”
  • use @workshop hashtag

Action Plan

  • tweet out a sentence starting with “I plan to…” with what you learned
  • share how you will hold yourself accountable

Blogging for Learning

by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano
cross posted to Langwitches Blog

I am mulling Blogging FOR Learning over and over. It seems to be the glue that holds the puzzle pieces together in terms of contemporary learning and teaching.

blogging-for-learning

From 1. Documenting (video, audio, text, images, embedded content,manage online work, curated content) to

2. Reflecting (meta-cognitive, connected, goal oriented, as an assessment) to

3. Sharing (published, transparent, making learning/ thinking visible, to teach others and contribute to a network) on to

4. Connecting (for authentic feedback, collaboration purposes, finding mentors and to gain perspective)

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.

Global Project: Visualize Poetry Around the World

by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano

Cross posted to Langwitches Blog

visualize poetry around the world

Description of Project:

Based on Taylor Mali’s visit to The American School of Sao Paulo, Meryl Zeidenberg and I were inspired to amplify students’ poetry writing by adding a visual and audio layer as well as connect them globally to other students’ poems.

We are launching the Visualize Poetry Around The World project and are looking forward to connecting teachers and students, bringing global awareness and encouraging them to look beyond their own backyard and their own perspective.

global-awarenessObjective:

  • Encourage students’ global awareness and their ability to share their traditions and experiences based on their cultural heritage or geographic locations
  • Support Third Culture Kids and expats to express their unique experiences through poetry and make the advantages and challenges of International living accessible to geographically rooted children and vice-versa

TCKs.jpg

rooted.jpg

Process:

  1. Become a member of the project by joining the wiki. Questions? Contact me
  2. Become familiar with or already have familiarity with Taylor Mali’s lessons/poems/workshops.
  3. Become familiar with project objectives, expectations, timeline & mini-lessons
  4. Complete task

[ There is no specific beginning or ending date for this project. Each teacher contributes his/her students video poems on their own time to the wiki platform. All we ask is that part of the commitment is to share, connect and give quality feedback to other students’ contributions ]

Task Breakdown:

  1. create poem
  2. find/create images & record voice
  3. publish on project wiki
  4. connect and give feedback

Expectations:

  • expect quality student work using poetic devices
  • students create poem based on one or more of the provided prompts
  • students visualize poem with quality images and overlaying poem text with author’s voice
  • strict observance of copyright conventions and citations.
  • contribution of final student work to collaborative platform
  • participate in feedback of student work.

Time Commitment:

  • up to 80 minutes- write poem
  • 80 minute class: Students present their poems to class (teacher and peer feedback). Students re-edit after feedback.
  • up to 2 -80 minutes class periods digital production

Third Culture Kid Poem Example

TCKs.jpg

I am from…

I am from Germany, Argentina, USA and Brazil

I am from Germany. From the warm Bretzel with melted butter and the sound my shoes make when going for a walk in the dense forest.

I am from Argentina. From the crowds on Florida and Lavalle and the smell of a Bife de Chorizo at a friend’s asado. I am from the smell of Jasmine as I step off the colectivo on a warm Spring day in early December.

I am from the United States. From the smell of salty and buttery popcorn at the movie theaters. The wide streets and gigantic parking lots that fill up to capacity after Thanksgiving.

I am from Brazil. From the language that is almost understandable, but different as if listening under water or with glasses of the wrong prescription strength. I am from feeling almost close, but through the fog so far away.

I am also from lighting Hanukkah candles as I am smelling Christmas in the air and buying Charlie Brown Christmas trees on the 24th day of December.

I speak German, Spanish and English. Ich bin from Argentina y el vos. I am from speaking in all the 3 languages in one sentence without having to be held hostage by staying in one alone.

I am from leaving on a gray, cold and rainy day in October in autumn. Racing along the runway, up up into the sky towards spring air and towards a country far away and forever closer to me.

I am from arriving after a 24 hour journey to a tiny village, at the foot of the Katzenbuckel- The Cat’s Arched Back” where my grandmother anxiously awaits at the door, welcoming the return of the world travelers.

I am from changes, the differences, the friends made along the way. I am from the opportunities to see wonders of the world, tasting, smelling different ways of life. I am from the different faces of the world and history.

I am neither from here nor there or even there. I am destined to be torn forever between Fernweh and Heimweh, from always being far from.

Geographically Rooted Poem Sample

rooted.jpg

I am from the United States – New Haven, CT- where the imposing, old, stone, university architecture validated my fairy tale-laden child mind.

I am from the warm, loving scent of Aunt Martha’s cookies baking in the flat below.

I am from the one mile, all weather walk, to and from elementary school, where urban flora stubbornly persisted through sidewalk cracks.

I am from the grassy field of the local schoolyards where the kids from my street gathered and grew up, after school, until the street lights flicked on.

I am from the marvel and curiosity of tales from the old country spun out in a mixture of Yiddish and English around my grandmother’s kitchen table with the men drinking schnapps, the women tea.

I am from learning French because it is a “romance” language.

I am from learning Portuguese because of a Brazilian romance.

I am from the security of knowing my way around and where everything is.

I am from the frustration of not knowing the the colors, smells and sounds of everywhere else except from books and movies.

Ready to participate? Head over to the project wiki to sign up.

Building an Online Professional Development Hub for your School

By Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano

Cross posted to the Langwitches Blog

Teachers and administrators struggle to find time to work together in a meaningful way. There are plenty of meetings scheduled. Many teachers leave these meetings though with the feeling of “could have spent my time doing more important things”. How do we squeeze in one more meeting to help teachers grow as professionals? How do we add one more opportunity for teachers to learn important new skills, listen to one more educational consultant, one more expert on a new initiative? How do we give teachers the time to learn with and from their own colleagues? How can teachers learn from what is going on in the classroom next door? I am a strong advocate for educators experiencing the type of learning they want to expose, inspire, support in their students’ learning. If education for the “now” and for the future demands that schools and educators prepare our citizens

  • to be avid (digital) readers or writers, they should be modeling being a (digital) reader and writer
  • to learn to collaborate and work on a (global) team, their teachers should have the skills to work on a (global) team
  • to be online learners, their teachers need to be comfortable learning online
  • to share their learning with peers, their teachers should be openly sharing their own learning with colleagues
  • to become network literate , teachers need experiences with “a basic understanding of network technology, crafting a network identity, understanding of network intelligence and network capabilities”
  • to leverage the power of a learning network to solve problems and answer beyond “googleable” questions, then their teachers should be connected to a learning network
  • to own their own learning by actively participating and contributing, then their teachers need to be doing the same and modeling life long learning

Building an online professional development hub/community for your school  will give your faculty the opportunity to experience exactly this type of learning.

  Building_a_PD_community_at_your_schoolAn online PD Hub moves teacher learning into the “Now”, away from one-size-fits all professional development, away from Tuesday’s faculty meeting at 3 pm, away from sitting through professional development workshops that are not relevant to one’s students or subject areas. Building_a_PD_hub-whyWhy would you want to invest time and resources into building an online professional development hub for your school?

  • Anytime Professional development can happen in your pajamas on a Sunday morning or (if you are a night person) at 10 pm at night. Teachers can learn in small chunks of time… 5 minutes here, 5 minutes there… without having to sit through an extended period of time at the end of a long day of work or on a scheduled workshop at 8 am on a weekend.
  • Anywhere Learning happens not only in the faculty lounge, media center, at a workshop venue or in a conference room. It can happen at home, in your car (listening to a podcast), waiting at a doctor’s office or at your children’s swim practice or dance lessons. Professional development also does not only happen locally, but teachers can connect to colleagues and learning opportunities around the world.
  • Sharing Ewan McIntosh said ” Sharing and sharing online specifically is not in addition to the work of an educator, it is THE work”. Educators are inherently people who share their knowledge. Technology enables us to share at a larger scale, beyond students who are physically in the same place at the same time. Web 2.0 tools give us the ability to create, publish and disseminate what we want to share with a world wide audience. Personal Learning Networks (PLN) are built on the fact that educators will share and contribute to the network as much as they are “taking” from it.
  • Curating The word “curation” was taken from the context of a museum curator, who selects, organizes, and presents artifacts to the public using his/her professional knowledge. The school’s PD hub becomes the place (“museum”) for curated information, especially selected, organized and presented by professional educators for each other.
  • Crowdsource Crowdsourcing is defined as obtaining information or input into a particular task or project by enlisting the services of a number of people. David Weinberger said: “The smartest person in the room is…. the room”. Harvesting the collective experience of teaching and learning in your school community is worth enlisting all members of your school. It is about taking advantage of a platform that supports and encourages contributions and collaboration through experiences, perspectives and educational data.
  • Engage in conversation Many teachers are completely isolated in their classrooms. There is seldom time to chat with colleagues, conversations are cut short by the bell ringing, the next meeting, car pool duty or students needing additional help after class. Meetings are taken up with administrative issues and endless paperwork to be completed. A hub, designed to foster and support conversation among administration and faculty, allows educators to engage in a conversation in their own time, their own space, their interests and at their own level. It also fosters an important modern skill of being able to ” engage colleagues through the use of technology. It’s vital that we educators explore the use of digital PLC’s and the learning that can come from the connections”.
  • Making learning visible A PD hub, is a platform to house a myriad of media (text, images, slide decks, videos, audio files, etc.) that showcases and makes the learning taking place at the school visible. Teachers share student learning as well as their own learning by making it visible for others to read, view or listen to.

Building_a_PD_hub-characteristics Characteristics of an Online PD Hub for Schools. A hub is:

  • shared Sharing of resources is the beginning, sharing of successes and failures in our professional practices to receive feedback is the next.
  • documented By documenting (taking the time to writing down reflecting on teaching and learning) and sharing the documentation provides evidence of a process and created artifacts.
  • searchable The documentation is not scattered, nor available to just a few members of the school community, but is collected in one place that is searchable for all for future evidence and connections.
  • archived Resources, artifacts and reflection of learning do not disappear after a project, a book study, a webinar or a workshop is over, but are being archived for later retrieval to be searched, built upon and connected to future professional development learning.
  • open for feedback Sharing openly and transparently online (even on a closed school PD hub) adds the component of being able to receive feedback for your contributions from other members of the hub. The feedback cycle becomes an important component in the school PD hub for motivation, continuously extending your thinking and work.
  • an aid in the process of writing and reflection Every teacher is a writing teacher. Every teacher strives to help their students reflect on their learning. John Dewey said: “We don’t learn from experiences, but from reflecting on the experience”. Teachers have little opportunity or take the time to continue to write and reflect on their own. A PD hub gives teachers the platform and the “excuse” to practice and hone their writing and reflection skills to then be able to take these skills and translate them into their classroom and teaching.

Building_a_PD_hub-challenges

  • Time There is never enough time in the life of an educator. Building a Professional Development Hub for your school will raise hairs on the backs (and resistance) of many just by thinking that it is one more thing to add to their plate. It is imperative to make it clear to members of your school community, that the time invested is of importance and will replace time spent on a different task. It is also important to clarify that in the beginning, a learning curve when reading, sharing, reflecting on the the hub is to be expected. The time invested now will pay off later.
  • Basic Tech Skills Building an online Professional Development hub for your school is challenging if the majority of your faculty lacks basic technology skills. With basic skills, such as password and login management, typing skills, a certain fluency in reading and writing on a digital platform, etc. The lack of these skills seem to make the transition to a digital environment for learning filled with high obstacles and too far to reach. I have been wrestling with the issue “It is NOT about technology“/ It IS about Technology for a while ( Never Was About Technology?- Time to Focus on Learning?, Take the Technology out of the Equation) and of course, it is not about the technology (it is about learning), but I am observing more and more educators , who are not comfortable with nor technology literate, are being left out of/ behind LEARNING opportunities. It is a subtle change, one that can be masked by surrounding yourself with colleagues and administrators who do not value nor take advantage of the transformational opportunities in teaching and learning through technology.
  • Embed Culture of Reflection If a school does not value reflection as part of the learning process or educators are not used to sharing their reflection, embedding reflection in your online PD hub will be a challenge. Teachers and administrators need to see the value and benefits for their own learning and growth. This does not happen overnight, nor by writing 1 reflective post. Learning about the value of a reflection over time to demonstrate growth TAKES time. According to Carol Rodgers in Defining Reflection :Another Look at John Dewey and Reflective Thinking, four criteria emerge from Dewey’s work that characterize reflection: Reflection is a meaning making process that moves a learner from one experience into the next with deeper understanding of its relationships with and its connections to other experiences and ideas. Reflection is a systematic, rigorous way of thinking, with its roots in scientific inquiry. Reflection needs to happen in community, in interaction with others Reflection requires attitudes that value the personal and intellectual growth of oneself and others.(further reading: Reflection in the learning process, not as a an add-on, Reflect…Reflecting… Reflection, The Reflective School by Peter Pappas)
  • Not comfortable with sharing While sharing has always come natural to me, this might not be the case for all your teachers at your school. Some educators are not comfortable in sharing their success or failures. Reasons behind these feelings have been “I don’t want to brag”, “There is nothing I could share that has not been shared before”, “There is noting I can think of”, or ” I am a perfectionist, I could not possibly write down what I do”, “I am worried/afraid people will judge me/my writing/my spelling/my opinions/my teaching/etc.” The fact of potentially receiving feedback, embeds a different mindset when authoring and sharing material and documentation. Many are not used to that kind of open and transparent feedback.
  • Building a Culture of Sharing How do we move from “never having thought about sharing my work, my reflections, my successes and failures, to a culture where sharing is deeply embedded how we work, learn and teach together. Not an easy task to build that culture, to make the act of sharing part of the fabric of our school? (further reading: Sharing and Amplification Ripple Effect, The Power and Amplified Reach of Sharing, Sharing in Education- Is it Changing?, There is a responsibility of sharing among Educators, It’s All About Sharing & Collaborating)
  • Self- Directed Learning Schools, universities and continued education opportunities of pre-internet days as students have groomed us to sign up, show up, listen and receive credit as proof that we were present. With the growth of the Internet, social media platforms, MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), personal learning networks (PLN) blogs, wikis, etc, the learner is in charge WHAT, WHEN, WHERE and HOW to learn. Materials are not pre-chosen, resoures are not stagnant or quickly outdated, a myriad of media is available to match one’s learning style. It is a challenge and struggle for educators and schools to transition to a new mind shift, where professional development is NOT chosen for them, but self-directed. Self-directed also requires the increasingly important skill of staying focused and the capability to select and filter an increasingly overwhelming information landscape.
  • Self-Motivated Learning Closely related to self-directed learning is being self-motivated. The opportunity to learn anytime, anywhere and anyhow brings with it the challenge of intrinsic motivation. What happens when there is no roll-call, not physical presence required and a certain anonymity of what has been read, how much time was spent in working through resources and conversation threads? How much participation of the individual contributed to the overall connected learning of the group?
  • Quality Contributions Having a professional development hub for your school and having your teachers contribute to the hub with resources, blog posts, images and videos does not necessarily equal quality contributions. It is imperative to clarify for teachers what is considered “quality” for your school community. Does a comment ” I like what you shared” constitute “quality”? Does it contribute to the value of the original post? Does complaining about students or parents enrich learning for your school community? What contributions enrich the school’s learning community and what might teachers add that distract from learning, are unprofessional in nature or contribute to a culture of bullying, passive aggressiveness and negativism?
  • Clear Expectations Taking all the above mentioned challenges in consideration, it becomes important for administrators to set clear expectations for their faculty, if an online PD hub is to be successful. Will it be mandatory to participate? How much participation is expected? What happens, if a teacher chooses to not participate? What are consequences? Will there be consequences? What basic technology skills are expected/ required of faculty to be able to participate as a full member of the online community? What is the expectation of professionalism? Who will moderate, re-enforce these expectations? How will you set and communicate expectations of quality contributions?

Building_a_PD_hub-steps

  1. Choose a Platform There are many platforms to choose from for your online PD hub for your school. There is no right or wrong decision which one you will choose. I would suggest you choosing the same platform, that you are or will be using for your students. It makes all the sense in the world to have your teachers experiences and work with the same platform your students will be working with. Questions to ask when choosing the platform (to make sure the platform has the capability to accommodate your requirements): Will it be an open to the world or a closed to only members of a specific (school) community platform? Does the platform have potential for future growth? How much technology know-how do you need to set up and maintain the platform? How much will it cost? (Examples of PD platforms: WordPress Multi-user site (self hosted), Edmodo, edublogs, Eduplanet21, Ning,Google Plus)
  2. Build Content It is essential, especially in the beginning, to start building content on your community. It is hard for beginners, with little or no experience in online learning to envision the potential of the hub when nothing has been shared, no conversation has taken place and no visible evidence of a return investment to the time you are asking them to spend on the platform. It is worth the effort to invest in starting to populate resource areas, share downloadable and demonstrate how quality contributions might look like. You might also want to strategically ask specific members (more experienced ones with online learning) of your community to contribute in order to make “how it could look like “visible for others.
  3. Set Expectations Expectations can represent a challenge (see above). The clearer the expectations are for your school’s online professional development hub, the more successful the hub might become. Without set and communicated expectations, many hubs have fizzled out and did not fulfill the learning needs of the community. Once these expectations are communicated to members, revisit them often, embed them in conversations, in faculty meetings and faculty communications. If a pedagogical success, not only the mere existence of such online hub has become a priority and is to be part of the fabric of professional development at your school, expectations cannot disappear as yet another momentary initiative allowing members to fly under a radar.
  4. Model Use Administrators, especially a principal or head of school, are lead learners of a school community. In order to model good practices, their presence, participation and involvement is crucial on your online PD hub. Administrators model quality contribution, feedback and sharing, important characteristics of a flourishing online community. The mere presence and involvement of administrators, not only models, but also communicates clearly the shift of self-directed and motivated learning in digital places. Outside the digital learning platform, every opportunity should be taken to “demonstrate the value found with your digital [learning hub]” and strategically identify learning taking place as a result of connections made through the PD hub.
  5. Support Basic Tech Skills Different levels of comfort and fluency in regards to basic technology skills will be among your faculty. Make sure you have a system in place to support various levels. Walk in tech support, available step-by-step tutorials in paper form or for download, video tutorials of basic support involved in consuming, producing and contributing via the online hub. There is also the possibility of establishing a buddy system to connect less savvy teachers with mentors/coaches to support and guide the in becoming participating and active members of the school PD hub.
  6. Make Learning Visible What could you share on your online professional development hub? Resources, links to articles, book reviews, etc.? What makes YOUR SCHOOL’S hub unique, if members start sharing the learning that is taking place in their classroom with their students and in their own learning as educators. It is natural step to start Documenting FOR Learning and to share that learning in a visible way in a variety of media platforms (text, images, audio, video, etc.)

Designing New Literacies

by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano
cross posted to the Langwitches Blog

designing-new-literacies-tolisanoIn Mike FIsher and my keynote/workshop last week at the Wildly Excited Conference at the Grand Rapids State University in Michigan, I shared the following blended sketchnote (blended= self-drawn doodles/sketches combined with a photograph). Participants were asked to take a look at the image and use the Visible Thinking Routine I see, I think, I wonder from Project Zero. They shared their thinking in a backchannel in a Today’s Meet room.

Before looking at my image annotations and reading the examples/ excerpt of the backchannel below with teachers’ responses, consider going through the exercise yourself. Take a few minutes to intensely look at the image above and follow the thinking routine: I see…, I think…, I wonder… Share your responses in the comment section below, adding your thoughts…sharing and making your thinking visible to others.

annotated-sketchnote

How could you use these techniques shown or demonstrated in your own classroom?

  • sketchnoting
  • visual prompts
  • I see, I think, I wonder routine
  • Backchanneling
  • annotated sketchnoting (or other visuals?)

Teacher Visible Thinking Routine responses

  • One of the difficulties of education our students learn differently than we do,
  • I see an interest in connecting internationally.
  • I wonder what amazing things could happen in classrooms if we all started being more techie and digital in our classrooms?
  • I think it is about the new age of learners
  • I see people handing boxes up to a person standing on them. To me this means building a learning network.
  • I think this is where the digital learning age is headed. I wonder if I’m ready for it
  • Artwork: its Silva. Her family, life. Moving, lectures, author, etc.
  • Are books of no value anymore?
  • how do I use this when I can only get computers once every two weeks
  • Fast paced graphic learning like they are used to. Keep things moving!
  • I think today’s kids brains are wired differently than most teachers over the age of 30.
  • The drawing is busy a lot going on and represents changes in technology and many options of technology
  • I see various ways of gaining/sharing knowledge. I think it represents the current work. I wonder how available for kids in poverty.
  • I think my processing speed needs to incease!
  • I see what students are bombarded with on a daily basis
  • I know this is a worldwide reality and it is exciting, but no wonder our kids are ADHD.
  • I see lots of possibilities!!!!
  • collaboration
  • We need to change our way of teaching. We need to teach more about accessing information.
  • I wonder: when do we allow our brains to have a break from all of those distractions
  • I think this is an accurate picture of our society today- lots of different ways to interact and connect with a variety of people
  • students now have the ability to visit other places and interact with others virtually, without leaving their bedroom or the classroom
  • Global learning and global appreciation is more easily obtainable.
  • Students can use various ways to present their thoughts.
  • We can connect with everyone across the world. We no longer need to be in our own classroom.
  • new literacies: apps, threads, global literacy, digital collaboration, graphics, imagery and film, multiple languages, software and programs
  • I see a variety of media.
  • I see the ink connecting with classes across the district or within our building could be a small start
  • A bunch of disconnected images
  • The power of learning in different ways.
  • Having the luxury of so many ways/strategies to help students in their learning. Looking at learning as evolving.
  • Open a book to learn new things!
  • I wonder how I can use these strategies with classroom with young ones who have special needs.
  • I see a selfie being taken.
  • There are a variety of items that are connected, but if I don’t have a way to connect them they float out in space.
  • I see connections between teacher facilitation and individual work.
  • #world wild learning!
  • when I look at the movie projector I think that many young kids don’t even know what it is!
  • Holy overwhelmed Batman…
  • The tough part is when the students start text talking. I see that a lot in our chats in the online classroom.
  • So many ways available for us to teach and learn.
  • I see flags and think I know those countries and I wonder why are those there, is that where she has been?
  • It’s like going on vacation to other places without leaving your room.
  • Global learning can take place when using technology and connects students with much more information than ever before!
  • Students have so much in their minds!
  • Constant scrolling messages distract ability to sort out my own thoughts!
  • Globalization–speaking multiple languages is important to connect–by plane and/or virtually!
  • Students are learning so much each day through so many mediums. How do we help them prioritize so it changes them?
  • Students learning in the classroom is constantly changing to the digital world.
  • Represents the many ways people are connected.
  • I don’t get the rain clouds in the middle
  • Students can communicate all around the world
  • I see what someone brings to the classroom
  • I see a lot of experiences. I think this looks like a great way to describes oneself through visuals. I wonder who drew this
  • Connecting the world through digital learning and accessing new ideas. A bit overwhelming
  • I think technology can pave a path toward global awareness.
  • Learning is global and there are infinite ways to share
  • I think the drawing is overwhelming
  • It’s the brain of most of our students
  • That image looks like the information overload that most of our kids are living with on a daily basis. ;)
  • Many options!
  • Reminds me of the book the Lexus and the olive tree
  • It helps us link or connect our learning to others
  • This is a lot to take in, but this is the way our kids learn now. Very different from what I am use to
  • Great for discussion! Visuals can say so much
  • I think: multitasking and information overload
  • I see literacy becoming more technology based and global. I wonder how it will impact students’ ability to communicate in person.
  • I see learning 2.0
  • Our small learning community is focusing on global cultural and we could reach out to other countries
  • I see interaction in person and remotely
  • Linking ideas together globally
  • There r endless ways to teach and communicate w students
  • The image seems busy to my list-making mind. I’d love the pictures to be in a row.
  • I Think about educational chances
  • to me it represents learning and the different possible ways to learn
  • This picture reminds me of my brain right now! And many of my students!
  • I see interesting artwork that is very symbolic
  • Links to what is already known in the students’ lives, multiple ways of learning and multiple ways of achieving literacy.
  • I see students connected to the whole world. I think I want to do this! I wonder how I can adapt it for my third graders.
  • World traveler who is equipped with technology, family and friends
  • I think this represents our ability to gather knowledge from all over the world using technology
  • Helps all types of learners
  • I see the ways the world is connected
  • Sensory/information overload
  • the power of tapping expertise worldwide
  • Connecting multiculturally.
  • merging the old with the new in innovative ways
  • Digital media brings it all together
  • Very global…learning around the world
  • I see lots of ways to communicate

Against Technology (the word)

by Heidi Hayes Jacobs

Heidi-3-c-croppedUbiquitous in every sphere of education; the word “technology” is splattered loosely. No subliminal messaging here, the term is to mean that schools with wifi, tablets, one to one laptop programs, and smart boards are preparing students for the future. Simply having a computer doesn’t mean that the curriculum and instruction are contemporary and relevant. Students can be using the internet to research irrelevant and dated content. A word processor does not ensure quality writing competence. When a group of middle school students runs around campus with flip cameras, it is unlikely they will produce a first rate documentary. Perhaps there is some kind of magical thinking, that digital tools will prompt innovative outcomes.I share this concern as a firmly committed advocate for the modernization of learning opportunities.

laptopsMost telling is our current obsession with dated assessment forms. Teachers are not encouraged to innovate when their institutions are pushing time traveling to the past. Although mission statements are packed with phrases like “tomorrow’s school” and “careers of the future” and “global preparedness”, the truth is that all fifty states in my country value assessments that are basically identical in format to those used thirty years ago.Multiple choice, short answer essay prompts to de-contextualized paragraphs are the raison de vivre. Some national publishers are creating on-line testing, but the items are still the same type as those used when standardized testing first was developed. Certainly our learners need ACCESS to the global portals and dynamic applications available through digital media in order to become literate and connected, but access is insufficient.

We should pay attention to school faculties, leaders, and individual teachers who are actively and boldly upgrading curriculum content to reflect timely issues and problems and crafting modern assessments such as digital-media-global project based learning opportunities. Website curation, app design, global network research, and video/audio production are indicative of modern learning environments not only for students but for their teachers as well. What might happen if in our discourse we replace the loose use of the word technology with the phrase contemporary learning environments?

Cross-Posted to ASCD edge.

Documenting FOR Learning

by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano
cross posted to Langwitches Blog

I am a documenter, I have always been… maybe it is in my blood…

…from keeping diaries from an early age on, being the family letter writer, to taking pictures to document our lives, vacations, family and friends… even when it was tedious… (taking 24 or 36 exposures at a time, then taking it to a photo store to develop them and waiting a week to being able to pick them up).

family-historian

I am the family historian, creating family albums, chasing and writing down family tree connections….I am the storyteller… repeating family stories… so my children and grandchild(ren) will know where they came from…to not let voices of the past quiet down and disappear…

…so maybe it is in MY blood…but… even if it is not in YOUR blood… as an educator… take another look at the purpose and effect of documenting FOR learning…in my opinion, documenting serves a larger…big picture purpose in education…

Documenting FOR Learning is:

  • a supporting piece for the study of self-determined learning–> Heutagogy
  • a strategy, approach and technique to facilitate learning–> Pedagogy

documenting for learningI see documenting as:

  • a process of intentional documenting serves a metacognitive purpose
  • a creative multimedia expression (oral, visual, textual)
  • a component of reflective practice
  • taking ownership of one’s learning
  • a memory aid
  • curation
  • professional development
  • being open for feedback

While I have, until now, primarily seen and used documentation for my own and other’s professional learning by documenting student learning and learning/teaching strategies, one of the take-aways from a workshop I attended recently with Ben Mardell, Making Learning Visible, was that documenting student learning in the classroom is an integral component to inform the direction further instruction and content is to take.

Intentional educational documenting is multi-layered and can serve teachers, students and schools/districts:

  • Teachers
    • to share best practices with colleagues
    • to make teaching available for students outside of classroom hours
    • to inform further instructions
    • to reflect on their own lesson plans, delivery and teaching pedagogy
    • to gather and showcase their teaching portfolio over time
    • to evaluate student progress, growth and for assessment
  • Students
    • to articulate (via different forms of media) and showcase their learning
    • to become aware of their own learning growth
    • to gather and archive their digital work via E- portfolios
    • to build their footprint in a digital world
  • Schools/ District
    • to a certain degree in their marketing efforts
    • in parent / community communication
    • to attract like minded potential employees
    • to provide Professional Development
    • provide documentation and examples to linked curriculum maps

I use the following types of tools for documenting:

  • Video
  • Photos
  • Sketchnotes
  • Notes (traditional/annotated)
  • Tweets
  • Backchannel
  • Blogs
  • Slide deck
  • Screenshooting and – casting
  • Mindmaps

A very interesting article, titled Pedagogical Documentation (pdf) from the Ontario’s Capacity Building Series by The Student Achievement Division supports the notion that pedagogical documentation helps students take ownership of their learning, challenges teachers to

“see children differently. Different kinds of demonstrations of learning moved us all beyond what we had come to expect, and led us to a place of valuing each child’s contribution. What was made visible was the learning process of children , their multiple languages, and the strategies used by each child.”

When googling “pedagogical documentation“, many hits are returned regarding the Reggio Emilia teaching approach in early childhood.

In Reggio Emilia, teachers make records of events in the life of the school as a tool for research. This has come to be known as ‘pedagogical documentation’ because of the important role it has in supporting reflective practice. (Dahlberg et all. 1999: 144). Pedagogical documentation consists of records that are made for the purpose of pedagogical research.

Pedagogical documentation could be described as visible records (written notes, photos, videos, audio recordings, children’s work) that enable teachers, parents and children to discuss, interpret and reflect upon what is happening from their various points of view, and to make choices about the best way to proceed, believing that rather than being an unquestionable truth, there are many possibilities.

Beyond the benefits in early childhood, I did not find much in regards to Documenting for Learning with older students (K-16) and adult learners as part of their professional development.

What are your thoughts? What type of research have you come across? Have you conducted action research in your own classroom? With your PD? What are the benefits/disadvantages? Should documenting have an “official place” in our overall learning toolbox? Should documenting be part of every work-and learnflow?