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The school curriculum has stopped breathing. Let’s bring it back to life.
Watch Heidi share her insights on what we need to do now in this video from Big Think.
Learn skills from the world’s top minds at Big Think Edge: https://bigth.ink/Edge
I am back on my soapbox…
- …because I continue to see great things happening in classrooms, but get blank stares, when I ask, if these things are being shared beyond the school building.
- …because I watch as administrators feel the need to “protect” their faculty from “one more thing to do”.
- …because I continue to hear fear of transparency, competition, privacy and technology skills and tech phobia.
Setting up my soapbox to raise awareness of the “moral imperative of sharing” for teachers (Dean Shareski) goes back to his keynote in 2010 at the K-12 Online Conference. Since then I have stepped on that soapbox via my blog and at conferences advocating for the IMPORTANCE and NECESSITY of sharing.
George Couros, recently published 4 Reasons People Don’t Blog, which are in essence the same reasons why people don’t share (just substitute “blogging” for “sharing”)
- Blogging is useless
- I have no time
- I’m a private person
- No one cares what I have to say
He closes his blog post by pointing out the importance of sharing as an integral component of learning as well as underline “the willingness of others”
I have learned a ton not only from my own blog, but from benefitting from others that have been willing to share their teaching and learning with me, and because of that, as Dean Shareski stated, I am better off for the willingness of others to share.
I DO want to understand WHY it seems so hard for
some many educators to share…but only in order to build an airtight argument that SHARING best practices, reflections and documentation of learning is the essential fabric of education and the building block of networking, growing and moving forward.
We need to stop looking at all the reasons why educators DON’T SHARE and start looking at and DOING all the things WHY we NEED TO SHARE.
So here is my list: 3 Things Why You (as an Educator) Should Share
1. The shift of a culture of consumers to producers is built on sharing and disseminating.
Our world, and in particular the world of our students, is build on the culture of sharing. Ex. Sharing your status on facebook, adding a book review on Amazon, leaving a comment on a product you purchased online, photos on Instagram and videos on Snapchat and YouTube. Educators need to acknowledge the shift outside of the classroom and take advantage of the shift for learning with our students.
2. Painting the picture of teaching and learning in your school
Too many other people (non-educators, policy makers, politicians, media, etc.) are painting a grim picture of the teaching profession, teaching in general, schools and student learning. It is time to become our own storytellers. Sharing student successes and teachers’ professional and continuous learning MUST overshadow and outnumber the negative press and reputation that has been building up.
3. The future of learning is social and build on and around Professional Learning Networks.
Networking is built on a concept of sharing. Networking is defined by the Merriam_Webster dictionary as “the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions”. In order for an exchange to take place, someone has to step up to SHARE. Without sharing there is no network. Someone has to give and someone has to take, without giving the machinery of how a network works will not function. In our Information Age, where information is being generated at exponential speed, we need to rely on a network to filter quality and relevant information for us. It is our responsibility to be the filter and curator for others as well.
1. Stop resisting change
We need educators, in particular administrators, to stop resisting change, take a deeper look at the world around them and LEAD by modeling! Sharing is and needs to be a method, a strategy and a technique to improve teaching and learning practices, benefiting an entire school learning community.
2. Create a workflow to document teaching and learning
Great things are happening in your classroom and in your schools. Learn to embed documenting best practices, student learning and action research in a digital form to be able to easily disseminate via a blog, twitter, photo or video sharing site.
3. Start small.
Add a comment on a blog you read, share a resource, a link, a book or an article you have learned from on Twitter. Let students take over in documenting learning in their classroom. Use your cell phone to take photos of learning in action, write a descriptive comment under the photo and share on a blog, Instagram, a classroom site, blog, Twitter or Facebook account.
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.
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.
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)
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
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
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
- Obtain a basic understanding of network technology.
- Craft your network identity.
- Understand network intelligence.
- 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.
Students move through the modules of this blended learning course on Geography at their own pace. They build out content knowledge using a Personalized Map (through google maps) and the content delivered through this Digital Learning Farm method will be curated so that they can build out multiple pins on their map. This content is then used as content knowledge to increase their understanding of the region.
The class was divided into 3 groups. Each group contained one person responsible to contribute by :
- taking notes on one google doc- each has a column
- adding raw data (statistics, facts, charts, graphs, etc.)
- adding images that visualized what was being talked about
- writing on the backchannel
- asking questions
- linking to the course’s Essential Questions
Take look at the following video summarizing the class.
It is incredibly insightful to be going through and analyzing the backchannel chat after the class is over. It gives you a better understanding of:
- what students heard
- what students felt was important to capture
- the discussion that evolved in the backchannel alone
- the connections students made and shared
It was now back into each individual student’s court to CURATE their own notes. Students had access to all documents from each group as well as the backchannel. It was up to them to go trough the information and take the pieces that they deemed important to add to their content knowledge.
is the selection, preservation, maintenance, collection and archiving of digital assets.Digital curation establishes, maintains and adds value to repositories of digital data for present and future use.This is often accomplished by archivists, librarians, scientists, historians, and scholars. Enterprises are starting to utilize digital curation to improve the quality of information and data within their operational and strategic processes
Curating information has become a critical skills as part of information literacy. The ability of finding, evaluating, analyzing, remixing, organizing and archiving information is more important than ever in the information overload era. The amount of information we are confronted with and that is being thrown at us is exponentially growing with no sign of stopping nor slowing down. We need to find ways to support students in becoming curators of information.
One of the students, Ben, observed the following as he was going through the notes from the Backchannel group:
I found these very interesting because Florens and Tibet really try to link what is happening in India to our life in São Paulo which for me is a smarter way to learn things; by comparing them with your everyday life.
Cross posted to Langwitches Blog by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano
Not only did they read the text, learn about literary elements, but also learned to articulate and discuss in a professional manner the text with their peers. Shannon chose to use the Socratic Method, specifically a Socratic Seminar (Inner/Outer Circle Fishbowl) to hand the learning over to her students. She stressed to them: ” Educators don’t need to have all the answers, it is about asking the right questions.” Wikipedia explains the Socratic Seminar as follows:
This approach is based on the belief that participants seek and gain deeper understanding of concepts in the text through thoughtful dialogue rather than memorizing information that has been provided for them. While Socratic Circles can differ in structure, and even in name, they typically involve the following components: a passage of text that students must read beforehand and two concentric circles of students: an outer circle and an inner circle. The inner circle focuses on exploring and analysing the text through the act of questioning and answering. During this phase, the outer circle remains silent. Students in the outer circle are much like scientific observers watching and listening to the conversation of the inner circle. When the text has been fully discussed and the inner circle is finished talking, the outer circle provides feedback on the dialogue that took place. This process alternates with the inner circle students going to the outer circle for the next meeting and vice versa. The length of this process varies depending on the text used for the discussion. The teacher may decide to alternate groups within one meeting, or they may alternate at each separate meeting.
Shannon prepared her classroom by physically arranging the desks in an inner and outer “circle”…
… and prepared her students with the Socratic Seminar Norms for the discussion.
We tweaked the traditional format of the Socratic Seminar to include a backchannel. A backchannel is a parallel discussion, a collectively shaped comment on some ongoing conversations, not that different than the outer circle described in the Socratic Seminar. The backchannel in this case was the secondary digital discussion of the literary text. One student was the backchannel moderator in charge of making sure that Today’s Meet was projected and refreshed properly on the screen.
Watch the video below to catch a glimpse into Shannon’s classroom and their use of a backchannel for the first time.
Reflection of the Backchannel as part of the whole class text discussion:
- All students had opportunity to contribute to the conversation (even the “silent” outside circle)
- (Shy) Students who had a harder time articulating orally their opinions in the “inner” circle were able to contribute in written form
- The skills to listen, observe, document, contribute, read, write, add value, ask questions and respond to others in the backchannel, all at the same time, is not a skill we are born with. It requires exposure and practice.
- The backchannel log, gives an opportunity to review and assess individual students beyond the “in-the-moment”. It also gives students an opportunity to review and reflect on the experience.
- The backchannel exposes students to a collaborative writing environment.
- Possible extensions: Assign a student (or a group of students) to be the “Backchannel Cleanup“, responsible for saving, copying and pasting the log into a shared document. They then edit and format the log by deleting duplicate, unrelated or non-comprehensible comments. They can also organize the comments according to topics.
Analysis of the Backchannel Log:
There were many different layers going on in the Backchannel.
- Observation and comments about the Socratic Seminar behaviors
- Observations of literary discussion elements
- Documentation of inner circle discussion
- Added commentary of own opinions.
- Parallel conversation going in backchannel and inner circle.
Please note that the screenshots below are not in chronological order. They are shown to illustrate some of the points of the reflection and thoughts about the use of the backchannel.
I must admit, that I was in complete awe of the students and their teacher of how well prepared they were to come together and have a serious literary discussion round. The Socratic Seminar lesson could have stood on its own without adding any further layer facilitated by technology. It was the quality of the teaching and learning already present that allowed the backchannel to add another quality layer.
I can’t help myself, but I am already dreaming of further amplification.
What if ..
- What if the class connects with another class who is reading the same book.
- What if the one of the class can potentially contribute yet another perspective (possibly due to culture or geographical location) to the understanding and comprehension of the text. (Ex. Could our Brazilian class not contribute the perspective of the controversy of the Alchemist book here in Brazil to a class located in Sweden, for example, reading the same book?)
- What if half of the inner circle (the fish) is in one class and half of the inner circle is participating via Skype or Google Hangout from a different class? (Synchronous)
- What if the backchannel is comprised of students from BOTH classes (synchronous (Today’s Meet) and asynchronous (Google Document)?
Interested? Let’s dream up another layer of collaborative reading, writing and discussing literary text.
cross-posted from Just Start for Kids and Schools
Natural learning experiences are generated by observation and questioning. As individuals share their different perspectives, each of us begin to make meaning of these experiences and deepen our understanding of the world.
Hiking on the cliffs above the the Pacific Ocean with my nine year old son creates for us a safe space to explore the world. Questions abound as we come across animals, plants, rock strata, and even the wonderful variety of people we encounter. And as a science teacher I may have an idea of much of what we come across, I hear from the nine year old perspective new questions and thoughts that may have never occurred to me. There are no texts or assignments forcing students down a path that the teacher wants the student to focus. Instead, the child’s questioning and wonderment lead the discussions and the ideas to explore. The generated excitement even invites those people passing by to add their understanding and questions. Learning opened through the initial questions and new insight allowed us to look at the experience in new ways:
- Why are all the organisms under plants or why are the animals a certain color?
- What eats what?
- Why there are more insects than lizards?
- Why do the birds circle above?
- Why? Why? Why?
The TEDTalk21 invitation to remember a safe learning space reminded me of how a simple hike led to an natural and engaging learning experience in which my 9 year old has developed a new understanding of the world in which he lives. But it has also opened a new learning experience for myself. Seeing the child’s excitement and the additional different perspectives brought into the experience has led me to wonder:
- How can this excitement and natural engagement become the learning norm in my classroom?
- How can these natural interactions be replicated to invite in others through new formats using digital literacy so that everyone can impact their own creative learning process?
Actively participating with the Lead21 team in learning how to actively engage learning through the use of technology to replicate this system has opened a new world.
Why are so many of us using technology as a replacement of the ribbon based typewriter instead of the social environment that could help learning flourish?
Setting up something as simple as a student blog opens the door to the natural learning cycle. Asking students to publish their learning, followed by others positively promoting different perspectives or inquiries, provides students an opportunity to re-engage with all these ideas to deepen their understanding. The static learning experience transforms into a dynamic space that strengthens them as resilient learners.
For teachers, this promotes deeper learning of the content, but also of three essential components to becoming engaged, life-long learners. We can help them learn to self-regulate, self-motivate and self-evaluate their learning process and products. As teachers, we need to:
- Promote and actively engage students in asking where they are in their learning process
- Ask what strategies they have employed and how they have worked
- Ask what their engagement is trying to achieve
- Ask what their next steps need to be in order achieve their goal
We can never create a destination to where every student wants to go to, but our students can. By opening up the learning experience to a more natural, collaborative, self directed way, students can take charge of and build their own meaningful learning process.
Reflection question (would love to see your comments below):
How do you set up the use of technology to incorporate the natural learning cycle in order to help students deepen meaning making and become more independent learners?
Craig is a high school biology teacher in Northern San Diego County.
by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano
Cross posted to the Langwitches Blog
Connected Educator Month is only a few days away.
Seeking to build on this success, the Department of Education has called together a second Connected Educator Month, to be held (by educator request) in October, 2013. This year’s event will have a special emphasis on helping districts promote and integrate online social learning in their formal professional development.
Other goals include:
Getting more educators “connected” (to each other)
Deepening and sustaining learning of those already connected
Stimulating and supporting collaboration and innovation in professional development.
Looking at the goals, I want to take a closer look at “getting more educators connected”. I see Twitter profiles of educators every day who have “jumped on board” by joining “The Twitter”. I wonder if these newbies are network literate? Where do they receive the support to grow? Who supports them?
A typical profile might look like the one below. No tweets and tentatively starting to follow random people.
Or it might look like this one, with already a few tweets under the belt and a growing number of people to follow.
At this point I am following over 5000 educators. That might seem a lot and very overwhelming to many. I acknowledge the point of view of many others who have unfollowed everyone on their Twitter list, to handpick few they wanted to follow. Others have a large disproportionate difference between the number of people that follow them and the one they follow. These methods work for them.
Twitter is about building, growing and maintaining your network for YOU. It has to work for YOU! My network would not necessarily work for someone else. I would not get the same benefits out of someone else’s network. That is why it is called PERSONAL.
I am also fiercely protective of the kind of educators I follow. I will unfollow people as my own interests change, grow and evolve. I unfollow people, when THEY interests and the things they tweet about change.
I am a “connector” though. I work with colleagues from all subject areas and different grade levels. I want to be able to curate and funnel resources to the Art teachers as well as to the Math teachers. I might be looking for collaboration partners, peers or experts who can bring in different perspectives, authentic feedback and serve as primary sources. My role as a connector is facilitated when I receive a constant stream of ideas and resources, I did not even know I was looking for them. I don’t want to rely on people specifically having to @mention my username to make me aware.
Creating a Twitter account (or starting your own blog) is only the first step in building a PLN (Personal/Professional Learning Network). Your network won’t build or grow itself. I am on a constant lookout to STRATEGICALLY add members to my Twitter network that will enhance the QUALITY of content of my feed.
Here are some strategies that work for me.
Be clear about what you want out of your network.
- information filter?
- resource curation?
- support for your learning?
- potential collaborators?
- global audience?
- controversial discussions?
- stimulating discussions?
- opportunities to read and write in other languages?
- multiple points of view?
- preaching to the choir?
- answers to burning questions?
- tech support?
…and what you will or will not tolerate
- non-educational related issues (sports scores? illnesses? family affairs?, etc.)?
- foul language?
Once you have an idea of how your network will help your specific learning needs it is time to actively and strategically grow.
Become a detective
- by reading blog posts
Blogs are great spaces to intentionally be looking for twitter handles of educators that are involved, transparent and willing to share. Reading blogs about your specific interests and learning needs will yield new additions to your network. Read the posts with the intention to look for connections. Does the author mention other collaborators or resources? Does he/she include additional Twitter handles in the post? Follow these links! Check to see if the mentioned twitter user feeds match your criteria of quality followers for your purposes?
In the example below, I found the link to a Math blog on Twitter, which in turned shared the Twitter handles of various connected Math educators. Bingo, for the connector, who wants to support her Math teachers with resources, ideas and potential members for their learning network.
@Trianglemancsd, @bobloch, @mbosma8, @LukeSelfwalker, @ddmeyer, @fawnpnguyenAs you are reading blogs, take the time to check if the blog author is on Twitter. Most blogs
willshould have Social Network buttons displayed in one of their sidebars or as a link in the top navigation bar. Click on the link, check out their Twitter feed and, if interesting, follow them.
- by taking advantage of people using personal brands
Sometimes, unfortunately, bloggers don’t easily display a link to their Twitter feed. It requires a little more detective work. In the example below, you will see a blog about TCKs (Third Culture Kids), that I am a reader of. The name of the blog is DrieCulturen, but I was having trouble finding a direct link to a Twitter account.
It was worth a shot to hope that the author was thinking about personal branding and was using the same username “DrieCulturen“on Twitter. Bingo… I was able to find the Twitter feed and start following them.
- by commenting and following up on blog posts
When you leave comments (make sure you also include your Twitter handle) on blog posts that are of interest to you, it is worthwhile checking back to see who else has left a comment and contributed to the conversation. Follow the breadcrumbs to check out their blog and/or Twitter feed.
- by exploring twitter followings
When I find a Twitter feed that is especially interesting, I wonder who inspires that person? Where do they get their resources? Collaboration or discussion partners? I check out the list of people THEY follow to be able to harvest potential quality contributors to MY feed.
- by exploring twitter lists
Twitter allows users to create public or private lists of specific users they follow. Once I find an educator who contributes significantly to my learning, I take a look if they have taken the time to organize the people they follow into a specific lists. I can also see, the lists that they have have subscribed to an are a member of, which will give me further people to explore.
- regularly check who has started following you
Make it a habit to check who has started following you. Take the time to click yourself through to their profile and their last tweets in order to make a strategic decision to follow them back or not. Once someone looks interesting, digg deeper by following some of the strategies mentioned above.
- pay attention who @mentions you on Twitter
People who take the time to interact with you on Twitter (not the spamming kind of mentions) are always worth to check out. These twitterers have already shown that they are interested in connecting and contributing.
- tweet out specific requests
Looking for resources or collaborators? Just tweet it out and see who response as well who gets recommended to check out.
What are some of your strategies you use to grow your network? How do you read online with a lens of network literacy? As you make your own thinking visible, HOW are we going to teach these strategies to our student ? Is anyone teaching them?
Originally posted on Smartblogs/Education at: http://smartblogs.com/education/2013/05/08/speed-geek-your-faculty-meetings/
I love witnessing miraculous things and I love it even more when it’s kids performing the miracles.
I attended a conference last weekend called EdJEWcon in Jacksonville, Florida where I attended a “Speed Geeking” session designed and presented by 4th and 5th grade students. In the session, participants were engaged in a “Speed Dating” model but with technology. Each of the seven students prepared a five minute presentation around a technology they cared about and shared with the participants how it impacted their learning. Students shared a variety of technologies including blogging, iMovie, Frames, and more!
The whole model reminded me of a discussion I had several weeks ago at EdCamp Buffalo about student S.W.A.T. teams: Students Who Assist with Technology. These are students who help each other and their teachers learn new software and hardware tools.
This is EXACTLY the kind of student-centered authenticity that schools need more of! In fact, I would love to see much much more of this going on in schools, particularly in faculty meetings. This would be a fantastic use of faculty meeting time to not only introduce new tools but to add new tools to everybody’s toolboxes. This also invites students into design and instructional practice and gives them an opportunity to be valued as contributing members of the school.
I’ve talked with administrators all over about leveraging digital tools like Padlet or Today’s Meet or Google Docs to have “meetings without meetings.” Asynchronous, anytime available digital opportunities increase participation in discussions and ease the dissemination of information without having to sit through a meeting that was called for the sake of saying we had one.
Speed Geeking is a way to kick that up several notches and upgrade the WAY a faculty meeting is run. Imagine it: Student Led Faculty Meetings! #AwesomeAwesomeAwesome
I was so impressed with these students and was absolutely thrilled to be able to see them in action! Kudos to the 4th and 5th graders at Martin J. Gottlieb Day School!
Pictures from Jon Mitzmacher – @Jon_Mitzmacher (Thanks, Jon!)
The Clearninghouse showcases selected resources for all subject areas, grade levels, Common Core Standards, Global Education, Professional Development and many more categories.
To contribute a link is easy:
1. Go to Curriculum 21 Clearinghouse
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Thank you for taking the time in collaborating to create this unique resource for educators from around the world.