SOL17 DoodleaDay 26 United We Stand

IMG_3726_doodleaday_united_we_stand

A Story:

Today, there is…

fear

discrimination

divisions

intolerance

power wars

hatred

Tomorrow there ought to be…

calm

listen

share

accept

understand

hope

compromise

love:

listen openly; value experiences

I believe this because…

I believe in

the dream of a United States of America

each person, an opportunity, a human with hopes for a better tomorrow

all persons created equal

with liberty and justice for all

indivisible

diversity opens options and opportunities and solutions

leadership of the United States promoted justice and peace for all

so others dreamt our dream

our greatness was determined by our diversity

We are the world’s future.

United, we stand…

It will be achieved by…

Listen Openly, Value Experiences

United, We Stand

Justice For All brings Peace

Together, Humanity Solves World Problems

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School days we stand and salute our flag and our nation:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

United States of America.

Indivisible.

Justice For All.

Our country stands for justice for all. For All.  We have stood for this value as leaders in the world– that we believe in justice for all in the world.

Now, the White House is undermining this, spreading fear and denying justice of “other” people, denying facts, and silencing science. If the White House eliminates guidelines and rules for financial regulation, air and water quality, is it for people — or for promotion of corporations over its people? Justice to corporations eliminates justice for all — because greed is its guide. The White House promotes power, but not power of the people.

The White House seems to concur with the onslaught of false information in the form of propaganda: websites, videos, blogs. These promote conspiracy theories and fear. They are enemies of democracy and seek to divide us. A divided country, without a willingness to listen, understand, and compromise to live in a diverse world, is a declining and doomed country.

Our nation was built on diverse ideas and compromise. We welcomed those suffering and fleeing persecution and hardship, no matter who they were– and accepted the benefits of diversity, knowing that our nation was strong enough to build on the best of each us to build a better America, a great America. We did it.

But now, the White House and the enemies hiding in posts, blogs, videos, websites spread fear instead. Fear divides us. Divided we fall.

If you are conservative, speak.

If you are liberal, speak.

If you are libertarian, speak.

If your are conservationist, speak.

If you are white supremacist, speak.

If you are Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, atheist, etc., speak.

And remember that we are “one nation” “indivisible” “with liberty and justice for all.” Unless we listen and understand and accept each other as part of this great nation, we will remain divided and we will fail as a democratic republic.

Believe what you wish, but accept that we all live together. We are one nation. We the people must govern for all of us– not a nation where opponents are killed and jailed, or laws promote injustice and discrimination. We are nation of justice, acceptance, and compromise.

Even if the world is not as we wish, for this nation to survive, we must accept differences. We must understand that our neighbors, however different, love their families and love this nation just as much. They many pray, sing, speak, and live differently, but their human hearts beat with a hope for a better future — living in a United States of America. We must promote hope and acceptance. We must be united in our belief in “liberty and justice for all.”

As John Mayer sang,

Pain throws your heart to the ground
Love turns the whole thing around
Fear is a friend who’s misunderstood
But I know the heart of life is good
I know it’s good
Songwriters: John Clayton Mayer
The Heart of Life lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Reach Music Publishing

I know the world isn’t perfect, that some are in difficult times. Hearts are in pain. But fear of others divides and conquers us. Fear comes from an unknown face– get to know your neighbor — reach out to build understanding. Help each other understand. Overcome fear; build hope.

Because: United, We Stand.

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Part of Slice of Life 2017 by The Two Writing Teachers
Part of DoodleaDay by Royan Lee— today: Doodle a Story

Doodling Song: John Mayer — The Heart of Life

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No matter your beliefs: open minds build our democracy and help us stand together.

Review these resources to deal with Fake News, which are lies, conspiracy theories, and propaganda to divide and destroy our democracy:

How Fake News Tricks Your Brain by Alexandra E. Petri at National Geographic

“Motivated reasoning is the idea that we are motivated to believe whatever confirms our opinions.”

How to Spot Fake News by CommonSense Media  Short Video gives 5 Tips.

10 Questions to Spot Fake News by NewsLiteracyProject

How to Spot Fake News by FactCheck

Fake News or Real? by NPR

Teaching Kids to Discern Fact from Fiction at NPR

How to Teach Students about Fake News by PBS

Evaluating Sources in a ‘Post-Truth’ World: Ideas for Teaching and Learning About Fake News from New York Times

Battling Fake News at Edutopia by Mary Beth Hertz

Fake News? Teaching Media Literacy from Brown.edu

Fighting Fake News by KQED

SOL17 DoodleaDay 15 Blowin’ In The Wind

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I spend time each day to learn from others by reading their ideas linked to in tweets on Twitter. Before November 8th, this daily activity inspired me and my work; the twitter feed offered the opportunity to share, learn, grow, reciprocate, and remix to make the world a better place.

After November 8th, I took some time off. I found the world had shifted off the humane course of a world seeking peace– seeking liberty and justice for all. It careened of a cliff and away from but a call to:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

~Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson

I don’t know if you felt it, that tremble under your feet that knocks you off balance; a feeling of dread that the world beneath your feet is crumbling away. Before November 8th, our country opened up that joyous word: freedom — it acknowledged and upheld differences; it celebrated a world that includes everyone. Yes, places in the world were still horrific, and the world was trying to help that. Yes, sometimes the opportunities were not available as easily for some than others. Yet, we were as a country working on those. We were not perfect, but we were open; we had avenues to take to promote freedom and justice for all.

Then we elected oligarchs, white supremacists, anarchists, illiterates whose sole purpose is to disrupt and control.

I thought that the Republicans were American patriots — that they would see the evil in the actions and the power negating freedoms, but now they are complicit.

I am a fool; I thought our government of the people, by the people, and for the people through our elected representatives would govern for all the people.

I am a fool.

Today, I looked at the blogs of people I follow on Twitter. One post, My Un-Representative by Alan Levine [@cogdog] really hit my heart- the ideas touched exactly how I’m feeling.

Look at the graphic at the top of the post — this is a Wikimedia Commons public domain image representing the House of Representatives, 2017.

houseofrepresentatives2017_publicdomain.jpg

There are, indeed, more Republicans [red] than Democrats and others [blue].

Yes, we elected them, but how did we elect them? In fact, the Republicans selected us, the voters by rigging the voting districts. It’s called gerrymandering, and this January, 2016 Washington Post article explains this concept and this fact [bold, mine]:

The GOP scored 33 more seats in the House this election even though Democrats earned a million more votes in House races. Professor Jeremy Mayer says gerrymandering distorts democracy. (The Fold/The Washington Post)

I knew gerrymandering existed, but did not think it was that bad, and in fact, I thought my state [Washington] was fair with a bi-partisan system. It turns out I’m wrong: Read the DailyKos article on why this doesn’t work either.

Some resources to correct the effects of gerrymandering:

End Gerrymandering

The Fold/The Washington Post

Brennan Center for Justice

FairVote

Still, despite knowing about gerrymandering, I’m still a fool. Because although there are more red than blue representatives and senators, I believed they represented ALL the people, not just their party.

Yes, I thought the people elected still had to be Americans and consider all Americans in their elected responsibility as my representative in the House or Senate.

freedom_iconsre Yes, I believe in our freedoms, our rights, and the freedom to live one’s life in one’s own way.

That means that our representatives need to consider all the people, to hold up those rights for all Americans. In the past, we have expected our rights to extend to anyone in our country. But that was then, now we have the inhumane, unAmerican travel ban.

Since we all live with others, freedom comes with responsibilities. One of those is to respect the freedoms and ideas of others, which I certainly expect my congresspersons to do.

respect_iconsre

Respect means listening to and accepting other ideas, tolerating that which is different, and acknowledging ways to allow those differing ideas a voice and a life in our complex and dynamic communities. I expect this of our elected officials in Congress.

In my classroom, it means we have a talking stick, a Native American way to hand off a time to share and give one’s voice [and everyone has a  voice to solve an issue].

compromise_iconsre

Another responsibility key to our democracy is compromise. We find common ground so that our country of diverse ideas and cultures can live together in peace and respect. I expect that elected officials work together to compromise so all people are represented, not just the elected person’s party.

And in my classroom, sometimes we compromise on how we spend our  time– some students want more time with the teacher and others want to work in their own small groups. I shorten up my part, and then students set their goals and work in the areas and ways that best help them succeed in their projects.

cooperation_iconsre

In order to compromise, listening and understanding respectfully is a must and so is cooperation. I expect that when a law is created, that bi-partisan cooperation takes precedence over party political manipulation.

In my classroom, students and I cooperate– giving each other ideas and feedback on our writing or videos or blogposts. We help each other be successful.

collaboration_iconsre

Sometimes issues are so complicated, that we need to collaborate to get things done — the people we elect need to research and present different ideas to each other in order to analyze what would work best to solve the issue in cooperation and compromise.

In the classroom, sometimes students have different jobs [researcher, interviewer, composer] and sometimes they have parts of topics for which they are responsible for so when their team meets, everyone has part of the information needed to complete a project. That’s collaboration, which then requires cooperation and compromise respectfully to consider and solve the big picture issue.

doodleaday_iconssre_freedomI know these concepts: freedom, respect, compromise, cooperation, and collaboration work together — and I know that they work because that’s how things happen in  the real world.

So I’m expecting the elected officials, Democrat, Republican, Independents, work together for all Americans, and not just for their party.

How about you?

Look for and support those officials who seek each other out and begin the listening process to uphold the Constitution and our American values which are now under siege by the current and very lost administration. Help them find the way back to the great America, the one that fought for and created laws — not for order — but for liberty and justice for all.

The answer is blowing’ in the wind — and we must listen in freedom for all to find the answers together.

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Maybe just you can,

Maybe you say,

Maybe you shut me up,

Maybe you pray your way.

Maybe you slam the door

Maybe you build a border

Maybe you block me out

Maybe you hear my shouts.

Maybe I stand louder

Maybe you can’t ignore

Maybe in the crying

Maybe you’ll feel your heart.

Maybe you’ll open up,

Maybe you’ll listen,

Maybe you’ll see the person

Maybe you’ll step up.

Maybe you’ll open a window,

Maybe you’ll open a door,

Maybe you’ll take my hand,

Maybe together we stand.

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Part of Slice of Life 2017 by The Two Writing Teachers

Part of DoodleaDay by Royan Lee— today: icons: metaphors for concepts

Doodling Song: Peter, Paul, and Mary Blowin’ in the Wind

House of Representatives 2017 Image: “United States House of Representatives 2017” is a Wikimedia Commons image place in the public domain.

SOL17 DoodleaDay 12 Don’t Laugh

justice_styledfrom_monahan.jpg

In many schools across the country directly after the election, and increase in bullying and hateful incidents occurred. [CBS article] I have not found anymore articles indicating this trend has continued, but it is important to stand up against bullying and to provide a safe climate for students. That means not turning back from even the smallest incident.

One of the ways I handled the small teases that could lead to bigger issues is to do an “instant replay.” I’d walk over to the students in an altercation– it could be as simple a behavior as a rude demand for someone to move their chair. I’d say, “Instant Replay” quietly and roll my hands counter clockwise to indicate reverse or back up, and the students would literally back up in their actions to a point where I’d say “stop.” Then I’d ask, “Think about what happened and how the other person feels. What would be a kinder way to act?” The students would walk through and be polite. Pretty easy, and once done for simple acts that expect manners and politeness, then the civility becomes a natural expectation and fewer such incidents occur.

“Instant replay” doesn’t place blame but simply expects each person to think and act in a more helpful way so we do have “justice for all.”

Resources:

Edutopia Bully Prevention

Edutopia “Research Backed Approaches to Preventing Bullying” by Todd Finley

Edutopia “Why Teaching Kindness in Schools is Essential to Reducing Bullying” by Lisa Currie

Whole School Program: PAX GoodBehaviorGame  & Blog Posts from My School PAX — PAX emphasizes on the good [PAX] behaviors as opposed to any negative [SPLEEM] behaviors.

Operation Respect by Peter Yarrow

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A purple viola

tiny in the grass

brings a smile

if you pause

to take the view;

a token

of nature’s

kindness

like

a gentle “Hello”

softly as you pass

brings a smile

if you pause

to give a nod

to strangers’

presence

as you pass.

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Part of Slice of Life 2017 by The Two Writing Teachers

Part of DoodleaDay by Royan Lee— today: Use someone else’s letter style

Thank you to Jamila Monahan for her letter styles. I chose S, D, and J.

Doodling Song is Don’t Laugh At Me by Peter, Paul, and Mary

 

SOL17 DoodleaDay 11 This Land


I am not a singer, but I sing. It’s off key and not something anyone else wants to hear.

But singing soothes the soul.

And songs that send me chills of love and patriotism remind me of how America is what it is through struggle, struggle for justice for all.  And the songs I sang in the 60s remind me of those struggles; they remind me now of why those songs and those struggles are still important, in fact more so, in today’s hateful governmental reach.

I struggle wondering what happened to my country, this land that is made for you and me, no matter who you are. Yes: no matter who you are.

This is one of my favorite patriotic folk songs, which sings of many struggles, and reminded us in one verse of This Land is Your Land:

Nobody living can ever stop me

As I go walking my Freedom Highway

Nobody living can make me turn back

This land was made for you and me.

If our democratic republic is to survive with our basic freedoms, we must walk that Freedom Highway of free speech and freedom to assemble in order to make known that what is happening is not acceptable. We will not live in a culture of hate and fear; we will live ways that fight for justice for all — not the permitted few and the billionaires.

Now, I don’t begrudge the billionaires their riches; but I do expect them to fight for and honor the life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness of everyone else as well.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” ~Declaration of Independence

Citizen, Immigrant, Refugee have unalienable Rights, and I expect the rich and powerful to stop denying social justice programs.

We must honor all human beings as we once did and were admired for as world leaders in human rights issues; where, with other democracies we “fight for justice in their lives,” as Tracy Chapmen wrote about Nelson Mandela in Freedom Now.

This Land is Your Land, for Americans, was written in many different versions by Woodie Guthrie because injustice rears its wicked head in many ways. Read the song’s history here.

So, how did our country lose its democracy? I wish I had seen this 2014 interview of Henry Giroux — I wish I had been reading Truth-Out.org, which I did not because it does not have an “About Page,” and I thought it would lean too ‘left’ for my readers. I found more here in Wikipedia. But had I been reading this site, it would have opened my eyes to what’s been happening since the 80s on up through Obama. I have not watched this 2015 interview, but plan to. Sometimes being ‘balanced’ keeps us from deeper truths in the ‘big picture’ sense of truth.

So my poem today includes new verses for that American social just song: This Land is Your Land:

There’s people living in other countries
Who want their freedom and family’s safety
They follow their dreams, a risk of ev’ry thing
This land was made for you and me.

We who are living in our great country
Once welcomed dreamers as fellow humans
Providing justice to ease their suffering
This land was made for you and me.

We made our country the greatest ever
A nation proud of its justice virtue
We now must stand up and keep its honor
This land is made for you and me.

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Part of Slice of Life 2017 by The Two Writing Teachers

Part of DoodleaDay by Royan Lee— today: letters

Doodling Song: This Land is Your Land by Woodie Guthrie – sung by his son Arlo and more.

DigiLit Sunday Balance

Balancing Goals and Needs
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The sun rises, sometimes behind the fog and clouds, but it is always there, shining for us.

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We rise, and focus on this day’s agenda. Our agenda, our focus for each day is but one part of our bigger dreams and goals. Each day is a journey whose purpose reflects personal and career goals, with specific individual and work goals.

The path of these goals that we envision is often not linear, not smooth; our needs for living, safety, loving, belonging, and community intersect with the needs, and the goals, of others. This is our human journey.

We have learned to cooperate, collaborate, and compromise so we grow as communities in respect and acceptance of our differences, in order to help all of us move forward in our pursuit of happiness, that dream that always shines for us, that hope that keeps us going despite roadblocks, missteps, and obstacles.

Balance comes from our respect for the rights and needs of others, as well as standing firm in our own needs and rights. I am reminded of Abraham Lincoln’s wise words in the Lincoln-Douglas debates:

I believe each person is naturally entitled to do as he pleases so far as it in no wise interferes with any other man’s rights.  ~ Abraham Lincoln

So for balance, we enjoy and learn from our journey, including learning from and accepting others. We meet our own needs, and connect with others in meeting theirs. There are twists and turns, missteps, and respites. But we take the time and action to join in our journeys as time moves us forward, as the sun, hidden or brightly shining, keeps us focused on goals that change and move with our journey’s reflections and insights.

In our personal lives, we daily are interrupted with life’s challenges, which affect our goals and needs. So when one opportunity closes, we turn to find another. The opportunity could be a job, a grant, a friend, but life situations could change– a job closing or elimination, a grant unfilled, a perspective changed, our health changed, a death. Because, as John Lennon, reminded us:

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

But the important thing is the full verse:

Before you cross the street take my hand.

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

John Lennon: Beautiful Boy

It is our connections, our communion of fellowship with each other, that keeps us balanced and able to continue, and help others continue, in the journey.

In the classroom, that means we teach the whole child: interests, passions, needs. We take time to express and understand and care to each other’s ideas and feelings, because we are connected, we are a community of learners. Our conversations and connections help us deal with life’s challenges and ideas so we can decide how to move forward.

Without that balance of working together, we become inert in our ventures or ideologues of rigidness, unable to see the beauty of our human uniquenesses and unable to connect with our fellow travelers in our human journey. As Marie Curie said:

You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end, each of us must work for his own improvement and, at the same time, share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful.

Marie Curie

Goals, yes; yet with those goals, our needs draw us together as a community so each of our journeys can succeed. In the journey of life as we follow our dreams and goals, take each other by the hand, share and connect, and help each other. That is balance.

handshelpothers.png


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Part of DigiLit Sunday

Margaret Gibson

Technology as Accelerator #immooc

toteachisto

I love the buzz in the classroom when student are engaged to create something to share their learning; perhaps an Animoto video with captions, a comic strip, or Google Slides. When students get stuck, they call out, “Does anyone know….” and the expert in that medium jumps up to help. They become experts because they played with it; they used it and tried different aspects of it – fonts, inserts, color, picture cropping, etc. Sometimes the request by their peer is something new, and they figure out how together, and share it with others when needed.

Or sometimes, partners will share their idea for explaining their content on a Google Slide, and their partner suggests, “That’s too much content for a slide; how about an infographic? Do you see your lists; they are in categories – that’s your info. What image would explain this list…” — they discuss about the content and how to present it.

When we teach something, be it technology or content, we learn it better ourselves.  Whether we are teachers or students, teaching to others deepens our own understanding. How do we break down the silos of classrooms and build up the communities of practice? Perhaps teachers could “learn twice.”

How can teachers “learn twice?”  

One way is to share one’s learning with others. Take time in staff meetings to share a strategy — what it is and why you chose it. Better yet, keep a blog and reflect on your classroom strategies, share it with your peers, tweet it out. Get feedback, and keep learning. By writing a reflection, chances are you’ll fine-tune the ideas for the next time while providing something that someone else may need to know. Think of when you learned from someone else — imagine that someone else had blogged about it; their voice would have been heard by not just you, but by many. Every one has a story from which others can learn. Want help? Just ask.

Our desire as educators [administrators, teachers, paraprofessionals] to become “distinguished” will be enhanced by  “learning twice.”  By reflecting and sharing, we further our own understandings. George Couros, in the Innovators Mindset, reminds us of this importance of reflective sharing to an audience:

peoplehavethisopportunity.png

Why blog?

It lets us experiment with technology and learn its benefits.It gives us a place to record our work, able to review when needed, and write another post about the next page in the journey as more understanding is achieved. It deepens our thinking as we consider the “other” audience beyond our building colleagues.

In addition, it puts us in the shoes of a learner once more. And that is key to improving and innovating in schools. Every thing we do is to improve the learning of students, yet if we continue with what is comfortable and traditional, we neglect the needed opportunities for the future of our students created by the technology students have in their pockets.

Focusing on the learner, not just the learning, shifts the focus to a larger moral imperative to embrace the opportunities to educate and empower the students in our schools and classrooms in powerful ways.

George Couros, Innovator’s Mindset LOC 1926

How do we build on what we do in powerful ways?

Building on what is already done in the classroom, teachers can harness the power within our pockets and with the tools in the classroom for more powerful learning.  Educators today must learn the tools that provide students with unlimited possibilities and opportunities for deeper learning. Blog to learn technology, and blog to reflect on the ways that technology empowers the learners in your care.

Learners are the driver; technology is the accelerator.

George Couros, Innovator’s Mindset LOC 1926

How does technology accelerate learning for the teacher?

If teachers blog their reflections and the classroom learning, teachers “learn twice.” If they begin blogging, they become users of technology, adding in, and hopefully creating pictures, infographics, videos, and hyperlinks, just as their students are. Here, technology accelerates the relevance of teachers to their students as they understand the communicative, creative, and reflective nature of a connected world.

Why learn technology?

Students today enjoy the instant connectedness of online communication, yet they often are not well versed in more sophisticated possibilities nor the importance of their digital footprint. Teachers implementing technology can guide students in these possibilities and with continuous conversation in digital citizenship. Students aren’t enamored with simply using technology, they want to create with technology. So, more importantly, teachers implementing technology can better the learning experience, which is the best and most innovative reason for learning technology.

Building complex learning experiences, where students are routinely thinking at high levels, interacting with their peers, and receiving careful guidance and support from their teachers is what grounds authentic engagement.

LaForgia, Jamie. DEMYSTIFYING STUDENT ENGAGEMENT, Discovery Education

However, we don’t want just engagement — keeping kids on task, we want deep learning.

Digital learning tools like Kahoot! and Socrative engage students because they’re fun and interactive. However, it’s clear, that these practices do not encourage the deep teaching and learning we want to see in classrooms. It’s our responsibility to help teachers move beyond superficial engagement and support them in creating cognitively engaging environments for all students.

LaForgia, Jamie. DEMYSTIFYING STUDENT ENGAGEMENT, Discovery Education

Technology empowers learners to clarify their own understanding, to develop their ideas through conversation with others, and to act on their ideas through their choices in who and what to share. Innovating — changing to make something better — with technology focuses on learning targets, provides a vehicle for practicing real world processes and creating real solutions for all students, and it offers a continuous feedback loop for formative assessment.

How could technology accelerate learning for students?

Take Student Talk as an example. A big push in many classrooms today is to move from lecture and teacher talk to more engagement and student talk. If the teacher is talking, the students are passive. If the students are talking, they connect with the learning. In fact, student talk is a powerful formative assessment.

Why is Student Talk important?

…skillful teachers make use of dialogic exchanges with students to both monitor understanding and initiate instructional moves to engage students in deeper explorations of content. P 51

Ford-Connors, Robertson, and Paratore | Classroom Talk as (In)Formative AssessmentVoices from the Middle, Volume 23 Number 3, March 2016

Educational research has shown over and over how important social interaction is to learning.

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Student talk is learning, and it provides the best vehicle for assessing student understanding of what is taught and providing interventions for misinformation or needed skills.

In fact, it is the assessment that accompanies instruction that offers the most trustworthy information about what students know and can do; and within the instructional cycle of teaching and learning that structures the school day, talk creates the currency through which knowledge is exchanged. P 56

Through dynamic and interactive teacher-student talk, routine exchanges become a valuable source of information to strengthen learning and form the heart of the teaching and learning cycle. P 56

Ford-Connors, Robertson, and Paratore | Classroom Talk as (In)Formative AssessmentVoices from the Middle, Volume 23 Number 3, March 2016

So, yes, students could work in groups and talk about the issue and then share out in class for a class discussion. They could take notes on paper and share those under the document camera. Teachers then note and provide feedback on student responses during the discussion.

By using anecdotal records to monitor students’ oral and written interactions with content, Ms. Jenner can readily see who needs additional support and what concepts or ideas require further exploration. P 55

The knowledge gained through students’ participation in dialogic exchanges with their teachers provides a view of students’ evolving understandings and acquisition of content, which, in turn, influences teachers’ instructional decisions and next steps. Assessment becomes “in-formative” when the teacher turns the observations and insights gathered during these interactions into more focused teaching actions and responses that address students’ immediate learning needs. P 56

Ford-Connors, Robertson, and Paratore | Classroom Talk as (In)Formative AssessmentVoices from the Middle, Volume 23 Number 3, March 2016

However, how many students in that situation are always engaged? And to be truly effective, keeping the conversation flowing without teachers taking anecdotal notes during the discussion is important for deeper learning.

Is there a way to gather information on student understandings, confusions, academic vocabulary, and misinformation in a way that includes more students in the conversation for a more thorough assessment of strengths and needs during “student talk?”

How does technology accelerate Student Talk?

This is where technology becomes the accelerator; it augments the standard conversation and paper/pencil responses, often redefining the learning in ways that could not occur without technology. [See SAMR model within pedagogy for more information on augmentation and redefinition].

At the core of daily teaching is the ability to check for understanding in such a way that teachers learn how to help students. Fostering oral language and using questioning techniques aid this kind of informed check-in (Fisher & Frey, 2007).

The evidence on using student talk as a mechanism for learning is compelling; in classrooms with higher rates and levels of student talk, more students excel academically (Stichter, Stormont, & Lewis, 2009).

Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey. Feed Up, Back, Forward, ASCD November 2009 | Volume 67 | Number 3 Multiple Measures Pages 20-25

By using technology that allows all students to participate and discuss based on their ideas, all students grow and learn, and teachers have a digital record to review for next steps after already offering feedback during the writing and participatory conversations.

Through careful responses, they [teachers] provide additional information and/or feedback about students’ ideas and performance that can strengthen students’ understanding of content and further their knowledge of learning strategies within the context of the learning event. The assessment that occurs in these dialogic exchanges becomes formative because “the evidence is actually used to adapt the teaching work to meet the learning needs” Page 52

Ford-Connors, Robertson, and Paratore | Classroom Talk as (In)Formative AssessmentVoices from the Middle, Volume 23 Number 3, March 2016

To augment student talk, use technology to engage all students to empower them to better use academic vocabulary and consider and analyze concepts for deeper learning. In fact, through the use of technology to gather “student talk” from all students, students practice the best strategy for learning and remembering: retrieval.

Better than re-reading or note-taking, retrieval provides the connections needed by the brain to deepen memory and understanding. Retrieval means to pull out of memory what is known and what was studied, and reprocess it in one’s own words.

By engaging every student in retrieval practice, every student reaps its benefits for long-term learning

Pooja K. Agarwal, Ph.D. Henry L. Roediger, III, Ph.D. Mark A. McDaniel, Ph.D. Kathleen B. McDermott, Ph.D. (2013) How to Use Retrieval Practice to Improve Learning. Washington University in St. Louis

As students explain themselves on a focused question or statement, all students write from what they know, pulling in their background knowledge and adapting that to what they have learned in the lesson, reading, video, image, etc. When discussing with peers, they consider additional information and solidify the connections to build better knowledge.

By engaging in retrieval practice, students are able to evaluate what they know and what they don’t know, and then make better study decisions. Improved metacognition also benefits teachers: by seeing what students know and don’t know, teachers can adjust lesson plans to ensure that all students are on the same page.

Pooja K. Agarwal, Ph.D. Henry L. Roediger, III, Ph.D. Mark A. McDaniel, Ph.D. Kathleen B. McDermott, Ph.D. (2013) How to Use Retrieval Practice to Improve Learning. Washington University in St. Louis

Throughout this process using technology to engage more students, the teacher walks around and participates in discussions and thinking. With the information projected on a screen and in a laptop/tablet in her hands, the teacher is always aware of group work and thinking, and is more able to understand the thinking of most students. Pause a group or class as needed to answer questions most students have. With Google Classroom, students can easily share the link to their document or resource with the teacher who can share on screen. Debrief with the whole class by asking students to share what they are doing and thinking as far as the process and the content. Debriefing and clarifying with feedback is key to adapting and scaffolding the ideas so all student have the background knowledge and confidence to participate more fully.

An important component of metacognition is feedback, or providing students information about whether they got something correct or incorrect. Without feedback, students won’t know how they performed. Thus, feedback should always be provided to students after retrieval practice.

Pooja K. Agarwal, Ph.D. Henry L. Roediger, III, Ph.D. Mark A. McDaniel, Ph.D. Kathleen B. McDermott, Ph.D. (2013) How to Use Retrieval Practice to Improve Learning. Washington University in St. Louis

Because all students are adding ideas, receiving feedback, and clarifying their understanding, students are motivated and engaged as active participants in the topic under consideration, thinking and choosing of their learning, listening to others in the class conversation so they may extend their own ideas. In class conversations, students choose their part to discuss and clarify. Students are empowered, not just compliant.

The compliant, dutiful learner is easy to manage, does what’s expected, and participates when there’s little risk of being wrong.

Engaged learners often pursue their own train of thought about the topic under study, regardless of the task at hand.

If we want to grow capacity in our students; unearth student talents, dreams, and aspirations; and instill perseverance through a focus on doing hard work, learning from mistakes, and revising one’s work, we need to design classroom practices around securing real engagement.

Jackson, Robyn, and Allison Zmuda. “Four (Secret) Keys to Student Engagement.” Educational Leadership 72.1 (2014): 18-24.

To augment and redefine student talk, teachers implement technology that:

  • Follows research on pedagogy and learning
  • Focuses on learning targets
  • Provides a vehicle for all students to participate
    • Engaged in process and content
    • Empowered with own contributions
      • Shares concepts
      • Acknowledges new information
      • Revises own ideas with peer and teacher contributions
  • Enforces opportunities for retrieval through writing and talking
  • Offers feedback
    • for process and content done well
    • and to guide with correct processing and content information

What technology could accelerate Student Talk?

Here are five scenarios using Google Apps for Education with this process of independent, partner/team/group, and whole class debriefing.

1 Assessing Background Knowledge / Building Vocabulary

Provide a focus statement on the topic in an announcement in Google Classroom to be responded in comments by each student. A focus statement is one that presents a situation on the topic being studied and which is open-ended for discussion [Example: “Thousands of Native American children were taken from their families and sent to boarding schools to ‘Learn the ways of the white man.’ Today, Native Americans live in two worlds, the world of their tribe and the world of mainstream America.” ] After responding individually, students then partner up and together respond to the individual ideas in more comments that may:

  • Ask questions,
  • Ask for elaboration, etc.
  • Bring up vocabulary
  • Present basic knowledge of content

Students think about the topic and discuss what is known to build a framework for background knowledge and vocabulary.  As a final activity to move forward, share out in another announcement/question, a shared spreadsheet or document with “anyone can edit” [Wonder and Vocabulary or document] for students to wonder their questions and suggest vocabulary. After discussion, share as view only as a resource and further discussion as a class and begin reading resources for the project. Or more vocabulary can be added by students during readings, if the document remains shared to edit.

Remember, do not make a copy for all students, just share the one document. Use “revision history” if needed if work is deleted by mistake. This takes practice, but is easily mastered; students find this easier than adults.

2 During Reading / Developing Understanding and Vocabulary

Based on the previous activity, or starting from a reading section based on a focus statement, provide a forum for students to share their own ideas from the reading using a Student Discussion Focus “anyone can edit” spreadsheet or document. Provide the link through Google classroom or teacher slides/website.

Directions for Spreadsheet Version:

First students add their name in a row in column A, then write their own “most important idea” in column B. Next they write what surprised them from the reading in column C.

Partners or teams can now form to read all the information by their peers in the first section, recording their names a cell in a row of column D of the template. They discuss what was important and surprising, and then write any further questions they asked about the topic and what they answered in column E.

Next, each partner/team writes in column F their own focus statements based on the ideas they discussed and wrote about in the previous column.

Students now duplicate the “Duplicate This Sheet 1.” They rename the sheet with their name. Then they copy at least four of the focus statements other teams have suggested. Students then choose whether they agree/disagree with the statements and explain why.

The teacher can then make a copy of the template spreadsheet and link to the original work of the first day set to “view only.” Then share that fresh document with students for the next reading with “anyone can edit.”Students start the day in teams, discussing their ideas each team member rationalized in the original sheet through each one’s personalized sheet. If needed, reopen it for students to revise. [You could make a copy to save to compare; that would be easier than going through revision history for all student responses]. Then they repeat the process from the day before with today’s reading.

If kept open, at any time students can add vocabulary words on the vocabulary section: the word, why it’s important.  At any time and for any word, students can add a sentence that the word would be used as an explanation of the topic.  A column also provides a space for the word’s use in other situations.

3 Gathering Questions / Search Terms

Through Google Classroom or a link on a website or class slides viewable by students, share the link to a “Share Out” spreadsheet  shared as “anyone with the link can edit” with these directions [in green on worksheet]. The purpose of this discussion is to discover evidence already known that interests individuals and teams to finalize their own questions and possible search terms for their own research.

Choose your row. Answer the questions in each column:
1. What idea from your peers [or the reading, video, etc.] was most important to you and why?
2. What surprised you?
3. What questions would you ask to clarify the focus statement?

Next, ask students to choose the questions that most interest them as they work with a partner or trios. Ask them to copy/paste them into a cell in the blue column. [debrief]

Ask students to sign up for teams and and then choose their team’s questions by copying them into the yellow columns. [debrief]

Ask partners/teams to consider in the pink column what “key search words” would best help them find answers to their questions. [debrief] Provide feedback and details on how to search if students don’t have that skill yet.

Students are now ready to begin research on the part of the topic of interest to them.  Revise the questions/purpose according to your needs.

4 Right Question Institute: QFT

Digging deeper, the Question Formulation Technique is a process created by the Right Question Institute. Students respond to a focus statement to ask their own questions and begin their own research.  Here’s a modification from my class: QRT Focus; it can be used prior to reading, after reading, or after the teacher’s initial reading aloud of an article for background knowledge. It can be used for the student’s own team or individual focus statement for continued research.

5 On the Spot Share Out

At any time during a lesson, when the teacher wants to gather input from students to see what is understood so far and to discuss responses to clarify, use the Share Out template [spreadsheet or document] Students choose a spot, type their name, and type their response. The documents can be easily cleared for the next class and revision history will bring back the version for each class if needed.

Note: Primary students in Google documents can use “voice-typing” to input their text. Just go to Tools–> Voice-typing.

How do these “learn twice” and empower students?

Every time students are composing from their own ideas based on their conversations and lessons/readings/viewings, they are using their own words to reprocess the information and make connections. As they share with others, they teach them; as they listen to others, they add and change their own ideas again. As students form their own focus statements and questions to learn a part that interests them which they will share again with peers and hopefully publish for others in the world, they become engaged in the learning and empowered to discover their own understanding; they begin to own their learning with the agency to succeed.

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Using technology to better the learning strategy and pedagogy drives me to continuously learn more engaging and empowering tools. I must be relevant to my students to guide them into their future.

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By reflecting here, I learn twice: why do I do what I do in my classroom with these tools? I’ve clarified for myself here, and shared it with others who can build upon it. It’s up to all of us to learn from these opportunities through technologies and to share the what and how so all teachers can be dynamic, distinguished, relevant educators for our students.

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This means we must all be learners, engaging with information, communicating our understanding, collaborating with others, discovering our passions, and creating solutions to better the world.

I leave you with this moral imperative and the words of George Couros in Innovator’s Mindset, Chapter 9 for #immooc, and I hope you blog your strategies and  your templates and suggestions for enhancing student talk with technology to empower learners to build understanding and empower teachers to guide that understanding.

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Images created in Notegraphy by Sheri Edwards based on research notes

Resources:

George Couros. The Innovator’s Mindset. Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity. Dave Burgess Consulting 2015 Kindle Edition.

Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey. Feed Up, Back, Forward, ASCD November 2009 | Volume 67 | Number 3 Multiple Measures Pages 20-25

Ford-Connors, Robertson, and Paratore | Classroom Talk as (In)Formative AssessmentVoices from the Middle, Volume 23 Number 3, March 2016

Jackson, Robyn, and Allison Zmuda. “Four (Secret) Keys to Student Engagement.” Educational Leadership 72.1 (2014): 18-24.

LaForgia, Jamie. DEMYSTIFYING STUDENT ENGAGEMENT, Discovery Education

Pooja K. Agarwal, Ph.D. Henry L. Roediger, III, Ph.D. Mark A. McDaniel, Ph.D. Kathleen B. McDermott, Ph.D. (2013) How to Use Retrieval Practice to Improve Learning. Washington University in St. Louis

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

21st Century for Families #immooc

architectscreateexperiences

Teachers: Always Learning– Communicate to Families

As I strive to become a better teacher, coach, and learner, I search for resources that help me grow, offering ideas that I can adapt to my situation. In changing my teaching to meet the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s worlds, I need to share with and bring parents and families into the journey. After all, they were taught the old, factory model way; it’s all they know. Teachers today take the best of yesterday and move it forward.

One of the resources I review is the P21: Partnership for 21st Century Learning.

I discovered there two important resources for families, so they can understand why schools are moving to more collaborative and connected lessons and projects:

Education for a Changing World: What is 21st Century Learning and Citizenship?

Family 21 Century Citizenship Tips 

I found these blog posts:

Blog Post with parent resources: What is 21st Century Learning all about?

Blog Post on Thinking Classrooms and Student Self-Assessment: How to Build An Empowering Classroom Culture

What about the basics?

What about the 3Rs?  We still teach the foundation, but in different, more personalized ways with the help of technology, and include the 4C’s –the 4Cs — critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.

Learning today, fully sixteen years into the 21st Century, includes the three ‘Rs’ of reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic, but also focuses on skills now essential to a connected world, essential for the adult world of our students: the 4Cs — critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. Here’s how we’re moving forward:

Instead of standardized, sequential lessons completed by oneself, students learn by doing, by asking questions and working together to solve problems and present their learning in ways “above and beyond” the paper and pencil strategies of last century.

Of course, that means 21st Century Learning is as much process as it is static information and final product; it’s more than anything “google-able”: it’s a whole lot of risk-taking, questioning, struggle, and feedback from teachers and peers to guide the process so students achieve success.

Feedback rather then grades?

Feedback is not a grade, it’s a guide. Feedback is a guide much better than a grade because the feedback shows what is done well, and what steps would lead to improvement and success. It truly is no child left behind, and without the need for tests.

But if there are no tests or grades, how do we show our students are learning?

The Journal: Panel: Ditch Grades Now: Focus on Student Learning shares the work of Mark Barnes:

Instead of grading students on their work, Barnes had “a conversation” with them. He used an online gradebook, but instead of applying grades or points or percentages, he recorded feedback and discussions with students. Instead of judging his students’ abilities at an arbitrary point in time by assigning a score, he guided them through a checklist that was designed to help them progress to where they needed to be. [emphasis added]    ~Mark Barnes

With a checklist and a conversation, students can self-assess their work, discuss with peers and teacher how to improve, and therefore, build their success. In the same article, an explanation:

“We have something far better than scores when report card time rolls around,” he explained. “We have artifacts and feedback that provide a clear picture of learning. When a teacher reviews the body of work from a student and asks, ‘Where does this fit on a traditional grade scale?’ the student understands and provides accurate responses in almost every instance — at least as accurate as a traditional grade can provide.”  ~Mark Barnes

Many schools still give grades, but it’s not an average, or filled with zeros for unfinished work, it’s based on high expectations personalized to students in conversation with students and teachers. It’s rather like your supervisor or team member at work explaining what is needed, checking that your work fits, and offering suggestions when needed — so that the product is as expected and needed with quality. That’s much better and more realistic than a one-time test or assignment; it honors the goal and the student; it is good teaching.

For an example of how that works in the classroom see “Idea for Rubrics.

And think about it, how do we really learn? We talk to others and share after we try. We keep trying until we get it. The research supports this, especially with feedback. To know what to expect, here’s an article on how to give feedback by John Hattie, the author of Visible Learning, where Tony Buzan’s work is also included:

eminent psychologist Tony Buzan points out, practice only helps people to repeat what they are doing. If what they are doing is incorrect, people internalise the wrong thing. Feedback lets students know how they are doing while there is still time to adjust and perfect their efforts.[emphasis added]

The great part of this is student understanding of the process, the content, and the purpose. So when grade time arrives, students can share their work, explain what they did well, how they revised, and what could still be done to improve. As your child explains this, listen. You will hear knowledge and skills, content, confidence, humility, pride, and a command of their own learning.

So, to our families, we invite you into our classrooms to see:

  • projects and work wrapped in foundational skills in process and basics with authentic  purposes and audiences
  • the four Cs: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity
  • checklists and steps to guide success, personalized for students
  • ongoing feedback from peers and teachers [and families] to guide success
  • mutual grading from student and teacher founded in expectations learned and developed with feedback
  • an open door for families to visit and volunteer, offering their own feedback

I think, if families think back to those school days remembered most, it will be the times where people worked together, a project, a collaboration. That’s the goal everyday: to have authentic learning with deeper learning.

I hope this clarifies the transformation of classrooms for families.

If you have comments, questions, or any other resources, please share below.