sol17 DoodleaDay 5 DigiLit Sunday

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Today is Sunday. It’s great for two reasons: Margaret Gibson’s DigiLit Sunday and it’s the best day of the week for me. And today’s DigiLit Sunday is about Slice of Life, a March writing challenge by the The Two Writing Teachers that asks us to write every day in March about a slice of our lives, a moment in time.

So today I ask you to join in the writing, to write, because it is “hard fun,” as Donald Murray shares, and because writing clears and clarifies the mind. And in these challenging times, we need that. Won’t you join?

I love Sundays. For most of our Sundays together, my husband and I enjoy the light of day shining through the window as we sip our coffee, his black and mine with cream. We spend hours reading and conversing on any topic: news, politics, history, nature, discoveries old and new, how things work, philosophy. It’s relaxing and freeing to have no hurry pushing us.

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Not only does Scott brew the coffee, he also makes breakfast: eggs, many ways. So the day is extra special for me.

In years past, we had hopped in the car to visit grandkids two hours away — but they do grow up 🙂 so we do that less.

Many times, during the school year, I would spend the afternoon and evening on planning for my next week as middle school teacher. But now, I’m retired. Note to teachers: take the day off; your time is precious. [Not that I regret it– I loved it, but teachers shouldn’t have to work so many hours.]

Most of the time we take a walk or hike around town or around the hills of our little rural town.

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Mule Deer in the credit union field

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Coulee Art [and yes, we probably know who did this]

Many of my nature photos come from these walks [which we now take almost daily]. This Sunday, these fall leftovers still shared their colors:

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Oregon Grape

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Oak Leaf [not native to our area, but planted in the park]

Other times we hop in the car for that traditional pastime from both our childhoods: the Sunday drive. Today we drove along Banks Lake, which is still mostly frozen over from the cold winter.

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Banks Lake in the Grand Coulee [an irrigation reservoir with year round fishing]

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Steamboat  Rock [history]

Banks Lake is surrounded by the Grand Coulee walls. [See Glacial Lake Missoula history]

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Moon over Coulee Wall

Following the highway we turned off at Dry Falls, the largest ever waterfall, but created during the Ice Ages.

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Dry Falls State Park [part of Glacial Lake Missoula history]

That lake is 350 ft below viewing area!

There we turned around and headed the long way home around through the plateau wheat fields around Hartline, Almira, and Wilbur. We detoured to Govan to take this picture of what’s left of a one-room school house:

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Govan School House at Sunset

Sundays are a Slice of Life each week. My walks are a Slice of Life each day. In these days of darkness with a totalitarian leaning president, be sure to take care of yourself. In everyone’s life, to celebrate and to reflect, write your moments, your Slice of Life. Be with your family; enjoy nature, whether you walk the cement jungle or the rural trail. And share your moments and their relief; let the doing, writing and sharing renew your spirit and connect you with others.

As a teacher, my students loved Slice of Life; I’ve written about it here and here. For strategies for writers to revise their slice moments, see the work of Ralph Fletcher and Steve Peha. They both provide for strategies for writers workshop and the six  traits of writing. Through Slice of Life and writing strategies, students learn what Donald Murray expressed, “Writing is hard fun.”  So often over the years, students have said during writing class after sharing, “You’re right, Ms Edwards, writing is hard fun.”

So, for reflection and learning, for hope in good and hard times, write for some hard fun.

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Thunder rumbling

Angry words

Daily insults

Inhumane turmoil

Get up

Stand up

Walk out

Inhale

Breathe

Walk

Hug

People laughing

Welcomed smiles

Daily kindness

Community cares

Lift up

Stand up

Walk in

Shake hands

Smile

Share

Hug

Reflect inward

Connect thoughts

Write down moments

Humanity grows.

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Coffee Photo: Sheri Edwards, AttributionNoncommercialShare AlikeFlickr

Deer Photo, by Scott Hunter, used with permission

Nature and Drive photos, Sheri Edwards [Creative Commons AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike

Doodle by Sheri Edwards

~~~~~~~~~

This post is:

Part of Slice of Life 2017 by The Two Writing Teachers

Part of DoodleaDay by Royan Lee— today:  Make a stain with a drink; Doodle it into something.

Doodling Song: It’s a Beautiful Morning by The Rascals

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Part of Margaret Gibson’s DigiLit Sunday

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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.

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Part of DigiLit Sunday

Margaret Gibson

DigiLitSunday: Free from Fake

Is our freedom real or fake?

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Fake or real? I don’t think that is the real issue. The real issue is whom do we consider to be our journalists, the voice of the people; they let us know. It’s their job.

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Yes, we need ways to discern that what we read is valid and true. Margaret Simon shares how her students think about and validate their sources in her post, DigiLitSunday: Fake or Real?  And they discovered that the truth is not easy to assess — a person in articles may say one thing on one day and change their mind on another. But the point is, the students are verifying the information:

  • what type of site? [edu, gov, org, or ??? ]
  • are their links to their sources?
  • are their cross-references?
  • is the ‘news’ on multiple sources?
  • is information or opinion verified with evidence?

Margaret shared Kevin Hodgson‘s Google Slideshow, which he shares with his students to help them sort real from fake news: Fake News and How To Spot It.  Anyone can put any information online. Who sponsors the site? Who are the donors and supporters? What is their purpose? How do they get their information?  For more ideas on Fake or Real News, see this Google collaboration started by Eric Hill.

As I said, the real issue asks this question: Whom do we consider to be our journalists, the voice of the people? They let us know. It’s their job. We get news from journalists who provide the information about the world and our leaders so we can hold them accountable.

So what is journalism? I trust you’ll find resources and share them below in comments, but here’s part of a definition from Journalism Requires a Definition at mic.com, which reflects a view that follows Thomas Jefferson’s idea that journalists are our voice:

“nine-point explanation given by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosentiel:

  1. Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth
  2. Its first loyalty is to citizens
  3. Its essence is a discipline of verification
  4. Its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover
  5. It must serve as an independent monitor of power
  6. It must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise
  7. It must strive to make the significant interesting and relevant
  8. It must keep the news comprehensive and proportional
  9. Its practitioners must be allowed to exercise their personal conscience”

Journalism Requires a Definition at mic.com

So, the first thing today is to search for news from organizations who follow, and whose  journalists follow, those tenets. That would be news sources such as The New York Times or the Washington Post or your local newspaper. We have forgotten that the “news” is for us– by journalists who follow and report on issues that we, the public, the citizens, need to know.

If you don’t like the news you hear, or you disagree, write a letter to the editor or your own blog post. However, this year, journalists have been denigrated by fake news sites and even by our leaders, whom we have elected. Journalists look for the truth with facts — they inform us so we can act. So we might not want to hear this from the New York Times about President Obama:

“He warned us against retreating into our bubbles, but he was never able to escape his own.” New York Times

And we might not want to hear when President-Elect Trump states a lie and is called on it:

“Can you imagine that if Donald Trump got the questions to the debate — it would’ve been the biggest story in the history of stories. And they would’ve said immediately, ‘You have to get out of the race.’ Nobody even talked about it. It’s a very terrible thing.”

That “nobody even talked about it” is a trademark Trump lie; the supposed revelation dominated the news for days.  The Nation

We don’t want to hear those things — but we need to listen.

And we need to use our own strategies for verifying all news sources — using more than one newspaper or media about the issue. We need to read world news– from other countries. We need to support valid “news” organizations.

Why? Here are a few reasons:

  • Twitter is Instant Unverified Statements: “Mr. Trump expertly exploits journalists’ unwavering attention to their Twitter feeds” New York Times
  • Basic facts are needed for citizens to discuss: “When political actors can’t agree on basic facts and procedures, compromise and rule-bound argumentation are basically impossible; politics reverts back to its natural state as a raw power struggle in which the weak are dominated by the strong. That’s where Donald Trump’s lies are taking us. By attacking the very notion of shared reality, the president-elect is making normal democratic politics impossible. When the truth is little more than an arbitrary personal decision, there is no common ground to be reached and no incentive to look for it.” ThinkProgress
  • Our Freedom of the Press is treated by the President-Elect just like Putin’s Puppet Press: “Putin always comes off as an omniscient and benevolent leader tending to a flock of unruly but adoring children.” Alexey Kovalev on Medium
  • We’ve been “Framed”: “You just keep repeating the things that you’re negating. And that just strengthens them.” George Lackof interview by Paul Rosenberg in Salon

These reasons show how we Americans have been inundated with a political strategy that has turned us against those who would keep us free: journalism and Freedom of the Press.

We must understand these and call them out. We must support our journalists and hold them true to standards built over the course of history in our democratic republic and founded in our most sacred documents. And we must hold our leaders accountable to the truth — we must discern any lies and deception by verifying the information. If even our President is creating fake news, make it known. See “Conspirator-in-Chief” from Salon.

Fake or Real? We must build up those who have spoken up through history.

If we let our journalists be bullied, ignored, and disgraced, we all lose our freedom and our ability to hold our government accountable. We must demand that our President respect this fundamental aspect of our democratic republic. This is the first president in my history who has deliberately generated, as a strategy, division, animosity, and threats to our journalists. I may not have liked President G. W. Bush, but he was my president and he did not divide the country with rhetoric nor did he threaten the press. Our President-Elect is different; his strategy is to engage his followers and deny, defame, and divide anyone who questions him. Our historical beginnings formed from fighting tyranny, and although I want him to be great — so far, he has spread only derision and disdain for many of us, the citizens whom he represents, and the journalists who represent us.

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We have a right to speak up. We have a right to speak up against websites that create fake news and misinformation. We have a right to speak up to leaders who also do so. And journalists are part of that right. Without freedom of speech, freedom to assemble, and freedom of the press, we are not free. [ Bill of Rights ]

Fake or Real? It’s more than that: we need to expect our highest leaders in our local, state, and federal offices to be honorable, truthful, and supportive of those institutions and founding ideals that make us great.

How?

  • Subscribe and follow reliable news organizations
  • On Facebook, follow those reliable news organizations
  • On Facebook, hide fake news, biased news, misinformation; report fake news
  • On Facebook, share important news from reliable news organizations
  • On Twitter, follow those reliable news organizations
  • On Twitter, choose “I don’t like this Tweet” for false, fake, and lies
  • On Twitter, tweet important news from reliable news organizations
  • Write blog posts about the importance of journalism
  • Write blog posts based on reliable news
  • Encourage students to write letters to the editor
  • Encourage student journalism

Journalism
can never be silent:
that is its greatest virtue
and its greatest fault.
It must speak,
and speak immediately,
while the echoes
of wonder,
the claims of triumph
and the signs of horror
are still in the air.

Henry Anatole Grunwald
Former Editor, Time Magazine

Do more than determine if ‘news’ is fake or real — support the voices of the people: journalists. Make our freedom real!


[Bill Moyers: 10 Investigative Reporting Outlets]

img_3496 Part of Margaret Simon’s: DigiLitSunday

Topic: Fake or Real?

DigiLit Sunday


Thanks to Margaret Simon’s DigiLit Sunday Challenge, I have a way to meet my new blogging goals, as I’ve explained here. Margaret also writes for Kidblog, and in her post, “Author’s Comments offer Fame to Students,” she shared some of her reasons for starting to blog:

“When I started writing on a blog, I wanted to share my writing with a wider audience. I wanted to feel like an expert. I was probably looking for fame. I admit it. But as I began connecting with other bloggers, mostly teachers, I actually received much more than fame. I received a connection. These connections fed my confidence more than superficial fame could.”

Writing does build our confidence, and when shared with others who reciprocate with their ideas on similar topics, we all gain confidence and expertise. I remember when I started blogging, it was not because I was an expert, but because I could share how strategies in education, which others had shared, worked for me and those may help others, thereby extending the reach of those ideas. I was but a part of a larger idea.

Margaret’s experiences shared on her blog help other teachers and students learn. The same blog post explains how her students’ blogs about their reading and when tweeted to authors brought them comments and therefore connections to the authors and their stories. Talk about confidence building! And the experience of learning from and becoming experts on their topics. Please read her post about this and other posts to see how blogging with students enhances learning that will live on throughout a student’s life.

Blogging, because it’s writing, has served to guide me when I was a teacher, and now continues to guide my thoughts and ideas as I slip into the elder years in my life. This blog will now serve for many kinds of thoughts: from cooking to art to politics to education. I’m moving on from a focus on education after two sad moments in my life. My son passed on suddenly and I miss him as do his children. And of course the loss of a great country, which once accepted diversity and supported liberty for all. Those things still exist, and part of my role in these senior years will be to support those ideals. The blogging challenges will help me get started. That’s my plan: to be inspired by those challenges to meet the challenges I need to overcome and support. Not as an expert, but as one with experience and knowledge, which together, when shared, can build those ideals again. It’s like the veteran in The Postman, “I know stuff.” I don’t know everything, but I do know stuff, or have the wherewithal to find out. 

And bloggers connect with each other. Like Margaret says in her post, “Cherishing Celebrations,”

In this daily struggle to understand what the hell we are doing here, my online community holds me together, grounds me, helps me to see what is truly important.

The tweets and blogging newsletters brought me back to keep going, grounded me in what is important. Margaret’s blog led me to Julianne’s “Celebrating: My Social Media Bubble.” Her words express exactly how I feel about those I follow and connect with on Twitter, in blogs, on Google Plus: they uplift the world.  Julianne says, 

Social media can be many things. Perhaps it’s a function of where you look. I’ve managed, unwittingly, to craft a social media bubble around people who nurture. Around those who celebrate simple things, who notice and wonder; around poets and teachers; around readers and writers. Around people who spend their energies engaged in lifting up the world, looking closely, and caring. And because of this we continue and grow, even in the darkest times. My wish for 2017 is that we hold tight to each other and our beliefs through the storms and joys.

So you can see why these are “dark times.” When the entire country and the newly elected government has so many examples of the opposite of nurturing and lifting of opportunities, then Julianne is right, we must “hold tight to each other and our beliefs.” We’ve got to share them.

But the ideas must be both online and face2face. We’ve got to have conversations. We’ve got to listen.  Michael Buist in his post “Have you #Eduheard” suggests that in education, we should

Let’s start our own movement. A movement of listening, of truly hearing and reflecting on what happens around us every day.

I think we need to do this for the ideas that matter to us — share yours, share those of others and how you understand them. Get a conversation started to lift us towards acceptance and understanding of our human condition, of our dreams and hopes. For education, it’s #eduheard.  For America, it’s #usaheard. I’m really not suggesting a hashtag, because these ideas are bigger than that. The educational ideas of anti-bullying, of opportunity, of equity, of tolerance and acceptance– these are ideas of the great America. So, for me, I’ve got to talk about them, and understand them in my neighbor’s terms, whether that neighbor is next door or on the next blog or tweet. One connection at a time; one share, one conversation. It’s a way to keep the ideas and ideals alive.

Drew Frank, who started BlogaMonth, wrote a post “Good Trouble” about a presentation from his family friend, Congressman John Lewis, who said in his presentation at Drew’s school:

  1. We all have an obligation to leave this little piece of real estate a little cleaner, a little greener and a little more peaceful!
  2. Get into trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble!

That’s what is important. That’s a plan. For my grandchildren, it’s a necessary plan. I hope to see you in the conversation for the great America that strives for those  ideals. 

Are you in the conversation

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Image: Thanks to Margaret Simon’s DigiLit Sunday Challenge

Agency #immooc #DigiLitSunday

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I find it interesting that innovation in IMMOOC includes so many ideas that engage student voice – adding students to professional development, surveying them for their interests, encouraging genius projects. After all, the students are our focus, our province.

Yet education has been sabotaged by agendas, schedules, curriculum, evaluation, mandates. And data: tons of data from standardized tests, state-mandated tests, Title tests, diagnostic tests.

And someone gathers all that data and says to teachers, “Look what your students need. Teach them this. And this. And this.Then we’ll take more tests to see if they know it.”

Now, it’s one thing for a teacher to observe a struggling student and to ask, “I wonder if…” or “It seems the struggle is…” referring to the moment at hand, which is at the zone of proximal development when students are ready, challenged, yet able to and receptive to learning something that helps them succeed at their task.

It’s quite another thing to give a test on many skills, determine what that test at that moment discerns as a student need, and then begin a plan to teach those skills out of context of a task the student has chosen to accomplish. The student’s knowledge of the need is missing — the student’s will and confidence to succeed is missing.

So. Now the need becomes the innovation – to relate to the student on his or her terms in his or her context. And we’re back to the teacher observing students, gathering their ideas and focus, and guiding them in many areas [communication, debate, research, reading, writing, content areas, collaboration, peer feedback, tools, strategies, etc.] according to the needs of each as they lead their own learning.

We’ve rediscovered the goal of education: student agency. And student agency begins with relationships, teachers with students and students with students. And it includes the whole child, the bundle of emotions and perceptions that walk through our doors. Student agency begins with a learning community driven by learners, not a tangle of data captured at another time. Learner agency starts in the now.

Margaret Simon writes a story of Eve, of understanding the child within to guide the child in the choice of curriculum that will give her voice, though that choice and voice may change as the child’s focus within changes. Learning isn’t linear, nor stable; it is recursive and fluid. And like Eve, it’s flow in context may change, but it’s stream will still show the teacher the student’s needs. The learning is in doing real things within the student’s context and relevance; the lessons are from the needs to succeed with quality in the doing. Teachers observe the need and create the lessons just in time, just in need.

The planners of schools created a system for teachers to teach curriculum in a time where information was managed; today students have become the managers on their own, finding on the internet the how of what each wants to know and learn, and creating their own “howtos” and “here’s what I thinks.” Our set of curricular goals and expectations of and by teachers do not match those student needs or wants. So, we innovate. We innovate because the students live in their world and their future — not the vision currently in place in most schools.

We innovate back to listening to students, guiding their journey, and celebrating success as students learn and develop the talents and skills that match their interests, passions, strengths, and needs today in ways that build their repertoire of strengths, strategies, and tools for their world and the one in which they will live as adults. They are doing real work to better the world; they want to do work that betters the world.

How do I know? Walk in any classroom where students have choice and a voice in their learning. There you find smiles and joy, study and sharing in many different ways on many important issues. Walk in any classroom in rows and independent work and you see boredom, dissension, and faces of no purpose. It’s a stark difference.

Yesterday my own “Eve” gathered her “two favorite teachers” into a Facebook group and shared a student video, not her own, which voiced censorship and negativity. Through our conversation, her frustration was finally voiced: “I can’t change the world.” And so we discussed her influence already with her kindness with others, one person at a time. It’s our ripple intersecting with others that carries the energy of change. It was a great conversation initiated outside of school by a student frustrated without having her voice  heard in school.

Our students are begging to be heard, to choose their learning paths, and to change our negative world into one that is more positive and fair for all.

And, our teachers are begging to be heard, to choose their learning and teaching paths, and to change their world into one that is more positive and fair to all.

I would say there have been pockets of innovators for years, teachers whose own voice created spaces for their students’ voices. Search Twitter for #engchat #edchat #edtechchat #etmooc #clmooc #mschat and many more. Years of sharing are recorded there. Begin following those hashtags. Ask a question on an idea you have — a question that asks, Looking for…

An example is this student-initiated Flat Classroom  Eracism project by Julie Lindsay, Vicki Davis, Bernajean Porter, and Peggy Sheehy, the first ever asynchronous international debate on VoiceThread — in 2009!

Even before such technology was available, teachers innovated in NASA programs like Live from the Hubble— 1996!

Julie Lindsay moved on to form her own Flat connections, and most of us know Vicki Davis still innovates and and shares from her classroom and through her blog, newsletters, and podcasts: Cool Cat Teacher.

There are more: Paula Neidlinger moved her school to student radio broadcasting and Kevin Hodgson writes about the collaborative literacy / science projects and more at Middle Web. Or how about Joy Kirr‘s journey into GeniusHour and “no grades,” [she now calls Genius Hour [see the book], Independent Inquiry ]. And more: Jackie Gerstein [design thinking], Lucy Gray [Global Connections], of course, Tom Whitby [his blog] and Steve Hargadon [the free Learning Revolution ning, which houses all his education projects]. What about Derek Wenmoth and learner agency?

Search the Twitter feed chats. Find participant blogs; learn their stories; and most important: connect and share.

Our teachers have been begging to be heard just like their students, in pockets of innovation, some supported by peers and administration, but many are not. Innovators live and teach around the world, with no one place or one voice to carry the movement from the ship called status quo and the wild west of the Internet to a global voice to implement change.

We need a global voice that is heard and listened to.

Tom Whitby and Steve Hargadon have been vocal about strategies for change. In Tom’s recent post, Innovation in Education is Overrated, he laments on the lack of administrator supported professional development and building conversations that would bring about innovation in schools.  The pockets of innovation have not moved forward because that support is not available: not the conversations and inquiry into innovative strategies and not the professional development. He says:

Unless our leaders themselves become more innovative and active about innovative Professional Development, the change we all want to herald in will be long in coming. Innovative new ideas in education are not enough by themselves. We need innovative strategies to implement those new ideas.  Tom Whitby

So, I hear the innovative ideas in the #immooc– to understand the real world, connect with others, and personalize education to develop student agency.  I hear the cries by students to be heard. And I also have been in and seen the struggle over many years to bring change through innovation by individual teachers and know their cry to be heard. Without support from districts and buildings, teacher agency will not grow, teacher change will not happen, and the status quo continues, as it has over many years.

We are individual drops in an ocean of sameness. We need a current of innovation that flows through as a powerful force to pull us forward, better, together, and with the side-channels of local change.

I am thankful that the #immooc includes so many administrators and instructional technologists. I am hopeful to gather and share strategies to engage more whole buildings and their administrators. I am hopeful for ways to support the voices of all the innovators – our new cadre here and those who have blazed a trail already. We need strategies to create the zone of proximal development for teachers and administrators so they too have the confidence to extend the vision of education, to step from what we have now to one of multiple possibilities, depending on the needs of the community of students and teachers and their voices.

Innovator Voice.

Share out, create a small, local community,  join together in one larger community. Gather all the voices, especially those administrators who have experience and models, and provide support from that pool of resource people in the form of blogs, podcasts, videos, examples, models– people and strategies gathered as models that will be recognized so each innovator has a voice of agency beside them that speaks over the status quo in their schools to accept change for the better for students, so innovation is expected and becomes the new norm.

Where is our Department of Innovation? Our Office of Learner Agency? Where is our community to enable a mandate to innovate?

Where is our larger voice and community so we all have agency?

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Part of:

DigiLit Sunday

Margaret G Simon

digilitsunday

Reflection #immooc #digilitsunday

 

changeisanopportunityimm

Today’s DigiLitSunday topic is reflection. That’s an amazing word. I see my reflection in the mirror. I see my work reflects my efforts. I see my mistakes reflect I tried. I see my successes reflect I learned well from others. I see my students’ [staff or kids] failures reflect my chance to find another way. I see my students’ [staff or kids] successes reflect my adaption that supported their needs.

I have successes and failures. I feel I did not do enough for my staff; I never gave up on my students. But always, I strove to understand and meet the needs of those under my care, to allow each the opportunity to find their path to success and understanding. It’s not easy to teach open, in ways that allow all learners to meet their goals, but it’s a choice that had to be made. I had to change to do something amazing, even when the amazing didn’t always happen.

Reflection had to happen before I even started a lesson or professional development session. I had to know who I was teaching and what was needed — by each participant. I had to know the vision I had, and know that that vision may change according to what we eventually did together.

If we were learning imagery, the vision was a piece of work that exemplified a sensory description. And once we, my students and I, started on that journey, an audience or audiences were chosen and students chose the way to share: an Animoto, slides, document, comic. And what was shared? a poem , story, a song, an annotation. And in each, imagery.

And although imagery was the target, the learning was so much more, depending on the personalized needs of each student and the content, context, and product they chose, sometimes in collaboration with others, and always with feedback from myself and their peers.

Reflection occurred during — this is what I’m trying to do.  Even I would sometimes start a lesson with that. Feedback acknowledged the parts done well and suggestions for ways to improve. We grew together, one student helping another.

Reflection occurred after — this is what I learned. And the learning was more than imagery: it was collaboration, critique, helpful feedback, a tool, a way to create, etc.

That was the plan, and for some it worked well. Others needed models, and their peers helped. Time prevented some from final reflections in writing, but we found time to talk.

We couldn’t follow the process every time, and I do believe we need to slow down, and spend more time in the process on bigger projects where students design an organized project, in whatever grouping they choose [individual, team, partner].

For the past two years, I’ve focused on essential questions and a few larger projects:

  • How do researchers investigate successfully?
  • What strategies and processes do collaborators need for success?
  • How do readers and writers determine and develop relevant, accurate, and complete topics?
  • How do publishers design and organize content for their audience and purpose?
  • Why and how do editors and speakers use
    and edit with the rules for standard English grammar and language ?

Each year, I provided a better focus on those questions in our work. If I were teaching this year, I would start each week with a conversation based on what each student was doing. I’d slow down the process just enough for this reflection, building on what we learned each week to develop our authorship, and providing voice to the developing authors and publishers and researchers as they acknowledged their new skills, tools, and processes. I love how Esther Wojcicki shapes her journalism classes, giving power and agency to her students. This was my goal, and it was growing towards it.

For my staff, I had not the opportunities to create such a learning environment, although I tried to model it in the format of the sessions, with choices rather than mandates. For some, that provided the autonomy to thrive, for others it brought uncertainty. Change is not everyone’s strength.

And although I tried share-out documents in sessions, and over the years taught blogging, modeled Twitter’s PLN building, encouraged collaboration in Google Apps, and suggested small ways to share out the classroom stories, I found a small group with whom to share and collaborate, encouraging their access and inclusion of collaborative tools. However, I alone could not move all staff forward.

I think now, though, I have an idea that may help.  More on that later.

In the introduction of the Innovator’s Mindset book by George Couros, I enjoyed and agreed with so many ideas, such as building on the strengths of our students and staff, and encouraging curiosity, rather than extinguishing it with traditional worksheet / workbook / online skill learning. George reminds us of our responsibility, “spark a curiosity that empowers students to learn on their own.” I think this is the key responsibility as teachers and learners, and is why I chose those Essential Questions for my Language Arts classroom: it created an authentic focus with real-content context and projects for students to be authors and publishers, designing with their content and analysis publications for their audiences.

With the focus more on feedback than on grades and specific skills, it allowed students agency and voice to be authors. It was a choice, a change in small ways with the help of Google Apps for Education and other tools that allowed for ease in our communication, research, feedback, revision, and publication. We weren’t perfect or prolific, but the students became owners — and evaluators — of their own work. And our student-led conferences engaged families in their learning, excited that their students were learning skills they wanted to learn, or that they themselves were using in their work and education.

George Couros says:

change

And a small step by each of us begins that journey to amazing.

That’s the idea: I think now, though, I have an idea that may help engage staff members, especially for you who are in the Innovator’s Mindset Mooc, course in Innovation by George Couros [#IMMOOC].

So I would share the Change poster, and ask of my staff, “Are your students learning on their own? engaged in each of our classrooms?” and “What will I — and you — and we– change to do something amazing, to empower student engagement and learning on their own?”

Areyourstudentslearningon.png

What are examples of small changes?

 

One simple counselor strategy by Susan Spellman Conn:

Or a teacher who uses SnapChat for Book Chats with her PLC Book Studies — Tara Martin:

IMG_6792taramartinsnap.jpg

And, join the #immooc:

Sign up for the Innovators Mindset — the IMMOOC here.

Join the #immooc Google Plus Community by Kevin Hodgson @dogtrax  for posts and conversation. Read his recent reflection and learn his “change” with feedback and modeling revision [great video there].

Follow the Twitter hashtag #immooc

Join the Voxer group by Emily Clare  — how to here.

Changeisanopportunitytodo.png

I have more to change and more to learn.

What will you change?

 


Margaret Simon hosts

#DigiLitSunday

This week’s post topic: reflection

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#DigiLitSunday #Blogamonth 9/11

wheniwasa

So many tragedies and controversies occur and then opinions are blasted in small blurbs in tweets, on Facebook, and supposed news bites. How do we help the children cope with the incidents and resulting burst of opinions?

Kevin Hodgson suggests this in his post “#DigiLitSunday: Filters, Floodgates, and Us“:

“The best we can do with our children and our students is try to be one of the trusted adults they can talk to, and ask questions of, and to be the ones whom they can turn to when the world turns upside down on them — in small ways and in larger ways.” ~Kevin Hodgson

We can listen and ask about their feelings. We can share our own. We must emphasize that the world goes on, and we strive to make the world better.

Sometimes our own words need support. Here are some resources for 9/11:

The Fred Rogers Company, Mr. Rogers: Tragic Events

Common Sense Media book suggestions

Common Sense Media books suggestions for teaching empathy

Commons Sense Media “Explaining News to Kids” This post talks about what Kevin suggests, that we filter the news as much as possible for the youngest children.

Teachers First: Age-rated and reviewed resources for teaching 9/11

Center for Civic Education: 9/11 Lessons

Scholastic Lessons

PBS Parents: Talking With Kids About News

“Learn how to calm kids’ fears, stimulate their minds, and encourage them to think about their place in today’s world.” ~PBS Parents

American School Counselor Association: Helping Kids During Crisis:

• Try and keep routines as normal as possible. Kids gain security from the predictability of routine, including attending school.
• Limit exposure to television and the news.
• Be honest with kids and share with them as much information as they are developmentally able to handle.
• Listen to kids’ fears and concerns.
• Reassure kids that the world is a good place to be, but that there are people who do bad things.
• Parents and adults need to first deal with and assess their own responses to crisis and stress.
• Rebuild and reaffirm attachments and relationships.

~American School Counselor Association

As teachers, parents, loved ones, we help our children “look for the helpers.”


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