Technology as Accelerator #immooc

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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:

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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.

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?”

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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:

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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.

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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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Still thinking: Response on Digital Writing

Thanks, Kevin for the quote tweet and comment here as we continue the conversation on “What is digital writing?” It’s a start.

I’m considering your words in your comment in this post.

My own grapple keeps me wondering and thinking and trying to fall into the trap of getting too comfortable.

It’s true that those of us who write digitally find the tools ubiquitous; we are comfortable with the process and tools and must remember those who are just learning, especially adults. Our students seem to see, observe, choose, and do from our assignments and modeling. They often suggest tools for us, and we guide them in more demanding and intellectual use of them. We are comfortable in these shoes, and continue our forward walk. It is Kevin’s thoughtful questioning that leads reflection so that others may begin the journey. At least, that is my goal, to nudge the novices into the adventure students already explore.

For example, now you have me reconsidering my words about a blog post. You may be right. Your insight to not just bring design into the equation, but to make it a central idea, seems right, to me, too. But if we are not the designer, if we use a template made by others and just add words into the template, does design matter?

This is a great question — templates. I’m reminded of years ago when our school subscribed to a website platform for schools. It included pages for  teachers to communicate to families in a newsletter/blog format, places for lesson plans [and diligent monitoring by administration], and much more. It was designed so teachers could just add text and perhaps a photo. In order for it to work for me, I had to search for html coding because the ‘template’ was so rigid (and boring). I wanted to share and show what we were doing in class in images, video, and text way back then. That’s a template without flexibility, and dictated to me; not my digital writing. Fortunately, we dropped that expensive cost and became a Google Apps for Education school.

Yes, I can choose a blog — and I can choose the design that fits my purpose for my audience. I can tweak the colors and display, choose the content of the widgets, and determine the content of my posts. So I’m thinking that this allows the author the design choices of a digital writer.  I’m not sure about other LMS [Learning Management Systems] because we don’t use them, except for Google Classroom, which is the classroom; the parent and community information are posted in blogs and websites. Are LMS rigid in teacher design of his/her classroom website or blog, and thus limit the design choices of the authors? Does design matter? I think so.

What about blog design when it comes to an RSS reader, which strips all design from the source in order to stream the words and image only?

I’m thinking this is the researchers choice — to gather information, which is part of the design and digital writing process. It’s part of the system the author chooses for connections and research. It serves its purpose for those gathering information, inspiration, and collaboration.

Certainly, Margaret’s point about expanded audience plays a role … yet, I can create a piece of digital writing (say, a poem with hyperlinks and embedded audio and video) and share it with no one, and so, it is digital writing with no audience.

Because digital writing is at first personal, until work requirements and academic protocol causes our revision to those mandates, that makes no audience but oneself as important as any audience. Writing helps us grow our ideas, values, and beliefs. I once participated in a group with Ben Wilkoff and others calling ourselves “Open Spokes.” We wrote personal statements as videologues which we shared with each other to build on the ideas. So the audience at first was ourselves and then shared for our fellowship. Writers keep their ideas for fuel when needed. Today’s non-audience may be tomorrow’s team audience.

Like Kevin, Margaret, and Karen LaBonté, I continue my digital writing and its many nodes.

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#IMMOOC Starts Soon Sign Up

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I can’t believe I’ve signed up for a MOOC again! But how can you not sign up for one by George Couros (@gcouros ) who has been an inspiration for myself and so many others. As a principal and blogger, he’s been at the forefront of education reform in the actions he’s taken for his students and their futures. His book, The Innovator’s Mindset, offers us a vision of schools where student compliance is replaced by student engagement. How? We teachers know, and the #IMMOOC will build a community to guide each other to make it happen in our schools for our students’ success in the future.

I’ve set up my inoreader (thanks to this post by George), have my Kindle book open, and am ready for the September 17th Opening Ceremony.

Why? I’ve participated in ETMOOC and CLMOOC (4 times!), and from both I’ve been enriched with friendships as well as knowledge in a spirit of hope for the future of education. I’m connected still to the people who shared their expertise, wrestled with issues, and collaboratively solved problems while learning together through innovation in our teaching and learning.

So I invite you to join — it will be an amazing journey, even if you only participate as a reader of the information. But you won’t — you will be inspired to participate, to ask questions, and to reflect on how you can apply the ideas in your own school. It’s that exciting and rewarding.

Go here: http://immooc.org/sign-up-for-the-innovatorsmindsetmooc/

Sign up.

You will be welcomed and provided with the info to join in the conversation.

Two things will be helpful: a blog [free, here ] and a twitter account.

Don’t panic.

A couple tips: Think of your name before you sign up for either.

Just use your name for twitter like George did.  That’s better than mine @grammasheri

[ I signed up years ago to monitor my granddaughter, hence the name].

For your blog, think of a name that reflects your educational experience or ideas.  My blog  has a URL https://askwhatelse.wordpress.com. I’m always asking myself and my students, “What else could I… include, research, choose, add, etc.” So that became my URL. The blog title is all about wonder, so I called it 1DR What Else.  When you click the link, that’s what will appear on the title. Choosing the name really is the hardest part!

When you sign up for your blog, you’ll be asked to choose a theme style:

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I would suggest the one on the left to start if you have never blogged before. You will then see a list of themes — start with the one named “Twenty Sixteen.” That’s the easiest one to start. And you can always ask for help. Just tweet me  @grammasheri .

Don’t panic.

Just get started: Twitter, Blog, Sign up for an experience you will treasure!

I can’t wait to read your ideas on your blogs!

 

 

 

 

 

A response to Digital Writing

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Digital Writing

My friend Kevin Hodgson [@dogtrax] considers the definition of digital writing on his blog, Kevin’s Meandering Mind. He thoughtfully considers “writing,” “composing,” and “digital writing.” I agree with all his assertions, except one.

I consider blogging to be digital writing. The blog post could be the central focus of a presentation, linking to images, resources, and videos that extend and enhance the author’s message. It requires much more thought and creation than simply writing an essay; the images and links chosen must be thoughtfully considered as part of the design to explain, argue, and present ideas. And as Kevin’s post does, it asks readers to interact with those thoughts by adding their own considerations. The record is displayed in post and comment, available always for further analysis. A blog also shows our thinking — and how our ideas change as we consider the ideas presented by the information we gather in our quest for understanding the world’s ideas.

I’ve been thinking, too, about “What is digital writing?” I’m still deciding, but a few thoughts I shared with Kevin [I added a little here] so far are:

  • When I record assignment directions, I have often stopped myself when the directions are to “write” when I really mean “type” or better yet “compose.” Even here, instead of “write,” in this bullet, I chose “record.” Because the digital assignment directions are recorded in a document for reference. I think of digital writing as something that is both composed and curated or recorded.
  • I’ve also used the word “compose” with students. Looking at the dictionary definitions of compose and write, a crossover exists in their use, but compose includes the words create, invent, produce, orchestrate. I find that more inclusive to my definition of digital writing. I want my students not to regurgitate information, but to produce artifacts that explain or argue their analysis of their learning, using words, images, videos, surveys, interactive media, etc.
  • Margaret Simon [@MargaretGSimon ]mentioned “audience” in her comment on Kevin’s blog. She said, “I must be aware of audience in the digital world. Perhaps it’s that immediate audience that makes it digital.”  The focus on the audience is critical. The writing will be shared for an audience one has considered carefully so that the writing clearly promotes the message; digital writing provides authenticity and meaning to topic, audience, and purpose, the meaning behind the writing.
  • Design is a word I use most often with my students: I want students to consider the reader, the information, the student’s purpose and message, and the presentation — how will they best explain and argue their ideas using text, image, video, interactive media, etc.? It is the digital that allows all of us to design the presentation of our discoveries so others understand how we make sense of the world of information around us, and how we invite others into our journey of understanding.

Digital writing allows students — all of us — the opportunity to present our understanding of the world. Writing is all about clarifying our thoughts, making the learning visible. Digital writing includes tools to make this easier: immediate definitions and searches, curation of resources, surveys to gather information, documents on which we can collaborate with others, grammar corrections, hyperlinks to our resources, sharing options [slides, blogs, videos, annotations], communication with experts through texts and webcams, archiving all our digital gathering of resources.

So, considering those tools as part of our quest for knowledge, is digital writing then a system, a  process, and a product available in many personalized forms as needed by and designed by the author?

The focus for my Language Arts classes are these essential questions:

  • 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 ?

It is the availability of digital tools that allow us to consider our ever-growing understanding of these questions.

Digital writing is a personal, systematic organization of tools and strategies that allow for an enhanced  and enriched process of study, curation,  and analysis, often in collaboration with others, to design a multi-faceted publication of the author’s ( or authors’) ideas for a chosen topic and audience, be that audience oneself, a group, or the public.

I’m still thinking about this… and thank you, Kevin,  for always presenting the questions that focus and clarify our work as learners.

#DigiLitSunday First Days Part 1

 

Transitions

Moment Between Worlds

Beginnings, Part 1

Teachers and students are in a moment now between worlds, between the summer of exploration on our own and autumn of investigation in school. And I am in the moment between active and retired. Yet, I still ponder how I would [and did] start the year.

Those first days set the tone and community for the rest of the year. I want students to know we’ll be serious thinkers in dialogue with one another to tease out our understandings. I want them to know we’re in this learning journey together, and we need to set goals and provide feedback to each other, supporting or letting go when needed in a learning community that extends beyond the classroom.

Building the learning community is of utmost importance — building my credibility and accepting the students as credible learners!  To accomplish this, the first few days need to:

  • Determine and practice expectations of a learning community
  • Discuss and learn protocols for entering, leaving, independent work, group work, discussions, turning in work, computer use, agreements, disagreements
  • Accomplish and celebrate learning / work together

What do we do the first day?

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Here’s an outline. Notice the flow of activity from individual to group to class. Notice students are doing the work, and teacher is supporting, scaffolding as needed. Each activity should be quick to capture the ideas and prevent dead time; more ideas can be added over the next few days as we continue the collaborative seating activity and a reading/writing activity. I don’t worry about accomplishing all of this in one day, but we don’t dwell either; that’s part of the teacher’s management and understanding the pulse of student interest.  We will continue to refer to the charts on Works / Or not and Student / Teacher actions this first day and the first few days so we see that all of us are participating together to grow in our learning.

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  • Invitational greeting at the door from teacher
  • Setting the first goal: a collaborative activity on screen [idea from Joy Kirr and Sandy Merz]
  • Students collaborate on seating from the directions
    • I observe, waiting until absolutely necessary to intervene
    • I may ask a question about the prompt to a student
    • I may encourage a student to speak up, or others to listen
  • Celebrate in class discussion
    • Refer to the goal: form groups
    • Acknowledge  and accept the events of participation – confusion, perseverance, and success
      • Note: We discuss who was a leader that day in helping to organize, who asked questions to clarify, who helped, who added an idea, etc. Each succeeding day students will improve in their openness and appropriate requests and conversations. Each day another student will take the lead, each day they will learn better ways to interact with and involve their peers, and each day they will learn positive ways to encourage each other. Most importantly, the students are collaborating not just with their usual friends, but with whomever is in their group that day. If students can speak up, lead, discuss with each of their classmates, including those they may not have chosen, then we are well on our way to becoming connected learners with peers around the world.
  • Give students a scrap of paper —
    • ask each to think of one event that started the success or ended a confusion
    • Ask them to write what worked and what didn’t
  • Ask them to share in their groups and to create lists on poster paper of What Worked to Succeed and What Did Not Work
  • Pull the class together and ask for a few quick responses from each list, without repeating
  • Listen for the key point and ask a clarifying question each time, to get at a specific example from their perspective; it’s my chance to be truly interested in their ideas
  • Ask students to go back and revise their lists to be more specific
  • Hang up the posters and give students dots to place by the most important “What Worked” strategies

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    Paper Version Learning Community

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    Paper Version

    Ask students to get or go to a computer to the class home page to link to a document “Learning Community Guidelines” with a table for “Our Guidelines”  Ask students to add things that we all should do based on the posters and experience to be successful at projects [students choose a row to add as many guidelines as they can]

If using paper, students each write their own but by discussing in groups to create their paper versions in their own notebook.

 

 

 

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  • If guidelines are on the computer, randomly pick one group to edit to take out the duplicates; If guidelines are on paper, ask one student to type up each group’s list, editing for duplicates. The rest move on to the next task. For this task, choose a fast typer 🙂
  • Ask each student to make two lists of what we’ve done in the classroom so far:
    • A list of what the students did
    • A list of what the teacher did
  • Ask student groups to share make a list on poster paper of what we’ve done so far in the classroom
    • A list of what students did
    • A list of what teacher did
  • Put the edited learning community guidelines up and ask students if they are complete [teacher may add too]
  • Are they agreeable? Ask the students to type their name below the guidelines
  • Hang up  the  “What We Did” posters
  • Review the Community Guidelines with students but in the context of expectations for classroom protocol, which may include [we’ll review this over the week, so it doesn’t need to take long this day]:
    • Enter the room [tomorrow students will have their own copy of the Guidelines and a notebook to store in the room — which they need daily as part of entry]
      • Student
        • Be prepared — pens, pencils, papers, class notebooks, library books, all ready to go
        • Look for and complete entry task
        • If no entry task, read or write [on projects]
      • Teacher
        • Entry task ready
        • Reading  / Writing ready
        • Greets students / reviews work
    • Individual Work [student and teacher]
      • Quiet
      • On own
      • In own area
      • Distraction free
      • Teacher conferences
    • Group Work
      • Student
        • All participate
        • Listen
        • Discuss
        • Positive voices
        • Agree to disagree
        • Support with evidence
        • Invite all to participate
        • Roles [to be expanded on later [leader, timekeeper, statistician, recorder, morale officer]
      • Teacher
        • Monitors groups
        • Confers with groups
        • Feedback
    • Closing
      • Ask students what we will probably need to do to close our class:
        • Exit Thoughts
        • Clean areas
        • Computer protocol
        • Turn in
        • Class work away in own area
        • My rule: Stand by desks for dismissal
        • Last class: Stacks chairs and stands by desk
  • Exit Thoughts: What confuses you? What’s the most important thing you learned about being successful in this class? This can be on paper or in a Share Out document.  Students practice closing protocol.

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Over the next few days, we review the protocols, guidelines, and interactions, adding or revising as needed while still doing our work, debriefing before, during, and after to celebrate what we did well according to our living guidelines. Our work includes activities that will be similar to those we will do all year. We’ll do more seating collaboration and reading and discussing Tween Tribune articles with partners [ Activity here ], which includes individual and partner work. I can discover what interests they have, listen to them reading, and encourage the types of collaborative behavior we continuously discuss as part of our Learning Community guidelines. Some will read the articles individually and some together. The students can also listen [highlight option esc on a Mac] to the story together. I’ve not had a problem with kids listening together on the computer. This activity brings in student choice in how to fulfill expectations in reading and writing by organizing this partner work.

None of these activities require students to login; we’ll introduce logging in and computer expectations and guidelines as we work through the week and use computers. Our netiquette guidelines are reviewed continuously and extend online and offline.

Other activities are added as time allows, such as slowly introducing Power Writing, which gives me a sense of their writing, is engaging to the students, and develops writing fluency.

We will begin our course Essential Questions:

  • 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 ?

I introduce them to quick assessments in a Google Doc or a Google Spreadsheet.

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How did we do?

  • Determine and practice expectations of a learning community — individual, group, class, and even different tasks completed with positive actions
  • Discuss and learn protocols for entering, leaving, independent work, group work, discussions, turning in work, computer use, agreements, disagreements
  • Accomplish and celebrate learning / work together — charts and documents, shared documents, a living Learning Community Guidelines

And:

Common Core State Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.7.1 Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text
  • SL.1.b – Comprehension and Collaboration: Follow rules for collegial discussions, track progress toward specific goals and deadlines, and define individual roles as needed.
  • SL.1.c – Comprehension and Collaboration: Pose questions that elicit elaboration and respond to others’ questions and comments with relevant observations and ideas that bring the discussion back on topic as needed.
  • SL.1.d – Comprehension and Collaboration: Acknowledge new information expressed by others and, when warranted, modify their own views.
  • SL.4 – Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with pertinent descriptions, facts, details, and examples; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.

When we begin the reading / writing activities:

  • W 9. Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research. [Includes RI 1, 2]
  • W 7 Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions for further research and investigation.
  • RI.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone. [ See also Language 5]
  • RI.6 Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how the author distinguishes his or her position from that of others.
  • Read [Investigate, Content]
  • RI 2 – Determine two or more central ideas in a text and analyze their development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.
  1. 1 – Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
  • Write [Content}
  • 6-8.WHST.8 – Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, using search terms effectively; assess the credibility and accuracy of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.
  • 6-8.WHST.2.b – Text Types and Purposes: Develop the topic with relevant, well-chosen facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples.
  • 6-8.WHST.2.d – Text Types and Purposes: Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.
  • W.6  Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and link to and cite sources as well as to interact and collaborate with others, including linking to and citing sources.

Every moment is filled with purpose towards our relationship and our focus; a teacher makes instant decisions on the fly based on student input, confusion, prior knowledge, attitude, skills, interactions. It’s a delicate dance moving forward, checking the beat of the moment with the steps towards the future.

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What will your first dance look like?

Part 2

A cross-post here.

This post is part of Margaret Simon’s blogging challenge.

Read more here.Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts