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.

Agency #immooc

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What is best for the learner?

Whether student or teacher, what is best for each as learner is that which builds the capacity to learn and invent on their own with the freedom to act to forge their futures and make the world better because of it. We need to build the capacity of knowledge to empower learners with the confidence that they can invent their world.

To be truly empowered, people need both ownership and autonomy.

George Couros, Innovator’s Mindset

How do we frame our work together as educators and with students, all learners, so that we own what we do, with autonomy in our journeys? How do we grow agency in our teachers and students?

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Build Trust and Relationships

First step: slide into the path of our students or another teacher to understand each other, to know where we’re from. Build time to listen. Listen. Trust in their choices. Creating an environment of trust warms the willingness to engage; it empowers people with their own agency to make a difference. It’s ripples radiate throughout the community: trust is the sunshine that warms the soul. It builds confidence to risk, to know failure will not be met in a negative way, but as a process to learn, and so builds resilience.

As leaders in education, our job is not to control those whom we serve but to unleash their talent.

George Couros, Innovator’s Mindset

Teachers are prepared with professional knowledge; trust them to do so.

Students are prepared with curiosity; trust them to use it.

Disrupt the Routine

Next step: Disrupt the usual. Share leadership: gather solutions and insights from staff, or as teachers, from students. Expect discord in the dialogue:

Innovation often comes from conflict and disagreement, not in an adversarial way but in a way that promotes divergent thinking…to actually create a better idea– perhaps one that merges multiple, shared ideas.

George Couros, Innovator’s Mindset

Step Out of The Way

Third step: Once the idea that voices are not only heard, but also become a contribution to solutions, then the willingness to participate actively increases. Whether in improving school programs as teachers or developing pathways to learning projects as students, once the doing has been their choice with their voice, the foundation of agency grows.

Teachers own and offer their ideas, collaborating with others to improve student learning. Students own their learning, thinking as authors, mathematicians, historians, scientists, musicians, artists, engineers, leaders, etc. Yes, both teachers and students become leaders: organizers, designers, collaborators, being flexible and team players. They see themselves as creators rather than consumers, contributors rather than recipients.

Celebrate the Culture

Fourth Step: Reflect on the growth. Review for improvement. Once the community of learners, educators and students, moves towards the mindset that each is a vital participant, leading or following as needed, then step back and reflect on what worked and why. Share successes. Soon what didn’t work will come forward. Design next steps from both. And begin the transparency of reflective processes to continue the development of a culture of learning and a culture of innovation. That might look like blogs or portfolios, but sharing is key to continued reflective practice.

Share Innovation

Finally, identify how the journey has created new and better solutions and processes for the school or classroom. Celebrate the innovative ideas, successful or needing revision: each risk comes from the willingness of everyone to build a better community within the school and without. Celebrate and share in social media so others can learn, the community is informed, and progress is curated. The feedback locally and globally will add ideas and further innovation.

Continue the Journey

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George Couros suggests  the above five steps to continue the foundation for an innovative culture.  What would that look like?
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An innovative culture builds agency, whereby its participants feel trusted, are confident to voice ideas, co-create solutions, own the process, and act in collaboration with other participants to make the community better. Educators and students alike learn and grow w together in such a culture.


As we discussed progress in developing the foundation for innovation in our Voxer group, a Google Slices for crowdsourcing suggestions and experiences for  innovative professional development or meetings awaits your participation so we all can share in an open way to bring an innovative culture to our own situations with the input of all participants.  Please enjoy, use, and add your own:

Connected Educator Month #ce16 #immooc

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It’s Connected Educator Month!

How will you connect with others outside of your school to empower yourself and share with others?

I’m connecting in the University of Michigan’s Virtual Digital Writing Conference every Sunday. So many exciting and interactive sessions, including keynotes and conversations with Dr. Troy Hicks @hickstro This event is also a National Writing Project program.  Watch as many or as few as you want each Sunday in October. Free, but registration is required.  Here are the sessions I participated in on Sunday, Oct 2. Follow on Twitter at #4TDW

I’m also taking part in Innovator’s Mindset Mooc by George Couros, author, principal, a book study with 2000 participants, including whole school districts. Katie Martin also facilitates. We participate in many ways– as many or as few as you wish: webinars / podcastsVoxer group, Google Plus Community, Facebook Group, Twitter hashtag #immooc, and blogs.

With the ideas we share, we become better. For instance, after reading others’ blogs and tweets, and participating in the webinar I wrote this post. Musings on Innovation. The last graphic in the post is a list of questions I would use with students based on the 8 characteristics of an innovator. So my friend Kevin Hodgson [who is the closing keynote for the VT conference] created a comic about the post’s ideas for innovating school design, which will add context to our thinking. Kevin and I are moderators for the IMMOOC Google Community. The great thing about a MOOC is that you can lurk or join in at any time. Learning is forever in many forms.

I’m also reviewing Mark Barnes‘s Hack Learning series book, Hacking Engagement by James Sturtevant. Empowering students through active engagement of value is key to my teaching. How do I connect with Mark? We’ve been following each other on Twitter for years, and his work inspires my teaching. Check out his book, Role Reversal

Achieving Uncommonly Excellent Results in the Student-Centered Classroom at ASCD.

Another possible event is Teachers First OK2Ask webinar on 10/4 at 4 PM Pacfic — Chrome Extensions. See this and upcoming events — register here.
Or view the CE calendar here for more choices for connecting.

Maybe you’ll just start your Twitter account and follow the above hashtags — just looking at the tweets and starting to follow teachers in your grade or subject. That would be an awesome way to start. Or choose a chat related to your interest. [See Edudemic’s Guide to Twitter or this Live Binder]

Why? Because the world is connected. Your students are connected. Being connected makes you relevant.

The amazing thing about connected educators is this: it doesn’t matter your degree or position, everyone has a voice.

You become online friends with those you constantly interact with to better your teaching to better the instruction that betters student learning.

You get to know and ask questions of Troy, Mark, George, Kevin, Lucy Gray, Shelly Terrell, Alec Couros, Matt Miller, etc.

You may even collaborate and co-create instructional material for others. Look at my friends Gallit and Denise, who now have published a book on Genius Hour. Denise and I finally met after years of blogging and tweeting together to better our teaching of writing — and we even [without meeting face to face, just tweeting and Google Slides] presented for Connected Educator 2012 —  she made a trip to meet up. It was awesome.

And your teaching strategies will grow. Why? Because connectedness flattens the world: we all have the opportunity and the voice to share good ideas for learners.

And guess what? Even if I were still teaching, I’d be doing those three things and more: #4TDW, #IMMOOC, book review. Because they help me teach in the way students today want to learn, and I refuse to be irrelevant. I will come away every day with a better idea to impact learning, to empower students in their learning tomorrow.

Everyone starts somewhere. Just start.  

Maybe you just want to know HOW to be a connected educator. How about reading and following the suggestions in the book The Relevant Educator: How Connectedness Empowers Learning by Tom Whitby and Steven W. Anderson [who started #edchat ]. There may even be spaces left for the Teachers First bookclub. Or we could form our own bookclub for the book in Google Plus or Twitter, just to support each other. Just comment below.

Here’s what two educational leaders say from the website about the book and connected learners:

“It is incumbent upon all educators to connect with other educators who can reignite their passion for teaching. The authors generously share their wisdom for those who want to accelerate the development of a personal learning network. “ 
Angela Maiers, Founder and President
Choose2Matter, Inc. and Maiers Education Services, Inc.

“Learn how and why educators must connect in order to truly be at the top of their game. This book gives practical advice on how to connect, engage, and grow as a learner.”
Adam Bellow, Corwin Author Untangling the Web

Lots of ideas and examples here and in the stream when you join Twitter. Be a connected educator, a connected learner.

Just start!

Where will you start, or what will you do if you already are, a connected educator?
theworldisconnected
Sheri Edwards
Connected Innovator

Reflect curiosity and wonder…
Go boldly and scatter seeds of kindness…

More Information about Connected Learning

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

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Slice of Life Leadership

 

 

David Geurin is a “principal and lead learner at Bolivar High School in Bolivar, Missouri.”  I enjoy learning from him, and following the link in the above tweet lead me to David’s perceptive post on leadership:


What Great Leaders Do Differently 2016

“Leaders set out to make a difference.” In education that is so true: the goal is always to make teaching and learning better, to make a difference. Leaders have a vision for reaching goals, and great leaders share that leadership. In David’s post, you’ll see that “difference” in his list.

I especially find this one important:

3. They come from every corner of the school (students, teachers, support staff, etc.—not just admin). Leadership is more about disposition than position. Great leaders help develop new leaders and share leadership roles with others.

In all the posts and discussions on leadership that I have read, these ideas are considered important to promote collaboration among participants: the value of sharing leadership roles, of listening carefully to others, and of finding leadership in others throughout the school. We learn and grow together– shared leadership grows a community of practice intent on continuous learning and improvement.

Which leadership action or trait do you consider vital to your organization?

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#edblogaday This is My Teacher

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Day 6 Topic: How will we know when our profession is respected?

Answer 1:

I know our profession is respected when I’m out in the community and a student runs over to me and says to his or her friends or family, “This is my teacher.”

Answer 2:

I will know when our profession is respected when I’m out in a community meeting and someone says, “Let’s ask her; she’s a teacher.”

Answer 3:

I will know when our profession is respected when I’m in a school planning committee on any level, local, state, national, international, and teachers are expected to guide the direction, solution, and policy based on their known expertise.

Answer 4:

I will know when our profession is respected when teachers’ assessments are the most important data points.

Answer 5:

I  will know when our profession is respected when everyone believes, “Teachers reach into the future; let them teach.”

What’s your answer?


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