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

Purpose of Education #immooc

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I’ve really been thinking about this. Our school systems in the United States formed with local boards of education so that the community’s education goals direct what happens in their school. Of course, the State Departments of Education mandate curriculum and their goals, and the US Department of Education and its purse strings mandate their own policies. With the State and Federal mandates determining funding, our schools focus on those goals and mandates, which in this time period include standardized testing, teacher evaluations, and various curricular requirements. This tangle of mandates strangle any true purpose of education, which must focus on the students, and I’m not sure the local community has much say, since the school board of directors usually focuses on improving those test scores as well.

What are the tests testing? Do we need tests to discern whether or not a student can read, do math, or communicate clearly? Do we really need tests to see where students are in the development of their thinking processes — to tell fact from fiction, and to synthesize ideas in discussion and debate with others to reach a set of understandings?

I don’t think so; I think teachers could observe, assess, guide, and scaffold learners to move successfully from where they are to where they could be successful as critical and creative learners on their own.

Because what is the purpose of education? Our public education system accepts all students, and our purpose must be to guide them to discover who they are, to know what their strengths are and could be, and to enrich their world with choices in possibilities through authentic group and personal goals. This is a process of living and working together to discover the understandings of how the world works by doing the work.

The purpose of education is to support and enrich the learners so they can learn on their own, no matter what the situation. As Seymour Papert says, “The good way to learn is to use it now.” Education must be doing what is needed by students as they choose and work through an authentic, relevant, and beneficent interest or inquiry.

In the doing, we learn. We learn more than the objective specific to the curriculum; we learn to investigate, share, discuss, debate, share, design, provide feedback, organize, determine relevance, create and remix, present, etc. Not everyone is learning the same things, because individuals or teams are focused on what each needs to reach their purpose.

Innovation breaks through patterns of routine and encourages attainment of essential goals through better strategies, processes, and tools that engage learners as active advocates and architects of their goals, learning, and life plans, working with peers to make the world better.

Innovation isn’t a big thing, although it could be. Innovation can simply be choices in what and how to study. The choices are the innovation.  Innovation can be stepping back and thinking, “Does every one have to take a test to show what they know?” — and providing or asking students what that would look like. Innovation can be simply just that: making decisions with students.

It can be strategies: how to turn uncivil arguments into civil and respectful debates.

It can be tools: social bookmarking, YouTube Live debates

It can be processes and protocols developed together with participants.

Innovation takes the usual or mundane, reinvigorates the purpose, and creates better engagement to meet that purpose.

Big or small, innovation moves people and education forward for the better, as each student moves forward knowing his/her strengths and goals while building the knowledge and skills to meet their goals.

What has been one of your best “innovations”that have broken through the usual to better focus the team’s goals?

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#IMMOOC Building Mindsets

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Kevin Hodgson created an #IMMOOC Innovative Mindset Google Plus Community for conversation, sharing, and collaboration about spreading this idea of Innovation, based on the book study mooc started by George Couros for his book,The Innovator’s Mindset .

Kevin challenged us to begin thinking of innovation, and to think of our ideas of innovation as an image.

That simple request forces us to step outside of our thinking, to see things in a new light. It reminded me of  my mom’s old book of puzzles. I loved it. My favorite puzzles consisted of simple sketches that suggested something. What do you think the above image is?

Unflattening the world has been part of my life – my mom could see beyond the obvious, and helped me look at the bigger picture. As a young mother rushed in front of us in the grocery line, mom would say, “She needs to get her back home for baby’s nap.” That might not have been true, but mom always took a step back to see a bigger idea and a step into the shoes of others.

Is the image a bear climbing a tree? A giraffe walking by your window? A snake slithering across your beach towel?

We need to step around to see. Turn things around, and get a different view. Try to think from another’s perspective. Believe in your own! And as Kevin asks of us, see things from another perspective.

I think that is part of innovation, especially with technology, because technology removes boundaries and barriers, bringing the possibility for all ideas to be shared, remixed, and repurposed, building on what worked, and often in collaboration with others, to find a better way towards an issue, strategy, or communication. Innovation builds on the ideas that went before and tweaks them, changes them, steps apart from them to better the world in which we live and work together.

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I tried to create that concept in my image as a response to Kevin’s challenge. I opened an iPhone app [NetSketch] and started drawing lines and shapes to represent ideas, the lighter colors the earlier ideas later connected and stretched in new ways, with the bolder colors leading the developed change, a forward flowing change kept as it bettered my [our] world with continued innovative developments.

You can see other people’s drawings here.

Imagine this in schools — it’s not an overnight occurrence, although some of the choices may be simple and easy to quickly innovate; it’s more than one thing — it’s something that becomes part of what you do daily . It’s part of a system of thinking, doing, and creating that is better than before.

To see an example of this, read Kevin’s post, “#IMMOOC Go and Find Out.” He shares the process of change in a project for middle school students, whose creations developed from paper to powerpoint to games over a period of years, as technology provided the possibilities for the innovation. Most impressive, as I found on the project website, is that the project focussed on all learners. Listen to the collaborating teachers explain how the gaming project helped struggling writers.

I think key to this innovation is the collaborative inquiry approach by these teachers. Had Kevin worked on this alone, fewer students would have been impacted, and the project would have probably stayed in his repertoire, rather than become a part of a larger change in the school or district.  Innovation cannot exist in isolation. Without a school culture of shared leadership and collaboration, I wonder if innovation can occur? Part of innovation is the building of ideas, sharing of ideas, and remixing of ideas, in collaboration with others to make a difference that’s better than before.

In Innovator’s Mindset on LOC 439 of 3535, Kindle Edition, I found a great chart. I searched and found it on Twitter:

It was part of #cpchat [Connected Principals chat] and #suptchat [Superintendents chat] and co-created by George and Bill Ferriter [@plugusin ]

Technology is a tool, not a leadership outcome.  ~George Couros

Principals and superintendents in these chats are leading change with technology as a tool to do so. Collaboration, reflection, and openness are key, and I think must be part of a goal of innovation. I hope our book study, blogs, and conversations help those of us in classrooms and in the community learn how to extend that leadership.

If you’re part of a school and are joining in this mindset journey, let your leaders know — your tech coordinators, principals, and superintendents. Share your ideas. Share your blog. Ask to share in staff meetings and to provide professional development. Get others involved. Help others make that mindset perspective leap. It’s a key aspect of innovative change.

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Unflattening Ideas from

my other blog

What Else:

#clmooc Unflattening

 

Slice of Life SOL Friend’s Quote

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It’s hard to come up with ideas for blogging. That’s why I provide students with a  March Slice Challenge prompts beyond our notebook lists of ideas [like/hate,favorites, fun/have to, ordinary/extraordinary]. Today’s prompt is “Write a Quote from a Friend.”

And today, Sunday, is a day I check on my Twitter friends, especially those involved in Genius Hour.  Two of them [Gallit Zvi and Denise Krebs] have even co-written a book on Genius Hour: The Genius Hour Guidebook: Fostering Passion, Wonder, and Inquiry in the Classroom (Eye on Education Books).  They also sponsor a #geniushour Twitter chat on the first Thursday of the month at 6 PM Pacific.

That means I missed it last Thursday.  But my search for a friend’s quote was then easy to find.  Denise’s tweet above resonated with me. This year I’m focusing on helping my students own their learning — and decide their own assessment of their achievement towards our essential questions and standards. Some students recognize their quality work’s characteristics without much guidance; others need the scaffolding of checklists; all of them benefit from the feedback that comments in our Google Docs allow. The result is that grades are not a reward or punishment, but rather part of the learning process — and students learn to revise and improve their work, either in the current project or the next one, knowing that their best representation will be shown in that grade report, not just an average.

On Mondays my students spend part of their class time on Independent Reading or project learning.  The rest of Monday is choice: Code, Genius Hour, or Media Making. Students dig in and learn, helping and collaborating on projects or coding — not for a grade, but for their learning. It’s a busy, chattery, and sharing period that students ask for daily, but know that the next Monday is waiting for them.

So, if you’re considering Genius Hour, then also consider the amazing effect that “Just Learning” has on the passion and enthusiasm of students: the goal is learning, without a thought or worry of grades.

And, if you need an idea for blogging, just look to the quotes from your Professional Learning Network/Neighborhood [PLN].

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#140WC 2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 410 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Thank you to all the bloggers and tweeters who share ideas that inspire me to consider and to reflect. I appreciate the openness of the education world — those who teach others in their classrooms, online, and through their sharing of tweets, blogs, videos, etc. Learning is sharing, and teaching is sharing. We as humans learn together to make progress. And what without each other, we wander without purpose.  So thank you all, for adding purpose and possibilities into my life, my learning, and my teaching.

Thank you! May 2015 be just as inspirational!

WC: 144

See sidebar to join the #140WC Challenge

I took the week off for the holidays.

#140WC Messy

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As I plan my lessons and projects with student interests in mind, as I encourage their collaboration and problem-solving, and as I teach the lessons from the standards to deepen their thinking, their process, and their products, I am always brought back to this: learning is messy.

Learning is messy, and recording and reporting that learning is even more messy. And the messiness is this: we are each unique — and how and what we learn is just as unique; it cannot be forced into a standard, a score, a grade. Each learning is more than the parts — it’s the wonder of the people creating it — the thinking, evaluating, organizing, designing, and working together to create their understanding to share with others.

Learning is a conversation filled with sharing, explaining, questioning, acknowledging, and suggestions. Learning is improving every day.

So how do we show that?

Lately, the work of Ron Berger has been tweeted, and, upon researching, I discovered he is the Butterfly Teacher, that marvelous focus on critique, feedback for learning, for improving. In this Education Week Blog Post, Ron Berger explains this messiness, this focus that is real learning. How do his students know their work demonstrates expectations? Models, standards, common criteria, and expected attributes of complexity, craftsmanship, and authenticity [this is a pdf of this excellent resource]. These guide analysis of both student work and teacher assignments, which means reflection, conversations, feedback, and revision.

Learning is continuous and reporting and grading is a reflection of the current status of learning.

I’ve been struggling with this; I always struggle with this. I searched my computer for “thoroughness,” and discovered this set of attributes I had developed years ago during my elementary, self-contained, project-based classroom for grades six, seven, and eight. This served as our guide towards excellence.

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Looks like I’ve got some more reading and research to do to improve my work and to develop the attributes with my students for what learning projects look like when students have choices to develop their demonstration of learning about our topics, a process that is messy and engaging. — What is a quality project, something more than a number?

How do you establish the criteria for quality work within the messiness that is real learning?

 

WC: 368

Please join the #140 WC Challenge — see link at top right.

#140WC Kid EdCamp Thinking