SOL17 DoodleaDay Map Story


Writing.

If you’re a writer, you know it isn’t easy. If you’re not a writer, you know it’s hard.

Donald Murray assured us that “Writing is hard fun.”

In our classrooms, as students learn and read, and wherever students are, they listen, watch, play, work and learn. They gather ideas and facts; they imagine “what ifs.” And teachers have a responsibility to extend all that learning by providing time for students to think and write, and think and write together. And writing for their personal expression in fact and fiction to share their ideas.

Writing clarifies our ideas; it frees our thoughts, contains our thoughts, and connects our thoughts in new ways. We get better at writing by reading a lot and writing a lot. We get better at writing by sharing our pieces — what we like, what we wonder, what we are confused about– for feedback from others. 

Writers know this. Our students need to experience this, not in assignments, but in writing about what’s important to them, in fact or fiction. Journaling, blogging, writers workshop, genius hour: all are ways to incorporate choice in student writing.

We’ve got to let them develop their style, away from templates and outlines. Students need to experience using what they know– facts, experiences, imaginings– to form ideas into a story [fiction or not]. As students review their writing, they share with a friend and get feedback as they make a choice to abandon or to elaborate and revise. If they like their piece, they can edit and publish.  Without these experiences, the feeling of satisfaction and joy — that hard fun — is not attained. We want students to live as writers, as authors on their own.

And with that experience, their messages become clear, in both their own and in their assignments.

Yes, I want my students think like authors– to make the choices in words and organization, in flow and structure, to build their factual or imaginary story and feel the message understood by others when they share during writing and later in publication. 

I want them to learn through their process and publication that “Writing is hard fun.”

And just perhaps, they’ll compose such a story as…

The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Gordon Lightfoot

Today’s doodling tune in honor of writers and writing, in all its forms.

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Hiding in our minds

Ideas flow and connect;

Stories Awaken.

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

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Update: As I perused my Facebook feed, I discovered that Ralph Fletcher just made a similar plea, but, of course, he says it much better than I:

Greenbelt Writing: How Low-Stakes, Student-Centered Writing Supports Bold Learning

It’s a great read on Heinemann’s Medium blog.

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

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 #PBL

Distributed Learning
I love Twitter. Can’t you just get lost sometimes? Stumbling through Twitter links, I started with Google Folders; found a link to free download on Digital Fluency_Snapshot, looked around that site to Hibernating Students, then Active Learning where the next post was Visual Guide to PBL, a post I’d read before on Edudemic about a deeper look at the PBL process, analyzed into a “Distributed-Project Based Learning” graphic by Yameng Li

Project-based learning engages students — they are actively learning together to analyze information and produce a representation of their ideas — in some project form based on their audience and purpose.

In today’s world, students’ process and product include the tech tools they choose for their need. They are learning critically thinking, problem-solving, communication, and design as they collaborate towards their goal.

The chart above shows us the basics of the process in the bottom tier: Organizing/Co-ordinating the work, building background knowledge to inspire, and finally, the co-design of the project. But look at the list of possibilities and expectations in each of those categories. Notice how each part of the process involves those skills often not included in “standards,” but are integral to the Common Core State Standards and most technology standards: thinking and collaboration.  The finally tier includes tech tools students employ during the process and for their product.

It’s time though to update that tier: Google Hangouts, Google Research, Google Communities, Google Apps, Google Drive, Visual.ly, Easel.ly, Lucid Charts, Lucid Press, Canva, Tackk, BitStrips, Voki — there’s tons of tech apps that have blossomed and will continue too. The point though, is the overall view of the process in one graphic.

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I think it’ll help the students and teachers expand their thinking about the PBL process. I’m glad I found it again.

WC 295


Vision for the Future: The Other 21st Century Skills

Jackie Gerstein leads us to what needs to happen in education. Take time to read her post.

User Generated Education

Due to the interest of my post The Other 21st Skills, I decided to individually discuss each of the skills or dispositions I proposed that are in addition to the seven survival skills as identified by Tony Wagner.  This post focuses on vision for the future.

2013-05-22_1407Having a vision for the future is an natural extension of Hope and Optimism, another 21st century skill I proposed.  A vision for the future enhances hope and optimism. To clarify, having a vision for the future is identifying and taking steps toward fulfilling one’s dream.  It goes beyond and is qualitatively different than identifying what one wants to be when one grows up or thinking about college.  It is about dreams.

The following excerpt was from my post, Dream-Driven Education. . . Seth Godin in Stop Stealing Dreams states:

Have we created a trillion-dollar, multimillion-student, sixteen-year schooling cycle to take our…

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