Shoot for the moon…

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Animation is a big thing, and I’ve stayed away from it. I’m not an artist, so simple sketches are a difficult.

Sketch50 [sketch50.org] has helped; I’ve improved, so I thought I’d try animation.

Today I worked with Sketchbook Motion — it’s got a lot of fun features as you can see in the gif. I can make a path, grow more parts [not shown], create particles [stars].  I couldn’t see how to adjust the timeline of events, but there’s a lot more to learn. It works in layers similar to the Sketchbook Pro app I’ve been learning for drawing.

Who knows what’s next in the visual world, but animation to express ideas is a big deal now. I worry, though, that too much may be left to the reader who may misinterpret the writer’s meaning if the voice of the writer in text is missing.

I’m also trying Doink, which has many tutorials to help get started. Here’s my first:


As you see, I’m shooting for the moon and might land on a few stars to help me learn.

DigiLit Sunday Balance

Balancing Goals and Needs
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The sun rises, sometimes behind the fog and clouds, but it is always there, shining for us.

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We rise, and focus on this day’s agenda. Our agenda, our focus for each day is but one part of our bigger dreams and goals. Each day is a journey whose purpose reflects personal and career goals, with specific individual and work goals.

The path of these goals that we envision is often not linear, not smooth; our needs for living, safety, loving, belonging, and community intersect with the needs, and the goals, of others. This is our human journey.

We have learned to cooperate, collaborate, and compromise so we grow as communities in respect and acceptance of our differences, in order to help all of us move forward in our pursuit of happiness, that dream that always shines for us, that hope that keeps us going despite roadblocks, missteps, and obstacles.

Balance comes from our respect for the rights and needs of others, as well as standing firm in our own needs and rights. I am reminded of Abraham Lincoln’s wise words in the Lincoln-Douglas debates:

I believe each person is naturally entitled to do as he pleases so far as it in no wise interferes with any other man’s rights.  ~ Abraham Lincoln

So for balance, we enjoy and learn from our journey, including learning from and accepting others. We meet our own needs, and connect with others in meeting theirs. There are twists and turns, missteps, and respites. But we take the time and action to join in our journeys as time moves us forward, as the sun, hidden or brightly shining, keeps us focused on goals that change and move with our journey’s reflections and insights.

In our personal lives, we daily are interrupted with life’s challenges, which affect our goals and needs. So when one opportunity closes, we turn to find another. The opportunity could be a job, a grant, a friend, but life situations could change– a job closing or elimination, a grant unfilled, a perspective changed, our health changed, a death. Because, as John Lennon, reminded us:

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

But the important thing is the full verse:

Before you cross the street take my hand.

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

John Lennon: Beautiful Boy

It is our connections, our communion of fellowship with each other, that keeps us balanced and able to continue, and help others continue, in the journey.

In the classroom, that means we teach the whole child: interests, passions, needs. We take time to express and understand and care to each other’s ideas and feelings, because we are connected, we are a community of learners. Our conversations and connections help us deal with life’s challenges and ideas so we can decide how to move forward.

Without that balance of working together, we become inert in our ventures or ideologues of rigidness, unable to see the beauty of our human uniquenesses and unable to connect with our fellow travelers in our human journey. As Marie Curie said:

You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end, each of us must work for his own improvement and, at the same time, share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful.

Marie Curie

Goals, yes; yet with those goals, our needs draw us together as a community so each of our journeys can succeed. In the journey of life as we follow our dreams and goals, take each other by the hand, share and connect, and help each other. That is balance.

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Part of DigiLit Sunday

Margaret Gibson

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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Reflection #immooc #digilitsunday

 

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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:

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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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#leadershipday11 Our Reflection: 2+2+2

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#leadershipday11 2+2+2

Each year Scott McLeod challenges us to challenge our administrators to move forward with technology for the learning processes of our schools.

One question asked: What are some tangible, concrete, realistic steps that administrators can take to move their school organizations forward?

Considering the National Educational Technology Standards for Administrators, our school’s administrative leaders are 2 + 2 + 2 in moving our school forward:

2 To Thank

2 To Get Better

2 To Go Further

2 To Thank

1- stay abreast of educational research and emerging trends regarding effective use of technology and encourage evaluation of new technologies for their potential to improve student learning.

Our school leaders share readings and experiences that support our move to Google Apps for Education and our use of NWEA to map our students needs. Thank you.

For continued reading for administrators, visit The Connected Principals Blog.

2— recruit and retain highly competent personnel who use technology creatively and proficiently to advance academic and operational goals.

We guide our technology with technology-applying teachers as leaders because they understand and apply technology for teaching and learning. That keeps the focus and need on learning and making things work, rather than blocking access or closing avenues as often happens when the IT directs technology. Thank you.

We hire people willing to advance the school and their own technology use for student learning, especially in new technology job openings. Thank you.

2 To Get Better

1— collaborate to establish metrics, collect and analyze data, interpret results, and share findings to improve staff performance and student learning.

Our professional development has focused on accessing student data and apply that information to plan for student learning.

To get better we could share our focus areas in online tools: sharing documents of lessons; using forms for documenting student learning to monitor and adjust more easily; create a Professional Learning Community site for resources particular to our needs.

Professional Learning Community with Google Apps

Principal Walk-Through

About Walk-Throughs

2— allocate time, resources, and access to ensure ongoing professional growth in technology fluency and integration.

We have provided after-school training in our GAFE initiative and provided ten-minute shots during staff meetings.

To get better we could provide at least one period each week for teachers to explore and document one new strategy using technology.

In Five

2 To Go Further

1— promote and model effective communication and collaboration among stakeholders using digital-age tools.

Expect use of our GAFE and wiki tools to plan and implement our strategic and local programs as well as share our work with the community.

Collaboration

2- provide learner-centered environments equipped with technology and learning resources to meet the individual, diverse needs of all learners.

We thank our Parent Education Committee for their vision and support to improve technology devices at our school.

Our administration is continuing to find ways to bring our school model into 21st teaching and learning. Instead of computers for each student, use an iOS device. Update our policies to include Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) policies.

iPads in Schools

BYOD

Our administration supports our technology initiatives. We have to thank administration for their efforts. We want to get better and to go further.

What is your 2+2+2 reflection?

2 to Thank

2 to Get Better

2 to Go Further?