Musings on Innovation for #immooc

 

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What are some examples that you consider innovative?  How is it new and better than what previously existed?

An example of a change in practice that is innovative in the classroom and becoming more so is that of the commenting feature in Google Apps so that I can give ongoing, synchronous or asynchronous, feedback to students, and they can give feedback to each other. We can have an ongoing conversation that leads the student to their success in more ways than a simple objective. With Kaizena, I can even give voice feedback, although I’ve found the written feedback to be more effective.

In addition, students can use their voice in Google Docs to type their work, which is so beneficial to some students whose great ideas somehow cannot get from their brain through their fingers onto the paper.

In the past, I’d have to gather the documents on flash drives, a shared drive, or on paper, provide written or typed feedback and send it back. Not nearly the smooth process we now have using Google Classroom with Google Docs.

In my teaching, I’m always looking for ways to help each student be successful. For instance texts on the Mac can be read to students who may not be fluent enough to read more difficult text. They know to highlight the text, click command-option-escape, and listen to the text as often as they need to understand and come up with their own questions and understanding, in their Google Doc with voice. In the past, a partner or myself could read it to them– but now they are in control. In fact my students know how to use rewordify.com to paste in text and select an easier reading level.  I’m always asking, “What does this learner need?”

In thinking about Language Arts and the tools of communication, inquiry, collaboration, design, and publication, I also understand that my goals need to represent today and tomorrow — the evolving world of interconnectedness, analysis and curation of constant information, and development and publication of one’s own ideas. Therefore, our essential questions reflect those goals:

essentialquestionsrelevantt

And our tools support our learning: Google Apps for Education, Thinglink, Padlet, blogs and blog buddies. It’s not that we’re using the tools, but how we use them as publishers, editors, designers, authors that makes us — students and teachers — innovators.

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In my life, I’m still figuring out how to innovate what was my teaching career into some other avenue. I’ve continued my Twitter conversations and connections and still participate in things like #clmooc and #immooc. I am a forever learner.

What has changed in our world is our instant connectedness, which is a good and a bad thing. So it is necessary for our student to be discerning viewers and creators of content — to do so to better the world.  That’s a mantra to keep emphasizing — to better the world. Some of us have that as a gift, others are so traumatized that survival precludes them from thinking of others. So we must share how to innovate to get beyond survival to be in control and making things better for oneself and others — to do something amazing.

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If I were to design a school, I’d think about these:

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Based on Connected Learning theory [#clmooc]:

Connected Learning

By innovating with the tools to which we have access today, much of this we can accomplish as learner-centered experiences: interest-driven, peer-supported, shared purpose, production-centered, and openly networked to meet our personalized academic goals and essential questions for learners, today and tomorrow.

architectscreateexperiences

In examining the eight characteristics of an innovator, I thought in terms of my students. How could we be innovators together?

I could ask them:  Imagine a world where you are in control, where you find creativity and contentment, passion and province, connections and community? Imagine this together. What would it look like? We can think of this journey, and prepare our minds to succeed:

Be an innovator, someone who believes that ability, intelligence, and talents are developed,leading to the creation of better ideas — a better world.

Let’s start asking ourselves these questions:

innovatorsworldsre

I started that journey with my students with collaborative tools [GAFE and wikis], blogging, and student choice for their voice in a community of learners, and now I have a way to introduce them to an innovator’s vision of and mindset for the world.

How did you start your journey?  What questions did you ask?


Images:

Change by @gcouros #immooc

Quotes created with Notegraphy

Design A School by Sheri Edwards in Keynote

Innovator’s World in Keynote

Connected Learning theory

Hesitant Writers

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Did you read the post today on The Pennsylvania Writing and Literature Project blog, Teacher to Teacher: Helping Students Write? It’s a great read with questions and suggestions to help writers who cry, “I don’t have anything to write about.”

I also read Karon LaBonte’s post “Composing vs “Digital Writing,” which explained her personal process of and struggles in writing with all the digital and analog possibilities. I commented on her personal process and we both agreed that it’s the “personal” part of writing that engages students, yet our classrooms may be so focused on the requirements of nonfiction writing and essays that we neglect this most important aspect.

Which is why I enjoyed the “Helping Students Write” post. Lynne Dorfman suggested questions and getting to know the student:

…what the student likes to read, who his favorite authors are, what he watches on television. I ask him about his interests and hobbies. I want to know who is important in his life. Sometimes, I will try to find out if he has written a story, poem, description, etc., that he felt really good about and would like to tell me about that piece.

I love how Lynne invites the writer to think about writing through questions that show how personal writing is– that it starts with what the writer knows, his or her interests and passions.

Especially important for hesitant writers (and those who do not regularly write at all) are the questions about writing outside of school, and the questions about their interests. I try to listen to these students in conversation with others to discover in their chatter the story of the shot s/he made at recess, or the planned trip to a basketball tournament, or the dog who chased away the cougar, or the new video game played. Anything that will allow me to ask a question so the student tells the story, which then can be written.

Once they are written, the feedback on what was written well is key to encouraging students to continue. The action, the strong verb, the precise noun, the dialogue. After a few successes, sharing with peers to offer the positive feedback to each other begins the journey of thinking like writers.

Once students begin identifying the good writing, the teacher starts suggesting using that good skill in more areas, or suggests a skill another writer has shared. After a few sessions of the “compliment sandwich” [compliment, suggestion, compliment], students can begin compliment sandwiches with each other. They become a community of writers.

Still, there are students whose only writing may be the texts in their chats. It’s true that I’ve found students with piles of composition notebooks filled with poetry, but who don’t write at school until that talent is tapped. But many times, I’ve students who just have never written as a choice.

Key to engaging those students is the process of writing about what they know. The relationship between teacher and student is key — the discovering of their interests is key. Listening to their stories from your discovered questions asked from learning about them is so important. Guiding them to write by jumping into their action with an event or dialogue also helps them start the writing. A person can have a story, have told a story, but starting the story can hold them back.

I ask them to freeze a portion of their story — take a snapshot. Whatever action is there becomes the focus — frozen, we begin describing the moment, get it down as if it is just happening using action verbs, second by second. Soon the moment is alive and the student has a first action memoir.

It is those few first stories, that show how writers write about what they know, that begin the development of confidence so that students can find their own story and voice in the days to come, and begin their journey as writer.

And I love when those at first hesitant writers become the models for others.

How do you engage the hesitant writers?

 

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Slice of Life I Missed Venice

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I’m in class all day. But my granddaughter currently travels throughout Italy with a backpack and an adventurous attitude. Her blog says:

 A vacation is a break from everyday life that in the end leaves you to return to the same pattern.

This is a factory reset. The goal is to come back as someone completely new, refreshed, and open minded.

To rediscover what it is to be human, not to be an American.

~Allison Fischer

That’s quite a statement. “To rediscover what it is to be human, not an American.” Imagine understanding the world from a human perspective, rather than a national or personal perspective.  I’ve heard that some where; I believe that somewhere. Imagine.

Today, she enjoyed Venice, a city I would love to visit. I missed her travels there and any live feeds while I was teaching and at the dentist. I can hardly wait to learn about her visit. She always talks to the local residents and learns about each city and place she visits. Just think of a city whose roads are rivers, or rather canals fluctuating with the sea’s tide and connecting the tiny islands from which the city arose ten years before the birth of Jesus.

I would have loved to see this city as she floated through the canals, winding through the waterways. What would that be like?  The colors in the pictures of the houses and shops, the waves reflecting the lights of the sun, the moon, the city lights, or perhaps the fishy smell from the sea, or the constant sounds of boats bouncing on the waves and clanking on the docks.  What happens when the tide recedes? So many questions about such a different type of city.

As a child, the journeys and story of the Venetian Marco Polo intrigued me — how he needed to open his mind and be more than a Venetian; I’m sure that’s why Venice has always been interesting as well.

And Allison is my Marco Polo.

Sigh.

I missed it.

 


 

Writing Strategy:

Wonderment: asking questions

Links:  Venice, Marco Polo, Allison’s blog, Imagine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image Source: Venice by Dominic Sherony

Slice of Life Cobbles

EndlessallisonRomeAdventure

 

Her feet hurt.

For hours she walked upon volcanic basalt cubes, the cobblestone streets of ancient Rome. One foot carefully placed, then another. Step by step in shoes without support in the arch or ankle, she tread through the tiny alleyways winding in ancient patterns to the places most of us only dream or read about: the Colosseum and the Pantheon.

The cobblestones cover the streets in the ancient city of Rome. They are cubes of basalt, a hard volcanic rock. The basalt cubes lay spaced atop the earth below, fitting together loosely to allow them to form to the earth. Settling into the ground, the cubes are uneven in height, creating a difficult terrain, much less friendly than the soft earth on the mountains of home in Washington State, where the wet earth would cushion her step beneath the tall firs.

The well-worn cobbles, two-thousand years old, welcome travelers; their unevenness forces them to notice the rugged roadway, and to notice each step of their adventure through the winding streets. Just as the firs of home have beckoned her towards the next bend in the narrow path,  the rows of cobbles now seem to say, “You’re almost there. Look ahead– look around the corner; there’s more to see. You can do it.”

The adventure itself eases her pain as she stops for a chocolate frappe and chats with locals. She steps back onto the cobbles, joins the troupe of travelers, and turns the corner to discover a new destination ahead, which will be followed by more.

Her feet quicken.

South_east_view_of_the_Pantheon_from_Piazza_Minerva,_2006

Public Domain Image: South_east_view_of_the_Pantheon_from_Piazza_Minerva

Life in Italy: Sampietrini

About the Roman Cobbles BBC


classroomsliceoflife

Writing Strategy:

Layering

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.2.B
Develop the topic with relevant facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples.

Layer each idea one upon another.

Example:

For hours she walked upon volcanic basalt cubes, the cobblestone streets of ancient Rome. One foot carefully placed, then another. Step by step in shoes without support in the arch or ankle, she tread through the tiny alleyways winding in ancient patterns to the places most of us only dream or read about.

walk — ON cobblestone streets—  BY foot — EACH step –WILL tread — THROUGH alleyways —  TO places

Alliteration:  — repeated beginning consonant sounds –

s – Step by step in shoes without support

c – cobblestones cover

d- discover a new destination

Strong Verbs:  walk, tread, creating, welcomes, beckoned, steps, joins

Slice of Life Silence

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Morning flew by along as many students continued to finish arguments [like this one] and personalized book reports based on student reading notes shared over the month in Google Forms. Some students worked on Keynote videos based on their social justice issues. Others reviewed make-up assignments. Students helped each other and asked questions related to their current task: argument warrants or concession/rebuttal; how to download their Google Slides as images for Keynote; how to review resources for figurative language. I love the sounds of workshop time: soft whispers asking for help and getting advice from peers, keyboards clicking, the ahhhs from sharing successes and techniques, focused silence for those reading, and discussion in my small group reviewing argumentative strategies. There’s a quiet hum that fluctuates between the calm of concentration and the chatter of collaboration, a wave of sound and energy in an ebb and flow of student agency.

It was a good morning, I thought, as I considered our successes during the final five minutes of noon break. I glanced across the empty desks reflecting the sunshine softly glowing through the window’s blinds.  They seemed to say, “Are they back yet?”

Riiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnggggggg!

Yes.

I stood to greet them.

classroomsliceoflife


 

Writing Strategies:

Strong Verbs:  flew by, continued, reviewed, worked, helped, download, fluctuates, considered, glanced

Personification:  The desks seemed to say, “Are they back yet?”

Onomatopoeia:  Riiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnggggggg!