Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Just back from a walk with Harley at the wildlife preserve where the sun shimmered on the cold water from which the ice is retreating; birds lifting voices in song to the clear, crisp air; snow reluctantly receding from all the shaded nooks and crannys; a goose gingerly walking at the edge of the ice near the open water. Old man winter, who waited until January to let us know he was still in charge, seems to be reluctantly accepting the end of the season and spring appears to be creeping in step by step with all it's glorious rebirth of green and wonderful colors of flowers as they greet the warmth and sun. I love this time of year and eagerly search for each new sign-- the robins in the grass, the daffies peeking through the last of the snow, the warmth of sun anemic no more, and the joyous sound of the choir as more and more birds join in. This connection to the rebirth of spring and the demise of winter, to the cycles of nature --touch the core of my soul,helping me bury old hurts, and rejoice in the innocence and possibilities for rejuvenation.

Even more, I am touched by those human connections in which there is a reaching out on both sides, and a desire to know and appreciate the uniqueness of each. One extremely poignant connection today has made my heart soar. I've been deep in the comments of the blogs of the Blogicians for a number of months. Relationships have developed as we questioned, celebrated, and learned from each other. Imagine, a group of thoughtful, kind, bright, eager 5th graders and an old teacher, now retired. Through text, we had come to know each other. Their accomplished teacher, Mrs. C., has nurtured their blogging, their development as bloggers and their learning community. She has modeled the joy of learning and delight that arises from experimenting with words. She has fostered meaningful relationships and choreographed the environment for a memorable one today. Skype, though finicky, brought bloggers and commenter, some 1000 miles apart, together for a brief moment in time. There was an electricity in the air; you could feel the excitement in both places; grins and smiles permeated the call. As I heard the voice of each blogger, and responded in kind, I rejoiced in the knowing that our souls had touched and each had been irrevocably turned to the light. And that I would always remember this moment in time--

Mrs. C. and Blogicians, thank you! My life is the richer for knowing and connecting with you---

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

There's something happening here!

Out in the comments and the posts of students--
We better stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
--Buffalo Springfield
The Pre-Cal 40S class have shared lots on their blog! Darren Kuropatwa, their teacher, asks each of them to reflect upon what they’ve learned prior to unit testing. He calls it Blogging on Blogging; his students renamed it BOB. I’ve had the privilege of reading BOBs for about a year now; usually students share what was most difficult for them, often they vow not to get behind again. This semester, these students have taken BOBs to the next level and have provided a real window into learning from their view.
In general, I think this unit is easy and fun bcause of the moments where we could all draw on the PRO SMARTBOARD! See how technology evolves and aids us in our daily lives! Gotta love it!
Since the time we first received the smartboard, Mr. K has been practicing his smartboarding skills and now it's more than just incorporated into our daily lessons, but is the basis of where we conduct all of our lessons. We now all come up to share our answers with the class on the smartboard, and I think it's ingenious the way Mr. K set up this peer evaluation process mixed with some competitive vigor to help our overall education. With the smartboard, now we're all willing to go up and put up our answer, and whether we're correct or incorrect, we inevitably end up learning. I wonder what the year would have been like without the almighty smartboard.
math is awesome with Mr. K is around teaching us, with the help of his new toy smart board. its not my time with Mr. K class hahah but i really understand it all with the study group and extra audio files he made to help us understand better than read it
Hahaha. Well anyways. The highlight of the class right now is the Smart Board. And how it has incorporated our learning to a whole different level. We can learn and read the blog at the same time... Oh wait were already doing that.. Hahaha. But seriously, the smart board has turned the class upside down and right side up. It has taken this course into a whole new mode of learning with a lot of interacting. http://pc40sw07.blogspot.com/2007/02/bob-thon.html
The whole working in group thing was a good idea. I would say it was pretty fun. A lot of people also said that they learned more through working in groups. I have to agree, I did learned a lot of and understood it better working in groups with the whole sharing ideas about how to solve the problem.
I have gained much knowledge from the lessons and now that I look back on the earlier exercises I'm finding them a breeze. This is probably due to the group work in class which has been monumentally effective in my mind. All our minds working synergistically to solve problems shines much more effective light on the questions.
When we wrote our pre-test for the unit, there seemed to be a sense of tension in the air while we wrote the test. Everyone was silence and the sounds of pencil scratching, calculator punching, and the blowing of eraser shavings off one's desk filled the air. I myself was not expecting such a "tricky" test so I was also thinking and working furiously. After Mr. K. told us to stop writing and split us into groups, the sounds of frantic problem-solving seemed to morph into a more relaxed sharing of ideas. I feel this class was great because different people got a chance to get together and share their ideas and methods, all of which were greatly appreciated. Finally as Mr. K. shared the correct answers with the class there seemed to be a great excitement as if each answer was the winner of and Oscar. Groups exploded with cheers, fist-pumps, and hi-fives to members of their groups whom they weren't friends with before.
Groups definitely help mind enrichment due to the fact that integration of minds exists and therefore enhances every member's knowledge about a particular topic. like today, my group members and I shared answers and opinons about our answers. It felt good!

There’s something happening here too! Eddie, a bright and perceptive grade 5 student from Georgia with a contagious enthusiasm for learning has discovered the power of commenting! He found Darren’s blog (with a little help from his teacher’s bloglines account) and left quite a comment. He then returned to his blog to post about it and link to what he found and the conversation continued. Darren commented to Eddie here and here and when he shared Eddie’s blog with his Pre-Cal 40S class, not only did they visit Eddie’s blog to encourage him through their comments here and here, they posted about him on their class blog too!
I say this for all my classmates, that we were astonished and inspired to learn that a grade 5 student could make such a great blog. This is for Eddie in Georgia.
Leave him a comment just to show how him what you think of his blogger skills and finesse
After we talked about our place in the blogsphere and he showed us how to find out about it. We also went to one of our young visitors Eddie, he's a grade five student in Georgia. I believe Mr. K said something about him being in a grade ten level, impressive much?. Seven days ago he looked at our blog and blogged about it. We read it and everybody was impressed of Eddie. From what I can remember when I was in grade five I didn't even know what a computer is! He's so interested learning about Pi and Phi's. Everybody had different reactions when we read the part when he said he can't wait to get in highschool. Wow, Eddie your awesome. You are very inspiring. I wish I had the same attitude as you when I was in your age. Hey, you should listen to our podcast sometime for our class on Friday, March 2, 2007.http://pc40sw07.blogspot.com/2007/03/whooot-go-eddie.html
“We better stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down”
There’s something happening here! Are we listening?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Ordinary, Extraordinary --Away from incessant busyness

I’ve been drawn back and again to Barbara Ganley’s recent post, “On the Cusp: Learning to Pay Attention to the Extraordinary in the Ordinary”. Her words have resonated with me on so many levels as her “slow blog” post seamlessly weaves events from her personal life with the importance of slowing down in learning.

On a personal level, my father is also dying, although I sense not in the same way. Daddy’s Alzheimer’s slowly pulls him farther and deeper into a world of his own, and with that descent, I find myself remembering the articulate and loving letters now in my cedar chest that always spoke to me of beauty and love and finding the ordinary extraordinary. With that remembering, I’m finding that I’m far more apt to take time to notice and appreciate the sparkling snow, the call of the geese and their flight across the wintry sky, the fun of digging out of overwhelming snow— away from incessant busyness.

As Barbara so beautifully writes:
It has taken slowing down, going deep, having some time for thoughts to bubble up and rise slowly--to look around, to feel the power of the ordinary instead of just talking about it. ..Even with this reflective blog and my posts about blogging as letter-writing and slow-blogging, I know I moved too fast, glancing at the books piled high, at the road, at the world around me, at the colossal problems in my community and the world.
For years I have been guilty, I believe, of what David T. Hansen describes in his introduction to the outstanding John Dewey and Our Educational Prospect:
"The explosion of information in the world today, the rapidity of interaction via contemporary modes of communication, the continued blurring of the lines between providing education and offering marketable degrees and diplomas: these and other forces conspire to push educators into a mode of incessant busyness, with increasingly scarce time for solitude and the conversation so indispensable for thoughtful study and reflection."

The new rituals .. plunged me back into the pleasures and significance of unexpected informal learning, the importance of paying attention to the local, of learning to look at the road every week and see it, really see it for the first time in twenty-five years, instead of listening to music or zoning out into thoughts of my teaching, of my blogging, of my parenting, of all the things I have left undone.
Her words carry me to another time, referenced here, when silence and listening and thoughtful reflection had a profound influence on my life and my learning. A vivid picture of that meeting room, windows open, birds singing, in its simplicity – a moment in time-- to which I yearn to return.

And on yet another level, her words are so articulate she relates to learning:
In our classrooms we have for so long woven pretty pale, stiff excuses for richly hued, complex, textured tapestries of a group's time together thinking, listening, talking and creating. We can do better. I can do better, by honoring the personal and informal and ordinary within the confines of formal learning, by slowing down, by messing around…

How do we help our students How are they expected to slow down if we don't? How are they supposed to have time to think creatively or mess around outside if even the playgrounds we build are managed?

I'd like to explore other kinds of unscripted moments in my classes--slowly-- the personal and ordinary, turning them over and over in our hands, connecting them to our formal learning experience and to each other in our pursuit of deep learning about ourselves and the world and how we want to live..

Barbara’s words resound as I return to my work on my current project, an online mentoring course for entry-year teachers. Yes, how indeed can I create an environment in which “unscripted moments” abound, where entry year teachers exit their mode of “incessant busyness”, and explore and reflect upon the personal and ordinary? How can I create an environment that honors the personal and informal and ordinary within the confines of formal learning-- a model for learning within their classrooms where their goal is as Darren’s:
I will continue to try to make them feel as though "the ordinary in our class is extraordinary."
so youngsters in turn can revel in those unscripted moments of discovering and power of the ordinary--