Monday, May 28, 2012

Making their own connections

4th graders in PA
2nd graders in TX
5th graders in PA
Grade 1's in Saskatchewan
High schoolers in TX
2nd graders in PA

Learning  and collaborating together
Teaching each other

How did this come to be?

Their teachers, participants in the year 2 Powerful Learning Practice community (, team together on the Whole Teacher/Child team ( to design a PBL unit in which students inquired:

"How can making global connections help me learn and grow in different ways?"

In this learning experience, students connected and created videos of introduction and learning, and a story together.

Powerful learning across time zones--
Making their own connections--

One of their introductions

A collaborative story created by grade 1s and 4th graders can be viewed here:

To their teachers, a standing ovation for your collaboration, for helping your students connect and learn--

When teachers provide theses kinds of opportunities for young people to engage in these kinds of collaboration, possibilities abound--

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Monday Mourning - A Tribute to Chardon High School

A group of seniors wrote, edited, and performed this song and created this video for others at Chardon High School as a Senior Project. On February 27, 2012 a gunman shot and killed 3 students and injured 2 others. This is one illustration of the resiliency of our youth and of our small town healing.


Monday morning, could see the city mourning,
Getting horrifying stories from the cameras recording
But morally informing the nation of the story,
Reporting the good and the love outpouring,
The support was heartwarming.

I heard someone say the worst of one person
has brought out the best in everyone;
Some are still hurting,
Some are still worried,
Some are still wondering why,
Some are still questioning God,
like "How could He just let them die?"
But believe they're gonna rise.

It's just surreal how quick it went,
It took a month to comprehend
But what felt like a month was really only ten
days later, But we won't forget
2/27 etched forever on our hearts,
The day D, Dan, and Rusty went
Back to the Father.
Dead faiths have been renewed
And God's grace has filled its shoes,
This place no longer two.

You can feel love,
who can steal from us can also lift us up to You,
Forgive him Father for he knows not what he do.
Unwavering prayer from around the states,
Contemplating the care, a tear roll down your face.
This is a special place, this a very special place.
Hate reared its face,
Great strength overcame.

Three great souls rose while we prayed in their name,
Don't believe for a minute Satan played a better game;
For every ounce of evil, God's love is ten times as great
So spend time today in a prayer with the Father.
Thank him for your parents, or for your son or daughter,
Thank him for the care when your friends are so supportive.

Live with a purpose, and live for the Lord.
If you seek Him, you shall find Him and I know He's all around.
There's no excuse for at least not trying,
So if you feel your if you've never accepted Him,
I encourage you to try it.
And while we rise up together,
Let's show the world who we live for.

'Cause when the dust settles
All they'll have is a snapshot,
A glimpse into life here,
Where each and every day is filled with hope, love, and life here;
We'll hold on despite fear
And show the globe this is our home and we despise fear.

For every tear that's been shed, a dear friend's made a friend,
Old friends that grew apart let their differences go dark,
With mere love on their hearts,
Once again they can enjoy each other's presence
And call what they have a true friendship.

All the right from the wrong,
All the light from the dark,
You work mysteriously,
God, You work mysteriously.

But seriously, this clearly could be
The worst and greatest experience we
Could have ever gone through together,
Yet it's merely a seed that's been planted
Now watch us sow it for the world to be
A better place, it starts here,
Can you feel it awaken ?
So no more tears, no more crying,
No more fears, wear a smile
And through the years we'll remember
The date, names, and the time when
Our town became one,
When each and every kid felt loved.
And for those still struggling,
Come to peace knowing God is all love.
"Every child goes to heaven" it says in His book;

And believe it.

And while you let it sink in,
Keep your mind thinking good thoughts;
Devote your time to paying it forward.
Pray for the victims, pray for the families,
Pray for the afflicted so God can heal the damage.
Pray for the strong, and pray for the weak,
But most of all pray for the lord to intercede for TJ
'Cause he's still God's child,
Made in God's image.
What's done is done;
What happens now is only God's business.

Listen, I'm not saying we should all defend him,
But as D's mom said, we should all forgive him.

'Cause on..
Monday morning you could see the city mourning,
Getting horrifying stories from the cameras recording,
But morally informing the nation of the story,
Reporting the good and the love outpouring,
The support was heartwarming.

Turned a stormy week into a week of God's glory,
We are Chardon, hear our warning;
We're Topper strong
And ready to tear down the walls of grief and mourning.

And while we rise up together,
Let's show the world who we live for.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Designing learning through a "multiple paths" lens

As member of a  new community--
Reaching All Students--
Sponsored by ARPDC--

I've been excited and reinvigorated learning so much with these accomplished educators in Alberta.

Their focus and lens on learning speak to me-- reaching all students, designing for learning through a "multiple paths" approach.

Their brief overview video captures how inclusive learning enables every learner to be the best that they can be.

 The student smiles, their words very clearly suggest to me that this is an approach that enables communities of learners in which everyone learns to their strengths.

A member of the UDL group in the wall garden community, I have had the opportunity to renew and deepen my understanding and appreciation for universal design for learning thanks to the contributions of the accomplished educators in this group. A group member shared this interactive website that illustrates the many and varied multiple pathways to learning: Not only are there options for each principle of multiple pathways but also additional resources for each.

With the availability of these kinds of resources, I'm thinking the support for designing learning experiences that reach all learners can enable incredible possibilities for learning. Just consider the potential-- what if the focus in Alberta, on inclusion, on designing learning through a "multiple pathways" truly became the foundation for learning across our nation? Can you imagine?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Winding Down

In our walled garden PLP virtual learning community--
Scanning through the "latest activity" when this caught my attention--
Amy Musone (@musone), a year 1 team leader in the IU 13 community from the Central York District, PA (, encouraged her team members to reflect with her as they wind down this year of Powerful Learning Practice professional learning. The team had been immersed in an action research project, examining how their teaching would be transformed as they engaged in PBL in order to promote 21st century learning.
Our goal for this post is to reflect on where each of us started and where we have come.

Remember our driving question:   How will the Pringles Project transform our teaching practices to promote 21st century skills within our students?  

Our beginning: We started with a survey to gather information about how each of us perceived ourselves along with information about what we felt comfortable and uncomfortable with. We input data using this Google form. We shared our thinking when we met via Skype and on the Community Hub.  

Now: Now it is time for us to reflect on what we have done, how we've grown, and struggles that still hold us back. It is also important for us to consider and share where we plan to go from here.   Looking forward to hearing your ideas!
And leader that she is, she modeled for them her own reflection:
Okay...when we began this venture, I felt unsure of myself and a little self-conscious that I just wasn't "getting it." One thing I wasn't sure about was what exactly was expected of me. As I became more involved I came to the conclusion that the expectation was going to be set by one person...myself. I could get guidance and encouragement from my team members and the PLP community at large, but ideally, the motivation to move forward and become a more effective educator came from within. I knew that I alway wanted to engage in PBL, but never knew how to fully embrace it. Through our meetings both with my PLP Year 1 team and the larger community webinars I felt like I could wrap my head around this idea. head was in the right place, finally. My students are just completing their projects. My room was a disaster (we were using packaging materials), there was a constant buzz of excited and on-task conversations, and the creative juices were flowing. There is NO way that I could have "taught" them everything that they discovered (technology, and science) and that made me glow. ....  

This project has begun to infiltrate other activities that happen throughout the school day. I worked to devise a project with another teacher in my classroom and have collaborated with the gifted support teacher on a project. I am truly excited about this.  My hope would be to work with the PLP group on other projects.... I know that in order to do this, we are going to need teacher and administrative buy in. Luckily, I have plenty of artifacts created by kids to demonstrate learning, problem solving, critical thinking skills, and collaboration. Still have a hill to climb...sure, but I've taken a couple of steps!
With Amy's powerful reflection on her PLP journey, I decided to "follow" the discussion; sure enough, the next day Melissa Wilson responded. She shared in part her challenges and her beliefs in the power of PBL:
This has been a very challenging project. At the fifth grade level there are many obstacles to overcome just to find the time to proceed with a problem based assignment. ...  

I believe that there is a real need for problem based learning. ... The challenges created by this type of project parallel the types of challenges the students will face in real life....  

Next year I plan to look at ways that I can create projects such as "The Pringle Project" that will fit in the curriculum. In designing these assignments the plan is to be able to deliver instruction covering the curriculum and then allow the students to use what they have learned in creative real world problem solving. With support from my colleagues I hope that this will help my students to learn and prepare them for the future.
And then Barb Ream chimed in a day later attributing their success and learning to their coach; Amy, their team leader; and their collaboration:
I know that the point of this whole project was to think differently about education by experiencing it firsthand. I am an old fashioned learner who is used to having everything laid out for me. ..  

I felt like I was floundering - a fish out of water. I felt like it must just be me, however after talking to the rest of my group I realized it wasn't just me. We all floundered together and somehow we managed to figure it out in the end.  

I feel the reason we were able to pull it together was for a number of reasons. The first was we had a great coach. Peter (@peterskillen) really guided us through the process and made us think outside the box. Our fearless leader, Amy, was invaluable. Her insight, leadership, creativity, and motivation pulled us through. We would have been lost forever without her. Lastly, my team members. It was such a great experience getting to know members of my school community better. We met through skype and in person. We had great collaboration sessions and worked very well together.  

I think this project taught me many things. The first is that it is ok to be messy learners. .... I learned that if you give students an interesting project, they will come up with some amazing solutions to problems.  

My plan for the future is to continue to create more Problem Based Projects. I actually enjoyed how all of the students came up with different solutions to the same problem. I also plan on sharing this with more colleagues in hopes of having them do something similar.
Deep reflections with common themes--  
Initially overwhelmed with uncertainty and challenges yet persevering-- Floundering and figuring it out together--  
Appreciations for collaboration, the risk taking that enables, and hopes to continue that--  
Recognition of the power of a collegial team working together and of PBL in learning--  
Evidence of profound, collegial professional learning-- absorbing, doing, interacting and reflecting--

Although this team is winding down their formal time together in year 1 PLP, these reflections portend a gearing up--  
for future collaborations, collegial learning,
for more in depth journeys into transforming their teaching practices to promote 21st century skills within their students.