Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A learning posture--

Stand up straight; watch your posture. Do you remember that or is it a product of my generation? I heard it lots when I was young; even had to practice walking with a book on my head—my folks really stressed it and I never had good posture to their chagrin—

In the classroom, I did think about posture-- from a different perspective, always searching for a more accomplished practice. Initially, my posture was upright, in the front of the class, talking, giving information, and telling. My “teaching posture” evolved -- I was often sitting, in the back or with a group of students or a student, sometimes prodding, questioning, and listening. Yet I’ve noticed that my initial posture still is in vogue in many classrooms.

And as I’ve been involved in various learning communities more recently, I’ve noticed that teachers seem to be so comfortable in “teaching postures” which mirror my initial one, that it is translated into their professional learning too. I’m really feeling, and I could be wrong, that negatively impacts moving forward toward a global 21st century practice. So lately I’ve been spending time pondering on a learning posture-- what it looks like, what it sounds like, and how to help teachers adopt one.

I’m wondering, after reading and thinking, might a “learning posture” be characterized as:

Curious and Inquisitive

So I am curious- what do you think? Should we be focusing on a different conversation than the one we are having? Should we be re-envisioning education in ways that are radically different? And if so- How do we move from talking to doing? Or is that important? --Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach

What does this new design look like? What are the big questions regarding learning, teaching and schooling that we need to begin to address? How will the roles of elementary schools and high schools begin to evolve? How will we address the divide issues that these opportunities outside of school create? And how do we personally plan for these changes as learners, parents and teachers? --Will Richardson

My focus for the next while will be an experiment as well as a creative outlet. I’ve created a space to publish fictional narratives where my true identity is intentionally obscured. I want to see what happens to the questions of digital identity, social structures and relationships, and network dynamics when the identity of the author is replaced with a fictional character – and the readers are aware that the "I" and "me" in the blog entries refer to someone who does not actually exist. –Mike Bogle

Tentative and Unfinished

Examples of “process as text” are recordings of classroom conversations, considered temporary and fleeting, that become something more than a passing conversation when they exist as video or audio recordings. These types of texts stay fixed – we can’t really go back and change the flow of a conversation – but our finished products, when published digitally, are easily and perhaps even secretly editable and revisable after publication. So we’re able to fix the temporary and fiddle with the permanent. That seems interesting and worthy of further exploration. –Bud theTeacher

That’s all I’ll say for now. I hope to revisit these ideas on occasion. I also hope you’ll help me think through them. – Jon Becker

Much to continue to mull over here: some ideas to tinker with, and some practices to encourage, but still very much a set of “conjectures and dilemmas” (Bruner) to keep exploring. – Gardner Campbell

Collaborative and Participatory

I was part of an interesting discussion on Twitter Friday night and I wanted to share it here, as well as add a few final thoughts. Participants that I reference are Bud Hunt, Brian Crosby, Dean Shareski, Anne Van Meter, Barbara Barreda, and Karen Fasimpaur. Thanks to all of you for helping me think through these ideas. – Karl Fisch


That’s one of those really concise shift statements that makes me bend my own frame a bit. I think too often I fall into looking at these tools and wonder what they can add to our classrooms and our teaching when the real question is how can our classrooms and teaching add capacity to the tools. – Will Richardson

When I began mulling this over I had not anticipated that I would be including a sense of unfinished business; yet I have begun to feel that is particularly important. I’m not yet satisfied that I’ve captured the essence of a “learning posture” yet am feeling pretty strongly that it’s worth pursuing, especially avenues for helping teachers with an awareness of their posture and how that may affect not only their own professional learning but also that of others.

Might it not be possible that such a focus may open doors for many to possibilities for learning not yet imagined?

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Two years pass--

Remembering the cold of that night, and the warmth of family love--

Winter, spring, summer, fall and winter again--

Little things spark memories--

Bringing a smile --

An emptiness that has not yet gone-

Keeping these words close--

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A time for rededication--

The national holiday honoring Dr. King is an occasion for joy and celebration for his life and his work toward nonviolent social change in America and the world. Traditionally, we celebrate holidays with parties, family picnics, fireworks, a trip back home or to the seashore. However, we must also be mindful that this is a special holiday - one which symbolizes our nation's commitment to peace through justice; to universal brother- and sisterhood; and to the noblest ideal of all: a democratic society based on the principles of freedom, justice and equality for all people. ... the holiday is an occasion for thanksgiving, unselfishness, and rededicating ourselves to the causes for which he stood and for which he died. -- source

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Why Haiti Matters-- from President Obama

"We act for the sake of the thousands of American citizens who are in Haiti, and for their families back home; for the sake of the Haitian people who have been stricken with a tragic history, even as they have shown great resilience; and we act because of the close ties that we have with a neighbor that is only a few hundred miles to the south.

But above all, we act for a very simple reason: in times of tragedy, the United States of America steps forward and helps. That is who we are. That is what we do. For decades, America's leadership has been founded in part on the fact that we do not use our power to subjugate others, we use it to lift them up—"

Barack Obama

Today's technologies afford to us incredible possibilities and opportunities to take collective action--

Monday, January 04, 2010

Add this to joy and passion --

“We need to include “poignance” as an essential analytical and expressive skill.”

Gardner Campbell

This is a revised version of a post I created for the PLP Ohio Consortium. Strangely, I’m more comfortable with it here in my own space; perhaps because of its subject and how important I think it is to all learning experiences.

Although the focus of Gardner’s post is university level learning, I’m wondering if it doesn’t readily apply to teacher learning and learning in k12 classrooms. His post is beautifully written; far more articulate that I can be. Be it the writing, the ideas--- they touched a spot deep in the core of me. For it seems to me, given poignance, passion, and joy, learning in our current schools would look and sound so very different.

He writes:

“What do our students see? That learning is largely a matter of being overruled, of memorizing the lesson that beginners don’t know enough to ask intelligent questions (when in fact some of the best questions come from beginners). And that teaching is an exercise in providing answers and furnishing conclusions, not in guiding inquiries or (heaven forefend) asking real questions.”

As he described current learning, I was taken back to an online course, CCKO8, in which I was a novice participant and faced with the professor’s comment that novices irritated him. It was not a comfortable feeling and at times I did my best to learn as much as I could under his radar.

But more important, I thought back to my classrooms, and then to my current work with PLP and spent some serious time reflecting and hoping that no learner in my classroom, no learner in the communities that I’ve been privileged to have a role, have ever in any way experienced diminished learning, felt unwelcome or inadequate because of similar attitudes and words; only wanting every learner to know the joy of asking questions and learning together.

The definition of poignance that Gardner applied:

“OED’s last senses in definition 2a: “tenderly sorrowful, bitter-sweet.”

And his suggestion:

“In the context of education, especially as one gains more sophisticated skills of analysis and expression, it seems to me vitally important that we maintain a sense of humility and shared tenderness in the midst of our uncertain journeys.”

I’d not considered previously—

Yet I’m wondering if this is one critical element of what may be missing in so many teacher learning experiences, of what may be missing as so many of us seek to change learning in schools, of what may be lacking in individual classrooms.

Doesn’t looking at learning through a lens of poignance help guide us on our journey? How might that lens/consideration change what we do, what we say, how we say it? Might learning be more as John Steinbeck described in Captured Fireflies?

In her classroom our speculations ranged the world
She aroused us to book waving discussions.
Every morning we came to her carrying new truths, new facts,
New ideas cupped and sheltered in our hands like captured fireflies.
When she went away a sadness did not go out.

Poignant, joyful, passioned-- won't possibilities abound?

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