Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Moving from private practice to talking with "strangers"

Don't talk to strangers--

Strangers are people whom you don't know
if they come too close just get up and go.

Deeply ingrained in us as children--

A habit generalized for many teachers to professional lives as well-
Private practice--

Maintaining a private practice, uncomfortable talking to strangers--

Despite research that points to changes in practice when teachers engage in conversations with strangers--

Practices differed between Professionally Engaged teachers and Private Practice (or professionally isolated) teachers of the same subject. Examples of these different practices are:

"Professionally Engaged English teachers were more than twice as likely as Private Practice English Teachers to have students work in teams to complete assignments" (p. 13) and they were more likely to have students write in a journal at least once per week.

Professionally Engaged Social Studies teachers were much more likely than Private Practice Social Studies teachers to have students work on long projects and assess their own work. Professionally Engaged teachers were less likely to lead their students in whole-class recitation or to ask questions to test if their students knew the correct answer.

"Professionally Engaged science teachers were almost twice as likely as Private Practice science teachers to ask students questions in order to get students to relate their school work to their own personal experiences, and they were more than twice as likely to have students work in small groups on a weekly basis to collectively solve a problem" (p. 14).

Secondary math teachers among the Professionally Engaged groups were more likely to have their students work on problems with no obvious answer and were less likely to ask questions to see if the students had done their homework.
Private practice teachers, challenged with breaking life long habits--

With others wishing they would join in, see the potential, what they are missing--

TEDxLondon is going on today–I caught the info about it on Twitter–and I know I am the only person on my staff listening to any pieces or parts of it. I wonder why, though, as I know many of my teachers are on Facebook and use social media in many different ways for personal reasons. How can I help them see the value of setting up a worldwide professional learning network and help them find the time to use it?

As I reread this in November, I can’t help but think how isolated many teachers are, for the most part. I can’t help but think how powerful conversations are for helping teachers see outside of their own little world of the classroom. --Paula White,
What if in our reaching out, inviting in--
  • We more fully acknowledged and celebrated their dedication to children
  • We worked even harder to get to know them and to appreciate their gifts and talents
  • We were more intentional in highlighting similarities
  • We took more time in sharing how important we believe relationships are to growing our practice
  • We suggested more clearly baby steps for abandoning private practice--

My part today-- my open invitation--

Dear private practice teachers,
We share in common our passion for learning, for helping students reach their greatest potential, for wanting to play some small role in making the world a better place--

Those of us who are connected educators invite you, I invite you, to find as we have the incredible potential for improving practice through talking with "strangers"-- I can honestly say that some of those "strangers" have become true friends (not "facebook" friends)-- we share our family's successes and tribulations, we rejoice together and we cry together, we learn together--

To those of you for whom the "private practice" habit so difficult to discard, what if you--
  • Make it a 30 day challenge?
  • In your social network, you take the time to get to know 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 people well-- comment on their photos, comment on their videos, ask a question about something they posted, asked about what they do in their classroom through a comment on their wall?
  • Make it a point to connect with 2 people that are located geographically in another area in the same way- comment on their photos, comment on their videos, ask a question about something they posted?
  • Get together with someone from your school and did this as a group/team?
It's about getting to know each other, just as it is face to face; it is about building relationships; it is about those relationships enabling your professional learning and opportunities for learning in your classroom previously not imagined.

It's about talking with strangers, talking with new friends--
Take my hand?
Let's make a difference together,

Photo Credit

Monday, December 19, 2011

Fruitcake and learning in community--

Fruitcake, anathema to many—

Now becoming a new tradition in our home—homemade of course

As I mixed the fruit pieces, the walnuts and the raisins with a generous amount of an old liqueur that Gus has kept over many years, I got to thinking about learning in community. Later as we worked through the process of mixing the batter, of stirring in the marinated fruit mixture, of spooning the rich goodness into the fluted iron bundt pan, of the shared process of putting the heavy pan into the oven, removing it when it was done, and releasing the fruitcake from the pan—that analogy to learning in community stuck with me.

The fruits, the walnuts, the raisins, missing together ——like the diverse, unique members of a community sharing ideas in a common space—

The liqueur, the batter once laden with 5 eggs, white flour, brown sugar—bringing the best of what is forward- the liqueur, the brown sugar and imagining what might be by exchanging the eggs for egg beaters and the white flour for wheat.
In community, bringing what works for us now in schools, for example, PLCs (professional learning communities) and moving them into the current century with CLCs (connected learning communities).

The shared, true collaborative process of putting the heavy cake into the oven, removing it, and then extracting it from the pan—you see I’ve a shoulder that doesn’t work right and can’t lift heavy and Gus’ balance is more than tippy thanks to his MS—so we play to our strengths— his strong arms and upper body and my good balance- I hold him steady while he moves the pan to the oven and out, and as he turns the pan upside down to release the cake— each of us appreciating what the other can do. In community, playing to the gifts and talents of each member, building on those strengths, accomplishing a task, learning something together, doing more together than we could as individuals.

And finally the fruitcake, in all it’s glory, flavors nuanced by each fruit piece, each walnut, each raisin—admittedly not perfect— bearing reflection and considerations on bringing forward what worked and trying new strategies. As in community, a more accomplished global practice that necessitates reflection and ongoing development of expertise, persevering toward deep thought by exploring ideas and concepts, rethinking, revising, and continual repacking and unpacking, resisting urges to finish prematurely.

The huge disconnect here, of course, is that our wonderfully collaborative process of making fruitcake is an annual event—so unlike the ongoing, continuous exploring, experimentation, and deep learning in community.

Yet there is a lot to be said for both! I’m on my way to learning in community and to enjoying our fruitcake while dreaming of next year!

Photo credit fruitcake
Photo credit community

Monday, November 28, 2011

Dear Emma (@emmakate988)

Dear Emma (@emmakate988),

How I wish we could get together in a quiet place and talk—deeply and sincerely about your tweet that created such a firestorm and the possibilities for learning for so many that could come of it.

That we could explore how your tweet is not as “harmless” as you might think—that every step you take online becomes a permanent part of your digital footprint -- forever. A footprint that can influence your admission into college, your opportunities to get a job.

That we might examine the power of social media for learning, for effecting change.

That we might think about some “what ifs” –

What if you had tweeted during the governor’s address—what if you had factually summed up his viewpoints and respectfully added your perspective?

What if you had arranged with other students and government teachers back at your high school to tweet using #SMEYIG so they could virtually learn with you?

What if you had encouraged the Youth in Government program to arrange for students to tweet during the program as a public service to those not fortunate enough to attend?

What if you now decided to turn what has happened into learning for so many people?

You see, I’m a passionate advocate for students raising their voices, for students influencing the change they want to see. And I think that responsible use of social media plays a huge part in that story, as we’ve seen successful revolutions enabled through exactly that use.

And I’m one who is concerned that schools around the country are not doing their part, in helping students become good digital citizens --how to navigate these open spaces safely, responsibly and ethically.

I’m wondering if your teachers have taken time for you to learn about digital citizenship, responsible communication, and the permanency of a digital footprint? If they shared with you videos such as these?

Stop, Think, Connect-- Stay safe online!

Digital Dossier

And if they’ve not, what if you began and your friends in Youth in Government petitioned to make that happen—that included in your learning were opportunities to explore deeply the nuances and responsibility of being a digital citizen? Petitioned your principal? Petitioned your school board?

What if you worked with the state Youth in Government program to learn ways that responsible use of social media enables and influences the work of government? What if, at your initiative, your state Youth in Government program began to use social media responsibly to influence what was occurring in your Kansas state legislature?

What if you began to use your now expanded twitter following for social justice? for a cause? to make a difference?

I sincerely hope you might consider what I’ve suggested—so much could come of it and be of value to so many—

I’m @lanihall on Twitter—want to chat?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sharing, trust, relationships and learning--

A Wednesday evening, the first free Wednesday evening in 8 weeks--

And this popped up in my Twitter feed--

That followed this from the week before:

—a true testament to the power of relationships online –relationships built on trust, for:
" is the glue that binds the members of a community to act in sharing and adapting manner. Without trust, members would hoard their knowledge and experience and would not go through the trouble of sharing with or learning from others.” (Nichani & Hung, 2002, p. 51)Nichani, M., & Hung, D. (2002). Can a community of practice exist online? Educational Technology, 42(4), 49-54.

Why those tweets?

For just 8 weeks, at 7 pm EST, a group of passioned educators met in Elluminate to share and dig deeper into concepts of Connected Coaching following a week of conversations in the online course space. During both the week 7 and week 8 webinars, comments in both audio and chat bemoaned the fact the scheduled learning of the group was coming to an end. The final affirmations – personal and heartfelt-- validated more clearly that indeed, a learning community had been developed.

The importance of trust in online learning communities can’t be understated!

In the communities of practice I’ve had the privilege to lead for the last few years, I’ve seen that trust and those relationships develop and grow over a period of 8 months. Teams and communities have come to engage in deep collegial conversations that have led to significant shifts in thinking and practice, many of which are documented here and here. And more recently, in the six month pilot of the Connected Coaches program, an extraordinary learning community developed in which each offered support to others, pushed back, asked difficult questions and consequently adopted new dispositions around coaching.

In those communities and in particular with the Connected Coaching pilot, taking time to build trust was purposeful and with intent. During the pilot, Dean Shareski led us in experimenting, playing --leveraging the affordances of technology to do just that—to develop collegial relationships that would support deep learning. We played with images of meaning to us, shared why, honored each other’s ideas; we used audio files to introduce ideas, more fully bringing understanding to our passions and our thoughts. Video files, faces paired with voices, sometimes fresh from working in the garden, other times while traveling on a train brought us closer together. Sharing family moments, sharing passions, sharing aspirations.

In the recent 8 week course, we did the same—and what I knew could develop for colleagues who worked together face to face, for colleagues who virtually collaborated over a number of months – the building of trust and subsequent collegial relationships—developed truly over the short course of just 2 months!

Coincidentally, Jane, wondered as she reflected on leading a “virtual” team”

“So, is this therefore a 21st C skill and ability to be considered? If we are to begin to increasingly work with others online in collaborative forums, the ability to use online technologies to ‘virtually’ build relationships – the development of ‘online human leadership’ skills – must become an incredibly important one to consider.”

After she noted:
“You don’t really ‘know’ the people, their lifestyles and passions, out of work commitments; nor, do you have the regular everyday opportunity to build the relationships essential to leading those involved.”

Growing virtual relationships, building trust online— I’d suggest, yes it is a new leadership skill and one, that when practiced, enables deeper thinking, deeper learning, and opportunities for systemic change in education.

In chapter 4 of our book, The Connected Educator, we share:
"Connected learners have to work harder to establish trust. In our face to face interactions, we get to know people over time through causal interactions. We see them come in, take off their coats, complain about traffic. We get to know their families through pictures in frames on their desks and through conversations about the baby having a fever and children’s sports events. The steps are all there but shared in covert business as usual ways. We do not have to create intentional acts to share this information. It just happens naturally. In online spaces, we have the same casual interaction if we think through how to make them happen. And these intentional acts have the same trust building effect as those that occur naturally. We upload pictures, type stories about our children, create and share videos of sports events and tweet about traffic jams."
Yes, Jane, nurturing those human relationships in online spaces— building trust is essential to knowledge construction and sharing from which change is birthed –

Intentional acts of casual sharing in online spaces can lead to incredible trust building and the development of meaningful relationships and learning not even imagined—even in 8 short weeks!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Something's happening here--

Something's happening here--
And it's perfectly clear--
3 have something special over there
It's telling me I need to share--

I've been following the transparent journeys of 3 accomplished educators who generously share all they are learning as they and their students travel a path into PBL. It's been a joy to read their posts because clearly something very special is happening there.

And they each are so articulate, and thoughtful and honest-- so much to learn from them--

Shelley Wright, a high school teacher in Canada, blogs at Wrights Room where her reflections on learning and teaching are deep, and rich, and thoughtful -- full of joy and tears.

Marsha Ratzel, a middle school teacher in Kansas, blogs at Reflections of a Techie where her posts are filled with energy and enthusiasm, humility and humanity.

Kathy Cassidy, a primary teacher in Canada, blogs at Primary Preoccupation where her posts are filled with the amazing learning experiences in which her grade 1's are immersed and thriving

Shelley, and Marsha and Kathy are all about learning and learning more and sharing. They provide extraordinary windows onto their evolving pedagogical approaches.

And grand pieces of their journeys can also be found on the Voices from the Learning Revolution blog. Marsha's recent Teaching by Getting Out of the Way resonated with me as did Kathy's Global Learning: The Primary Way. And Shelley's Inquiry Learning: This Isn't Scary at All that ended with her wondering "what it will take to put us back on the path to real learning." called to me.

I'm convinced one of the things that "it will take to put us back on the path to real learning" is the authentic modeling and sharing found in the posts of these 3 extraordinary educators. Don't you think?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Occupy Education

Likely you've heard about or may even be following the "occupy" movements across the country. Did you know there is an "occupy education"?

From their website (

If you would occupy your statehouse to keep your job, pay, and benefits, please also consider occupying your classroom.

  • Give your students at least a day a week to follow their passions.
  • Get rid of your furniture. Help kids borrow, bring, or build their own.
  • Get rid of your textbooks. Or redact them.
  • Ask kids to make sense of the world as it happens across media and technologies.
  • Build communities instead of reinforcing expectations.

It will be very scary, but not as scary as what others face. It will be very uncomfortable, but not as uncomfortable as remaining silent. It will cost us some, but without making some sacrifice we shouldn’t expect or ask our students to save us or our world.

We are inspired by the “We are the 99%” messages spreading across tumblr and social media sites.

We will collect stories about your classrooms, what you are fighting against and what are you doing to change it.

What do you want for your classroom and your students? What kind of education do you believe in?

Join us here and start transforming education! Reclaiming our Voice in Education!

So I'm wondering, what if you did just that? and what if you shared your stories there with other occupyed educators from around the country?

Really think on these questions; remember why we entered our profession-- to make a difference, to change the world--
What do you want for your classroom and your students? What kind of education do you believe in?

Monday, September 12, 2011

A serendipitous connection

That I have had an opportunity to co author with Sheryl is remarkable. A serendipitous connection has led to sincere friendship, continued collaboration and always learning—despite our diverse geographical locations in Ohio and Virginia. Where and how did it begin-- Fueled by my life-long passion for learning about learning and my desire to continue making some contribution to public education after retiring, I have benefited from a number of unlikely, unique connections that map my journey to The Connected Educator. Since life circumstances dictated I work from home in 2004 after 35 years in the classroom, I searched the web for educators with similar interests and an enthusiasm for innovation.

One blog linked to another, then another, until I found myself at Anne Davis’ "Edublog Insights" and her post describing a group of teacher cadets with whom she was blogging. I had just completed three years in a similar program for high school students who wanted to be teachers and was delighted to find a like-minded group. I contacted Anne through the comment feature on her blog, seeking her reaction to my mentoring her students through comments on their own posts. Many comments to students, emails and Skype calls with Anne later, I began reading Darren Kuropatwa’s blog, "A Difference" at her insistence.

Darren often pointed to his class blogs as he transparently shared his evolving pedagogy and one day put out a call for e-mentors for his students. I immediately submitted an email asking if he might consider my acting in that role, elated at the possibility of developing additional virtual relationships with young people. Consider the irony here, Darren is a master mathematics teacher in Manitoba who taught pre-calculus and AP calculus, whereas I completed Algebra 2 and Geometry some 40 years back, with Logic meeting my mathematics requirement in college. Thrilled that Darren invited me to participate and being one to always jump right in, I was immediately commenting and posting with many and varied questions pushing high school mathematics students to reflect upon their learning. Often Darren generously posted excerpts from our conversations on his blog as he, his students and I learned from each other that year and the next.

One day in 2006, a post on Darren’s blog really caught my attention--- he, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, and Wesley Fryer would be co founding a cutting edge, totally online, free annual conference for teachers by teachers, "K12 Online". In response to their call for assistance and for presenters, fascinated and excited by what I saw as enormous possibilities for teacher learning, I immediately volunteered any assistance they felt that I could provide. I was speechless sometime later to be invited to serve as continuity editor for the initial conference. Through collaborative work on the conference wiki, and Skype planning calls, Sheryl and I came to know each other. The following year, I was honored and humbled to receive an email from Darren, asking if I would serve as one of the four co-conveners. In September of 2007, Sheryl and I were on Skype for weeks as she uploaded files to a server and sent me links that I used in the blog posts I created on the conference presentation blog. For two weeks in October of that year, Sheryl and I were up together in the early morning on Skype rolling out presentations on the blog and tweeting the presentations.

As different in some ways as night and day, yet playing to each other's strengths, working well together and sharing common passions for learning, for making the world a better place-- the collaborations have continued to this place as has my learning. An opportunity to compile research on online communities with Sheryl led to my deepened understandings of the power of connected learning and communities. A subsequent connection led to my role as community leader in Powerful Learning Practice's virtual learning communities in which I constantly learn from community members. This story is just one illustration of many of the potential in the digital age for networked, connected educators to collaborate with and learn from each other as they aspire to a more accomplished global practice.

Thank you, Sheryl

The Connected Educator

The cover to our book: The Connected Educator: Learning and leading in a Digital Age which comes out early Oct. Sheryl and I hope you will consider reading it and getting a copy for your faculty as well.

Who should read this book?
To all learners—educators, teachers, administrators, curriculum developers, parents, and students—who have not yet considered the benefits of network and community participation, who have just dipped a toe into the torrent of opportunity, or who already are immersed in digital tools, we ask you to explore with us the power of connected, self-directed professional learning.
Help us remix the concepts of professional learning communities, personal learning networks, and communities of practice to support lifelong learning. Make use of and extend our suggested applications. Commit with us to develop a shared wisdom that supports teachers and leaders as learners first. As we offer our expertise to each other and work to solve problems collaboratively, we will build collective intelligence. This new way of learning will set our children on the road to a life of passion-driven, connected learning.

What Is Different About This Book?
This book is a journey into what it means to be a learner first and an educator second. It is a book about you, about your professional learning. It’s also about us—the collective us in education—and how our own learning can transform student learning through a systemic vision of professional development.

We decided books about being connected need to model what they promote and not be just a linear experience. So we ask you to Get Connected in each section by participating in an authentic application that completes each chapter. This is a crowdsourcing activity, that is, an activity in which readers come together in a virtual space and add to the collective knowledge of what is being discussed. You will learn to be a connected learner not only by reading about connected learning but by doing what connected learners do—co-constructing meaning and knowledge.

How in the world did I come to be able to compose this post-- read the story here.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Spaghetti sauce and Connected Coaching

The homemade spaghetti sauce last week was rich, flavorful-- just downright extraordinary.

I attribute most of that to the quality of the ingredients-- something about organic farm fresh tomatoes, new onions, fresh organo, real garlic, and a touch of hot sauce to add a bit of a zing. Yet I've used those same ingredients before and the sauce never had the unique flavor of this batch. There must be something to the love, to the passion that becomes part of the process. No longer a strict recipe follower when I'm putting together a dish I've made before, there is the possibility of an extra large clove of garlic, maybe dried oregano-- always evolving, responding to conditions at hand.

While I was washing the dishes and the pot in which the sauce simmered to take on all its goodness, similarities to our Powerful Learning Practice Connected Coaching pilot struck me. That experience was downright extraordinary too. The ingredients were topnotch. Our 6 coaches, all accomplished educators-- Brenda Sherry, Marsha Ratzel, Zoe Branigan-Pipe, John Pearce, Mark Carbone, and Chad Evans-- brought their own gits and talents to deep discussions around coaching and entered communities with enthusiasm and passion. Our unique model was well flavored by dashes of Tschannen-Morans' Evocative Coaching, Costa/Garmston's Cognitive Coaching, Knight's Instructional Coaching and Dana/Yendel-Hoppey's Coaching Inquiry Oriented Communities. The zing emanated from Dean Shareski's exceptional vision and expertise for leveraging images and video, moving beyond text, in online spaces, and Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach's brilliant insights around developing community.

The coaching process, unlike the sauce, lacked any prescriptive recipe and was not one we'd tried before; we let it simmer a bit, added a bit more of Tschannen-Moran and Knight, turned down the heat for a while, then back to a simmer, not unlike our description of the model as one of wayfinding with looping back, checking pathmarkers (building trust, questioning, and facilitating design thinking). I'm guessing the inquiry based appreciative elements (think more than dashes of Tshannen-Morans) increased the likelihood of such an exemplary experience. And unlike the sauce, our coaching was a collaborative process. The joy, the rush that comes from engagement in collegial conversations around difficult topics can not be overstated.

In focus sessions, we attempted to distinguish the specific ingredients or parts of the process that led to such a remarkable experience; we were unable. We were in total agreement that the ingredients and the process intertwined into a model for coaching in online spaces that should be replicated --- again.

Like the spaghetti sauce, the grand aftertaste leads to a longing for more.
Additional opportunities for connected coaches are simmering; I can't wait. They will have Dean, Sheryl, Marsha, Brenda, Zoe, John, Chad and Mark to thank for their creativity and imagination, for their passion and perseverance in concocting Connected Coaching in 2011.

And I am anticipating too the next batch of farm fresh tomatoes and the potential to replicate that unique sauce once again.

Photo Credit

Monday, September 05, 2011

A request--

I have been spending time with a fine young man-- he's just entered 8th grade and is interested in so many things. He's taught me lots about cows (his have a pedigree and he shows them at the county fair), told me about his scouting badges and camping, and the basketball and baseball teams that he follows.

And he finds math pretty challenging. As he told me very quietly and earnestly as we were working on a math problem sometime back --"I really want to do better." My quick equally quiet reply-- "I never thought you didn't." --and my heart sank a bit because that comment seemed to indicate a number of folks had indicated to him they didn't.

As school has begun again, he's excited and more organized. He wants to have a good year.

I really hope his teachers and the teachers of so many other youngsters for whom school can be a challenge in so many ways have had an opportunity to read Bud Hunt's letter to teachers that has popped up every year since its orginal posting in 2008. I hope they'll consider his request:
"I ask you to be brave and humble and kind and tenacious and wise and caring and gentle and fierce. We so need you to do well."
And I hope his teachers and all teachers will consider Zoe Weill's call for a humane and relevant education :
"...our children will no longer be bored when the eagerness to learn is fed by an education that is meaningful and relevant to their own lives and to the gorgeous, incredible world they will one day inherit. Their enthusiasm, nourished and nurtured by schooling that matters and excites, will lead inexorably to knowledge and skills that will help solve the global challenges we face and create a world where we can all survive and thrive."
When Bud's hopes for teachers and Zoe's call for relevant learning are heeded, a fine young man--all our students-- will realize their worth and find their place in our everchanging global world. They deserve no less. Don't you think?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Filling holes--

There are huge holes in my learning-- big hunks, so big that I am so ignorant of them I have no idea what they are until I run into them head on. (I think they are a result of my "just in time" learning and my total immersion in my classrooms over a number of years, but at this point the why is unimportant.) What is important is that knowledge building ran into me head on in the PLP ecourse teaching online. I am embarrassed; for a bit I thought I won't admit that I didn't have a deep understanding but decided learning and this rush was too good not to share.

I have used the term knowledge building and had a sense of what I believed it meant for learning. Yet when I searched the web prior to the posting of the week's discussions, I discovered terms and concepts with which I was unfamiliar, traveling from page to page skimming, then off to check another term-- some serious wayfinding. And when I started to explore the topic with some of the breadcrumbs Sheryl left for us to follow, I couldn't stop, I was even more hungry. (So these analogies to breadcrumbs and wayfinding are muddled here a bit but they fit where I am right now.)

Why did I not know this? Why don't I have a clear understanding of cognitive presence? What are the phases? What is the knowledge forum? What are rise above notes? Is all of this new; where have I been? And I went looking-- and my to do list, well it's still there waiting for me-- there are about 30 tabs open in my browser around what I have been exploring.

And then as I read, first I lamented not having this base from which to refine my practice prior to this; then I began making connections--

Rise above notes intrigued me--- what a wonderful use of technology! I wonder if it is clunky technically in the Knowledge Forum? It's similar to the interventions we learned to create in MOOM, an inquiry online course into facilitating online in an inquiry environment where initially the moderator would take snippets of discussion to highlight concepts folks had contributed and end with a question. As the course progressed the learners in the course followed the model. What has struck me, that I didn't fully recognize before, is this takes learning to a completely new level.

How to create the environment enabling this happening in the e course I am planning? How can I help all learners make connections so they can begin new discussions? Would it make a difference if we included in the title or tag high rise? I'm thinking on this and other ideas-- just beginnings. I continue reading, seeking deeper answers to my questions. What a rush!

I love when stuff begins to come together-- from one of Sheryl's tweets later in the day:
"1. Start with a question.

2. Zero in on unfamiliar words, phrases, symbols or expressions. “Bayesian analysis,” “Fourier transform”—Wikipedia, Scholarpedia or Wikiversity might be good places to start, but you’ll want to follow the links from there to source materials, papers, textbooks, book excerpts on Google, and others.

3. Do some serious reading. You may have several tabs open at this point. This phase can last hours or days. You may also want to try sample problems or exercises.

4. Ask someone a question. You may want to locate some experts on the topic, through Slideshare, Youtube, blogs, Twitter, or more. Or you can search forums or other online learning communities for help.

5. Test and demonstrate your knowledge. MIT Open Courseware, Khan Academy, and other sites may have sample problems. Or you can go onto a forum and answer someone else’s question. Or blog about your discoveries!"
That's just what I was doing. Open, inquiry learning yet there's still a big piece missing and that is my participation in my community to share, be questioned, make connections, find patterns and build knowledge with my colleagues.

If I can get this excited at this age, just imagine classrooms full of youngsters, schools full of teachers engaging in knowledge building and inquiring into topics for which they have an interest -- the synergy-- the learning--

Photo credit

Sunday, August 14, 2011

We may never pass this way again--

Not always the biggest of music lovers, Seals & Crofts touch my soul in so many ways.

This melody and these lyrics. have been playing and replaying in my head following a conversation with one of my favorite co learners, Marsha in the Powerful Learning Practice e course Teaching Online where I lamented my lack of participation and what that might mean for my learning and that of others.

As I've been humming to myself all day,
Like Columbus in the olden days, we must gather all our courage.
Sail our ships out on the open sea. Cast away our fears
And all the years will come and go, and take us up, always up.
We may never pass this way again.
It's struck me even more that in our times, this has such a universal call--

To our politicians--
To those who treasure our planet --
To those of us who seek a transformation in education--
To those of us who envision the potential of learning in community--
To those of us learning--

At this moment, we are in unique places--
We can't afford to let any opportunity pass us by--
We may never pass this way again
Of course, this is nothing new--
But there is an urgency in every area--
We are on so many precipices--
Like Columbus in the olden days, we must gather all our courage.
Sail our ships out on the open sea. Cast away our fears
And all the years will come and go, and take us up, always up.
We may never pass this way again.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Animals/Habitats team is on their way!

I just posted this in the group room of the Animals/Habitats team of the PLP ConnectU walled garden community.

The members of this team are really on their way to planning an exciting PBL experience for their students.

In their second Elluminate team meeting, every member of the team attended; every member's voice was heard. Under the extraordinary leadership of Jane, the team leader, this team has developed driving and supporting questions, selected VELs that will be addressed in the unit, looked at possibilities for assessment, thought through a WOW beginning activity, created a project timeline, and begun to blog about their journey and is sharing all of this transparently.

I am anxiously waiting to hear about the initial walkarounds they and their students will be taking as they explore animals/environments in their local areas and asking questions of them as they respond to Jane's latest Ning posting around Scaffolding the Personal Learning - Helping the Learner to Learn how to Learn!! Really exciting!!!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Saving our schools---

Schools must be empowering for all its members if we want our children — and therefore our society — to thrive. And for that reason, we must Save Our Schools.
--Chris Lehman
On Saturday, July 30 at noon, I'll be here in Chardon, OH but my mind and spirit will be with the thousands who gather in Washington to Save our Schools.

Their guiding principles can serve us and the children we serve well.
For the future of our children, we demand:

Equitable funding for all public school communities

  • Equitable funding across all public schools and school systems
  • Full public funding of family and community support services
  • Full funding for 21st century school and neighborhood libraries
  • An end to economically and racially re-segregated schools

An end to high stakes testing used for the purpose of student, teacher, and school evaluation

  • The use of multiple and varied assessments to evaluate students, teachers, and schools
  • An end to pay per test performance for teachers and administrators
  • An end to public school closures based upon test performance

Teacher, family and community leadership in forming public education policies

  • Educator and civic community leadership in drafting new ESEA legislation
  • Federal support for local school programs free of punitive and competitive funding
  • An end to political and corporate control of curriculum, instruction and assessment decisions for teachers and administrators

Curriculum developed for and by local school communities

  • Support for teacher and student access to a wide-range of instructional programs and technologies
  • Well-rounded education that develops every student’s intellectual, creative, and physical potential
  • Opportunities for multicultural/multilingual curriculum for all students
  • Small class sizes that foster caring, democratic learning communities
If you, like I, will not be physically present to support this effort, join them in mind and spirit and raise your voice so that collectively our voices will make a difference and those guiding principles will be adopted- for our children.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Coaching across time zones--

It was Tuesday-- 4 PM in Melbourne, Australia
and 2 AM in Chardon, OH.

Yet with the affordances of technology, time and space became totally irrelevant (although my brain rebelled a bit at that hour) as the PLP ConnectU Animals and Habitats team from Melbourne met in Elluminate and I joined in as their connected coach.

Committed, passioned educators-- keen to become more accomplished in developing PBL experiences for their students-- Jane, Lisa, and Tim (Ben's Internet was down) connected, collaborated and set out immediate next steps as they continued discussions begun in their team room in the PLP Ning online community.

Jane Brayshaw, the team's leader had summarized the discussions from Ning for the meeting and she and Lisa had developed a list of learning standards from the VELs that their soon to be unit might well address.

From the conversations came agreement on a driving question appropriate for the PBL unit they are designing for their students-- "How do we provide for the health of animals in our local communities?"

Their discussion around assessment -- as, of, and for -- was refreshing

As a coach, I answered questions they had for me and asked questions in chat of them as they thought through their process. My goal --they would recognize and call on their individual and collective strengths to carry on (they did and very likely could have done it well without me).

Similar to my recent role as community leader for PLP and as expert learner in a constructivist classroom, the complex dance of coaching- of nudging and suggesting and then stepping back, sitting on my hands - continued. Sometimes that dance is far more complex and difficult than others - this was not one of those times. That dance is an art it seems to me -- one I've been practicing in an ongoing quest to develop expertise. With this team, the dance is exhilarating and exciting.

The team is on their way; their focus is on their students' learning; a grand inquiry PBL unit into animals in their local communities is the making.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Connected Coaching-- our path

Cross Posted

“The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. The paths to it are not found but made, and the activity of making them changes both the maker and the destination.” --John Schaar

So it is with Connected Coaching. Our grand destination, so to speak, a transformation of professional learning, increasing confidence and self-efficacy of educators worldwide. Our path-- coaching in online spaces through an appreciative inquiry lens.

From the outset, Dean and I have viewed coaching in online spaces as a wayfinding process-- a process lacking linearity, and often requiring the need to loopback, to detour, to revisit. As we developed the model, we identified pathmarkers we believed could guide the way of coaches -- a process clearly characterized by lack of prescription. From exploring the model with Marsha, Brenda, John, Mark, Zoe and Chad -- the 6 bright, passionate, accomplished educators who joined our pilot-- to coaching in communities, I've come to understand and appreciate more fully both the great potential of and complex nuances inherent in such a model. Realizing, recognizing, inferring online when to step back, when to revisit, finding the right moment to interject the right question requires countless decisions by those coaching. Through our own collaborative appreciative inquiry into coaching, our own wayfinding, our pilot team of coaches (Dean and I included) have been engaged in an exciting ongoing development of expertise. Our challenges continue to be leveraging the uniqueness of online spaces-- lacking eye contact, visual body language cues, unable to adopt many face to face strategies for active listening-- we experiment with remixing current face to face protocols, with images, with audio, and with video to build trust, to develop rapport, to speak into the hearts of the team members we serve.

As important to our model has been the appreciative inquiry approach that underlies all our actions as connected coaches. We see our coaching with our community members as mediating their thinking-- helping them realize and clarify for themselves their own potential--not through telling but through questions and affirmations that help those we coach discover and uncover their own strengths, helping members to realize the potential of those strengths to effect change-- much as Zander notes here:

We have embraced what I view as a refreshing and powerful shift in paradigms-- from the current deficit, "fix it" which seems to permeate all we see and do to one of appreciation for the unique strengths of each person. I join others who believe that from this approach momentum for change builds and can flourish. Even now at this stage of our pilot, we see evidence of excitement and camaraderie with a number of teams we are coaching and sense momentum for change building as the positive principle of appreciate inquiry suggests--

“Momentum for change requires large amounts of positive affect and social bonding – things like hope, excitement, inspiration, caring, camaraderie, sense of urgent purpose, and sheer joy in creating something meaningful together. What we have found is that the more positive the question we ask in our work the more long lasting and successful the change effort. It does not help, we have found, to begin our inquiries from the standpoint of the world as a problem to be solved. We are more effective the longer we can retain the spirit of inquiry of the everlasting beginner. The major thing we do that makes the difference is to craft and seed, in better and more catalytic ways, the unconditional positive question.” --Positive Principle, AI

Have we changed as we've forged paths of connected coaching?

I-- usually but not always an optimist, I've become totally convinced that an appreciative inquiry approach is far more powerful and has greater potential to build momentum for change than others. I've reached deep inside as I've responded to discussions in our online space to find that my lifelong passion for learning about learning has been exceeded now by my passion for learning about coaching.

And our team-- as we've grown to know each other personally and professionally through our work, has become a community of practice. The conversations around coaching practice have grown deeper. We've had some difficult discussions and grown from them. Given other learning opportunities, many of us have chosen to join in because "if some of you are there, I'm in". We've committed to a path of continually developing our expertise. And our lives are the richer for our collaborations together.

Our path may alter a bit; that there will be loopbacks and revisits as we reflect upon and refine our practice is a given. This path to connected coaching holds more than great promise and will benefit from repeated traversing. We are not finished--

Photo Credit

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Enable or hinder--

Thanks so much to Nancy White for this find where she noted:
"When I think of group dynamics both face to face and online, there is this dynamic of conformity. It is stronger in some cultural contexts and in my experience, stronger F2F. But it also exists online —"
Hmmm, wondering-- can we leverage this phenomena as we encourage more educators to shift their practice
rather than an enabling, does this hinder shifting?

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Community-- dreams deferred?

Dreaming and smiling as I dreamed--
about learning
about teaching
about self directed novice and expert learners collaborating
continually practicing their practice (full attribution SLA Poetry Jam, final keynote on ISTE11)
engaging in difficult conversations
challenged by cognitive dissonance
making the time to grow and nurture a more accomplished global practice
fulfilling a commitment I'd like to think we make to children, to each other to be the best we can
in vibrant, synergistic online communities

For I also believe, as does Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach who so eloquently has put it:
"the secret to change lies in developing the social fabric, capacity and connectedness found in communities of practice and learning networks. I believe that by focusing on a strengths-based model of education, looking at possibilities rather than problems, by using inquiry to ask the kinds of questions that reveal the gifts each of us bring to the table, by realizing that “none of us is as good as all of us” and somehow leveraging all of that to shift the conversations toward building a new future- one that focuses on the gifts each teacher, student, parent and leader has, that we have all we need to create an alternative future for schools. One that focuses on the well-being of the whole and uses diversity as a means to innovation."
Waking up suddenly,
jolted by a fear
that incredible opportunities whooshed right on by

Wondering if or how we haven't articulated what we've experienced and discovered in a way that others might also feel compelled embrace this path to transformation---

Striving continually to be better educators in online communities does not consist of quick, surface reading and many times 140 characters shorter replies. There's value there yet-- it is in communities where members commit to deep reflection, to sharing personal practice, to add value to the community, to exploring and trying new ideas that true potential for systemic change lies.

Learning in community, becoming better in community takes time-- we need to make the time to take time. The value we derive from participation can not be understated.

Being transparent and open to new ideas, acknowledging and dealing with cognitive dissonance is alien to some in our profession. Yet, as Joe Bower suggests:
"However, rather than seeing cognitive dissonance as a crisis to be avoided, the most successful people in the world embrace cognitive dissonance as a remarkable opportunity. They see it as a fork in the road where they can choose to continue down the comfortable status quo, or they can take a turn down a new, unfamiliar road. This is exactly how trailblazing starts. There may be no other way to engage in real improvement and authentic innovation."
Learning in community takes courage; if we are to work to provide the schools our children deserve, we need to make a choice-- acquiescence or courage. Joe Bower speaks to courage in his post when he quotes Mara Sapon Shevin (one of my former professors)
"Courage is what it takes when we leave behind something we know well and embrace (even tentatively) something unknown or frightening. Courage is what we need when we decide to do things differently... Courage is recognizing that things familiar are not necessarily right or inevitable. We mustn't mistake what is comfortable with what is good."
Wondering too what happens to a dream deferred?

Langston Hughes

Photo credit:

Friday, July 01, 2011


Sophia crossed my path twice in the last week--
once at The Innovative Educator where she asked Is this the future of learning?
and again in Stephen Downe's OLDaily.

As Downes quoted from the Sophia about page:
"Sophia is a social teaching and learning platform that taps the teacher in all of us and enhances the learning process by providing access to a wealth of knowledge, help, instruction, standards-aligned content, and expertise available to learners everywhere."

Sophia Overview from Sophia on Vimeo.

In response to the question, Is Sophia the future of learning?

I hope not. Perhaps a part of, a resource for some content.

I guess I'm questioning their use of the word community in describing Sophia. Community to me suggests collaborating to create meaning and deeper understanding together and the co creation of artifacts that illustrate that understanding. I'm not seeing that with Sophia--

I'm thinking/hoping the future of learning will be far more than one web portal in a sea of many, and will leverage the extraordinary power of the human network in collaborations, investigations and explorations; will encourage the development of deep, meaningful collegial relationships which will in turn become the foundation for change in education; and will compel learners to take collective action to make this world a better place.

What about you?

Monday, June 20, 2011

it is not simple--

“The main feature that characterizes complex systems is the dynamic interaction of various elements of the system over time such that the results of these interactions are not entirely predictable or proportional. A complex system, due to its dynamic and sometimes chaotic and random self-interaction, cannot be reduced to simple parts which relate to each other in very predictable ways.” Chaos Complexity and Language
These words from 3 years past--
The body of my soulmate -- fighting poison of cytoxan as it attempts to restore some balance to his system, to strengthen and repair some neural pathways so we can walk again together in the park, to halt or hinder the progression of MS -- his strong will and mind that rise and greet each day ready to deal with all challenges, to adapt to new refusals by his leg or foot to listen to his brain and move, to go beyond himself and always think of us. A complex system—
And now today as the cytoxan infusions continue--

The steps-- more measured, more hesitant, far slower, yet more determined

The balance-- more obtuse, unstable, unsteady

The walks-- shorter, taking longer, sending me on ahead and pushing himself to the limit

Our lives, our love, our bond-- far deeper, tighter, far more full of meaning despite the chaos of his immune system--

A complex system -- with some components far more than broken than others--

With a continued appreciation for the intricate, dynamic relationships and nuances in complex systems, there's so much I don't know but this I do --
it is not simple
determination and resolve mean everything
collaboration is priceless
appreciation, positivity yield far more than their opposites
celebration of small things is essential

I'm thinking that other complex systems are no different-- education for example. Our system is broken in so many ways. And often, to many, the the challenges are insurmountable. Yet I do know
it is not simple
determination and resolve mean everything
collaboration is priceless
positive, appreciate approaches yield far more than their opposites

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Breaking down walls, inviting in, and supporting

Dean began our last PLP Connected Coaches' Elluminate session with this video. It stuck with me. The joy, the wonderment, the uncertainty, the appreciation for something new, the really wanting to test something out is transparent with little ones.

People get bigger and I'm willing to bet that all of that is still there yet--- somewhere along the way for some reason, invisible walls were built to hide these feelings. Think middle school and high school students -- we label them "reluctant", "unmotivated", and "lazy". A few, (well likely many) conversations, some encouragement, a safe place to risk and share, and some strategies for "fall(ing) down thoughtfully and how to hop" back up", as Bud the Teacher so eloquently shares:
"If you’re going to do pretty much anything worth doing, you’d darn well better be prepared to fall flat on your face. There’s risk in the places worth working for. And it’s worthwhile to know how to fall, how to land in a way that will minimize the long term harm to yourself.

Just as important, you’ve got to fall with a thought for how you’re going to get back up.

I hope you’re thinking about how to help people fall down thoughtfully. I hope that someone taught you about how to take a fall, and how to hop back up, raring to go. Are you preparing the folks you know and work and learn with to go down hard in ways that’ll lead towards more chances to, well, take chances?
and there's a shift-- little bits at a time-- first maybe some wonderment, then perhaps some transparent uncertainty and sharing of testing new waters. It's there, I know it-- we need to dig deep enough to break down those invisible walls, to uncover it. We need to shift from disparaging conversations about students to those in which we share the strategies that will help us help them rediscover the joys, the wonderment that are so compelling in this video.

People become professionals; think educators who have adopted the persona of expert, who fear for their futures, who don't infuse technology into learning, who also build great invisible walls to protect what they view as vulnerability. We label them "reluctant", "out-dated" or worse. We adopt a us vs them mentality. A few, (well likely many) conversations, some encouragement, a safe place to risk and share, and some strategies for "fall(ing) down thoughtfully and how to hop" back up", and there's a shift-- little bits at a time-- first maybe some wonderment, then perhaps some transparent uncertainty and sharing of testing new waters. It's there, I know it-- we need to dig deep enough to break down those invisible walls, to uncover it. We need to shift from disaparaging conversations about failure to adopt and infuse technology into learning. We need to remember the uncertainty, the tentativeness of when we started (my first introduction to computers in a workshop in the early 80's-- they told me to key in a basic program and click run and the computer began counting to one million. I jumped back sure that I had broken it) and then we need to help them rediscover the joy, the wonderment in this video.

And as we are sharing strategies that work we need to step back and take time to consider as Paul R. Wood has done and ask ourselves:
"are we taking care to make sure that we are reaching out to those who are just starting to dip their toes in the water or maybe those who are eyeing the kool-aid stand but not sure they really want to buy the drink itself?

We talk about how students learn in different ways and at different times but are we taking the time to make sure those adults who have come to learn are getting the same attention?"
I'd take that one step farther -- are we taking the time to make sure that we are inviting in, providing safe spaces and strategies for "fall(ing) down thoughtfully and how to hop" back up" for those may not yet have come to learn, just as we do for our students?

Imagine the possibilities in our classrooms, imagine the possibilities in the professional learning of all educators-- Can we touch it?

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Improving education in Ohio?

From THE Journal today:
"Effective teachers know and communicate subject matter and design curriculum, instruction, and multiple assessments. They know about diverse student populations, use data and technology effectively for all, communicate effectively with parents and other staff, conduct action research to improve their practice, and implement existing research containing significant findings. They are ethical and learner-centered in their approach setting high expectations and contributing to the academic, social, and emotional growth of their learners."
And then this from Cleveland:
"The teacher-recruitment group recently singled out by the governor and state legislature as a way to improve education in Ohio has started planning to put recruits in the state - possibly in the Cleveland schools - by the fall of 2012. ... Until this spring, Ohio law blocked Teach for America recruits from Ohio schools because they do not follow normal teacher training and certification programs. Gov. John Kasich and the state legislature waived the certification requirement specifically for Teach for America in April."

"TFA participants get "five weeks of intensive training .. before taking over a classroom". --source
So in Ohio we are improving education by placing teachers with 5 weeks of training and a 2 year commitment into classrooms; although I've no doubt TFA folks are temporarily passionate (read 2 year commitment) about serving the children and they are bright, it escapes me how they, with that training can be termed effective teachers. My guess is they'll become employed primarily by charters and our large urban districts. Our children there, born into circumstances beyond their control, deserve far better. I'm wondering, if your child was a student in a classroom whose teacher had 5 weeks training, how comfortable would you be?

Photo credit:

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A new journey into Connected Coaching

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." --Margaret Mead

What happens when 8 passionate educators distanced geographically (U.S., Canada, and Australia) meet in an Elluminate room or in threaded discussions in Ning to engage in conversations around coaching in online communities?

They grow and develop expertise to transform online professional learning.

Through text, images, encouragement, support, videos, sharing ideas and experiencing a collective joy that comes from participation in a group whose sole goal is to improve learning for teachers and students, we grow. Through an appreciative approach which leads to deep and sometimes difficult collegial conversations this new and unique model evolves as each coach brings their talents and gifts to the table.

A vision, initially only on paper, becomes reality and Powerful Learning Practice Connected Coaches--
Brenda Sherry
Marsha Ratzel
Chad Evans
Mark Carbone
Zoe Branigan-Pipe
John Pearce

join Dean Shareski and I on an incredibly exciting journey into wayfinding as coaches.

Our connected model draws heavily from Cooperrider's appreciative inquiry, Costa and Garmston's cognitive model and Tschannen-Moran's evocative coaching while infusing much of Sheryl's wisdom on learning in online communities.

Currently engaging with members in the El Paso and ConnectU Powerful Learning Practice communities, we really are about changing the world of online professional learning. And with this accomplished group, with whom I am privileged and honored to learn, I see it happening.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Remembering and Missing--

5th graders in Georgia, affectionately called the Blogicians--

Anne Davis, an accomplished elementary Georgia educator--

Modeling, demonstrating; using podcasts for editing/proofing; holding writing conferences; developing a community of learners--

WordPress blogs--

And an unlikely connection with a Sheppard blogger from Ohio--

Together, connecting, collaborating---

Students and a master educator with content knowledge about writing who developed a 21st century pedagogy enhanced by technology, and connections--

Coming together in a sweet spot that enabled authentic, exciting, sticky learning

Essential ingredients in teaching for learning--

Just imagine a 21st century pedagogy and knowledge of technology; without it the Blogicians likely never would have made the same gains in writing and reading—hear it from Eddie in his own words.

Just imagine teachers competent in designing ways that content was comprehensible for groups of diverse students as Anne so masterfully accomplished.

Just imagine complex, unique blends of technology, pedagogy and content that transform learning much as it did with Anne and her students.

Don’t we need to continue to join in, engage in conversations, nudging, pushing, and if need be, more assertively agitating for these kinds of opportunities for all student learning? Don’t we need to pull in, nudge, and encourage those more reticent, to aspire to and strive for this type of accomplished practice? For Eddie, for all the Blogicians who are now in high school, for all our students?

Monday, May 02, 2011

Kudos to the PLP Archdiocese team from St. Patrick School

I've had the opportunity to learn with some very special educators from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia as I led their virtual community for Powerful Learning Practice this year.

The team from St. Patrick School has created a video around all their students have been learning; I love it and wanted to share it here too.

To everyone in the PLP Archdiocese community, thanks for allowing me to learn with you.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Saving the world-- problem based learning

As if there ever was any question about the power of problem based learning---

Teams of students and teachers collaborated in a problem based learning project sponsored by Powerful Learning Practice. They were asked to save the world from an asteroid on a collision course with earth in Doomsday 1.

I've had the honor and privilege to serve in the role of community leader for the Archdiocese of Philadelpia community for this school year and teams from two schools in the community participated with their students- St. Alphonsus and St. Anastasia. What they and their students created is outstanding! And they saved the world!

Yesterday in an Elluminate session they presented their solutions to save the world. Check out their videos with a lens on all they learned, all the standards and benchmarks they mastered. Don't we owe all our youngsters these kinds of opportunities?

From St. Alphonsus--

From St. Anastasia--

Spartiger Research Saves the World from Ann Perrone on Vimeo.

Students and PLP educators from St. Alphonsus and St. Anastasia, I hope you can hear my virtual standing ovation!

You can find all the videos from the students participating here.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Something's happening here---

Being part of an organization that not only believes but also lives sharing, collaborating, and collective action is pretty special.

Being part of an organization that is really all about learning, about transforming education, about building collective efficacy, about continuously working to be better is an extraordinary privilege.

That organization -- Powerful Learning Practice.

I've been humbled and privileged to be a part of the good and meaningful work that is spearheaded by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Will Richardson.

As this school year winds down, Powerful Learning Practice ramps up-- with incredible opportunities for educators to learn, to collaborate, to become more accomplished.

Join me, join us in making learning better for those children in your classroom, your district.

Explore all the options, select the one that's best for you!

Traditional communities

New for 2011 eLearning courses

Virtual Institutes for your district or building

The Leading Experience

Supercharge your classroom in 2011
Explore all these opportunities under one link.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Where we should be going--

Play and experiment
Blackline worksheets

Create and reflect
Scripted direct instruction

Tinker and build
Bubble in the answer

An architectural studio for learning
Open, full of critiquing
Traditional classrooms
Closed, one right answer

A vision of what can be
What exists in many places in reality

John Seely Brown from 2008-- 3 years ago
A star to guide us

This notion of tinkering and an architectural studio although not new, if adopted can alter learning for us all.

Imagine an environment that is open and public, where all works in progress are done in public, where the struggles of all are transparent, where eveyone learns from each other and constructs knowledge together, where technology affords distributed communities of practice, global architectural studios, tinkering, creating, remixing--

But as LeVar Burton used to say, you don't have to take my word for it---

We need to remember this, revisit this often, aspire for this, and create these conditions in all of our classrooms. Don't our children deserve the opportunity to tinker, to learn from each other's struggles and successes? Isn't this where we should be going? Imagine the possibilities--

Monday, February 14, 2011

Another drop-- third in the series

One drop of water helps to swell the oceanphoto © 2009 Ygor Oliveira | more info (via: Wylio)

“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.”
--Ryunosuke Satoro

One drop, then another
We can become an ocean
Changing learning

First drop--
Second drop--
Third drop here --

How tough is it for us when we learn new things? What keeps us on a course of learning, be it a new sport, a new computer application, a new recipe when cooking? From Jay McTighe

Do his words resonate with you?

And if it's tough for us, what about our students? How can we make a difference? How can we help them?

One drop--
What if we were exemplary in modeling persistence and enabling that for our students?
What if we--

Talk about yourself as a learner. Share your own failures and what you learn from them. Admit what you don’t know. Find out together. WhatEdSaid (her entire post on resilience is so full of goodness; thanks to her for the McTighe video and the inspiration for this post)

What if we push them a little bit farther?
This is one of the trickiest but most essential ways to work out children’s persistence muscles. It’s tempting for older kids who do something well to stay in their comfort zone and never venture beyond that point. Push them to try just a little bit harder next time.
What else can we do to encourage persistence?

Another drop to improve education-- model and enable persistence
If we each adopt this one drop, imagine the ocean--