At the 2014 NWP Annual Meeting, a group of us participated in a "messing around and geeking out" session on Playing with Open Designs for Professional Learning.
The idea of this session was to think about how connected learning meets professional learning through open play experiences.
This collection of resources demonstrates the ways that middle school teachers at a high needs middle school in Eastern North Carolina are transforming their professional learning and teaching practices with Connected Learning frameworks.
As eBooks and immersive, web-based texts continue to proliferate, many of us still wonder how to approach this type of reading, both for ourselves and our students. Even as librarians, teachers, and readers debate the quality, availability, and just plain fun of ebooks, we know that more and more of our students are experiencing them. In this collection, we explore a variety of formats for and questions about ebooks and immersive texts.
What does it look like when young people are writing on their own terms, in spaces outside of school? What new ways of composing do digital media tools open up for us, and what does that mean as it relates to literacy pedagogy and writing instruction inside of schools? This collection features resources written by Hip-hop & spoken word artists & entrepreneurs who work first-hand with youth on initiatives that center youth production and literacy.
Popular culture has changed. No longer just television and movie franchises created by large Hollywood conglomerates, popular culture can be formed by the students in our classrooms. Our students are now both consumers and producers. Sure, they watch the latest blockbuster, but they also spend time making Youtube videos and mashups. This shift is an important one for educators to recognize when incorporating popular culture into their pedagogical practice.
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YOUmedia is a teen learning space in various libraries, museums, and afterschool spaces throughout the country. This Case Study focuses on the flagship in the Chicago Public Library’s downtown Harold Washington Library Center. YOUmedia is...
Quest2Learn is a pioneering public school in New York City that offers a promising new model for student engagement. Designed from the ground up by a team of teachers and game designers, and firmly grounded in over 30 years of learning research,...
They wondered: Why it was that in every school, in every city, kids couldn’t wait until the bell rang at 3 o’clock.
Why everyone -- teachers and students alike -- couldn’t wait until the weekend, or summer, or vacation, or graduation....
- personal story
- connected learning
- case study
- American History
- professional development
- Student Inquiry
- teacher inquiry
- public spaces
- Maker Movement
- turtle art
- middle school
- computational thinking
- Codecraft Lab
- computer science
- computer programming
- LRNG Grant
- flat classroom
- Walk Our World
- Harry Potter
- multimodal composing
- literature circles
- young adult literature
- technology tools
- spoken word
- College Ready Writers Program
These students from Danae Boyd and Janelle Bence’s Coppell High class, created a spoken word poem about climate change. Can humans rise above our own selfish needs to make decisions for the planet? As you watch this, what are some ways you might encourage students to address the next president in a spoken word poem about this or other STEM issues?
KQED provides this Spoken Word Media Make resource to get you started!
KQED News created an issues box for the 2016 election. Click on each box to learn more and get a sense of where others stand. Students can use this to get started thinking about their issue, how it relates to STEM, and what they hope the next president will do to make changes.
Then, check out the What’s My Issue KQED Media Make. Get creative and get the word out about what STEM issues deserve attention and action.
As an English teacher, when I say the word literacy to my non-English teaching colleagues, their eyes glaze over. They’re no doubt thinking about reading a textbook and answering questions, and they’re bored by the thought of it. But in today’s world, the definition of literacy has changed. It is no longer acceptable to only teach students what I’ll call classic literacy skills. Of course, these are important, but if we as teachers focus solely on these, we are leaving out a large chunk of literacy skills that are necessary in today’s society, the so-called new literacies. But, what are new literacies? The National Council of Teachers of English (2013) defines 21st Century literacies as the ability to:
● Develop proficiency and fluency with the tools of technology;
So, consider me intrigued ... I just re-discovered the MediaBreaker tool by The Lamp as part of the Letters to the Next President campaign. MediaBreaker is like the old Popcorn Maker (I still miss you, Popcorn!) by Mozilla, in that you can layer media and text on top of video content. In this case, the idea is to make commentary on top of political videos.
[Cross-posted on Edutopia]
There is a sad truth about the way that most students learn to write: They become boring writers. To write with clarity and insight involves struggle (regardless of age). When faced with this challenge, many students are taught to detach from content, to analyze with sterile language, and to develop ideas within a narrow formula.
Structure is helpful, but if not implemented strategically, it can stifle creativity and require students to go through motions rather than investing themselves in creating something. Many of our attempts to help young people develop writing skills actually deter them from the joy and power of developing a unique, insightful writing voice.
New Ways of Understanding the Writing Process
For three months in the fall my 12th grade students designed their own learning. Each plan culminated with a project. In the fall I wrote about the fear I felt when I began to step back. There is a lot I learned from this process (and I plan to write more about it in the future.)
Designing learning in this way meant students were able to pursue topics they felt passionate about and many did so by embarking on complex projects. The result is a collection of products that go beyond traditional ideas of school work and instead speak to the abilities of young people to create work that has meaning in the world.
But, you shouldn’t trust me. Go and judge for yourself!
Radio pieces made in collaboration with Jeanette Woods at WHYY:
So, I have been having more fun that I have a right to have by making political-themed distorted graphs that have no data correlation whatsoever. I don't even think or consider any numbers when making these. Who cares about data when you have cool graphs in a misinformation campaign!
My teaching load increased this academic year, for the second year in a row. I am not alone with this struggle, but it doesn’t make it easier to cope. There might be content areas where this is easier to handle, but writing is not one of them. There might be groups of student that make an increased load workable, but first-generation, first-year students is not one of them. However, after weeping, wailing, and gnashing my teeth for a while, I remembered a key tool that could help me serve my students’ unique and varied needs while providing the support they need to grow as writers (and readers and thinkers). This magical tool is the workshop. Two weeks into the semester and I have fallen back in love with the workshop. I’ll share my love letter to the workshop in a future blog post, but this Notable Notes will share some thoughts about workshop to inspire your thinking and teaching.
One of my goals this year is to provide writing experiences that encourage young people to identify as writers and thinkers. My own school writing experiences (many of which were unmemorable), my opportunities to write in non-traditional ways (thank you Mr. Gross and Susan Lytle,) and knowledge I gained from my spouse via her time working with Pat Hoy in the Expository Writing Program at NYU, all helped me develop a structure for what I call Advanced Essays. I wrote about the details of the writing process for our 11th grade Advanced Essays elsewhere but right now I want to gloat.
This collection of case studies features three communities who build on fan interests and engagement to unite, inspire, and drive social change. These communities include Harry Potter enthusiasts, StarCraft gamers, and wrestling fans who use their shared passions as springboards for creative production and building peer-supported communities of learning.
A pop-up, unofficial, experimental #clmooc make cycle
To Teach Digital Writing, You Just Have to Color Outside the Lines
It used to be easy, neat, and contained. Like an old fashioned coloring book where you knew to stay inside the lines. But staying inside the lines is hard. And every time you strayed outside those lines, you swore not to the next time. But deep down you knew that to express yourself effectively, to make the most of what you needed to say, to make your message and meaning clear, you had to go outside the lines. And it would be messy.
I recently wrote a blog post sharing my reasons for assigning infographics, but the more I think about teaching with infographics, the more I realize there are a wealth of advantages for every level and every content area. So this week’s Notable Notes will be devoted to what others have to say about using infographics to support learning in classes from social studies to science and so much more.
In “Navigating in the Age of Infographics,” Troy Hicks points out that in today’s world visual literacy is important to teach, learn and understand as well as describing ways that infographics can be used for personal, professional, and creative expression.
I learned something new this week. Yet another reason why teaching is such an awesome job. Actually, I learned lots of things as my students are wrapping up their class projects, but one thing I learned is specific to teaching and that thing made me think again about how and why I grade with badges.
I currently have two classes of first-year college students working on a service learning project with a local middle school. This is my second year (third semester) using service learning in my classes. You can read more about why I like service learning in The Benefits of Service Learning.
I want to devote this Notable Notes to what others have to say about the benefits of service learning beginning with Erin Bittman’s great post “Service Learning Is Essential for All Kids—Here’s Why.” In her post she offers some great ideas for service projects for students at a variety of levels. I love the ways that young students can create service learning projects.
Reflection is a major component of my classes and I often use some fun, creative writing exercises as well as more traditional reflection. Last year I used a combination of slam poetry and praise poetry, but I’m not certain this approach will work as well with my classes this semester. So I have been thinking about the various tools on my belt and then a member of my PLN shared this awesome video from PBS Digital Studios. They have a whole range of “Art Assignments” you should check out (warning: wormhole), but the video that inspired me was called “Fake Flyer” featuring Nathaniel Russell.
This reflection was inspired by a recent departmental debate about a mandatory final in our first-year writing class.
There has been a debate raging in my department about the form and function of our Writing I and Writing II classes – those core “composition” courses that all students are required to take. This requirement is a good thing. It is essential that our students learn to be good writers, and readers and thinkers, which is why I have always maintained that these are among the most important classes students take in college. The debate centers on the focus of these classes. Will the classes be research-based or argument-based? What kinds of texts will be read and/or studied to support the writing? Will there be a final exam and what form should it take?
I recently read an article by Ken Goldstein about why we should move away from performance reviews toward coaching and mentoring (see 3 arguments against performance reviews). This idea resonated with me for two reasons. First, the only feedback I receive is a brief performance review letter (not even a personal session such as the one described by Goldstein) and the only coaching and mentoring I receive is something I must seek on my own. Second, as a National Writing Project site director I hear a lot about professional development fails (usually in contrast to whatever Morehead Writing Project event the teacher recently attended).
“You step outside, you risk your life. You take a drink of water, you risk your life. Nowadays you breath and you risk your life. Every moment now, you don’t have a choice. The only thing you can choose is what you’re risking it for.”
~ Hershel Greene (The Walking Dead Season 4 Episode 3)
I was recently challenged to think about a quote that was meaningful to me as a teacher and/or writer (for the Write Now! MOOC). I mulled over many options as I am a bit of collector and love it when people share great quotes with me. However, one idea kept resonating with me and so I chose to share the awesome quote from The Walking Dead above.
I'm past 20 now. Twenty-odd daily comics for The Wild West Adventures of the Internet Kid, an idea that was sparked by my participation in the open Western106 story adventure. I thought I would take a breather here to reflect on how it's going for me, the writer (I make an appearance now and then in the comic, usually for criticism for not writing better comics or not paying attention to equity issues. Guilty as charged!).
Well, breather, plus today's comic:
I have only been assigning infographics for about a year, but I am in love and here is why you should teach with infographics too. First, a quick explanation for how I got here. I first assigned infographics for my professional writing students, because I thought it would be a useful form for them to learn and I wanted a digital presentation format for our group learning document assignment. The infographic assignment fit the bill perfectly and did so much more. I now use infographics in my other classes as an alternative to traditional presentation tools (down with Powerpoint!) and I strongly encourage you to think about infographics in your classroom for these three reasons.
One of the student learner outcomes for Morehead State University’s First Year Seminar is to articulate the ethical consequences of decisions or actions. I have always loved our discussions about ethics, because the theme for my particular FYS is “From the Walking Dead to Superheroes.” I find that comic book characters offer a lot of opportunity to discuss ethics and over the years my students have explored a variety of ethical questions from the death penalty to vigilantism to corporate greed. Of course, that last may be inspired by the fact that one of the ways I introduce ethics uses this video about Monsters Inc, but then it might simply be that a lot of comics feature that theme (Batman, Green Arrow, Flash, etc.).
This Notable Notes was inspired by Irvin Peckham’s blog post “Writing What I Think.” It is a short post that I will simply include it in its entirety here:
I had a student say after posting her firsthand portrait: This is so different from high school writing: I can write what I think instead of writing what I think the teacher wants to hear.
Some folks in the Digital Writing Month circles have been doing a "slow read" of the new book by Henry Jenkins, danah boyd and Mimi Ito called Participatory Culture in a Networked Era. The book is a conversation between these three eminent thinkers of learning and connecting. Chapter Four is centered on learning and literacy, and I decided that I would take a powerful quote from each of three writers and respond with audio letters.
Here are the three audio letters:
Paul Oh, of the National Writing Project, presented about Connected Learning. It streamed live Friday October 10th 2014, and you can watch it here!
Once the process brought us to a point where we had a location and an event, we started taking ideas and writing them on the board. We first discussed what characters would be necessary, and people volunteered for different central characters. This was a surprising discussion for me in several ways.
Soft Circuits: Crafting e-Fashion with DIY Electronics explores the field of electronics and "e-textiles," which involves making physical computing projects based in fabrics and other everyday materials. This volume incorporates microprocessors into these materials and programs them with an accessible tool called Modkit to further enhance e-fashions like light-up wristbands and t-shirts, as well as solar-powered backpacks.
Short Circuits: Crafting e-Puppets with DIY Electronics explores the field of electronics and "e-textiles," which involves making physical computing projects based in fabrics and other everyday materials. This volume focuses that exploration on the use of electronic hand puppets, sound-enabled storyboards, and DIY flashlight-enabled shadow puppetry in order to delve into literacy and storytelling.
Script Changers: Digital Storytelling with Scratch focuses on how stories offer an important lens for seeing the world as a series of systems and provides opportunities for young people to create interactive and animated stories about the systems around them. The projects in this book utilize the Scratch visual programming environment as a means to tell stories about how to effect change in youths' local communities.
Gaming the System: Designing with Gamestar Mechanic orients readers to the nature of games as systems, how game designers need to think in terms of complex interactions between game elements and rules, and how to pull out systems concepts in the design process. The core curriculum uses Gamestar Mechanic, an online game design environment with a strong systems thinking focus.
As the Visiting Fiction Writer-in-Residence at Fordham University I taught fiction writing to undergraduates and undergrads in courses titled Fiction Bootcamp and Writer's Workshop. These courses were craft-based workshops where my students and I pondered the big questions of how fiction is constructed and what makes it work. We looked under the hood, took the back off the clock, peered into the innards in order to study the formal decisions necessary for effective story-telling. Our inquiry included point of entry; character and plot; creating meaningful scenes; interiority v/s external action; exposition; the management of time; the position of the narrator; linear v/s modular design; dialogue and its uses; conflict and resolution; image systems and so on. In order to learn to "read like a writer," students tackled a collection worth of stories and paid attention to details like how sentences are constructed, dialogue is set up and narrative is designed.
The engagement on this project was spectacular. Right from the start the students liked the idea that it was their project entered into a real world competition--not just something for the teacher, and the excitement grew throughout as the project itself connected more and more students.
As we started to work, some students finished their parts very quickly, and others took lots of time, one of the difficult parts about creative writing classes, but we forged ahead with other projects and also started to look at peer reviews.
The amount of learning that came about through giving the students control completely surprised me. I expected the engagement to be fairly high, but the format of the project truly allowed students at all levels to perform, to develop their voice, and to exceed my expectations. The project was student driven, and many of the techniques we used were uncovered just through collaboration, discussion, experimentation, and play in the classroom. The use of social media for peer reviews, a real world competition for motivation, and Google Drive for collaboration all helped to allow students to bring forth their own unique ways of seeing the world in an artistic and creative way.
During the summer of Making Learning Connected (or clmooc) a twitter discussion arose on what constitutes a story. Sometimes questions need to be moved past 140 characters. This prompted the collective decision to move the discussion to a google hangout.
See the chat archive here.
I consider myself pretty invested in the Connected Learning community. I had the privilege of co-chairing the "Civic Education and Youth Serving Organizations" strand of the Digital Media and Learning conference in 2013, I contributed to an eBook edited by Antero Garcia focused on the application of Connected Learning principles to the classroom, and I am a Connected Learning Ambassador for the National Writing Project. Nonetheless, whenever I prepare to talk about Connected Learning with classroom teachers, as I did last week during a workshop with the UCLA Writing Project, I find myself a bit uneasy about using the actual term.
"There's a magic that manifests when you take an idea that you thought up and produce a physical object that represents the thing you had in your head," says Ian Gonsher, part of the faculty in the School of Engineering at Brown University. "My teaching style isn't so much about imparting knowledge (although that's part of it), but about creating conditions where the creative process can occur."
"We educators have this need or impulse to take an expert stance in the classroom," says Mia Zamora, Associate Professor of English at Kean University. "I found that relinquishing some of that stance and giving students ways to be the experts can lead them to lean over each other's shoulders, teaching each other as they teach themselves, and ultimately teaching me something I didn’t know."
This was originally posted as a blog for Making Learning Connected 2014, otherwise known as CLMOOC. These reflections and connections come from the sixth week's Make Cycle focused on creation of 5-Image Stories by Jack Zangerle, Bonnie Kaplan, Marc Schroeder & Andrea Tejedor of the Hudson Valley Writing Project.