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.
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 dedicated to the interests of young people, and supported by librarians and mentors with expertise in digital media production.
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, Quest to Learn re-imagines school as one node in an ecology of learning that extends beyond the four walls of an institution and engages kids in ways that are exciting, empowering and culturally relevant.
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.
Why the passion for the “why” of learning never seemed anywhere near as important to the powers that be
Welcome to Bertie County, the poorest county in North Carolina, where just 27% of 3rd-8th grade students in 2007 were passing English and Math state standards, and where approximately 95% of public school students receive free/reduced-rate lunches. Where the population caps around 20,000, the largest local employer is the Perdue chicken processing plant, and the main economy is agriculture.
At the Los Feliz Charter School for the Arts, heavy-duty shipping containers have been vibrantly painted, reshaped and stacked ceiling-high to form a collaborative K-6 learning space. Comfy couches and oversized pillows are scattered throughout the converted classroom pods, giving them a warm and inviting home-school feel. An industrial shell encloses the entire 47,000 square-foot arena.
The Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) is a nonprofit organization, established in 2005 by activist Andrew Slack. Inspired by the student activist organization “Dumbledore’s Army” in the Harry Potter narratives, the HPA uses parallels from the fictional content world as an impetus for civic action. It mobilizes young people across the U.S. around issues of literacy, equality, and human rights, and in support of charitable causes.
WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) is the largest professional wrestling company in the world, boasting fans in more than 145 countries. The TV shows reach more than 13 million viewers in U.S. alone, and online WWE forums are constantly full of fans fervently discussing the latest outcomes & upcoming shows. The show's choreography, storylines, and characters have even inspired the fan community to create their own text-based "fantasy" wrestling federation.
Hive Fashion is a MacArthur-funded program for members of the Hive Learning Networks, designed to connect members of the Hive Learning Network in Chicago and New York with fashion industry professionals. The programming makes clear connections from interest-based activities to career-relevant skills, relationships, and pathways.
Digital Storytelling 106--better known as "ds106"--sprouted in 2010 as a computer science class on digital storytelling at University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Founded by Jim Groom, educational technology consultant Alan Levine, and instructional technologists Martha Burtis & Tom Woodard, ds106 has evolved into a model for all instructors and students who aspire to experience, explore, and extend connected learning.
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.
Today is the day after Thanksgiving and you know what that means: just 10 more coding days until Computer Science Education Week. For the third year in a row, the organization Code.org encourages educators at all grade levels to to spend one hour of the week introducing students to coding, or computer programming, in an effort they call the Hour of Code. In the last couple of years they've had celebrities ranging from the Miami Heat's Chris Bosh to none other than President Barack Obama make promotional videos explaining the importance of learning to program a computer. In recent years, they've boasted that this initiative has exposed more girls to programming in one year than in the past 70 years combined, (a stat I'm citing from memory but which has been removed from their site.)
How do you start things off with your students? I used to dive into the horribly, tedious syllabus review session on the first day. Big mistake! Not only is it boring for everyone, but it also makes a terrible first impression. I don’t want my students to think my class is all about rules (especially since my institution makes us put lots of CYA statements, policies, and rules in our syllabi). I want my students to create and invent, learn and grow, and for that type of class to succeed we need to be a community – so that is where I now begin. I give them a quick overview – usually creating some sort of highlights list or more recently an infographic just to satisfy their most burning questions and then tell them where they can find the more detailed syllabus. Then we dive into community building.
This post focuses on one important idea central to learning – reflection. I have always believed strongly in the power of reflection as a pedagogical tool and apply this practice to my own life as well. My blog is about reflection and, in fact, this is the second Notable Notes focused on reflection. However, I was inspired to post again about reflection by this great piece from Edutopia by Glenn Whitman “4’33” (Four Minutes and Thirty-Three Seconds): What Our Brains Need” about the importance and power of reflection. Perhaps the most compelling point he made is this: “Our brain never stops working, even in our sleep. But it needs time to catch up, to think and ponder.
(Originally posted at the Creativity Lab.)
I think we all like making for different reasons. For some of us it might be driving a curriculum, and for others it might be just the thrill of getting messy, or exploring new technologies. Looking back on my year with the Creativity Lab, I think I’ve probably gone through cycles of areas that really excited me. I’m definitely a cardboard kinda guy. Then the laser cutter took hold of me. Paper circuits, I like those. But no matter the material or the technology, I love projects that inspire me to raise the ceiling.
The apps and extensions that help power our Google Apps for Education paperless classroom
This is the third in a five-part series about favorite apps and extensions for Google Chrome and Google Drive.
The apps and extensions that help power our Google Apps for Education paperless classroom
This is the second in a five-part series about favorite apps and extensions for Google Chrome and Google Drive.
In the first post in this series, I covered some essential tools for managing the new apps and extensions that you’ll want to add to your Chrome browser. In this post, I’ll share the tools that my students and I have found to help writers be better writers.
There has been intense discussion in my circles, both on- and off-line, of late about whether or not everyone is a writer (inspired by Rachel Toor’s “Scholars Talk Writing”). For the record, I believe everyone is a writer and everyone should write, and that may be why I was struck by a term I heard recently – Technology Evangelist – used to describe a person who promotes a particular product or technology with the zeal commonly associated with religious evangelism which describes the promotion of a particular set of beliefs (see Wikipedia). That is when I had the epiphany that I am a writing evangelist.
One of the most popular links on my Twitter feed lately has been a post by Melissa Donovan of Writing Forward. Her post, “Thoughts on Becoming a Writer,” explores the journey of becoming a writer and what it means to be a writer, but what really resonated with me was the simple statement: “stop becoming a writer and just be a writer.” I have always suggested that the BIC (butt-in-chair) method is the best approach for writing. It is not about the place or the mood or the writing implement – the focus has to be on the writing and just writing – a lot!
During National Teacher Appreciation Week, May 4-8, 2015, the Center for Teaching Quality invites all teachers to share their #TeachingIs story in an effort to change the national narrative about teachers, education, and schools. A number of powerful and wonderful stories have emerged from this challenge. I was particularly inspired by my friend Liz Prather’s “#TeachingIs Messy (And I Like It That Way)” (which was in turn inspired by another great piece by Bill Ferriter: “#TeachingIs According to Twelve-Year Olds”).
It's November and that marks the launch of this year's Digital Writing Month. We know you have a lot of writing choices in November (why is that? why November?) with NaNoWriMo and all of those interesting projects underway. With DigiWriMo, the aim is to investigate and push at the edges of what writing is and what writing is becoming, and tinker, play and collaborate.
Sort of like the mission of Digital Is, right?
I love the double entendre in this title, because this post is about teaching creativity to our students (or perhaps more accurately encouraging rather than inhibiting it) but also about encouraging (rather than inhibiting) the creativity of our teachers.
Two of the most retweeted links on my social media feeds this week concerned creativity and critical thinking and how our current model of education (and teacher assessment not to mention teacher professional development) inhibits rather than encourages these essential traits.
This semester I have been experimenting with collaborative assessment. I lead my students through a collaborative process to build their own assessments for assignments. I was first introduced to this idea at our 2014 Writing Eastern Kentucky Conference by three Morehead Writing Project rock star teachers: Lindsay Johnson, Brandie Trent, and Leslie Workman.
When I originally posted this Notable Notes on my web site I included this quote from @bradmcurrie Tweeted by @justintarte. It is worth following Justin just for the great quotes he shares although he has much more to offer as well. One of the great tragedies of our current educational climate is that so many involved are risk-adverse, but not everyone and I keep hoping the pendulum is swinging. As anyone who has studied educational history knows, the pendulum always swings and this too shall pass. This collection of notable notes celebrate risk.
I have found that students are thrilled when offered the opportunity to create Facebook accounts because these are two social media networks that use regularly and are comfortable with. Makes involving social networks spark student interest, even in those who are typically resistant to “creative” project ideas. One such Make was to create a Facebook account for a founding father, and students were offered multiple different format options: a paper template, an online “Fakebook” account creator, or an opportunity to use any online medium of their choosing (like Google Draw). They were directed to include a short biography, at least one post by their founding father, at least one post by one of their “friends,” and who at least two of their “friends” would be.
My main goal as an educator has been to incorporate peer culture and student interests in lessons and assignments as a way of encouraging students to become actively involved in history. Students should not be bystanders to history; they should be involved in it! History is a subject that many students are not inclined to be interested in; honestly, many students find history to be boring and irrelevant, particularly at the middle school level. To give you a better idea of this struggle faced by many history teachers, here is a brief list of common student frustrations:
My overall experience with the #TRWPconnect MOOC, a remix of NWP’s 2013 #CLMOOC with the Tar River Writing Project (TRWP) has helped shape me as an educator. I have learned that there are many more options in the “teacher-verse” for hands-on projects and a variety of online resources that can be applied to the classroom that we have yet to harness. The concepts of collaborative and connected learning highlighted throughout this experience inspired me to become more connected with my colleagues in a way that has furthered my instructional practice, and I have encouraged my students to practice these as well.
As you step through the doorway of a history classroom, the lights are off as the teacher drones on about the importance of certain Revolutionary War battles. A plain PowerPoint slide is plastered across the front of the room. A few students are awake, actively taking notes, but the majority of the class is dead asleep as the teacher drones on, unfazed by this behavior. This is what many stereotypically characterize a history class to look like, probably because that is what they were exposed to. As a history teacher, I am no stranger to the adversity that educators face when it comes to making historical content relatable to their students. I teach at E.B. Aycock Middle School, located in Pitt County in eastern North Carolina, a school with an extremely diverse student population in terms of both race and socioeconomic status.
I had been reading one of David Levithan's books, The Realm of Possibility, and it seemed like a pretty neat way to have each student create a story that was connected and yet written in different voices. In the book, there is one school, and twenty voices. Each chapter is in a different voice, and you don't really see all of the connections between the characters till you are a few chapters in. Each of the characters are very unique, and they have their own perspective on the world. Yet, they are connected because they go to the same school at the same time.
So, in October, the month before the competition, I started to read chapters from Levithan's book to the class. They were intrigued, perhaps because there is controversial themes and characters in the book, or perhaps because it is in first person verse, but the students engaged with the story.
We decided to enter the National Novel Writing Month competition as a class last year, and the results were amazing.
Danielle Filipiak didn't start with technology, or even with the core curriculum or community issues. She started with questions: "What does it mean to be a human being?" followed by "What prevents people from living fully as human beings?" Filipiak's reasoning: "If you don't believe you have a voice and that your literacy practices can do anything for you, then you aren't engaging fully as a human being."
"Since I'm a teen and I'm teaching, why not give other teens the opportunity? So I'm working on a project where I hope to get young adults and kids involved in teaching what they love to their peers and their community." The story of 15-year-old Scratch expert Caroline Cambemale is evidence of the emergence of young teenage teachers as new tools & resources expand the scope of learning and teaching beyond traditional schooling.
While no teacher denies the importance of college and career readiness, what is the educator to do who wants to develop civic curriculum and offer students relevant, critical instruction that is also aligned with the Common Core?
Collections tend to bring together 4-6 resources or blogs with a main blog-style post highlighting cross-cutting ideas related to digital literacy and connected learning. Curators organize collections by sub-themes within the broader topic, including:
Some examples include:
At NWP Digital Is "resources" are examples of practice and educator inquiries. Resources are different than blogs in that they are more “evergreen,” can contain multiple pages, and can include a range of related documents and links. Resources can include a range of media and both are curateable into larger collections.
We invite all members of the community to contribute resources and invite you to request to become a resource creator.
We encourage resources that: