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.
From the Community
I like to think I am always open to new technology for my young writers, and I am not afraid to beta test or try out new platforms that show possibilities for my students. I do make sure I try things out first on my own. As a sort of mental checklist, I consider a few things before bringing a new tech idea into the classroom:
This collection of seven personal stories showcases educators who are trying to reimagine both the role of educators as learners and develop new methodologies for teaching students in this increasingly digital age.
This collection of ten personal stories features individuals who use their personal passions to engage with their communities.
When I first heard the term “cosmopolitanism” my mind immediately flashed to a scene from my favorite TV show, Sex and the City. I envisioned Carrie, Miranda, Samantha, and Charlotte sitting in some swanky Manhattan restaurant wearing the latest daring fashions. Little did I know that the term cosmopolitanism was actually a philosophy, one that, as a teacher, proves very valuable.
This collection of six personal stories documents the different ways that educators are utilizing aspects of both design and play in their curriculums. Their hands on approach to learning allows students to physically manifest their ideas by constructing, designing, and executing a plan to create something new either on their own or as a collaboration.
"Children should be seen not heard."
How many of us feel like this was the mantra when growing up?
This collection features four case studies that showcase after-school learning spaces, both in the form of online or in-person opt-in special interest courses and open learning spaces where students can pursue their passions outside of the classroom.
This collection of five case studies features a selection of schools, organizations, and collaborations focused on using a connected learning approach to educational and social outreach. This collection spotlights communities of learners and educators developing unique programs that can expand educational experiences beyond the four walls of the classroom.
In my classroom, math is organized into three stations. Generally, one is captained by me (A) and is the focus lesson for the day, another (B) is based on pencil and paper review/games/problem solving, and the third (C) is computer based using various websites designed for practice or review, such as www.xtramath.org, www.tenmarks.com, and www.everydaymathonline.com. This week, station “B” centered on the next phase of our inquiry project. Over the past couple of weeks, students have played the game we “invented,” given me feedback through their performance and conversation, and the game has been modified. Our conversations centered on making the game more fun, even though they seemed to be having a pretty good time already! Based on their input, we discussed the attributes of a “good” game. According to them, games need to seem like a challenge, yet...
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.
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:
This post will include some ideas and resources that I hope will inspire writing among students and people of all ages. My notes were inspired by Jay Silver’s recent post, “The Future of Education Demands More Questions, Not Answers.” I agree wholeheartedy with Silver’s call for a pedagogy of questions. I want my students to question, we need our students to question everything from our pedagogy to the status quo to our humanity. This focus on answers, specifically the “right” answers as determined by some corporate weenie with no pedagogical training, makes me crazy. However, I would like to expand on Silver’s idea and suggest that what we need is a pedagogy of reflecting on those questions, specifically reflecting through writing. I offer four ways that teachers can engage their students in writing about the important questions facing humanity.
As I’ve written before. I love six word stories and regularly use them in my classes for a variety of purposes (ice breakers, for example). Many teachers are familiar with the concept of six word memoirs, but have only used them for personal writing. I do enjoy using six word stories for personal expression; however, I love using them to support content knowledge as well.
When I help my students build larger projects or papers, I frequently use a series of six word stories to help them review what we have discussed in class, summarize readings, clarify ideas, and identify questions. These six word stories can help them organize their ideas and/or their sources as well as the paper they are writing.
As I mentioned in my previous post, my students finished the year with a unit on blogging. It was a great opportunity to teach argumentation and the rhetorical situation. During this political season, I had no dearth of subject matter.
Maybe because I’ve been hip deep in contentious subjects for six weeks, I have been drawn to stories of harmony and humanity. During my morning commute, two stories from NPR caught my ear.
When my students started blogging, they started thinking critically about the world, themselves, and their voice. My new year's wish is that they find balance in their thinking and harmony with others.
This is the question I challenged my students to think, write, and talk about this week. Their next assignment will be to write literacy narratives, but as we embark on that journey I want them to think about much more than the traditional alphabetic literacy so many consider to be the alpha and omega. I challenge my students to think about information literacy including network literacy, visual literacy, media literacy, cultural literacy, and so much more. However, before we can really dig into those ideas we need to unpack a lot of baggage about schooling and education.
This week that meant asking questions such as:
This week (or so) my first year students will be working on literacy narratives. I think literacy narratives are awesome tools for thinking about learning and writing – and a great place to begin a writing class. I wrote this blog post about why I teach literacy narratives, 10 Ways Literacy Narratives Will Rock Your World (or at least your writing classroom), almost two years ago and I am still a fervent believer.
Jack Rothman of the Huffington Post argues:
American education has been under constant criticism since the middle of the last century. A galaxy of reforms has been mounted to address the issues, but these have not produced noticeable results. We live in a permanent environment of educational reform and educational failure. The reforms focus on fixing things within the schoolhouse, but the fundamental problem that needs fixing lies outside in the broader society.
In my blog post, Starting The Year Off Write, I noted some of my favorite ways to kick off the school year or semester using writing to break the ice and set the stage for the work we will do together. This post will share some great tips from my professional learning network about starting the year off write.
This semester I started everyone off with six-word stories as I usually do. I just can’t help it…I love them so much and they are so very useful. I did put off my idea for a critical thinking ice breaker until next week. In part because I haven’t gotten the official go-ahead from the powers-that-be and also because I think it will take some time and I didn’t want to dominate the first class with too much “work.”
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.
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:
- the art and craft of digital writing;
- teaching and connected learning;
- provocations that push us to think in new ways.
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: