This collection shares resources created by educators across the Educator Innovator network who are working to transform their teaching in order to promote connected learning.
Resources in this collection have emerged from a growing partnership between the National Park Service (NPS) and the National Writing Project (NWP) designed to bolster connected learning opportunities within the national parks and reach more young visitors and educators.
This collection features the work of three Teacher Consultants from the UNC Charlotte Writing Project who explored and reflected upon how a "maker" approach to teaching English Language Arts worked to empower students in the classroom and connect them with the community.
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.
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.
- peer mentorship
- connected learning
- community connections
- community engagement
- interest-driven learning
- teacher education
- lessons learned
- Group Process
- Social & Emotional Learning
- authentic audience
- LRNG Grant
- LRNG Innovators
- meaningful audience
- broadcast media
- LRNG Innovator
- digital storytelling
- media literacy
- media production
- connected teaching
- student agency
- Book Club
- Youth Voices
- National Writing Project
- design literacy
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.
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.
I just graduated in May 2015 with my Masters in Early Childhood Education
A degree upon my hand, questions, reality slapping me left and right…
Is this a dream, did the wind really whispered in my ears?
Did I just hear, you are not done learning!
Is that true, I thought I was, or I hope I did!
Wow, grad school was such a journey
Where do I go from here?
How can I continue to expand my knowledge on Early childhood education?
At home, no way! Being home takes me back to the reality of the other me
Who is that person? The first in the family to graduate with a Masters
The one that made her grandmother in heaven proud
I immigrated to this country when I was four
Too sheltered in my own community and family
Cartoons: they aren’t exactly given the Shakespeare treatment in literature circles. Some scoff with derision, others giggle at the impropriety of it all, while others still meekly raise their hands and try to argue that if history teachers can get away with showing political cartoons, why aren’t English teachers allowed to demonstrate the finer points of Hamlet to toddlers through Sesame Street? But regardless of public attitude, it is fact that behind the pretty colors, there lies an extremely varied spectrum of content in animation. And, if we actually open our teacher hearts enough to recognize it, we may find some animation that is conducive to some truly profound discussion in our classrooms. Plus, we might get recognized as the cool teacher that plays cartoons, so there’s always that. Therefore, to familiarize you with a different kind of bookshelf for your class, here are five pieces of animation that belong in the classroom.
This week the Kentucky Writing Project took me on a retreat to Cumberland Falls State Park. It was everything a retreat should be: A lovely place with good company and delicious food and support for my work. However, the real gift was the time built into our schedule to work and to think. I have written before about the need for reflection – both for ourselves and our students.
Note: This post first appeared on my Metawriting blog at http://metawriting.deannamascle.com
I remember the old adage "Back when I was a boy"...and when I heard that, I knew that I was about to get a lesson on how easy I had it when I was young, compared to the difficulties and hardships my parents had. And years later, I could finally understand the adage. "Back when I was a girl, we only wrote compositions on yellow, fuzzy paper with blurry red lines. We used the Reader's Guide green books to find resources, often squirreled away in the musty, dusty, stack in dimly lit libraries. Back when I was a girl, we only had typewriters, and those that were lucky, had Selectrics with type face embedded on little metal balls that were quick and neat. We marveled at the speed a paper could be composed. And we were jealous of the people who had them.
At the Creativity Lab, we understand the worries and headaches that often go along with trying to design and create a makerspace. Just knowing where to begin can be overwhelming. In fact, we hear enough concern over how to create a makerspace that we host an entire workshop on the subject. So, what’s the secret to a “correct” makerspace? (I’ll answer that below), and how do you get started? Here’s how our students did it.
Miniature Makerspaces—Bringing Making Into the Classroom
While some of the making happens in our physical Creativity Lab, we try to extend the making program at Lighthouse into each of the core classrooms. For their last project of the trimester, our seventh and eighth graders built miniature makerspaces for our kindergarten classrooms.
From June 2015:
Finally a few minutes to view the Innovation Hour presentations and I was more impressed watching them after the fact than while I was there. So much great work by students came out of these projects, but viewing the montage video has helped me think more about what I want to do differently next year.
First, I want more time to prepare for the presentations and more time for reflection about the journey of the project. I will introduce this project again in the Fall, but with some changes. Student project work will finish at the end of the first semester. This will allow a more focused amount of time for the students to plan their timelines. There was definitely some dead time this year. Progress updates will be bi-weekly and I will give the option of keeping a notebook or blog so students that enjoy the act of writing rather than using technology have more freedom in how they express their learning to me.
From May 2015:
The curtain has fallen. The stage has cleared. Our first year of 20 time projects has closed. This week marked our 20 time showcase event, Innovation Hour. Students have been viewing TED talks, discussing public speaking styles, and preparing their final presentations of their yearlong journey with their 20 time projects. It has been eye-opening for me to see how they feel about their project progress and what they want to say about it. I noticed that similar comments kept cropping up. The theme was “this was not what I originally planned, but I am happy with how it turned out.” No matter what the outcome, students learned something about themselves, collaboration and long-term planning along the way.
Here are some of my lessons learned:
1. Make the time span for the actual project shorter and the presentation planning time span longer.
2. Practice more- in class, on stage and with technology.
As I looked back at my journey with this project, I realized I had not provided enough opportunities for students to talk about their work with people outside their peers and receive feedback on their progress. This blog post outlines one of the times I did provide that opportunity and delves into why this is such an important component with this type of work.
From March 2015:
This post details my efforts to find resources to help students overcome their fears of public speaking and prepare a rockstar presentation for the Innovation Hour Showcase event, as well as some thoughts on revamping the 20 Time model yet again.
From March 2015:
As any teacher can attest to, trying to be innovative in an industrial-era model of school is challenging. This blog post details some of the issues I faced as my students moved forward with their projects and negitiated the new model I set up. Some things we were able to work around with grant money and a little brainstorming, other things like school policy, stymied their progress.
From January 2015:
We have now officially had our full 20 Time work days in both my “A” and “B” day classes. I observed much more real work going on with the projects. Most teams charted out their timelines for the duration of the project, allocated responsibilities for blog posts, as well as other project elements.
(This originally appeared at Kevin's Meandering Mind)
Each year, when I teach Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt, I make sure to read the first few chapters out loud to my sixth graders. This gives them a feel for the poetic style of writing and allows them to visualize some important elements of the setting.
It also leads me to a great passage on page 7 that always sparks interesting discussions and debate among students:
In the extremely rural place where I live, there is lots of space, but not a lot of public spaces in the conventional sense. No coffee houses, malls, or parklets. We do have large open pieces of public land and an amazing library.
A couple years ago, I wanted to start a seed library, and our local librarian graciously offered to host it at the library. I wasn't sure whether other people would be interested in it, but it turnout out that they were.
Lesson #1: Food builds community, even among otherwise segmented groups.
Here is a story of our seed library:
After a few months with this project, we moved into Holiday Break which allowed some time to dig deeper into my students' blogs and evaluate the effectiveness of our approach to 20 Time. I made some big changes that alleviated some of the issues that kept cropping up across the teams.
From January 2015:
This blog represents a turning point for 20 Time in my classroom. The funding I was awarded, as well as the implementation of status reports changed the tides of student projects and progress in my class.
From December 2014:
I opened my email yesterday and there was a great surprise waiting for me. I was awarded an Educator Innovator Learning Challenge mini-grant. It is not the whole sum I applied for, but substantial enough to help my students realize some of their 20 Time dreams. The money will help us purchase website domains for some teams, pay book publishing fees for some teams, pay for some speakers to run some workshops on public speaking and purchase some video equipment to put together our 20 Time Showcase. It is an exciting time for my students!
Innovation Hour journey- Installment 4
From November 2014:
It seems like my classroom this year is a bundle of activity. I think much of it is attributable to the 20 Time projects, but some of it stems from my desire to not repeat the same lessons year to year. Changing things up each year keeps me and my students from getting bored, but it also creates a tension within myself that I never really have a handle on what is going on. Sometimes I wish I could just do the same canned lessons, but it is not my way.
The recent publication of Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom and the conversations around March's Open Education Week have made me more aware of the ways that my "connected" classroom differs from what I did prior to the 21st century. I'll illustrate with one example, a collaboration with other NWP teachers and the KQED Do Now program. Unpacking just one artifact from this year might show how I've begun opening up my teaching – out of necessity.
Just when I was feeling pretty tech-savvy, I volunteered to be the liaison for National Writing Project’s Connected Learning MOOC (#CLMOOC)...
And that, THAT, was the end of my naive competence. Immediately I was signing up for blogs, Google + hangouts, webinars, and getting emails from that weird hashtagged acronym that put images of cows in my head. What was a MOOC, anyway? I googled it. It is a massive open online course, and in this case it was facilitated by 7 members of the NWP community. Well I fell right in and followed links down rabbit holes for weeks. I shared the resources with the Summer Institute of our local Redwood Writing Project and I pretended to know what “connected learning” was all about.
As educators we believe that we have a responsibility to use our classrooms to help young people grapple with and address the messiness of the world around them. In collaborating on this, what we know to be true is that there is more than a single lesson plan here. The issues raised by the Jordan Davis murder trial touch deeply on issues of race, law, social justice, and any and all of these issues could be a course of study. What we hope to do is offer a number of ways for teachers and students to think about the case while knowing that no one way, no one day can possibly speak to all of the challenges this case represents.
I have created this resource as a way to document and share our participation in #clmooc during last summer's (2013) Rhode Island Writing Project's Summer Institute on Teaching Writing. The NWP's Invitational Summer Institute is rooted in a 30+ year tradition of bringing K-12 teachers onto college campuses in the summer to reflect on their writing lives, to bolster their teaching practice, to connect with scholarship, and to research new developments and effective trends in teaching and learning. At our site this past summer, we combined the efforts of our SI with those of #clmooc, and we had a truly transformative experience. Learn more about the NWP's Summer Institute model here: http://www.nwp.org/cs/public/print/doc/nwpsites/summer_institute.csp
Linda Darling Hammond argues in The Flat World and Education that “America’s commitment to equity will determine our future” and outlines a set of recommendations, based on accumulated experiences both nationally and globally, that she describes as “policy for quality and equality” in schooling.
This policy includes having meaningful learning goals connected to intelligent and reciprocal accountability systems along with equitable and adequate resources, strong professional standards and supports as well as schools organize for student and teacher learning (chpt. 9). What I see within her policy descriptions is the need to build collective capacity among schools, communities, and leadership as well as many points of learning and resources for capacity-building to tap into historically and globally.
By now -- in fact, right now -- there is a very good chance that you are reading text on something smaller than a typical computer screen, perhaps your smartphone, tablet, or e-reader. And, that means that the opportunity to interact with this text has, quite literally, come straight to your fingertips. While scholars of digital writing and rhetoric have long been interested in what this means for us as writers, it is in this existing world of e-reading where our blog posts for the next few days will take us.
(Originally published by CUE in OnCUE, Winter, 2013, Vol. 35, No. 4. Republished with permission.)
MOOCs—massive open online courses—are undeniably popular in educational circles, and predictions are that they might just revolutionize how learning takes place. Gathering considerable media attention and investor interest, new MOOCs from groups like Udacity and Coursera seem to be taking the world by storm with hundreds of thousands of students enrolling and big name universities signing on.
But are MOOCs just a passing trend or are they truly something that could change the face of education? Do these new MOOCs—called xMOOCs by some—represent the best MOOCs can offer? And how might MOOCs affect K-12 learning?
Redwood Writing Project mentor TC Rosie Slentz gives a TEDx Youth talk about fostering a sense of wonder for students. Hikes to the forest and stream inspire lessons for her 5th grade writer's workshop and prompt journal entries.
In our earliest planning conversations, our facilitation team wondered if anyone would show for the Making Learning Connected Massive Open Online Collaboration (#clmooc). In the month leading up to the June 15th start date, before we made any substantive decisions about organization or facilitation, our team expressed a collective desire to invite and support learners who were unsure about the technology involved. While we joked about potentially leading a MOOC that was in no way massive, we openly worried and wondered how best to support would-be participants who might be new to MOOCs, social networks, and digital tools in general. More than we wanted a massive-in-size MOOC, we wanted a novice-friendly MOOC.
One of our initiatives at the National Writing Project this past summer was planning, building, and implementing our first-ever MOOC (though instead of Massive Open Online Course, we changed the “C” to mean Collaboration). It was part of the Summer of Making and Connecting, and as intriguing and exciting as this concept may sound to you, I am not here to actually talk about the “what,” but mostly my part in the how. (Not wanting to leave you hanging though, this post by Terry Elliot, one of the facilitators, will give a good idea of some of the theory behind the #clmooc endeavor.)
In the planning of #clmooc, our facilitation team shared a desire to create a MOOC that didn’t only cater to technophile, veteran MOOCers. The question of how we would help newcomers to online learning orient themselves and engage circled in every early planning discussion.
I am writing this letter to you after a summer of #clmooc. What does that have to do with showing you how to create your own Google+ Community? I am hoping that this will become obvious in what follows in text and screencast, but to answer that question now I would have to say that like most projects you need to have some 'why.' The answer to 'why' engenders the 'how' and we are off and running. In this case our 'why' was to help others learn "connected learning principles and values." The Google+ community was our 'how.' What follows is a very quick start guide for using Google+ communities, an outline of tools and affordances and adjacent possibilities. In other words this shows you how to support any 'why' with this particular 'how.'
Why Creative Commons?
We have changed the overall license of the Digital Is website to support creative sharing and distribution of content. We are influenced by the idea of creating community through the establishment of a shared commons of work as discussed in this video above as well as through conversations with colleagues at Creative Commons and P2PU.
How to Associate a License with your Content
As mystical as Twitter can sound to those who don't use it, others, like me, find that it can be a venue for surprisingly deep conversations. In particular, Twitter chats can be a great way to explore a topic with a group of like-minded folks. In a typical Twitter chat, an hour-long synchronous discussion is held around a specific set of questions. Tweets that are a part of these chats are marked with a hashtag (such as #clmooc or #edchat) to call them out. Special applications like Tweet Chat or Twubs can make following the chats easier.
In facilitating a massive open online course or collaboration (MOOC), one consideration is how you will communicate with your participants. There are more direct methods like email; social media-based methods like Twitter, G+, and Facebook; and others like web sites and blogs.