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.
- english class
- high school english
- social justice and art
- students writing
- writing outside
- art and writing
- connected learning
- personal story
- classroom discussion
- public voice
- civic engagement
- peer mentorship
- 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
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.
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 which showcase a range of spaces where learners are pursuing their interests and passions alongside peers and mentors. These case studies, which showcase the work of both schools and community organizations/collaborations, were originally featured on Connected Learning TV, which now airs on NWP's Educator Innovator.
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.
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.
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:
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.
"I think the most important thing is finding something you're passionate about. Computer programming worked well for me. But whether it's programming or playing the guitar, do it. Don't just go to school and do school. Do something awesome with your high school career." Check out this story of how teenager Zachary Baker has leveraged his learning network in pursuit of his passions.
This white paper from the Hive NYC talks about why working in the open is relevant to their organization. It further describes what working in the open looks like in practice and talks about the benefits and tensions.
Santo, R., Ching, D., Peppler, K., Hoadley, C. (2014). What does it mean to “Work Open” in Hive NYC? A Vision for Collective Organizational Learning. New York, NY: Hive Research Lab.
Over the Summer of 2014, we launched a meetup of self-identified Black male educators hosted at The Center for the Study of Race & Equity in Education. What began out of a friendly conversation of our relative scarcity in classrooms transformed into an interdependent approach to move ourselves and others collectively forward in our practice.
"I would spend hours as a young 10-year-old coding my home page to host amateurish and practically useless graphics that I'd made...But hey, no matter how embarrassing it all was, it led me here." 16-year-old Veronica Valenzuela shows us that, with the right mix of mentor/peer support and exploration, even seemingly trivial interests can lead to robust learning opportunities and pathways.
My first introduction to the book, Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom, was at the 2014 Urban Sites Conference in Chicago. As I made my way through the introduction in a break-out session, I recognized themes that resonated with discussions I have had with teachers about their experiences within the contexts of their classrooms, their ongoing adaptations to digital technologies, and their need to connect with other teachers around these topics.
I consider myself pretty invested in the Connected Learning community – I had the privilege of co-chairing the Civic Education & 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
The truth will set you free.
It’s a maxim that shows up in all kinds of places, from university mottos to Oprah’s Life Class. Its meanings are often hazy and applications varied, but my religious Southern parents will be pleased to know that I remember its origins are biblical in nature, a derivation of John 8:32, a verse that links discipleship to spiritual freedom.
These days, though, like my own evolution toward humanism, the phrase has become well situated in more secular usage, having become common parlance, not only among theologians, but artists, therapists, and politicians as well.
Taking risks has never felt like a natural part of my personality. I don't typically blaze my own trail. I look for the safe, the comfortable, the experiences I can control.
This is as true in my professional life as my personal. However, this risk-averse tendency is often in conflict with another aspect of my character: the desire to improve myself—to improve my craft. This desire manifests in my classroom with my career-long need to create new units and lessons (or, at the very least, to repeatedly revise old ones). One of the greatest challenges and joys of teaching is that no lesson or unit ever feels like it's done. There is always room for improvement. I have come to believe this is how it should be—that this constant cycle of creation and revision is actually the hallmark of any teacher who is experiencing moments of greatness.
"You don't take classes at studios most of the time," says dancer Yuri Doolan. "YouTube has become a venue for marginalized communities who aren't represented in pop culture to express themselves and create their own subculture and their own venue for exposure." Doolan uses Bollywood dance to shift debates around social justice issues.
Last year, 15 million students tried the Hour of Code in one week! It was everywhere—from the Google homepage to the White House to classrooms all across the world. It’s happening again this year during Computer Science Education Week, December 8–14. This webinar includes an update of what to expect this year and how to bring the movement to your students this December.
This keynote video of Scratch @ MIT 2014, features Mitch Resnick (MIT/Scratch) interviewing Elyse Eidman-Aadahl (National Writing Project) and Dale Dougherty (Maker Media; Maker Education Initiative). Titled: Making, Coding, Writing, all three speakers came together to discuss engagement and making in the learning process.
Paul Oh, of the National Writing Project, presented about Connected Learning. It streamed live Friday October 10th 2014, and you can watch it here!
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.