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
The Lowline Project on the Lower East Side of Manhattan combines educational outreach, social connectedness, interest-based learning, shared purpose, equity, social connection, and full participation, in their work with students and community members in a reclamation of an abandoned underground terminal as a “green” public space.
Sofya Zeylikman is senior studying furniture design at Rhode Island School of Design. She has led workshops for both elementary and high school-aged students, teaching them about the intersections between STEM and STEAM, most recently as a coach for the Brandeis Design Lab Teen Fellowship Program.
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:
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.
Cas Holman is Associate Professor of Industrial Design at Rhode Island School of Design who designs learning materials for play and discovery. She uses constructivist "learn how it works by playing with it" principles in both her toy design and her teaching. Holman employs and advocates for a pedagogy of play, which informs her practice at all levels.
Struck by the recommendations in Writing Next: A Report to Carnegie Corporation of New York, I found myself thinking about one in particular: collaborative writing.
The report notes, "Studies of this approach compared its effectiveness with that of having students compose independently. The effect sizes for all studies were positive and large. Collectivey, these investigations show that collaborative arrangements in which students help each other with one or more aspects of their writing have a strong positive impact on quality."
Thinking a little outside the box, I wondered if I could create authentic collaborative experiences. Could I develop something where students not only collaborated on something very real and meaningful, but also collaborated with students outside of this specific classroom.
This week’s notable notes focus on unintentional consquences that so often result from good ideas gone awry from the effect that bad writing instruction has on students’ critical thinking abilities to the impact of standardized testing on the type of people our students become.
I named my blog Metawriting for a reason. One of the foundational principles of my theory of teaching writing (or fostering writers as I prefer to think of it) is that in order to improve writing we need to think about writing and talk about writing – our writing as well as the writing of others. This is one of the reasons why creating a community of writers is so central to my classroom practice. My fascination with metawriting emerged from my quest to understand learning transfer – when and how are students able to transfer knowledge and skills learned in one setting (or class) to another. As a result, during my evolutionary journey as an educator I also became a metateacher and this week’s blog post will offer three reasons why you should become a metateacher too.
A writing prompt that I like to use with my students as an icebreaker for our comic-book themed class is to ask them two simple questions: What is your superpower (what specific attribute makes you the awesome person you are) and what is your kryptonite (what is holding you back from living up to the fullness of that potential)? We have also used it as a writing prompt for teachers at Morehead Writing Project events (see What is Your Superpower and Kryptonite). The prompt works especially well when paired with the video Kid President’s Guide To Being Awesome.
I have been a fan of project-based learning for some time now. I use it in my classes and I blog about it. Similarly, I have been involved in the connected educator community by both blogging about being a connected educator and joining the #CLMOOC community (I participated in the 2014 CLMOOC and plan to participate in the 2015 CLMOOC). However, it was not until recently, when I attended a Kentucky Writing Project retreat led by Rachel Bear, that I really thought about connected learning and my classroom and I realized that what I do is connected learning much more than project-based learning.
The World of MathCraft: the Inquirer (the “Inquirer” is the 2014-15 version, each year the storyline and quests changes) project is a game-based math learning experience that is integrated and aligned with Common Core Math standards (http://www.corestandards.org/Math/) that take place at school, at home, and in collaboration with the Intel Computer Clubhouse. The program utilizes a “Flipped Classroom, “ which inverts traditional learning/teaching – students build skills online (utilizing resources such as the Khan Academy), at home or outside class, and then engage in a math concepts/gaming based interactive platform with the help if the instructor while in class.
Lessons and storylines as well as badges and other support materials can be found at http://1drv.ms/1J6dyCX
This post is authored by Wendy Maa, third grade teacher at Kenwood Elementary in Champaign, IL.
StoryCorps: The Opportunity to Record, Share, and Preserve the Stories of Our Lives
If you listen to NPR, you may be familiar with StoryCorps. Every week, recorded stories from people around the US are recorded and played on NPR. These stories always moved me to tears or to laughter and I always sat in my car wondering, “What is wrong with me?” It was like these stories were told to me directly and I could feel the emotions through the radio. I anticipated StoryCorps stories every week and hoped I’d catch them on my way to work or driving around town.
I love blogging. I have blogged for years and have used blogging as a classroom tool for years. I have even blogged about blogging (see Why Blog? and Why My Students Must Blog). For myself and for my students, blogging is a reflection tool as well as a tool to share what we are thinking, learning, and doing with either our community or the greater world. Some of my professional writing students publish blogs as their culminating project – and even choose to maintain those blogs after the class is over. My newest blogging challenge is to write a collaborative blog post with Renee Boss for theNational Blogging Collaborative. We have only begun our collaboration, but it is an interesting experience so far.
I intermittently follow and integrate into my writing class (due to its terrifically brief length) Seth Godin's blog, which is the most succinct yet provocative blog online I have ever read. Today, Seth blogged about "glowing in the dark." Here is a repost or quote of that blog - or you can click the link to read it on his page. It's so short, I feel I should quote it so I can accurately and directly respond to it and how it impacted me this evening.
Collaboration is a major buzzword. It is often heard in conjunction with grit, perseverance, "failing forward" and other such ideas. What does it mean for students to collaborate? What is the difference between collaboration and "helping". Is there such a thing as too much collaboration and if so, how does one know when to step away? These are all questions we are asking at Kenwood around student computing and computational thinking.
I am the principal of Kenwood elementary school. A school that has made a name for itself in a short time with its’ focus on computational thinking and computer science. I wanted to tell my perspective on what has made this a remarkable story that is still being written. I begin with my introduction to Kenwood elementary, one I’ve told countless parents who have visited Kenwood. I was previously the principal of Westview elementary school for 11 years and in 2011 I made the move to central office where I became the director of curriculum. I was in this position for three years and enjoyed learning a great deal about the dynamics of implementing curriculum from a district perspective and being apart of a federal magnet grant that provided over 5 million dollars to 3 elementary schools to help support and develop magnet programs that would focus on changing the demographics and improve academic achievement.
I love six-word stories. I love to create them and I love to use them in my classes. Chances are pretty good if you have a class or writing workshop with me that lasts more than a day then you have written six-word stories with me (and often even the shorter workshops). I’ve blogged about how I use them in my classes before (Inspiring Writing, Learning in Six Words and Using Six-Word-Memoir Posters to Discuss Reading, Inspire Writing). My love for six-word stories is so great that I have expanded my repertoire to include teaching with memes as well. This was a natural step for me as I so often use artwork to illustrate my six-word stories and frequently encourage/require my students to do so as well
I am a deer in the headlights kind of student, and my teaching has followed suit. I came to this work with the idea that I was going to make a difference, helping to shape young people’s lives. I thought I’d be sitting in a room with apathetic students, and that somehow a particularly brilliant activity or conversation about literature would change them forever. I believed we would sit in our workshop circles and drool over the language in front of us. I thought I could just show up, work hard, and let them see how great reading and writing truly are. Well, I was wrong. It took my students’ voices, both buoyant and discouraged, and the unending honesty and support from my colleagues to recognize that I have even more to learn than I could have ever imagined. And that’s ok.
Rikke Toft Nørgård, Assistant Professor at the Center for Teaching Development and Digital Media at Aarhus University in Denmark, practices something she calls "gelatinous pedagogy" in which she tries not to enforce a detailed curriculum from a fixed syllabus and rubric for all students but acts, in her words, "more like a jellyfish that's adjusting to the students, rather than making the students adjust to my teaching."
Building on my experience as a parent, I realized how important it was for me to work with kids with learning disabilities. As a mother of two children, one with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity and the other with Attention Deficit Disorder, I found raising them was both rewarding and challenging. I have first hand experience with the frustrations that children with learning disabilities face on a day-to-day basis. I know I cannot save all of the kids in the world, but by planting the seed and providing it water we can make that difference in a child’s life. Creating a stable and nurturing environment was a high priority for myself not only as a parent but as an educator. I was not aware of the multitude of resources that were available to parents in situations similar to mine that would help with these real- life struggles.
This is my first year teaching at 6th grade science at E. B. Aycock. E. B. Aycock is a Middle School located in Greenville, North Carolina. The demographics of the student population is 64% African American, 25% Caucasian, 5% Hispanic, 3% Biracial, and 2% Asian. Sixty-four percent of the students receive free-and-reduced Lunch. My classroom demographics really reflected the schools' overall demographics. My classroom also was very diverse in academic abilities. Each class averaged about five AIG students. I also had two classes that were designated for EC inclusion and one class was Autistic inclusion.
Bloodshot eyes. Deadpan, drooling faces. Communicating in shrugs, grunts, and moans. This is not a scene from the popular AMC zombie-drama “The Walking Dead,” but a typical scene from many classrooms across the country. In the technological, fast-paced, ever-changing, social media-based society we live in, educators are constantly struggling to keep students interested in what is happening in the classroom. How can we change what we do in the classroom to get students excited about their work? Before we examine how I came to try conquering the challenge of creating interest-driven projects, let’s look at how I got here. (We will come back to the idea of zombies later!)
I was involved in the Tar River Writing Project Connected Learning MOOC (#trwpconnect) beginning in February 2014. I was excited to learn both what it was and what we would be doing together. The first thing we "made" as part of this experience was a user guide that helped the other participants see who we were and how we best learned. We had the flexibility to make it using any technology or using any medium we chose which was hard because I am used to a defined assignment. Like most teachers, I like to do things right, and I was worried I wouldn't meet the facilitators' expectations. That, coupled with my own lack of computer knowledge made it much more time consuming and uneasy for me to complete this make. This is when I began to reach out to others and understand the value of peer collaboration or peer-to-peer networks, as they are called in Connected Learning. In the end, I got by with a little help from my friends.
In the first month of school, I was wondering how to introduce connecting learning in my classroom. Do I start with informing them of the concept, or do I let them explore at their own risk?
Our students need activities that mean something to them. Whether they relate to their experiences, interests, or simply their peer culture. I enjoy implementing activities that I feel that my students are highly engaged in and actively participating in. I have noticed that teaching with inquiry captures the students attention and allows them to utilize their higher order thinking skills.
As a first year teacher, still enthused about the idea of teaching language arts to a group of 100+ eighth grade students, I was quickly saddened by the lack of interest that the students seemingly shared with each other. At E.B. Aycock Middle in Greenville, North Carolina, we serve students who come from two completely different ends of the socioeconomic spectrum. We certainly have our share of gifted students, but we also have our share of students who are simply doing well for themselves just to get to school everyday. And as a first year teacher two months after I graduated, I was positive that I was going to come in and effect positive change in the lives of these students whom I had not yet met. I was eager, excited, confident, and completely naive.
Which came first? Visual Art or Literature? I relate more to a cave man drawing on the walls than Shakespeare writing a sonnet. But both tell a story. Stories throughout history have inspired visual art (Ex. The Last Supper). But how many times have I asked my students to create a visual art piece that is an interpretation of a piece of literature? Not very often.
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.
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?
For the past few weeks, I have enjoyed looking forward to my 'Music with Computers' after-school class on Wednesdays, for 2nd through 6th grade students.
It's a ten week course. During the first five weeks, I introduced various creation tools. The second half is for exploration, experimentation, composition, and creation.
The availability of intuitive, expressive, professional, free sound creation tools is exploding. I've enjoyed exploring to find a few of the best to share with students, as well as a few teachers who happened to be in the media center on Wednesday afternoon, and I would like to share them with you!