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.
From the Community
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.
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:
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.
When I began teaching full time and pursuing a masters degree simultaneously, I was under the impression that I would struggle most with the work load. I was shocked to learn that, while balancing the work would definitely be challenging, I would struggle more with managing technology:
Let me start by briefly discussing my history with technology. At 24, I am a product of my generation in that my phone is rarely far from me. I frequent social media and I definitely use the internet multiple times a day. I have no sense of direction and so, whenever I drive, I'm using a GPS app on my phone. In that sense, I am hugely dependent on the technology around me. You would probably think that I’d be quite good at using it, but I'm just not.
This week’s notes revolve around the ideas of reflection and thinking. My first note comes from Traci Gardner who shared “Ten Multimodal Reflection Questions” on her Bedford Bits blog. I love her 10 questions as I know how important it is to support students in their reflection process. Perhaps it is simply a symptom of our fast-paced world, but we don’t spend enough time reflecting and our students need scaffolding to practice it successfully.
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:
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.
I'm not an architect, nor do I have any training on how to design a building. But this summer, I was inspired to teach basic principles of architecture in my English class. I read an article in the New York Times, "Writers as Architects," that got me thinking about how buildings are like stories.
The technical aspects of how to develop and host a MOOC are often one of the first challenges developers tackle. While the technical decisions we made regarding CLMOOC were important, they grew out of our planning process and our overall ethos.