Category Archives: PBL

Never Underestimate A Motivated Learner ~ You Gotta Have Faith (TBT Remix)

Who has faith in you?  In whom do you demonstrate faith?

On November 20, 2011, AS announced that she wanted to learn to knit. She is seven. I’m embarrassed to say that I thought:

Is she really going to learn to knit? I’ve tried to teach my adult friends and have about a 50% success rate. I am busy; I have a list of things that need to be accomplished today.

But, she was determined to knit, so she sat in my lap while I coached her through 4 rows of 10 stitches – about a 20 minute exercise.  You can see the results of that one “lesson”  in the video below and on my Posterous mother-daugher-based-learning blog post.

On Dec. 20, 2011, her blue scarf was approximate 3.5 feet long, and she started a new purple scarf.

What if I had put my list of “desired outcomes”
ahead of her interests and determination to learn?

What if I told her that she was not ready?

What if I indicated that she did not have
enough maturity, experience, prerequisite skills?

How often do I become focused on “getting through the list of learning targets in the curriculum” without stopping to listen to their interests and questions?

Meet Thomas Suarez – an iPhone app developer and a 6th grader:

Meet Birke Baehr – an 11-year-old concerned with industrialized food systems and the alternatives:

What do our learners care about?  What do they want to learn, study, think deeply about, and investigate?  How can we use our curriculum to serve and support their learning and interests? We regularly check-in with our learners by reading and commenting on their blogs.  Here are a few quotes from our Synergy 8 learners about their interests and concerns:

One thing that each member and I realized after we were talked to about poor quality housing and affordable housing, was that there are many children that do not have a safe place to call “home.”  ~ TY

Did you know that from 1980 to now obesity rates have doubled among adults and tripled among adolescents (USA.gov, Facts n. pag.)? Also, did you know in 2010 according to the CDC 29.6% of people in Georgia were obese (USA.gov, Overweight n. pag.)? Before starting this project, I knew that obesity was a problem and I was very passionate about this issue. Although, I had no idea that obesity affected that many people, especially in Georgia. ~ SE

Using this data, we discovered that most people get less sleep than they should. Lack of sleep can affect your mood, attention span, and ability to retain knowledge. Most teens think that they can do their homework and mess around until 12 am and then go to sleep.~ RV

I am a person that doesn’t like to work in groups in fear that people won’t do their work and I will have to make up for the work that hasn’t been done. Being in this Synergy class and working in groups has helped me to trust other people to do their work.~ HD

What are the active steps we take to help our learners find tangible evidence of success and learning?  How does our feedback indicate that we have faith in their ability to learn, to work collaboratively, to problem find and problem solve?  How do we actively demonstrate faith (and trust) in our learners’ quest develop thinking and understanding? (And, what does it convey if we won’t let them try because we are afraid that they are too young, too immature, too inexperienced, or that they are just “not ready” because they haven’t mastered the prerequisites?

Just meet the amazing speakers at TedxKids@BC from September 17, 2011 and then think about these questions again.

Who has faith in you?  In whom do you demonstrate faith?

We gotta have faith.


Never Underestimate a Motivated Learner – You Gotta Have Faith was originally published on December 29, 2011

How to be a boring, bad writer…and other ideas (TBT Remix)

I hadn’t thought about it this way:

So, if you want to be a boring, bad writer:

  1. Never ever learn new words.
  2. Be afraid to say interesting things.
  3. Read as little as possible.
  4. Always play on your laptops.
  5. Never touch a dictionary.
  6. Copyright.
  7. Never make [the reader] see the action.
  8. Never revise your writing.
  9. Definitely take the easy way.

Since I want to be a better writer, I should practice 1) using new words, 2) saying interesting things, 3) reading as much as possible, 4) leveraging technology to enhance learning, 5) using available resources, 6) striving to be unique and citing my sources, 7) presenting a good story, 8) repeating a revision cycle several times, and 9) understanding to “embrace the struggle.”

I wonder if the same set of ideas can be applied to PBL.  How to avoid PBL, Design Thinking, and makery:

  1. Never ever learn new applications and strategies.
  2. Be afraid to try interesting, complex problems.  It might take too long.
  3. Read and research as little as possible. Don’t read and watch Edutopia, Deep Design Thinking, or It’s About Learning resources or ideas from 12k12.
  4. Always use technology for one-way communication.  Just tell them what to do.  Don’t offer students the opportunity to have voice and choice in learning.
  5. If you try PBL, and it doesn’t work; just give up.  Never seek additional support and resources.
  6. Never collaborate with others on projects and problems that integrate ideas and/or concentrate on community-issues.
  7. Avoid applications and real-world experiences.  Never offer the opportunity to present to an authentic audience.
  8. Never say “I don’t know,” or “let’s find out together.” Answer every question asked in class, or better yet, don’t allow questions.
  9. Definitely do the very same thing you did this time last year.  It’s easy.  Take the easy way. Remember…the E-Z-way!

How about applying these ideas to balanced assessment?  How to be single-minded about assessment:

  1. Never ever try new techniques, methods, and strategies.
  2. Be afraid to try alternate forms of assessment: performance based assessment, portfolios, etc.
  3. Read and research as little as possible. Don’t read anything by Tom Guskey, Jan Chapuis, Bob Marzanno, Dylan Wiliam etc.
  4. Always use assessment to generate grades.  Never try non-graded assessment to make adjustments to learning that improve achievement.
  5. If you use rubrics or standards-based grading, and students don’t respond; just give up.  Don’t allow students to revise their understanding and assess again.  Let them learn it next year or in summer school.
  6. Rely on results from standardized tests to compare students.  Just follow the model set by adults that have not met you and your learners.
  7. Never assess for learning and reteach prior to a summative assessment.  Think that you are teaching a lesson if failure occurs with no chance to revise.
  8. Never offer 2nd chance test or other opportunities to demonstrate learning has occurred.
  9. Definitely use the very same assessment you did this time last year.  It’s easy.  Take the easy way. Remember… E-Z-way!

I find this approach connected the anti-innovation ideas from Kelly Green in her 2/21/2012 ForbesWoman article I found by reading Bob Ryshke’s post, What schools can do to encourage innovation.  It also reminds me of Heidi Hayes Jacob’s style in her TEDxNYED talk I found by reading Bo Adam’s What year are you preparing your students for?” Heidi Hayes Jacobs #TEDxNYED post.

I like the provocation of the video and the anti-ideas.  I appreciate the challenge of rephrasing these ideas as statements of what I could do to get better.  I wonder how we should practice to become better at PBL, balanced assessment, innovation and creativity, etc.  In the comment field below, will you share how would you answer this prompt?

Since I want to be a better ___________, I should practice 1)  _____, 2)  _____, 3)  _____, 4)  _____, 5)  _____, 6)  _____, 7)  _____, 8)  _____, and 9)  _____.


How to be a boring, bad writer…and other ideas was originally published on February 26, 2012.

 

If a picture is worth 1000 words, what is video worth? (TBT Remix)

Which is most appealing to you?  Which draws you in and generates questions?

Infographic from Bits of Science.

Infographic from Data Visualization Encyclopedia, Information Technology, Symbols, Posters, Infographics

Video from NPR.  (Watch the video, seriously; it’s only 2:34 and well worth it!)

So…Which is most appealing to you?  Which draws you in and generates questions? I think we need all of the above, the hands-on investigation of the data with technology, the infographic that gives perspective, and the video that offers an alternate way to visualize and think about this population growth.

How are we “leveling up” concerning visualization?  Have our learners been introduced to infographics?  Better yet, have our learners produced infographics to communicate data creatively?  How are we using video to engage our learners?  Have our learners produced video to communicate data, learning, and growth?  Are we teaching (and learning) Information Age skills if we are not expecting multiple representations of ideas from our learners?

So… with lots of technology at our fingertips, if a picture is worth 1000 words, what is video worth?…and…what if we only communicate with text?  What learning is lost when/if we only offer one representation of what we want others to learn?

What is lost when we don’t show and tell?

1 image ~ 1000 words…think about it.


If a picture is worth 1000 words, what is video worth? was originally published on January 3, 2012.

Participating in Each Others Stories: Global Connections & Microlending (TBT Remix)

If shown a world map, could I find Kyrgyzstan, Uganda, or Ecuador?  Do I have any idea how to connect with someone or something in a country that I can’t even find on a map?  How will I find content to promote global citizenship while teaching content that falls under my responsibility?

So I joined Bill Ferriter (@plugusin), Dan Sudlow, and three of their students, E, C, and J, for a webinar discussing their Kiva Club and how they use microlending to help people in developing countries throughout the world.

Screen shot 2011-12-22 at 8.18.06 AM

E and C are 6th graders and J is an 8th grader. With expert and supportive facilitation from Bill and Dan, these young learners taught us about microlending through their experiences and stories. Worth emphasizing…I learned about microlending and integrating content and relationships that connect us to the larger world and the world to us from these three young learners.

The connections to math and geography are obvious to me, but I still have questions.  You can read more about microlending on Bill’s blog The Tempered Radical.  In High Tech High’s video What Project Based Learning Is, Jeff Robin strongly suggests to be successful with PBL you need to “do the project yourself.”  While the math and geography seem obvious to me, what will be learned from a microlending project?  So, I have taken the challenge to learn by doing.  I am participating in funding multiple loans.

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 6.07.24 PMI have a better idea of where Kyrgyzstan, Uganda and Ecuador are when I look at a map, and I have the opportunity to connect to these women’s stories.  I also know more about Kiva.  Listen to and watch this beautiful story from Jessica Jackley about poverty, money, and love:

In her talk, Jackley says

The way we that we participate in each others stories is of deep importance.

I collaborated with 18 others across the world to help Carlina improve her business and family income.  Her dream is to have a well-constructed house; her current home is made of reeds.

Each of the green pins in the map represents the location of a lender.  The map and pins tell part of the story, but while informative, it is not very personal.

Don’t you think there is a big difference in seeing the pins in the map and seeing the faces of the lenders?  The faces show humanity; the faces share more of the story.

If integrating “content and relationships that connect us to the larger world and the world to us” is an essential action, then what do we do? What actions do we take? How do we “do the project” ourselves?  How will we practice? What will we learn?

Still wondering how social media can be used for learning, leading, and serving?  Read One Tweet CAN Change the World from The Tempered Radical.  I cannot physically take my young learners on a field trip to Uganda, Ecuador, or another part of the world.  Social media (blogs, Twitter, YouTube, iChat, Skype, etc.) affords us  opportunities to “connect us to the larger world and the world to us.”

Let’s experiment.

Let’s learn by doing.

PBL PD: Integrating Formative Assessment, Twitter, & Brain-based Research #ettipad #ettlearns – reflection

My session at EdTechTeacher iPad Summit USA in Atlanta, PBL PD: Integrating Formative Assessment, Twitter, & Brain-based Research #ettipad #ettlearns, went just the way I wanted.  Yay!

This tweet sums it up for me:

Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 10.28.02 PM

With a quick show of hands, I estimated that 2/3 of participants used Twitter.  Approximately 1/2 labeled themselves as lurkers.  Around 1/5 had never tweeted.  There was a note in the program description.

Note: This session will be interactive, so please have a Twitter client on your iPad and an established Twitter account prior to attending this session. “

I believe about 10 did not have an established account.  All really interesting formative assessment.  I described my conversation with Bo where he challenged me to inspire faculty to use the technology in place – the faculty wanted iPads.  We wanted faculty to use and understand more about non-graded formative assessment.  I mashed up or blended brain research, Twitter, and formative assessment.  I offered a purpose to tweet.

After giving my Ignite talk about this PBL PD for teachers, I challenged the participants to partner up, leave our session to visit another session and tweet using the conference hash tag (#ettipad) and my hash tag (#ettlearns).  Maybe a little fear waved over the 1/3 non-tweeters and lurkers.  Go with a friend; come back in 15 minutes.  We’ll understand hash tags using learning by doing. I explained the risk I was taking.  I’d never sent my participants away, but I am committed to experiential learning.  Everyone got up and left to go observe and tweet.  It was so great until I turned to see an empty room.  Wow! What was I thinking? What had I just done?

They did tweet, and they did come back. Whew!

Here is a compilation of the tweets:

We talked about hash tags and how they can be used.  I answered lots of great questions. We answered lots of questions.  It was awesome! And, the hash tag #ettlearns lives.  Wow!

Learning is reciprocal.

Don’t just absorb; give back.

Learn and share!

PBL PD: Integrating Formative Assessment, Twitter, & Brain-based Research #ettipad #ettlearns

Today, I’m presenting at EdTechTeacher iPad Summit USA in Atlanta.

PBL PD: Integrating Formative Assessment, Twitter, & Brain-based Research

“Want faculty to engage in a project together? Want faculty to try a non-graded formative assessment technique? Want faculty to investigate a little brain-based research to work on retention of information and learning? Want faculty to learn and explore using social media for learning, communication, and collaboration? Hear one school’s story of such a project that you can implement with learners next week.

Note: This session will be interactive, so please have a Twitter client on your iPad and an established Twitter account prior to attending this session. “

With the mountains of “stuff” our teachers need to learn, practice, and do, how do we get it all accomplished? How can we, the adult-learners, practice and learn while continuing our work? In other words, how do we create PBL experiences for adult-learners that teach through experience and out of isolation?

What if we created a movement to learn more about Twitter and formative assessment while investigating the primacy-recency effect as described in How the Brain Learns by David Sousa?

“This research indicates that there is a higher probability of effective learning taking place if we can keep the learning episodes short and, of course, meaningful. Thus, teaching two 20-minute lessons provides 20 percent more prime-time (approximately 36 minutes) than one 40-minute lesson (approximately 30 minutes). Note, however, that a time period shorter than 20 minutes usually does not give the learner’s brain sufficient time to determine the pattern and organization of the new learning, and is thus of little benefit.”
How the Brain Learns, David A. Sousa

What if we integrate reflection and quick-writes as the down time or cognitive break as the bridge between the 2 prime-time learning episodes? What if we leverage social media – Twitter – to share learning and questions across our school to paint a picture of learning?

Here’s the idea and implementation plan for a 50-60 minute period.

      1. Pause at approximately 18-20 minutes and ask our student-learners to do a quick write about what they are learning or doing in class.  (a form of self-assessment; do I know what I’m supposed to be learning?)
      2. Let learners quickly share what they wrote.  (a form of formative assessment, are they learning what I intend?)
      3. Tweet a summary of what is being learned or done using a common hashtag. (this models using social media for learning)
      4. Follow the tweets from this hashtag to be more informed about each other and what we are learning/doing in class to possibly find curricular connections and common ground.

What if we check for understanding 20 minutes into class and let this check inform our practices for the rest of the learning time – the 2nd prime-time interval?

Many teachers can’t find purpose for Twitter.  It is too much information, or they feel they have to be connected all of the time.  What if we change that? What if we use Twitter as a communication, learning, and celebration tool? (I think Grant’s post last weekend supports this and the need to change.)

I’m going to try something different in this session.  I’m going to ask the participants to practice, to go on a learning walk and tweet and then come back and analyze the results.  Experiential learning rather than sit-n-get. (We are going to use #ettLearns in addition to #ettiPad.)

Keep your fingers crossed!

_________________________

For reflections and artifacts of learning about this PBL PD experiment, read more.

Caine’s Arcade #PBL #DoDifferent #STEAM

Do you still wonder if we should make time and space for project-based, student-directed learning? Can you spare 11 minutes to watch Caine’s Arcade?

Can you find the content that you teach in Caine’s learning? I found design, engineering, math, physics, art, problem-solving, creativity, communication, strategic planning, perseverance, and many other important, fundamental, essential learnings.  I have to say that I just love his built-in security system with the calculators.  Amazing!

If you have 8 more minutes, please watch the next step,  Caine’s Arcade 2: The Global Cardboard Challenge & Imagination Foundation.

Who are the learners in this project? What was learned?