Tag Archives: Synergy

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.

 

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.

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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.

Data collection from TSA…Can we transfer to school?

Here’s the final product right before the TSA representative collected it from me:

photo 3

So, there is an error. Could I use this picture to offer our learners an opportunity for error analysis? Could this picture be used to discuss communication and correct notation?

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Here’s what happened.  I arrived at the airport in Seattle for a 1:15 flight to Atlanta. Upon arriving at the security checkpoint, a TSA representative handed me a slip of paper (shown below) and asked me to hand it to the ticket checker.

photo 1

Fun! How might we use this type of data collection at school?

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What if we used this method to collect data about carpool? Having the time I arrived at security told me how long I had been standing in line.  I wonder if, when in a hurry, it feels like it takes longer to get through than it really takes.

The TSA agent checked my ID; I scanned my e-boarding pass, and she recorded the time.  Another opportunity for math.  How long did this portion of the process take?

photo 2

Only five minutes passed. A basic, everyday math problem. How often do we subtract times? How authentic are the questions on our assessments? Do they have context? Is this a (dreaded) word problem?

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There’s one more stop before passing through security.  My line – I always pick the slow one – stalled as the TSA representatives changed shifts.  Again, I wondered if this felt longer than it really was taking.  Holding the slip of paper allowed me to say to the nice but fidgety man in line ahead of me that we’d only been in line twelve minutes at this point.  He said “Twelve minutes; that’s not so bad.” Ahh…to have data.

I arrived at the security checkpoint, unloaded my MacBook, put my shoes and bags on the belt, and passed through the detector.  I handed over the slip and then asked if I could take one more picture.

photo 3

What was the total time I spent in line? How do we explain the error in the data collection? Could this type of data collection help us in our school community? Could our young learners use this type of data collection to find context and meaning for their learning?  Would we make different decision if we collected data and made data-driven decisions?

How might we show math in action?

LEARNing: Blogging: read, write, think, learn, communicate,…

We want learners to read, write, think, learn communicate, collaborate, reflect, and revise.  We want our learners to receive authentic feedback and have the opportunity to analyze the feedback and revise if needed.

“It is simple! Literacy is about communicating.  It is about reading and writing.  Blogging is about communicating.  It is about reading and writing.” (Warlick, 127 pag.)

We seek lifelong learning as well as opportunities to connect to others.  What if a child needs to write and connect with others to show what they know? What if we could reveal a learners strengths by simply allowing the ability to leverage technology to show work and effort at its best?

“When given the opportunity, kids WILL write.

“When they know what they write is not just for a grade, they write.

“When they know that someone cares to listen and respond, they write.

“When they know they are respected as writers and people believe they have something worthy to share, they write.

“When they know their writing is for a real audience, they write.

“When they know they can write to learnto figure something outto remember,  to connectto persuadeto reflectto questionto shareto thinkto have fun, they write.” (White, n. pag.)

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Warlick, David. Classroom Blogging: A Teacher’s Guide to Blogs, Wikis, & Other Tools That Are Shaping a New Information Landscape. Raleigh, NC: Landmark Project, 2007. Print.

White, Paula. “When Kids Write Because They Want To….” Web log post. Reflections of the TZSTeacher. EduBlogs, 24 Feb. 2012. Web. 20 May 2012. .

Brainwriting…collaborative brainstorming enhanced by Google Docs

Do the same members of the learning team contribute at every meeting, brainstorming session, and discussion?  Do we ever hear from everyone?  How do we offer others the opportunity to have their voices and ideas heard?

In Synergy and our PLCs, Bo and I have used Brainwriting from Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers to hear from everyone, to help members of our community engage in the ideas of others, and to build collaborative thinking.  This process, described at gogamestorm.com, uses index cards as the collaborative tool.

Here’s an example from our Synergy 8 team.  They were asked to pick a problem at school they would like to address and brainstorm.  (I had to type it up from the big Post-it notes used in the Synergy Coffeehouse.)

I think that sleep is a big issue that we need to solve.  I think over half the students at [school] don’t get enough sleep, and that we need to fix that.  Everyone needs a good amount of sleep to function well at school.  I think we should do a survey just to make sure of how many people at [school] don’t get enough sleep.  We should research different ways to get more sleep and educate others on our findings.  It would also help if somehow we made schedule changes to help school start later.  I think this project will end up bettering the lives of the students at [school] and help them come to school everyday better prepared.  I would hope that we could change the time of school starting in order to aid not just the students at [school] but students everywhere to get more sleep.  It will take a lot of research and preparation to

Pretty great thinking from 12- and 13-year-olds, huh?  Just for a little more clarity, four different learners contributed to the piece above.  Here’s how their contributions built the idea above:

Originator:

I think that sleep is a big issue that we need to solve.  I think over half the students at [school] don’t get enough sleep, and that we need to fix that.  Everyone needs a good amount of sleep to function well at school.

Index card passes to new team member and ideas are carried forward:

I think we should do a survey just to make sure of how many people at [school] don’t get enough sleep.  We should research different ways to get more sleep and educate others on our findings.

Index card passes to a third team member:

It would also help if somehow we made schedule changes to help school start later.  I think this project will end up bettering the lives of the students at [school] and help them come to school everyday better prepared.

Index card shifts to a fourth team member:

I would hope that we could change the time of school starting in order to aid not just the students at [school] but students everywhere to get more sleep.  It will take a lot of research and preparation to

Time is called.

It is important to note that as this idea was growing, three other ideas were growing too. To be more clear, here is another brainwriting sample from this team.

Why do people cut in line?  How do we prevent line cutting?

  1. Find people who cut in line
  2. Interview them: why, when, how they avoid detection
  3. Remove the motivation: this will prevent cutting
  4. Is line cutting different in different grades?

All good questions! How can we know who and why people cut in line?  How could we make others aware of the “taking the motivation” of cutting away?

They should notice.  If people cut to get bagels, for example, we could move or remove the bagels.  Maybe if they are somewhere else the line will form differently and cutting won’t happen.  I think we need more empathy for others.

How does my cutting affect/impact the people in line behind me?  Would anyone tolerate a senior cutting in line in front of a 1st grader?  Would we allow that to happen?  What is the difference in cutting in line when others can’t “fight back?” How do we encourage our community to model and live the Golden Rule?

We have also used brainwriting with our teacher-learners in PLC to build ideas and understanding around PBL.  We have used brainwriting with our Department Integration Specialists to build common lessons on digital citizenship.

The brainwriting process is fantastic and yields great results.  The index cards and Post-it notes are bound to a physical space.  What if we shifted this experience to a set of Google docs?  Would we get the same good thinking?

John Burk outlined using Google docs to using brainwriting with a team in his Quantum Progress post Brainwriting to explore digital citizenship.

“Here’s how it works:

  1. In google docs, create a template document with a writing prompt, and then place that document inside that collection. For us, the prompt was “Describe how to serve, lead and grow in a community.”
  2. Share the document with your class or colleagues, and ask each person to create his/her own copy of the template, and rename it with his/her last name.
  3. Have each person write for 3 minutes on the prompt on their copy of the template.
  4. After three minutes, ask each person to switch to the next document in the list, read what is written and then add to that document in the voice of the original author.”

John continues in his post saying “Once you’ve got 3-4 rounds with this, you’ll be pretty amazed by how the entire group has created a collection documents that present a range of viewpoints and yet share many common threads.”

How do we teach collaboration, critical thinking, empathy, and divergent thinking?  How do we coach ourselves and others to listen and contribute to the ideas of others?

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If you have ideas of how to use brainwriting to create collaborative experiences to move teams, will you share them in the comments below?  Will you read another’s idea and extend it to learn and share?

Water instead of Soda #PBLidea #AskDon’tTell

Is there PBL potential and academic content in this commercial from Nestlé?

By replacing one sugared beverage a day with [a bottle of water], you can cut 50,000 calories a year from [your] diet.

The fine print in the ad says that this is based on replacing one 12 oz 140 calorie sugared beverage daily with water for a year.

Where could a discussion of this ad take us in class? What questions will learners ask? What questions will we ask our learners?  What questions might be asked to challenge learners apply what they know?  What questions might be asked to promote problem-finding, problem-solving, communication, leadership, initiative, action, service, and other critical competencies?

Ask; don’t tell.  Listen and learn.  Just ask a question…see where it takes us.

Practicing to be a TLC student leads to learning and questions

I am very intrigued by Steve Goldberg’s use of Google Earth for education and empathy.  Yesterday he posted A typical morning at TLC middle school.  For context, here’s what Steve predicts a day might look like at his school, opening in fall of 2013 in North Carolina:

In the spirit of learning by doing, I thought I’d practice being a student at Triangle Learning Community middle school and follow the typical morning plan for the Morning News Discussion…with a Synergy twist. In Synergy, we wanted to work in ripples – local, national, and international. I gave myself the 45 minutes to read and investigate. This 45-minute exercise turned into the entire two hours! It is the most concentrated news reading I have done in a while!

I started with the AJC to read and learn more about Atlanta. The article Three options for the ‘Gulch’ caught my attention. I noticed the “Gulch” just last week. I used Google Earth to see the area. I immediately thought of how to use the map view in 6th grade math when we teach the area and perimeter of “funny shapes.”

I was intrigued by the vocabulary and meaning of “multimodal passenger terminal” because I have just been reading about how car-oriented Atlanta is which can be frustrating for cyclists. The search for multimodal passenger terminal lead me to atlantadowntown.com’s Multi-Modal Passenger Terminal page.  I did not know Atlanta was planning to have a street car.  I also did not know about Bikes and Bites on July 21.  Bikes and Bites is billed as a car free initiative during Downtown Atlanta Restaurant Week where Central Atlanta Progress (CAP) and the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition (ABC) are encouraging diners to ride their bikes to dinner at more than 20 Downtown restaurants.  What positive environmental outcomes are predicted?  Wow!  Bo’s Whatever It Is I Think I See Becomes a PBL to Me! is so true!

I read and researched and connected these ideas for quite a bit of time.  I wanted to “go global” with my news reading too.  I returned to A typical morning at TLC middle school. After watching the video again and reading the linked article about child brides in Niger, I wondered what the headlines were from the paper in Niger.  Did they have a daily paper? I found Le Républicain Niger using Newspaper Map, a new-to-me resource suggested by Heidi Hayes Jacobs. Thankfully, Newspaper Map would translate this newspaper into English (from French) so I could read the headlines.  Talk about a lesson in perspective!  Not one mention of the plight of child brides, the hunger crisis, rapid population growth or infant mortality in the headlines of Le Républicain Niger.

How often do we not see problems in our own community?  How can we find (do we seek) new perspectives to see and observe what is happening in our neighborhoods and larger communities?