Students need our guidance to use virtual platforms for ACADEMIC purposes. We can’t rely on their “so called” native status to know how and what to do. Just a few years ago, no one had heard of “backchanneling”, nowadays, it has become main stream (although most people might not associate the term “backchannel” and “backchanneling” with something they might be familiar with.
when you watch one of your favorite TV shows and are asked to use a twitter hashtag to interact with other viewers or the actors/participants…. you are participating in a backchannel
when you are listening to a live political speech and are updating your Facebook status, “liking” of commenting on someone else’s status… you are in a backchannel
when you are passing a note (in the same room) or texting a colleague or classmate during a meeting or lecture… YOU are in a backchannel
Backchannel is the practice of using networked computers to maintain a real-time online conversation alongside the primary group activity or live spoken remarks. The term was coined in the field of Linguistics to describe listeners’ behaviours during verbal communication,
It’s a little like passing notes in class- except via the Internet. Wireless Internet connections at conferences and lectures are allowing people to use laptops and other tools to communicate in real time during presentations. These communications occur in what is called the “backchannel”
The more ubiquitous mobile devices, among the general population and in our schools are becoming, the more we need to be exposing, preparing, supporting and teaching our students to be able to use them:
for academic purposes
with integrity and as a good digital citizen
focused (but at the same time multitasking)
“Backchanneling” academically is one of the skills that no one is born with. I have been thinking about, testing out and reflecting on backchanneling in the classroom for a few years now.
At last year’s edJEWcon conference, quiet by surprise, our Middle School students, who were invited to listen in to Heidi Hayes Jacob‘s keynote, created their own backchannel to document and discuss what they were hearing and understanding.Everyone was surprised and impressed, as Mike Fisher wrote in his ASCD post titled “Strategic and Capable“.
At this year’s conference, we asked attending students to participate in a backchannel again. Part of the process of backchanneling with students includes the debriefing and reflection by going over the saved backchannel log. We used the Notability app on the iPad to color code some of our observations and bring attention to skills practiced, chat-iquette, grammar, understanding, connections made, value added, quality content and depth.
What I learned:
just because students backchanneled one year, did not mean they could transfer the skills nor step up the quality of contributions. (… we need to practice backchanneling more… not a one time event…give them a guide to support their growth in using a backchannel tool)
some students didn’t understand WHY we asked them to backchannel. They could not articulate the purpose for the activity, nor pinpoint skills that were related to backchanneling. (… we need to do a better job at explaining to our students the WHY of an activity, the skills we want to them to develop and the real world application)
students shared with us, that they were not able to focus, in their opinion, they would have taken “better notes” by themselves without the distractions of the other students. (…we need to make it clearer for our students, that the value of a backchannel is the collaboration, the added perspective, the sum of different voices versus their thoughts and understanding in isolation)
some students admitted that they were not happy with their keyboarding abilities. They could not type fast enough. Someone else posted “the exact same thing” they wanted to say. (…we need to encourage them to practice their typing/thumbing skills in their own free time)
the value of the backchannel is in the sharing, not in the technology. In much the same way that a person can not really appreciate the joy of riding a bicycle until they can do so without consciously focusing on balance and pedaling, getting the full value of a backchannel requires an understanding of what the backchannel is and how you use tools to participate in it.
I went back to the drawing board to create a framework, a guide to help teachers AND students understand the value, purpose, skills and steps of growth.
The purpose of using a Backchannel with students is multifold. From collaborative note taking, to curating information, capturing quotes, gathering and Linking resources, sharing notes and adding one’s own perspective to others.
Respond to questions
Evidence of Learning:
Development of skills
Quality of Content:
Grammar & Syntax
What Kind of Backchanneler Are You?
I have a hard time multitasking and can only concentrate on listening to the conversation.
I recall and reproduce exact words that I hear
I only restate relevant information and bring in selected resources
I question content, respond to and initiate conversation. I add my own thoughts and perspective.
The Fifth Grade is accomplishing (and learning) a lot. Silvia and I are collaborating on a project comparing the pioneers of Jamestown to the pioneers of the digital world. (I wish I could take credit for the idea, but it is all Silvia.)
The class met with Silvia and began brainstorming the idea. The first meeting began with trying to create a KWHLAQ chart. We got as far as the K category and realized that we needed to back up with the students. They really didn’t completely understand the idea of comparing the two categories.
The next class meeting, we gave the students a prompt which was “I am an explorer in the digital world, just as John Smith was an explorer in the new world.”
We had the students open a shared Google Doc and write based on the prompt. Silvia and I were also writing on the doc using the same prompt. When later looking over the students’ work, it was interesting to see the different levels of thinking that were going on in the class. Most understood the prompt and made good points, but there were others who wrote only one sentence and were writing to one another about the Jaguars. Yes, the Jaguars. This really opened my eyes as to what goes on when I think that my students are busy working when I make an assignment.
On Friday, the Fifth Grade went to the library to work with Karin on their e-book that will be about Roanoke. So this time when they were working on their Google docs I was going on their docs at the same time and reading what they were writing as they were working. What a difference in quality my (digital) presence made! Why haven’t I thought of doing this before? They were shocked when I would say, “I think you need to go back and cite where you got your information.” Or, “Is this your opinion or a fact based on your research?” I have never had such a productive class when using the laptops.
I am hoping that the Jamestown project will come together soon. The idea is good; I just need to find a way to help the students dig deeper and start thinking on a higher level. For some reason, the students don’t like to be challenged to go to the next level. They want to do everything quickly and get to the fun part, which hopefully in this case will result in a music video.
With both of these projects, the students have had to move to a more advanced level of critical thinking (and accountability). I know this has been good for them, but is has been a grueling process for us teachers. I keep thinking, “learning is messy” and as Dory said inFinding Nemo, “Keep on swimming, swimming, swimming.”
There are many, many pockets of excellence in classroom/student blogging out there. These blogs are driven, coached and nurtured by educators who “get it”. They get how blogging makes a difference in student learning, supports 21st century modern learning skills and literacies and at the same time basic reading and writing skills. These educators understand blogging FOR their students.
[insert a screeching sound of breaks] …then it STOPS!… Why?
The students move on from those teachers classes to the next grade level or school with a teacher who:
has never heard of blogs (hence does not use them)
sees blogs as an add on and too much work (Who has time to moderate and comment on so much student writing???)
uses blog posts as a digital space to collect typed up homework assignments (Instead of a new writing genre, capable of multi-layers, higher order thinking/writing skills and multi-dimensional)
coordinating efforts across grade levels to help teachers and students BUILD ON skills (ex. hyperlinked writing)
continuing to weave a thread that CONNECTS reflections (ex. self-portraits art pieces with a reflective text/audio/video piece attached)
giving evidence of learning at one particular moment in time and show growth ACROSS TIME (ex. presentation skills, math number sense, gross-motor skills, etc.)
In an effort to provide a framework for our teachers from Kindergarten to 8th grade, I attempted to make my own thinking visible in regards to our classroom blogs and student blogfolios.
Each page addresses one grade level. I have divided the page into 2 main sections with the following subsections:
student responsibilities (on classroom blog)
skills (new skills introduced at particular grade levels are highlighted in yellow)
categories (trying to standardize categories to be used across grade levels. Ex. writing, reading, presentation, Science, Math, etc.)
Reflection (examples of media that could be used to create a reflection in response to learning artifact)
Examples of learning artifacts (Ex. Science fair presentation, About Me page, Self-portrait art work, visible thinking of solving a Math problem, etc.)
This framework was not created to be written in stone, but as a starting point for teachers to refer to, as they students are building skills of writing in digital spaces, become reflective learners and establish a positive digital footprint. It is meant to allow a progression of learning artifacts coupled with reflection paint a picture of each student’s learning journey throughout our school. The framework is to guide teachers in providing a smooth transition from one grade level to another and ensure a continuation AND growth in skills.
Where are other schools who are creating maps for continues use of the blogging framework for learning, reflecting and sharing? Can we put our heads together, as we are tracking and assessing the continued use of blogs FOR learning? Please connect with this blog or via Twitter.
The Fifth grade Hebrew curriculum (Tu B’shevat unit) includes a library book which tells the history of the city of Hadera. When I traveled to Israel to visit MJGDS partnership school, Tzafririm, I left a copy of the book at the Tzafririm school. On Tu B’shevat our Kitah Hay and a class at Tzafririm read the same book and had an email discussion about the facts in the story.
Our Kitah Hay created posters which highlighted the theme of the story (Not to cut down the trees in Hadera) and composed an email with questions:
.אנחנו תלמידי כיתה ה בבית ספר גוטליב
.לכבוד טו בשבט אנחנו קראנו את הסיפור מדוע כעס סבא יהושע
This winter break I spent eight incredible days and nights in Israel. The trip was an Educator Delegation mission of 32 Jewish educators from five states in the Southeast United States. We traveled to the Hadera-Eiron region of Israel as part of our partnership between the Jewish Federations in the U.S. and the Jewish Agency in Israel. I decided to share my photos and experiences with my Kitah Hay by writing daily blog posts and asking them to comment and answer a specific question about each post. The daily post became a way to create excitement, interest and conversations that would not have been possible in class. The following is an example of theses blogs and comments:
On the first day of the trip, we drove to the Atlit Detention Center. At the end of Kitah Gimmel, Morah Liat teaches about the Holocaust survivors who wanted to immigrate to Israel מעפילים but the British government would not allow them to enter so they had to sneak into the country on small boats at night. The survivors who were caught by the British between 1939- 1948 were sent to an awful detention center, which was like a big jail.
How would you feel if you were not allowed to go to Israel? Please comment
I can die happy now I have seen learning in the 21st Century modern classroom!
The learning just oozes through the cracks of the physical classroom walls.
Learning is amplified by the amount of people who are collaborating, participating, communicating and creating. The learning is NOT about the technology tools, but what students can DO with them to learn in new ways. The learning is about an authentic tasks, that allows students to contribute in a individualized and personalized manner to make them realize that their work matters in the real world.
It all started out with a conversation between Mike Fisher and me. He had written over 40 children poems and was in the process of wondering what to do with them? I was looking for an authentic task for 9-11 year old students. We felt we had a perfect match! How about getting the students Language Arts and Art teacher involved? The initial idea was to make a unit of poetry come alive, study Mike’s poems and visualize the poems by creating illustrations.
Great plan… it snowballed from there…
A quick Skype call between Mike and the teachers, helped flesh out each of our expectations and a timeline for the “project”. A critical component was the participants’ willingness to be flexible and see where the students would take “the project”.
…Mike allowed students to alter his original poems if they felt inspired to remix them, making the creation process fluid and embedding new ways of looking at forms of copyright?
… Mike offered to write a new poem to additionally created illustrations by students, flipping the collaboration roles?
…we published a poetry book on various platforms? (hard cover/eBook)
…we had student run a marketing and advertisement campaign?
…we involved the Math teacher to support students in calculating how much the book should cost, what would the profit be, how would a profit be split?
…allowed the class to handle the entire business venture?
Each student was “given” a poem from Mike to be responsible for. We set up a first Skype call with Mike, the author, for students to meet him, ask questions about “their” poem.
Part of our job as teachers was to observe students as they were taking on the roles outlined in the Digital Learning Farm. We were/are looking to identify NEW FORMS of assessment, since our “project” was not to be an add-on to traditional assessment tools.
As I was watching students talk to Mike Fisher via Skype, Will Richardson’s call for Thinking Differently About Learning, which includes Learning to Talk to Strangers came to mind. As students interacted, I was watching their body language, paying attention to their vocabulary, ability to articulate an idea, their conversation etiquette and ability to follow a conversation and interaction. Stay tuned for the publication of a Taxonomy of Skype Conversation to facilitate assessment of video conferencing.
As the Skype conversation was happening in the foreground, other students were busy documenting and collaborating in backchannels. A Google Doc was opened and shared among all students, teachers and Mike Fisher. The multi-tasker Mike is, allowed students to Google Chat at the same time as he was talking to students via Skype.
Other students had taken on the task to tweet the Skype call
Take a look at the 4th and 5th grade Twitter feed, documenting the skype call. Students are exhibiting understanding of Twitter grammar, syntax and etiquette. They are showing progression by starting to add value, links, citations and they own thoughts. They are summarizing and articulating thoughts in 140 characters or less. They are directly communicating, disseminating, collaborating and connecting via social networking. We are using Twitter and HOTS as a way to assess these skills.
We had other students use different tools to take notes too. The notes app on their iPad or traditional paper and pen
One student chose to summarize what he heard during the Skype call by mindmap doodling. He was able to re-tell the different poems that were discussed between his classmates and the author.
Take a few minutes to peek into the classroom as students were debriefing from the Skype experience.
So, where do we go from here? The students are very excited and are taking ownership. There is no talk about what kind of grade they will be receiving for their work. An authentic audience will decide if they were successful. Students will volunteer to take on different roles in the publishing, marketing, finance, communication department. We will allow them to take the lead, consulting, coaching and modeling if needed.
[Cross-posted on my blog, "A Floor, But No Ceiling". Click here.]
Our mission is to achieve the academic benchmarks and standards that define success. Our philosophy is to provide each student with “a floor, but no ceiling” representing each student’s maximum success. Our pedagogy is this “thing” we’ve been calling “21st century learning” (but is really just excellence in “teaching & learning”). Our product are students who are lifelong learners.
We can never confuse our product (academic success as defined by standards) with our process (“21st century learning”). So with that context in mind, please consider the following:
Blogging is process, not product.
I was tempted to be extremely hyperbolic, as an attention grabber, and title this post, ”Students who blog are more likely to get into Ivy League colleges, nab their dream jobs, and live happily ever after.”
Not to suggest there is any evidence (yet!) that this is true, but to try to shine a light on this fundamental truth operating at the core of our school; that we believe reflective learners achieve at a higher level than non-reflective learners. It is both that simple and that complicated.
It is why reflection is embedded into all subject matter. It is why students have blogfolios. It is why teachers have classroom blogs and responsibility for blogging on a faculty ning.
It is because we believe that the process of reflection leads to the product of achievement.
If I accomplish nothing else in this post, it will hopefully be to have you click on Silvia Tolisano’s blog post on our 21st Century Learning blog, here, in which she lays out in the most compelling and convincing way the why of blogging at the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School. It is as good a post as you’ll read this year. With clear analysis and data, she explains how blogging catalyzes achievement. Not just for students, but for their “text-people” – their teachers.
Or as I put it in a comment to a teacher’s blog post:
..if your students don’t see “blogging” as integral to their ability to learn math – if they don’t realize that blogging helps them learn math better – then why should they want to blog about math?
…and to draw the larger point…if we teachers don’t see blogging as integral to our ability to be effective teachers – if we don’t realize that engaging in collaborative reflection helps us become better teachers – then why should we want to blog about teaching?
Our teachers blog because the process of blogging makes them better teachers. We teach our students to blog because blogging makes them better students. Better students will achieve higher academic success than non-better students. Our students want to be successful. Our teachers want to be successful.
3 years ago, we created blogs (WordPress platform) for ALL classroom teachers and resources. There was an expectation for teachers to be at least on the first step of the blogging ladder, illustrated in the image below. Their classroom blog needed to be, as a minimum, a replacement of a weekly folder filled with parent-school communication and homework assignments. Teachers were expected to learn how to update their blogs (at least on a weekly basis), insert images and videos and categorize their blog posts. (Getting to Know your Blog- A Beginner’s How To Guide)
This was a steep learning curve for some teachers. In addition, it was extra time consuming, as it was taking teachers longer time to learn and be comfortable with uploading and inserting images, creating photo galleries, creating links, posting, etc.
Some teachers felt ready sooner than others, to climb the next step on the ladder. They opened their classroom blog up for comments to their students. They started to shift from merely pushing out information to parents and students to see the opportunity for a conversation. Teachers were learning to, not only post information, but posing questions for students, encouraging them to think and to participate in a virtual conversation. – Preparing Students for Commenting with Wall Blogging.
Once students were well on their way to begin. They were comfortable in logging into their accounts, reading posts and submitting a commenting, the next step was to focus on the QUALITY of their writing. What constitutes a quality comment? One class answered this question by creating a newscast- Quality Commenting Video by Third Graders
The next step on the classroom blogging ladder was for not only the teacher to produce content/posts, but for students to take ownership. For one teacher, it meant the realization that her classroom job list was in need of a 21st century update What is… What Will Be Obsolete…in Second Grade?
had daily student “bloggers”, who were in charge of updating the classroom blog, being the Official Scribe of the day.
had students take (handwritten notes) summarizing the daily learning during each subject area, to be then typed and uploaded on Friday to the blog (younger grades).
highlighted best work from students as it was produced.
put students in charge of photographing classroom/resource activities and learning taking place during the day, the class discussed and voted on the final images to be uploaded at the end of the day and write a short blurb to each image. – Let’s Ask the Kids: 2nd Grade Bloggers
Some classroom blogs were growing beyond homework assignment, as teachers found opportunities to amplify the use of their virtual spaces to get kids involved and engaged in conversation
As commenting and posting to the classroom blog became the routine, especially in the upper elementary grades, students were eager to “earn” their own blogs. It was up to the teacher to set the criteria for students to earn them (ex.5 quality posts moderated and published on the classroom blog).
Once having earned that promotion, students became administrators of their own blogfolio , a combination of an online portfolio and a learning blog. Students were able to choose their own theme from a variety of pre-approved themes available. They chose their own title and tagline, and wrote their About Page.
It takes time for the faculty to see that the students’ blogfolios are NOT a project from/for the Language Arts class. We are not there yet.Teachers, still need to take advantage of pulling in resource teachers and student experiences. Non-Language Arts teachers still need to realize that the blog is a platform for learning for THEIR students too. All this is a process for teachers and students to work through.
We had Professional Development workshops helping teachers subscribe to RSS feeds (Subscribing via RSS & Google Reader to Classroom Blogs) in order to streamline the process of reading AND giving feedback to all their students. This is a daunting task for many teachers, as they are feeling overwhelmed. I have met too many teachers (at other schools) who, precisely for that reason, gave up blogging with their students. It was simply too much work to read and sift through all the writing and commenting (!!). We are committed to working through this at our school though. We are concentrating on finding new ways to embed the reading, the writing, the commenting, the conversation into the “way we do things”, not something we do in addition.
I created the following infographic to demonstrate the flow of blogging in the classroom. The hope is to deflect from the emphasis on technology and the “translation” from analog work to digital work during the blogging process.
There is so much to consider when blogging with your students. You will be able to read about some, some you will hear from teaches who are already blogging and some things you will just have to experience and go through for yourself in order to make it work for you and your students. What we do know, is that no teacher can attend a 3 hour workshop on blogging and is ready to blog with their students the following Monday. I wrote extensively about the process for Stepping it Up- Learning About Blogs FOR your Student as a guide for teachers who want to see blogging as a platform for their own professional development and as a medium for student learning.
Ann Davis, on her blog wrote a post titled “Rationale for Educational Blogging“, an article (and the following comments) worth reading! David Jakes responds in the comment section speaking directly to the teachers “who have kids write for the refrigerator”.
Ann Davis’ quote of “It is not just a matter of transferring classroom writing into digital spaces”, resonates deeply with me. It is a challenge, that we are continuously reflecting on in school, as learning and literacy coaches, but need to do a better job in helping faculty work through this as well. Tough questions need to bubble up to the surface:
As I am on a Twitter adventure with our 4th and 5th graders and their teachers @teitelbaumsteph & @shellyzavon, I am breaking down steps to tweeting and the process of learning during Tweeting as a classroom. Ryan Bretag’s post Twitter for Thinking Publicly echoed beautifully my thoughts about the “use of Twitter beyond the usual lower level posting assignments, message blasting, or basic discussion forum-like uses.”
Terry Heick came up with a fabulous Twitter Spectrum on Edudemic to include Higher Order Thinking Skills. He divided tweets up into three sections:
While many of his 25 ways to use Twitter in the classroom in the Talk and Produce section are geared towards Middle and High School, I believe that all the “Watch” examples are stepping stones for our younger students who are tweeting as a class. In the “Talk” and “Produce” sections, I can also see ways that the examples can be tweaked and adapted for elementary grades.
What I like about the matrix is the process students go through, as they move from passive tweeting to active tweeting and from monologic to dialogic tweeting. Mark gives examples of each stage, that I can see also adaptable to tweeting with K-8 Classrooms.
For my own understanding of the Tweeting process for Elementary & Middle School students, I created another image in the series “It’s NOT About the Tools. It’s About the Skills. What are the skills and literacies, I want my students to be exposed to and develop?
From this graphic, my mind wandered to breaking the steps down even further. Below you can see me visualization of a Twitter routine we are trying to establish in our elementary and Middle School classrooms (a time when our students are too young to have their own Twitter accounts).
By tweeting with our students, we expose them to:
social networking strategies
support their growth as global digital citizens
model focused, clear writing
What routines have you established if you are tweeting with your students as a class? What are some of your tweetable moments that go beyond a “We went to Art today and drew a picture” tweet?
Most teachers at our school assign summer reading to their incoming students. It is a way to remind students of learning, avoid students experiencing the summer slide, prepare them and give background knowledge for a unit of study or let them use the “not so hectic” summer time to read.
Our Middle School Language Arts teacher, Deb Kuhr, reflected on our Faculty Ning about the benefits of summer reading. She lists the following as the objectives:
What Are the Objectivesof Summer Reading?
To aid your child in becoming a lifelong reader.
To provide the opportunity to expand and enrich your child’s reading repertoire.
To develop the habit of reading.
To challenge students to explore ideas outside their usual experiences.
To foster a love for reading.
We are walking the walk at the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School. We will not ask our students to do something as learners, that we are not willing to do ourselves. Summer reading is one of those thing. We gave our teachers the choice to select one of the following books.
21st Century Skills: Rethinking How Students Learn by James Bellanca
The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
Who Owns the Learning by Alan November
Daily5 by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser
The assignment was to create a “product” in any shape or form that will demonstrate “evidence of learning”. What were the take-aways from the book? How would you implement what you learned from the reading in the classroom this upcoming year? During post-planning we brainstormed a few “products” teacher usually assigned students to create after having read the summer book(s) and added a few more ideas.
Reflection/ Book Review
Compare Contrast/ Graphic Organizers
Chapter Challenges (Check out Susan B.’s Blog) Techtastic/etc.
Teachers were absolutely free to pick ANY form to demonstrate their learning from summer reading. The only requirement was that they needed to be able to share it.
Summer is over…we are all settling into our school routines, and I wanted to share, in one place, all the different creative ways our teachers chose to give evidence of their learning. What makes it so remarkable is very few chose to create the same type of product.
It makes me think, why do we then ask a one-size-fits-all assignment of our students to demonstrate that they read the book(?) or what they learned from the book? Don’t believe me? Just google the term “Summer Reading Assignment”.
Students will complete a poster of their book read…
Students wlll make a video trailer as a book recommendation…
Students will write a book review…
“In September, all English teachers will assign an essential question essay which will ask you to
write about your chosen summer reading texts.”
” Students are expected to complete assigned summer reading for their English class and level. These books will be discussed and tested in the opening days of the new school year.”
“Students will choose one of the following books, and write 3 blog entries over the summer.”
Our teachers created QR codes, SmartBoard files, Wordles, PowerPoint presentations, they wrote blog posts, created a Flickr slideshow, created infographics and info-flyers, they prepared student activities, launched their own professional learning blog, reflected via blog posts, shared a movie and created a prezi, etc…
Take a look how our faculty shared their learning over the summer… and remember them as you are making a commitment to upgrade one of your own assignments by giving students the freedom of creating their own evidence of learning…you will be surprised by the creativity and the array of products, styles and colors
Who owns the Learning? by Alan November
Shelly created a book cover with QR Codes pointing to an audio file of her thoughts…
Deb wrote a reflective blog post…
Who Owns the Learning?
When teaching characterization as an element of literature, a good deal of class discussion focuses on motivation. It is, after all, what drives a character’s actions. Rarely explicit, motivation is inferred by studying a character’s actions and reactions. Based on conflicts, needs, or possible fears, motivation reveals a character’s personality.
So it is with our students. In today’s session with Dr. Mae Barker, we learned that when addressing the barriers to successful inclusion we must consider motivation. I consciously recalled the many times I have referred to a student’s lack of motivation as an explanation for problem behaviors. Upon reflection, I realize that there is no such thing as a lack of motivation. Motivation exists; it is the nature of the motivation that causes less than desirable results. And the correlation between my epiphany and Alan November’s book is …?
Just as pedagogy evolves and paradigms shift, the climate of learning changes. Today, our students approach learning as task specific and assessment driven; knowledge for knowledge’s sake is no more. Once an assignment is completed and a grade earned, it is dismissed. How can there be enlightenment without reflection? Substance without cultivation? Quality without caring? It is time to transform the climate, and Alan November proffers a plan in Who Owns the Learning?. [...]
Silvia shared an info-flyer summarizing the six roles to empower student learners.
21st Century Learning by James Bellanca
Karin wrote a a reflection and created an infographic:
For my summer reading assignment, I decided to focus on “The Role of Professional Learning Communities in Advancing 21st Century Skills” by Dufour and Dufour. It nicely continues where I left off during my post-planning presentation on my vision for our library (library-classroom collaboration on lessons/units). However, in their chapter, the authors take the collaboration idea even further by calling for the implementation of permanent/ongoing Professional Learning Communities (PLCs).
The authors argue that the “most appropriate environment for teaching 21st century skills” are PLCs as they allow us to model those skills (inquiry, critical thinking, problem solving) for our students. PLC implementation requires a change in school culture. Yes, school culture can only change if educator behavior changes. Key phrases mentioned throughout the chapter are common goals, working interdependently, and mutual accountability — all indicators of behavior change.
Please see my infographic to find out about the concept, necessary environment, and benefits of PLCs as stated by Dufour and Dufour.
Susan created a “TechTastic” activity for her students to complete.
I used the chapter “Teach Less, Learn More”, added some of another text I read, “Reforming Secondary Science Instruction”, and a bit of Bloom’s Taxonomy to inspire me to create new Chapter Challenges for the year. My newest creation, “Appsolutely Techifying” involves the student creating 3 new apps to solve problems related to the particular chapter we’re studying. The text simply reinforced the idea that students who create (and extend) from the original information benefit in long term and more in-depth ways. The technological requirements involved in completing the project occur on an individual level and remain open to be tailored to each student’s needs and choices. To me, this reflects the perfect marriage of technology use AND a number of diverse other skills!
Judy chose to test Alan November’s web literacy strategies
As a social studies teacher I was especially impacted by a section in Alan November’s book Who Owns the Learning? and how it could directly be applied to our study of current events/history. Even in past years when our students searched news stories using international new sources like BBC and Al-Jazeera, we still always found the information to be fairly Americanized–in one November chapter I learned why! First, google uses our own laptops and their previous searches–even buying habits!– to inform our searches. My search and your search will elicit a different order of responses based on our previous search history! Second, if you want to gain a real non-American perspective on a news story…one can enter the prefix of the root zone data base and it will tell you how a country or area reacts to an issue. To test that hypothesis I researched the subject of the events in Syria–bringing up the top news story on that topic in Syria itself, the U. S., and in Israel. To create a common context on actually different stories, I then created a wordle for each of the top Syria stories of Israel, the U. S., and Syria on that day. By examining the emphasized words of each story, it was extremely interesting to note the differing perspective of each country on the topic of Syria for that day. I plan to make regular use of this type of search in all types of current and historical research in all my classes to enhance our global perspective in all we do.
Edith created a PowerPoint summarizing and reflecting on what she learned from the book:
While many ideas in the book 21st Century Learning were relevant and interesting to me two concepts that really resonated with me were actually in the introduction.
“A 21st century education must be tied to outcomes, in terms of proficiency in core subject knowledge and 21st century skills that are expected and highly valued in school, work, and community settings.’
21st century skills can not and should no replace core subject knowledge, rather they expand and enhance students knowledge of these core concepts. Without basic writing skills, a student can not express themselves on a blog. Without basic math skills, a student can not create a graph.
21st Century learning skills involve critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity. These skills may be 21st century but they are also rooted in the most basic Jewish learning. Torah study is based on the ability to question and problem solve. [...]
Pamela and Jeanine created a Prezi with their main take-aways from the book
a Wordle for my book club project. I did the Alan November chapter about Technology Rich, Information Poor. This was all about how to use the technology that we have in an authentic, self-directed way that makes the users responsible for the learning. We want to make the assignments worthwhile and try to have global communication. It is a different way to start thinking. The quote that stood out to me was teach less, learn more. Technology should be redefining the learner and the teacher. Don’t be afraid of change.
Daily 5 by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser
Andrea blogged on her professional blog, created a visual below, summarizing the Foundations of the Daily 5 and created a Pinterest Board to curate Daily 5 resources visually.
I think that what I most appreciate about the Daily 5 is summarized in this image. I look at those children, so engaged and content to be sharing a book. This is what I most hope to create and encourage for and in each of our students- a deep, personal love of all that is literacy- reading, writing, learning, sharing ideas, enjoying words and languages.
To my way of thinking, this also embodies the best of what we have been calling “21st century learning.” We repeat the phrase “it’s not about the tool, it’s about the learning” in some form or another, again and again. But I think the Daily 5 provides a great breaking-off point. You could easily do the Daily 5 without using any tech tools or you could use lots of tech tools to provide great enhancements. The foundations of the Daily 5, are the same as the best examples of tech-infused learning: simply “purpose + choice = motivation.” [...]
Liat created a SmartBoard Notebook for her Hebrew class , so they can keep track of each student.
After reading the Daily 5, I decided to create (with the help of Silvia) a chart to keep up with each student’s progress. This chart will help me assess at any time which activity of the Daily 5 were completed by the student. I plan to duplicate this chart for each week so there is a record of their activities. This is a Notebook file in which each student clicks on each cell (going across) as they complete each activity.
Stephanie took the plunge and started her on professional learning blog, Teach, Blog and Tweet, where she intends to document the process, trials and errors of implementing what she has learned from the Daily5.
Amy reflected on her blog and added visuals to illustrate the point.
The authors of The Daily Five, Gail and Joan, feel that it’s essential to spend focused classroom time teaching kids how to choose books that are a “good fit” for them. They realized that a good-fit book meant more than the student simply being able to read most of the words correctly. So they created the “I PICK” strategy. To teach this strategy, Gail and Joan developed the following demonstration:
Choosing the right book is like choosing the right pair of shoes. “Each pair of shoes has its purpose.” This is where they show and discuss different types of shoes (high heels, winter boots, flip flops, etc). The purpose for choosing a book could be to learn about a certain topic or just to read for fun. [...]
Stephanie wrote a series of blog posts,
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
Jo-Ann blogged extensively on the Ning:
In chapter one, Gladwell states that Outliers are defined by the values of the world they inhabit and the people that surround them. This will profoundly determine their future sense of self and identity. He ends the book by simplifying this idea into the fact that Outliers are products of history and community, combined with opportunity and legacy. Some of his ideas are easy and clear-cut to understand (chapters 1 through 3). I found chapter 4 intriguing, chapters 5 and 6 not very relevant to “cultural legacy” and chapters 7 through 9 were great. The epilogue explores his ancestry and ties all his ideas together by examining five generations of his family and how external situations provided positive opportunities for personal growth through higher education. [...]