Learning Well

Last spring I saw a tweet about a collaborative venture called “Teaching Well” that was part of the work Darren Kuropatwa (@dkuropatwa) was doing with facilitating PLP work. Basically the idea was that one person started a metaphor/contrast about teaching and the other person finished it. There were some amazing contrasts and pairs of slides that not only showed the creativity of the teachers involved but also the philosophies and thoughts they have about teaching. I wasn’t officially part of the PLP, but Darren let me submit a slide anyway. (See the idea with many links explained here by Tania Sheko.)

Here’s mine.

Teachingwell

It clearly shows I believe teachers have to be learners, and in rereading it, I think that it pretty much encompasses all that I believe about teaching.

Teachers can teach shallowly, to simply pass the tests or we can teach for deep understanding that allows students to ask new questions and thirst for more; we can do it alone or we can collaborate and share with our colleagues; we can do it because we want to make a difference, we want to help kids, we relish the AH-HA moments in our students, we enjoy deep conversations, we like the challenge of crafting questions that scaffold students to new understandings  or we can do it in a way that simply meets the requirements of the job to bring home the paycheck; as we teach, we see knowledge as simply a gurgling up, a beginning that leads to more questions, perhaps different questions and deeper learning as we make connections, synthesize, analyze and use that knowledge to create.

So many of us lament, day after day, that we have no time to talk to our colleagues, that we have no time for reflection, no time to build the lessons we have in our minds and hearts that go well beyond the state standards to the passions we have in our field.  Milton Ramirez (@tonnet) recently responded to another of my blog posts, saying, “Twitter really changed our way of connecting to educators and other professionals. I can not foresee other applications that can bring together so many interesting people at once.” While I’m glad to hear another person say Twitter is as powerful for them as it is for me, I think we have to go beyond 140 characters and commit to having deep conversations, critical questioning and more co-creations that tap into the incredible brainpower of the educators  sharing in the Twitter stream.

We not only have to share our strategies, our finds, our projects, and our methods of using the web with our students as we talk about teaching well, but we also have to have the conversations about how our students LEARN WELL. Let’s challenge ourselves to change the conversation from centering on our teaching to our students’ LEARNING WELL.

I’m wondering what my slide would look like if I borrowed Darren’s idea and changed the phrase to “Learning Well.”  Interested in thinking about what YOUR slide would look like? Want to play?

Learning Well

http://docs.google.com/present/edit?id=0AS2gSADuNRdRZGhkZm1rajNfMWNqcmc5c2Ri&hl=en

Please be sure to cite your source on the last slide.


http://www.unicef.org.uk/tz/resources/resource_item.asp?id=107

Tools/Schmools

I stole that title from this post: http://jonorech.blogspot.com/2008/12/tools-schmools.html Jon wrote this post a year ago, and it is one we need to keep in front of all of us educators at all times.  It’s not about the tool, it’s about the learning!

So, in that vein, let me say that I have really, really been wanting to engage in conversations about important learning episodes where technology is used/needed, but is also simply a tool to support the engagement, learning and skill improvement that is occurring. Too many times we find a cool tool and then force the learning into the use of the tool.

As @bengrey says (http://bit.ly/z5iMg),

bengrey We absolutely must stop focusing on teaching technology and move instead to learning through it.10:09 PM Oct 2nd from TweetDeck

So, does it help to have sites like “iPod Ideas” or “Ways to use Wikis”?  Or should  we instead be talking about and sharing specific ways to teach fractions and decimals or quotation marks or the seven continents? Okay, maybe that’s too skill-driven–too centered on minute discrete skills…

So,  would it help for us each to post a favorite/best carried out/most-learning-happened lesson for others to see and learn from? Okay, maybe that’s too activity driven…

Do we want to share websites that help us craft amazing essential questions, or enduring understandings or desired outcomes?  Or is working on those too cerebral for many of us? (Do we use those in our lessons?)

We do a lot of “just found this” on twitter, and people have bookmarked and favorited THOUSANDS of websites on social bookmarking sites like Delicious and Diigo–but how often do we go back to those? (I’ll be honest here–organization of things like this is NOT my forte–I learned a LONG time ago I could just ask my colleagues things like, “What was that site that allowed you to put text in and then it would turn the words into a visual representation of the words used in that text?” and 5 people would respond “wordle.com” within 24 hours or shorter. . . so why spend my time maintaining a website of links, when there are people who enjoy doing that?) Instead, I remember the names of people who do that well already–@jacatlett, @kellyhines, @keisawilliams, OR I utilize the brain of all brains, IMHO, @mtechman, who, if she can’t immediately name it and the URL or doesn’t know exactly where to put her finger on the resource you’re asking about, will hunt until she finds it, because she enjoys the SEARCH and the joy of being successful at finding it!!

For Melissa, It’s not about power–or getting recognition for being the one who found it for you–it’s about successfully providing a service she sees as necessary and that a teacher/librarian does for people. It’s about using the technology to do her job and do it well, and be helpful at the same time. She’s intrinsically driven to help people find what they need. Melissa does what Ben talks about–she learns through the use of technology ALL the time, and then shares that knowledge with us all on Twitter.

So if I really, really want to engage in conversations about important learning episodes where technology is used/needed, but is also simply a tool to support the engagement, learning and skill improvement that is occurring, I guess I’ll start by sharing some of MY stories and seeing if anyone reacts to them. Anyone want to share theirs, too? If so, tag it with #sharing on Twitter.  🙂

Following Followers and Thinking

Yesterday, Milton Ramirez, (@tonnet) re-tweeted a comment about inconsistency that intrigued me (which he often does), so I began tracing the conversation back to see the context.  Through doing that, I found @monedays, @TalkDoc2 and @JohnDMcClung having a conversation that was right up my alley–but I came late to the party due to my wonky  nTelos air card, so wasn’t in time to join in. However, I filled a whole page marking many of their comments as favorites!

I think these folks MUST have read the book, Lift, and they live it. . . their tweets are inspiring and thought-provoking. I know these favorites will give me much food for thought.  Hope  they do for  you as well!

(I just copied them from my favorites, so read from the bottom up if you want to read them in order.)

Enjoy!

  1. JohnDMcClung RT @MarkOOakes: Everyone 1 of us is called to LEADERSHIP, whether to lead ourselves, a great cause or lend a helping hand to just 1 person!9:44 AM Oct 10th from TweetDeck
    RT

  2. John McClungJohnDMcClung RT @TalkDoc2: @JohnDMcClung There actually would be more peace in the world w/o dichotic thinking. Good sometimes, but not usually.9:36 AM Oct 10th from TweetDeck
    RT

  3. Monica Diazmonedays @JohnDMcClung @TalkDoc2 If there is truth, we cannot grasp it, only our perceptions of it. So comparing notes, gives us a broader pic!9:29 AM Oct 10th from Tweetie
    RT

  4. John McClungJohnDMcClung @TalkDoc2 Too many times we work on the assumption that because “X” is true, “Y” cannot be. Both could co-exist as “truth.”9:28 AM Oct 10th from TweetDeck
    RT

  5. John McClungJohnDMcClung @TalkDoc2 Hypothesis testing in debate theory allows a “truth” to be examined on it’s own merits. It’s “truth” doesn’t discredit others9:26 AM Oct 10th from TweetDeck
    RT

  6. Monica Diazmonedays RT @EdieGalley: Your past can be used as a great foundation of learning….just remember it is not a box to get trapped in.9:25 AM Oct 10th from Tweetie
    RT

  7. John McClungJohnDMcClung RT @TalkDoc2: @JohnDMcClung There are many “truths” that evolve over time…thankfully. <Exactly! Why hypothesis testing is appropriate9:24 AM Oct 10th from TweetDeck
    RT

  8. Mike MorganTalkDoc2 RT @JohnDMcClung: @TalkDoc2 To get at truth, you need to look at an issue from all angles, not just fully support from one. – True9:20 AM Oct 10th from TweetDeck
    RT

  9. Monica Diazmonedays RT @JohnDMcClung: @TalkDoc2 To get at truth, you need to look at an issue from all angles, not just fully support from one.9:15 AM Oct 10th from Tweetie
    RT

  10. Monica Diazmonedays RT @thehrgoddess: RT @wallybock “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.” ~ Daniel Patrick Moynihan9:13 AM Oct 10th from Tweetie
    RT

  11. Monica Diazmonedays RT @LeadToday: People in leadership positions that don’t care about their people forfeit the opportunity to truly lead. #BeOrginal9:13 AM Oct 10th from Tweetie
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  12. Monica Diazmonedays So true! A challenge to attract them! RT @TalkDoc2: Deeper truths are discovered through open discussion with others who are not like you.9:09 AM Oct 10th from Tweetie
    RT

  13. Mike MorganTalkDoc2 Deeper truths are discovered through open discussion with others who are not like you.9:07 AM Oct 10th from TweetDeck

    RT

  14. Mike MorganTalkDoc2 You cannot fully receive the gifts of love and laughter unless you give them away.9:04 AM Oct 10th from TweetDeck

    RT

  15. Mike MorganTalkDoc2 @LollyDaskal Good friends expect genuineness, not perfection. Good morning Lolly.9:02 AM Oct 10th from TweetDeck

    RT

  16. Monica Diazmonedays RT @MarkOOakes: Leadership Skills Inventory: Listening, Empathy, Attitude, Vision, Effectiveness, Resilience, Purpo (cont) http://tl.gd/kupo
RT

LOTS to think about here! If you read one of these and a story comes to mind, would you share it with us, please?

Thanks again, Milton, for helping me find these folks to follow! When I tweeted Milton yesterday, I sent @tonnet Thanks for the new people to follow this morning. Will blog later about the conversation I followed thanks to your RTs! :-),  he responded with these tweets:

tonnet @paulawhite I try to catch up with the immensity of information we have to deal with on a daily basis. Thanks 4 your kindly words & support
tonnet

tonnet @paulawhite@celfoster @ ritasimsan @Katjewave @Mrs_Fuller Read this piece and it will show u why I appreciate ur retweets

which led me to Bit Rebels. . . another great thinking resource for me.
My PLN ROCKS!

Meeting People, Sharing Stories

Okay, so this afternoon I have been working to figure out what I have to say and after about three hours, I think this blog may turn into two or three like several others have.  It’s not that I deliberately wait until I have several to write, but that in thinking about writing one, I find I have several blogs to write.

Chad Ratliff (@chadratliff) has had an immense impact on my thinking, and he doesn’t even realize it, I don’t think.  I began following him on Twitter sometime this year, and started following some of his tweeple as well from tracing back his conversations. He is an entrepreneur, an educator, a thinker and a friend, not necessarily in that order. ( I suspect all of those take back seat to his roles of  Dad and Husband MUCH of the time!) Anyway, Chad and I started talking on Twitter, he began following folks from Albemarle Schools and to make a long story short, he attended a conference with us (where I had the honor  and pleasure of introducing him around) and he wound up working in our school system. (I’m not taking any credit for that–he is an amazing person we were lucky to have join us!)

Before that, he was taking classes, running a business (or maybe 2 or 3 of them), keeping his hand in education and tweeting to people in all of those endeavors. How we connected I don’t remember, but what I do know is that I started following some business people from all over, which I never would have said I would do. Through Chad, I found some educators in Iowa (like @RussGoerend, whom I have an ongoing competition with about whether VA or Iowa has more notable tweeters) and from Russ I got to some other amazing thinkers, and it goes on and on. . .

But, really, what this blog post is about is the importance of social networking: We participate and connect with people who think like we do. We interact, and sometimes argue with or question people who think differently.  We sometimes watch and “lurk” on conversations others  have, watching the stories unfold in front of us.   We come back to our online connections, to the people we have met and come to know online because of the power of stories–the connections we make through sharing with each other the thoughts, questions, strengths and weaknesses we have–and sharing the struggles and the solutions we find.

See I Finally Get It–Why Social Networking Is So Important for another insight into social networking as story.

So, back to why I started by writing about Chad:

I haven’t seen him since he joined us.  I’ve tweeted very little since then, as a matter of fact, because it’s been the beginning of school and I’ve just been darn busy. When I have been on Twitter, I’ve been furiously reading, trying to catch some of the nuggets my PLN shares. Chad’s tweeted me a few links and DM’d to make sure I was okay, but mostly since he got here, I haven’t been in contact much.

That doesn’t matter.

I follow his conversations still and have followed some amazing thinkers because of him–and I constantly learn through their tweets as well. Twitter–and the connections people make on it– continues to amaze me.  I am learning from so many people all over the world because thoughtful practitioners are willing to share and give so much.

I am so appreciative of all the people who share with me online–I thank you all for sharing the stories in your life.

And, thanks, Chad, for helping me follow some people who have certainly stretched my thinking through the stories of their lives.

Public or Private?

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I’ve had some great opportunities to learn recently. (See What I Did On My Summer Vacation).  I’ve also read some great books and am busy trying to assimilate all of that, along with the many conversations I have had with many, many educators! So as I’m thinking (and thinking and thinking and thinking. . . ), I’m trying to figure how all of this is going to fit into my classroom, my school, my behaviors with peers, etc. for this new school year. My main struggle right now is with microblogging, or setting up a community online.

Let me explain. . .

I use Twitter daily for professional networking and have learned a tremendous amount through it as well as met many people I now consider colleagues and friends.  For me, Twitter does indeed allow me to participate in the groundswell, and it feeds my need to “connect, create, stay in touch and help each other.” (Groundswell, p. 49.)  I have, as stated in my blog, Twitter Makes Me, become more world-wise through my connections with people all over the world.

Our local school system has embraced Twitter in many ways, and we have had a very quick influx of our educators join.  Some have found it incredibly useful, others have found it confusing. It is clear that our Superintendent and School Board expect us to teach using today’s technologies,and they have supported us doing so by opening social networking sites (such as wikis and Twitter.) That’s not to say anything is mandated or forced–just encouraged through modeling and usage.  So, a fair number of us use Twitter for building/maintaining parts of our PLN.

Yesterday an instructional coach started a Yammer group for our district. I can’t figure out whether that’s necessary or not–not whether it’s good or bad, but whether it’s necessary.  See, we already have SchoolNet established in our district. SchoolNet provides us a place to set up groups, have threaded conversations, follow people and be followed (they’re called colleagues) and  do much of what I think my limited exposure to Yammer  shows it can do. We’re literally one day before teachers return–and invitations are being sent out to folks to join Yammer–rather than encouraging folks to get involved more deeply in the many resources we already have on SchoolNet.

Here is a {SOMEWHAT EDITED} part of an email I sent to a buddy today talking this one through with some of my questions:

A question asked over Twitter the other day (from an Alan November talk Kevin Jarrett was sitting in, I think) was “What does a Lifelong Learner in the 21st century look like?”

Do our teachers know?

I think you do, because you see the power of Twitter—which is simply ONE tool for engaging us in conversations with educators and others ALL OVER THE WORLD.  You have spent time building a PLN that encompasses ppl outside of your tiny world of our school system.

And, what bothers me the absolute MOST about responses to my questions about Yammer? It wasn’t the defensiveness (or perceived defensiveness).  It was the response that this was SAFE—it was all about being in a situation with people you already know—one said-”I like this better because I know you guys.”  another:—”It’s NOT a closed system—anyone in K-12 can join and invite others”  (Unsaid—BUT ONLY FROM our school system. How is that NOT closed?)

Someone else then goes on to ask-”who knew you could use schoolnet this way?”  DID ANYONE START A CONVERSATION ASKING SOMETHING LIKE: Hey, guys, if we were to get teachers on a smaller scale using something like twitter, what tools are out there? How can we get out teachers involved in social networking on a smaller scale for those whom Twitter will overwhelm?

Once again, leaders have thrown something out there that could overwhelm. . . Yeah, I understand experimentation—but as coaches—as leaders in our division, who looked at the BIG picture here? And who is thinking about how to transfer ppl over to Schoolnet, now that you (collective “you”, NOT you personally) KNOW Schoolnet does this?

PLUS, Schoolnet allows me, as a teacher, to join (or lurk on) a conversation about the “Daily 5” with my local peers and when I hear something, I can go to Twitter to ask @Linda704 or @AngelaStockman, both of whom I know know a LOT about literacy, to join our conversation—or say to another Twitter buddy, “hey, we’re talking about those kind of resources here—can you join us?”  Then I can slowly introduce others to our teachers and SHOW them the power of a world wide PLN.

Yammer does not allow that-it IS closed . . .

I go back to my question—because I have taken it from Alan and made it mine—What does a lifelong learner look like in the 21st century?  I say she’s NOT looking for closed communities. I say she’s not looking for safety in her local peers.  I say she’s not looking ONLY to learn from local people.  I say he IS looking to connect and contribute, looking for learning and wanting to know how to do that safely on the WWW, and needing to feel honored and respected by more than a local community.  I believe our learners are looking to “connect, create, stay in touch and help each other.” (Groundswell, p. 49.)

What have you said about Twitter? It validates your thinking, it has helped you grow, etc.

Does Yammer do that?  Yes, on a small scale—but does it allow us as teacher leaders to paint pictures of global connectedness through modeling and bringing those others in?  No—but Schoolnet does.

Did anyone explore Edmodo?  It’s another microblogging tool that also could be used with kids—so we could be modeling as well as sharing a tool teachers could then use with kids.  Can Yammer be used for microblogging or grouping conversations with kids?  Can Schoolnet?

I don’t know the answer to either, but my guess is Yammer, NO–SchoolNet, possibly.

These are the kinds of things we, as teacher leaders, need to think through before we jump into something. . .

Am I advocating jumping ship on Yammer?  Absolutely not—it looks like it’s growing quickly, and that’s a good thing– but slowing down and having some conversations—honest conversations–about what we want and looking at purpose FIRST, not letting it emerge, may be necessary. Then guiding invitations on Yammer may (or may not) be helpful.

Thoughts?

For me, it’s not an either/or. . . or good/bad–it’s a matter of making life manageable and trying to minimize all the different ways it pulls us. . .and if we already have an avenue for teachers talking to one another, why are we encouraging the use of yet a different tool rather than involve them more deeply in the one we have and share the potential?  As the teacher above said, “Who knew SchoolNet could do that?”

And, the proponents of Yammer say that involving teachers FIRST in a private network may be the stepping stone some need to then try a larger network such as Twitter. That sounds logical, but is there any research to support that, or even anyone’s experience?

I can’t find any. Do any of you have any research OR personal stories that say that’s true?

The power of MY PLN is the diversity–the various viewpoints coming from all grades, all countries, all kinds of schools–it’s often the differences that make me think the most. .  not the like-minded folks using the same curriculum and same materials who are in situations similar to mine. . .

So,

YOU, my readers, see my confusion, my questions, my wonderings. . .

When we introduce/encourage the use of social networking to adults, in an organized, big way, what questions should we ask ourselves? Is “public or private” one of them?

Response to “Badge of Honor”

Lee Kolbert (@TeachaKidd on Twitter) makes me think. She makes statements or shares links or asks questions that get me going.  Thanks, Lee, for pushing my thinking on this issue!

First off, let me say that I think David Jakes is a very smart person and I respect him and what he usually has to say a LOT.  I enjoy following him on Twitter and deliberately attend his presentations when I can to learn from him. However, in this case, he and I may need to agree to disagree.

David recently wrote a blog (http://strengthofweakties.org/?p=297) that said get rid of the badges you have been given.  His statement about why is that “they send a bad message” and to back that up, he says what bothers him is the “have-have not mentality that they promote….and perhaps the false sense of accomplishment that goes along with their display.”

I disagree.

I believe teachers who get recognition, whether they apply for it or not, should show the honors they receive—for it IS an honor to be selected as an Apple Distinguished Educator, or a Google Certified Teacher, or a STAR Discovery Educator or a Golden Apple recipient, or a presenter at k12online conference, or NECCunplugged, or Edubloggercon, or any of the other badges teachers display. I believe, beyond the have/have not mentality, that it shows teachers who go beyond the classroom, who look for connections to other educators and who share and probably revel in being a lifelong learner.  What David doesn’t explain is that being part of these communities is just that—being part of a larger community of learners, of thinkers, of doers and movers and shakers—and the coolest thing to me is the INCLUSIVE behaviors of these educators through these programs.

I KNOW Apple Distinguished Educators mentored others through the application process in 2009 and spoke for them to Apple.

I KNOW Google Certified Teachers did the same.

I KNOW DEN STARS are always telling others—“You should become a DEN STAR!”

I’ve heard these things, seen them and experienced them.

DEN STARS are always offering tips and tricks about Discovery Education, streaming video, digital storytelling, and sharing the incredible resources available on the DE site.

At the July 09 Apple Institute, ADEs were streaming it and sharing the videos being created as soon as they were made.

At the August 09 Google Teacher Academy, the agenda was sent out publicly and tweets shared the learning throughout the day. I virtually attended the previous two through the notes docs being shared and the agenda and the incredible resources there.

At the conferences mentioned, the presentations are streamed (and often archived) so others can attend and learn virtually.

I, and many others, I am sure, have learned about these opportunities through those badges—seeing one and saying, ”What is that?” It’s NOT about having or not having a badge—it’s about sharing the opportunities to learn, sharing the knowledge one learns through those opportunities and encouraging others to apply the next round. It’s about making the world—and various types of learning—more accessible to a larger group than a company can accommodate. For me, those badges aren’t about exclusivity, but about sharing and learning and growing, and when I see one I see that person as someone I can ask about that opportunity.

What do YOU think?

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Last summer I was just beginning to use social networking tools.  I hadn’t begun my blog, hadn’t joined a bunch of wikis, and had more free time, so I was exploring and getting to know Tweeters to follow and talk with. I spent a great deal of my summer sitting in front of my computer learning from the great minds I found sharing online. I lived through a number of conferences vicariously through others’ tweets.  I learned about online conferencing and streaming-and was totally impressed with the amount of work people do to share with other educators. I built a personal/professional learning network online, making friends all over the world, and became more aware of world issues. I had an amazing time and went back to school raving about the new connections I was making, and had made. It was an eye-opening summer where I mostly “took” and learned from the connections I found.

Summer09  was extremely different. I was busy all the time, so didn’t have those lazy summer days to sit in front of my computer and learn from the HUGE number of great minds online. However, I attended a ton of conferences in real life and got to meet many of my twitterfolks.

In June, I began a six day workshop in my county about assessing critical thinking. Several of the teachers involved were twitterfolk and the tweeting we had done throughout the year changed the way we interacted, I believe—there was a level of familiarity, comfort and trust that may not have been there a year ago. One of the reasons I love twitter and the ability it gives me to interact with others is that I have been able to connect to like-minded people and learn from others’ differing perspectives as well. Twitter so reduces isolation for many of us! I’ve watched @mtechman blossom into a GREAT online leader and thinker on Twitter, and consider her a good friend now—I barely knew her before Twitter, despite the fact we had attended meetings and emailed each other.

At the end of June, early July, I attended NECC in D.C and got to meet MANY of my Twitter people. I loved seeing how they were so true to their online personas—see @BenGrey’s post about meeting Tweeps at NECC—that one particularly resonated with me.  I presented at NECCUnplugged (and was streamed!) and participated in a panel discussion organized by @K_Shelton (Ken) with 6 folks I had only met online before. All of those experiences made me even more aware of the power of an online network. (And, I’ll share something few people know—I decided to try an experiment.  Since my county didn’t pay for me to attend,  I decided I would see JUST how far the networking would suffice to make the conference worthwhile.  I went  to NO sessions. I used my time there for that networking, meeting people, conversing, learning, eavesdropping on other conversations (blatantly, so no offense was taken) and reading the tweets from NECC09.) My time was WELL spent, and I didn’t have to sit through uninteresting sessions or walk out of ones, as some of my Tweeps did.

I also met Sheila Teri, from VA Beach face to face at  NECC.  She and I skyped with several classes last year and have expanded those experiences into a Skype Across VA wiki this year, and we also have buddy classes in first grade skyping each month.  I also have begun another wiki, USA Fun Facts with Paula Naugle (who is from Lousiana) and we have 12 other states participating with us. Both of these connections were made over Twitter.

The second week of July, I participated in a local conference, EDUSTAT, which turned into a national and even international one through the online participation that happened because of Twitter. I got to know and spend some time with @chadratliff and @jonbecker, who attended from their areas.  MANY of our local folks joined Twitter that week and are now quite active!  (@classroots, @trevorprzyuski, @billsterrett, to name a few.) The connections made that week just keep growing:

  • see @classroots blog and the accompanying wiki he and I began to join a conversation about authentic engagement
  • @chadratliff is joining Albemarle County as a Central Office leader—can’t wait to work with him in his new job in Innovation!
  • @trevorprzyuski’s blog, 7 Things I learned this summer triggered this blog. . I had had it floating ‘round for a while, just couldn’t get going. His unblocked me!

The last week of July I went to the Building Learning Communities conference in Boston with a team from my school system. The work as a team there had begun in early summer, and continues now. I am part of a great LOCAL team of thinkers whose charge is (as our Sup’t @pammoran said,) to think about how we enroll our colleagues in innovation!

BLC09 was another amazing experience of meeting Tweeps, and I attended my first EdubloggerCon, a full day of learning that was organized by @lizbdavis (Liz Davis) and @lthumann (Lisa Thumann). I had met Angela Maiers face to face at NECC, and, while at BLC, @AngelaMaiers, @BeckyFisher73 and I began planning a two day workshop we hope to share with Virginia’s ASCD affiliate, VASCD. I spent time with @TeachaKidd (Lee Kolbert) and ALL of those ladies are just as lovely—and SMART–in real life as they are online.

The beginning of August, ASCD informed @fisher1000 and me our proposal to present had been accepted. Mike works in Buffalo, NY—we’ve only met online, but will be co-presenting at ASCD in San Antonio in March! The idea to put in a proposal began when we were building/sharing/conversing about the Visual Bloom’s schemata and the accompanying web sites, Blooms Rubrics, Ideas for the Visual and Professional Practice.

Then August 5, I attended the Google Teacher Academy at Google Headquarters in Boulder, Colorado, to become a Google Certified Teacher. Again, I met tweeps and got to talk to people in real life I had developed relationships with online. I learn so much from the smart people I have found online, and am continually amazed at the new folks I find and who find me. (Thanks, Ken, (@K_Shelton) for urging me to apply!)

The Google experience is amazing—my one regret from the day was that I didn’t get to talk to more people. (Thanks, @ScottElias for recommending Fat Tire and @Wfryer for starting the beer drinking that late afternoon!)  Michael Wacker was my real treat for the day, though, as his Colorado hospitality knows no bounds. Now, @Mwacker and I are collaborating on a proposal to the ISTE 2010 conference. Want to add your 2 cents worth? Join our brainstorming at http://mwpwiste10.wikispaces.com.

And, in the past week, I have worked with and met our new teachers at our New Teacher Academy, where the sharing was just unprecedented, and participated in a 2 hour debriefing about BLC09 with our local team, where the conversations continue over our email.

Last fall I attended the k12online conference–this year I am applying to present AND I am on the PR committee with my usafunfacts friend, Paula (@plnaugle) and Lisa Parisi and Pat Woessner, all online buddies.)

BUT, the most memorable thing about this summer for me will be the fact that I tweeted during the opportunities I had, so others could sit in the comfort of THEIR homes and attend them vicariously through Twitter.

I hope I gave this summer as much as I took last summer. . .

I know I’ve learned so much in both, and am a different person due to that sharing, taking, learning, teaching, growing and twittering!

Engagement and Quality Work

Chad Sansing, (@classroots on Twitter) is a brilliant educator in my school division.  I have known of Chad for many years (he’s been middle school, I am elementary, so we’ve had little opportunity to interact personally, but we’ve met.) During the recent PD opportunity, Edustat, we joined each other’s online PLN and I am thrilled to have him as part of mine.  I highly recommend him to others–he’s an educator who interacts and is a great thinker!  Recently, he posted a definition of authentic engagement on his website, Classroots.org

Chad had run an earlier version of this by several people on our county email list and received some feedback and additional resources (posted on our wiki), and then he synthesized what he was thinking.  Part of his post and my response is below. There are many of us exploring engagement in many ways.  Some of us are using the hashtag #AE on Twitter to thread the conversation.  We have begun a wiki, Authentic Engagement. We invite you to join our conversation and involve others… that’s why I am cross-posting my response to Chad on MY blog–to hopefully get my readers to go see and participate in Chad’s site and join our wiki.  🙂

Disagree with me, add to my knowledge, share your resources on engagement, think WITH us!

The more we think together and share our questions and thoughts, looking at context and quality of student work and how to be better teachers, the more we’ll all learn.  🙂

Chad’s blog excerpt:

Authentic engagement is a powerful means to the end of learning.  Authentic engagement connects students to content through real-world work that allows for social learning, inquiry, and products that contribute to students’ communities.

Characteristics of Authentic Engagement

  1. Students master content through project-based, inquiry-driven learning with access to multiple types of media and outside experts.
  2. Students work and learn from one another collaboratively and socially.
  3. Students evaluate for and select the best tools for their work and are free to use them.
  4. Students’ work is published for an authentic audience outside the classroom.
  5. Students receive feedback on their work from experts before and after publication.
  6. Students revise work until it shows mastery of content and follows experts’ guidelines.
  7. Students’ work benefits their community.

My response:

Chad,
I appreciate the references above gathered in one place, especially because I am not familiar with the Bob Peterson one, so I now have something new to read.  🙂

The different terms, quality work, engagement, authentic engagement, etc. are all variations on a theme, but I don’t think are synonyms. The definitions of quality work have to do with the product. The definitions of engagement have to do with the student’s attitudes, habits of mind while involved and intensity/persistence/passion about the task.

So, for me, it’s not about engaging with experts inside or outside of my classroom for kids to be authentically engaged in learning. That’s about authentic WORK. It’s not about benefiting the community–that, too is about the work. So, I wouldn’t agree that your 4, 5, 6, and 7 describe authentic engagement so much as they do authentic work/products.

For me, engagement is all tied up in the level of effort the student is willing to invest in the task. So I agree with Schlechty’s statements:


• The student sees the activity as personally meaningful.
• The student’s level of interest is sufficiently high that he persists in the face of difficulty.
• The student finds the task sufficiently challenging that she believes she will accomplish something of worth by doing it.
• The student’s emphasis is on optimum performance and on “getting it right.”
(MY addition–this does not mean getting it right on the test, but getting it right for oneself–truly understanding the content, the material, the process, the work so that it becomes a part of your skill and knowledge repertoire.)

It’s not about compliance, as Marzano seems to say when he says engagement is the kid doing what the teacher asks.  It’s not about doing work for outside experts or even the teacher. That stuff is about worthwhile work, quality work, important tasks or whatever you want to call them, but those are all about the product, not the student’s engagement. (Now does worthwhile work (such as that described in 4, 5, 6, 7 above) engage the student?  Absolutely.. .but it’s not necessary in the definition of engagement.)

For me, engagement is about personalized, meaningful learning for (mostly) intrinsic reasons–persisting and persevering through challenge and difficulty to develop deep understanding and increased process skills.

Your thoughts?

Organized Tweeting? Is that a good thing?

Recently I attended Edustat, a national conference held in my school district put on by UVA, my school system and Schoolnet. It was a unique conference experience for me, partly because my Superintendent had invited several people I tweet with, Chad Ratliff (@csratliff) and Jon Becker (@jonbecker), and partly because I had spent the prior two weeks reading Jay McTighe‘s book, Schooling by Design and had previously read The Global Achievement Gap.  Both Jay McTighe and Tony Wagner were invited speakers. The goal of this conference for Albemarle teams was to basically learn, talk, and figure out how to take what we learned back to our schools and make a difference.

Chad’s attendance was a catalyst for me, because he is a questioner, a thinker, a listener and currently NOT a practicing teacher, but an entrepreneur. His constant questions had me thinking all week about our structure, our systems and the teaching and learning that happens in Albemarle. The fact that Jon Becker drove in daily from 70 miles away also had me thinking–what was it about this conference that interested a professor from a nearby college? He was obviously engaged, and he, too, asked questions and conversed about the topics being discussed. I’m looking forward to seeing his thoughts about it at some time in his blog, Educational Insanity.

The uniqueness for me was coming in with high levels of expectations for learning (I really liked both Schooling By Design and The Global Achievement Gap), high levels of expectations for engaging in great conversation with my colleagues (both local and my Twitter buddies) and an air of excitement because Becky Fisher (@beckyfisher73 on Twitter), with the blessing of our Superintendent, (@pammoran on Twitter) had organized people to tweet and blog throughout the conference, and I was one of those. I was looking forward to being a catalyst for conversations among my Twitter following as well as engaging new local folks in tweeting.

What happened I should have expected. Twitter is always viral, and I should have known it would take off. . .

Those of us initially tweeting (@pammoran, @beckyfisher73, @mtechman, @csratliff, @jacatlett, me) involved MANY folks from outside of our county on Twitter.  The Edustat hashtag was followed by folks from all over, and as we were streaming the sessions, people from three continents and all over the US were watching. Because of that interest from outside, many of our local shakers and doers became tweeters and they were voracious about tweeting out what the presenter was saying and asking quick questions–reflective questions we should-and will- return to later.

I simply couldn’t keep up with my usual twitterstream, the presentation, the #edustat hashtag tweets AND another stream (the TED conference) I had going at the same time.  Twittering wasn’t a conversation as much as it became a place to report what the presenter was saying in both the Edustat hashtag stream and the TED stream. The fast tweeting caused me, at least, to back off and try just to keep up with reading and listening and responding to questions outside folks were asking.

The Twitter use definitely evolved over the three days of the conference and some of our local folks became quite hooked on it. (I am going to school tomorrow to answer some of my principal’s questions, in fact!) As a county, we have begun to use another Twitter hashtag, AE, (for authentic engagement) to continue some of the face to face conversations begun at the conference. As a county, many of our teacher leaders now have a feel for the impact of a PLN that is not simply local.

As a county, we have been transformed by our Twitter experiences.

It certainly made a difference when the superintendent, Pam Moran, (@pammoran on Twitter) asked her folks to use and experience a tool that she believes is powerful for teaching and learning.  It certainly made a difference when attendees began to realize we had an international audience.  It certainly made a difference when some of our administrators and teachers got on Twitter and saw the vast amount of information being shared. It made an even bigger difference when they began to USE Twitter.

So, Organized Tweeting-is it a good thing?  I say yes. .  .

And, thank you, Pam and Becky, for designing the task so our folks sought out the tool, the instruction and the learning!!