Category Archives: Collaboration

You Can Only Grow as Big as Your Container

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Our ability to think and work creatively is heavily influenced by our workplace….the size of the container. District size doesn’t matter. What matters is group norms and culture. We can’t always control that in our work environments, but we can expand our container by connecting with expansive thinkers.

Intentionally choosing expansive thinkers as thought partners has been the defining element in my professional life. One way I’ve expanded my container is through work with a global team of educators. We only know what we know, and if we limit ourselves to our own district, we are often just reaffirming what we already think. Our global team was asked to keynote at the recent Global Education Conference.

How big is your container? Mine is as big as the world.

 

The City that Plays Together, Stays Together!

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What do you get when you mix 108 amazing Chicago organizations, 4,204 engaging learning opportunities, passionate leaders, higher education institutions, generous funding organizations, and 400,000 youth of Chicago? The Chicago City of Learning! (CCOL) An explosive convergence of possibility all focused on supporting youth in developing self-directed, interest-driven learning and achievement… that connects that learning to college and career….complete with a rigorous badging system. 

Want to be part of something bigger?

You can feel the electricity  in the room during the planning meetings with the vast array of stakeholders involved in bringing CCOL to the youth of Chicago as a network of support that provides 24/7 access to quality learning. This is personalized learning that covers the entire city…every neighborhood, every street, every learner.  And the city is rising up to support the entire effort.

Check it out. If you don’t live near Chicago, maybe your city could use the template to create something in your area.

Our Classrooms Dancing Around the World!

Follow us as we dance from the Prime Meridian going east…around the whole world!

Classroom 2.0 LIVE!

What an honor to be chosen as the Featured Teacher for Classroom 2.0 LIVE! If you are interested in Project-based Learning or 21st Century Learning, here is the recording.  Here’s the Livebinder link to all of the projects and resources mentioned in the presentation.

Make sure you visit the Classroom 2.0 LIVE site and check the calendar for upcoming events and archives. They are always a great resource for cutting edge education ideas and resources.

21st Century Learning. What exactly is it?

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The buzz about 21st Century Learning is everywhere, but what exactly does it mean? It’s often linked to technology, but that is only a small part.  In fact, much of 21st Century Learning can happen without the use of technology. If technology is available and used in the right way, it can provide powerful tools for authentic learning and integration of 21st Century skills, but unfortunately, that is not always what we see in our classrooms. Purchasing equipment does not automatically create better learning.  We watch our classrooms fill up with technology, but we often see no plan in place to use it to benefit student learning. This requires a change in teaching.  With no change in teaching and learning, computers are often used for mainly word processing and Google searching. As an educator, this concerns me.

Let’s start with what 21st Century Learning means. It is the marriage of content and skill. Teaching content is what we are familiar with in our education systems: learning states and capitals, mathematical equations, historical events, scientific discoveries, and countless others.  21st Century Learning takes that content and makes it relevant. It not only shows learners how that content can be used to solve problems, construct new ideas, and through collaboration, expand that understanding, but it allows them to actually experience that as they learn.

How many school districts have mission statements that refer to educating problem solvers, critical thinkers, and creative minds? How many of them go farther than words and actually do something meaningful to provide that in their classrooms?

Equipping teachers to lead our students’ way in this takes a lot more than buying computers for schools. Before continuing, let’s figure out how to use what we have to further what many of us believe to be true: the world needs empowered critical thinking problem solvers that have the ability to learn collaboratively and create the solutions to problems that we have no way of knowing exist right now. It isn’t as difficult as it seems.

It starts with a unified vision, the development of a plan to create the teaching and learning environment, and the implementation of that plan. Many have led the way. It isn’t a mystery any more. Schools around the country have embraced this and have left their footsteps to follow. It’s just a quick Google search away!

Here’s a related article by George Couros.

One interpretation of 21st century skills.

One interpretation of 21st century skills.

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What is Your #1 Reason for Becoming a Connected Educator?

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I can only grow as large as my container. 

What’s your #1 reason for becoming a Connected Educator?

It’s Connected Educator Month, CEM, Check out the schedule!

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Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) and WorldVuze

Hangout with Julia Colburn

So, a random twitter story….

A year or so ago, I saw something come across twitter asking a specific question about Global Education. I responded and soon found myself on a Skype call with some excited, young entrepreneurs at a Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) event in Canada. One of them was Julia Coburn. They were developing a platform to connect students and teachers in a way I hadn’t seen before.  Today Julia  and I met on Google Hangout to discuss the pilot and subsequent launch of their project: WorldVuze.

It combines global student inquiry, survey data, multiple perspectives, written responses, and data filtering to provide snapshots of ideas, perspectives and much more…all around the globe.

About WorldVuze

WorldVuze is an online education platform where students from elementary to secondary school can share and explore multiple perspectives on any question with other students around the world.

For every question asked, student perspectives can be clustered geographically and compared within and between places – city to city, region to region, country to country.

How it can be used
Their vision is that students locally and globally will gain a deeper understanding of their world and feel more invested in their learning by sharing and exploring multiple perspectives with each other.

As a teacher you can:

  • Immediately connect your students to perspectives of other students around the world
  • Ask questions related to your curriculum on behalf of your class to a global community of students
  • Access real, first-hand perspectives that your students can use for research projects, class discussions, statistical analysis, and more!
  • Understand how your students communicate, think, and interact in a global community

The Pilot

The pilot will be taking place starting January 2014 with over 25 schools, both secondary and elementary, from over 10 countries: Tanzania, Nepal, Paraguay, Mexico, United States, Canada, Malaysia, Kosovo, Switzerland, Sweden, and England.

Follow them on twitter @worldvuze They have cool things coming up!

WorldVuze Home Page

Connected Educator Month Book Club

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October is Connected Educator Month! The CE Book Club is a great way to get involved. This video by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach will give you everything you need to know about how to participate and connect to other educators.

Our Monthly Global PLN Chats…#2

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Sunday morning…8:00 am in Illinois, 9:00 am in New York and Massachusetts, 2:00 pm in Ireland, 9:00 pm in Taiwan and Malaysia…

Teachers meeting around the world, on one of the few times and days of the week that work for everyone because no one is teaching or sleeping at the time: Sundays.  We meet to share ideas, projects and stories. We meet in our homes or in our classrooms. We compare curriculum and obstacles. We share resources and support.

The world we live in is amazing.

Off and Running in a Technology Infused, Project-based Learning Classroom!

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Month one: hold on, here we go!

Camp! We returned from our three-day Outdoor Education trip in Wisconsin on Friday, so of course we started talking, writing and then blogging about Camp Timber-lee. Such enthusiasm and detail! Wow…sure pays to find something kids want to write about rather than forcing contrived prompts they don’t connect with.

We started our first Project-based Learning unit with Mrs. Parisi’s class in Long Island, The Denton DynamosUS Government: integrating reading, writing, history, and current events by studying some significant US laws. Students will trace laws back through time by reading and comparing electronic and paper sources. They are in teams of eight, four from the Dynamos and four from our class.  So far we’ve had two joint Skype lessons, and we begin collaborative research in Google Docs on Monday.

Today we meet the Wilderness Classroom team on Google Hangout before they head out on their journey. We will follow Amy Freeman and a team of geologists from UC Berkeley and MIT as they camp, canoe, hike, bike, and dogsled around the world to provide interactive classroom lessons. Here’s their itinerary.

  • Understand how the Slate Islands were formed.
    (September 2013) 
  • Explore the Boreal Forest by dogsled this winter and study a variety of topics including; weather, geology and erosion, watersheds, predator-prey relationships, wolves, the night sky, the physics of dogsledding, Ojibwa culture, Expedition ABC’s, and much more. (January – March 2014)
  • Explore the Amazon Rainforest. Join us as we follow in the footsteps of Theodore Roosevelt!
    (April – June 2014)

Then there is iEARN, (International Education and Resource Network )…where their motto is “Learning with the world, not just about it.” We will be joining a Learning Circle with classrooms around the world to engage and collaborate in the My Hero Project.

The 100 World Challenge! I’ve written about it before, so click the link for more information. The kids love this weekly challenge, and it really helps develop word choice.

Lastly math. Our district is currently in the process of adapting our math instruction to meet the Common Core Standards. The infusion of MangahighLearnZillion, and Khanacademy  have really helped with re-teaching while allowing me to get quick snapshots of who is getting it and who needs more support. This instant feedback is critical to my teaching as I reflect and adapt to meet the kids where they are. We’re taking our time to make sure the train isn’t going with no one on!

As I add tech tools to my students’ repertoire, I add them to our  Symbaloo page. They have access to this wherever they are. This site will grow and change as we go.

All in all, a great start to the year!

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I almost forgot! Our class song:)