CHANGEd: What if faculty meetings were more like fashion shows? 60-60-60 #2

What if…faculty meetings were more like fashion shows? We could “runway” teaching and learning ideas and mesmerize our teams with the creations of colleagues. Exciting trends for the season could surface! And we could stop talking of “stealing” ideas from other teachers and change our verbs to co-laboring, exchanging, and inspiring! The fashion industry is one of the most innovative…

CHANGEd: What if…60-60-60 Project Explained

CHANGEd: What if we shared more? 60-60-60 #1

What if…we teachers shared more publicly? At #NAISac12, I blessedly spent time with John Hunter. His TED talk is incredible! This summer, I’ll attend a Martin Institute workshop with him. During his keynote, he said he’d used World Peace Game for over 30 years. What other amazing practices are out there?! Let’s share and learn more with each other!

[59 words + “Examples” below = 60! I’m not counting the bullets!]

Examples:

CHANGEd: What if…60-60-60 Project Explained

Assigning myself a learning challenge…CHANGEd: What If…60-60-60 #0

Last week, at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Annual Conference, someone I deeply respect and admire essentially expressed to me that I blog too much. She told me that I, and a few other educational bloggers, overwhelm her with too many posts in a particular period of time. That comment has been bouncing around in my mind since that post-session conversation last week.

Ironically, for quite some time, this colleague and I have been discussing the nature of innovation, especially innovation in schools, and we agree that habits of questioning, experimenting, sharing/networking, and practicing are essential, necessary, iterative components to innovation. Among other purposes, I see my blog as a means to raise questions, experiment with ideas, practice ideation, and share/network with other educational thinkers and doers. During my brief blogging history, I have experienced periods of rapid ideation, and I have experienced periods of slump…frozen-fingers-on-the-keyboard. I imagine a frequency diagram of my blogging would be fairly sinusoidal, with some moments of high frequency and some moments of low frequency. So, maybe I do have some responsibility to monitor more carefully the idea-rich moments and my desire to share. I wonder what his responsibility is to develop a comfortable method for tracking the blogs that she likes to follow.

On another line-of-flight thought, I really like daily blogs like the 3six5 and edu180atl, but these daily collectives restrict their authors to a certain number of words in each post. And I really like the concept and practice of 50-word mini-sagas, too. Hmmm….

As I have continued to ruminate on my colleague’s comment, my love of short dailies, and my appreciation for a well-turned mini-saga, I have made myself more aware of others’ blogging practices, especially one blogger that I hope to emulate – Seth Godin. Particularly since the collegial comment last week, I have paid even more attention to the fact that Seth Godin blogs almost everyday, and he packs a lot of punch into brief, concise packages of posts.

So, in the spirit of learning out loud and learning in public, I have issued myself a learning challenge. I am going to try to synthesize a few of the contemplations summarized above, and I will attempt to do the following – I will post 60 ideas for educational change in the form of “what if” questions, I will do so for 60 days straight, and I will constrain my posts to around 60 words each (and maybe an image, an embedded TED talk, etc.).

I am thinking that I might set 60 drafts to autopost at a certain time each day. As I find a few minutes, I will enliven the template with an idea each day. Each post will start with the title, “CHANGEd: What if…60-60-60 #X.” I plan to insert at the beginning of each post the logo that I designed for fun this morning. And I’ll add a new category to house just these 60 posts. More scaffolding may evolve along the way, but that’s my basic framework for now.

I imagine that I will strike out and fail miserably on a few days. I hope that I will hit a few homeruns in 60 days and 60 attempts. What I know for sure – I will learn from the experiment. I dream of helping others to learn and inspiring others to do. After the 60 days, I cannot wait to revisit with my admired and respected colleague – we’ll have so much to talk about.

See you tomorrow for “CHANGEd: What if…60-60-60 #1.” It’s already in the hopper!

Schools promote drivers ed – learning by driving with guidance. Schools should do same with social media.

When students reach a certain age and responsibility level, I believe that school should permit – promote even – the use of various social media tools. I think we should “Be safe and teach them to drive.” If we truly  are preparing students to lead and serve in a changing world, then we should teach students to utilize respectfully and responsibly the methods and processes that can be used in an engaged and purposeful citizenry. Literacy in today’s terms essentially demands that schools take an active role in educating our learners about how to connect with others from whom we can learn and with whom we can contribute to causes of import and worth.

I regularly think and engage with others about the reasons why students should or should not be allowed to use social media as part of school. These sessions, of course, include the opportunities, as well as the potential consequences. Perhaps soon, I will try to write a post that summarizes more of these ledger items, arranged as assets and liabilities. For now, though, I am focusing on two aspects of social media that I crave for my students: 1) encouragement and interaction from a wider, more authentic audience, and 2) opportunities to engage in civil discourse to develop one’s thinking and understanding.

1. Encouragement and Interaction from a Wider, More Authentic Audience

On Friday, December 23, 2011, I published a blog post entitled “Homework – Conforming to School Norms, Opps for Exploration, Unnecessary, Essential?” Moments after pressing the publish button, the following response came via Twitter (see image).

I know @occam98 personally; we work together at the same school. As a colleague and as an educator, I admire and respect @occam98, and I value his feedback and encouragement. To my knowledge, though, I have never met @bauerphysics. Because @occam98 tweeted about my blog, I now have encouragement and support from another educational thinker and teacher. Such feedback is wonderful. And, thanks to these two immediate responses, I may garner more comments on the actual blog post that will help me further to develop my thinking and understanding about homework as a school practice.

What if my exploration about the practice of homework were more confined, as if I could only talk to my immediate classmates and my teacher about my developing thinking and research about homework? I would have fewer potential network nodes on which to connect my thinking and learning. For students, I wish that they could engage in such connected communication through appropriate use of social media in schools. Some schools permit such use. Some schools promote it. Other schools forbid such use. Yet many students use social media independent of school. Duh! I prefer that students have the opportunity to benefit from the co-pilots, navigators, and coaches who are their school teachers (in addition to their parents). With such over-the-shoulder Yoda-dom for the emerging Luke Skywalkers, I believe students can safely interact and receive encouragement from the “teachers” whom they’ve never met in person…without turning to the Dark Side.

2. Opportunities to engage in civil discourse to develop one’s thinking and understanding

On the same day that Twitter brought the responses detailed above, I also engaged in another Twitter discussion with an acquaintance and a never-before-met-face-to-face person. If I am remembering correctly, I believe I met @SarahebKaiser at a Solution Tree event. But I have never met @Paul_Mugan. As in the above example, Sarah tweeted a blog post that I had written (“Pracademics”). I deeply appreciated the tweet and the encouragement, like I appreciated the support from @occam98 and @bauerphysics. In this second example, though, my learning advanced as a result of a different kind of online interaction than I had had in the first case. During this second case, I enjoyed participating in a fairly vigorous civil discourse, from which I grew immensely.

@Paul_Mugan, a follower of @SarahebKaiser, disagreed with an idea that Sarah tweeted – an idea specifically drawn from my “Pracademics” blog post. What then transpired was a fabulous learning opportunity for me…with a “stranger.” In the Scribd document below, I provide a taste of the dialogue and discussion. I did not capture the entire conversation on Scribd, but one could find the full exchange on Twitter. In total, I think over 30 exchanges occurred. We discussed and debated the nature of learning – acquiring versus applying knowledge. My views and opinions on the topic were both reinforced and altered. I grew tremendously in my understanding of learning – a topic that I think about quite actively. And thanks to an acquaintance and a “stranger,” I was able to think even more actively through the course of a civil disagreement and interchange. The back-and-forth provided a great opportunity for me to develop even more perspective consciousness about the complex domain of learning.

I would love for students to experience more opportunities for such civil discourse. Potential debates and discussions and teachers and learning opportunities are everywhere. With open minds and open media, we can immerse ourselves in invaluable conversations.

Also, as students engage in more project-based learning, I believe that their school activities increasingly  will tend to address various issues that confront our communities. Through such connected-communication tools as WordPress and Twitter, our students could write about their growing understanding of the issues (like our Writing Workshop: Environmental Studies eighth graders do on WordPress). Blog posts could be tweeted and readers from around the globe could engage in great discussion and civil discourse about the issues. With coaching from trusted teachers, our students could both solidify and expand their understanding. Students could connect with other thinkers and advocates on such issues as obesity, the importance of sleep, computer-assisted language translation, mass-scale window gardening, and developing better prosthetic limbs for amputees (all topics that have recently benefited from open-source problem solving). I would love for more students to contribute to such problem finding and problem solving.

#itsaboutlearning

Because of the connected learning in which I am involved, I believe my knowledge and understanding has accelerated exponentially in the last two years – yesterday alone provided a hyper-speed movement of my thinking on homework and learning. “School” is anytime and anywhere for me now. What’s more, on a sociological level, I tend to believe that people are good and want to help – I experience such examples from “strangers” on a daily basis now. And as a teacher, I want these lessons and perspectives for my students, too.

“Hey, let’s send Bo a quick video of what we’ve been white-boarding!” #IdeasWorthSpreading

For years, we have been working in the Junior High to “tear down the walls” that define the typical egg-crate culture of schools. As a faculty PLC, among other techniques, we have used Twitter, peer visits, instructional rounds, lesson study, job-embedded/regular team meetings, “FedEx Days,” and “campfire storytelling.” Every time we share, a connection-point on a virtual spider web gets planted. From these nodes of stickiness, more connections have the potential of being formed.

I am blessed with an amazing faculty and staff of 82 people; I am blessed to be among them, and I am blessed to be one of them. I am blessed to lead and serve with them.

This week, a new blessing occurred. Two Science 6 teachers met during an “off-day” during exam week to do some planning for the new learning challenge they are developing around global climate change. THEY SENT ME A VIDEO SUMMARY OF THEIR MORNING! The video and the email exchange are embedded below (with permission from the teachers).

I was so excited to get this unsolicited piece of campfire storytelling! I could see and hear Alison and Brenda in their actual voice with facial cues. I love the excitement and energy in their dialogue and countenances. I love that they are taking risks and trying new things. I love that they are willing to share.

For some brief moments, they seemed tentative about sharing this beyond just me. They wondered if they should “spiff it up.” I love it “un-spiffed!” Un-spiffed is spontaneous and tool-like. The video does not need to be production-perfect…it is, instead, process-perfect. They used a tool to share in a more personal way, and they helped me learn and share in their moments of planning. What a gift. What a perfect gift.

From: Alison George
Date: Wed, 14 Dec 2011 10:51
To: Bo Adams
Subject: 6th grade update

Working hard all morning, just wanted to share what we accomplished

From: Bo Adams
Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2011 05:33
To: Alison George, Brenda Cobler
Subject: Re: 6th grade update

I LOVE THE VIDEO! I LOVE THE VIDEO! Thank you for “including me” in your planning by sharing a short summary of what you’ve been diligently working on! What a gift to be able to see and hear your brainstorming in your actual voice.

May I PLEASE post this to my blog and write about how much I loved receiving such a clip? May I share with Jill for an upcoming faculty-meeting share?

THANK YOU!

From: Alison George
Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2011 09:48
To: Bo Adams
Subject: Re: 6th grade update

Sure, are you actually considering showing the video in the faculty meeting? (we might want to spiff it up with some actual class footage if so)  We just did this on the fly and didn’t think it would be shown to the entire faculty.

From: Bo Adams
Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2011 10:20
To: Alison George, Brenda Cobler
Subject: Re: 6th grade update

If you don’t want me to use it for mtg or blog, I will honor your wishes, of course. However, PLEASE DO NOT “spiff it up.” I love it as it is! You two used a technology to communicate with me and include me and inform me. You innovated, instead of sending me a bullet-list or a voice mail. You made it Web 2.0! It is beautiful and “perfect” in my opinion!

From: Alison George
Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2011 11:08
To: Bo Adams
Cc: Brenda Cobler
Subject: Re: 6th grade update

Ok go ahead and use it, we love to be perfect!