Category Archives: Modern Skills

Extending Learning- Involving Parents

Involving parents in their children’s learning has been proven to yield higher learning achievements. Our students learn with greater enthusiasm, motivation and the make deeper connections to their lives.

As I am coaching a group of teachers at the Goethe Schule, a German school in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the topic of why and how to increase parent involvement is a hot topic. The following blog post was originally written in Spanish (see below for original post) as part of the documentation of our work together.

Studies like The Harvard Family Research Project among others have found, that involving parents has been associated with higher academic achievement. These studies suggest to

  • communicate regularly
  • offer volunteer opportunities
  • assign interactive homework
  • support home learning
Involving parents in supporting their children’s learning at school is NOT a luxury says Edutopia — “– it’s an integral component of student achievement and school reform. “. Edutopia refers to decades of studies  on the effect of meaningful parent involvement programs in schools

Gaining parent involvement has been a difficult task for many educators. The idea to only communicate with parents via a newsletter, invite them to the classroom to observe or bring in snack food for a celebration will not do the trick. How do we involve parents in a “learnflow” to extend and amplify learning for our students? New words like “learnflow” , “Home Learning” and “Crowdsourcing” are gaining importance in the realm of 21st century teaching and learning. Parents have a significant role to play in these changes.

In another article by Edutopia, Lisa Mims observes the differences between traditional methods and modern methoda of involving parents.

Traditional Methods

  • Agenda Books
  • Flyers
  • Test folders
  • Phone calls
  • Inviting parents to the classroom

Modern Methods

  • website
  • blog
  • twitter
  • Notification apps (ex. Remind)

Linda Yollis, a teacher from Los Angeles is having much success in involving her students’ parents over the years. We can observe through her blog how she invites parents and other family members to participate through comments on the blog, contributions as authors when they are traveling and with images to provoke and extend learning discussions in the classroom.

Graciela C, a teacher fromthe Goethe Schule in Argenting, has investigated pedagogical techniques to involve parents for the purpose of extending learning. Graciela, not only extended the learning objectives and goals of her curriculum content, but also exposed her students to 21st century skills and literacies, such as communicate, collaborate, connect, critical thinking, network literacy, digital citizenship and information literacy.

Through her blog, Graciela has been documenting her learning journey of these pedagogical methods, but we can also see the results of he work. We can see her learnflow:

Introducing curricular content>  Family Challenge> Parent contributions with their children > Create a video from individual family contributions> Share the final video with students> Group reflections > Individual reflections via blog comments > parent survey.

learnflow-home-challenge

Through various blog posts (if you don’t read Spanish, you can use Google Translate), Graciela supports different phases of the learnflow and shares the final video, she put together of the crowdsourced contributions from families.

Her students were not only aware of their own thinking (metcognition), but they saw their classmates’ examples and connections between what they had learned in school and their lives at home around the concepts of responsibility and collaboration.

In order to close the learnflow cycle and learn more about parent involvement as a method to extend learning for her students, a survey was sent to the parents who had contributed. (Results of the survey to come soon…)


Take a look at other examples of crowdsourced videos and blog entries to solicit and take advantage of family contributions to extend learning in the classroom.

Blog Graciela C.

Alejandra O’s Blog

A Kindergarten teacher asked the parents of her class to contribute  video clips, filmed at home, as they talk with their children about traffic safety and they demonstrate in various scenarios their understanding. Watching the crowdsourced video back at school, gave the children an opportunitiy to not only share their own “segment” from home, but they learned about their classmates’ personalized perspective as well.

Les pedimos a los padres que nos envíen un vídeo corto de los chicos hablando acerca del tema y armamos una película. Miramos cada vídeo con los chicos en la sala y fue muy rico para ellos, ya que no sólo se vieron a sí mismos sino que también a sus compañeros y el haber hecho participar a las familias también le agregó mayor importancia y valor.

Gabriela B’s Blog

Gabriela B, another Kindergarten teachers asked parents to support their children in learning about a specific animal. As children become “experts” of their chosen animal, they record a video sharing their research and articulate their learning. That video was then shared on the classroom blog as well as presented by the students in class.

Trabajando juntos : KIGA y Familias

En las próximas entradas iremos compartiendo con Uds un trabajo muy especial. Los niños manifestaron el deseo de saber mas sobre algunos animales. Por lo tanto cada uno de ellos eligió uno para realizar una investigación personal. Esta investigación la harán en sus hogares con ayuda de sus familias, enviando el producto de la misma al Jardín para presentárselo a sus compañeros.

How are YOU investigating parent involvement and the connection to extend learning with your students? What are some techniques your are investigating? Please share some of your thoughts and examples on the topic.


Involucrando a las familias en el aprendizaje de sus hijos ha demostrado que el logro del aprendizaje (learning achievement) es más alto, nuestros alumnos aprenden con más ganas y la motivación y las conexiones que los alumnos hacen con la vida real son más profundos.

Estudios como The Harvard Family Research Project concluyeron que al involucrar a los padres se ha asociado con logros más académicos más elevados.

Hay más estudios y investigaciones que comparten ideas como lograr involucrar a los padres. Esos estudios sugieren:

  • comunicar regularmente
  • ofrecer oportunidades de voluntar
  • asignar tareas interactivas
  • apoyar “home learning” (aprender en casa)
Involucrar a los padres para apoyar el aprendizaje de los hijos en el colegio no es un lujo, declara Edutopia (la fundación educacional de George Lucas)– “es un componente integral del logro académico y de la reforma de las escuelas”. Edutopia se refiere a décadas de estudios de investigación sobre el efecto de acompañamiento (involucramiento) significativo de padres.

Lograr un “involucramiento” significativo ha sido una tarea difícil para muchos docentes. La idea, no es solamente comunicarse con los padres o invitarles a la sala a observar, pero poder integrarlos en un “learnflow” (un flujo de aprendizaje) para extender y ampliar el aprendizaje de los alumnos. Palabras como learnflow, además de “Home Learning” (aprender en casa) y “Crowdsourcing” (colaboración abierta) están tomando cada vez más un rol significativo en el mundo de la educación del siglo XXI. Los padres tienen (juegan) un papel significativo en ese cambio.

En otro artículo de Edutopia, Lisa Mims muestra métodos tradicionales vs. métodos modernos a involucrar los padres.
Ella nombra como métodos tradicionales :

  • agendas
  • folletos
  • carpetas
  • llamadas telefónicas
  • invitar a los padres a la sala

y como métodos modernos:

  • página web
  • blog
  • twitter
  • apps de notificación (ej. Remind)

Linda Yollis, una docente en Los Angeles, EEUU está logrando con mucho éxito involucrar a las familias de sus alumnos hace varios años. A través de su Blog podemos ver como invita a los padres y familias a participar a través de comentarios en el blog, de sus contribuciones como autores cuando están viajando y contribuyen con imágenes que provocan discusiones estimulantes.

Graciela C. ha investigado técnicas pedagógicas y ha avanzado con mucho éxito en distintas oportunidades a no solamente involucrar sino también en aprovechar, sumar la ayuda de las familias para contribuir y extender el aprendizaje de sus alumnos.

Graciela, no solamente extendió las metas y objetivos del área del currículum escolar, también expone a los alumnos a capacidades y alfabetizaciones significativas del siglo XXI como comunicar, colaborar, crear, conectar y pensamiento crítico, alfabetización en las redes, de los medios, ciudadanía digital y alfabetización de la información.

A través de su blog, Graciela documenta su viaje de aprendizaje de estas técnicas pedagógicas, podemos ver los frutos de su trabajo y pasos de aprendizaje de ella y el de los alumnos.

Podemos ver el learnflow (flujo de aprendizaje):

Introduciendo el contenido> desafío para la casa> contribución de los papás con los chicos> crear videos> compartir el video (crowdsourced) final con los chicos> reflexión en grupo > reflexión individual a través de comentarios > encuesta a los padres

learnflow

La siguientes entrada al blog de Graciela apoya la documentación de las diferentes estaciones del “learnflow”. Más abajo verán los videos que Graciela trabajó para no solamente mostrarlos videos contribuidos, poder mostrar un “crowdsourced” video de colaboración abierta entre todos los participantes.

Los chicos, no solamente fueron conscientes de sus propios pensamientos, pero pudieron ver los ejemplos y conexiones de sus compañeros entre lo que hablaron y aprendieron en la escuela con su vida (home learning) en sus casas alrededor de los conceptos de la responsabilidad y la colaboración.


Otros ejemplos de crowdsourced videos y entradas de blog con la contribución de las familias para extender el aprendizaje.

Blog de Graciela C.

El blog de Alejandra O

Les pedimos a los padres que nos envíen un vídeo corto de los chicos hablando acerca del tema y armamos una película. Miramos cada vídeo con los chicos en la sala y fue muy rico para ellos, ya que no sólo se vieron a sí mismos sino que también a sus compañeros y el haber hecho participar a las familias también le agregó mayor importancia y valor.

El Blog de Gabriela B

Trabajando juntos : KIGA y Familias

En las próximas entradas iremos compartiendo con Uds un trabajo muy especial. Los niños manifestaron el deseo de saber mas sobre algunos animales. Por lo tanto cada uno de ellos eligió uno para realizar una investigación personal. Esta investigación la harán en sus hogares con ayuda de sus familias, enviando el producto de la misma al Jardín para presentárselo a sus compañeros.

Para cerrar el learnflow de esta experiencia de Graciela sobre el tema responsabilidad y colaboración, pedimos una vez más la ayuda de los padres para aprender más sobre la pedagogía de involucrar a los padres y los efectos en el aprendizaje de los chicos. Por favor respondan a la siguiente encuesta.

 

Literacy: Language Competence Beyond Our Comfort Zone

multilingualSomeone monolingual is one who speaks one language. Someone bilingual is fluent in two languages, trilingual is fluent in three languages and someone multilingual is fluent in multiple languages.

Speaking one language connects us to other speakers and the culture of that language. We are able to communicate, discuss and learn of different perspective through face to face interactions, literature, books, blog posts, newspaper or journal articles, videos, images and other online resources

It is not  a secret that being bilingual or mulitlingual has its benefits. From being better at multi-tasking, decision making, sharper reasoning, holding off the onset of Alzheimer and being able to see or read about situations from a different perspective or cultural point of view . Larry Ferlazzo has in incredible resource page if you want to learn more about the advantages of being bilingual or multilingual.

Especially in the age of global business, the value of employees being able to speak more than one language has increasingly been highlighted over the last few years by pointing out that multilingual employees earn more money and have “practical benefits in a globalized economy“.

Reality is though, that many American are monolingual. With many foreign language programs in the US being delayed (until students are older), reduced or directly cut, not everyone is or will be bilingual in the foreseeable future in the US. Unfortunately many still don’t see the personal need for a native English speaker to go outside their language capability (Why? Examples: “I have everything I need in my language”. “I don’t travel much to countries who don’t speak English”. “I expect everyone else to speak English”.)

I am continuing to examine how the concept of what literacy has been and is continuing to evolve. Does literacy include a certain degree of language competence beyond our native comfort zone?

How can a monolingual still take advantage of gaining multiple perspectives, amplified resources and be part of a global conversation?

In dem Google Zeitalter, ist es einfacher als je, trotz Sprachunterschiede und Beherrschungsgrad zu kommunizieren und miteinander zu lernen. Es is wichtig Sprachfertigkeiten im digitalen Zeitalter zu erweitern, um Perspektiven und  Zusammenhänge ausserhalb seiner Sprachkenntnisse zu sehen und erkunden zu können.

Interested in what the quote above said? Why not copy and paste the above into Google Translate and find out in what language it was written in and what it means?

Three things need to happen:

limitations1. Monolinguals need to be AWARE of one-language limitations, the options open to them as well as the need and benefits by extending their available resources, voices, opinions in languages OTHER THAN their mother tongue.

ability2. Ability to use tools, which will simulate as best as possible the logistical language translation component of being multilingual (I am not aware of a technology yet, that will “translate” the cultural component of being able to speak another language)

fluency3. Increased fluency in using and switching between situation-appropriate tools to understand and communicate in a variety of languages

In case, you continued reading and did not choose to have your browser, website or app translate the quote in German above, here is the translation side by side.

google_translateWhile it is not a perfect translation, I believe Google Translate did a decent job in communicating the meaning of the quote. One would realize that a native speaker did not write it, but for the purpose of understanding content, Google Translate can be an invaluable tool to amplify one’s reach outside of one’s comfort language. google_translate2How far are monolinguals developing the skills of reading text in languages other than English and  for comprehension in their own language ,when the text came digitally translated? Is this a natural skill all monolinguals possess or one that needs to be practiced and developed similar to the way younger students are being taught?

What will it take for all of us (monolinguals and multilinguals) to REGULARLY and FLUENTLY go beyond the comfort zone of our native languages and tap into the resources of the network of speakers of other languages?

Challenge:

  1. Choose an article written in another language than one you speak or choose one of the articles listed below.
  2. Translate the article into your own language
  3. Read the article for content and mean (ignore grammar, phrasal verbs, expressions or sayings that don’t make sense translated, etc.)  Use another online dictionary, app or translator for individual words, if necessary
  4. Write a short reflection on your own blog, linking to the original article to:
  • raise awareness of expanding our language horizon to our readers
  • break down skills of using tools to overcome “not speaking the  language” the article is written in
  • ask yourself, how do we translate these language competence into our classrooms?

 Articles:

Resources:

 

PACE student learning experience- collaborating on the PACE logo

I am excited to share with you a guest post by Mark Engstrom, head of school at  PACE. PACE is a new school planning on opening its doors in 2015.

I am super excited to follow the school’s journey in terms of personalized and networked learning.

At PACE, we have reimagined and redesigned student learning experiences so that students experience their world in a way that makes sense to them. Students and families have choices regarding what content they want to learn, the modality which they want to learn in or the pace at which they learn for each learning experience.  They will also operate within a new workflow that includes autonomy with regards to when to be assessed and reflection/documentation at the end of each learning experience.

Take a look below and ask yourself: Who owns the learning  (HT to Alan November) ? What are the skills involved in this learning experience? (graphic and presentation design, typography, communication , network, collaboration, reflective skills, etc.)

Guest post by Mark Engstrom:
paceAn excellent example of student learning at PACE is the development of the logo.  We connected Alex E., a PACE student, with Mariela, a professional graphic designer in Buenos Aires to embark on the project.  To start, Alex sent three ideas to her with the reasons that he liked each one (he mentioned colors that were easily visible, a variety of fonts and in the case of the middle one, a space theme since PACE will be located in the same city as NASA).

pace2The next step was for Mariela to send in her first round of logo suggestions, including some that were strongly influenced by Alex’s initial ideas.  What she sent to him was the following. pace3Upon receiving this, Alex let Mariela know how he felt about the logos and was ready to collaborate so they could get to the next step in the process.  Their e-mail exchange is below:

pace7They agreed on skipping the underline idea and at that point Mariela thought about the specific hues that would represent the forward thinking model of PACE (she also noted that Alex subconsciously chose the colors of kung fu belts).  She decided on a variety of hues and the following suggestions were sent to Alex: pace5Alex wrote that he liked Droid Serif and Sanchez Italic and we ended up with proposal number three from above which gave us the logo we have today (Sanchez Italic): pace6In his reflection about the experience of collaborating on the design of the logo, Alex said,

“It was fun working with a professional designer and an experience that most kids don’t normally get.  I have the feeling that I’m actually making a change and not just making myself smarter.”

Mariela thought the experience was a good one as well and stated,

“In over 10 years of experience as a graphic designer, this is the first time I shared a project with a child.  I would say that the idea arose in his little head, I just contributed with my experience and knowledge to adjust and add meaning to what he proposed.  Children have skills that adults have lost over the years due to the amount of information they accumulate.  We have much to learn from them!  Thanks for making me part of this project!”

This is a great example of how we intend to give students Purposeful (the logo is being used), Authentic (he went through a genuine collaborative process), Connected (he worked with a professional graphic designer) and Experiential (he didn’t read about someone else’s experience, but rather went through it himself) learning experiences every chance that we can.  We will embed as many of the four components that make up the acronym PACE as possible in our Passion Based Learning projects and other areas of student growth.

The 5 Cs in Education: What If… Sketchnoting in the Process

5Cs in EducationAfter my sketchnoting workshop at Miami Device, I was asked to record my process of CREATING the sketchnotes.

  • I used Airserver to mirror my iPad display to my laptop
  • Used Screenflow to record myself sketching the main points of the presentation
  • Used Screenflow to speed up the recorded footage from 30+ minutes to 2.5 minutes
  • Exported, then imported into iMovie to add credtits and music

This was the first time doing a screencast this way for me…there are a few kinks that I still need to work out (how to NOT record the screenflow toolbar).

[The sketchnotes created in the video below were NOT created live, but AFTER, I had created the slide deck already}

Here is the slide deck for the presentation

Student Voices: Using Social Media to Share Your Passion and Affect Change in the World

The GIN (Global Issues Network) conference brought together an amazing group of young people, all united in their desire to change the world for the better and collaboratively find solutions to the world’s problems.

The Global Issues Network (GIN) empowers young people to collaborate locally, regionally and globally to create solutions for global issues. Each year, thousands of students worldwide engage in GIN-related activities.

langwitches-GINI had the opportunity to work directly with students during two breakout sessions about the use of Social Media (Thank you Lisa Goochee for your support and participation) Students had been researching, planning and working together on a solution under a chosen topic listed in the twenty global problems identified by Jean-François Rischard in his book High Noon: Twenty Global Problems, Twenty Years to Solve Them (2002).

They had created video trailers showcasing their projects and prepared presentations to share with their fellow GIN conference attendees from International schools all over Central and South America.

How could these students:

  • reach an audience beyond the conference attendees?
  • strategically build a network to connect with other students interested in global issues?
  • disseminate their challenges, solutions and ideas to receive feedback and gain support?
  • make contact with NGOs, experts in their field of interest or potential funding partners?
  • continue working with other teams and schools to continue to grow their projects beyond the physical dates of a face to face conference?

The answer: Building a social media network. While there are many different social media platforms that anyone can use to build a network in order to affect social change, the basic idea behind the potential of connecting, collaborating, communicating, crowdsourcing or crowdfunding is similar to all platforms.

  1. Create a “storefront”, a profile or bio to let others know who you are and what you stand for
  2. Build a network by strategically choosing people/organizations/companies to follow
  3. Encourage the “right” people to follow you back
  4. Contribute quality content
  5. Participate in conversations (give feedback, ask questions, add perspectives, add value)
  6. Build a brand (document your work, share , interact, inspire, present, showcase, etc.)
  7. Grow, weed and maintain your network

I challenged the group of teens in my session to take another look at a Twitter . Most had an account, but we encouraged the ones who did not to create one.

  • How could they use the account to connect and promote their project?
  • How could social media help them build a positive digital footprint and become part of their portfolio?
  • How could they build a network of peers and experts?

The rest of the session was hands-on.

  • create a Twitter account (if you didn’t have one)
  • choose a username
  • create a profile description
  • Tweet1:INFORM: share something with follow GIN attendees (use the hashtag)
  • Tweet2: CONNECT: mention a keynote speaker (give feedback, ask a question, connect….)
  • Tweet3:REFLECT: share your aha moment
  • harvest usernames of other GIN attendees to add to your network

Twitter-challengeHere are a few examples of students sharing a tweet with their network.

Who else is teaching social media skills, techniques and strategies for students to start building their own learning/professional network? How are we supporting students to harness the power of social media? How do we encourage students to add their voices about the issues they are passionate about to the conversation? Can you share your strategies as a teacher with the rest of us?