Category Archives: Collaboration

Sharing and Building Upon

How can I make it even MORE visible that sharing our work as educators is one of the critical components of the “learning revolution“?

Sharing means amplification. Amplification means spreading good practices, reaching more people and connecting beyond our own limitations of zip codes and language barriers. I have written and tweeted over and over again about the need and benefits of sharing among educators for educations and learning.


Let’s use one example and make the “share flow” visible:

sharing-flow-tolisanoIn May 2014, I shared a blog post titled Building Content Knowledge: Collaborate and Curate. Embedded in the blog post is a video I had created as a documentation of Mark Engstrom‘s approach to his geography class.

Beth Holland tweeted in March 2015 a link to a presentation she gave at ASCD, where she used the video as an example.

Beth_HollandI mulled over Beth’s presentation for a few days and chose to sketchnote my takeaway ,which I shared on my blog in April 2015.

effective-technologyBeth, in turn, build upon my work and used the image as a Thinglink, which adds hotspots to the still image with annotations, links, embedded videos,etc.

Kath Murdoch blogged on Justwondering and called the “share flow”, I am talking about
“domino style”.

I was reading an interesting post from @langwitches in which she refers to @brholland’s slideshow from a recent ASCD conference. In true domino style, Beth’s post got Silvia thinking and blogging and Silvia’s post got me thinking and blogging!

build-upon-blog-post2All of this work was inspired and continued to grow, remixed and built upon because of the initial act of sharing!

What have you shared lately? How have you benefited lately because someone else took the time to share? How have your students benefited due to the generosity of another educator?

3 Reasons Why You Should Share and 3 Things You can Do to Start Sharing


I am back on my soapbox…

  • …because I continue to see great things happening in classrooms, but get blank stares, when I ask, if these things are being shared beyond the school building.
  • …because I watch as administrators feel the need to “protect” their faculty from “one more thing to do”.
  • …because I continue to hear fear of transparency, competition, privacy and technology skills and tech phobia.

 share4 Setting up my soapbox to raise awareness of the “moral imperative of sharing” for teachers (Dean Shareski) goes back to his keynote in 2010 at the K-12 Online Conference. Since then I have stepped on that soapbox via my blog and at conferences advocating for the IMPORTANCE and NECESSITY of sharing.

George Couros, recently published 4 Reasons People Don’t Blog, which are in essence the same reasons why people don’t share (just substitute “blogging” for “sharing”)

  1. Blogging is useless
  2. I have no time
  3. I’m a private person
  4. No one cares what I have to say

He closes his blog post by pointing out the importance of sharing as an integral component of learning as well as underline “the willingness of others”

 I have learned a ton not only from my own blog, but from benefitting from others that have been willing to share their teaching and learning with me, and because of that, as Dean Shareski stated, I am better off for the willingness of others to share.

shareI DO want to understand WHY it seems so hard for some many educators to share…but only in order to build an airtight argument that SHARING best practices, reflections and documentation of learning is the essential fabric of education and the building block of networking, growing and moving forward.


We need to stop looking at all the reasons why educators DON’T SHARE and start looking at and DOING all the  things WHY we NEED TO SHARE.

So here is my list: 3 Things Why You (as an Educator)  Should Share

3why-sharing1. The shift of a culture of consumers to producers is built on sharing and disseminating.
Our world, and in particular the world of our students, is build on the culture of sharing. Ex. Sharing your status on facebook, adding a book review on Amazon, leaving a comment on a product you purchased online, photos on Instagram and videos on Snapchat and YouTube. Educators need to acknowledge the shift outside of the classroom and take advantage of the shift for learning with our students.

2. Painting the picture of teaching and learning in your school
Too many other people (non-educators, policy makers, politicians, media, etc.) are painting a grim picture of the teaching profession, teaching in general, schools and student learning. It is time to become our own storytellers. Sharing student successes and teachers’ professional and continuous learning MUST overshadow and outnumber the negative press and reputation that has been building up.

3. The future of learning is social and build on and around Professional Learning Networks.
Networking is built on a concept of sharing. Networking is defined by the Merriam_Webster dictionary as “the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions”. In order for an exchange to take place, someone has to step up to SHARE. Without sharing there is no network. Someone has to give and someone has to take, without giving the machinery of how a network works will not function. In our Information Age, where information is being generated at exponential speed, we need to rely on a network to filter quality and relevant information for us. It is our responsibility to be the filter and curator for others as well.

sharingSo from 3 reasons WHY you should share… on to 3 Things you can do to start sharing…

share63 Things What You (as an Educator) Can Do to Start Sharing

3 whys-steps to sharing.0021. Stop resisting change
We need educators, in particular administrators, to stop resisting change, take a deeper look at the world around them and LEAD by modeling!  Sharing is and needs to be a method, a strategy and a technique to improve teaching and learning practices, benefiting an entire school  learning community.

2. Create a workflow to document teaching and learning
Great things are happening in your classroom and in your schools. Learn to embed documenting best practices, student learning and action research in a digital form to be able to easily disseminate via a blog, twitter, photo or video sharing site.

3. Start small.
Add a comment on a blog you read, share a resource, a link, a book or an article you have learned from on Twitter. Let students take over in documenting learning in their classroom. Use your cell phone to take photos of learning in action, write a descriptive comment under the photo and share on a blog, Instagram, a classroom site, blog,  Twitter or Facebook account.

share3You can start sharing right here by adding your reasons WHY educators should share and WHAT you can DO to  start sharing?

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.

Crowdsourcing Answers to: What Is Your Reason For Not Sharing As An Educator?

From the moment in my first year of teaching, when a colleague told me that she thought I was bragging when I was sharing my work, I have been stumped that “sharing” among educators was not something given, not inherent to a… well… a teacher… I have written many blog posts from It’s All About Sharing & Collaborating, There is a responsibility of sharing among Educators, Sharing in Education- Is it Changing? to What Do You Have to Lose?

I do want to understand WHY some educators choose to not share. I want to understand their point of view… I chose to crowdsource answers to that question. I consider crowdsourcing as one of the transformative big ideas around being a connected educator.

Globally Connected Educator- Beyond Plugging In.001

Taking advantage of Mix by FiftyThree,  a new platform for Sketchnoting, I uploaded the following image below with the question: As an Educator, What is YOUR Reason for NOT sharing?

reason-for-not-sharingOnce uploaded to Mix, the sketch is visible to other members of the Mix network. Members can choose to star the sketch, then open it on their iPad Paper app and remix it, which then gets shared back to the platform.



Looking at the responses, I am gaining answers from the different perspectives I was looking for.

Jonathan shared back that “sometimes nobody understands.”

mix-nobody-understandsChris shared his reasons “being judged as a teacher’s pet”, “I’m shy”, “I have no self-confidence” and “people whisper about me”.


Mika is being held back from sharing, because of judgement, expectations, fear and feeling that she is not being smart.

fearBrandon, changed the variable from “educator” to “creator” and lists as his reason holding him back from sharing as: fear, doubt, shame, etc.

doubtLevi adds to general fear, his handwriting, spelling errors and “having no imagination” to the reasons holding him back from sharing.

imaginationThese are just a few samples of the sketches that have been remixed from my original. In addition the following reasons were also given by several remixers why one does not share:

  • haters
  • bullies
  • What is the point?
  • experimenting
  • people may not like it
  • ” I don’t know”

Thank you for “sharing” your reasons why educators might not “share”. It is painting a bigger picture for me, beyond my own perspective. I am amazed a the crowdsourcing capabilities of the Mix platform.

Beyond that, the thinking behind creating a slide/image that invites others to add their perspective, their creativity to “the mix” is complex. I am trying to learn from other images that have inspired hundreds of remixes. What sparks inspiration to add in some, but not in others?

october october2 or or2How can I make the “variables” (the ones I want others to remix/add to) more obvious? In the above example, I would have liked others, in addition to adding their reasons, to change my signature “@langwitches” with their own Twitter handle and  ( as Brandon did) change “educator”  for another noun (ex. As a Creator). Just as we help our students “write for an audience”, how do we teach and learn to “draw and/or write for a crowd”?

What are your thoughts?

Sketchnoting and Yet Another Dimension

Experimenting with sketchnoting as note taking and as visual summaries and slide design has been an area of intense interest for me over the past six months.

Completely inapt, as an analog “artist” on paper, the use of a stylus and the iPad Paper app by FiftyThree, have allowed me to experiment with color, form, design, and typography.

The process of sketchnoting

  • … has made jotting down ideas, connecting them, visually representing the brainstorming, thoughts and visions as I am creating visuals for blog posts or designing presentation slides, a more metacognitive process
  • … has allowed me to think through a concept, as I am drawing it out
  • ….made me consider options, perspectives of interpretation and points of view more intensely
  • … helped my recall by remembeing my thoughts at the moment of sketching, even weeks later

Sketching has been a solitary task for the most part. That is not a bad thing, possibly even necessary to be able to take full advantage of the thinking process unfolding when doodling. I have drawn my sketches and sketchnotes, organized them in journals within the Paper app, then exported them as images. The social network aspect of sketchnoting has not gone further than uploading these images to my blog or use them as a visual tweets disseminated to and receiving feedback from my network. In one incident, my network even prompted the creation of a sketchnote as another aspect of a concept.


In comes Paper’s new platform Mix, that changes the game and the possibilities completely.

Get inspired—Getting started is often the hardest part of doing anything creative. With Mix, you’ll find a well of inspiration from creators around the world, both in Paper and on Whether you’re skilled at drawing, or just comfortable coloring and doodling, you’ll be inspired to create and learn on Mix.

No more blank pages—Professionals don’t start from scratch, and neither should you. On Mix you’ll find templates, outlines, and ideas ready to be remixed and transformed into something new. Say goodbye to the blank page.

Get and share feedback—Mix is a big, visual conversation, and some of the best conversations happen when people are invited to tell their own stories. Mix is about leaving open spaces for people to fill in, and letting ideas evolve in unexpected ways.


Embedded in the app and connected to the Mix website, are now creators (or in Facebook and Twitter lingo, “friends”, ” followers and followees). You will receive the sketches, they chose to share, in your stream.  On the left is a stack of “papers” that you designed and have made available to everyone else on the Mix website.

IMG_5460On the right, you will also have a stack of sketches that you starred (on the website) and are now able to edit in the Paper app on your iPad. You can  simply click on any of the images and your trusted Paper palette with your tools and colors will slide up from the bottom.


IMG_5462Browsing on the Mix website, allows you to choose between a Learn, Sketch, Play, Write, Design and Think category. Featured creators invite you to check their stacks out or you can browse individually recently shared sketches in chronological order. IMG_5464Once you found a sketch that you feel inspired by, you can find the original creator and see all the other sketches the original one has inspired so far. It is truly a feast to see the creativity and different interpretations one sketch has inspired in others (ex. Ur Story by Brad Ovenell-Carter) .  IMG_5465Brad Ovenell-Carter, my personal mentor for starting to sketchnote, is already thinking about the implications for social sketchnoting in education In the following post, First Thoughts on @FiftyThree ‘s Fantastic New #Mix, he wonders

It’s more challenging than it sounds: I can easily capture what I learn from the keynote and almost as easily leave room for what I know I don’t know–a point I missed or term that needs defining or elaborating, for example. But how do I leave room for what I don’t know I don’t know–those infamous unknown unknowns? Where do I leave space? I think that instead of seeing my notes as a sort of record, I have to see them as an invitation. What does that look like?

I am envisioning, sharing with students:

  • visual prompts to encourage, bring out and express their creativity
  • their interpretation of a thinking prompt
  • their visualization of a metaphor or concept
  • crowdsourced brainstorm items
  • how to come up with their own “inspirations” that others in their network would like to add to
  • how social networking is about adding value, broadening horizons and building on each others

The 5 random facts about…. by roav, makes me wonder how different a  book character analysis would turn out, if we asked students to choose and visually represent these facts in a social platform such as Mix? How would their classmates be inspiring each other and build upon their interpretations. Are these types of assessment “googleable”? Can students “cheat” and copy from each other to show evidence of their understanding?

5randomfactsBy moving you mouse over or tapping on the three dots to the left of the star, you can click or tap on “Go to Inspiration”, which allows you to get to the template. Just start the template and open it on your iPad to edit.

inspirationWith a click on the heart under the original inspiration you can see all the “spin-offs” it has inspired.

inspiration2For a moment, consider the thinking that you would put into the task of showing your interpretation of creating a visual to demonstrate a sum from the simple prompt below by 2urn. What would you come up with?

additionNeed some inspiration? Check out the remixes already being shared on Mix!

sumMauro Toselli has already taken advantage of his fellow creators on the Mix platform and shared his ideas on visualizing the term “teaching” hoping to inspire others to add their visual interpretation of teaching to the pool. How would you represent teaching? As you were considering your options and drawing them out, what types of thoughts would you have? What would you be thinking as you would consider sharing your drawing?

heads up mixersRafa Pagés shared a wall of frames, which seems to be begging other creators to add their touch to the wall. What if we were to ask students reading The Giver to put themselves in the shoes of Jonas and choose what memories they would display on their wall? What if a history teacher would ask their students to take a famous person in history and create a hall of fame for them?

frames I believe that the team at FiftyThree has truly giving us a platform to re-think how we expose to, connect with and allow our students to experience creative, collaborative and connected thinking. They have coupled the tool to facilitate visualized thinking, taking advantage of the metacognitive learning in the process.

What are your first thoughts of the potential of such a platform? How would you add? What would you contribute? How would you take advantage of the possibilities to transform learning for your students?