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What is YOUR Passion Puzzle Piece?

November 6, 2010 Education, Learning, Video 4 Comments

Cross posted on Angela Maier’s blog!

In the month of November, Angela Maier, asked a number of educators to write about PASSION. Each one of the contributors will add their perspective on PASSION in education. It was an honor to have been asked to be one of these contributors.

I am realizing that Angela has stumbled upon (or  has strategically moved towards) THE NEW FORM of how we learn:

  • Together (on a large scale)
  • Global
  • Across age, gender, time and physical boundaries
  • Virtually
  • As part of a whole
  • Connected
  • As part of a discussion
  • Contributing our experiences
  • Discussing and reflecting
  • Participatory

I invite YOU to experience this new form of learning, to form your own opinion, to create strategies to bring this new form into a classroom and to rethink how “classrooms” are/will/should look like in the present/future. Participate in the discussion. Comment here, comment on Angela’s blog and contribute via Twitter, using the hashtag #passiondriven.

Wikipedia defines Passion as:

Passion ( from Latin verb patior meaning to suffer or to endure) is an emotion applied to a very strong feeling about a person or thing. Passion is an intense emotion compelling feeling, enthusiasm, or desire for something. The term is also often applied to a lively or eager interest in or admiration for a proposal, cause, or activity or love. Passion can be expressed as a feeling of unusual excitement, enthusiasm or compelling emotion towards a subject, idea, person, or object. A person is said to have a passion for something when he has a strong positive affinity for it. A love for something and a passion for something are often used synonymously.

Create a Wordle by using this definition and you will get the following visual representation (Well, I added a few extra “Passions”). I immediately see the words “enthusiasm”, “feeling”, “emotion”, “compelling” and “strong” pop out at me.

As I am googling “Passion in Education”, I am running across snippets such as:

  • rekindle your passion
  • passion and humor
  • passion and potential
  • passion and persistence
  • passion and excitement
  • passion and conviction
  • motivation and the passion to learn
  • passion for knowing
  • passion is contagious and provocative
  • passion driven learning objectives
  • feel their passion for students and education
  • passionate about what we believe
  • passion is what keeps teachers looking forward

I am also intrigued by some of the quotes I am finding from educators and their thoughts about passion.

Eric Sheninger

[...] students are permitted to follow their passion, which results in the active pursuit of self-directed learning opportunities.

Sir Ken Robinson

Finding your passion changes everything.

Steve Irwin

I believe that education is all about being excited about something. Seeing passion and enthusiasm helps push an educational message.

These three quotes above seem to address three different aspects of passion (in education):

  • Teachers’ Passion
  • Students’ Passion
  • Passion in itself and for Education

As an educator, ask yourself: What is YOUR passion?

Image licensed under Creative Commons by rAmmoRRison
  • What makes you get up every morning?
  • What makes you continue doing what you believe in, although it is harder?
  • What makes you take the road less traveled?
  • What makes you share your work?
  • What makes you love what you do?

As an educator ask yourself: What are my students’ passions?

  • How can you tap into your students’ passions?
  • How can you relate to passions that you could not have even imagined a few years ago?
  • How can you connect your students’ passion to the academic content you are teaching?

And how can you use your passion to make a difference and move education forward?

  • Why should you contribute?
  • How do you share your passion with the world?
  • How can you add your passion to others in order to move forward?
  • How can you be part of a bigger picture?

I tried to look at the topic “Passion in Education” from yet another angle…from consuming different media and sources such as posts, tweets, quotes, slides, literature and Google Searches about the topic…to playing with and producing media…

Passion in Education from langwitches on Vimeo.

We have the capacity to interact with other passions and have the privilege of living in a time in history when we can connect anytime, anyhow and anywhere.

We are able to express our passions in more ways than ever before. We are talking about a myirad of passions, present in the field of education. By choosing to share our passion with the world, we contribute a puzzle piece to a bigger picture.

What is your puzzle piece and how are you choosing to add it to the bigger picture?

Visual Thinking and Learning in the Classroom

It was a post titled “Formats for Visual Thinking in the Classroom“  from Richard Byrne on Free Technology for Teachers, that prompted me to write this post.

Visual Learner

I am a visual learner, which means I prefer to learn through seeing.

On Wikipedia you can read about Visual Learning:

Visual learning is a teaching and learning style in which ideas, concepts, data and other information are associated with images and techniques. It is one of the three basic types of learning styles that also includes kinesthetic learning and auditory learning.

Visual learners also prosper when shown graphs, graphic organizers, such as webs, concept maps and idea maps, plots, and illustrations such as stack plots and Venn plots, are some of the techniques used in visual learning to enhance thinking and learning skills.

What I have learned too though, is that I learn best when I not only SEE visuals, but when I CREATE visuals. I purposefully dissected Heidi Hayes Jacobs’ book Curriculum21- Essential Education in a Changing World via visuals I created.

As I was reading the book (hard copy, not on my Kindle), I was using highlighters to not miss thoughts or quotes that I wanted to remember. It did not take long to realize that I was highlighting too much :) How was I going to get through this book and make sense of it, connect and wrap it around my thoughts which were floating around but had not been verbalized?

I know that I work best through concepts and ideas when I create diagrams or use mind mapping tools. I really like using the SmartArt Graphics in PowerPoint. The visuals below are a summary of what I “read out of the book”, the most important points in my mind and quotes.

I am resorting more and more to creating images, when I am trying to Wrap my Mind Around a Concept.  I don’t seem to be the only one learning by creating visuals. There has been an increase of Infographics all over the web. Recently, I also lead a workshop on upgrading presentation from “Death by PowerPoints” bullets and overwhelming text slides to replace them with visuals to get your point across.

I know that I want to bring, what I am figuring out about my own visual learning and my experience/background with digital images, web design and desktop publishing, somehow into the classroom and to students.

  • One of the 21st Century Skills is “CREATING”
  • The highest level on the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy is “CREATING”
  • Media literacy, is not only analyzing and evaluating media, but also “CREATING” media.

The above mentioned post “Formats for Visual Thinking in the Classroom“  from Richard Byrne gave me the final push to start concretizing an approach to integrate CREATING visuals for learning into the classroom.

I used iThoughtsHD on my iPad to brainstorm ideas, lesson topics, possible learning activities and tools that I would like to use for students to explore their own visual learning abilities.


Take a look at Laurence Musgrove‘ s SlideShare presentation. It is full of great examples of (hand drawn) student created visuals! Please share examples of visual learning of your own student or learning activities you are “envisioning”!

Amid the silly Videos and Spam are the Roots of a new Reading and Writing Culture

Does the Internet Make you Smarter” is the title of an article by Clay Shirky, published by the Wall Street Journal Online.

I wasn’t that satisfied with the title after I read the article, since I seem to have “gotten out of it” something different. The tagline,

Amid the silly videos and spam are the roots of a new reading and writing culture

seemed to be more fitting as to what what point Clay Shirky was trying to make in the article…but maybe that is only what I read into it…

Shirky’s article spoke to me. While reading it, I seemed reassured that we are on the right path. All new media and all new innovations NEED time to be experimented with, to find their niche, to develop norms and guidelines to “use it for good” and for learning. It is not something that happens naturally or instantly. Shirky gives several examples from history that make the point that with the onset of new media, there will be a tsunami of “mediocre materials” until “higher level projects” emerge.

It is our misfortune, as a historical generation, to live through the largest expansion in expressive capability in human history, a misfortune because abundance breaks more things than scarcity. We are now witnessing the rapid stress of older institutions accompanied by the slow and fitful development of cultural alternatives. Just as required education was a response to print, using the Internet well will require new cultural institutions as well, not just new technologies.

On the different token, I am experimenting with new forms of “learning” from/through different media. I blogged about “Learning from a Book“, as I took Curriculum21 by Heidi Hayes Jacobs apart and remixed my understanding as visuals.

With Shirky’s article, I chose to use an app called “Sundry Notes” on my iPad and take notes, quotes, insert clipart, highlight and arrange ideas in sequence that made sense to me. This process of “taking the article apart” and re-arranging/re-mixing it helps me to digest, make sense of and connect concepts.

What if we allowed students to take books, units, articles, or lectures apart and re-mix them with and in media that make sense to them?

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