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Note- Taking Learnflow of a Conference Workshop

I have been following Suzie Boss on Twitter for years, but finally had the pleasure of meeting her in person at ASB Unplugged this past week in Mumbai, India.  I attended her workshop of Project Based Learning.

Tweeting has become my preferred method of note taking at conferences , since it has the potential of lifting the usual individual activity to much higher collaborative levels. (taking advantage, if other tweeting participants are present, of backchanneling with on-site or off-site participants and curating and adding other participants’ perspectives). I also feel that my efforts to disseminate by using my (public) Twitter feed, as well as using the conference hashtag (#asbunplugged) adds value (hopefully) to a larger audience.

I am also reminded of the Headlines Visible Thinking Routine by Project Zero, when I am tasked to share and catch reader’s attention in their Twitter feed.

This routine draws on the idea of newspaper-type headlines as a vehicle for summing up and capturing the essence of an event, idea, concept, topic, etc. The routine asks one core question:

1. If you were to write a headline for this topic or issue right now that captured the most important aspect that should be remembered, what would that headline be?

A second question involves probing how students’ ideas of what is most important and central to the topic being explored have changed over time:

2. How has your headline changed based on today’s discussion? How does it differ from what you would have said yesterday?

Below you will find my embedded Storify tweets (I was not aware of tweets  from other participants in that session). The exercise itself ,of curating my tweets to “tell the story” of summarizing my understanding/documentation of Suzie’s session,  is a valid component of learning by remembering and reflection.

A learnflow of note-taking at conference could be summarized as:

  1. listening
  2. summarizing (in 140 characters or less)
  3. curating (adding resources, retweeting valuable contributions by other participants)
  4. disseminating (to my Twitter followers/via conference hashtags)
  5. reviewing notes/tweets (by going through my Twitter feed or via Storify)
  6. creating a filtered story of a particular session or event via Storify

Global Students- Global Perspectives Projects

I am pleased to share with you an opportunity for Middle School Students to collaborate on a global perspectives project.

Mark Engstrom, the Assistant Principal and Middle School Geography teacher at my new school  in São Paulo, Brazil,  and his collaboration partner, Laurie Clement, a MS teacher in Windsor, Canada, have put together various projects to connect middle school geography students from around the world and to facilitate collaboration among them. This past school year, our students in Brazil worked together with students from Canada, USA and Sweden. They are expanding this opportunity to more schools and countries.

Take a look at the outline of the project below and get directly in contact with  one of the Program Coordinators:

Mark Engstrom
Graded School
Sao Paulo, Brazil
via Twitter (@markaengstrom)
email mark.engstrom@graded.br

Laurie Clement
St. Rose Catholic School
Windsor, Canada
laurie_clement@wecdsb.on.ca

 

Marble earth

Purpose: To facilitate student growth within a global environment.  Students will have the ability to acquire skills in research, critical thinking, teamwork and leadership while fostering partnerships with peers around the globe.

Last year middle school students from Brazil, the U.S., Sweden, and Canada connected to work on projects that require many Modern Learning Skills:

Creativity and Innovation
Students generate and extend ideas, suggest hypotheses, use their imagination and look for innovative ways to present their ideas.  In the Utopia Project, students create what they believe a Utopian country would look like.  They work together to determine the history of their country, the physical characteristics of their land and how that would impact their economic security.   In their groups, they also collaborate on social and political issues such as the education system as well as what type of government will run their country.

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

Students are encouraged to use knowledge, facts and data to effectively problem solve.  They learn that thinking through an issue, assessing problems and looking for multiple solutions is more important than identifying an immediate answer to a problem. While studying land disputes, students will investigate the land in question, the causes of the dispute as well as what negotiation strategies have been used to attempt to solve this conflict.  As a group they will also evaluate the current geopolitical situation and discuss possible resolutions.  Groups will then select images and visual representations to accurately portray the struggles that have occurred as a result of that particular piece of land.

Communication and Collaboration

Technology has transformed the way we communicate in the classroom.  It has allowed us to step beyond our classroom walls and collaborate with students across the globe.  In these projects students communicate and collaborate with their international peers throughout the learning process.  For example, in the Five Most Pressing Problems on the Planet project, the first task is for students to survey people in their lives/community in order to determine which global issues they think are the most “pressing”. After this communication, students collaborate around which issues their group will focus on.

Empathy and Global Stewardship

The Internet along with the various forms of social media used on a consistent basis by our students has provided them with instant and consistent access to global issues.  As a result, it is more important than ever to educate our students on what it means to become a global citizen. Our projects have been designed to provide students the opportunity to explore global issues and increase their awareness of social, environmental, political and health concerns that are present in our world today.

Curiosity and Imagination

Students will have the freedom to explore, negotiate and make choices.  They will be empowered to take ownership of their learning and become active participants within their groups.  Each of the projects have been designed to provide a significant amount of choice within a well structured environment.

Information/Media/ICT Literacy

Students will analyze and evaluate a wide variety of sources in order to determine what information is valuable.  In addition, students determine the best platform with which to share out their final product.

We now have complete links and almost all of the dates.  Is there any chance you could edit it so that it looks like this:
 

The 2013-2014 projects will be:

 

Side note: These are probably best done not as whole class projects, but rather for those students who could use enrichment or a non-traditional learning experience.  Each project runs for two weeks and there is a rubric for the grading of each one.

Parent testimonial

“This project is excellent. Children are collaboration each other and try to learn more. Also this project is also helping to bring children from different country different society and discuss the issues.” - Sujit Biswas

“I think this was a great experience for my daughter. She has never done anything like this before where you work with people from another country. She really seemed interested in it and was happy to be a part of it. However with all the projects and tests, piling up at the end of the quarter, she did at times get a little frustrated, but overall I think she really enjoyed it and would be glad if she can do it again!” -Hiroko Kawahara

Student testimonial

“The Five Most Pressing Problems project was my favourite project this year.  I liked working in groups with students around the world and getting to talk about real life problems.  I learned a lot from my partners by talking about which problems we thought were the most important. To help my group in ranking the issues, I created a survey that was completed through multiple forms of social media.  I received responses from over 600 people in over 20 countries.  I think that I’m more aware of global issues now that I have learned so much from the project”. - Carly Jacobs

* Read more about Carly’s experience in this article featured in her local newspaper,  The Windsor Star.

Partners in 2012-2013

Location

School

Houston, U.S.A.

Nehemiah Middle School

Windsor, Canada

St. Rose

Sao Paulo, Brazil

Graded School- The American School of Sao Paulo

Karlstad, Sweden

Internationella Engelska Skolan

Partners in 2013-2014

Atlanta, U.S.A.

Atlanta International School

Esigodini, Zimbabwe

Falcon College

New York, U.S.A.

Avenues School

Belgrade, Serbia

International School of Belgrade

Campinas, Brazil

Escola Americana de Campinas

Astana, Kazakhstan

International School of Astana

Chicago, U.S.A.

Round Lake Middle School

Other Potential Partners for 2013-2014:

  • Delaware, U.S.A.
  • Lusaka
  • Singapore
  • The Hague
  • Sydney
  • Cairo
  • Zagreb
  • Melbourne
  • Hanoi
  • Hong Kong
  • Meknes, Morocco
  • Settat, Morocco
  • Karachi
  • Teaneck, New Jersey
  • Kuwait
  • Zurich
  • Managua
  • Caracas
  • Brussels
  • Piedmont, OK, U.S.A.
  • Jakarta
  • Macao
  • Prague
  • Doha
  • Dubai
  • Lisbon

 

Making the Connection: Pioneers of the “New World” and “Digital World”

Surviving-jamestown-1

Fifth grade students are getting ready to read the book “Jamestown” by Gail Garwoski.

A stirring story of survival set against the backdrop of the founding of the first permanent English settlement in the New World.
In 1606, King James I granted a charter to a group of London businessmen known as the Virginia Company to establish an English settlement in North America. In 1607, 104 men set sail aboard three tiny ships on a voyage to a new land. What they found became the first permanent English settlement in the New World-Jamestown.
Among the brave adventurers who made the journey was a young boy named Samuel Collier, the page of famed Captain John Smith.

How could we move away from assigning the traditional reading of the book (chapter by chapter), then writing a book report and possibly give an oral presentation in front of the class? How could we tie the lessons, delivery, supported skills and objectives NOT only to curriculum, but also to our Learning Target (based on and adapted from www.galileo.org )

MJGDS-LearningTarget-2

We are looking to move towards competency in five categories:

  • Learning Environment
    • Learning is engaging
    • Students are self-directed
    • physical environment conducive to learning
    • resources meet learning needs
    • learning is social and interconnected
  • Assessment
    • comprehensive
    • using a variety of techniques and resources
    • authentic learning experience designed, developed and evaluated
    • criteria are established for assessment
  • Role of Teacher
    • teacher as a learner
    • teachers as a cognitive coach and guide
    • teacher has strong instructional repertoire
  • Amplification
    • classroom is open & public
    • Teacher actively connects to larger global audience
  • Task
    • authentic
    • produces deep meaning

With that in mind, we had a brainstorming session with our 10 year olds. What did they know about the early settlers? What did they want to know?

jamestown4

What do we know?

We started with the traditional KWL concept and upgraded to KWHLAQ.

Could we compare pioneers and explorers who came to the Americas, the “New World” (with respect to the population who called these lands home and “their world” for thousands of years before the European came to “discover” it) and the “Digital World”. What were dangers for the early settlers? What are dangers for cyber citizens? Were there double standards for the old and new world? Are there double standards for the analog vs digital world?

By now, students are pretty independent in creating collaborative Google Docs to share with teachers and  their classmates to take notes. The concept of the Official Scribe from Alan November’s Digital Learning Farm is embedded and works naturally for our students.

Below is the screenshot of the initial brainstorming session.

Jamestown3

 

jamestown2

In our shared Google Doc, we gave students a prompt to expressed their initial thoughts about being an explorer in the Digital World and how it compared to being one in 1600s in Jamestown.
jamestown

We were not sure, if all student understood. 5th grade teacher, Shelly Zavon, wrote a reflection after our first meeting with the students. I especially like her blunt honesty,  that NOT EVERYTHING, not every class or lesson goes as planned nor well. We had to go back to the drawing board, we need to keep meeting every week to debrief after a lesson and tweak for future ones

I am hoping that the Jamestown project will come together soon. The idea is good; I just need to find a way to help the students dig deeper and start thinking on a higher level. For some reason, the students don’t like to be challenged to go to the next level. They want to do everything quickly and get to the fun part, which hopefully in this case will result in a music video.
With both of these projects, the students have had to move to a more advanced level of critical thinking (and accountability). I know this has been good for them, but is has been a grueling process for us teachers. I keep thinking, “learning is messy” and as Dory said in Finding Nemo, “Keep on swimming, swimming, swimming.”

How can we make the learning about Jamestown authentic? How do we connect the learning of the past and make it relevant to their present and future?

It just happened that Google Glass shared a new video with the request for applications to becoming a GOOGLE EXPLORER!

GoogleGlass-explorer

Two ideas came to mind:

  1. What if we were to ask our students to create a video with the same requirements as above (minus the last three points) to apply to become an Explorer , not for Google Glass, but for Jamestown. What would you do to become an explorer and leave for Jamestown?
  2. What if we were to ask our students to time travel with a device like Google Glass and take a video or pictures and they narrate/document what they are witnessing.

It really is about imagination. Can we crowdsource imagination? Did this topic spark an idea for you? How could we help our students dig deeper? How do we make it authentic for them? Please take a moment to not only read this post, but to contribute to all of our learning. Thank you in advance.

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hook

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SLC

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