Tuesday, July 30, 2013

ILE 2013: Capturing Learning Journeys with Evernote

July has been quite a month of connected learning:  #nErDcampBC, #cyberPD, #choicewriting, and this week #ILEOhio.

Today Deb Frazier and I will be sharing ways we use Evernote in our classrooms in a morning session at Ohio's Innovative Learning Environments Conference.

Links for today's session:

Today's Survey:  What About Evernote?

Our Session Slides:

Capturing Learning Journeys:  A collection of resources to help with Evernote.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

"WE" Own the Learning: #cyberPD

Today is the final post for our #cyberPD discussion of Who Owns the Learning:  Preparing Students for the Digital Age by Alan November.  Today's discussion about chapters 5 and 6 will be hosted by Laura Komos at Ruminate and Invigorate.  If you'd like to join the conversation stop by Laura's blog to comment or link your post.  You can also join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag:  #cyberPD.

You can find last week's conversation at Jill Fisch's blog, and the first week was hosted here.  Other #cyberPD information:

  • Our Event Jog:  Collection of all #cyberPD posts
  • Our Pinterest Board:  A collaborative board with #cyberPD related pins
  • Final Chat:  Our final Twitter chat, #cyberPD, will be Monday, July 22nd 8PM EST

"WE" Own the Learning
I suppose the digital shift began about four years ago for me.  When I think about the changes since this time I realize the biggest change hasn't been the digital tools, it has been the learning community.  Yes, we use Kidblog, Shelfari, Weebly, Pixie, PhotoBooth, and other tools for learning, but sometimes students still prefer markers, crayons, pencils, and scissors.  Our attention isn't on the tool, but on the message we want to share with others and the best way to share it.  All the changes have really stayed grounded in solid pedagogy from authors like Debbie Miller, Fountas & Pinnell, Katie Ray, Donald Graves, Stephanie Harvey, Regie Routman, Troy Hicks, and many others.  

The shift toward digital learning has required us to consider purpose and audience more thoughtfully.  This shift has resulted in students having more ownership of their learning, more choice in creating, more ways to collaborate, a great number of tools for communication at their fingertips, as well as a new learning dynamic which is much more student-to-student and much less teacher-to-student.  Now students work more for one another and our community has become much more about the learners in our classroom.  I hear them asking about friends' posts, requesting friends to read their latest writing, and going to each other for answers.  I've loved it!  

Global Empathy
As I've read November's book, I've realized this shift isn't enough.  Reading this book has made me realize that I now need to make the next shift toward more global learning and collaboration.  Not only do we need to support each other in learning, but we need to share our learning, and rely more on the resources available beyond our classroom.  

"A group can have intelligence that can be more (or less) than the sum of its members' intelligence. Group intelligence is related to...the average social sensitivity of the group. (p. 96)"  Peter Johnston 
November reminds us that our "group" needs to go beyond our classroom, "We need to start teaching our students global empathy by developing their ability to understand and appreciate other points of view (p. 65)."  One doesn't have to watch the news for too long to know why global empathy is necessary.  What are some ways to "connect...students to the world and to provide them with authentic experiences of working with people from different cultures (November p. 66)?"  
  • Skype is one way to grow our learning community by working with other classrooms and experts.
  • Class Twitter account (@snowleopards1M) will also allow us to follow authors, other learning communities, and content experts as well as to share our learning with others.
  • Weebly will continue to house our shared blog.  I like the way Weebly Pro allows me to have private pages for families, but public pages for sharing, curating, and collaboration (see more here).  
  • ePals:  I don't know much about this, but do plan to check it out.  I'm thinking, however, that collaborating with others classes on Twitter may accomplish the same thing.
  • #globalclassroom:  This is another group I need to learn more about.  I'm thinking Deb Frazier can help me with that.  
The Work & Legacy of Contribution
Participation in #cyberPD always been a positive learning experience, but this year seemed to be a perfect illustration of November's point.  The book taught me much, but the conversation really pushed my thinking as participants shared their take-aways, applied the learning to their educational situations, researched more about topics, discovered applications that might work for learning communities, and gave them a try.  Most of all, participants shared their learning with all of us.  Each step pushed the entire group farther faster.  I will spend the next weeks pondering all they have taught me and know the legacy of this work will live on for me to revisit on our jog and on Pinterest.  

When I begin this school year I will be searching for ways to "redefine the role of the learner as a contributor, collaborator, and leader in the learning culture (November p. 6)" and the global learning community.  

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Growing the Learning: #cyberPD

"It's not about any one of them.  It's about all of them pulling together."  Alan November (p. 46) 

Today is the second reflection for our #cyberPD title:  Who Owns the Learning?:  Preparing Students for Success in the Digital Age.  Jill Fisch is hosting today's event on her blog, My Primary Passion, for today's discussion of chapters 3-4.  Remember to stop by her blog to link your posts for today's reflection.  It's quite a conversation that has been growing this month!

In chapters 3-4 Alan November discusses two roles for students in learning:  Student as Scribe and Student as Researcher.

Student as Scribe:  In November's example, students take turns sharing the role of notetaker in the classroom.  The job of the scribe is to capture the notes from a day's learning, edit, organize and share them with the class (blogs, Google docs, and other applications).  In his example, over time, students learn the significance of their role to the learning community and begin to work hard to create helpful notes, adding links, examples, and other helpful information for the class.   They become better able to synthesize information and learn important collaboration skills.  This system proves not only to be helpful to the community, but also to the teacher for evaluating effectiveness of lessons.

Student as Researcher:  In this role, there is a student each day responsible for finding answers to questions in class.  Again, a collaborative role for the greater good of the learning community.  November reminds us, "We can't assume that if students can read and write, they can search the web. (p. 50)"  Having a student as researcher provides opportunities to help students improve searching techniques, understand copyright, and teach them about effective research tools.  "Student researchers learn to answer better questions, find real answers, and apply the information they uncover in their work. (p. 50)"  Students also learn ways to curate an share information effectively and efficiently with others.  November makes library media specialists everywhere happy with his discussion of the significance of their role in the process.

Do Individuals Own the Learning?  
It is easy to get caught up in the role of learners in November's work, but I feel there is a bigger point he is making here.  Originally I thought his point was that individuals own the learning, but more and more I feel his point is that groups own the learner.  It is the collaborative community that strengthens the learning and grows the learner.  It's the fact that what each individual does matters to the learning of the entire community.  When I saw Terry Thomas and Jeff Anderson speak at NCTE in 2011, they talked about this collaborative, interdependent, zone of learning in which we can all accomplish greater learning together than individually.  I found it fascinating to consider the way groups scaffold learning.

Collaborative Learning
As I've followed this year's #cyberPD discussion I am struck by two things.  The first is the way the group owns the learning.  This year's #cyberPD hasn't been just about reading and retelling main ideas and key details, instead it has been synthesizing, sharing, pushing, and growing the thinking.  Participants are using applications to create representations of learning, to share deeper thinking, and to find classroom possibilities.  They're collecting posts they've stumbled upon that develop the idea of creating environments in which students TRULY own the learning.  They're commenting to one another, asking questions, rethinking ideas.  Michelle Nero talks about this in her post which discusses the impact of #cyberPD.

The second thing I've noticed is everyone is taking away different pieces (Jog of posts here); making the learning work for them.  Do we let children do this?  How often do we, in our age of standardized testing and response, expect everyone to come away with the same ideas?  Yet, as readers is that even possible?  Is it interesting?  I'm fascinated as I move from post to post and read the take-aways of my colleagues.

In the Primary Classroom
Once again I was left pondering what this means in a primary classroom.  Our notes are often created together on large charts that hang around the room.  Our research is often completed collaboratively.  I'm thinking there are ways I can use the ideas discussed by November to share learning more effectively beyond our learning community with a more global audience.

  • Connector:  (similar to work of scribe) finds connections to learning outside of our classroom and shares them either through blog, video, or audio.  
  • Photo Team:  (similar to scribe) take pictures of learning and choose daily photo (or weekly collection) to share with others
  • Reflector:  (similar to scribe, but more about synthesis) shares learning in narrative video format or VoiceThread as a resource for friends in the learning community, but also to help parents and other classroom communities know about what we are learning
  • Wonder Team:  (similar to researcher) perhaps a wonder team could collect wonders, choose one to research, and search for answers to share with the community
These are some possibilities for helping to strengthen the learning within the community while sharing learning outside the community.  

It's Coming: August Picture Book 10 for 10

Warning!  This event is rated D for dangerous!  It's possible that your wallet will lighten and your shelves will grow smaller by participating.  This event is intended for book loving audiences.  

Do you love picture books?  Are you constantly clicking your Amazon purchase button, heading to your local Indie bookstore, or checking out the maximum number of books possible at your local library?  Do you stalk picture book authors and illustrators on Twitter, at conferences, and at local bookstore events?  Are you constantly rearranging to find room for books on your shelves?  If so, this event is for you.  On August 10th, Mandy Robek of Enjoy and Embrace Learning and I will be hosting our 4th annual Picture Book 10 for 10 (#pb10for10).  The event started in 2010 and has been growing ever since.  

What Is It? 
The idea began as Mandy and I wondered what ten books were "must-haves" in the classroom.  If you could only choose 10 picture books, what would they be?  It's not an easy question.  We've had participants find some innovative ways to cheat the system (and we love that!) and share interesting groups of ten titles in our four years.  Each year the collaborative effort produces a informative picture book resource.

Last February, with the help of Julie Balen, we hosted our first nonfiction (#nf10for10) event.  

We are hoping you will join us.  
  1. Contact Us:  Contact us on our blogs, on Twitter (@mandyrobek or @cathymere), or by e-mail to let us know you are joining this event.  This way we can try to be sure we don't miss anyone on the day of the event.  
  2. Grab a Badge:  Add the Picture Book 10 for 10 Badge to your blog.  
  3. Choose your favorites:  All you need to do is choose ten picture books you cannot live without for whatever reason.  Believe me, that's not as easy as it sounds.  Here are some tips that might help (Choosing Picture Books and More About Choosing Picture Books). 
  4. Write Your August 10th Post:  Write a post telling us about the 10 books you cannot live without.  Share your post on August 10th and link it here or at Enjoy and Embrace Learning.
  5. No Blog?  No Problem:  If you don't have a blog this might be the perfect time to start one --- or you can find alternate ways to participate here.  Mandy and I are not huge rule followers so feel free to adjust as needed.  
  6. We do the rest:  Then Mandy and I will link your post to the other posts in a Jog for 2013.  (Exercise without leaving our couches.)  
Pass the news along to all your crazy picture book friends.  Educators, media specialists, parents, book enthusiasts are all welcome!  You won't want to miss it.  

If you've participated in the past, I hope you will leave a comment telling how many years you have participated in the event.  We're excited to have many of you back for the 4th time....and to have many new book lovers join the conversation!  It's the community that makes this such a great event.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Who Owns the Learning?: The #cyberPD Conversation Begins Here

More Info Here

"Learning how to learn is an essential lifelong skill."  
                                       Alan November p. 14 

The Conversation Begins Today
I've been waiting for this day for weeks:  the official kick-off of this summer's #cyberPD event.  During the month of July we're discussing Who Owns the Learning?:  Preparing Students for Success in the Digital Age by Alan November.  Again this year, I'm hosting this event with Jill Fisch and Laura Komos.

#CyberPD Dates and Host Site:
Today the first two chapters of Who Owns the Learning will be discussed here at Reflect and Refine.  If you are participating in this event by posting on your blog, please leave your link here in the comments.  As today's host blog, I will then move your posts up into this post.  If you do not have a blog you are welcome to participate by commenting on Twitter using the hashtag #cyberPD, by leaving a comment on any one of our blogs, or any other way you can think of to join the conversation.  We're flexible --- and we love a little creativity.

Changing Dynamics
I wonder how this book would have struck me if it were the first book I was reading about changing the dynamics of classrooms and moving toward student centered - truly student centered - classrooms.  I wonder what I would have thought if it were the first book I had read which asked me to rethink school, to rethink learning, to rethink ownership.  I wonder what I would have thought if it were the first book I read about digital learning.

Instead Who Owns the Learning is a book that is among many in this journey, along with many tweets, many blogposts, many conversations that have shaped my thinking.  In this book, November begins by sharing his vision for, what he calls, a Digital Learning Farm.  November states,
"We have inherited an organizational structure in which the teacher owns and manages the learning.  This industrial model underestimates the natural curiosity of students to direct their own learning." (p. 5)  
Instead he suggests ways to create learning environments where students own their learning; where purposeful work is done allowing opportunities to collaborate, create, communicate and think critically (yes, those 21st Century skills, but in real work).  These opportunities would allow learners to seek answers to real questions and create more global interactions.

November asks us to rethink the culture of school and shift responsibility to learners changing our roles in the classroom.  Our role as educators becomes helping students discover the ways they can contribute, to empower students to be autonomous, to support collaboration, to allow students to design learning.

Primary Classrooms
November is right about the "natural curiosity" of learners.  The first graders who enter our classroom each year are always full of natural curiosity and wonder.  They enjoy figuring things out and find learning fun.  In the last four years, I've worked to make this shift toward being learner centered.  In the last four years, digital opportunities for learning, sharing, and collaborating have grown.  However, as I read November's book I wondered if I was doing enough.  I thought more about what "A Digital Learning Farm" looks like in a primary learning environment.

As I followed tweets from ISTE Julie Ramsay tweeted,
"Are you integrating or innovating with technology?"  
(See more in her educflections post:  "Concerned Teacher....Thoughts from ISTE".)  Add to that thought this statement by David Warlick in his recent post Is School 2.0 the Wrong Conversation,
"Perhaps, rather than trying to define the classroom and the school of the 21st century, we should be imaging and describing the student/learner of this post-industrial and change-fueled time." (my emphasis) 
In his book, November sees students as "active drivers of their educational experiences and designers of their educational goals."  (p. 19)  November shares examples of students working as tutorial designers, scribes, researchers, communicators and collaborators.  How does this look in an elementary classroom?  I've been thinking a lot about this since reading the first part of November's book.  I've realized how much I rely on Twitter, blogs, and conversations with educators across the globe to revision learning in our classroom.

Here are some educators I rely on for pushing my thinking about innovating with technology and creating environments where students make decisions about their learning:

Kathy Cassidy:  Primary Preoccupation
Ms. Wideen:  Ms. Wideen's Blog
Kristin Ziemke (@1stgradethinks):  Room 106

These educators share continuous examples of learner centered environments where students are making a difference now.  There are so many others.  If you have favorites, please be sure to mention them in the comments.

Other Professional Books
Here are some other professional books I've read that support thinking about this topic:

I hope you'll join the conversation.

Who Owns the Learning?  
Co-host Jill Fisch shares her reflections at My Primary Passion:  Questions, Questions, Questions.  Jill shares her understanding of November's "Digital Learning Farm" and follows with questions she is left considering after reading.  (You'll want to check out her examples of ShowMes.)  

Co-host Laura Komos joins us from her new blog Ruminate and Invigorate with her reflections of Who Owns the Learning? #cyberPD Part I.  Laura discusses autonomy, mastery and purpose in her new work with intermediate students with tablets.  Oh the possibilities!

Rose Cappelli reminds us, "Questioning is at the heart of any new learning and nurtures the habits of curiosity and exploration that help all of us remain lifelong learners."  In her post, Reflection - Who Owns the Learning Ch. 1-2 at Mentor Texts with Lynne and Rose, she talks about the first steps in making changes.  

Linda Baie joins the conversation from Teacher Dance in Discussing Who Owns the Learning #cyberPD.  Linda shares her reflections and gives us a glimpse into her school where students do own their learning.  

Tony Keefer has been coerced into joining this discussion yet again --- and we're glad he's here.  In his reflection at atychiphobia 2.0:  , Tony says, “We need a major shift in the culture of schooling and we need it yesterday."  Tony asks hard questions about the role of administrators and allowing students to build autonomy, learn, share and collaborate in this digital world.  

Mary Lee Hahn joins the conversation at A Year of Reading (which, by the way, has been much more than one year of reading!) with her reflection #cyberPD --- Who Owns the Learning Ch. 1-2.  Mary Lee jumps over the obstacles and tackles the big questions for change in her classroom.

At Reading Teachers/Teaching Reading Barb Keister shares her thoughts in #cyberPD: Who Owns the Learning.  Barb talks about student motivation, engagement, and providing tools so students can work independently and purposefully.  

Deb Frazier shares her thinking about ways to grow the learning environment in her classroom.  At Primary Perspective (#cyberPD - Who Owns the Learning by Alan November), she shares some examples of digital learning and some thoughts of roles for students in sharing learning across the community.  

You have to stop by Lesa Haney's blog, Footprints on the Moon, for her VIDEO reflection of #cyberPD Who Owns the Learning.  Alan November talked about screencasting and video as a tool for sharing and Lesa dove right in!  Love it!

Julie Balen shares discusses, "power of purposeful and meaning contribution, not just "look what I made", but "look how I solved this problem," in her #cyberPD 2013 --- Who Owns the Learning reflection at Write at the Edge.

Stop by Teaching in the 21st Century for Maria Caplin's reflection:  Who Owns the Learning?   Maria discusses the changing roles for students and educators in our digital world.

Michelle Nero joins the conversation at Literacy Learning Zone:  #cyberPD part 1 Who Owns the Learning?.  Here she talks through the look and sound of a classroom in which students truly own the learning.

At The "Rudd"er, Amy Rudd invites you along her learning journey in "Let's Hit the Trail - Reflection for Cyber PD."   Stop by to read a little about Amy's personal digital journey as she reads and reflects using her Kindle.  She also shares some new ideas she may consider and colleagues who have helped her as she journeys down the path.

If you're a library media specialist, or like me an educator always trying to rethink what media might look like, you'll want to stop by Jamie Riley's new blog:  Rethinking Media Centers for her reflection, #cyberPD - Who Owns the Learning, Ch 1-2.

Barbara Phillips shares her thoughts on independence and digital learning at Wondering Through 2012 and Beyond:  #cyberPD Who Owns the Learning.  Barbara shares ways she sees students using tutorials for digital learning, collaborating and sharing in her classroom.

Noreen Chen joins the conversation at My Beautiful Planet Earth with her reflection:  Revolution.   Noreen reminds us we are in the middle of a revolution; a revolution that may have lost sight of what's most important.

Stop by Technology Tips where Anne Sexton shares her thoughts in Who Owns the Learning Book Study.  Anne talks about the role technology should play in student learning.