Sunday, November 30, 2008

Community Connecting in order to Learn

In the FOC08 meeting on August 5, 2008, Bronwyn Stuckey said, "Community is a journey not a destination."

George Siemens said during the Connectivism course that the learning is in the connections (or something rather similar).

So a community is on a journey and that community is held together, however tenuously, by connections. Does it not follow that the community learns as it connects and further that the more connections equal more learnings?

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach is right! (I never doubted you Sheryl!) All of us ARE smarter than one of us. It is the connections between us that make us smarter. The possibilities of more learning through more connections is not an additive function but a exponential function. Communities of Learning - has a nice ring to it doesn't it?

Happy GrĂ¼ner Sonntag or First Sunday in Advent!

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Photo courtesy of luc legay available at and covered under an Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 license.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Network challenge

I challenge the network to incorporate the use of one technology tool in their teaching in the next fortnight. Then tell us about it on your blog.
For example, you may ask kids to interview the oldest person in their neighborhood using a podcast. This can be done through what many kids (or their parents) already own-a cellphone. The interviewer simply calls into a Gabcast channel, set up easily by the teacher in advance, entering the secret numbers.
Or maybe you connect with another classroom in another state via telephone video conference. I use Skype, a webcam, a desktop microphone, and a computer. If available, I project the image on the screen for my class to see. Kids love to talk (!) Talking to others their age in other states is a big deal.
Or maybe you create a wiki page for your class to collaborate with another class on a project about Biomes. Many wikis are free and some have wikis with no advertising for educational use.
Or maybe you ask your class to take pictures of their show and tell instead of bringing them to class. Using a digital camera makes it easy to share the photos online in a Flickr Account, on a class blog, or on a class wiki. Even polaroids (do they still have those?) can be scanned and uploaded.
Maybe you incorporate the use of a technology tool which I didn't mention. Tell the world what you did on your blog. If you can tag it networkchallenge

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Photo courtesy of selva taken on January 1, 1997 available at and covered under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 license

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Why being online is important to teens

A new study supported by the MacArthur Foundation reports that teen online activity is not different than what my generation (the ice age, mind you) did during our teen years. Here is the lead researcher, Mizuko Ito:

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The road to the Future

The Belgian Nobel Laureate in literature, Maurice Maeterlinck, has observed,

At every crossway on the road that leads to the future each progressive spirit is opposed by a thousand men appointed to guard the past. (Christenson, 2008)

This is the reason cited for maintenance of the status quo and resistance to any change. I am certain this serves a very good cultural preservation function. But will it get us where we need to be going?
We have a daunting task laid in front of us, namely to prepare K20 learners for their futures. Many, many reiterate (mainly because we just aren't getting it) that we are preparing students for a future which we ourselves cannot imagine. In that case, we had better take the road less travelled and make all the difference. We had better do it quickly.
I have recently slammed up against several roadblocks at the school where I work. The school has not chosen the road less travelled. These events make my life decisions easier. I will take the road less travelled. I will be making the difference. Will you?

Photo courtesy of John Watson taken on February 15, 2005 available at covered under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 license
Reference: Christenson, C.M., M.B. Horn & C.W. Johnson (2008). Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns. New York, New York: McGraw Hill.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Teachers Without Borders

How did I miss this? Sharon Peters just shared this link on the live show, Teachers Are Talking on EdTechTalk. She also talked about egranary and blogging partnership possibilities with schools in South Africa or Kenya. This recording will be worth listening to when it is posted!

Learning, Chunking, Reflecting

"All learning begins with a connection" claimed George Siemens during the Mid Course Review video. In my 7th grade Study Skills we have been talking about connections found in Question-Answer Relationships. So far we have talked about two QARs: Right There QARs, where one can find the answer right in the book and On My Own QARs, where one must make connections.
We talked about text to self connections, which are connections to personal experiences; text to text connections, or connections to other texts/media; and text to world connections, or world events, global issues, or big ideas.
We also talked about chunking or connecting new learnings to prior information. We used an excellent video by Angela Maiers on chunking. Then we wrote about it on our blogs and practiced chunking.
I hope these middle schoolers are seeing that learning does indeed begin with connections.

Howard Rheingold gave a presentation in Elluminate as part of the Connectivism course taught by gsiemens and sdownes.He noted that university students don't reflect, they regurgitate. I see the same in 7th graders. I don't test at the knowledge level, I demand creation of artifacts. Many kids struggle initially with these differing expectations but I find that by Thanksgiving everyone is on board. But do I ask learners to reflect, to connect coursework with other learnings, to ask questions while reading, to mull thoughts over in their minds for awhile?
This idea of reflection seems to be an important thinking skill. How do I encourage it in middle school?

Siemens, G. (2008, October 22). Mid Course Review. Retrieved November 4, 2008, from Website:
Photo courtesy of Pear Biter taken on May 6, 2006 covered by a Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike 2.0 license and available at

Saturday, November 8, 2008

It's Elementary

Looking for participants of the Connectivism course to come on our live show and tell us:

  1. What are you learning in the CCK 08 course.
  2. What do you think of the course so far?
It's Elementary is a live show on EdTechTalk every other Monday at 6pmPacific/9pmEastern at
We use Skype + backchannel room + streaming to broadcast live shows. If you are interested, please leave a comment here.
We would love to have everyone that can make it at the show-even George, Stephen, and Dave.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Be the Change-Disrupt Class!

What better way to disrupt your classroom and put learning into high gear? Join the Sounding Boards for the Flat Classroom Project - just read this post by Kim Cofino, a well-known educator in Bangkok, Thailand.
In short, the Flat Classroom Project is a cutting edge high school project that involves 11 international teams and so many schools I can not keep track of them. The work these teens produce is astounding! Along the way, there is an opportunity for other classrooms to peer review their work - called Sounding Boards.
I currently work with middle schoolers and we do the Sounding Boards each year for either the Flat Classroom Project or Horizon Project or both. We follow a lesson plan (there are several examples on the wiki, including our past lesson plans) and have a rubric for our grade. Teaching middle schoolers to make more than cursory comments is challenging. I'm not always successful, especially in the first semester, but these learners often surprise me too. So are you ready to kick it up a notch and join a global collaborative project? Read more about this great opportunity at the project wiki.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


I attended a bit of "When Night Falls". One highly capable young man had us type the places where we stay connected and he collated them into the Wordle picture you see here. The conversation was often about favorite presentations and learnings. We heard from many new people too, proving again that k12online is just in time learning for many people new to the blogosphere.
Have you seen all the great content at k12Online2008? Comment here what you learned.