Find Five Friday

  1. I found Wednesday night’s Google Hangout with Christina Puntel and her Guatemalan worry doll video project intriguing and as I mentioned during our video chat, I loved how she was able to take a cultural artifact and use it as a means of elaborating on a large social issue – inequality in education. This fusion of art and creative design with multicultural ethics and social justice shows how the act of “making” something, like a doll, can be an outlet for expression and advocacy. And as Christina added, the act of making can also be seen as a “process of self-discovery.” Being able to hold something tangible and real in their hands, even a doll made of household items, as opposed to an idea in the abstract, can be powerful for many students.
  1. This week’s Digital Is article, “Looking with Heart,” provided an insightful and alternative look into assessing student’s work. Especially in this age of standardized testing and “the extraordinary medicalization of [our] schools” as Christina points out in this piece, taking a more formative and even forgiving approach to student assessment contradicts the norm in most schools. I agree that school tends to highlight the negatives in a student’s performance instead of applauding the positive. School is a place for critique of one’s work more so than praise of one’s work. Every student has their own unique strengths and interests (some more apparent than others and some requiring a more prolonged phase of self-discovery). Why don’t we as teachers try to grasp on to the positive? Maybe because a more industrialized, black-and-white approach to schooling and grading on the basis of a rubric or a scale is just easier when in terms of mass education. Is taking a less critical and more thoughtful approach to assessing student work really require additional effort on the part of the educator or does it just seem too foreign? Just a few thoughts to throw out there…feedback welcome!
  1. This is really a continuation of my second find and a connection to our Google Hangout with Joe Dillon a couple of weeks ago. He introduced the seemingly foreign concept of looking for common ground and connections with another person’s work as opposed to doubting that work or looking for its flaws. I thought that this “I believe…” and “I doubt” format was so simplistic but something so often overlooked. I found many similarities between Peter Elbow’s format for literary discussion and Christina’s method for assessing digital compositions…the lack of judgment and the presence of appreciation. This was also present in our most recent Hangout together. Overwhelmingly, our discussion revolved around what worked in the student’s digital compositions as opposed to what didn’t. Of course, critical questioning and critical thinking is essential for any kind of meaningful learning to take place, this does not equate to judging the negative but rather to praising the positive whenever possible.
  1. This next “find” was found on our Google+ page. In response to one of Eric’s blog posts, Christina shared a Digital Is article, titled, “A Poem, A Puzzle, an Act of Playfulness.” For those of you who haven’t had the chance to take a look at the article, here is the link and the embedded YouTube video sharing the process.

         Using different social media platforms, various apps, and a good dose of ingenuity, Kevin Hodgson’s students were              able to create a four stanza poem that gradually unfolded across a digital landscape. It was almost like a digital                    scavenger hunt with a poem as its prize. Way over my head practically speaking (I would have no idea where to even          begin putting something like this together) but nonetheless inspirational for it creative spin and digitally connected                approach to learning.

    5.  Another discovery this week was actually made in a 6th grade science class this week. The teacher introduced an                interactive (and FREE!) website called Socrative that allows students to respond to questions posed by the teacher              (open-ended, multiple-choice, True and False) and then view and analyze results as a group. This program has so              many benefits, but just as I am typing this I realize that I am speaking of these online resources and their benefits as            though they are a given for all students and that it is just a question of practice, and not access, that is keeping                    students from taking full advantage of these tools. Again, I am left wondering how true equity in learning can be                    achieved if students do not have the means to be connected? How do we solve the much, MUCH larger issue of                  social inequality and the inequitable distribution of educational funding which means that many students will never                have access to technology in their schools? This brings me back to an early blog post of mine that discussed Teach            the Web, a movement that promotes digital literacy worldwide and seeks to broaden open and free access to the                  Internet. These types of initiatives are crucial in order to make connected learning truly equitable.


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