Seeking Seven Sunday

1. I appreciate having the opportunity to meet with Paul Allison of the New York City Writing Project to discuss Open Badges. I think that the idea of using badges as a means of tracking academic progress is a very innovative way of evaluating students. I like the idea that students would engage in their own self-evaluation to determine if they met the criteria for earning their badges.

2. I appreciate Lauren Tan’s work with the Watts Youth Collective and his 5th grade students. His approach to teaching and creating an atmosphere of family and acceptance within his classroom inspired by his own upbringing as an immigrant sends a valuable message to his fellow educators. He says that “Being able to go outside of the box is really the difference” and I agree. His work with the WYC, which brings together students within his own community who want to promote social change through media, is evidence how connected learning can take place successfully at the community level. Here is a link to a video highlighting Laurence Tan’s work:

3. I appreciate having the opportunity to create my first badge, the “Inspired Minds Award.” I think that this is a very creative way to incorporate technology into the classroom while also exposing students to an alternative means of assessment.

4. I appreciate the work that my classmates put into making their first badges, as well. I loved Kelly’s “Self-Reflection” badge, as well as a quote from her blog post – “I feel that as an educator, student, and life long learner, we need to constantly reflect on our practices in order to improve. This is also true in our Connected Learning class. This course has really made me think about the way in which I deliver new information to my students, and how I accomplish the objectives of my lessons.” I think that self reflection is one of the most overlooked but useful tools that educators can use to improve upon their practice. Kelly’s badge can be found here:

Kelly’s badge – https://kmacmath.wordpress.com/2015/03/27/self-reflection-and-cl/

5. I also appreciated how Lizzy incorporated some humor into her badge, which was inspired by a bad habit that I’m sure many of us would like to break. The “Profanity Free” badge awards students who can go five consecutive days without using profane words (or gestures!) I liked how Lizzy addressed the badge’s utility for addressing character accomplishments as well as academic accomplishments during Wednesday’s Hangout. I agree that as educators, we should not only be teaching students how to be learners but also how to be good, decent people. Lizzy’s badge can be found here:

Lizzy’s badge – http://badges.p2pu.org/en/badge/view/679/

6. I appreciated the “Pushouts and Dropouts in Philadelphia Schools” video shared by Lizzy. It opened my eyes to stereotypes that we often place on students who drop out of school and helped to highlight the various reasons why students drop out and how they rationalize that decision. How do we get all students to believe that “School is a start to a new life” as one student states in the video, and how do we support students who are at risk of dropping out? How do we create an environment that allows students to feel safe, as advocated by the Campaign for Nonviolent Schools initiative, and how do we make students feel a part of a greater classroom and school community that will decrease the likelihood of them dropping out?  Here is a link  to the “Pushouts” video:

7. Lastly, I appreciated the idea of student portfolios that was discussed by Paul Allison. I think that using online portfolios is a great way of incorporating a more holistic and formative means of assessment for our students that goes beyond the traditional multiple choice, standardized test model of assessment. I loved his suggestion that students would earn badges that would then be linked to individual student work which supports the criteria for that badge. I like how this can be tied in with programs such as Mozilla Open Badges, which allows students to share evidence of their learning through various social media forums, by accumulating badges and placing them inside of a “badge backpack” which allows them to highlight their skills and accomplishments.

http://openbadges.org/about/

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My First P2PU Badge!

inspired mindHere is the link to my first Badge, made on the P2PU website.

http://badges.p2pu.org/en/badge/view/686/

I think that the idea of badges is a creative way for students to reach academic goal, social goals, as well as behavioral goals. I like the idea of using badges as a way of tracking academic goals as well as students progress towards achieving certain character goals. I think they could serve as power tools in terms of classroom management. Students would work for certain academic badges and character badges. The teacher, as well as fellow students, can create badges and criteria as well as award these badges if they provide proof that the student had met the badge criteria. Once students receive a certain number of badges, the class could earn a reward of their choice.

I chose to the name the badge after my blog, titling it “The Inspired Mind” Award. It can be awarded to a student who displays the following traits:

  • Displays creativity in their thinking and work
  • Displays creative and innovative thinking
  • Thinks critically and creatively
  • Displays a positive attitude and outlook
  • Collaborates with peers and respects the opinions of others

Moving Forward…

I’m finally back to blogging after my week long hiatus. Christina asked us to think about how we plan to spend the next few weeks and what we hope to accomplish. Looking back, I have appreciated how I’ve been exposed to so many different resources for connected learning and how this course has given me the opportunity to utilize these resources in a meaningful way (Twitter, WordPress, GoogleDocs and Hangout, Adobe Photoshop, EZVid, MindMeister, just to name the first that come to mind).

Learning how to utilize these resources in a way that makes connected learning more equitable has been challenging but valuable in that it has made me think more deeply about how our teaching practices and system of education as a whole affect students and, unfortunately, are often designed in a way that overlooks many students. It has made me think about how I can use online, connected learning resources to engage students and draw upon their interests to promote learning. Most importantly, this course has made me reconsider the importance of community in learning and how collaboration and collective thinking can produce much more meaningful outcomes for students. To feel involved in and a part of their own education, whether this is accomplished through hands-on making using tools such as Mozilla Webmaker or collaborating with other students via a shared blog feed, is so important but so often overlooked. Looking back, I’ve learned that students should not simply be consuming their education but should be actively participating in it. This is made possible using the connecting learning concepts and tools that we have been exploring this semester.

My inquiry for this semester remains broad and I am interested in hearing the inquiries of other classmates to help me better refine it. It reads, “How can connected learning be used as a tool to support the growth of underrepresented and underprivileged students in our schools. How can it spark the interest of students who are disengaged or educationally disenfranchised?”

Additionally, I want to further explore which online platforms most effectively and efficiently promote the sharing of student work and thinking. What particular set of resources will help students to collaborate, participate, make and share their learning in an authentic and meaningful way?

A challenging set of questions but all worth exploring.

BeDazzled Make

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This challenge was, well, challenging for me in that I do not consider myself or aspire to be a very crafty person.  That aside, it more importantly proved that students do not necessarily need access to the Internet in order to engage in connected learning at home or in the classroom. An activity, such as our BeDazzle Make, can still be production-centered, hands-on and completed within a group of like-minded peers without using the web. Up to this point, I considered connected learning somewhat synonymous with connected online learning, but this make helped to change my point of view. Christina’s challenge was as follows:(1) Put a wide piece of tape (masking or duck) around your wrist, sticky-side up. (2) Gather things in your vicinity to decorate your bracelet. (3)Share your new bedazzled jewelry by tweeting to #clmooc #clequity.”

So after wrapping my wrist in clear packing tape (close enough, right?) I set out to find potential decorations. At first it seemed like this would be pretty difficulty seeing as how I am not an arts and crafts aficionado with a lot of supplies and “bedazzles” laying around my apartment. When things started to feel pretty hopeless and my wrist  even itchier, I came across a party favor, full of erasers and pencils grips. And better yet, they were all in bright colors perfect for impromptu accessorizing.

At first, I thought that this “make” was somehow disconnected from the sphere of connected learning in which many of our makes have been based so far. However, after completing the assignment, I found that it is really fun and simple way of touching upon nearly, if not all, the aspects of connected learning. It asks you to (1) produce or “make” something (2) connect to share your designs with peers (3) gather around a shared, creative purpose, and (4) create a connection between different learning communities (in that we gathered objects from our homes, work, or other places in our community, and shared them in a school setting).

And, of course, the academic piece of this project cannot be left out. While it seems like a fun and off-the-cuff (ha!) assignment, it is a great means of sharing in a creative, not super serious way and being self-expressive with our peers. A lot can be learned from reflecting on a simple design. For example, I tend to surround myself (wardrobe and apartment included) in very neutral black and gray colors, yet the bracelet I chose to design was bright neon! Maybe this is a sign that I need a little more color in my life, both figuratively and literally!

Overall, if I were to complete this assignment with my students, I would have them create their bracelets at home and then bring them to school where we would photograph them and share them on a class Wiki or Edmodo page. Not only could students view the shared work of their peers, but they could also comment and others’ work and try to interpret the meaning behind the design choices of other students. I think just as important to this project as the physical making of the bracelet, which in itself can reveal a lot about a student’s personality, learning style, etc., is also the reflective piece where students are asked to look at their final products through a more critical lens.

My Final Make of the Week

Here is my third (and final!) make for this week. Here is a link to my reading an excerpt of one of my favorite Robert Frost poems “Mending Wall.” I made it using Adobe Photoshop.

I have several issues with this particular make and things I would like to fix/change. If nothing else, this particular make helped me to become more familiar with Adobe Photoshop and afforded me the opportunity to critically analyze my own work – something we probably do not do often enough.

Here are a few considerations and changes….

  1. I am still brand new to using Adobe Photoshop and had trouble figuring out how to prevent the text from blending into the background image.
  2. The Adobe software limited the length of each line of text and as a result, the stanzas were not formatted correctly…….Sorry, Robert Frost 😦
  3. To avoid copyright infringement, I only used an excerpt of the original poem. Can I read the entire poem if I choose to and if I provide sufficient credit to the author?
  4. I don’t like how I used the same background slide for each page. If not for the time crunch, I would have like to have made each slide coordinate with the content of each stanza.