The Connected Classroom as Conduit to Global Community

September 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

“Only Connect …”  — E.M. Forster, Howard’s End 

For years, the assessment I conducted in my English classroom was, in essence, a single-channel dialogue between teacher and student.  The student considers the prompt and puts thoughts to the page.  The teacher responds with commentary.  The student rewrites, perhaps making meaningful use of the teacher’s feedback in a way that promotes enduring understanding. Repeat until June. 

Over time, and with the benefit of wisdom that trial and error makes possible, I have refined my thinking about the essential nature of the transaction that takes place each day in the classroom.   As technology becomes more ubiquitous and affordable in schools — both institutionally deployed, and carried in our students’ bookbags each day —  our classrooms now can become platforms for networks and conversations, with the scope of assessment broadening to include all participants in the room.  My aim in planning both the formative and cumulative assessments in my classes is now to promote conversational and connected interactions with the material, and a responsive feedback process that increases the accountability not only on both sides of the traditional channel of teacher and student, but also through the additional channels of peer interaction.

This year, I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to tackle a number of new challenges.  Beyond the work I am doing as a part of my school’s academics office, I am also teaching our “Third Form Seminar” course — an introduction to global studies and essential academic skills for 9th graders.  As in other Third Form Seminar classes, my students are connecting with the global community by reading from a list of newspapers published outside of the United States.  They are also connecting with each other through a course group on the social bookmarking service, Diigo. By sharing their bookmarks and annotations each week, they are gaining a broader view of issues of global consequence than they would if the course simply hewed to the traditional, single-channel dialogue between teacher and student. Our discussions of globalization and trade are now richer for our collective awareness of the issues of consequence to citizens in other parts of the world. 

While technology’s capacity to transform classrooms in this way is appropriately labelled disruptive to the status quo in education, in reality, these tools are allowing us to become more faithful to the connectedness that is intrinsic to human nature.  Some bemoan the loss of the human element in the digital world of MOOC’s and asynchronous delivery of course content online, but it is worth considering the ways to optimize the connective power of our schools and classrooms. 

What’s a Digital Portfolio and Why Should You Use it? | Ask a Tech Teacher

September 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

What’s a Digital Portfolio and Why Should You Use it? | Ask a Tech Teacher
http://askatechteacher.wordpress.com/2012/09/26/whats-a-digital-portfolio-and-why-should-you-use-it/

 Digital Portfoliosalso known as digital lockers or e-portfolios—electronic collections of student work that provide evidence that the student is meeting a set of goals.

The concept of digital portfolios is supported by national and international education pedagogy: 1)ISTE makes it important to “interact, collaborate, and publish with peers…” and “contribute to project teams to produce original works or solve problems”, 2) the International Baccalaureate PYP program requires a digital portfolio be maintained throughout the student PYP school years, and 3)  Common Core State Standards considers collaboration and publishing fundamental to accomplishing educational goals.

5 ways to strengthen your friendships: – Barking up the wrong tree

September 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

5 ways to strengthen your friendships: – Barking up the wrong tree
http://www.bakadesuyo.com/5-ways-to-strengthen-your-friendships

Harvard happiness expert Daniel Gilbert identified friends as one of the biggest sources of joy in our lives.Seeing friends and family regularly is worth an extra$97,265 a year:

So, an individual who only sees his or her friends or relatives less than once a month to never at all would require around an extra £63,000 a year to be just as satisfied with life as an individual who sees his or her friends or relatives on most days.

Not feeling socially connected can make you stupider and kill you. Loneliness can lead to heart attack, stroke and diabetes. Good relationships are more important to a long life than exercise.

Not spending more time with friends and family is one of the things people regret the most.

So what does the research tell us about how to strengthen and improve our friendships?

 

Solution fluency SmartBlogs

September 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

Solution fluency SmartBlogs
http://smartblogs.com/education/2012/09/25/solution-fluency/

Digital literacy is akin to the “foods and festivals” mode of learning about technology. What we need to teach our students is the “fluency” model. This means that students need to be able to do what the sixth capacity of the College and Career Readiness Capacities is asking of students: Students use technology and digital media strategically and capably.

Free Technology for Teachers: 7 Good Sources of Creative Writing Prompts

September 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

Free Technology for Teachers: 7 Good Sources of Creative Writing Prompts
http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2012/09/7-good-sources-of-creative-writing.h…

How Do We Measure What Really Counts In The Classroom? | Co.Exist: World changing ideas and innovation

September 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

How Do We Measure What Really Counts In The Classroom? | Co.Exist: World changing ideas and innovation
http://www.fastcoexist.com/1680584/how-do-we-measure-what-really-counts-in-the-classroom

“An art history teacher and a prof teaching geographical information systems were both beta-testing it to grade essay and short answer exams to hundreds of students. eRubric allowed them to assess everything from the accuracy of the specific content on individual answers to logical thinking, verbal expression, imaginative thinking-outside-the-box application of the material–in other words: originality. In a different kind of assignment, the professors might have added categories for collaborative work, or the ability to take an idea from beginning to conclusion of a project–the kinds of skills good teachers discover but rarely have a chance to test, measure, or provide any good feedback on, especially if there are 90 or 400 students in a course. The eRubric allows anyone evaluating others the ability to customize the categories to be evaluated, to weight the individual categories differently on different assignments, and could be used in informal or formal education, from kindergarten through college and beyond, and with applications for any Human Resources department at any corporation too.”

The Best Places To Find The Most Popular (& Useful) Resources For Educators – 2012 (So Far) | Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

September 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

The Best Places To Find The Most Popular (& Useful) Resources For Educators – 2012 (So Far) | Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…
http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/2012/09/19/the-best-places-to-find-the-most-popular-useful-resources-for-educators-2012-so-far/

I periodically post “most popular” lists of websites (and books) that I think educators might find useful. Of course, there are a number of ways to gauge “popularity.” I just view these lists as opportunities to check-out some new sites, and find it interesting to see which ones might be particularly “popular.””

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