Check out my Gooru lesson on Solving Quadratics (created for my 8th grade honors Algebra 1 class). Students will watch a high school rap video, engage in the "Which Method Is It?!" Quiz, and will be tasked to create a team Padlet to demonstrate their understanding.
Chapter 7 – Knowing, Making, and Playing
Quote: “Much of what makes play powerful as a tool for learning in our ability to engage in experimentation.”
Question: What would playful lessons look like in a math class across various topics?
Connection: I recently implemented the Marshmallow Challenge in my math class. The kids amazed me in the structures they were able to build within their groups. They had failures and then they persevered. This lesson incorporated aspects of making and playing. I had 100 percent engagement.
Epiphany/Aha: Play provides the opportunity to leap, experiment, fail and continue to play with different outcomes. It teaches perseverance through experimentation and activates learning through imagination.
Chapter 8 – Hanging out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out
Quote: “The ability to engage with media and technology in an intense, autonomous, and interest-driven way is a unique feature of today’s media environment.”
Question: How can I help students to utilize the available resources, both social and technological, for deep exploration? How can I bring today’s media environment into our classrooms on a regular basis?
Connection: Badges! I am about to finish my Messing Around Badge, oh yeah! I like the idea of incorporating badges in to the classroom. I think kids will love this. I also like the idea of using badges as an alternative motivator to grades. Not every assignment that needs assessment and feedback needs a grade. Using badges could help students to strive toward mastery without having to grade every item.
Epiphany/Aha: I’ve noticed myself moving through these three phases throughout this program. I see great value in learning to collaborate and create digitally, using multiple media platforms to pursue an interest-driven passion.
Chapter 9 – The New Culture of Learning for a World of Constant Change
Quote: “Very few challenges in World of Warcraft can be solved alone, and none of them occur at advanced levels of the game. A guild’s success depends on how well its members can synchronize their efforts to solve problems.”
Question: I’ve heard a lot of positives to gamifying the classroom. I’m curious what that looks like outside of simply using something like Mindcraft in class. What are other ways of gamifying lessons? What types of gamification has been used in secondary math classrooms?
Connection – I am excited to try out World of Warcraft. I have a recruited a few friends that have never tried it and are on board. I have read so much about the positives and the research behind the learning that transpires via questioning, imagination and play. I also like that families (across three generations) are using this as a way to connection with one another even though they may live in different parts of the country.
Epiphany/Aha: The more I can create lessons that incorporate play and imagination; the more engaged my students will be; the more learning will occur.
Check out my app slam on Padlet and the Padlet Chrome extension!
Chapter 4 – Learning in the Collective
Quote: “Our ability to produce, consume, and distribute knowledge in an unlimited, unfiltered, and immediate way is the primary reason for the changes we see today.” I chose this quote because it reinforces the realization I’ve come to in this program: we are teaching the first generation that was born with the Internet and all its ready-made devices available in full force. Consequently, as a society we are still learning about the impacts this has on learning, brain development, and academic ability. I believe it is essential as teachers to embrace this change and learn everything we can about how to best leverage this tool for maximum potential.
Question: What resources exist where specific mathematical lesson plans are available that incorporate being part of a collective?
Connection: In my technology in education course I have been afforded the opportunity to participate as a student in this New Culture of Learning. Formerly, just a visitor of the Internet, I have now advanced and learned the importance of not only viewing and consuming information but also adding one’s own knowledge to the mix. I have been able to publish my work creatively and experience feedback from authentic audiences. I now know first hand the great impact this has on engagement, ownership and intrinsic motivation.
Epiphany/Aha: Being part of a collective - its collection of people, skills and talent - produces a result greater than the sum of its parts.
Chapter 5 – The Personal with the Collective
Quote: “Learning in an age of constant change simply never stops.”
Question: What can schools do to alleviate some of the demands on teachers in order to provide time and opportunity for them to participate in collectives and experience first hand the digital opportunities that continue to emerge? Why aren’t there mandatory classes at each grade on digital citizenship, digital footprints, and PLNs in school?
Connection: I related to the discussion on blogging as a personally transformative experience as I am enjoying my experience as a first time blogger. Blogging is a space that is both personal and collective where people can share experience as well as knowledge. I like this idea. Sharing experience in addition to knowledge. It’s more engaging to produce and consume. There is that character of playfulness and personal connection which I think is much more exciting to interact with.
Epiphany/Aha: The Internet is becoming a place where the personal can begin to meet the collective in meaningful way. Technology has made connecting personal interests to collectives possible, easy and fun because people are inspired to think past the boundaries and limitations of their current situation.
Chapter 6 – We Know More Than We Can Say
Quote: “The twenty-first century, however, belongs to the tacit. In the digital world, we learn by doing, watching and experiencing.” I chose this quote, as it is something I believe to be true and also something I need to be mindful of when planning lessons. The more I can find hands-on, challenging tasks related to student interests, the more students will be able to absorb information through personal experience.
Question: How can we measure one’s level of tacit knowledge?
Connection: I related to this chapter to my experience as a first time Twitter user. Prior to this course, I couldn’t understand all the hype about Twitter and I even remember googling “what is a hashtag used for?” at one point. But even after watching and reading explanations, I did fully understand the concept. After becoming an active participant (using Tweetdeck and participating in Twitter chats), however, I quickly became aware of the powerful collaborative professional community that exists in the Twittersphere. My personal experience allowed me to understand the concept to a much deeper level.
Epiphany/Aha: Learning to modify/re-phrase questions to set up for an inquiry-based lesson creates a motivation to learn and provides a set of constraints that make the learning meaningful.
This Instagram Project was my favorite to date. A newbie to this platform, I really enjoyed learning to look at each day through a different lens. Looking for the beauty and art to capture. I also enjoyed the documentarian component. Publishing my story and looking back to reflect over the past few weeks, I was inspired to see all the positives. Instead of harping on and remembering the all negatives and stressors, which sometimes tend to cycle as a default in my mind, this gave me a new outlook, a fresh perspective. A wise teacher once told me we have a choice each day. We can choose to see grievances or miracles. This project helped me to see the miracles.
I was also moved by Chimamanda Adichie's Ted Talk: The Danger of the Single Story, in which she speaks of the power and importance of telling your story. The single story, that we get through the lens of news and media, is an incomplete story. The single story creates stereotypes. The single story of Africa is a single story of catastrophe or poverty. The single story of Mexico is one of "the abject immigrant". The single story robs people of dignity. The single story allows for no possible connection as human equals. By telling our stories we create a balance of stories. We can empower, humanize and repair broken dignity. I hope you enjoy my mini story below (click "read next page" to see the full journey). I look forward to experiencing yours.
Chapter 1 – Arc-of-Life Learning
Quote: “Play, questioning, and – perhaps most important – imagination lie at the very heart of arc-of-life learning.”
I chose this quote because questioning the world is one of the key ways we understand it. I have seen the significant difference that inquiry/discovery type lessons have on learning compared to the traditional “model then try” approach. Inquiry and discovery lessons engage more students and enhance understanding because students are questioning, exploring and testing ideas.
Question: Where can we find more inquiry/discovery based resources and activities to readily use in the classroom?
Connection: One of many connections I made to the chapter revolves around the story of Tom when he was recently diagnosed with adult-onset diabetes. Being a Registered Dietitian in my former life, I had hospital patients to educate that had just learned they had diabetes. I had only a few minutes to give them a brief overview of the disorder and things to consider for diet modifications. Hearing his heart felt connections to those he met with in the online community was inspiring. To be able to pass this on to my patients would have been an invaluable tool at the time.
Epiphany/Aha: The common thread throughout each of the five stories was that the individuals were sharing interests, developing passions and engaging imagination. My Aha take-away is to look for opportunities to fuse a vast informational resource with something personally meaningful.
Chapter 2 – A Tale of Two Cultures
Quote: “…learning should be viewed in terms of an environment - combined with the rich resources provided by the digital information network - where the context in which learning happens, the boundaries that define it, and the students, teachers, and information within it all coexist and shape each other in a mutually reinforcing way.” I chose this quote because I like the idea of a learning environment where students and teachers are co-creating and co-learning together.
Question: As teachers how can we find more resources that focus on learning through engagement within the world?
Connection: In the new culture of learning the point is to embrace what we don’t know, come up with better questions about it and continue to ask questions in order to learn more. This connects to my experiences with meditation in my life. The idea is that miracles lie in the unknown. Just having a question or intention in mind plants the seed for answers to unfold and reveal themselves over the next few days or weeks.
Epiphany/Aha: The goal is for each of us to take the world in and make it part of ourselves. In doing so we can re-create it.
Chapter 3 – Embracing Change
Quote: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” This quote ties in nicely with my Aha moment from last chapter. Change is the only constant; we are always creating, attracting, and manifesting our environment simply by our existence – our thoughts, words and deeds. The more we connect and interact, the faster and bigger waves of change we can create.
Question: How can we change the learning dynamic from memorization by practice to absorption through engagement?
Connection: In my technology class I have been encouraged to publish my work, curate content, document my life and connect with authentic audiences. It has been a wonderful experience that has both inspired and changed me. I am making these connections in my personal endeavors too and also sharing these ideas with my friends and family.
Epiphany/Aha: Learning is a cultural and social process of engaging with the constantly changing world around us.
In “Kids Speak Out on Engagement” author and teacher Heather Wolpert asks her own 220 eighth graders “what engages students?”
Her students had 10 main responses:
I agree with this top 10 list and try to incorporate a variety of these strategies in my own classroom. Here are three that I am committed to regularly:
Instagram ELE Challenge
In the article “Instagram ELE Challenge”, Spanish teacher Pilar Munday describes how she and her friend (a Spanish teacher in Barcelona) use Instagram as an avenue to teach vocabulary. Munday says, “kids today want to try learning through different mediums. In particular, they want to get out of their seats, do activities they like and learn through images, three things that I think this activity provides”. I couldn’t agree with this more. This challenge not only reinforces vocabulary in an engaging way but it also helps prepare students to participate in a global society by introducing social media for collaborative and educational purposes. Although this wasn’t directly mentioned in the article, I think it would be cool if both teachers (the US and the Barcelona teacher) shared the same class hashtag for one the activities. This way, students are not only collaborating in real time with their own peers but they are now taking on a joint experience with students across continents!
Instagram Scavenger Hunt
I love the idea of using Instagram in the classroom. Many of my students are already using Instagram so I think this would be a very engaging way to interact in an educational setting. As teacher Caitlyn Tucker says in her blog post “Instagram Scavenger Hunt”, “Why not?!? Instagram is emerging as the newest way students connect socially.” So true!
Being new to Instagram and school policies, I still have a few questions and concerns I need to iron out before going live with an activity.
#InstagramELE November (and a new approach)
In this November article two new approaches are introduced to the #InstagramELE project: Gamification and Badges! Spanish teacher, Jose Ramon Rodriguez, from Malaga Spain, has written two blog posts going into further detail on each topic (the blogs are both written in Spanish so it was a little difficult for me to do a close read!). That said, I love the idea of designing and giving out virtual badges in conjunction with Instagram projects. It’s easy to see how this addition would further promote engagement in classroom.
Instagram, a very visually gratifying experience, is one of the most popular social media channels for teen and tweens today. I believe that teachers can absolutely leverage this tool in the classroom to boost engagement, collaboration, creativity and instruction.
Take-aways from Wagner’s 7 Survivals Skills that resonate with me most:
First Survival Skill: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Second Survival Skill: Collaboration Across Networks and Leading by Influence
As a teacher, I believe it is my duty to teach life skills in conjunction with content. As Tony Wagner points out there is a core set of survival skills needed for success in today’s workplace: collaboration, adaptability, initiative, entrepreneurialism, communication, curiosity and imagination. My goal is to structure lessons so that students can discover content themselves while honing these essential life skills. I can commit to planning and structuring lessons in a way that honors and facilitates the construction of knowledge. Rather than dominating classroom talk and relying heavily on textbooks, I invite my students to search for understanding themselves. Student thinking is valued, and group collaboration and exploration are encouraged.