Personal Learning Philosophy 2.0 (The Global One-Room Schoolhouse from J. Seely Brown)


My learning philosophy from 10 weeks ago hasn’t changed much. I chose to begin my video with a quote from Williams Butler Yeats, which also happens to be the first thing I wrote in my Personal Learning Philosophy v1. “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” This idea is extremely important to me and resonates with me on many levels. I mentioned before that my early educational experiences were mainly “filling of a pail”. Pretty boring. It almost feels like a chore. “Son, go and fetch some water!” No thanks. But when that switch turned, and I became excited about learning, something sparked inside of me. From that moment on, I was all about feeding my fire of learning. I started with this because it takes passion and excitement to get to this point where learning becomes fuel to your fire. When you can infuse excitement, passion, and relevancy into education, that is how you create engagement in learners.

I would have to say that my ideas around learning and education are in perfect alignment with John Seely Brown’s “The Global One-Room Schoolhouse” Vimeo video from his “Entrepreneurial Learner” keynote at DML2012. He talks about play as a “kind of a permission to fail, fail, fail, again and get it right.” I feel that this is incredibly important to give students a permission to fail, to give them an environment where they feel safe to question the status quo or even the teacher’s expertise. He later says in the video that “the key part of play is a space of safety and permission.” Brown also talks about epiphanies.

If we can create one epiphany for one child, that epiphany lasts for life for that kid. Brilliant teachers are brilliant in being able to create epiphanies for kids. How do we think about that? And how do we use play as a way to amplify the chance for that to happen.

What if every teacher’s goal was to create an epiphany for each one of their students? Maybe some teachers do strive for this. But I’m willing to be that this isn’t even on the radar of the majority of teachers. I want to cover two last quotes from Brown in his video:

In a world of constant change, if you don’t feel comfortable tinkering, you’re going to feel an amazing state of anxiety.

I love this idea because it’s so true. Everything around us is in a constant state of flux, and if you can’t adapt and be able to tinker with new technologies, it’s going to be a tough world. If we are teaching our students to tinker, to play, to be curious, we are teaching them to adapt to change. I wrote about the PlayMaker School in LA in a recent post. This is a great school that is really pushing the boundaries of what education is and how kids learn. If you haven’t heard about it, check it out!

And to close, Brown’s idea of taking the one-room schoolhouse idea of yesterday and mixing it with today’s classroom and technology to get the “global one-room schoolhouse” where “the teacher [isn’t] transferring knowledge, but the teacher [will act] as a coach, a will turn around and also teach the younger younger kids.” This is how the one-room schoolhouse operated. Why couldn’t we have a global one-room schoolhouse today? With social media and web 2.0 tools, this is absolutely feasible.

What will tomorrow’s classroom look like? How will it operate? What if tomorrow’s classroom partnered with a classroom from the other side of the world, every day? Now that would be cool.

 

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Podcast – Practitioner Interview of Web 2.0 Tools in the Classroom with Brittany Spayd

This week I sat down with a practitioner of Web 2.0 tools in education. I interviewed Brittany Spayd, a 10th grade English teacher at Central Cambria High School. I was very curious when initially speaking with Brittany because she uses several web 2.0 tools for her personal educational planning, however, her students do not use web 2.0 tools as much as she would like in the classroom due to barriers from the school being old. We dive into this issue more in the podcast. Enjoy and please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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*I used a program called Soundtrack Pro to record and edit this podcast.

 

Reinventing the Library? Or Should We Be Thinking Bigger? (Makerspaces and Hybrid Learning Spaces)

What is the purpose of today’s library? Is it “just another dusty bookshelf” (Graves)? Or maybe just another “warehouse—a place to go to get things” (Foote)? Or are “today’s libraries incubators, collaboratories, the modern equivalent of the seventeenth-century coffeehouse: part information market, part knowledge warehouse, with some workshop thrown in for good measure” (Colegrove)? My favorite definition of what today’s libraries are is simple. Literacy. But “[not] just print literacy; we are about ‘understanding the world we live in’ literacy” (Foote). This is great, and exactly what we need. We need a place where we can come and understand the world, not a place to come check out a book. Colleen Graves, a school librarian at Lamar Middle School in Flower Mound, Texas says that “at [her] school, students now see the library as a place where they not only belong, but a place where they can become a cutting-edge leader.” In a world where everything and everybody are constantly being judged and compared, having an environment free of comparison, free of judgement, free to be who you are and passionately seek after what you love, this has the potential to dramatically shift education into 21st century learning.

Graves makes a vital point when discussing successful workshops in their school’s library makerspace.

The key to successful workshops was letting the teens choose what workshops we would hold.

This is a great way to engage timid or quiet students. An example Graves used in her article was a student who stepped up to lead a Minecraft workshop during their one of their “Mayker Monday” events. The student’s teachers were so surprised he “volunteered to lead others” that they came to the library to ask if the student really was leading the workshop. If that’s not enough proof that makerspaces work, then I’m not sure what else is. Reaching out to these “quite and reserved” students has always been a challenge in school. But if we present opportunities where these students can lead their peers in something they love doing, there’s no telling where the possibilities might lead. Graves followed up with saying that this “quite and reserved” student “felt ownership in the library and felt like it was not only a safe place, but also a place where he could grow.”

Makerspaces are great, but as Tod Colegrove said, they have “been happening for thousands of years.” We just lost touch of what a library is for, or we failed to stay current with our advancing, tech-society. We need to think bigger. What if we had schools that were makerspaces? Woah. There is a school in Los Angeles that is disrupting education. A lot of people are uncomfortable with A School Day That’s All About Play (especially parents), but at the PlayMaker School, they are doing just that, playing.

playmaker-school

This school is really pushing the boundaries of education, and it’s wonderful. Another great read that dives into a little more detail on this school is A School That Ditches All The Rules, But Not the Rigor. Ted Wakeman, an educator at the PlayMaker School in LA, was drawn to the playmaker approach because he “grew disillusioned with how students were forced to learn.” His views are aligned up perfectly with the PlayMaker School:

When we talk about the area of a trapezoid or when King Tut died…, might these things be important to a small sliver of the population? Sure, but data in the 21st century, I can look on my phone and in 20 seconds get the answer to pretty much anything. So shouldn’t we be teaching broader skill sets, encouraging curiosity, creative thinking?

This nails it for me. I remember in middle school, high school, and even college—I was that kid that asked, “Why do I need to know this?” I didn’t care about when the fourth battle of the Revolutionary War started. I didn’t care about the Pythagorean theorem. Memorizing that did nothing more than get me a higher test score on my school’s standardized test. I didn’t really learn anything except that I needed to plug this number into here and that number into there. A quick Google search leads straight to a Wikipedia page that tells me the theorem is a2 + b2 = c2. Wakeman is right. We can find basically anything we want on the internet. So why are we teaching these monotonous, memorizing-based facts? Shouldn’t we be teaching 21st century skills, like navigation literacy? In a previous article I wrote, Navigating the Web 2.0 for Social Learning, I quoted John Seely Brown in his article Learning, Working & Playing in the Digital Age. Hepredicts that navigation will be a new form of literacy in the 21st century:

What I want to suggest, though, is that the new literacy, the one beyond just text and image, is one of information navigation. I believe that the real literacy of tomorrow will have more to do with being able to be your own private, personal reference librarian, one that knows how to navigate through the incredible, confusing, complex information spaces and feel comfortable and located in doing that. So navigation will be a new form of literacy if not the main form of literacy for the 21st century.

Everyone knows the saying, “Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.” The PlayMaker School in LA understands this. They aren’t concerned about their kids memorizing meaningless facts and numbers. They are concerned that their students are learning how to learn.

References

Barseghian, Tina (2014 July). A School That Ditches All the Rules, But Not the Rigor

Barseghian, Tina (2014 July). A School Day That’s All About Play

Colegrove, Tod. (2013, March). Editorial Board Thoughts: Libraries as Makerspace?

Foote, Carolyn. (2013, September) Making Space for Makerspaces

Graves, Colleen (2014, March) Teen Experts Guide Makerspace

TOK, Hawaii, and Twitter (Week 8: Social networks for learning)

You don’t get to pick your family, but you can pick your teachers and you can pick your friends and you can pick the music you listen to and you can pick the books you read and you can pick the movies you see. You are, in fact, a mash-up of what you choose to let into your life. You are the sum of your influences. The German writer Goethe goethe-quotesaid, “We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.”  -Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

“You don’t get to pick your family, but you can pick your teachers.” This is one of my favorite quotes from a book by Austin Kleon that I read over a year ago, Steal Like an Artist. At the time, I didn’t realize the impact it would have on me and how much it would relate to educational technology. It’s funny that the article I’m about to discuss mentions this same author, Austin Kleon.

In the article Theory of Knowledge, Social Media and Connected Learning in High School, Howard Rheingold interviews Amy Burvall, a teacher at Le Jardin Academy in Hawaii, about how she uses Web 2.0 tools to support a course she teaches about the Theory of Knowledge. It is rather amazing and I found the interview quite compelling. In the video interview, Burvall mentions that the class watches a lot of TED talks and the whole course is based on a blog with each student having their own blog, which sounds very familiar to our current class! Burvall also heavily relies on backchanneling to involve the more introverted students who are less likely to participate orally. She says she often finds that these students “blossom” on twitter or vlogs, a video blog.

Blogging and vlogging are not only about the projects the students create, but about their creative process: “The author Austin Kleon has a book coming out called Show Your Work and a hashtag on Twitter, #showyourwork, which has become a mantra in our classroom,” says Burvall.

It’s not about the projects, but more about how they became to be, the journey. This is awesome and has so many other applications in life. This stuck out to me the most because I am familiar with Austin Kleon. As mentioned above, I read his first book. I haven’t had a chance to pick up Show Your Work yet, but I definitely plan on it. I did, however, check out the hashtag #showyourwork on twitter, and was very impressed and intrigued by how many people are conversing through that backchannel and using Kleon’s hashtag and book to put themselves out their. I think twitter is a highly underrated educational tool that is not used nearly enough in the classroom, or out of the classroom!

I found Burvall’s use of twitter, the G+ community, and blogging to be super engaging and fun. Burvall has her students blog, then tweet their blog posts AND then post them on their class G+ community. This opens up doors to invite others outside of their class and community to join the conversation on twitter and G+. This is true power – having the ability to talk to anyone about anything on any subject. It is great that Burvall is teaching such an important skill at a young age.

TOK students don’t just use social media tools — they use them for specific purposes. They reflect on their purposes and how the tools support them, or not. They learn how to study knowledge, not just as an academic pursuit, but as an essential life skill in a digital milieu.

This is so important to understand that we shouldn’t “just use social media tools” but we should be teaching our students to “reflect on their purposes and how the tools support them”. In another DMLcentral article, A Collaborative Guide to Best Digital Learning Practices for K-12, a document was created on Google Docs in “Bangkok, Thailand, at the March 28-31 teacher’s meeting of EARCOS, the East Asia Regional Council of Schools”. Collaboratively, they came up with a great preamble in my opinion. “Tools aren’t teachers, they aren’t students, and they aren’t magic.” They started off their document with this and I feel that it’s super important that teachers understand this. Tools are nothing more than tools.

Another one of my favorite aspects of Burvall’s course was how she used twitter for the “twitter question of the week”. I think this is a great way to really get the students engaged and also introduce them to the power of twitter. Having a class hashtag and attaching that to all of their conversations, including the twitter question of the week, allows others to follow their conversations on twitter and participate. Burvall described the twitter question of the week as sometimes being deep, like what makes us human, or other times being more specific, like what is your strongest memory. I think this would be a great way to engage students even further with class discussions. Burvall said that she finds it interesting to see who jumps in on these questions and how they will sometimes challenge what the students say. I always find this extremely fun when other people jump in to a backchannel twitter conversation and add value to what is happening. I once tweeted how cool and interesting I thought a certain book was. What happened next? The author private messaged me on twitter asking for my address. He sent me a free copy of the book!! Twitter has power.

The last thing I would like to touch on is Burvall’s use of circles. I found this fascinating and would love to be a part of a class that does this. She forms an inner and outer circle of students. The inner circle discusses questions and ideas out loud while the outer circle is backchanneling on twitter. The tweets are then archived via Storify and those act as the “class notes”. This allows students to participate in both verbal and digital discussions. I think this would be really neat to try out in a classroom setting to see what would flourish.

Overall, this was a great read and a very interesting interview to watch. It appears that Burvall is right on track to adapting a diverse array of Web 2.0 tools into her TOK class. I was able to check out a few of the students blogs that Rheingold linked to, and they were very neat to browse through and watch some of the class vlogs.