Connection and Communities

Just finished up a full day at UNIS-Hanoi and thinking about where the conversations focused today. I spent the day talking with groups of teachers; Math/Science, Languages, Humanities, etc. We talked about my opening session and then got into some ideas on what learning looks like in a 1:1 tablet program that they have launched this year…how does it change the learning landscape for students? Collaborative Note Taking: A hot topic with all groups today was the notion of taking collaborative notes. During my opening session I embedded a gabbly chat into the handout wiki page and asked those that brought laptops to have a back channel discussion. Some found it empowering while others found it overwhelming. I did not give any guidelines, no instructions other than…go here and chat while I talk. We talked about how you might use a similar system within a 1:1tablet classroom. Where 3 or 4 students might take collaborative notes for the class in a shared OneNote document. Or you embed a chat and have two student moderators in the class to make sure the chat stays focused and on topic. Or use Google Docs that would allow the other students after class to go and add any missing information. Collaborative note taking is powerful on many levels, it allows students to not always focus on taking notes, it allows a student, like me, who is an auditory learner to not worry about taking notes but instead, focus in on the discussion, the ideas, knowing that I’ll have access to the notes after class. Face to Face time: We talked about this notion that I wrote about recently on what should face to face time be used for. That students can and should be finding the content outside of class and that face to face time should focus on the discussion around that content, about going deep in learning, in verifying information and understanding that teachers no longer hold the key to all the content. Release yourself of that duty, put that on them. Have homework be each student finds the best 5 sites and start your lesson around the sites they have found, have them be your researchers for content and use the face to face time to talk about the big ideas, the concepts, and the theories. Understanding Literacy: We spend time looking at how to refine a search. We talked about the Search Syntax...

Read More

Building Learning Communities

I have been privileged this past week to spend three days with Frances Hensley from the National School Reform Faculty. A group of 20 of us from my school were able to spend 3 days with Ms. Hensley in October and she was back for three more days of Critical Friends Training. Critical Friends Groups are: A CFG is a professional learning community consisting of approximately 8-12 educators who come together voluntarily at least once a month for about 2 hours. Group members are committed to improving their practice through collaborative learning. CFG’s are a great way to build learning communities in your school. What really makes CFGs work are the protocols that are used to move meetings along. The protocols are very scripted, and take anywhere from 45 minutes to 60 minutes to work through. This week while going through the training I was focusing on how to move these amazing protocols that allow you to look at problems, issues, and conversations at a deeper level transform into digital spaces. I even presented this question to my CFG group: “How does one take these F2F protocols and transfer them to a digital world where F2F may not be possible?” I’m thinking about the Plymouth State University graduate class I’m teaching this summer titled. “Teaching in the networked classroom” and how I can use these protocols to run an efficient Skype conference with the students of the course. These protocols allow you to move through a question/problem/conversation in a way that allows everyone to talk and participate in the conversation. I’m sure most of you have been involved in Skype conferences or other online conferences where the chat room is disconnected from the voice conversation. We only use one aspect of a program like Skype and do not, for the most part, use the IM chat and the voice as a whole system. In an hour my group, who were all educators and not technology people, gave me a ton to think about. We discussed how do you start a session? What does an ice breaker activity look like in this conversation? How do you create buy in? How do you set norms or rules that are easy for people to follow and that layout what the IM chat is for and how it can enhance the voice conversation. It was an amazing 60 minutes for me that really...

Read More