Monday, August 3, 2015

I am from

I am from...

From tag games and hide-n-go-seek, Red Light Green Light, and long walks on hot pavement with friends, I today still love the feel of sand or pavement underfoot during a lazy walk in conversation with friends.

Although now those conversation occur as I take "walks" in photos from friends from all over the world in Flickr groups, in Twitter chats for conversations, or in blogs with photos and text conversations as my world has expanded as a connected educator.

I am passionate about education reform for more student-centered learning based on student interest and demonstration rather than teacher/district directed mandates and tests. Our futures depend on those who can ask the questions of the world and people around them that will dig into issues to find solutions together, for mutual benefit in a global world.

This post is an example of sharing with a group of teachers finding answers to their questions, of which mine is:

How do I create authentic learning spaces of making and reflecting that empower self-directed learning?
A twitter and #clmooc colleague, Julie Johnson, gathered together middle school teachers for the purpose of creating a CLmooc for their students, a "clmake' of cycles for students to create based on topics, share out through blogs, and connect through comments, or through whatever develops from the students' connections.  It will be an authentic learning space of making and reflecting. Will it also empower self-directed learning?

That is my question, and this my introduction example.

"Green Light."

Crossposted at AskWhatElse

Monday, July 6, 2015

Apollo Challenges

Remember these words, "Houston, we have a problem?"  Read NASA's mission page for details and the National Air and Space Museum's information. How serious was this? This movie clip shows "Failure is not an option." Then, this:

So they were able to do this:

With limited supplies and so much collaboration, the astronauts returned to earth safely.

Courage and persistence in the face of time and a life-threatening event also depended on critical and creative thinking for success.  The kind of thinking that isn't in a standardized test or list of curriculum objectives. It's thinking on the spot and just in time.

Although this example is one of dire seriousness, the thinking challenges behind it can be also be fun for students.

I call these activities "Apollo Challenges," because they require critical and creative thinking to create something from limited resources in a give amount of time. The more students attempt these, the better their minds come out of the box we call school, and the more ingenious are their solutions.

So one of our Apollo challenges was:

In three minutes build a bridge with:
1 sheet paper
1 index card
2 paper clips
7 ” string
Ask for tape ( up to 5 – 2″ pieces)
Above is one example.

Here is another:

And another:

In three minutes with one piece of 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper, create a "Statue of Liberty." You may ask for one 2" strip of tape.

And another:

With one index card and two brads, create an animal that moves.

Yet another:
With one index card and two brads, create a moving toy.

The debriefing helps process the process!

What were you thinking at first? 
How did you get started?
What worked?
What didn't?
How did you get over that part -- the frustration?
What would you have done differently?

That should get your mind moving -- what Apollo Challenges can you create to build your students' critical and creative thinking?
Who knows... maybe one of them will be an Apollo problem-solver and mission saver!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Slice of Life in Education

The Slice of Life hosted by  Two Writing Teachers provides a model for writing teachers and their blogging students.  Mrs Erin, a sixth grade teacher, started her own version on Learning in the Middle.  We're trying this  too: Eagles Write 15.

Try it...