Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Great student project examples, lesson ideas and links integrating media #learning2cn

Today our team of cohort learning facilitators for the Learning 2.010 conference in Shanghai met and planned our activities for the next couple of days. I’m enthused to be working with Carol Jordan in the “Visual and Digital Literacy” cohort at the conference. Carol teaches Chemistry and “Theory of Knowledge” at the Shanghai American School. We’re meeting again tomorrow morning to continue our planning process, and the conference will kick off in the afternoon. It runs both Friday and Saturday at Concordia International School Shanghai. Here are a few photos from our facilitator meetings this morning. Kim Cofino and Alec Couros are the two smiling people on the right side of the first Pano photo below.

Opening discussion with facilitators

Sharing our cohort ideas

Alec is one of the facilitators here who I’ve read and learned from for years, but have never met face to face until today. He is definitely one of my “yodas” in the educational technology arena, particularly in higher education. He is teaching his “EC&I 831: Social Media & Open Education” course this semester as an “open course.” This means anyone can take and participate in the course, and he’s also recruited “network mentors” to work with his pre-service education students. The forms of this mentorship are likely to be varied, but at a minimum individuals who’ve agreed to formally “mentor” will be reading the blogs and commenting on students’ writing during the semester. It’s a great idea and sure to provide great opportunities for learning, not only for Alec’s students but also for everyone else who joins in the learning. Alex was a few minutes late joining us this morning for our initial facilitator meeting because he was teaching his class “live,” synchronously, from here in China. For those with access, it’s a “flat world” indeed. (Alec lives and works in Regina, Saskatchewan.)

I learned a BUNCH of things from Carol Jordan today as we shared ideas for our Visual Literacy / Digital Storytelling conference cohorts, and will share a few of these links in no particular order. Carol’s Chemistry class blog is “Chemical Paradigms: IB Students Thinking Outside the Box.” Throughout the year Carol encourages her students to post publicly on this team blog, following an excellent set of guidelines and suggestions. She begins this page of chemistry blogging expectations by noting:

In Chemistry you know many things already: that 1 mole is equal to 6.023×1023 particles and that atoms are made up of protons, neutrons and electrons. However, we rarely stop to think about the process by which scientific knowledge is produced, obtained and achieved, nor under what circumstances, and in what ways scientific knowledge is renewed and reshaped by different people and from what perspectives and approaches. By pausing to reflect about the complexity of knowledge as you move though your study of chemistry (& science) you will deepen your understanding of how we know what we know about science and the scope and limits of this knowledge.

She goes on to share ideas for students on:

  1. What can you blog about
  2. Reflect on the nature of Science
  3. Some expectations for posts and replies

This is a class chemistry blog which her students use from year to year, and is hosted by the Shanghai American School. Because the Chinese government is very unpredictable in the sites they choose to block, it’s beneficial for international schools in China to “host their own” sites for things like blogs and video sharing. I highly commend Carol’s page of blogging guidelines and expectations: Whether or not you teach chemistry or high school students, there are some great suggestions here you could probably use on your own class blog as you work to help students understand how they should utilize a shared publication platform as well as engage with their classmates in discussions which extend beyond the “traditional” class day.

Carol utilizes the “Habits of Mind” framework in her chemistry classes with students to help them not only learn content but also develop the skills and dispositions they will require to be successful after high school graduation. Her “Chemical Paradigms – Habits of Mind ePortfolio” is a great wiki demonstrating how high quality ePortfolios can be created and shared by students utilizing this framework. Be sure to click on the Student ePortfolio links at the bottom of the page. Lily’s ePortfolio is one which is exemplary. She created a separate page with text and embedded media for each of the “Habits of Mind,” explaining and demonstrating how she had learned about and shown that habit in her studies during the year.

The ways in which Carol is encouraging her students to publish their ideas openly for others to view, and even critique, is outstanding. Shanghai American School, where she teaches, provides a Moodle-based learning management system which Carol also utilizes extensively to provide as well as assess student work. She uses the “pages layout in Moodle, which provides nice “tabs” at the top of her site to organize her course content by topic. Not everything her students do is published on the “open web,” most student work is shared privately online in their Moodle courses. Carol feels, however, as I do that it’s very important for students to publish some of their work openly. We discussed these dynamics today: The quality of student work is often higher (the bar is raised) when their work is published openly, and students are often very motivated to see the wider audience (via their Clustermaps) which their work has attracted.

Another excellent resource Carol shared today, which was new to me, were the Protocols from National School Reform Faculty. These can be used, among other things, as reflective tools to examine and evaluate student work. The National School Reform Faculty: Harmony Education Center website offers a caution for those using these tools and resources without proper training and background preparation:

Welcome to the materials section of the National School Reform Faculty website. Here you will be able to find protocols and supporting materials for use in your Critical Friends Group (CFG) and for use as your practice grows as a facilitative leader… Protocols are less effective and can be counter-productive when used outside of established groups or are led by people who are unfamiliar with their facilitation. Please be aware that their use outside of an established context might not reflect the potential power of protocols, CFGs, and facilitative leadership.

I had not heard of the National School Reform Faculty, or these resources, so I was glad to hear Carol share about them today. I’m eager to learn more.

In her “Theory of Knowledge” class, Carol had her students participate in a “World Hunger Project” and create video documentaries. Here is an example of one of the student videos, which is hosted on her school’s own video/media server website. I’m not sure what video CMS they’re using for this site, but I’ll try to find out this week. (If you know, please share the name and link as a comment!)

Carol has used a short video assignment at the start of her “Environmental Science” course to find out why students are taking the course and what they want to learn. She uses this input to structure the content and activities of the course. Here’s one student example.

Carol also has her students create podcasts for chemistry, and has published her thorough rubric as well as student podcast examples on her classroom wiki. Her students used Garageband to make these podcasts, so if you’re familiar with Garageband “jingles” you’ll notice some familiar intros and outros here. The students show great creativity in these projects, however, as well as their knowledge of chemistry content!

It’s absolutely fantastic to be able to work with and learn from Carol during this conference, and I’m energized after just our first day of planning together. We’re going to have a GREAT conference experience together with the participants in our cohorts I’m sure!

A few other resources were shared by other cohort facilitators today as we discussed ideas and resources for the activities we are considering for our conference participants. These included:

The “Technology Integration Matrix” utilized by Florida schools:

The Technology Integration Matrix (TIM) illustrates how teachers can use technology to enhance learning for K-12 students. The TIM incorporates five interdependent characteristics of meaningful learning environments: active, constructive, goal directed (i.e., reflective), authentic, and collaborative (Jonassen, Howland, Moore, & Marra, 2003). The TIM associates five levels of technology integration (i.e., entry, adoption, adaptation, infusion, and transformation) with each of the five characteristics of meaningful learning environments. Together, the five levels of technology integration and the five characteristics of meaningful learning environments create a matrix of 25 cells as illustrated below.

The following articles which look excellent, but I have not read previously:

  1. Top 5 tech tools chosen by teachers (from Read/Write Web, 16 August 2010)
  2. Getting Attention on the Laptop Classroom (November 2008 article by Jamie McKenzie)
  3. Crisis: Technology Implementation in the Classroom (by Leslie Wilson, President of the One to One Institute)
  4. Ed Tech Experts Choose Top Tools: Which web 2.0 tools are best suited for enabling collaboration in teaching and learning? A trio of ed tech experts offer up their top three choices apiece. (August 2010)

The following videos are among several cohort leaders are planning to utilize with participants.

Dan Pink: The Surprising Research on Motivation (TED)

Sugata Mitra: The child-driven education (TED)

This final video was recommended to me by Carol, for our visual literacy cohort and strand:

Jonathan Klein: Photos that changed the world (TED)

I’m sure there were more tidbits shared today that are worth recording as well as passing on, but that’s about all I’ll share for now. I’ll close with a GREAT quotation Darren Kuropatwa shared as we discussed creativity and media / knowledge products today:

Creativity requires constraints.

That’s one of the ideas Carol and are are hoping to model as we invite our cohort participants to create collaborative Pecha Kutcha presentations this week.

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