Sometimes, We Just Need a Learning Walk

flowercollage

I spent much of my day yesterday trying to wrap my head around how to begin the collective work of not just reflecting on the wonderful Making Learning Connected MOOC experience but also how to work collaboratively with others on our facilitation team to make our learning visible. We want to leave a trail for others behind us while also looking ahead to where we go with the beautiful cacophony and spirit of the MOOC. We’re hoping to set things in motion so that others can come along and “Remix the MOOC,” as co-facilitator Stephanie West-Puckett put it so creatively yesterday.

We now have an evolving plan for how we will proceed but to be honest, my brain was overwhelmed by the task here at a NWP retreat in Seattle. I kept staring for a long time at this table/chart we had created together and for some reason, my mind refused to put the pieces into place in a way that would allow me to see the big picture and all the parts.

So, you know what I did? I took a cue from the MOOC itself, and went off on a Learning Walk around the hotel grounds where we are staying. Actually, I took two Learning Walks yesterday and both proved very fruitful. The first time I wandered, I tried to pay attention to the natural and unnatural surroundings of the place. I removed my head from the act of thinking about the MOOC and it was in one of those moments of forced forgetting when a flash of insight happened. I saw the whole MOOC reflection plan from a new angle  — not a table but as a diagram. That may not sound like much as I write here, but for me, it was one of those writing revelations where the cogs suddenly fall into place.

I went back and sketched out what had come to me on the walk, and then  I showed it to co-Facililator Joe Dillon, who (luckily for me), seemed to understand what I was drawing and what I was getting at. Our discussion then made visible some other ideas that might make it easier, once all of our pieces are in place, for someone else to navigate the reflections and advice that we are compiling around our experiences of facilitating the MOOC this summer. It will provide something less hierarchical and more spread out, just like the open nature of the MOOC itself. Or so I hope. But at least I can see it now.

Later, as I was trying to get started on one of my reflective writing pieces (I am writing about how we used pre-MOOC teasers to spark curiosity and set the ethos of play into the fabric of the MOOC), I had trouble getting started. The jumble of ideas danced in my head again. Staring at the screen of my computer, I realized it was time to go walking again. This time, I took my camera, and I began to notice the flowers on the grounds. Kneeling down, observing closely, I took pictures of as many of the flowers as I could on this Learning Walk. I was paying attention to the “micro” of the world, with faith that in doing so, my mind would allow me a way to start my piece and begin the flow. (See the collage above)

It worked, and I was soon back inside, writing away. Maybe these Learning Walks were more like Diversion Walks, but I really found the act of noticing the world brought me back to noticing my writing. I gave my mind permission to figure things out.

It also occurs to me as I write this post that I don’t often give my students the same opportunity. The best they can hope for is a walk to the water fountain or the bathroom, and not a walk on the grounds to observe a flower, or a falling leaf, or the slight shift in the wind before a storm. That’s a shame, but I am at a loss for how to change that right now. The MOOC has me thinking, though.

Might be time for another walk …

Peace (in the thinking),
Kevin

 

Hanging with the Cool CLMOOC Facilitator Crowd

CLMOOC_Facilitators_in_Seattle

I am fortunate to be hanging out with some wicked smart people, yo, as many of us facilitators in the Making Learning Connected MOOC begin thinking about all that has gone on in the various spaces that make up the MOOC, how we might help others learn from our experiences, and just plain ol’ making sense of what has been happening. (I know, good luck with that, right?)

We’re here at an online learning retreat with other National Writing Project groups also moving into developing online learning spaces, although I am confident in saying that the MOOC is a completely different collaborative animal than any other project represented here.

And we’re lucky to be in Seattle, which has a beautiful waterfront and fish market area with Mt. Rainier rising up above the horizon like some magical mountain. It’s a stunning view. Last night, we took a group shot before dinner, but since we were missing two important companions — Chad and Anna — I added them in as webcomic avatars. I suspect they won’t mind.

Peace (in the reflection),
Kevin

 

Heading to Seattle for NWP Retreat

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: being part of the Making Learning Connected Massive Open Online Collaboration this summer has been a thrilling and invigorating ride. But one component that I have missed is hanging out with other folks in person. Yes, using Google Hangouts is pretty nifty. Twitter chats are a mad ride. Blogs are fun to read. Shared images give us another perspective. And the Google Plus space has become a fantastic community network of sharing and collaborating.

But there’s still something to be said about being in the same room, or hanging out in the same bar, with people you know in online spaces, and this lack of more personal connections is one of the knocks against MOOCS. That lack of very personal connections that can forge something stronger than online partnerships.

In this, I am lucky.

I get to join a bunch of facilitators from our MOOC and others in various National Writing Project online projects this weekend in Seattle for a retreat where I suspect we will be sharing, writing, reflecting and playing around with online spaces in mind. (Our MOOC is just one part of a Summer of Making and Learning that is sponsored by NWP, and if you have not yet checked out that site, you should. Stay involved in the making.)

Just so you know, Seattle is a long way from where I am right now on the east coast, so much of my day will be spent on airplanes, reading books and listening to music and getting impatient. And sitting. Lots of sitting, and thinking. But I suspect it will be worth it, knowing the folks who will be at the retreat – most from online interactions but also NWP colleagues I’ve know for years. I’m pretty excited about the weekend in Seattle and I am sure we will be sharing out some of what we are doing as we go along (that’s what we do with the #clmooc, right? Share, reflect, connect, repeat).

Wish you were there, too. (Or maybe you will be. If so, see you tonight).

Peace (in the flight),
Kevin

 

In Praise of the CLOOC Make Bank

Make Bank meme
There are many things that I love about the Making Learning Connected MOOC, but one of the best ideas — which will become a sort of legacy of the MOOC, in my opinion — is the concept of the Make Bank. Here, folks have been sharing information about the projects they have been making in the MOOC, giving quick tutorials on how to replicate the projects. As we think about the school year ahead, what I wonder is: how could one replicate this in the classroom? It would surely connect to expository writing and publishing to the world. (By the way, I give credit to Karen F. for the concept of the Make Bank, and she would no doubt give a hat tip to the folks at ds 106 for the way they gather ideas from participants of that project and share. And Terry E. helped considerably with the technical aspects of setting up the Make Bank via WordPress.).

Here, so far, is the clmooc Make Bank:

Do you have a make to add to the bank? Please do.

Peace (in the make),
Kevin

Reflecting a Bit on the Making Learning Connected MOOC

Reflecting on CLMOOC Diagram

I’ve been struggling a bit with how best to reflect on the experience of being part of, and a facilitator of, the Making Learning Connected Massive Open Online Collaboration that is nearing the finish line. We’re in our last Make Cycle now, thinking about the question of “what’s next?” for how we bring our experiences in the MOOC to our educational spaces. I tinkered around with the above diagram, but I don’t like it all that much. What I was trying to get at it is how the MOOC has helped me think more about the ideas of connecting the writing experience to the making experience.

A question still out there for me is: Do I need to expand my definitions of writing and making in order to further incorporate each other in my teaching practice? Or do I need to bring more making activities into my classroom?

Maybe it is a little of both. Certainly, my students don’t just sit around and write all day. But lots of our making is done with technology, and here is where I would love to think through more about moving the concept of the Make offline, and more into the hands of students (instead of the keyboard of students).

Here are some ideas I am thinking, with the concept of the Connected Learning principles in mind ….

Last spring, I had mentioned to our art teacher — a wonderful colleague always open to ideas — about the idea of a Maker Faire for students. She had never heard of a Maker Faire, but she was intrigued. I never followed up with her after that but I wonder if there is some way to create a Maker Space in our school. I’d have to show the connections to the curriculum, and we have a new interim principal coming in, so that might influence a lot of what we do. I’ll have to do more research on school day-based Maker Faire experiences.

A colleague of mine, Gail P., has been in and out of the MOOC this summer, and she and I have talked about finding ways to connect her kindergarten students with my sixth graders, but we never got it done. This coming year, I’d like to try to make that happen on a collaborative project of some kind. In the past, I’ve tried to do some reaching across grade levels, but that dwindled away with schedule changes and curriculum shifts. It seems like it could still be done with a little creative adjustments.

Last summer, I used Edmodo with my students, but then never got back to it during the school year as a way to connect across the classes and beyond our school. I am thinking I would like do more of that this year, and I know there is a group of us sixth grade teachers in the MOOC who have been mulling over the possibility of connected our classes in some online space. I would like it to be a specific theme — the years my classes were part of the Voices on the Gulf and the many Voices for Darfur project were powerful learning experiences with global implications. Having an audience and collaborators from other parts of the world opens up the learning experience in new ways, for sure.

As for me, I don’t know how the MOOC will evolve past its end date. I found a lot of creative, generous and talented educators in the MOOC and I have looked forward to all the sharing. I am sure some of those connections will continue to be nurtured in other spaces and in other projects, but I am realistic, too. I know that when a collaborative venture like a MOOC — particularly one that is sprawled out across many different spaces — comes to a close, many connections get lost.

Going back to my diagram up above, what I was trying to capture is the eye-opening experience of how so much of the work and play and learning that we do is connected to each other, and how we make sense of those experiences through writing and collaboration and sharing. The MOOC has been a powerful pathway for learning this summer. I say that as a facilitator, but also as a participant. I hope others feel the same way, too. It’s been a chaotic, fun and energizing adventure, and I am grateful to have been here, watching the learning unfold along various trajectories and catching a ride along the way.

Peace (in the reflection),
Kevin

 

Sparking A Conversation: You Have Permission to Make

We invite you into this conversation about this video by Adam Savage, about the state of “making” in our schools and why the reduction of those spaces is negatively impacting the lives of students. I found a lot in what Savage is saying that resonated with my thinking but Terry took some of the comments to task, asking that we enlarge the possibilities.
What do you think?

Or go directly to the Vialogues site.
Peace (in the dialogues on vialogues),
Kevin

Hacking Education Week for CLMOOC

Education Week Hacked for CLMOOC

I used the Hackasuarus tool Xray Goggles to hack Education Week so that all the news (fit to print) is about the Making Learning Connected Massive Open Online Collaboration. I mean, this is the way the homepage of the journal should look, right?

Check out my hacked Education Week edition

You want to hack, too? Check out the Xray Goggles site, and use the tool to hack away. Go ahead and hack my hack, too. If you do, share out the link. Keep the ideas flowing ….

Peace (on the web),
Kevin

 

Remix Your Summer/Remix this Website

remixsummer
I was honored the other day when my friend Laura, from the Mozilla Foundation and Teach the Web, was inspired by my post about hacking a picture book with high school students. She created a Thimble website project that took Hacking a Book in a new direction. The wonderful thing about Thimble is that it is designed to be remixable, so I could not resist the urge and remix Laura’s work, and I went in another direction with it. Instead of “hacking the book,” I went with “remixing the summer” and used a book as my inspiration.

Have you ever read Weslandia? It’s the perfect summer vacation picture book by Paul Fleischman, with a social outcast boy (Wesley) creating a summer project to top all other summer projects: he invents his own civilization, and then by the end, the other kids in his neighborhood are part of the mix. I love that story (and use it for other projects with my sixth graders.)

So, my remix of Laura’s remix of hacking the book is about remixing your summer, with new and undiscovered countries unfolding around you.

Check out Remix the Summer

And while you are there, why not remix it once again? See the “remix” tab on the top of the page. Go ahead. Change it, make it your own and share it back out. Let someone else remix it again. It’s all good.

Peace (in the worlds of imagination),

Not Just Making but Making a Difference

clmooc kiva
I’m trying to extend the idea of “making” from our Making Learning Connected MOOC into another direction. I’m hoping that the hundreds of people who have been part of the MOOC this summer might consider making a difference in the world, too. One invitation I am putting out there is for folks who are in the micro-lending site, Kiva, or who may want sign up for Kiva, is to join the “CLMOOC Team” that I set up there. Essentially, a team allows you to become part of a collective that lends out money for business owners around the world.

Come join our Team and make a difference in the lives of others. If you are new to Kiva, signing up for a team gives you a gift of $25 to lend right away.

Peace (in the lending),
Kevin

 

The Augmented Reality #CLMOOC Shoe

Two of my favorite bloggers, Larry Ferlazzo and Richard Byrne, mentioned an augmented reality app this week that I wanted to try out. I’ve been dipping my toes into Augmented Reality this summer as part of the Making Learning Connected MOOC, working with an app called Aurasma. This new one, called ColAR Mix, is pretty cool (and the app premium elements are free for part of this month).

The way it works is you download the app (obviously) and then you go the website, and print out one of the coloring pages they have available. Color the page anyway you like (Notice how I referenced the #clmooc on my shoe). Then, open the app and point the screen at the coloring page, and the object comes to life. Here, the shoes dances. In another one that my son did, a bear walks around and points up at the person holding the device.

What I would really like to see is open coloring, so that a person could draw whatever they wanted and that would come to life. I’m not sure how difficult that would be (probably, a lot) but for me, that would put a lot of more agency and creativity into the hands of the user. Still, for where Augmented Reality is right now, this app is pretty nifty and fun to use.

By the way, I used Vine to capture my coloring, too, as I was working on the shoe. And the video of the Augmented Reality was done by holding a camera above the iPad. The ColAR app does allow you to take screenshots of your creation and save it to the iPad, which is a handy feature to have for sharing.

Peace (in the colors that move),
Kevin

 

PS — Richard also shared out a previous post with five possibilities for Augmented Reality in the classroom that is worth checking out.