Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fear & creativity

Today's quote from my Don't Sweat the Small Stuff daily calendar:

That which we focus our attention on expands. If we spend our mental energy worrying, it's difficult if not impossible to create great abundance. Our fear gets in the way of our creativity and traps us in the status quo.
I also recently spent some time with the Creatively Fit website, to push myself to think differently and embrace the intelligences I spend less time with in my day to day. I'm considering, too, a charcoal drawing class at Brooklyn Brainery.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Show your learning

I'm at the tail end of a slow period at work, so my personal educational pursuits are not coming so naturally now that I don't have free time for self-directed professional development during my day job. This has led me to feel a bit lost in OOE13. I'm feeling the lack of focus I have in this MOOC, and I imagine I may be experiencing a common feeling that turns a lot of people off MOOCs.

Grant Wiggins blogged about measuring learning ("Experiential Learning"), and it prompted me to wonder about how I measure up to some of the questions he asks. That is, what do I have to show for all my reading of articles and searching out definitions? He asks:
"What are the key indicators to look for in judging whether your attempt at experiential learning is working?"
"One of the most frequent answers is a clear and specific sense of purpose, linking the activity to the WHY? question – We’re doing this because... We’re learning this because..."
"What does this help you do that’s important?"

I need a new goal.

But much of my frustration and directionlessness may be because I'm not engaged in experiential learning. Instead of being in a classroom with a roomful of kids and 20 tablets, I'm in an office scouring the Internet for theories and anecdotes that correspond to my vision of what technology in the classroom could or should look like. I am learning by connecting, but it is interesting to think about how different my MOOC experience will be compared with that of someone like this BYOD teacher, who is most certainly learning by experience as she's learning by connecting.

Has anything been written about the benefits of MOOCs for those who are currently engaged in whatever the topic is, compared to those less initiated, who may be trying to learn before doing?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Digital learning primer

As one of my OOE13 goals, I started a portfolio of articles as an introduction to digital learning and tech integration for curriculum developers. I created a Learnist board.

The problem is, I've been so subsumed in reading and research for a few months that I don't know how much background information to provide. Plus, I imagine my colleagues are all in different places of understanding now.

I'm wondering what general impression my compilation provides so far. I'm going for: students learn through doing and should be given more freedom to create and be self-guided learners. That is, I want to influence my colleagues away from the teacher-centered approach to tech (explained in "Three competing visions of educational technology. Which is yours?" this way: "'Interactive' white boards, presenting information or managing whole-class simulations are examples of computing for the teacher. In this scenario, the teacher is the actor, the classroom a theatre, the students the audience and the computer is a prop") and toward a student-centered approach.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Personal growth via professional development

One of my other recent learning projects (which I chose not to publicly blog about) is an interest in psychology. I've been trying to improve my own understanding of feelings and interpersonal issues and get back to a sense of depth and awe I seem to have lost in my twenties.

In my more public professional development efforts--online courses on teaching for learning and participating in the Open Online Experience MOOC--I keep noticing connections to growth efforts I consider more personal.

Foundations of Teaching for Learning drew my attention to Transactional Analysis (TA); the roles people play of parent, child, and adult; and this video on a TA view of games people play. The concept resonated with me, and with personal growth in mind, I just started reading I'm OK, You're OK. It's been sitting on my partner's bookshelf for years (with the rest of her social worker library), and I never would have given it a second of consideration if not for my Coursera course on teaching.

In the course materials, professor John MacBeath also encourages viewers to consider the concept: "Punish only in anger." He points out that although many are quick to assume this is poor advice, some things that make you angry (for instance, racism or other forms of bigotry or discrimination) often should be swiftly reacted to rather than contemplated. I've been thinking a lot about anger generally, so it's refreshing to have a notion to chew on from a more formal source than my own brain.

I recently heard about Learnist, and polled the OOE13 folks about it. Brendan Murphy shared his boards with me, and the first slide in 21st Century Teacher struck me. "If you want to be a carpenter, then you apprentice with a master carpenter. If you want to be a learner, then you should be apprenticing with a master learner too."

This quote is from Gary Stager's institute on PBL at ASB Unplugged2012. Original Image by Rob Shenk licensed under CC BY SA. Via Clint Hamada.
I was thinking about my future and my career before I launched into these professional development projects. I discovered that one of the things I get most engaged and rewarded by is learning new things, and I planned to research careers that take advantage of it, thinking first of being a workflow consultant (except for the whole people-losing-their-jobs part). 
Is education one of few careers that rewards and requires deep personal growth? In my office jobs, it hasn't felt so important and hasn't happened organically. Do you think of education when you consider careers for lifelong learners? What other careers do you think of?

Monday, October 7, 2013

An informed outsider's perspective on Education Nation

I think of myself as a connected and curious person. But I am new to the education field. I was curious about Diane Ravitch even before I entered the field: the magazine I used to work for gave her books rave reviews; I recall a friend of mine muttering disparagingly about her; and I've read articles praising her as they put down Michelle Rhee. I don't have enough background to make my own judgment about her, and I still feel out of the loop.

This is all just to give you context on what led me to click through from Twitter to an Education Week blog titled Marginalizing the Teaching Profession: Merrow, Ravitch, and Education Nation. Here, I read:
The annual Education Nation extravaganza is just over a week away. As has been widely noted, the list of presenters includes almost nobody with any actual experience working with children. No teachers. No prominent parent advocates. What is more, there is hardly even anyone we would recognize as being expert in education.... Educators have been completely silenced at a summit focused on our profession. (Anthony Cody)
So, that's the first thing I've ever heard about Education Nation. Back on Twitter, I see the hashtag rolling through my feed, which prompts me to actually Google Education Nation to simply find out what it is.

First of all, I love that it's being live-streamed. Of course coming from NBC, the connection is good, but a simple thing like that (access and user experience) can make all the difference.

I would appreciate more transparency about who's presenting. I tuned in during a presentation from Thirty Million Words, which I gathered as the presenter dropped their name a few times. But to find the context of this presentation, I had to scroll far down the page, note the time, and look at the schedule for context of who I was listening to.

I also caught Standford's Dr. Caroline Hoxby presenting on low-income, high-achieving students and how unlikely it is for them to apply to selective colleges. Expanding College Opportunities sends informational interventions via the mail and Internet to these students about college opportunities. The research was very convincing, but I wonder whether it is clear to families where/who these mailers are coming from? Once again, I feel like context is essential. Being a curious person and life-long learner these days requires skepticism, so transparency is so important.

How many of you caught the "Personalized Learning" ed tech panel? I have many thoughts on it. But most basically, in any situation, I hate to see a moderator immediately put panelists on the defensive. Was he trying to represent the popular opinion?