Adventures in #realworldPBL: The Field Trip

What could possibly go wrong?

what could possibly go wrong Remember when teaching was simply planning a lecture, shutting the door, and delivering it to students? This may have been easy for the teacher, but it certainly didn’t make for deep and relevant learning for the students. The work of developing project-based, engaging, and personalized learning is much more complex.

It’s also full of uncertainty. Let me tell you about a recent field trip I took with students.

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Beyond the audience of one

Why digital composition matters

why digital composition mattersI’d like you to think back to your days as a student. What kinds of writing did you do? Who read it? What made it important to you? And what made it important to the world?

If you’re like most people, you’re probably drawing a blank right now. Some of today’s students, though, can clearly articulate just how and why their writing is important. And we don’t mean writing as you might imagine, but rather digital composition:  digital stories, digital portfolios, documentary films, and of course, podcasts. For each of these, there is a real audience, one beyond the more typical audience of one, the teacher.

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What to say instead of “21st Century”

Shifting the conversation from “the future” to my future

Alex Shevrin: Is extra credit an equity issue?When “21st century skills” first emerged as an educational term, we were just on the precipice of our new century, and talking about the next one hundred years felt future-forward. Now, fifteen years in, “21st century” to me implies current more than future.

“21st century,” then, as a descriptor for a set of skills, gets confusing.

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The Floating Classroom

by Dayna McRoberts

lying_on_a_dockThe Community Sailing Center (CSC) in Burlington has developed a multi-age, year-round environmental curriculum that works in conjunction with local schools to teach the opportunistic, seasonal lessons provided by Burlington’s landscape. Floating Classrooms engages students with their environment through ecology, science, and a medium the CSC holds dear: sailing.

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Beyond Bling: how do we deepen Makerspace learning?

How do we move all new learners to the deep end of the pool?

how do we deepen Makerspace learning?

Photo by Cecilia Denhard. CC 2.0

As I walked through an innovation showcase at SxSw 2015 (one of the the largest convergences of creative and critical thinkers last March) I was struck by the juxtaposition of two tables that were adjacent to each other.

One offered “Creative Circuit kits provide girls with all of the materials to make 10+ arts, crafts, and fashion projects with technology” the other offered “opportunities for students to replicate experiments you perform in your classrooms using an Arduino kit and a sensor kit on a nano-satellite via Nasa’s CubeSat Launch Initiatives.”

As a long time advocate for initiatives that increase the confidence and skills of girls with technology, I appreciate that the “creative circuit kit” might provide a great opportunity to engage girls with technology, but I find myself concerned that it would be easy to gain a false sense of accomplishment if we don’t move beyond ‘bling’.

I find myself wondering what are the steps that connect the excitement from “blink blink” to the curiosity that leaves you wondering “what type of sensor do I need to create an experiment that I can test in space?”

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What it’s really like to use an LMS with students

edmodo vs Schoology, digital badges and how to leave a great comment

The 21st Century Classroom podcast by the Tarrant Institute5th grade Peoples Academy Middle Level teacher Hannah Lindsey returns this week with a look at what it’s really like to use an LMS with students. She sat down with Mark Olofson to talk about her experiences with edmodo and Schoology in the classroom.

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What does Minecraft look like in a school?

Crafting Pickaxes, swords and social skills

how teachers use MinecraftSince its release in 2009, Minecraft has made its way into 60 million homes worldwide and has become the best-selling PC game of all time. The game can now be played on multiple platforms, including XBox, Playstation, and most smart phones and tablets. There are Youtube videos with literally millions of views of people playing Minecraft while providing their own commentary. Shoppers can now purchase Lego sets, T-shirts, keychains, books, foam pickaxes, costumes, and so much more. For educators, it’s becoming nearly impossible to make it through a day without hearing children talk about Minecraft.

So how can teachers use Minecraft in the classroom?

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The digital native problem

Labels get in the way of fully understanding people

Innovation ANESUIn a recent Twitter chat #vted we were discussing digital citizenship and the confounded label “digital native” came up.  Labels typically get in the way of fully understanding people, and these terms “digital native” and “digital immigrant” smack of ageism and false assumptions.  Coined by Marc Prensky over 14 years ago, it was meant to prompt educators to think differently about teaching and learning.  The digital tools now available to learners allow us to go far beyond the walls of the classroom; one of my history teachers is blogging with students in Bhutan this week, for example, mutually solving problems through the lenses of their own culture.  When I was in ninth grade, we had a dusty old textbook that managed to make even Ancient Rome boring.  The world has indeed changed and teaching and learning need to change with the times.

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Professional development through Google Hangouts

Two years ago, our middle level team undertook a pilot project to begin work on personal learning plans (PLPs). Under the guidance of James Nagle, professor of education at St. Michael’s College, Team Summit teachers and students initiated the process of creating personal learning plans as mandated by Act 77 and the state of Vermont. The work progressed through several stages of development. Initially, students created their personal learning plan using a template created through Google Sites. Soon after, students began using the PLP as a record of growth and reflection, goals, personal strengths and challenges, and as a multimodal platform to demonstrate their learning.

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Digital citizenship in the real world

Learning on and off-line civics

digital citizenship in the real worldWhenever I taught civics, I repeatedly told my classes that I would measure my success as a teacher on how many of them were voting in elections in five years. Of course, I had no way to measure this, but it was one of my most concrete goals of teaching a civics course.

This was my definition of active citizenship. It was based on an earlier definition of citizenship, before I had fully integrated the lessons from Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat into my classroom. While globalization has made the world flat, it is really technology I see as having expanded the definition of active citizenship and the opportunities to engage in citizenship.

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