Friday, December 16, 2016

Learner Agents

The past few years our education system and needs have continued to change as our society has changed. We have moved from an industrial age to the digital we look around our world we are more mobile, digital and have information overload (*by 2007, 94 percent of information was digital, meaning that the world's digital information alone would overshoot the moon if stored on CD-ROM. It would stretch 280,707.5 miles (451,755 km)). We are now able retrieve facts, information, formulas at our fingertips. We as learners will need to take this information and do something with it.

With this change in ability to retrieve information we need to shift our learning for our students from recalling facts to being able to do something with facts and data. The term learner agency is defined as:  **when learners have “the power to act”.  Agency is when learning involves the activity and the initiative of the learner, more than the inputs that are transmitted to the learner from the teacher, from the curriculum, the resources and so forth. In the past our schools have catered mostly for groups of learners, for classes of kids, with a one size fits all approach. Arguably, many students felt disenfranchised in the midst of that, as they just had to sit and do what they were told. Lessons were delivered to students who were passive in the way that they received that. When learners move from being passive recipients to being much more active in the learning process, actively involved in the decisions about the learning, then they have greater agency - per Core Core-ed

At Underwood Elementary our mission is to provide a relevant and engaging education that will graduate students who are collaborative, creative, effective communicators and critical thinkers. Last year in an effort to increase our digital capabilities we piloted BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) in eleven of our classrooms. This year we will have over 20 classrooms utilizing BYOD in their learning. Along with an increase in digital use, many of our classrooms are getting makeovers in their seating and learning appearance. Remake your classroom to support collaborative learning is taking place in many of our classrooms to increase collaboration, support individual learners, and provide choice for students. We are utilizing Google Classroom, Google Application, Genuis Hour, Makerspace, and other tools/resources to support students' learning.

How are you creating a learner agency in your school?


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

First GAFE

I just completed my first Google Apps for Education Summit this week and as with many of these events I leave with lots of items rolling around in my head...

First idea, the power of voice, choice and telling our stories. I have spent the last year working on telling my story and telling the story of the school that I have the honor of leading and I am more energize in helping students and teachers voice their stories.

Celebrating the great things at school!

Who is telling your school's story?

Who is telling your story?

Second item was continued focus on being a supporter of learner driven learning environment. This will require reflection on our school spaces. We are looking at our hallways, common areas, classrooms for seating, collaborative areas, independent learning, etc.

For all of this reflections and learning opportunities there needs to be a balance.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Reading Lists

Summer Time, is a time to reflect, recharge, and rejuvenate my mission to support students continuous learning. This month I have chosen to read three books to support my brainstorming ideas. I highly recommend these books:

1. Kids Deserve It!
by Todd Nesloney (@techNijaTodd) and Adam Welcome  (@awelcome). This book highlights the importance of what is best for Kids. It puts the focus back on what is best for kids! It also provides examples and idea starters in creating an school learning environment with the students at the center.
      • Relationships matter 
      • Visit students homes 
      • "we have to view every child as a seed waiting to bloom"
      • #kidsdererveit 
      • "get off the island and start collaborating".
 2.  Innovators Mindset
by George Courous - This book exemplifies the importance of relationships, reflection on the ways we think, and building trust with the learning communities. "The world only cares about--and pays off on -- what you can do with what you know (and it doesn't care how you learned it)".
        • competitive collaboration 
        • 8 things to look for in Today's Classroom -- pg 111
        • I Learn (via Krissy Venosdale) 
        • Creativity is where we start to think differently, and innovation is where creativity comes to life #innovatorsMindset

by John Spencer and AJ Juilani - This book provides a modeled design to create collaborative, innovative, and critical thinking learning model.
          • Look, Listen, and Learn - Ask Lots of Questions - Understand the Problem or Process - Navigate Ideas - Create - Highlight What's Working and Failing 
          • We all creative and provides strategies to support this in classrooms of all ages 
          • Often the Labels kids receive become the lies that they believe 
          • Ask TONS of questions
          • "If school is meant to prepare people for real life, then why doesn't school look like real life?" - Bo Adams 
These books continue to reinforce the importance of creating a learning environment that is built on relationships, innovation/asking critical thinking questions, and putting the students first (and a part) of the learning process.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

How to build a collaborative culture

"There is no I in team...two heads are better than one..." these are cliches that speak to working in a team, but what is true collaboration and how do we support our young learners in working with their peers emotionally, socially, and intellectually?  We are working with our students on how to work with others, but before they can work in a group it is important to for them to know their strengths and ways that they learn the best. In our fifth grade classrooms we have students take surveys to see how they learn and what some of their strengths are so they can know how they will help a group and where they may need some help themselves.

What is collaboration? - Collaborate is defined as “to work, one with another; cooperate, as on a literary work”. Collaboration is different than group work...think of a time that you worked in a group. Was there one person that did most of the work, one person that didn't listen to everyone else and one person that wasn't interested in being a part of the group? Our students are learning to being an active part of a collaborative team. At times they are given specific roles to ensure that all are involved, other times students divide up the work, or they are grouped based on their determined skill set to support the group with their strengths.

What characteristics are needed to have a collaborative culture? Trust, being open to ideas, having a safe space, a tough skin, and being open to feedback and discussions. How do you create or provide a learning environment that supports these characteristics? It starts by building relationships with your students, but just as important are the students building relationships with each other. This is done through tools to support conflict resolution, learning about their feelings and how to positively express them, and practicing team work in a variety of settings prior to them being expected to work together. We are giving and providing the tools to support collaboration and not just expecting students to play nice with each other.

What are the tools needed to create a learning environment that supports and encourages collaboration?  Time, space and people. We will continue to provide students with the opportunity to collaborate with their peers in a variety of settings and purposes.

Digital tools - Join me, Google Apps, Skype, Google +, Google Hangout, Projector Apple TV or Chromecast to showcase the product that you are working on to the group. If you are using a Google Application such as Drive (document) collaborators are able to see the changes as they happen or through the comments section in the document.

Collaboration is essential for our students to be successful in school, but also in their future pursuits.