Tag Archives: clmooc

Developing Endurance

There’s nothing easy about the beginning of school.  As exciting as new beginnings are, they are also filled with uncertainty and maybe even a bit of fear of the unknown…on the part of the teacher, but also on the part of students and their parents.  Even in a class like mine where two-thirds of our students return each year, it takes some time to get back into the rhythms of learning together as a community.

And then there is the need to shift from the habits of summer…staying up late, sleeping in late, playing and vacationing, visiting with family and friends…back to the routines of the school year.  Further complicating the transition, it still feels like summer when school starts here.  It has been unseasonably warm (downright miserably hot in our non-air conditioned school), the kind of weather where the beach and the pool sound so much better than the classroom, for both teachers and students!

air conditioning

(This portable air conditioning unit was delivered Tuesday afternoon…the day of the peak highs! It helps, but its range and capacity do not match the size of the classroom!  Luckily, we should be near the end of unbearably hot weather.)

There’s also endurance that has to be developed; the ability to sustain focus for the work of school and learning that emerges alongside fluency, confidence, and stamina.  As a teacher I see this endurance grow as the school year progresses, especially in the area of writing.

Our writers are already surprising us this year, only weeks into the school year, with their endurance, creativity, and willingness to take risks.

reflection writing

With our returning writers, we see evidence of the layers of mentor texts and writing lessons they experienced last year, and for the third graders, the year before, along with the richness of stories they have read and listened to in their lives.  The first graders seem inspired by their older classmates, and are willing to put their emerging writing skills to use as they work through the challenges of transforming their thoughts and ideas into words on a page.

writing

writing 2

We’ve been writing in all areas of the curriculum…to learn, to think, to remember, to express. We write indoors and outdoors…garden writing

and we are working on revising to improve our writing too.  (You can take a peek at a collaborative piece of writing we did in honor of International Dot Day on our class blog. (Our students always welcome comments!)

We often think about endurance when it comes to physical tasks…and there are those that definitely require endurance.  I’m still working on improving my hiking endurance–increasing my mileage and speed and capacity to hike up steep inclines and setting a pace that allows me to continue to improve over time.

GPS

I’ve definitely learned over the years that endurance comes with repeated opportunities to do something that you actually want to do.  It takes time and we don’t all progress at the same rate.  It helps to notice your strengths and focus attention on areas where you want to grow and improve…and it always seem to help to learn in a community of supportive others who are also learning too.  The writers and learners in my class are developing endurance…there’s nothing easy about the beginning of school, but then again, things worth doing are seldom easy!

 

 

Summer Manifesto

There’s nothing like the CLMOOC to get the creative juices flowing…and the inspiration turned up high.  Ideas are arriving–pouring in fact–in flash flood proportions.  So I’m working hard to use the inspiration and not let the flood of ideas overwhelm and distract me.

This Summer Manifesto was posted this weekend…and I knew I would take it up and create one of my own–early in the summer, before my work pushes the good intentions from my priority list.  I hope this manifesto will be something I can return to throughout the summer to help remind me of my intentions.

So here goes:

Summer Manifesto

Spend time outdoors every day: exploring with my camera, walking/hiking for exercise, enjoying the sun and sea breezes…

Explore with my camera: try new strategies and techniques, go places in my community I haven’t yet visited, and see familiar places in new ways

Celebrate moments: take the time to breathe and laugh in the moment, even when they are squeezed between obligations and obstacles

Play: find the playful moments in everything I do…I even want to make brushing my teeth more like play!

Make stuff: digitally and physically, and keep trying even if it isn’t beautiful…and even share those “makes” that don’t quite turn out

Try something new: even if it’s scary!

And most of all, enjoy my family, quiet time, and a bit of adventure!

Welcome summer!

(I originally composed this manifesto in Noteography in my attempt to tty something new and make it more beautiful.  It offered Twitter as a way to publish it…and here’s my first try at embedding a Tweet on my blog post.  If you know a better way to use Noteography or some other application for similar purposes…I’d love to learn from you!)

 

 

Exploring Natives…and Some Extras!

If you’ve been reading my blog, you may have noticed my obsession with weeds (here, here, and here are some examples). So when I heard that the Lux Art Institute was hosting an artist whose work features weeds, I couldn’t wait to visit.  And I wasn’t disappointed.  Beverly Penn makes exquisite sculptures by casting what others might classify as ordinary or weed-like flora in bronze and then creating beautiful art that seems to breathe, move, and reflect light.  I wish I could have taken photos of the art–but the museum requested no photos in the studio.

And as an added extra, when I had a minute to chat with the artist, she talked about how her current work (that she is working on as she is in residency at the Lux) uses the native plants that grow prolifically on the Lux grounds.  As we left the studio, we headed out into the grounds to see the sculptures installed in the native plant trail…also surrounded by even more native chaparral.

I took this photo of the native buckwheat.  And if you look closely you will see a little extra in the background–one of the fanciful birdhouses that is a part of the sculpture collection at the Lux.

native and extra

As I walked the natives, I couldn’t resist stopping to put my macro lens on to get closer to these often unappreciated beauties.  Seeing Beverly Penn’s sculptures inspired my curiosity and had me wanting to look even more closely at these plants that seem to grow like weeds…and many consider weeds.  Lately, they have been celebrated for their resilience in drought conditions, requiring considerably less water than the decorative plants that many like to cultivate around homes and businesses.

This Hummingbird’s Trumpet uses its brilliant scarlet to attract pollinators…and my eye.

monkey flower

I was surprised to learn that this vibrant yellow bloom is called the California Brittlebush.  I love the bumpiness of the centers when when you get close.

brittle yellow

I’m really not sure of the name of this purple flowering plant.  The bloom is interesting because it includes a spiky ball and then a delicate flower.

purple native

purple native 2

My interest in weeds has also allowed me to find the beauty in the stages of blooming that some might dismiss as ugly or uninteresting.  This plant, the Seaside Daisy, had a few blossoms in full bloom with white petals and a bright yellow center.  But I found myself interested in the blossoms that were past their prime, “gone to seed”–reminding me of dandelions and their tenacious seed dispersement and the beauty of the husks as the seeds blow away.

seaside daisy husk

seaside daisy seed

I was also drawn to the black sage…a common plant in these parts.  The blossoms are now skeletons, and yet somehow their intricate beauty draws me in and the fragrance evokes San Diego summer.

black sage

I loved the extras that presented themselves as I headed off to the Lux today.  I was reminded to appreciate the natives…and look closely to find their beauty and intricacy.  And one more extra: I ran into one of my students (and her little sister who will be my student when school begins in the fall) as they came out of the art studio and I was about to enter.  Their mom mentioned that they were there because we had studied weeds…they just couldn’t wait to see what the artist was doing with weeds as her subject!  What a great beginning to summer!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Doing

Do you speak in images? Enjoy taking photos to document your experiences or just to express what you notice in the world? Love to share them with others? Welcome to the weekly photo challenge! I post a new challenge each week…check in regularly and join the fun!

Tomorrow is my last day of school with my students, so they’ve been thinking a lot about summer and what they will be doing.  And we’ve been doing a lot in the classroom this last week, taking advantage of our mild sunny weather and the incredible independence the students have developed over the course of the school year.  Monday was a field trip to the NAT–the San Diego Natural History Museum–where students were busy doing a lot of inquiring and thinking about all the science learning they have done this year.

creating energy at the NAT

Here’s one of my students using his hands to pedal to create the energy to cause water to run in a sink.  And then I couldn’t resist snapping this picture of a group of students busily writing in the pirate ship at the NAT.

pirate ship writing

Yesterday we had our second annual rock climbing event with third graders.  It’s bittersweet to get to June when you’ve taught students for three years and know that they will be leaving and moving on to 4th grade and a new school too.  So we spent yesterday afternoon rock climbing at a climbing gym.  I got many shots of kids doing climbing.  I love watching them gain confidence as they try again and again.  This little girl had no fear…she climbed to the very top again and again!

rock climbing

This one isn’t my student, but I love when students take the initiative to make a difference in the world.  I found these informational signs around our school, attached to fences with pipe cleaners.  I did manage to track down the authors so I could congratulate them for their earnest efforts to improve the world.

bug psa

And I’ve been doing some doing too.  Just recently we put on an Advanced Institute at our writing project (SDAWP) focused on paper circuitry.  It’s such fun to play around with writing and science and all the connections between the two.  Here’s a fairly rudimentary parallel circuit I made playing with conductive thread instead of the copper tape I’ve used before.

notebook lights

And over the weekend I was exploring our local botanical gardens when I came face to face with this little guy.  A lot of my doing is related to photography…and it takes me to interesting places and seeing (and photographing( interesting things.

frog

And all this thinking about doing has me thinking about the CLMOOC (which begins tomorrow) and the making and doing I will be involved in there.  I hope all of you will join in the fun as well!

So this week’s challenge is to focus on doing…your own or the doing you see around you. You can be watching doing in action, capture things you are doing, or any combination that works for you. As always, you are the one who gets to decide what counts as doing…so have fun, and start doing, especially if you are having fun!

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!)

I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #doing for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

So get going and get doing!  Can’t wait to see what you are doing this week.

 

Playing with Cyanotype

Early this year I decided on play for my one little word.  And I have been making time for play on a pretty regular basis.  A lot of my play is related to photography and making time to take photos has me seeking out opportunities to explore that I might not have done otherwise.  I’ve explored places in my community that I have never been before…and I am definitely spending lots of time outdoors, especially on the weekend, rather than doing housework or even reading!

For Mother’s Day this year a manilla envelope arrived in the mail from my son and daughter-in-law.  As I opened it I found a typewritten note and a smaller manilla envelope.  I love the note, knowing that it was typed on a typewriter that my son found left next to the dumpster near his home…and that he typed it.  The note explained that I would find specially treated cyanotype paper that he had prepared for me.  It gave me step by step instructions for using the paper…and included a few “negatives” that I could try if I wanted.

I played around a bit…and then got busy so it has stayed in the envelope until last weekend.  I started thinking about that cyanotype paper and what I wanted to play around with.  As I headed out for my beach walk on Saturday, I purposely looked for shell pieces that would work with this positive/negative kind of exposure (a rudimentary kind of photography).  As we walked I noticed so many different kinds of shells and rocks…and sea glass!  I seldom find sea glass on our beaches, but for some reason pieces of sea glass kept presenting themselves.  We also found quite a few shell structures with holes and openings.

beach finds

When I got home, I pulled out the paper treated with the cyanotype chemicals and laid the shells out.  I took them out for about five minutes of sun exposure, brought the paper back in to rinse to stop the exposure…and here is the resulting cyanotype shell study.

shell cyanotype

I love the dimension of this print.  The way the shadows create an almost three dimensional effect.

This attempt excited me, so I gathered some plant pieces and created an arrangement on another piece of treated paper.

This created an interesting result, but I found that the lightweight plants blow when I put them outside…there were pieces of lavender on the lower left…and they left a faint impression when they blew away.

Then I grabbed a leaf branch from a tree in my backyard and created an arrangement with the beach glass as the grounding.

I like the way the beach glass produced an interesting effect when placed in the sun.  I tried another one today…and won’t subject you to the results.  Playing around with this printing technique is tricky.  Objects that are too dense or too thick create big light splotches that are less interesting and pleasing than those that have opacity or cast interesting shadows that create dimension.

I have only a few pieces of treated paper left…but my son tells me it is easy and relatively cheap to create my own.  I’ve had fun playing with this technique and created some interesting pieces. I think the shell study is my current favorite…although I do like this early piece I did with some dandelions and other weeds from the yard.

dandelion cyanotype

I like that I have been playing enough that others are giving me encouragement and opportunity to play more.  And I know that taking time to play is good for me, good for my family, and good for my students.  I’ve noticed that lots of my play is about making…making photos, circuits, art, movies.  And I’m looking forward to some more play and making when the CLMOOC begins again on Friday.  So maybe this post is a preview of another summer of making…and playing with others through social media and connected learning.  Will you join us and do some of your own connecting, making and playing?

Connected and Digital: A Reflection

Today I had the opportunity to be a panelist on a webinar entitled, “Connected and Digital: Improving Learning for All Students,” put on by the Alliance for Excellent Education in conjunction with Digital Learning Day and their Digital Learning Transition MOOC.

I’ve been exploring connected learning for a while now, and love the way the learning principles:

  • interest driven
  • peer supported
  • academically oriented

and design principles:

  • production-centered
  • openly networked
  • shared purpose

work together to create a powerful dynamic for learning.  In my view, connected learning is the embodiment of what it means to be a lifelong learner, learning because you want to, because you are interested, because you find it compelling and enjoyable.  And that is what I want for myself and for my students.  And just like my students, sometimes my interest in a topic or activity is piqued because someone drew my attention to something I didn’t even know that I wanted to learn about.

When I was invited to talk about connected learning and digital learning and the relationship between the two I had a little laugh at myself.  A couple of years ago I remember asking over and over again, as part of a group exploring connected learning, if connected learning meant digital learning.  And while I was given answers, it was this summer when I participated in the Connected Learning MOOC (clmooc) that I came to a firm understanding that all connected learning doesn’t have to be digital, but that digital tools allow for an amplification of learning that is often not possible without it.  I know it has had a profound impact on my photography as I share my efforts and connect with others across the nation and all over the world who have similar interests.

What I loved most about my experience on the panel today was the opportunity to think deeply and carefully about why I believe connected and digital learning are important in schools and their relationship to issues of equity and access.  Mary Ann Wolf, who moderated the webinar, took the time before the actual webinar to talk with each of the panelists separately about our experiences and views and then constructed a series of questions for us to think about a few days prior to today’s event.  I like the question/answer format, that while structured, still allows for a flow of ideas and responses to one another’s ideas.

I also like that although I was one of the panelists and had already done a lot of thinking about this topic, I found the conversation interesting, illuminating, and stimulating.  Comments made and information shared by Bud Hunt and Sara Hall have me thinking about aspects of connected and digital learning that I haven’t given my full attention just yet.  I left the hour-long conversation with a full brain and many more ideas to think about, as well as resources to explore and new contacts to reach out to in this journey.

If you are interested, here is the archived version of the webinar:

What do you think about connected learning and digital learning?  How are they enacted in your classroom?  In your life?

Thinking about MOOCs

MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) are becoming more prevalent.  They seem to be the new “thing” in learning.  Zac over at Autodizactic is asking folks to help him think about MOOCs.

I’m not sure I even know what I think about MOOCs.  Like Zac, I have signed up for MOOCs that I have then abandoned.  It seems easy to both sign up for something that sounds interesting and that you can “attend” asynchronously.  And then when it actually begins, it seems easy to let it go when life gets too busy or the tasks seem too arduous or mundane.

I’m currently signed up for a MOOC, led by people whose work I admire, focused on academic language development for English language learners…and I’m very interested in the subject matter.  But already I’m having trouble finding time to do the readings and complete the tasks assigned.  I’m pretty certain I won’t be completing this MOOC.

This summer I had a completely different experience with the Connected Learning MOOC, clmooc, through the National Writing Project.  And maybe the most important difference was in the way the acronym “mooc” was defined.  Instead of being a “Massive Open Online Course”, the clmooc was defined as a Massive Open Online Collaboration.

There were still facilitators.  And instead of assignments, there were make cycles.  And participants were invited to add to make cycles, interpret them in their own ways, create totally new makes…generally make the experience work for them.

I found the experience exhilarating!  I expected to “lurk” around the edges of this experience.  I knew when I signed up that this would be an extremely busy time for me.  I was coordinating the SDAWP Summer Institute, starting a new grant-funded project, and supporting resource development for another project.  But, because I found it relevant and because of the interaction with facilitators and participants, I was compelled to continue and experiment and learn and grow.

Drawing on Connected Learning principles, my learning was interest-driven, peer supported, and openly networked.  It was also production-centered, academically oriented, and had a shared purpose.  And best of all, it was fun.  Each effort made me interested in trying something else.

I was both connected and learning…and I have a badge to show for it!

badge_be1ee794-764e-4739-981e-69a447770c74

I have many reservations about MOOCs, especially those that are trying to be courses.  I am all for open learning opportunities–I’m just not so sure that we need “courses,” in the formal sense of the word, to achieve the goal of opening access to learning.  And for me, the “course-ness” is the very quality that causes me to “drop out” of MOOCs.

So, Zac (and anyone else who is thinking about MOOCs), I’m not so sure my musing are helpful here…but this thinking is helping me understand why the CLMOOC worked for me and these other MOOCs haven’t.

And now about those badges…I’m not so sure I’m sure what I think about them either. And I have two of them…

Here’s my other one.  It was awarded me by a peer for being a connected educator.

ca43b8ed66346f49da41321ab07a1c5f6c3740de0ce4dd3181a89916ac13cd0a

What are you thinking about MOOCs…and about badges?