A Final Make

“Equity in education is a measure of achievement, fairness, and opportunity in education.” The six principles of connected learning, interest-driven learning, peer-supported learning, academically-oriented teaching, production-centered classrooms, openly networked and shared purpose have led me to create connected learning and equity a reality in the world, well at least create an idea (which I hope to implement in my school) that encourages equity!

My final make is a proposed plan for a multicultural event in my district.  In a world that is constantly evolving, the cultures around us can help us evolve. In a world where we are fighting prejudice and stereotypes, an event like this can aid us in accepting and understanding others. In a world where we want all educational opportunities to be fair and available, this will allow students, families and staff to collaborate, communicate, socialize and create (what they want). Families will be invited to the school to help their children and the staff share elements of their culture or ethnicity with members of the community.  Events will be student and staff and even family created.

The inspiration for the make comes from my own observations. I’ve lost count of the times I have heard, in my class, “Why are we learning Mexican?” It is a constant battle to make students aware of cultural differences, including the difference between a language and a nationality/ethnicity. And even more recently a lack of disrespect of a specific group really affected me. I saw a student draw a swastika on another student’s arm. They referred to the symbol as a window. I immediately became upset. Why would a student do this? But, then I also thought, do they know anything about this symbol? And the answer is…no. I discussed my observation with some of my classes. So many of them didn’t know the difference between a swastika and the Star of David. I then touched upon some history of the Holocaust and they immediately became embarrassed for the student that did the drawing.

Before presenting the idea of a multicultural event to my students I wanted their opinions and views on diversity and culture in their community. My classes were quiet, like really quiet. And then one brave hand went up…

“We don’t have a lot of diversity.”

Then, this comment opened the discussion of their own observations of racism, discrimination and prejudice…

“Our generation doesn’t value culture.”
“I like eating different kinds of food.”
“My neighbor is Amish.”
“Everyone in my neighborhood is white.”
“My family is Swedish and so are some of my friends.”

Some comments came as a surprise and others I expected. Then, I presented the idea of a multicultural night, that will function a lot like a Stem Night that the school just hosted. And all are on board!

“I think an event like this sounds cool!”
“It will definitely be interesting.”
“We should learn more about other cultures.”
“Experiencing different cultures could end stereotyping.”
“Will there be food?”

So, why a multicultural event? Will an event like this really help us recognize and understand the cultures around us? Would an event like this make us more tolerant to the differences we see among our classmates and community members? Absolutely! All of the planning and implementing will include these principles of connected learning: interest-powered, peer-supported, production-centered and shared purpose.

After cohort groups are formed, either by related ethnicity or interest, students, staff, family and community members will collaborate and create the activities and materials for each room for the event. The planning process and preparation for the night, I anticipate, would take about two weeks. Teachers and students will share a purpose and that is to educate themselves and others about the cultures around us in our community. Students will have to opportunity to work on what interests them, whether it is creating Middle Eastern art, constructing the letter home, tweeting about the event, seeking sponsors to help with the event or participating in digital storytelling. Some rooms will require activities to already be made, while others can be created with the help of active participants. All in all, collaboration is evident, support is evident and equity in connected learning is evident! All interested in helping can help. Help can take place wherever and whenever. Students, teachers, families and community members will have to problem-solve, communicate, collaborate and connect and most importantly learn from each other in a 21st century learning experience. 

With keeping my original inquiry question in mind, about connecting with colleagues, I think teachers will be honored to share their expertise and drive to create equity with the students and community.

Objective

  • To educate students, families and staff about different cultures in the school and community.
  • To create connectedness among students, staff, family and community members.

Step 1: Find volunteers (students, staff, families and community members)

  • What do you know about your ethnicity and culture?
  • What role do you want to play in the planning process?
  • Create cohorts (including students, teachers, family and community members)
  • Sponsors?

Step 2: First meeting

  • The goal
  • Size of the event
  • Date
  • Timeline

Step 3: Advertise it! Offer incentives!

  • Post the event on the school website
  • Tweet the event
  • Create posters (pass out in the community and send home)
  • Create phone message for all district recipients
  • Students who attend are rewarded (ie pajama day)

Step 4: Plan the night!

  • Room
  • Culture
  • Activity
  • Food
Room Culture Activity Food Teacher
Room 1 African Digital storytelling (biography)

**reading and writing

*authentic cuisine/snack
TBD
Reading Specialist
Room 2 Variety Social norms/Helping students feel comfortable in the classroom and community

(demonstration of traditional interaction)

*authentic cuisine/snack
TBD
Guidance counselor
Room 3 Haitian/Creole Recreate/rebuild villages and communities destroyed by the earthquake
Problem-solve and determine best options for rebuilding
(utilize apps like minecraft)
*authentic cuisine/snack
TBD
Technology and science teachers
Room 4 Middle Eastern Create modified /traditional art and other artifacts *authentic cuisine/snack
TBD
Art teacher/Tech Ed Teacher
Room 5 Middle Eastern Participate in traditional dances and listen to traditional music *authentic cuisine/snack
TBD
Music teacher
Room 6 Hispanic Provide technology tutorial to help navigate Schoology (the district’s LMS) in the native language

(iPads, projector)

*authentic cuisine/snack
TBD
ESL Specialist
Room 7 Korean Play and create abstract math games *authentic cuisine/snack
TBD
Math teacher
Room 8 Egyptian Take a tour of ancient ruins through Google Earth *authentic cuisine/snack
TBD
Social studies teacher

Step 5: Create materials

  • Map of the building, including where each room/culture can be found
  • Passport for “traveling” community members and students
  • Letter home
  • Decorations

Step 6: Cohort groups meet

  • Plan and create (digital stories, math games, google earth tour, schoology tutorial, art, music, minecraft examples, etc)
  • Plan food menu
  • Practice any necessary presentations

Step 7: Execute!

After the event…

Ideally, I would like to receive feedback in the form of a survey. I would create something like this.

**This is a tentative plan that I would really like to bring to my district, so all feedback is welcomed!**

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Coming together with a shared purpose

Learning with a shared purpose:

  • students are tuned in
  • authentic learning takes place
  • connect the real world with what they are learning
  • shows expertise
  • honors knowledge
  • opportunities to explore, expand and collaborate
  • “I know something!”

Above are my initial implications of what learning with a shared purpose looks like. When our students, well any human being actually, have a purpose, then they are tuned in. If they can connect their learning to the real world, then authentic learning takes place. Our students come from all different background and have different background knowledge from one another. But, when we honor their knowledge and give them the opportunity to demonstrate their expertise, they then explore, expand and collaborate. Which then leads them to share their “ah-ha” moments: “I know how about this, therefore…or I know something about this, therefore…”

When I was watching “No Water, No Life”: A Video by Detroit Future Schools and Youth from The Boggs School, I felt happy. I felt impressed. These young students did a fantastic way of relaying the message about the water issue. And, more importantly, they did it their way. Clearly, they were comfortable in front of the camera! While I loved watching their acting, I was drawn to their reflections after the news report. They mentioned topics like stereotypes, assumptions, exaggerations, awareness and brainstorming. They had a purpose, a shared purpose. They used what they knew, used their research and worked collectively with the digital media producer in order to produce!

Listening to Danielle Filipiak’s responses to the questions of pre-service teachers is so refreshing! Gosh, I just love her reactions to the questions and her passion behind the answers are so authentic! The second active participant asked Danielle, “How much time do you spend community building in your class?” Immediately, Danielle mentions that this time is spent at the beginning of the year. And I agree, it is so crucial to know our students. And also mentioned is that included in knowing our students, trust needs to be established between teacher and students, students and students, and they have to trust themselves.

My students and I love to share! We share our opinions and observations about activities, we share our interests and hobbies, we share our feelings (especially this week…we shared about how we want a longer spring break), we share about good and bad moments in life. My purpose here..to listen, to help, to engage, TO MAKE THEM FEEL IMPORTANT!

Just this week, my 8th grade Spanish 1 students finished their “make” for the house chapter. As I mentioned in my post, “Reflecting on making…a maker’s experience,” they were to create their ideal house or apartment. I was so happy with the turn out! I have artistic (really, really artistic), creative, free-spirited, regimented, comical, fearful and timid students. Most of them found their niche in collaboration and created some really awesome houses/apartments. Some totally ran with the idea of using recyclable materials, like seen in Caine’s arcade, while others took the technology approach and used apps like Room Planner, Planner 5D and Minecraft! Watching them communicate and collaborate and help others was so breathe-taking. I really found the whole process emotional. The conversations, ideas and work was authentic. I really believe that they knew they had a purpose while making. I observe them communicate while working on worksheets and other activities, but this was different. And I had a role, too! And my role was really out of my comfort zone. But, I survived! After spring break, my students and I are going to reflect on the make and I am really looking forward to hearing about what they thought. Our shared purpose is to create authentic experiences that engage them in the target language and I cannot wait to continue on this journey with them! 🙂

I have a really positive story to share about this making experience! I have student who often is not committed to his work in my class. He doodles on ALL his work. I work one-on-one with him, but he says, “I don’t get it.” The class isn’t interesting to him. But, once he was presented with this opportunity to create, a totally different student emerged. He was immediately engaged. He started doodling/designing, brainstorming, scanning our makerspace for the best materials, aiding others in cutting and assembling and working diligently and committing! And when I read Chapter 6: Shared Purpose, in Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom, I was able to relate to the story of Roberto. I have finally seen my student’s ability to connect to the material through his interest in the arts and I am so proud!

 

Navigating through openness…where will networking on and offline take me?!

As an active participant in social media, meaning I facebook, I twitter, I instagram, I snapchat, I stalk (sadly, yes) and I network! The world wide web is a fun, exciting and more importantly resourceful tool for everyone! Yes, everyone, from my own toddler children, to my middle school-aged students, to me and to my grandmother! The internet is the perfect example of an open network. All users, including the contributors to the webinar called, Classrooms as Community Hubs: Developing Open Digital Networks, discuss the benefits of becoming openly networked and share their personal experiences. For example, several students express their interest and eagerness to participate online because they are learning beyond the four walls. They are contributing to platforms, with an abundant amount of time. They are finding learners just like them across the world. They are navigating this idea of openness and utilizing their background knowledge of things to make their learning even more open. We find what we are looking for there. We have access to it. It’s a public space FILLED with ideas, questions, concerns, documentation and so much more. There are no barriers. It’s open. And it’s for us!  But, I do raise one question…how do we encourage our students to jump in to the world of openness and make it relevant to their learning and not just for social reasons?

Danah Boyd, the author of It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, mentions that teens are passionate about finding their place in society (p. 8). I have to agree. My students have opinions, relevant and important opinions. They have ideas, creative and innovative ideas. They are also children and struggle to make their opinions matter. Social media is a fantastic outlet for these issues as long as it is used in a safe way. Facebook and Twitter give our students their outlet, these services promote youth to become members of the public. Boyd mentions four contributions to open networks that create new opportunities and challenges: persistence, visibility, spreadability and searchability (p. 11). By staying persistent and making our opinions and voices visible on the internet, we are creating opportunities to reach learners and teachers just like us across the world and then become a part of their networks that can eventually answer our inquiries and help us create!

Reflection has always been a big part of my career. I have always aimed to create what is best for my students. I am able to adapt and reinvent because I reflect. I observe what is and is not working for them and for me. Becoming openly-networked helps me find our teachers that are just like me, reflectors. Just like Bud Hunt, from Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom, I have improved as a teacher and as a learner by reading  about and writing to teachers who are posting about what is happening in the classroom and what they want to be happening in the classroom (p. 71). I am constantly seeking resources for teaching, mothering, graduate school and hobbies. My searches are endless because there is so much to connect to. And my searches are done in school and at home and basically anywhere I go!

I have been teaching for eight years. Throughout my educational journey, I have met teachers who are willing to collaborate and share and reflect together and at the same time I have encountered some who are not open to being open. “To be open isn’t necessarily to reveal everything to everyone. Open classrooms aren’t places where every moment of activity is shared with anyone who wants to see it. There aren’t video cameras recording and distributing every moment of the learning experience. Thoughtful teachers choose intentionally what, when, and how they share what they are curious about and what demands their students’ attention” (p.72). I think this is so important. If we share what truly challenges us and pushes us to create for our students then we are destined to find answers or ideas from others with similar experiences.

“Openly networked experiences are about how and where and when we can find each other and connect. While certainly the technology of our age makes it easier than ever before to connect, connected learning experiences do not require the Internet or digital media to be pure and true connected learning experiences: (p. 72)

“How, I ask, can you help others to see into your conversations and work? To be an openly networked teacher, you must create spaces, opportunities, and experiences for others to follow along in your process” (p. 73).

These two quotes lead me once again to my original inquiry question, Which one (or some) of my colleague(s) would be the most beneficial to connect with? While I am evolving with technology, I also consider myself to be traditional. I am drawn to these two quotes because while I do follow some colleagues online, there are also so many that I want to connect and network with offline. This drive to connect with colleagues (on and offline) brings me to my “small move,” which I explain here in my iMovie!

Boyd, D. (2014). It’s Complicated. The Social Lives of Networked Teens. Yale University Press. Retrieved from: http://www.danah.org/books/ItsComplicated.pdf.

Hunt, B. (2014). Openly Networked. In A. Garcia (Ed.), Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom (pp. 71-86). Irvine, CA: Digital Media and Learning Research Hub. Retrieved from http://dmlhub.net/wp-content/uploads/files/teaching-in-the-CL-classroom.pdf

 

Reflecting on making..a maker’s experience

Production-centered classrooms facilitate the use of “[d]igital tools [to] provide opportunities for producing and creating a wide variety of media, knowledge, and cultural content in experimental and active ways” (Ito et al. 2013:8).

PBL
Leah Buechley, in her video, makes us readers aware of the issues surrounding equity in the maker movement. We don’t just want our students DIY-ing in the maker movement we want the maker movement to be about education, and we want the opportunity to make to be accessible. Buechley points out that publications in the maker movement, places like Make Magazine have not become spaces with a wide variety of participation where equity is present. As a teacher in a district with less money than other districts in the county, we are constantly seeking equity among our students. And at the same time, differentiating and scaffolding, considering our special education population continues to grow.

In chapter 4, of Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom, Clifford Lee (2014) emphasizes the importance of not making production-centered and production synonymous in the classroom, but rather creating an environment where students see meaning and purpose behind what they create (56). Jason Sellers, of the Bay Area Writing Project, also is quoted in Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom, stating, “Remember: Check with a classmate and/or check the IF guides before asking me for help. You learn by making mistakes and troubleshooting. Your brains stop working when I give you the answer!” (69). This is something I reiterate to my students all the time! There is so much power present in making mistakes, which leads me to my inquiry question of the semester, which has also led me to my make for the week…

Once again, I focus on this question:

Which one (or some) of my colleague(s) would be the most beneficial to connect with?

I am really drawn to the science department in the junior high, if you haven’t noticed I have mentioned in a couple of my #F5F. They are constantly creating/producing/making, but with a purpose. The students are so engaged, making connections and memories as well as challenged. Their students are “tinkering,” exploring creativity, failing and then using resources to problem solve. Right now, in Spanish 1, we are discussing the house, la casa, and differences between the verb, which mean to be, ser and estar. This chapter actually fits so nicely in the world of production, but more importantly production with meaning! This week, not only was I inspired to make because of my inquiry question, my students and I were inspired to make because of Caine’s Arcade and the Global Cardboard Challenge.  Here is my make for the week: Mi casa ideal (My ideal house)/ Mi apartamento ideal (My ideal apartment). **I always wanted to live in a studio apartment in a city.**

 

The purpose behind this creation? Students, next week, will present their ideal house and utilize chapter vocabulary to discuss what it includes, while describing the house and its inclusions using differences between ser and estar. The project has been presented to the students. And I must say, the reaction was 50/50…half thinking this is great, I cannot wait to create, while others went into complete panic requiring very specific guidelines, and then some even requesting to take a chapter test. Some even expressed major concerns over constructing with cardboard, therefore I used the app Planner 5D, to create another make as an example for students. They are free to design their ideal house/apartment on this app, on their school-issued iPad. Check out the examples below. So, we are giving this production a try. I told them we might fail, but we will use each other to pick ourselves up! I cannot wait to see and hear the results!

Here is the status of our library, which shortly will be the official and high functioning site of “The Hub,” mentioned in this week’s #F5F.