Category Archives: Uncategorized

Unofficial CV #digiwrimo

I’m going to join DigiWriMo for the first time. Our first task is to write an unofficial CV. What is DigiWriMo?  For me it’s a chance to join people I know (or don’t yet) virtually to do some writing together and have some fun.

There have been some creative Unofficial CVs. I’ve been stuck but finally made myself whip something up.

Unofficial CV #digiwrimo – Tania Sheko

Education:

Kindergarten, primary school, secondary school, Russian Saturday school, university, Life. During moments of brief lucidity;  through hard times, mistakes, reluctant lessons.

Professional Development:

Life: Life has been a constant teacher and the course is quite comprehensive and rewarding although, at times, relentless. No clear outcomes provided so flexibility required.

Motherhood – learning from my children; getting a second and third chance to grow through stages of development with some distance.

Partner: Rewarding course with fulfilling outcomes;

Teacher: Not very different from being a student, and not limited to the classroom.

Friend: More experience with single friends than groups; some experience with virtual friends (and much enthusiasm).

Teaching experience:

Teaching English, French, German, Russian and English as a Second Language in schools.

Teaching my 2 sons how to be thoughtful, respectful human beings;

teaching them how to stand up for themselves; that there are always other options; that they should go with their passion; that happiness is more valuable than success (and what is success anyway?)

Skills summary

Listening skills especially reading between the lines; noticing details; having big and slightly unorthodox ideas; creative alternatives; ability to create environments that make people feel comfortable and respected; ability to be alone and not get bored.

Interests

Understanding myself, other people and life; finding people to play with; finding stimulating ideas and tracing them back to people I can get to know; finding the wonder in small, everyday things; developing compassion.

Achievements

My most rewarding achievement was attracting the attention of some very creative and generous people who played with me to remix a quasi play I’d written as part of Rhizo15 MOOC.

From the DigiWriMo website, some unofficial CVs:

How Seinfeld and Maria Montessori influence me as an educator #twistedpair

I really like the way Terry Elliott started his #twistedpair post and so I’m going to re-use his opening:

In the spirit of infinite play I am following a recent prompt from Steve Wheeler.

Thanks to Steve Wheeler’s blogging challenge I not only have a reason to write but also something different to contribute to our professional exchange at school (more about that later). Steve’s post paired Socrates and Julie Andrews as influences on his teaching. Terry Elliott paired Epictetus and Mojo Nixon.

Are there any other strange (twisted) pairs that would inspire people to write thoughtful blog posts on education and learning? Well, if anyone is up for this challenge, here are a few very strange pairings to get you going. I bet you can think of loads more.

Batman and John Dewey
Michaelangelo and you
Paulo Freire and the Hunchback of Notre Dame
Eddie Izzard and Pavlov’s dogs
Jack Sparrow and Nelson Mandela
Pablo Picasso and Sir Tim Berners-Lee
Micky Mouse and Adolf Hitler
Han Solo and Queen Elizabeth I
William Shakespeare and Buzz Lightyear
Marshall MacLuhan and Madonna
Tarzan and Jean Piaget
Paddington Bear and Barack Obama
Jean Jacques Rousseau and the Easter Bunny
Walt Disney and the Grim Reaper
Sir Winston Churchill and the entire cast of Frozen
Doctor Who and Snoopy
Jack Bauer and the Teletubbies
Mr Spock and Margaret Thatcher

So, challenge accepted albeit quite late (which doesn’t matter in the hashtag world). I’ve been reading some of the responses and enjoying the twisted pairings.

I’ll be talking about my #twistedpair in terms of myself as an educator. The teacher librarian role is different to the classroom teacher; I learn to locate and mine the best networks to glean and curate what is needed by teachers and students, so what I do every day to support teaching and learning depends a lot on my own learning and learning behaviours.

In a twisted way Seinfeld (the TV series) and Maria Montessori have influenced my thinking and development as an educator.

When my sons were very young (and I was also younger) I was switched onto (as all parents are) how my boys were awakened to the awareness of new things and how they responded to these things, how they were engaged and wanted to understand things and to develop knowledge of things. My boys were not alike in any way so I was able to observe two very different examples.

I was fascinated by the focus and determination to grasp, understand and expand knowledge, by the passion. Since I had been teaching in secondary school before that time (English, French and German) I could see the enormous difference between the desire to learn in children of preschool and early primary school age and the common disengagement with school and learning manifested in the secondary students.

I was determined to do everything I could to keep that desire for learning going in my boys for as long as I could. In my research I came across Montessori preschools/schools and the founder, Maria Montessori. Her description of Sensitive Periods in children interested me.

We have already seen that for Montessori, growth from conception to adulthood is not a vague “progressive accumulation of material”; nor an “inherent hereditary necessity”, shaped by our genes towards a limited set of pre-determined characteristics. Rather, she saw growth as “… a process meticulously guided by transient instincts which give an acute sensibility and an impulse towards specific forms of activity …”. Furthermore, these acute sensibilities and specific forms of activity “often differ very plainly from the activities of the individual in the adult state”.

Richard Restak offered a description of what could be happening at the cellular level during these “critical periods” or “windows of opportunity”: “… the brain literally creates itself during our earliest development. At various times in the developmental process from fetus to newborn to infant, nerve cells migrate, many die off, and many others stick to one another and send out processes whereby neuronal connections are formed and re-formed. ( in Brainscapes: An Introduction to What Neuroscience Has Learned about the Structure, Function, and Abilities of the Brain. New York: Hyperion, 1995, pp. 93-94. )

Origins of the Term The Dutch biologist and geneticist, Hugo DeVries (1848-1935), first identified and named Sensitive Periods in 1902, through his study of insects. In The Secret Of Childhood, Montessori cites DeVries’ example of a Sensitive Period in the caterpillar of the Porthesia butterfly. Here is Montessori’s description: (The caterpillar) must feed on very tender leaves, and yet the butterfly lays its eggs in the most hidden fork of the branch, near the trunk of the tree. Who will show the little caterpillars hidden there, the moment they leave the egg, that the tender leaves they need are to be found at the extreme tip of the branch, in the light? Now the caterpillar is strongly sensible to light; light attracts it, summons it as by an irresistible voice, fascinates it, and the caterpillar goes wriggling towards where the light is brightest, till it reaches the tip of the branch, and thus finds itself, famished for food, among the budding leaves that can give it nourishment. It is a strange fact that when the caterpillar has passed through its first stage and is full grown, it can eat other food, and then loses its sensibility to light. This has been proved in scientific laboratories where there are neither trees nor leaves but only the caterpillar and the light. 4

Montessori’s use of DeVries’ example of a Sensitive Period in the caterpillar made an impression on me, and I started to think about trusting the child’s innate, instinctive desire to learn. I appreciated the way that the Montessori classroom welcomed one child at a time to give the teacher time to guide the new child until he/she was familiar with the routines of the class. I liked the quiet order of the classroom which seemed to run itself while children appeared to be largely deciding their own order of activities and selecting whether they wanted to work on their own, in pairs or in small groups. The teacher would rarely address the whole class but instead chose which individual child or group to work with or guide. I saw children develop skills, knowledge and confidence through activities which embedded the discovery of knowledge and skills. For example, for the very young children (aged 3) there was an activity for which the child would fill a bowl with water and then place different objects into it and then observe whether they floated or sank.

Sometimes the teacher observed from a distance to make sure that children spread themselves across all types of activities (eg spelling, counting, science, art, etc.) over a period of time, and sometimes she took a more active role when new things were taught. The child who desperately wanted to concentrate on a particular activity was permitted to concentrate on this activity for as long as he/she was absorbed. In the mainstream classroom there is counter-intuitive interruption of activities and separation of separate ‘subjects’ into preordained time-slots. There is no willingness to allow a student the opportunity for deep learning during the period of intense desire for this type of learning.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t have this vision for learning because it creates a dissonance with everything school stands for. I wonder how we can expect engagement and a desire for learning when we have created a system and routine which cuts everything up into separate chunks and hurries them through a study program in preparation for tests and exams.

And now, to Seinfeld. I keep saying that there is at least one PhD in the series (and there are probably theses in existence). It seems you either love or hate Seinfeld. My family and I adore Seinfeld and happily watch repeat programs. I think that the writers of the program have a wonderful grasp of human behaviour, usually the things we try to conceal. The series identifies human quirks and failings or weaknesses and unpacks these in a very funny way. Somehow the humour and absurdity enhance and even intensify the illumination of these human frailties.

I like to think that teaching and the creation of teaching resources/lessons can be enhanced by humour and a sense of fun. And I like to amuse myself if I’m teaching, otherwise I bore myself. You don’t have to be entirely serious in your demeanour when exploring serious issues. I love the way you can always think of a Seinfeld episode that corresponds with situations in life. Seinfeld lovers share this language and quote from Seinfeld prolifically in the same way as some people quote the literary greats.

Maybe this is a wide sweep, but Maria Montessori and the Seinfeld series both use play to instruct. The Montessori classroom sets up an environment in which students play to explore and to construct understanding. In Seinfeld insights into character studies and life situations are beautifully illustrated through comedy. The playful depiction reveals complexities in a seemingly simple way. At school, also, play is an ideal vehicle for learning, not just teaching, and allows students/audience to discover their own understandings and expand on these in concert with others.

So, that’s my #twistedpair story. I decided to do a similar thing in a professional exchange session at school. Originally I was going to show different ways to annotate text online but then I thought – when do teachers get a chance to do something which they may have enjoyed doing – like writing – instead of always learning discrete skills which are all about their TEACHING.  This is how I justified this session in the Google doc:

Outcomes (and incomes):

  • to have fun (we deserve to once in a while)
  • to exercise that writing muscle
  • writing as modeling (not just marking)
  • creativity – another muscle
  • possible ideas for your own class
  • remember when you loved writing and then you became a teacher?

The only thing is I have a feeling I won’t have any takers. Will they think it’s not helpful/relevant?  Will they be afraid of the challenge? Do they think I’m nuts? We will see.

How to really get to know people in an online course – ask a child #rhizo15

(This post was written as a transcript of a short presentation I gave at a Melbourne TeachMeet at Melbourne High School September 2015).

How do you really get to  know people in an online course? Ask a child! What would a child do? A child would play.

And so we did in Rhizo15, the connected MOOC. It was new to me and I loved every minute.

I wanted to be playful so I wrote a play. In response to the weekly prompt: “Learning subjectives: designing for when you don’t know where you’re going.”

I was unsure about how people would feel about the play – and if they would read it at all – so I was surprised when I received lots of positive comments (blog comments don’t always happen for me) and Terry Elliott suggested we make it into a radio play. Simon Ensor added the comment: “I second Terry. I’m in for rhizoradio or other play. Do we have to do casting for the role of Mr X or do we crowdcast?”

I felt encouraged and sent out an invitation to a Google Doc so we could write the play collaboratively.

Hello there. My name is Tania Sheko. Thanks for responding so positively to this short piece of fiction/non-fiction. I’m taking up the suggestion to create something for #rhizoradio (suggested by Terry Elliott and seconded by Simon Ensor) and other suggestions to do a collaborative rewrite eg include a larger cast so we can actually (somehow) create a podcast for #rhizoradio (which is going to be a thing I think). Hope you can join me here!
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1oBqaFkUkRgirz-l8jhh4RKSEGfmLr4j649kJKKGirFg/edit

But how would we bring everyone together to produce the radio play/podcast?

Maha (from Cairo) was thinking about a live reading:

It’s near impossible to organize across timezones but if you sleep really late and I wake really early we might catch the ppl in the US ? or the opposite, if u wake really early and I sleep really late we can make it at a good time for everyone. Usually around 10pm my time that’s 2pm EDT and I think early-ish morning for you?

In the end we decided to record our own parts on SoundCloud and send the file to Kevin Hodgson who generously took the time to put it all together.

Other things also happened – you can’t keep up with the rhizome.  Actually, so much happened while I was sleeping last night:

Autumm Caines created a really neat video promo.

Autumm used the image created by Angela Brown in Pulp-O-Mizer.

Kevin Hodgson used Thinglink for his promo.

Sarah Honeychurch had fun remixing a popular Christmas tune forher promo.

Here’s the final version of the play (although I wouldn’t be surprised if the Google doc version continues to evolve).

My THANK YOU:
My original story, Mr X loses his battle for objectivity, has been stormed, hacked and now exists as an evolved creation belonging to those playing and learning in the rhizome (#rhizo15). It is no longer mine and that’s a fantastic thing, something I’m excited about. Thank you, everyone, for the experience – in particular to Kevin for putting together the audio files – but also to those contributing voices, to the voices in the chat comments for the evolving Google doc, to those on Twitter and other social media platforms, to the creative people designing promos, and anyone else I’ve forgotten.  I know it sounds as if I’m accepting an Oscar (haha) but I really do want to thank all of you for the fun we’ve had together.

#Rhizoradio presents a radio play courtesy of the #rhizo15 community:

A Multitude of Voices

(aka) Mr X loses his battle for objectivity ( original unevolved title fromthe original story)

 

Was this a success in educational terms? We had fun!

Maha: it was some of the BEST fun I ever had… wish I could find a way to encourage my students to do something like this of their own initiative, but that’s not thinking rhizomatically… so I should think of how to create an environment that encourages the spirit of this kind of thing and see what emerges from their work!!!

We unpacked rhizomatic learning collaboratively and creatively. We got to know each other through play. We were amazed by each other – as each person initiated ideas and created things because they were inspired to do so. We keep in touch – in subsequent MOOCs, through hashtag conversations on Twitter. We reach out to each other with questions and challenges. We jump in when we see requests for collaboration and opportunities to do things together. I learned about different tech tools but more importantly why and how to use them. I added their blogs to my Inoreader, so I could keep reading them, I followed them on Twitter and made sure I added a Tweetdeck column to see what they were saying/doing, I explored what else they did online eg Soundcloud, Slideshare, Google +, in Facebook groups, and wherever else they were.

Don’t tell me that you can’t form friendships online.

How to really get to know people in an online course- Ask a child.

Hacking the school system softly: first hack #clmooc #systemhack

Day One of #schoolsystemhack. If you are confused please read previous post explaining this.

Location: Staff room.

Limitation: Staff stay mainly in their faculty staff rooms but some use the central staff room occasionally eg lunchtime.

In the wee hours of Monday morning, before anyone else was about, I executed the first hack in the main staff room.

And then I lay low. And waited.

Feedback on the first day: We got some good feedback from a teacher who will remain nameless. She loved it. We were amused by her retelling of general staff reaction at this early stage. People were not sure how to react and so they pretended it wasn’t there and didn’t talk about it. They didn’t touch it (too risky; no instructions). She grabbed one of the colouring in templates and coloured pencils and started – “What are you doing?” from a teacher. Shock. Uncertainty.

Feedback on the second day: Things had been moved around. Another teacher told me he suspected I had set this up. He reported that the magnetic words on the pizza tray had been moved to a different table and play had begun. The principal had been seen moving words around before the staff meeting. Teachers had been heard saying that they intended to play during the meeting.

It’s a start. The Way Things Are is perhaps not the way The Way Things Will Be or Could Be.

I’m content. I have more things to add but all in good time.

 

 

Hacking the school system softly #clmooc #systemhack

#accidentalalliteration  Make Cycle #4 for Making Learning Connected Course.

Susan Watson cracked me up with her comic, The Systems of Comics. She is very clever and funny.

susanwatsoncomic

 

That’s too small to read but you can see the original here. Terry must have made hundreds of these. Here’s one. I decided to try and make my own. It is the first in a series of Personal Conversations at Melbourne High School.

I’m sure that’s illegible so take a look at the original.

I have a plan for this series and also for another to give our students voice. I’ve already asked some of our students for help. This should be fun.

And the Bigger (AlmostEvil) Plan is to infiltrate learning spaces in my school like a stealthy villain.  One of my recent posts expressed frustration about the school system which resists reform and may have to be levelled first in order to be rebuilt. After reading Terry’s comment

I think I am done with reform as a way of re-thinking. I put a lot more faith in kind subversion, asking forgiveness and not permission, under the radar, subrosa, authentic learning.

I decided to act on an unformed idea I’d had nagging me for a while.

Taking the library out to the school is not a new idea but I think I need to up the ante with it. My new, as yet embryonic, idea is to hack the staffroom in a surprising way. Something along the lines of setting up a small and changeable pop-up shop/library when nobody’s looking. For example, mark the space somehow with a few artifacts, then leave things that beg to be played with and change these regularly. Some ideas so far: puzzles, gorgeous design pages for colouring in, quirky articles – and comics! Like this one. So I envisage leaving one comic per series and updating regularly. Series like ‘Professional conversations at MHS’ and ‘Student conversations at MHS’, and so on.

I’m trying a soft approach to hacking the school system. If, as I’ve said in a previous post, teacher librarians find it challenging to collaborate with teachers because teachers are driven to keep up with the curriculum, then we can entice them, seduce them in a way, with curriculum-irrelevant playful things that help them slow down, make things, laugh, and take a break from the system.  Why not? My aim is to distract teachers, disrupt their single focus so that they might be more open to joining me in collaborative play in class.

And if that’s too ambitious, at least their (mis-)perception of teacher librarians (another blog post) might be popped like a giant bubble containing nothing but air. And that created space is something I will try to inhabit.

All ideas for a soft hack of learning spaces will be taken seriously and collected in a special container.

Oh, and true to villains who leave calling cards, here’s  one I made with Notegraphy for my library.

Of course, it could just as easily look like this.

I’m looking forward to sharing this idea with my colleagues in the school library.

 

Re-imagine secondary schooling while still in the system. What if…?

Photo by Duncan Rawlinson on Flickr

So if we are dissatisfied with the secondary school system in Victoria, the VCE, and we are teachers of sorts in a government school, are we trapped in the push through the congested pipe to the endpoint, the VCE, especially at my school, which is even more focused as a 9-12 school, and with a reputation of ‘getting’ the students the highest possible ATARs – which are the holy grail because (and now I’m a slave to sarcasm) the all-important goal in your life as a secondary student who wants a good career, a good life, is the final placement within the VCE system. And after that it’s smooth sailing, everything has been determined, you’re either a winner or a loser, and you’d better suck it up.

So if we are dissatisfied as teachers, as parents maybe, then are we trapped in a system that leaves us no choice? Bearing in mind that I’m now talking about my own school and its high-ATAR reputation…Do we have no choice at all? We are doomed to cram kids’ craniums with all the information they need, the right way to write, while they focus on the right way to take the UMAT, etc.?

What is the worst that could happen if we started to think for ourselves about what was important and essential to learning? What if we questioned the relevance of subject content to life? What if we decided to forgo some of the content in favour of skills? What if we realised that practising making mistakes was even more important than achieving high marks, that we would be doing our students a favour if we didn’t give them all the answers?

Would the sky fall?

[16:25] fallen

Photo by Frank on Flickr

Would the students fall behind? Would they score lower on the ATAR scale? Would it matter?

What if we really believed we had a choice. No, stop – really, really believed? What if the leadership team really believed and supported changes that would be more important to our students’ overall success in life after school, and instead of reviewing how well our students did retrospectively on the first day back of the new year, they chose to promote a different agenda? Would the reputation of that school plummet as the students’ marks plummeted?

Or would the school develop, over time, a new reputation, as a place of learning, of respect for thinkers and researchers, of a love for discourse, of a desire for dialogue across subject areas, of creativity, innovation and making. What if the spirit of student-led interest groups became that of the academic life of students? What if students could decide which aspect of set topics they wanted to do, and had choices about how to do it, with a maker bank of contemporary options to explore and play around with?

What if the principal decided that teachers were over-worked and exhausted, with no time to nurture themselves, cynical about change because they had no voice, disappointed about superficial requests for the use of technology without the time to play together and really understand its potential?

What if the principal changed the relentless cycle of weeks, terms, semesters, and created spaces for relaxation, communication, activity and creativity. What if teachers remembered their love of their subjects, and rediscovered their passions in other areas? And what if the whole school community saw this, and students would see another side of their teachers, and the relationship between them would change?

What if these things were possible? Why are they not possible?

Collecting makes at Gertrude Street Projection Festival #clmooc #make

I took this photo of Skunk Control’s Secluded Evolution last night at Gertrude St. Fitzroy’s Projection Festival which will be on for the next week weeks in Fitzroy, Melbourne. This is a fantastic union of art and science/engineering – read about it on the website if you are interested in more information.

Skunk Control is a group of engineers and scientists from the college of Engineering and Science at Victoria University.The group collective run diverse community outreach programs and community based general science units and are part of the team that run the university’s Foundation Studies program.

So Week 3 of #CLMOOC nearly drove me crazy. So much blank. So much brick wall. So many people doing creative things with me not able to catch up. Calm down.

And so this post is collecting things people have created which I have collected and played with – things potentially useful for another game design of some sort in response to week 3’s task.

I started playing around with the videos I took of the Gertrude Street Projection Festival (#GSPF). First I uploaded them to YouTube and then used the editor to add free music. Here are 2 examples: 

What next?

Okay, so I played around in the app Phototoaster, selecting different filters for my photos of the GSPF, experimenting with colour, tone, making things stand out or disappear. Some of my photos:

And I saved all the versions of my photos in a Flickr album.

Not having any idea of concept, direction or purpose, I decided to make gifs from some of my videos.

I thought it would be cool to add audio to one of my gifs, and I tried, believe me, I spent valuable time, but I wasn’t able to figure it out. The best I could do was to have my chosen audio file merge with one of my gifs here but I wasn’t able to combine them. If you click here you’ll be able to see what I was trying to do.

So, now what? I’m still blank in terms of how I can use these things for game design. Creative process – you elude me.

 

Let me untroduce myself #clmooc OR can we use the word ‘love’ in teaching?

So I realise that I’m still happily in the rabbit hole and have now moved on to #CLMOOC.

Looking around to survey the space, I realise the #CLMOOC is a really rich space, an art room for making, a concert hall, a sandbox, a basketball court, a community hall.

See how many places there are to share:

PLACES TO SHARE

  • In Google Plus, you should join our CLMOOC Community;
  • On Twitter, we encourage you to follow and use the #clmooc hashtag this summer;
  • You can submit your blog to the CLMOOC Blog Hub, which will collect and showcase blog posts from participants;
  • And/or post to the CLMOOC Facebook group.
  • We also encourage you to share your makes in the CLMOOC Make Bank .. you can share a prompt for making, things you made and/or tutorials on how for others.

See how many making ideas have been gifted to us:

  • Photo Cutting (like with scissors) Grab scissors, cut pictures up, move pieces around, see what happens, take a new picture (or video) of your cut up picture.
  • Photo Cutting with stop motion: Add a cool stop motion app to the play described above. We like iMotion for IOS and PicPac for Android.
  • Mad-Libs: Yes! Make your own mad libs. Maybe use an existing text and take out words to be replaced!?
  • Image Write Overs: See what happens when you layer writing over your image. You might try an app/website like ThingLink or Pic Collage.
  • Image Manipulation: Try Pixlr or Kaleidolens or another app to change your images.
  • Corrupted Image Files: Distort and corrupt your images. Oh yeah! Here are two webapps we tried: Glitch Images or gifmelter
  • Mosaic: Smash or take apart stuff (stuff that is yours :0) and reconfigure it, mosaic-like, into something new. Go Gallagher with a watermelon. Take apart an old clock. Use broken dishes to make a traditional mosaic.
  • Mozilla Webmaker Tools: Try X-ray Goggles for disrupting current web content or Popcornfor interrupting video content.

And best of all, the invitation is to get busy and cause trouble.

Today may be the end of your [school year], but it should also be the first day of your new [summer pd] disobedience.” We want you to mess around with ideas around making by questioning who gets to make here, who gets access to this space, who benefits from the ways we name ourselves here?  “It’s time to get busy. It’s your turn to cause trouble.

I’ve been busy offline lately but I’ve seen a lot of creativity shared and responded to already. I’m happy to see familiar faces from previous MOOCs (many much more experienced than I am – a newbie) and lots of new people I’m excited to know.

Making – it makes me a little nervous because I usually express myself in words but I’ve enjoyed using photos and creating visual stories so I’m going to give it a go. At school we’re about to start a baby makerspace in the library and I’m thinking the #CLMOOC might help me contribute in a way that is different from robotics and hands-on making.

Our first task:

So, what’s the first thing you usually do when you enter a room of folks with some familiar and unfamiliar faces—you introduce yourself, right? So let’s unravel “the introduction” to dive into the Connected Learning principle of equity. The theme this week is Unmaking Introductions. Let’s consider the ways we name, present, and represent ourselves and the boundaries or memberships those introductions create. How do we name ourselves in different contexts—personally? professionally? online? What happens when those contexts converge? How might we take apart our introductions to answer some of these questions? What will happen when we put them back together again to share them in CLMOOC?

I’m not even halfway through the wonderful, varied responses – poems, drawings, other art work, word clouds, cartoons, videos, music and so much more – and I’m getting a foretaste of what this mooc is about.

I put together a slide presentation using photos and images as writing and reflection prompts.

After I shared my untro in the Facebook group I was overwhelmed with the warmth of people’s responses. Especially when Terry Elliott took what I had and added music.

Thank you, Terry, for your generosity – taking the time to re-interpret my untro. I agree, your translation takes it to a new level. Thank you, also, to everyone for your warm responses.

Connected learning really is about people connecting to people and learning together in a holistic way, not just trading content or skills but relating on a personal level. You’ll understand what I mean when you read the responses from people in the Facebook group.  People are not afraid to use language you would not normally see in a teacher/student context, eg. Susan Watson said “I have a feel for who you are, a sense of your humanity”; Teresha Freckleton Petite said: I can tell you a vibrant soul”; Terry Elliott said ” You are worth that slow consideration as I see layers and layers and layers of beautiful introspection and vulnerable sharing. We are all lucky to know you”; Sarah Honeychurch said “Love you even more after this”; Anna Smith said she had an affinity with me after she had seen my presentation.

I am not relating all these things go boost my ego – although I was very touched by all the generous responses – but to highlight how differently a connected learning MOOC works to a traditional course.  Not only are our untros very personal, the community feedback is also personal. I’m interested in getting a sense of how this kind of learning – connected, open, creative – might work in schools to address the issue of intrinsic/extrinsic motivation. I wouldn’t say this is intrinsic but contributing to #CLMOOC is contributing to the community, and the community’s response is a powerful motivation.

Could this kind of learning work in secondary school? How could it work?

Is there room for a different kind of assessment in which the language involves words like ‘love’ in relation to the person, not just the work? Is this too weird or does this start to touch upon a real way of engaging learners? Is this a true social context for learning?

 

How do we ‘teach’ rhizomatically? Or, even… do we? #rhizo15 #week4

Photo source

I’ve been collecting and categorising (or at least naming) images on Pinterest for a while now. At times it’s been obsessive. Talk about content and non-content – I feel as I ‘own’ these images, that is, I have them in MY collection but actually I know that they are not mine, I don’t own them,  nor do I actually have them in my possession. Just like my playlists on Spotify. I have so much music! I can listen to it any time but it’s not actually mine; I have none of it in my hand.

Anyway, I digress from the topic. So for some reason I started collecting pictures that represented ‘looking out’, for example, an open window like the one above.  Some of these pictures featured a person looking out like this one.

Photo source

See how the next picture shows looking out from a different viewer position.

Photo source

Soon after creating this collection it seemed logical to collect images representing ‘looking in’.  Here’s an example.

Photo source

However this is my preferred representation of looking in.

Photo source

I think of this picture as ‘looking in’ because it feels like introspection. The woman only has a blank wall in front of her and yet she seems to be intent on something.  She is looking inward, don’t you think?

Here’s another ‘looking in’. The woman is concentrating inwardly to such an extent that she is no longer separate from her surroundings.

Photo source

Here’s one which could should perhaps be ‘looking out’ but feels like ‘looking in’. Do you agree?

Maybe it’s the direction the chair is facing – not out towards the window but inwards. The suggestion of a person having been on the chair, almost still sitting there in spirit, makes me think it’s an introspective picture.

But if we go back to this picture

I also think that the girl is looking inwards. She is simultaneously looking out and in.

Why am I talking about this? It’s the open window. It’s enticing.

Open is enticing and also a bit frightening. Looking through a window intensifies the longing, anticipation or fear because it contrasts with the contained space – the room.  Unlimited space contrasted with contained space. And yet there is no doubt that the space through and beyond the open window is more enticing than the contained space of the room. When our classroom becomes open – for example, open blogs revealing student writing to the world, near and far, or through open ended, unprescribed tasks, do students feel enticed, afraid, both? Does this help them reach out to an unknown audience or reach inside themselves because they have their own space for reflection and slow writing? Both.

Marc Chagall’s ‘The window’ (1924) plays with my perspective. What about you?

If you stare at the window frame and opened window frames long enough does your perspective shift from the way they’re drawn, that is, drawn in (and so the outside is almost coming in) to being pushed out with the energy reaching out into the outdoors, into the vast space.

Openness in learning. Opening the window so that learners have a space to reach out into. An undefined space, a space with limitless possibilities. Is this space too much? Could they drown in it?

As teachers facilitating this kind of learning  are we looking out or looking in? Or is it like the pictures in which both occur simultaneously? We want students to look out and imagine possibilities and also look in to reflect and make sense of what they’ve seen.

Rhizomatic learning is chaos. Delicious chaos for those who experience it so. Overwhelming, perhaps, for those who haven’t found their footing.  I’m writing this after reading clusters of conversations in different spaces – Facebook, Google +, blogs, Twitter. The rhizome bleeds into spontaneous spaces, following its cluster will. Underground it shoots off and off while the world above the surface wakes, eats, works, plays and sleeps again.

Where is the creator?

What creator? Space is. Within it life. Clustered stars, planets. Human reach goes out far, meets others in space, clustered lights illuminating the dark. Can the rhizome break through the ground and reach space? Are the underground and space co-existant?

Where is the artist creator in this picture?

Who knows? We know the artist painted the picture but he’s long gone; now the picture just is in the present.

How do we ‘teach’ rhizomatically?  Or, even… do we?

Are you still asking that same question? Am I teaching? Or am I just opening the window?