When I joined a conversation with a broader education community during this past year, my teaching was transformed. I realized that everyone has something to contribute. We all have different experiences, locales, giftedness, and interests. I began to find my voice.
I like the way Malyn Mawby, a wise woman who blogs at Love2Learn, describes this. She wrote a great post called “Of Hopes and Dreams” where she shares about what she wants for her growing children. Her hope for her children is not just for “happiness,” which is vague. Instead, her hope is for her children “to find and use their voice.” Nice!
Voice has been on my mind lately, as I consider the one-year anniversary of the transformation of my teaching. I want to continue to grow and contribute, so I have decided to join the 30 Goals Challenge led by Shelly Terrell. The first goal is a Me Manifesto.
Today my manifesto, which is continually developing, centers around the word VOICE.
I find ways for each of my students to develop and use his/her voice inside and outside of the classroom.
I share my voice with the world.
I join with other passionate educators and pre-service teachers who are finding and sharing their voices.
Throughout the challenge, I will share more about what drives me. It will be good to develop this manifesto over the course of the challenge.
My students' latest project. They shared themselves and were very proud!
The more I learn about being part of the 21st century digital world we live in, the more I firmly believe it is about creating, contributing, connecting, collaborating and curating. It is so fun to learn something new and to join with others who are doing and sharing these things, as well.
This morning I learned about a resource that dedicated ELT educators are contributing to the world! Thanks to others who were willing to join the conversation, those of us involved in the June, July and August Project (Twitter hashtag #JJAProject) learned about eltpics today. I had never heard of the eltpics Flickr Photostream for teachers until I saw these tweets come by this morning:
Thank you to Sandy and Chiew for telling us about the wonderful photos available for educational use from eltpics.
Over the past few months I have delighted in meeting so many excellent educators through their tweets and blogs. So many people contributing their genius out in the digital world! A few are amazing writers, but many of us are not. But you know what? I’ve found it doesn’t matter!
Is writing the most important contribution people make in their lives? No, of course not. Does it have to be the most important mark you leave on the Internet? No, it doesn’t. You don’t have to be a great writer to be effective.
Your contribution is not a polished five-paragraph essay or creative writing assignment. Your job when you join the digital conversation, should you choose to accept it, is to create, contribute, connect, collaborate and curate.
All those things can be done without Pulitzer prize-winning prose! Let me tell you about an example that happened in my class recently. Nicole, along with Leah and Kim, created a silly video as they tried out a new tool called Animoto. She wrote a quick paragraph explaining a contest related to the video. (And they painstakingly checked it for proper English conventions, I might add.) Here is her blog post.
Finally, we created a digital prize on Xtranormal. You can watch it here and at the beginning of this post.
Was Nicole’s greatest contribution her writing? No. She wrote, but she also did much more. Look at all the things she accomplished…
created–the initial video and digital prize
contributed–added her blog post and made it a contest for the world
connected–sent out the link to the world
collaborated–worked with Leah and Kim in the classroom, worked with me on Xtranormal
curated–this is an elusive one. Nicole and all of us need to not become overwhelmed with the wealth available to us online. Nicole didn’t just launch a random monkey blog post and leave it. She organized her online world. Even though she was busy, she approved the comments, read the stories, determined the winner, and followed-up to complete the task.
I am so proud of her and my other student bloggers. They are becoming 21st century learners and using technology to create, contribute, connect, collaborate, and curate.
Is there a benefit in doing those things online, as opposed to doing them in the regular classroom? Yes, there are many reasons that I am just learning about. One thing I have become convinced about is the fact that we have the chance to be accepted in a new way. The bullies and the bullied, the straight-As and the strugglers, the cool and the nerdy, the introverted and extroverted, the acne-ed and the brace-faced, the too thin and the too round. It doesn’t matter what we look like or how we are perceived on our campuses. Online we can all be on a level playing field. We can all make valuable contributions. Even the weakest writers can do the work of the 21st century when they share their own genius.
Don’t get me wrong. I know we need great literacy skills; we should not be lazy about literacy development in ourselves or our students. More than ever, in this digital age, we need to be strategic readers and effective writers. (At the least, everyone can proofread their own writing or ask a friend or teacher to help.) However, I believe blogging, joining the conversation, 21st century teaching and learning–whatever you want to call it–is about doing those five C’s: Create! Contribute! Connect! Collaborate! Curate!
Make your class blogs a place to showcase the creativity of your genius students. Post their work, so their audience is not limited to just one–the teacher. For years I have posted student work on our web page, but now I believe posting it on our blog makes our potential audience so much greater than just family and friends.
As Einstein said, “Everybody is a genius. But, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Everyone has something important to contribute. Allowing the students to do so makes the world a better place.
Make a commitment to connect with others in the blogosphere. For one whole year, we “blogged” with a very small audience; it was just classmates, parents and me. I guess I was hoping someone else would read, but we never reached out. Now, I understand that it’s our responsibility to develop readership, so we have begun to make connections with the world by commenting, asking questions on our blog posts, and using Twitter.
As a result of new connections, we are hoping to find partners to collaborate with. This is new for us, and we are just in the baby steps of collaborating. Here is our first attempt.
A curator is a manager. Like in a museum, the person in charge of deciding what to display is a curator. According to the Smithsonian, less than two percent of their collection is on display at any given time. Teachers have a great opportunity to begin to manage for students the excessive information in the 21st century digital smorgasbord. I’m still figuring out what this looks like, but I do know it is imperative to help students learn to manage and organize. In blogging, we have a perfect opportunity to model for our students. I’ve learned that I need to have clear objectives and organized categories and tags. If I want to publish something on my blog, but it doesn’t fit, I might need to wait, or post it on a different blog, or add a new category, which was the case with this post. I added a category called Blogging with Students Challenge. I also learned, through last month’s challenge, that I needed both a professional blog and a class blog–two different ones. Kevin was a good example to me of how this looks. His professional blog is Kevin’s Meandering Mind and his class blog is the Electronic Pencil.
I love the words create, contribute, connect, collaborate, and curate to describe what we are doing in education in the 21st century. I am just beginning this journey. My classroom blog is just one month old, so I am open to suggestions! Do you have any additional ideas for what classroom blogs should be?
WHY do we do what we do in the classroom? WHY do we use the wonderful Web 2.0 apps and platforms? We need to remember to ask WHY, start with WHY.
Too often, we start with the WHAT. Smartboards, blogs, wikis, Glogster, Animoto, and on and on. Yippee, look at this new gadget! Let’s jump on board!
Secondly, we approach the HOW. OK, we’ve got this cool new app, how do we use it? We pore over help pages. Professional development time is spent learning how to use a new gadget or platform.
Angela Maiers has been challenging us these last three days at the digital literacy class #digitalliteracyiv at Prairie Lakes AEA, “Building Learning Communities: A Hands on Adventure,” to go beyond the WHAT and HOW.
Many of us, in effect, skip the WHY. According to Simon Sinek we need to Start with Why. Angela told us the WHY for everything in technology is to CREATE, CONTRIBUTE, CURATE, or CONNECT.
If the new gadget I’m considering doesn’t help me do one of those things, then I’ll find something that does.