Dare to Care

create, communicate, collaborate, and think critically

16/Mar/2015
by Denise Krebs
6 Comments

Explore, Create, Contribute: the Best in Free Online Resources for Educators

I’m excited to lead a WizIQ webinar called “Explore, Create, Contribute: the Best in Free Online Resources for Educators.” It’s free and coming soon on 2 April 2015 at 2:30 EST.  Hopefully you can come!

In these days of ubiquitous free online resources, you may be wondering about my use of “the best” in describing the online resources we’ll explore. You may ask yourself, “How would she know the best online resources?”

Well, there is a hint in the title: Explore, Create, Contribute. In this webinar, we will definitely explore excellent free online resources. In fact, they are the most useful resources I’m using right now for teaching English language learners in Bahrain.

What will make them even better, though–the best–is when you join in, sharing your gift, creating and contributing, as well. Hopefully, you’ll be inspired to do just that. Join us!

2 April 2015 Explore, Create, Contribute for WizIQ

21/Nov/2011
by Denise Krebs
1 Comment

Geniuses Learning Outside the School Walls

It’s coming! More and more learning outside the school walls. Tonight I was checking my email and sending announcements to my school secretary, when I received a chat message from a student.

“When do I need to take that science test?”

“I think you better do it by Wednesday.” (With a long holiday weekend coming up, who wants to study all weekend, I thought.)

“OK, but I forgot to bring home the study guide.”

“I’ll email it to you.”

“OK, thanks!”

About the same time I got this email from another student: “this is my scratch that I made i will show it to you when i get there” (It was just this afternoon that I showed him the program. He went home downloaded Scratch, figured out how to make and animate his giraffe, and ended up with a better animation than I’ve been able to create.)

I love it! He sent it so I could watch it, but he’ll also show it to me tomorrow. What enthusiasm!

We’re preparing for our first genius hour on Wednesday, so today we talked about the qualities of creativity, and the origins of the word genius. We said it really means creating and producing, not just the narrow definition of a person with such-and-such IQ number.

We tried to define nine characteristics of creativity, using some really big words. Seventh graders helped me make a rubric, which they will eventually use to grade themselves on how they are growing in creativity. Here are some of the qualities we thought of for each characteristic.

  1. Ambiguity – I’m OK with a little confusion. And I know there is always more than one way to do a job.
  2. Inquisitiveness – I ask questions and want answers. I look up things that interest me. I’m a lifelong learner.
  3. Generating Ideas (brainstorming) – I am able to quickly create a list of possibilities. I use my imagination.
  4. Originality of Ideas – I can think outside the box and I have a great imagination. I think of ideas that others never even thought of.
  5. Flexibility/ Adaptability – Like I gymnast, I can bend easily any which way and not break, only with my mind!
  6. Self-Reflection – I can look honestly at myself and evaluate my work.
  7. Intrinsic Motivation – I want to do it. I know the purpose for my work, and it pleases me.
  8. Risk Taking – I’m not afraid to try something difficult for fear of failure.
  9. Expertise – I am proud to know a lot about one or more subjects. I am an expert.

OK, back to those emails and school announcements I need to send! I got side tracked with my genius students and their 24/7 learning (and this blog post!)

07/Apr/2011
by Denise Krebs
10 Comments

Joining the Conversation…

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.

Next,  she sent it out to the world using Twitter and the hashtag #comments4kids. Fourteen seventh graders, Mrs. Sigler’s first graders, and a sophomore Spanish class accepted her challenge to write a story about the video she created. You can read the stories here. Look at the number of lives Nicole touched. Look at the people who practiced literacy as a result of Nicole’s 21st century contributions.

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.

Be anonymous

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!

So, whether student or teacher, you can join the conversation. In fact, as Angela Maiers says, “You are a genius, and the world demands your contribution!” Please join in the conversation. We need you.

Will you please leave a comment telling how you were inspired to join the conversation?

21/Feb/2011
by Denise Krebs
9 Comments

The Do’s of Classroom Blogging

KrebsClassBlogs

Do Create
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.

Do Contribute
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.

Do Connect
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.

Do Collaborate
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.

Do Curate
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?

Graphic made with Iconscrabble and BeFunky

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