Curiosity to Explore

In the midst of nippy wet weather, January ushers in celebratory possibilities.  Renewed energy, new beginnings and perhaps that spark of anticipation leads one to hopefulness and curiosity.  Here are a few ideas to explore (connected to literacies, collaboration and connectedness).  The image below hides interactive layers of communication. (Click to reveal.)

Created using Picmonkey.com and Thinglink.com

I can imagine sharing research, story, and experiences. Perhaps a scavenger hunt to teach a content area. There is no limit to possibilities. How are you engaging in new forms of communication? I would love to hear any of your stories.

What’s the Significance of Being Noticed

You stand in a room overflowing with people you don’t know. Scanning the edges and center, an uncomfortable feeling settles in your throat. Until a glimmer out of the corner of your eye, aaahh…you connect with a friendly face. The look of delight as you both connect is one of joy as if to say ‘all’s well in the world’. I would dare to say who hasn’t had this experience? Even for the self-proclaimed extrovert, connection matters. We were born to connect and share that with a community (whether it is a community of one or many). Remember the first time you were introduced to your baby? Or first day of class startups (students and staff)? Yes, lots of emotions.

The advent of social media has challenged the concept of community. At an event, do you see heads down, fingers tapping? Or when asked a question the first reaction is to reach for the phone. Those who research the social media phenomena have a host of explanations like Danah Boyd, who commented on how teens view social media (download her book) or Frontline explored the notion on the PBS show, Generation Like. There are also any number of sites focused on the ‘connected educator’ and learning in the social media context. Technology is not the enemy, rather it is an accelerator of things deeper. What links all of these is the human need for connection (face-to-face, online or more likely a blend of both).

Connection affirms our significance in the world. This is especially important in our schools. When we acknowledge the connection (whether they are with our students or our staffs or parents) we offer a place for that individual to shine, to be recognized as a valued member of the community. Their contributions (great and small) are important to our lives. The “You Matter” revolution (by Angela Maiers) is a movement that has taken many places by storm as it resonates at the very core of our being. Whether the result is a promotion of Genius Hour or We Day or a change in how we see ourselves, it all starts with connecting to who we are as individuals, who we are in relation to others, and what we do in response.

In our classrooms and schools, do we notice and give voice to significance? Do we offer that to our parents, our students and our teachers in authentic ways? How much do we believe “You are a genius and the world needs your contribution” (Seth Godin)? What if we started our day with this articulated out loud? I wonder how the day would unfold. Wouldn’t you?

myquote_youmatter

It Begins With a Spark

Summer is a great time – time for reflection, a change of pace, casual meetups with friends and family. And an opportunity to play around with some ideas that’s been kicking around.  I have a tendency to take summer moments as they happen – dumping aside the calendar and allow things to unfold. It’s the exact opposite of what my life is like the rest of the year.

I’ve been thinking a bit on what drives action – why some ideas pop up, have great promise but wither away; why some ideas are made into realities. And then it hit…it begins with a spark, a connection. (A bit of disclosure here – the term “spark” came from my friend, Bev Ogilvie in her book, ConnectZone.org.) I’ve finally woven the words and image to make it personally meaningful (at least for now).

myquote_beginspark2

What I’ve learned is that sparks happen all around us. Big ones, little ones. The ones that connect are the ones that move into action. It is the action that creates new opportunity for other sparks to surface.  And as ‘learning leaders’,  our job is to look for the sparks in others and allow them to flourish.

What are your sparks? How do you see them playing out in your life? I’d be interested in hearing your stories.

Creating a Maker Space With Heart

summer funI’ve been part of an online MOOC – Making Learning Connected on google plus (#clmooc on Twitter) this summer.  OK maybe participating is a bit overboard as I haven’t been able to do many of the activities. Summer schedule of in-and-out travel has curtailed access; however I’ve loved poking in at every chance. I’ve gained access to a growing bank of tools (some I’ve used, others brand new) and how people are using them to create. I also get a chance to view peoples thinking process as comments are open and honest – yes I’m more interested in the “fails” than the polished product.

The idea of “Maker Movement” has taken on with lightening speed. While no stranger to new things I’m blown away by how many content areas can relate with the overall process (literacy, arts, science, music, social studies). It certainly allows all the kinesthetic crafty people an opportunity to play. And maybe that is what I find appealing – the opportunity to play and explore without the stress of having to be perfect. (My primary teachers would say “play  is the work”.) Or maybe it’s the sense of community I find here – everyone is incredibly supportive and generous in both ideas and suggestions. The leaders have made life super easy to connect whether on G+, Twitter, on blogs… in whatever spaces you inhabit.

Having been a part of other MOOCs (all well designed), there is something quite different about this one that makes me wanting to return. It is the mix of discovery and community that bring learners together. There’s a lesson here for our classrooms.  I doubt that the sense of community happened without a lot of thought and planning ( shoutout to those brilliant facilitators). Creating an environment that is inclusive of every skill level and all risk levels is extremely challenging – any teacher can atest. So many people talk about the importance of community, yet don’t discuss the hows or whys. What’s unique here is that this community invites you to experience the community of learners as equal participants. Though there are goals, the flow nature drives the journey making one feel almost anything is possible. They model connectedness (reminds me of the work of my friend Bev Ogilvie at ConnectZone.org where creating relationships are foundational) by doing it transparently. You can live it through their live Hangouts – they question themselves, they share experiences from perspectives, they honour each other in their comments. The same is reflected in the G.Plus community. Comments are enticing, challenging, yet extremely supportive. Learning and “can do” success happens in these safe environments.

The challenge will be to actively and purposefully create these environments in our workplaces where discovery and community go hand-in-hand. Interested in thoughts you have around this or for other examples you’ve encountered or even for questions you have?