Do We Support Those Digital-Age Students With Passionate Interests?

Invent to Learn graphic art

Invent to Learn Graphic Art. Click to check out the book.

As my learning activities continue at the 2014 Constructing Modern Knowledge summer institute (CMK14) I’ve spent a significant amount of time thinking about young 21st Century connected learners who come to our classrooms with special talents or unusual interests.

Often our classes include students who discover especially interesting topics, and these kids learn more and more until they develop expertise in the area. Sometimes the students go even farther with a subject, developing a passion and spending enormous amounts of personal time looking for more to learn. Last year at my school a fifth grader demonstrated, over and over, his passion for aviation and his all-consuming interest continues to thrive.

Cam Perron is just such a learner (watch his TEDTalk).     Continue reading

Real Answers to Parents’ Digital Questions? You Bet!

Digital World QuestionsMy greatest connected learner satisfaction comes when I discover answers to questions that I haven’t yet thought to ask — something that occurs almost every day in my digital world. Online I’ll search on a topic, read, or merely glance over a site, and suddenly I discover a resource and think — I need to know about that!

As I read the blog post, Learning Online: Real Answers to Real Questions, by colleague and master teacher, Susan Lucille Davis, that’s exactly how I felt. Davis shares a range digital parenting resources that help to answer parents’ 21st Century learning questions, and along the way she helps us realize just how much more we can learn in our connected world.

Writing for A Platform for Good, Davis offers resource suggestions that parents can use to gain digital skill and knowledge right along with their children, and teachers can share with their students’ parents.

A Few of My Favorite Tips  — For links and more information read the entire post.

  • I had no idea that parents can set up subsidiary e-mail accounts, despite the fact that I am on Google and Gmail countless times each day.
  • Somehow I’ve missed Joyce Valenza’s TEDTalk about helping kids expand online research skills, but it’s a resource to share widely in an academic community.
  • Good quality COPPA information sources, that provide basic information to share with parents, are hard to find, but Davis found one and its good.

I, too have found that parents need lots of information about digital kids and learning.  On my “class-on-a-blog,” initially set up for parents at my school,  I write about tools, apps, and sites. On this other site, Discover Your Child’s Digital World, my posts concentrate on digital adventures that kids experience and adults may not know much about.

Getting Started With Electronic Portfolios: My NAIS Conference #2

You do not always expect the first workshop, on the first day of a conference to be a slam-dunk, but my 8:00 A.M. Thursday morning session was awesome.

Check out the online presenters' resources.

Check out the online presenters’ resources.

Every bit of information that I collected at the Garrison Forest School workshop on electronic portfolios, presented at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) annual conference in Philadelphia, will help me start an e-portfolio project at my school. As the four presenters shared their many resources and described their electronic portfolio research, my mind zoomed ahead to my return to school — all this before the end of the first hour of the conference.

I’ve been thinking about helping teachers and students create e-portfolios for some time, but with so many factors to consider and so much to figure out, I’m always a bit stumped when I think about the extensive collaboration that needs to take place. The benefits for teachers, students, and parents are clear, but the process takes an enormous amount of time to plan and carry out, and time is always at a premium. Yet we all know that twenty-first Century learners need to be able to think about, examine, evaluate, and extend their work if they are to be, well — better 21st Century learners. E-portfolios support this learning process.

Interestingly, about two weeks before this conference, two teaching teams that I support indicated – out of the blue — their interest in developing some sort of electronic portfolio project, so I am fortunate to have a small group of educators who want to get started. This workshop has essentially handed me the knowledge as well as a map to lead me.

Continue reading

Inauguration 2013: Digitally Connected All Day Long

Maureen's inauguration pic

Inauguration Day photo taken by my friend and colleague, Maureen Boucher.

Events like today’s inauguration offer teachers and parents unique opportunities to demonstrate what connected learning is all about in the 21st Century. In my house inauguration Day 2013 was filled with digital connections.

We turned on the television around 10:30 this morning and did not turn it off until mid-evening — unusual for us. We also tuned our radios to NPR. A laptop, iPad, and iPhone finished out our Inauguration Day 2013 connections.

When we had things to do around the house we listened to our radios, though I kept my iPhone nearby to check on Facebook friends at the Capitol and along the parade route. When we sat in front of the television, I also used my laptop and iPhone, and my husband used his iPad.

Throughout the day we heard and responded to Facebook pictures and comments, and I often used my iPhone to respond to text messages from friends who shared observations from the Mall. While I thought about tweeting, the tweets were coming in so fast and furiously under the inauguration hashtags that I could not possibly read many of them while multi-tasking on my other devices, so I skipped Twitter for the day.

As we watched television, I opened a laptop window to the live blogging at the New York Times website. At  the same time I used another window to look up things when I wanted to learn more — interesting historical  inauguration facts, for instance. I also searched for poet Richard Blanco’s bio to find more about his work, and another discovery was a terrific PBS News Hour interview with Richard Blanco. After President Obama finished speaking, I also looked for and found a link to the text of his speech at the White House website. Continue reading