Teaching

Speculative Design for Emergent Learning: Taking Risks

Thursday, June 11, 2015 Comment graphic of word Idea with stick figure characters drawing letters

As I look in the rear view mirror at this past semester, I marvel at the grand experiment of my #WritingRace class at Kean University that I blogged about as we embarked on our journey. I decided to take co-learning one step further. When I first met my fantastic group of graduate and undergraduate students for this course, I announced that they were in charge of their own learning outcomes. I also mentioned that there was no prescribed syllabus for the course.  Rather, they would design their own syllabus as they considered their collective goals. Along with


Collaborative Thinking Through Writing, Libraries, Markerboards

Thursday, May 07, 2015 Comment students gathered around table in library working on writing project

How might mediums for writing in school libraries be opportunities to grow academic literacies for students across different grades and academic tracks? How might these opportunities to engage in both individual and collaborative writing experiences as pathways to academic literacies close participation gaps and make literacy as a social practice more visible to students and teachers (Kiili, Mäkinen, and Coiro 224)? I recently partnered with teachers Sean O’Connor, Dan Bynre, and James Glenn to incorporate writing literacies as part of larger inquiry activities for two very different classes: 9th-grade Language Arts and IB Theory of Knowledge. Formulating


Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom: New Report

Thursday, March 06, 2014 Comment room full of adults and students raising hands at a meeting rally for supporting children's education

Last week saw the release of Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom, a free Connected Learning report I edited. I’m hoping you’ll spend some time reading it — it features a plethora of powerful contributions by members of the National Writing Project. When you riffle through Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom, what you’ll see is a series of narratives from educators from across the country sharing how they are already exemplifying connected learning principles in practice in schools. As educators and researchers, we often talk about the possibilities of advances in learning sciences and pedagogy.


Hacking The Classroom with Michelle Cordy, aka, “Teacher on an Urgent Quest”

Monday, December 30, 2013 Comment florescent light installation of hack the classroom

As soon as she joined one of my online courses and immediately embraced co-learning, I recognized Michelle Cordy as the kind of fearless learner who makes a great teacher. A teacher can do a great deal to facilitate the conditions from which learning communities emerge – but only the learners can make the real magic happen. In my ten years of teaching face to face and online, I’ve discovered that the sine qua non of the truly magical co-learning experience is a lead learner or two – people who will try the activities and read the


“Making is a stance toward learning”: Sylvia Libow Martinez

Monday, December 23, 2013 Comment 2 young kids focusing closely on iphone

Messing with Makey-Makey, tinkering with Arduino, building robots or creating wearable art are not primarily about teaching electronic skills, problem-solving, or technological literacy – although those can be benefits of the maker revolution in education. Messing, tinkering, building projects that actually interest learners is about developing skills of autonomous learning, cultivating an appreciation for and fluency in using learning communities and experienced guides, and practice at thinking big. “Making is a stance toward learning that puts the learner at the center of the educational process,” is how Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager put it in


Freedom, Autonomy, and Digital Media at an Indiana High School

Monday, October 28, 2013 Comment webpage screenshot social media education videos and posts

“Freedom and autonomy are the key words for this class,” says Don Wettrick, describing the “Innovations” course he teaches at Franklin Community High School in Franklin, Indiana. I believe these words also convey the most important reason for using digital media in schools. While the availability of open education resources is indeed a bonanza for those who know how to use them, and iPads can lighten backpacks by holding hundreds of books, these new ways of delivering traditional texts and lectures multiply the power of old media, but don’t otherwise change the role of learners as


Teaching and Learning with Minecraft, Part Two: Sara Kaviar

Monday, August 05, 2013 Comment 3 young girls at school computers playing minecraft

When Sara Kaviar’s students study comparative religions, they don’t just read and view videos. They visit houses of worship, then recreate them in the Minecraft online sandbox and design games in their virtual world that test each others’ knowledge. For these students, the process of building and then navigating through models of physical churches, temples, and mosques gives them both a medium through which they can co-construct knowledge and a social environment that encourages collaborative learning. The pizazz of the technology many students choose to use even when their teachers aren’t encouraging it certainly plays a


How Computers Can Impede Spaces of Learning

Thursday, July 25, 2013 Comment students sitting behind computer in classroom with teacher

As a technophile, I’ll be the first to admit it: sometimes computers get in the way of learning. Hopefully that can be something we all agree on, right? I’ve mentioned before that one of the main composition courses I taught last year was held in our school’s computer lab. And while my class took advantage of writing and engaging using the computers, spatially they made learning a challenge. As much as I appreciated the convenience of having all of my students logged into the same Google Docs simultaneously for live editing and commenting, or to be


The Trouble with Testing

Monday, July 15, 2013 Comment female students hands filling out traditional scantron test

It’s obviously summer because my news alerts are no longer steadily reporting concerns about education, our children’s future, the problems with teachers, etc. Perhaps now, then, is the perfect time to address the issue of testing and its troubles, while a little distance might provide perspective. So, why do we test? What do we hope the tests will achieve? Last summer, Thomas Friedman suggested that parents and teachers view classroom performance as CEOs do economic performance to keep us competitive and to overcome our “education challenge.” In this light, testing helps us know where we stand


Teaching and Learning with Minecraft: Liam O’Donnell

Monday, July 08, 2013 Comment 3 young female students working on computers in classroom minecraft

Playing with blocks certainly predates constructionist theories of learning by playing with “tangible manipulatives,” but the culturally universal practice is probably as old as human social learning. What is new is the ability to use simulated blocks to teach comparative religion by enabling students to construct navigable models of famous houses of worship. Or explore biology by assembling giant DNA molecules, or manifest millions of blocks by performing the proper calculations and applying appropriate logical operations. Manipulatives aren’t containers of knowledge, but can be used as “objects to think with,” as Seymour Papert noted more than thirty