CLN on Hold – starting 3/13

February 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

Teachers, Friends, and Colleagues:

We are putting the CoLearning Network project on hold while we think about how best to support the work of collaborative learning.220px-Heroesjourney.svg

We started CLN in 2011 to share ideas about learning and teaching, as well as provide a collaborative space for good ideas to take form and, hopefully, spread. Our aim was to learn and grow with each and all of you; and our hope was that you would take new ideas and practices into your classrooms, schools, and districts. We imagined that if we initiated it, others would add to what we started. Our key beliefs are still:

  • Inquiry is at the heart of learning.
  • Learners play, construct & reflect.
  • Learning is a social process. We learn best together and with each other’s help.
  • Educators’ learning should embody the learning we want for students.

We experimented with creating a “learn-build” community, attempting to model strategies for professional learning that we thought would transfer to the classroom: Blended learning, with some online reading and discussion, combined with synchronous online chats, using an inquiry approach. Simultaneously, we began a series of monthly webinars aimed at sharing information and ideas about innovative educational programs in Colorado.

The learn-build effort garnered some interest but didn’t take off. The webinars attracted a small but vibrant group of participants, and we thoroughly appreciated the online chats and feedback we got through the webinars. We’re proud of that effort, and would still urge anyone who missed various of those hour-long sessions to look at the archives for interesting topics. Over time, however, as participation has declined, we have wondered whether the webinars meet the pressing needs of Colorado educators.

At a recent meeting of our group, we discussed these issues and more. Unfortunately, we didn’t come up with too many answers, other than we know how busy you are and how busy we are. We are not certain how to proceed.

And so, friends, for the time being, we have decided to put the CLN work to the side. We will continue to hold this space, should need or interest arise and/or if you would like to use the space to bring a group together, distill or share an idea, or simply connect with one another.

But wait… This is not the end of the story.TreeOfEngagedTchg&Lrng-10-12

A CLN webinar with Mark Wilding of PassageWorks Institute (May 2012) really got our group thinking. We believe Mark’s new book, The Five Dimensions of Engaged Teaching (to be published in May 2013), offers powerful ideas for teachers to ponder along with strategies they can implement to improve student learning and motivation. We’ve been thinking about how to explore those ideas and strategies through rich online learning experiences; we are exploring ideas for launching an online study and practitioners support group when the book is published.

More details — and more learning — coming soon!

Engaged Teaching – Reflection by Marci Eckles

June 25, 2012 in Reflection

Marci is a 3rd grade teacher at Frontier Elementary School in Academy District 20. This is reposted with permission from Marci’s blog on the 2011-12 21st Century Cadre site.

“Engaged Teaching is about re-integrating a fragmented view of education that often separates social and emotional learning from academics, skills from content, heart from mind, inner life from outer life, and student learning outcomes from learning contexts.”

What a unique discussion. I find it rare in all of the PD that I have been a part of that we focus on ourselves as teachers and how our state of being helps or hinders us from exceptional teaching. Toward the end of the webinar, Mark talked about how being present in the moment is part of self preparation for teaching. By this, we have to let other distractions go, so that we are capable of being our best. There was also a lot of discussion about being able to “open your heart” to your students. In order to do this, one has to be aware of what opens/closes their heart. Being a better self observer helps us know what our triggers are.

I really took these messages to heart. It is true that the daily grind of things can lead us to “close our hearts” to students, thus cutting them off from who we truly are. Stress has lead me to react as opposed to respond to situations. Being aware of what triggers me to react is the first step to recognizing when emotions will affect the situation and taking a moment to breathe, then step back into the present moment. Mark said that “doing nothing is one of the hardest things for humans to do.” However, pausing for that moment to gain control of emotions or to reengage the students is very powerful and helps keep an engaged teacher and classroom as well.

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” – Buddha

What We’re Saying (perhaps)

May 25, 2012 in Webinar

From "Mosaic Pattern Inspiration," by Jessie; posted on Spin Storage - http://spinstorage.blogspot.com/2011/05/mosaic-pattern-inspiration.html

Close observers of the webinar series have no doubt discerned a striking mosaic in the topics and issues presented over the past eight months. It turns out that our selection of topics and presenters has, somewhat unintentionally, outlined a sort of manifesto about learning and teaching.

For those who haven’t made a study of our topic list your top priority, here it is

  • An invitation to collaborate with us on building a professional learning community;
  • Developing an online learning program;
  • Learning and being beyond the boundaries of school
  • Flipping the classroom — an evolution from teaching to learning
  • Teacher inquiry as professional learning
  • The 21st century school — a curriculum of skills and habits of mind for thinking, information, and learning
  • Presentations of learning — demonstrations and reflections of growth
  • Engaging the whole person in learning and teaching

Before I go into explication mode (otherwise known, to colleagues of mine, as belaboring the obvious), here are some questions you might enjoy considering:

  • What persistent and important themes are expressed in these topics?
  • What inferences can you make regarding what “we” (those of us who organized the webinars) believe about learning and teaching?
  • Why do I put learning before teaching in the question above?
  • How should teachers help powerful learning to occur?
  • What if educators believed that a school should be a community of learners?
  • What is 21st century learning?
  • Why does a CoLearning Network matter?

Of course, we intend that CLN will become more than a webinar series. The webinars are part of our effort to build a resonance field. We hope to generate sufficient resonance — more accurately, a complex harmony of various resonances — to energize a community of learning.  We invite you to join us in building that community.

Want to hear about upcoming webinars?

May 9, 2012 in information, Webinar

Webinar on Engaged Teaching — May 15

May 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

Join us Tuesday, May 15, at 3:30 p.m. (Mountain Time) for a conversation about Engaged Teaching. The webinar will be conducted in the CoLearning Network space on AdobeConnect. Mark Wilding, Executive Director of PassageWorks Institute and a postgraduate instructor in leadership and systems thinking, will lead the conversation.

Based on years of teaching, leadership development, and work with thousands of educators, Mark writes that “Engaged Teaching is about re-integrating a fragmented view of education that often separates social and emotional learning from academics, skills from content, heart from mind, inner life from outer life, and student learning outcomes from learning contexts.” The webinar will consider the five dimensions of Engaged Teaching: developing the self-observer, being present, practicing respectful discipline, expanding emotional range, and cultivating an open heart.

Topics the webinar will explore include:
  • students’ connections to themselves, to others, and the world;
  • the teacher as learner;
  • 21st century skills;
  • the role of learning in schooling;
  • developing communities of learning;

CoLearning Network webinars are conducted on the third Tuesday of every month, at 3:30 p.m. Join the free webinar at http://connect.enetcolorado.org/colearn/ as a guest.

If you have not used Adobe Connect before, we recommend that you link to the webinar site 5 minutes early, so you can dowload and test the connection software.
If you cannot join the webinar, a recording will be posted on the CoLearning site by the next day.

Margaret Wheatley Presentation

April 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

Here’s an opportunity that might interest you: Hearing Margaret Wheatley talk about her latest book (Walk Out Walk On: A Learning Journey into Communities Daring to Live the Future Now). She’s delivering the talk in Denver next Monday evening, April 16.

Margaret Wheatley is an extraordinary thinker, who has for many years been weaving the connections among social, scientific, educational, and cultural strands of thought. Her 2006 book Leadership and the New Science is one of the most interesting and important texts I’ve read. The Library of Congress catalogs it with the following subject headings — Leadership; Organization; Quantum theory; Self-organizing systems; Chaotic behavior in systems.

This presentation costs $32 a ticket (which includes a copy of the new book); neither CLN nor C21L sponsors it or derives any revenue from it. I mention it here simply because I thought you might be interested. If you are, here’s the registration site.

Webinar Announcement – April 17th

April 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

Join us Tuesday, April 17, at 3:30 p.m. (Mountain Time) for a conversation about student presentations of learning. The webinar will be conducted in the CoLearning Network space on AdobeConnect. Sarah Park (Director of Mapleton Early College, Denver, Colorado) and Michael Soguero (Director of Professional Development at Eagle Rock School, Estes Park, Colorado) will lead the conversation.

At Mapleton Early College and Eagle Rock, presentations of learning provide students a powerful opportunity to reflect and report on their growth as learners and members of a community of learners. During their years at these schools, students make multiple  presentations to groups of students and teachers (and, at Eagle Rock, to a panels of observers from outside the school community). The presentations serve as benchmarks, thresholds, and celebrations. Followed over the years, they both documents and promote tremendous mental and emotional growth.

Topics the webinar will explore include:
- the purposes and values of assessment;
- the curricular role of student presentations of learning;
- assessment of skills and habits of mind;
- building an intentional positive school culture;
- agonies and ecstasies of communities of learning;
- promoting academic achievement and human potential.

CoLearning Network webinars are conducted on the third Tuesday of every month, at 3:30 p.m. Join the free webinar at http://connect.enetcolorado.org/colearn/ as a guest.
If you have not used Adobe Connect before, we recommend that you link to the webinar site 5 minutes early, so you can dowload and test the connection software.
If you cannot join the webinar, a recording will be posted on the CoLearning site by the next day.

Thoughts on having an “Information Literacy Class” – Harrison’s 21st Century Program

March 24, 2012 in Reflection

I totally understand the reaction from my librarian friends to the fact that there is an “information literacy” class that is part of the 21st century program  at Harrison High School. We have always been told, and indeed, the research supports the fact that this skill (any skill) should not be taught in isolation – in order for the learning to “stick,” it needs to be taught in conjunction with the information need – which translates in a school setting to a class assignment.

Librarians are perhaps more sensitive to this than other educators because of the fact that for many, many years (and actually this is still common practice, particularly in elementary schools) the library has been forced to operate under a fixed schedule, giving librarians no choice but to teach information literacy and library skills in isolation.

The situation at Harrison is really very different. The classes are designed to be cross curricular.  Subjects are not taught in silos. Rather, they focus on solving real world problems, applying particular skills set to do so. Along the way, they acquire knowledge, hone their skills, and develop  deeper understandings.   They have elements of choice in their problem solving, thus increasing the intensity of the “information need” as they follow their own sense of wonder. In this situation, aren’t these students learning information literacy skills at the point of need?

I sensed something else in the reactions to the Information Literacy class.  I could be wrong, but I think there were perhaps some thoughts that only the librarian should be teaching information literacy.  This is a point I take issue with.  I do not believe it is in the best interest of students for librarians to be the sole teachers of information literacy. Absolutely it is our area of expertise. However, for information literacy skills to really take hold in our students, classroom teachers need to continuously model,  teach  and assess these skills in the classroom, especially as more and more opportunities exist there due to internet connected computers and projectors,  Smart Boards,  classroom sets of computers, and personal devices in use in the classroom. If we are serious about students learning information literacy at the point of need, then we need to re-think how that looks in a technology rich classroom and what the librarian’s role is in teaching this skill.

I propose that we need to accept that every classroom teacher should be  a teacher of information literacy.  As experts in this area, school librarians should be providing regular professional development to teachers on how to effectively model good search strategies, how to evaluate information and how to think out loud through the process. Students need to understand the thought processes we go through in deciding on which links to click on – where/how we skim a site to determine if it is worth our time, and how we revise our search strategy if we don’t find what we need.  We cannot just teach information literacy to students whose teachers collaborate with us for the one or two big research projects they do during the school year. Too many kids slip through the cracks.

Let’s rethink what information literacy learning looks like in schools.  I think the 21st Century Program at Harrison High School is addressing this in a novel way, and from where I am standing, it seems to be working.

March 20 Webinar: Harrison High School 21st Century Program

March 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

UPDATE: If you missed our March 20 webinar (Harrison HIgh School 21st Century Program), you can watch and listen to the webinar’s archived recording. You’ll want to start 1 1/2 minutes into the recording.
Additionally: Here are two of the rubrics they use in the program:
CLN’s March 20 webinar provided a conversation about creating and running a school devoted to learning for the 21st century. Rick Freehling (Critical Thinking & Reasoning/Economics & Globalization Teacher and Department Chair for the 21st Century Program at Harrison High School) led the conversation.
Now in its fifth year, Harrison’s 21st Cenury Program focuses on critical thinking and construction of knowledge in a “global” classroom. Topics the webinar explored include:
·  assessment of skills and habits of mind;
·  re-thinking the “core” of a curriculum;
·  co-learning with students while facilitating their learning;
·  issues of creating a school-within-a-school and innovating in a model NCLB district;
·  the learning outcomes from thinking and acting globally as well as locally.
CoLearning Network webinars are conducted on the third Tuesday of every month, at 3:30 p.m. Join the free webinar at http://connect.enetcolorado.org/colearn/ as a guest.

March 20 Upcoming Webinar: Harrison High School 21st Century Program

March 6, 2012 in information, Webinar

Join us Tuesday, March 20, at 3:30 p.m. (Mountain Time) for a conversation about creating and running a school devoted to learning for the 21st century. The webinar will be conducted in the CoLearning Network space on AdobeConnect. Rick Freehling (Critical Thinking & Reasoning/Economics & Globalization Teacher and Department Chair for the 21st Century Program at Harrison High School) will lead the conversation.

Now in its fifth year, Harrison’s 21st Cenury Program focuses on critical thinking and construction of knowledge in a “global” classroom. Topics the webinar will explore include:
·  assessment of skills and habits of mind;
·  re-thinking the “core” of a curriculum;
·  co-learning with students while facilitating their learning;
·  issues of creating a school-within-a-school and innovating in a model NCLB district;
·  the learning outcomes from thinking and acting globally as well as locally.

CoLearning Network webinars are conducted on the third Tuesday of every month, at 3:30 p.m. Join the free webinar at http://connect.enetcolorado.org/colearn/ as a guest.
If you have not used Adobe Connect before, we recommend that you link to the webinar site 5 minutes early, so you can dowload and test the connection software.
If you cannot join the webinar, a recording will be posted on the CoLearning site by the next day.