Passion. Curiosity. Questioning.

CEP 812 has opened my eyes to the powerful world of questioning. Society has taught us to limit our questions and go with the flow, but through reading Warren Berger’s book, A More Beautiful Question (2016), I have learned that the most innovative ideas are created through passion, curiosity and questioning. This idea has lead me to my own beautiful question: How can I inspire passion, curiosity and questioning in my own classroom, and how can technology play a role in this?

In Thomas Friedman’s article, It’s P.Q. and C.Q. as Much as I.Q. (2013), he explains that we can no longer just rely on our wealth of information that we hold within to advance in a society that already has an abundance of knowledge at our fingertips, but rather, we need to take initiative to innovate and create. As an educator, it is up to me to facilitate this passion and curiosity with my students. Helping others question can stir the ideas and potential answers that they already have in their heads (Berger, 2016).

As I think about my beautiful question, I reflect on my everyday decisions as an educator. I can admit that there are times when I am just trying to reach the top of the mountain, as Berger would say, but I also have realized that I am striving to answer my beautiful question. I am constantly asking how to introduce content in a way that will spark students’ interests and curiosity, how to incorporate their own passion’s into learning, how to help them explore, create and share their ideas, and of course, how technology can enhance their journey of learning and innovation. However, I am not the only one asking questions. My students are constantly being challenged to ask their own questions to engage, explore, create and share what they are curious and passionate about.

I have created a Thinglink to showcase passion, curiosity and questioning in my classroom.References

Berger, W. (2016). A more beautiful question: The power of inquiry to spark breakthrough ideas. New York: Bloomsbury.

Friedman, T. L. (2013, January 30). It’s P.Q. and C.Q. as Much as I.Q. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/30/opinion/friedman-its-pq-and-cq-as-much-as-iq.html

Personalized Learning Solution

blackboard business chalkboard concept

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I am very proud to share my partner and I’s final presentation on personalized learning for our CEP 812 class. Throughout the course, we studied Warren Berger’s questioning techniques in his book, A More Beautiful Question (2016), and used them to help solve the wicked problem of personalized learning.

Before diving into solutions, we took a great amount of time to understand the problem. We asked over 40 questions about personalized learning (many of them were “why” questions) without offering any possibilities of the answers. We then started conducting research about personalized learning to fully and deeply understand our problem. After summarizing our wicked problem, reviewing our questions that we brainstormed and discussing personalized learning from multiple perspectives (stubborn teacher, parent and policy maker), we prioritized five “why” questions that focused our research for the rest of the project, which are explained in an infographic that I designed.

After fully comprehending our wicked problem and focusing our thinking, we then asked thirty “what if” questions to help us understand potential solutions. From these questions, we realized that educators lack the knowledge of what personalized learning is and how to implement it into their classroom, so we came up with the solution of developing a hands-on professional development course for teachers to learn about personalized learning. We asked over twenty “how” questions to guide our thinking in how to develop the course and what to include. We also created a survey for educators to complete in our Personal Learning Network to get their thoughts on personalized learning to help us develop the course. The professional development course that we designed is explained further in our multimodal presentation. In this Prezi, you will learn more about our process and solution to the wicked problem of personalized learning. Although a professional development course will help educators feel more confident about implementing personalized learning into their classrooms, it will not ultimately solve the entire problem but hope it’s a step in the right direction.

Reference

Berger, W. (2016). A more beautiful question: The power of inquiry to spark breakthrough ideas. New York: Bloomsbury.

Personalized Learning Survey

This week in CEP 812, my partner and I have begun to think about possibilities for solutions to our wicked problem of personalized learning. We have asked ‘what if’ and ‘how’ questions to come up with the best “worst solution”. Throughout our research and conversations, one theme has been that educators are unclear of what personalized learning is and how to implement it into their teaching. Therefore, our proposed solution to the wicked problem of personalized learning is to create a professional development course for educators that will inform educators of what personalized learning is and how to implement it into their classrooms. Under the umbrella of the personalized learning problem, there are a slew of more specific problems. Therefore, one solution will not ultimately solve the problem, but our hope is that a professional development course will be a step in the right direction.

We have created a survey to help us understand educators’ thoughts on personalized learning, what they believe personalized learning entails, and the results of implementing it into their classrooms. This will give us insight on how to best structure our professional development course and what to include in it to make it beneficial for all.

Please consider answering this short survey. There are 9 questions. It should take you about 5 minutes to answer them. Your answers will be collected anonymously — please do not give your name or any other personally identifiable information. I will analyze these data and submit them for evaluation to my professors at MSU. I will share my analyses with you once they are complete. I really hope this survey helps us to gather data that we can use.

Please complete this survey no later than Friday, August 3, 2018. Thank you very much for your time and insights.

Why is Personalized Learning a Wicked Problem?

This week in CEP 812, I have worked with a classmate to understand the wicked problem, personalized learning. Before solving the problem, one must fully comprehend why it is an issue. Therefore, we have formulated five questions that will guide our research in understanding the complications of personalized learning:

  1. Why is there not a clear definition of personalized learning?
    • Everyone has their own idea of what personalized learning is and what it should entail.
  2. Why is technology so often intertwined with personalized learning?
    • Technology is the basis of most personalized learning experiences.
  3. Why is personalized learning beneficial for students?
    • Research has shown that students make positive gains in academics when learning in a personalized learning environment.
  4. Why isn’t personalized learning accepted by all?
    • Not everyone believes personalized learning should be how students learn.
  5. Why is personalized learning successful in some classrooms and not others?
    • Personalized learning has inconsistent results.

These questions are ones that we noticed being the main topic of our conversation and research on personalized learning.

We then started our research in answering these questions. We delve into published research articles and educational websites and videos to start our exploration. I have created an infographic below to summarize the information that I found. You can also find the infographic by clicking here.

Speak Visually. Create an infographic with Visme

My Information Diet

As I scrolled through Twitter, I noticed that the people and groups I was connected with all have similar viewpoints to me. Mostly, I follow other people in the MAET program who share information about educational technology, and I also follow MSU’s College of Education. I started to realize that my information diet that I have created has limited my views in my professional career. I have always been a profound advocate for education and technology, and therefore, I connected with those who had similar interests, creating a network of “confirmation bias” as James Paul Gee refers to it in his book The Anti-Education Era: Creating Smarter Students Through Digital Learning (2013). I wanted to see and read about all of the positives of educational technology and strategies to implement it into the classroom, which all confirm my ideas about this topic. I also took a look at all of my tweets that I have shared on Twitter and noticed that they are pretty much all about educational technology in some way.

Until watching Eli Pariser’s TED Talk, Beware Online “Filter Bubbles” (2011), I didn’t think anything of my small information diet; I am connecting with those who have similar interests, which is something you learn to do all your life. Pariser (2011) pointed out that web companies can trap us in filter bubbles by tailoring our searches to our interests and viewpoints. Twitter always has suggestions of who to follow, and they are always people and groups who are similar to those that I am already following. Therefore, by following them, I am trapped in the filter bubble; my network may be getting bigger, but it is just more of the same.

This has helped me realize that my information diet is minimal and needs to be expanded. I need to get out of my comfort zone and start interacting with more groups and people outside the realm of educational technology. I took to Twitter and started exploring people and groups that I usually would not follow. I am not one to follow politics in education, so I started following some educational politics groups along with those who tweet a lot about educational news. Throughout the week, I started reading tweets and article links from these groups. It really opened up my eyes to different viewpoints in education. I feel more informed about what’s going on with education now than I have ever before from just one week of introducing new viewpoints into my information diet. With this new knowledge, I believe that the information I share out to my personal learning network will also change. I would like to expand what I tweet to more than just educational technology.

I also started following groups that focused on personalized learning for my wicked problem project. In the past, I have never took to Twitter to essentially do research, but I have learned so much about how others have implemented personalized learning in education. It is amazing how much you can learn from others if you know how and what to search for. Although personalized learning is in the realm of educational technology, following these groups has expanded my information diet as I have never focused my attention on this specific topic.

Therefore, I believe that social media and the internet can be wonderful resources, but we must be mindful when choosing who to follow and what to search to prevent ourselves from being trapped in the filter bubble.

Here is an infographic that summarizes my information diet before and after this week’s learning.

Untitled-Project

Reference

Gee, J. P. (2013). The anti-education era: Creating smarter students through digital learning. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Pariser, E. (n.d.). Beware online “filter bubbles”. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles#t-72874

Who is Entitled to Ask Questions in Class?

While reading Warren Berger’s book, A More Beautiful Question, something that really spoke to me was the question he posed, “Who is entitled to ask questions in class?”. Research has shown that teachers tend to monopolize in this role, usually to inquire about students’ knowledge about a particular subject rather than to spark interest (Berger, 2014, p. 56). When the teacher is doing all or most of the questioning, a student is not taking charge of their own learning, which usually results in a disinterest of learning because it is not their question; it’s not something that they really care about. One reason for this is the authoritative position of the teacher (Berger, 2014, p. 56). Students may pose questions that teachers don’t ultimately know the answer to, which is seen as a threat to the teacher. It undermines their authority of being the expert. Another reason that I can relate to personally is the pressure to cover large amounts of material in a limited amount of time (Berger, 2014, p. 57). In many occasions there is not enough time to explore and ask questions when there is so much to get through in a day and over the course of the year. Also, with scripted lesson plans that many teachers are forced to follow with fidelity, it leaves little room for questioning. Therefore, this question of who is entitled to ask questions in class has really impacted my thoughts of the role of the teacher vs. the students in the classroom. Students need to be in charge of their learning by formulating their own questions, which will in turn increase their engagement of learning.

In my professional experience as a 2nd and 3rd grade teacher, I am guilty of monopolizing questioning in the classroom. I am the one who asks most of the questions; sometimes the questions are a form of formative assessment and other times it is to explore a topic of learning. What I have not done too often is have my students generate their own questions in the learning environment. Before reading the first couple of chapters of A More Beautiful Question, I had not really given questioning too much thought. I always try to ask interesting questions across subjects, but what I didn’t realize is that these questions have little value to the students because it is not their question. How do we expect students to be engaged in something that has little or no meaning to them? The time constraints and scripted lesson plans play a significant role in the reasoning behind why I have done most of the questioning in the classroom. Another reason is because questioning is difficult. Although my students are young, I see many of them already expecting to be asked the questions instead of thinking of them themselves, and this results in a lot of frustration or blank stares when given the opportunity to do so. Therefore, questioning is a skill that needs to be explicitly taught and practiced in the classroom. I plan to get out of the driver’s seat and let my students take more control of their education by teaching them the skills to formulate powerful questions that will drive their interests and learning. Even if this takes more time, the value of student interest in their learning supersedes the amount of information that is covered. Ultimately, they will gain more if they are engaged in their learning.

Here is a video of student-driven questioning taking place in a school in Chicago, IL.

References

Berger, W. (2014). A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas. New York, NY: Bloomsbury USA.

E. (2015, August 24). Inquiry-Based Learning: Developing Student-Driven Questions. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdYev6MXTOA

Popplet for Students with ADHD

In my second grade classroom, there are many students who are diagnosed with ADHD. In Academic and Social Impairments of Elementary School Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (2011), McConaughy, Volpe, Antshel, Gordon, and Eiraldi stated that “[m]any group studies have reported poor academic performance for children with ADHD compared to their typically developing classmates” (p. 201). This is a pattern that I have also seen with my students. Specifically, I have noticed a significant difference in writing skills of those with ADHD compared to others. In their study, McConaughy et al. (2011) found that “22% [of children with ADHD] showed skills deficits in written language” (p. 220). Therefore, I have taken a special interest in finding an assistive technology writing tool that can help students with ADHD.

Through observations of student writing, many students with ADHD have a difficult time organizing their thoughts. They are not sure where to start and have a challenging time staying on topic. McConaughy et al. (2011) state that “[children with ADHD] may also benefit from empirically supported interventions to improve productivity and organization, such as study skills programs, peer tutoring, choice options for structured academic activities, and self-monitoring of on-task behavior and organizational skills” (pp. 221-222). Therefore, Popplet is a great online mind map tool to help organize their ideas.

Popplet is a free tool that is very simple to access and keeps their work in a safe place. It is online and therefore can be accessed from anywhere. Students can make an account for free where all of their work will be saved. This is useful because many students with ADHD have a difficult time staying organized, so having the graphic organizer online will ensure that they will never lose it. They just log into their account from the Popplet website to access any of their mind maps. The free version allows students to make up to 10 mind maps.

Popplet is a very user-friendly tool. With simple clicks and drags of the mouse or track pad, students can map their ideas in bubbles and connect them to other ideas in an organized way. The bubbles can be moved around with ease to organize them in a way that makes sense to the student. For example, if the student is writing a ‘how-to’, they can move the bubbles so that they start at the top and descend down. If they are writing an opinion paragraph, they can start with the topic in the middle and have main ideas surrounding the topic with supporting details surrounding the main ideas. There is even a tool within Popplet that will automatically organize your bubbles for you. Being able to move the bubbles will help students with ADHD organize their thoughts according to the type of writing.

Users are able to color code each bubble so that each subtopic can have its own color. For example, when students go to write their paragraph, they will know that all of the ideas in the blue bubbles need to be written together.

There is also an option to draw and add images to your bubbles. Students with ADHD have difficulty staying focused, so drawing and adding images to their ideas can help retain focus for the student by giving them a short break from writing. Adding visuals to their mind map can also make the graphic organizer visually appealing to the student and aid them in comprehending their thoughts.

While working, the graphic organizer that you are working on will automatically save. Many students forget to save their work before closing out of their computer or sometimes the computer will run out of battery in the middle of working. With Popplet, the mind map automatically saves so that the student will not lose any of their work that they have done so far.

Overall, Popplet is a wonderful writing tool for students with ADHD. It is free and can be accessed from any computer. It is also very user-friendly and something that even my second graders would be able to use without difficulty. Students can organize their ideas by moving the bubbles around and color-coding them in a way that makes sense to them and the type of writing that they are working on. Including drawings and images will give students brain breaks while still staying focused on their work and make it visually appealing. Having it online ensures that it cannot be lost and their work will always be saved automatically.

Reference

McConaughy, S. H., Volpe, R. J., Antshel, K. M., Gordon, M., & Eiraldi, R. B. (2011). Academic and social impairments of elementary school children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. School Psychology Review, 40(2), 200-225. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.msu.edu.proxy1.cl.msu.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.proxy1.cl.msu.edu/docview/878153408?accountid=12598

Assessing Creativity

Assessment has been a term in education for a long time but is usually thought about as assessing content learned, collaboration and the organization of a project or writing. When thinking of the maker movement, a large part of learning is creativity, so the question is, how do we assess these components in a nation where we believe that it is unjust to critique one’s originality? In Grant Wiggin’s blog, On Assessing Creativity: Yes You Can, and Yes You Should (2012), he states, “Educators sometimes say that they shy from assessing creative thought for fear of inhibiting students, but this is a grave error in my view, even if the fear should be honored as coming from a desire to help.” In our last week of CEP 811, I am asked to complete the following sentence, “As an educator charged with the assessment of student learning, I would assess creative problem solving during maker-inspired lessons in the following ways…”

First of all, students need to understand what creativity entails. This can be done through a rubric. As a second grade teacher, this rubric would need to be simple and easy to understand. It would contain yes and no questions about the components of creativity. Here are some questions that would be included in the rubric based off of Grant Wiggins’ blog (2012) link to a creative rubric:

  • Does the work achieve the purpose in a way that has not been imagined before?
  • Have materials been repurposed in a new and clever way?
  • Is the audience amazed by and engaged in the work?
  • Does the work show “thinking outside the box”?
  • Comments and/or questions

The most powerful of these questions is the first, which focuses on achieving the purpose, or impact. Wiggins (2012) argues that “[t]he more we focus on impact – did you achieve the goal of such a performance? – instead of such abstract things as “focus” and “organization” or such indicators such as “eye contact” in speaking,… the more students can practice, get feedback, and self-assess and self-adjust on their own.” After all, doesn’t focus, organization and eye contact all result in engagement and work toward achieving the purpose? This first question will aid students in having the mindset of creating for a purpose other than just finishing a project for a good grade or to please the teacher.

Therefore, with this rubric, must come tremendous amounts of feedback from their audience, whether it be the class, teachers, parents, the school or the community. Feedback is a type of formative and summative assessment. Throughout their making, students need feedback to ensure that they are on the right track. They should be assessing themselves and also receiving it from others. To do this, I would have students fill out the rubric for themselves periodically and have their audience do the same. When the student AND the audience can answer yes to all the questions, they would know that the work had been completed.

With creativity comes reflection, so once the work is complete, I would ask the students one question: What were some struggles that happened throughout the making, and what did you do to solve them? With this question, students and the teacher are able to reflect on their learning and creativity throughout the process.

With this approach to assessing creativity, students are able to self-assess, as well as get feedback from others in a productive way.

Reference

Wiggins, G. (2012, February 3). On assessing for creativity: yes you can, and yes you should. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://grantwiggins.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/on-assessing-for-creativity-yes-you-can-and-yes-you-should/

Reflecting on CEP 811

In the last week of CEP 811, I reflect on what I have learned about incorporating technologies in innovative ways to support student learning. The biggest takeaway from this course is knowing that we [educators] don’t need fancy, expensive technologies to successfully teach students in a 21st century classroom; educators AND students need to embody the maker mindset. We need to believe that we are ALL makers and that we CAN be creative. With this mindset, the possibilities are endless. The maker movement is a group of people who share the common motivation to learn, explore, create and share. Below, I have written an acrostic poem that sums up the main ideas of the maker movement and also the ideas I will incorporate into my classroom.

Make solutions

Assess creativity

Keep trying

Explore ideas

Redesign

 

Make mistakes and learn from them

Overcome challenges

Value others’ knowledge

Educate others

Manipulate tools and resources

Embody a maker mindset

Notice a problem

Take risks

Maker Education: The Road to Success

This week in CEP 811, I took on the challenge of learning, exploring, and creating an infographic. I used a program called Easel.ly to showcase what maker education entails. Throughout this course, maker education has transformed my idea of teaching. I have learned that being a maker does not mean that you need fancy tools and technology; all you need is a problem, creativity, people to collaborate with and a growth mindset. When beginning CEP 811, I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about the course because I did not consider myself a maker and was nervous that I would struggle to be creative. As this course comes to an end, I have a whole new mindset about my identity; I AM a maker and feel more confident about making and teaching my students to make. In The Maker Movement in Education (2014), Halverson and Sheridan argue that everyone is a maker, but they don’t automatically take on identities of participation within the maker world because they don’t consider themselves makers. This is a concept that I want to instill in my students so that they have the confidence to learn, explore, create and share their ideas with others. Here, I share my infographic that sums up the road to success in maker education.

Reference

Halverson, E.R. & Sheridan, K. (2014). The maker movement in education. Harvard Educational Review, 84(4), 495-465.