February 2008


Tonight our presenter was George Siemens for our EC&I 831 class. I’ve just left the session with my head bouncing around concepts like “connectivisim,” “connected learning, “emergent curriculum” and the power of networks. It will take a bit of time for everything to roll around and emerge as some concrete thoughts for me to work with.

The following diagram was shown:

Connectivism:

  • knowledge as networked
  • learning as connecting, creating
  • systemic impact: designing education to optimize the value of networks

Siemens made the point that networks are complex despite their apparent simplicity. This led to a discussion on the value of networks, what our networks look like and when do we introduce networks to students. There were many interesting and varied points of views.

The one comment that Siemens made that I’ll be thinking of will be “one new piece of information opens up a whole new area of learning.” Isn’t this the truth.

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I was at my Learning Plus workshop this afternoon and “Engaging the Mind” was the topic for the module.

We watched the same video “A Vision of Students Today” that Alec Couros had us watch the first week of classes for EC&I 831. Once again the discussion led to whether or not we are engaging our students. We are now being challenged more than ever to reflect on our teaching practices and the learning environment we provide for our students. The definitions of engagement change from educator to educator. In my room I look around and see students reading the newspaper, talking about an interesting article with another student, blogging, reading other student blogs, commenting to other students, watching a youtube video about Balto the dog that was important in the first Iditarod in Alaska and ask myself “Are they engaged?” I say yes. They may be doing different things but they are all interacting with their environment and each other. My students are reading, writing, listening, speaking, viewing and representing all within the first forty five minutes of school. My students start the school day engaged in the cornerstones of the provincial language arts curriculum. Granted, another teacher may look into my classroom and see that my students are not all sitting in their desks, there isn’t a teacher standing at the front of the room teaching and the students are working on different tasks. I look around and see engagement where another teacher may look around and see no structure. I think that engaging our students’ minds mean that we need to shift how we work in our classrooms and become less teachers and more facilitators of learning opportunities.

I’ve been working on a collaborative project that will study and follow the Iditarod Trail Dog Race. I followed the race with my class last year and we really enjoyed it. This year I wanted to expand on the project to include teachers and classes I was working with on my class blog. Fortunately when I looked at the requirements for my EC&I 831 class there was a major technology project required. This was what I needed to stop thinking about the project and get on it. I contacted several teachers requesting them to join me in the project.

February 4th, tomorrow, is the day we start. I’ve prepped my class of grade six and sevens and we’ve had a look through the wikis I’ve set up for the project. I’ve had class lists emailed to me and set up the students in groups. My students have already been chatting to their partners in Seattle and North Battleford. The group in Beiruit has had some political turmoil that has disrupted school but Barbara has put a group of students together that have started to attend school again. It’s a learning experience for all of us and I think we’re as excited as the students to begin.

Wish us luck as we start our learning adventure. Peek into our project wiki and see what we’re up to.

Iditarod

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons Kayak 49

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