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Creating Purpose-Driven Learning Experiences

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on October 25, 2015 at 5:34:02 am

Creating Purpose-Driven Learning Experiences


In his 2012 Kindle Single Why School, technology expert and educational change agent Will Richardson argues that classrooms as they are currently structured are failing our students.  "We focus on the easiest parts of the learning interaction -- information acquisition, basic skills, a bit of critical thinking, analysis -- accomplishments that can be easily identified and scored," he writes.  "Learning is relegated to the quantifiable" (Kindle location 227).  To create highly engaged learning spaces, Will believes, classrooms must instead be reimagined as places where students do work that matters with others -- a process introduced by sixth grade classroom teacher Bill Ferriter in a series of presentations to Alberta's Regional Learning Consortiums in January of 2016.


The resources for Bill's presentations can be found on this page.





Module 1: Are Today's Students the Dumbest Generation?


In February of 2010, Dan Brown dropped out of college, arguing that schooling was getting in the way of his education and that if educators aren't ready to change, society will move on without them.  Watch Dan's Open Letter to Educators and use this handout to reflect on his core argument that schools are failing to prepare kids for the world that they will inherit.






Module 2: Does Your School have a Vision of Effective Technology Integration?


One of the first steps that schools interested in the meaningful integration of technology must take is actively defining just what "meaningful integration" would look like in action.  During this breakout, we will work to answer that question.  Participants will look closely at a series of scenarios that describe the full range of technology integration efforts in schools.  Then, they will explore a simple set of documents that can help schools to develop guiding principles for school-based technology integration efforts.


Technology is a Tool - This graphic will be used to prompt participants to think carefully about the role that technology currently plays in their buildings. 


Technology Integration Scenarios:  Your table group will be assigned to read the three technology scenarios listed below.  Please click on the link for the scenario that you are assigned to read.  After reading each scenario, please have one scribe respond to the first unanswered question on the second page of the Google Doc.  Together, we will build a nice collection of reflections about what meaningful technology integration is supposed to look like in action.  


Scenario 1: Marsha Turnbull


Scenario 2: Antonio Villareal


Scenario 3: Thomas Vanderheusen


Technology Vision Setting Documents:  One of the most important steps that buildings can take to support digital change efforts is to articulate a vision for just what effective technology integration looks like in action.  Clear statements and scenarios that describe the kinds of behaviors that would be seen in classrooms where technology is being used to move learners forward in meaningful ways provide teachers and learning teams with a better sense for the learning spaces that you are trying to create.  The documents below can be used as a guide when developing these statements and scenarios.


Technology Planning Guide - A series of questions designed to elicit school-based instructional priorities. 


Technology Vision Statements - A document designed to walk leadership teams through the process of developing a set of technology vision statements.





Module 3: What Does Good Technology Integration Look Like in Action?


Now that you've had the chance to look closely at both the characteristics of today's learner and the characteristics of effective technology integration, let's spend some time examining two examples of meaningful technology integration from session presenter Bill Ferriter's classroom.  In the first, students are using technology to change lives in the developing world.  In the second, students are using technology to raise awareness about the amount of sugar found in the foods that we eat every day.  In both projects, students have the chance to master discipline specific knowledge and skills.  



Microlending as an Example of Good Technology Integration


The first example of good technology integration that session presenter Bill Ferriter will share with participants is a Kiva Microlending project that he integrated into his language arts and social studies classroom a few years back.  To learn more about the project and the role that it played in Bill's classroom, explore the following resources:


One Tweet CAN Change the World - In this blog post, session presenter Bill Ferriter details the origins of his Kiva Microlending project and shares the rationale and resources for connecting microlending projects to the required curriculum.


Salem Middle School Kiva Video - This link connects to a video made by two eighth grade students in session presenter Bill Ferriter's middle school Kiva Club.  It was developed to be used in persuasive speeches given by Kiva Club members who were looking for monetary donations from local businesses. 


Kiva Because We Care - This link connects to a second video made by students in session presenter Bill Ferriter's middle school Kiva Club.  It provides a convincing look inside the reasons that students care about opportunities to do work that matters. 


Resources Used in Bill's Microlending Project


Kiva Website - Kiva is an organization in San Francisco that makes microlending possible by pairing interested lenders in the developed world with entrepreneurs in need of loans in the developing world.  While there are other sites and services that make microlending possible, Kiva is the largest.


Animoto Website - Animoto is a tool for making engaging online videos out of PowerPoint presentations.  The reason that session presenter Bill Ferriter uses Animoto is because (1). it automates the transitions between images, resulting in a highly polished final product without needing a high level of technical skill and (2). it provides users with access to an extensive library of Creative Commons music.


Creative Commons Website - Projects that give students the opportunity to experiment with visual persuasion are perfect opportunities to introduce Creative Commons, a new form of copyright where creators grant permission to use their content in advance.  This link connects to the Creative Commons website, where participants can learn more about the different licenses used by content creators, where participants can find a tool that makes searching for Creative Commons content easier, and where participants can watch a video that explains just what the Creative Commons is. 


Student Microlending Handouts - Student Microlending Handouts - While session presenter Bill Ferriter has created dozens of handouts for use with his Kiva microlending work, participants generally find three to be the most useful.  The Setting Kiva Loan Priorities handout is designed to help student lenders clarify the characteristics of loans that matter, the Kiva Loan Reflection Organizer handout is designed to help students articulate the reasons that they chose to make individual loans, and the Microlending Self Assessment handout is a sample of a tool that can be used to track the progress that students are making towards mastering important curricular outcomes while microlending.    


The following handouts are also useful:  The Lending to a GroupLending to a Woman, and Giving a Kiva Gift Card handouts are all useful for helping students to think through the most common choices Kiva lenders make.  The Kiva Loan Reflection Organizer can be used to help students evaluate the loans that they have made and the Microlending Self Assessment handout can be used to help students rate their progress towards mastering core academic outcomes during microlending projects.  Finally, the Do Something Funny for Money Day handout introduces a quick fundraiser that groups interested in microlending can use to raise initial lending funds.


Creating Influential Visuals Handouts - While session presenter Bill Ferriter has created dozens of handouts for introducing students to the characteristics of influential visuals, participants generally find three to be the most useful.  The Characteristics of Memorable Images handout asks students to examine the strengths and weaknesses of two student-made PowerPoint slides, the Checklist for Creating an Influential Visualhandout walks students through a series of questions designed to support the creation of influential visuals, and the Examining a Video handout asks students to watch the Salem Middle School Poverty's Real video and identify the key structural elements of a persuasive video. 




#SUGARKILLS as an Example of Good Technology Integration


The second example of good technology integration that session presenter Bill Ferriter will share with participants is a #SUGARKILLS project that he integrated into his science classroom two years ago.  To learn more about the project and the role that it played in Bill's classroom, explore the following resources:


My Kids, a Cause and Our Classroom Blog - In this post written for Smartblogs Education, session presenter outlines the reasoning behind his #SUGARKILLS project, an effort to raise awareness about the amount of sugar in the foods that we eat every day that started after his students studied the ban on soda that the Mayor of New York City tried to put in place in 2013.  


#SUGARKILLS Blog - The final digital project that session presenter Bill Ferriter had his kids tackle when exploring the New York City soda ban was to use a blog to raise awareness about the amount of sugar in the foods that teens and tweens eat on a daily basis. 


#SUGARKILLS Interview - One of the most powerful testimonials about the impact that doing work that matters can have on students is this interview of the sixth grade student leaders of session presenter Bill Ferriter's #SUGARKILLS project conducted by the MiddleWeb website. 


Resources Used in Bill's #SUGARKILLS Project


Scoop.it -  Scoop.it is a service that allows users to curate public collections of weblinks around individual topics. Public Scoop.it pages give students opportunities to practice managing multiple streams of information and evaluating the reliability of online sources -- two additional skills that define literate 21st Century citizens.  Curating public Scoop.it pages also gives students opportunities to raise their voice on issues that matter and to have their thinking affirmed and/or challenged by commenters.


VoiceThread - VoiceThread is a service that allows users to engage in ongoing asynchronous conversations about topics of interest to them.  What makes VoiceThread unique is that users can post text and/or video comments to presentations, making the conversations more personal and engaging to users.   


Wordpress - While there are dozens of blogging tools to choose from, session presenter Bill Ferriter uses Wordpress for his classroom blogs.  It is not an education-specific product, but it is probably the most widely-used blogging tool used beyond schools.  That means the skills that Bill's students pick up while blogging in his classroom will translate to their work long after they leave his room. 


Three Classroom Blogging Tips for Teachers - This link connects to a bit on session presenter Bill Ferriter's blog that details three important tips for teachers interested in tackling a classroom blogging project. 


Blogging Resources for Classroom Teachers - Are you having trouble imagining just what role blogging can play in the classroom?  Do you need a few examples of classroom blogging projects that might be worth pursuing?  Not sure of just what blogging platform is right for you or your school?  All of those questions are answered in this post from session presenter Bill Ferriter's blog.  


Blogging Handouts - While session presenter Bill Ferriter has created dozens of handouts for structuring student blogging projects, participants generally find the following to be the most useful:  The Blogging Tasks to Tackle handout details several specific roles that students can fill in classroom blogging projects.  The Blogging Reflection handout can be used to encourage students to think carefully about the kinds of posts that are the most influential.  The Blogging Self Assessment handout is designed to give students the chance to track their own progress towards mastering academic outcomes during classroom blogging projects.  And the Tracking Student Progress handout can be used by teachers to track student mastery towards academic outcomes on classroom blogging projects.


These handouts are also useful:  The Teacher Tips for Classroom Blogging Projects handout includes a list of 10 different tips for structuring classroom blogging work, the Tips for Leaving Good Blog Comments handout is designed to teach students the kinds of steps that they need to take in order to effectively join conversations in blog comment sections and the Blog Entry Scoring Rubric handout can be used by teachers or students to evaluate the overall quality of student posts on classroom blogs. 







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