What does Learning Look like Crazy 8

What does Learning Look like? Post it Crazy 8 thinking routine challenge by Nicki Hambleton

Think of a lesson you have been planning.

You might have spent hours putting together the most engaging lesson for your students: visuals and slides mapped out, handouts printed, you’ve planned fun and varied activities and you have probing questions at the ready.

You have taught this lesson a hundred times so you know the content well. But how will you know if your students have really understood and learnt anything?

What does learning actually look like?

I asked the same question to a group of educators at the Learning 2 conference, Warsaw back in April, where I was running an extended session called Learning and Thinking Out Loud through visual note taking and thinking routines. I used the simple routine Crazy 8, first demonstrated to me by Kelly Grogan and Ed Chang from the Chinese International School, HK at the iPad conference held at UWCSEA.

I explained that they would be drawing 1 idea per post it every 20 seconds (a feat most thought they would be incapable of, but weren’t!). Each idea drawn would represent what learning looks like. To show them what I meant, I drew a quick example:

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quick doodle for collaborative learning

At the end of the 3 minutes their ideas looked like this:

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Crazy 8 example doodles.JPG

We shared thoughts and discussed what they had drawn with comments such as:

“Learning can be messy”, “Learning is never ending” and “Learning should be fun”.

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Photo from Learning 2 conference, Warsaw, April 2017

What learning actually looks like and what it should look like can be quite different, but learning out loud, making it more visible and tangible can aid further discussion and understanding of that thought process.

What would you draw for What Learning Looks Like? 

What alternative question might you ask in your classroom for students to draw their responses using the Crazy 8 thinking routine?

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Photo Credit: Alan Vernon. Flickr via Compfight cc

When I was at school, learning was predominantly teacher led and all about listening, reading and writing, with exams at the end of the year. I don’t recall there being any student choice, collaboration or to that extent much fun, but that’s how it was.

In my classroom today, my students share that they are more empowered by autonomy and choice and, wherever it is possible, I try to include them in the planning process. But how do I know that they are learning or indeed, what they are learning?

You may be thinking that learning in Art is quite obvious as it is visual – a drawing, sculpture or painting. But how do I know whether they have truly understood the concept, the skill or technique? How do I know what is going on in their heads?

When learning only goes on only in one’s head we cannot see it, understand it or question it. We cannot track the thought process, probe into their thinking or push ideas in other directions. It is only when we get students to visualise their thinking that we can start to understand their processes, methods and see the way they work.

If you haven’t read the book “Making Thinking Visible” by Ritchhart, Church and Morrison or “Creating Cultures of Thinking” by Ron Ritchhart or devoured the resources on the website Project Zero and the Visible thinking routines, I strongly urge you to do so at you earliest convenience, I promise you will not regret it.

Project Zero began 50 years ago, led by a team of researchers including Howard Gardiner, discussing the cognitive skills needed for arts education and conceptual understanding through the arts.

You can find multiple, easy to use thinking routines through the website and many educators from elementary to high school use these to enhance and visualise thinking in their classrooms.

The best way to start is to choose just one routine and try it in different ways with different concepts and classes.

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My most favoured routine is SEE THINK WONDER, which I use when introducing a new artist or art form such as installation art, when reflecting or giving feedback and when analysing or discussing artworks. During a discussion, it allows students to think more out loud, hear others ideas and to expand their own thinking. For Middle School art students it opens their minds at the start of a new unit and allows them to ask questions and wonder about the meaning or reason behind the artwork. In short, it gets them thinking more independently.

You can read more about the Making Learning Visible online course on their website and about UWCSEA’s group experience in a previous post of mine.

Recently I stumbled on a new routine, via Simon Brooks’ website called 8 to 1, where students whittle complex concepts into more manageable understandings, essentially by capturing it in 8 words, then 4, 2 and eventually down to one word:

1. If you were to write exactly 8 words that captured the heart of what should be remembered, what would those 8 words be?

2. Now that you have your 8, can you distill them down to 4?

3. And 2?

4. And 1?

5. REFLECT: Share your 8 words, your 2 words and your 1 word.  How did your thinking change?  What did you learn about what’s most important here?

Sharing their thinking seems to be at the heart of the routine and I see this as the most valuable learning experience for them. Brook posts a student example, below, relating to Hamlet’s speech but this routine could easily apply to IB Physics, HS Geography or MS Art.

 

 

How might you try out this routine in your class?

How could this help students to share their learning?

How does learning look different in other curriculum areas?

EMPOWER sketchnote

EMPOWER sketchnote by Nicki Hambleton drawn on iPad using Adobe Draw

Student choice is the heartbeat of ownership and empowerment

so what can we do to ensure this is integral in our students learning? How do you integrate personalised learning into your lessons?

Personalised Learning

Personalised Learning visual note by Nicki Hambleton using Adobe Ideas on iPad

The book has certainly given me much food for thought here relaxing in Italy, sipping rich red Tuscan wine and munching on sweet succulent tomatoes and bruschetta.

What have you read this summer that has changed your thinking?

How can you embody the ideas in Empower to help students own their learning?

What does learning look like in your classroom?

One of my goals for the next academic year is to build students’ skills in self-directedness and, to help this process I have been investigating Hyperdocs as a strategy to guide students through the unit yet allowing them choice and time for personal progression. Hyperdocs are a possible solution to personalised learning using technology to gather multiple resources online.

 

Hyperdocs are and are not

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Hyperdocs, a transformative, interactive Google Doc replacing the worksheet method of delivering instruction, is the ultimate change agent in the blended learning classroom.

You can read more about Hyperdocs on Cult of Pedagogy or on the main Hyperdocs site. Have you used Hypedocs yet? How has this changed student learning?

I would love to hear about your experiences, challenges and thoughts on personalised learning, empowerment and any other ideas you have for making thinking more visible.

Please share your experiences and ideas in the comments below.

This blog post was a reflection of and in response to the powerful TED talk by Will Richardson “The Surprising Truth about Learning in School”.

 

Screen Shot 2017-06-18 at 8.32.56 PMThe Creative Revolution – full STEAM ahead

First there was the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century with the mechanisation of the textile industry. Then, the second industrial revolution of the early 20th century leading to increased mass production and in the 1980’s the Digital Revolution was well underway, changing industry again. So what’s next?

Are we about to have a new revolution or is it staring us in the face? Could this be the Age of Creativity?

According to Sir Ken Robinson, “Creativity is as important in education as literacy” so what are we doing about it? (TED, 2009)

Ken Robinson Creativity

We read about the importance of STEAM and the integration of the Arts being crucial for holistic education, so why, in the UK, are creative subjects being cut from GCSEs and A Levels, including History of Art. (Independent, October 13th 2016) In fact, A Level History of Art will see its last students examined in 2018. In response, historian Simon Schama says: “Axing art history deals another blow to the creative capital of this country. Art history is an exacting discipline: to engage with it needs history, philosophy, languages, literature, tools the next generation needs.”

In the US, Trump proposed cutting funding to Arts related agencies like the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) (Independent May 1st 2017)

In Australia, over 50 creative subjects have lost funding for student loans including jewellery, circus and art therapy (Student loans cut to creative courses, Richard Watts, ArtsHub, 10 October 2016).

So instead of supporting and promoting more time and resources to creativity it appears to be quite the opposite.

Why is creativity so important to our future?

For over 20 years I have been promoting the benefits of the Arts and how the skills involved in our subjects go beyond simply being able to paint, draw, sing or dance.  It genuinely upsets me that students, at aged 14, can all but give up any form of creativity as they enter GCSEs. Even Group 6 of the IB Diploma is optional, where students do not have to choose a creative subject and can opt for another science or language for example. In my short video, prepared as a proposal for an ADE showcase on creative thinking, I highlight the growing trend away from creativity further up the school and how this skill is such an important life skill. A skill needed for a world that is rapidly changing, for jobs which we do not yet know and the obvious need for innovative and creative thinkers.

Being creative is not about being artistic, dramatic or musically minded. It is about thinking differently. Creative thinking is a skill that must be encouraged and taught through opportunities in every subject.

Tara Prendergast, in her TEDx talk The Creative Revolution, reminds us that we are “living in a world that is moving so fast and where technology is blowing our minds”. Being creative is one of the top skills needed to prepare students for this future. According to P21’s Framework for 21st Century Learning “A focus on creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration is essential to prepare students for the future.”

 

In order to develop this essential skill Prendergast says we should “build community and a culture around creativity”. So what does this look like in your school? What exists already to encourage and cultivate a culture of creativity?

How can we encourage creativity?

In Primary school, play forms a crucial role in allowing students the time and space to freely experiment, invent, fail and succeed.

The Kindergarten approach allows learners to develop as creative thinkers for a world that is changing more rapidly than ever – the need to be creative is imperative in order to come up with innovative ideas for solutions we don’t not know about yet. “We need to develop innovative solutions to unexpected problems that will arise” (Mitchel Resnick, MIT). In the same way that Kindergarteners learn, we need to continue this approach throughout our lifetime: experimenting, inventing, failing and succeeding. There is a genuine need to tinker and play in order to develop creativity.

In my previous post about Play, I talked about the need for students and adults alike to be more playful, to problem solve and thus more creative. But what about higher up the school? How can all subjects integrate elements of creativity alongside their content?

In the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy, CREATE appears at the top, upgrading “synthesis” and leapfrogging “evaluating”, for we know that, in order to create we must thoroughly evaluate first. How do different curriculum areas incorporate this higher order thinking?

 

What do you do to promote creativity?

Taryn BondClegg, a 5th Grade teacher, recently posted about creativity on her blog, Risk and Reflect. If you are in Primary, I urge you to read this engaging post about her Creativity Thursdays. Actually, if you are NOT in Primary, I urge you to read her post! In brief, she dedicates one whole day a week for her students to pursue their creative passion or a creative project they want to learn more about. They select from “a menu of creative endeavours” each week and what Taryn noticed goes way beyond simple creativity:

Not only were students developing their Learner Profile attributes, PYP attitudes and ATL skills, but there was also rich, authentic engagement with literacy, math, humanities and science!

Whether you are interested in STEAM projects or just want to help develop curious and creative individuals, there is compelling evidence for teaching innovation and creativity.

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Albert Einstein

Pete O Mara, in the Times Herald article on May 17th, 2017, states that “developing the creative mind has never been more important“. Why are schools and parents paying more attention to grades and assessments and such little emphasis on creativity and imagination?

“We place such a high value on intellect in our education and ignore imagination.”  (Pete O Mara)

Creativity in Education - exploring the imbalancePhoto Credit: Shakespeare1980 Flickr via Compfight cc

There are so many ideas for incorporating creativity, imagination and thinking, I found it hard whittling my research down to just one to start you off! The 3 Rules of Creativity by Stephen Guise on Pick the Brain, back in 2014, still rings true for me today and hopefully offers you some simple guidance:

3 Rules of Creativity

Rule #1 Limit your options and narrow your focus

Being specific about what your task or goal is will help focus your ideas. Too many options can be overwhelming so limit these so you can develop better ideas. Narrowing your focus can lead to greater creativity.

Rule #2 Believe you’re creative

Self belief plays a huge part in being more creative as it does in many walks of life. Believing you can improve is the first step.

Rule #3 Embrace bad ideas

By rejecting bad ideas you may be preventing a good idea forming. By accepting bad ideas are just ideas you might be able to combine them to produce a good idea.

Simple, right? You have no excuses – get out there and not only teach creatively but teach for creativity. (Quote courtesy of Sir Ken Robinson)

I’ll leave the last word to John Spencer on how creativity is tough. It is tough but worth it.

 

When we use the word play it conjures up lost days as a child making sandcastles on the beach or tents from sheets on a rainy day. It reminds me of free time, unrestrained joy and creative interludes in the drudgery of normal life. Play means fun.

If I use the word in the classroom, the atmosphere changes; students are more free with their experimenting without boundaries and restrictions. But often they don’t know what to do; they have forgotten how to play in a learning context. My students are Middle School but I am sure that High School students are the same. So, when did they forget how to play when learning?

Teenagers play all the time when learning a new video game, trying things out, failing, trying again, but they don’t equate the same when at school.

Being playful appears to stop at Middle School, perhaps as they may look foolish in front of their peers, are fearful of making mistakes or maybe they just think they are too old for play any more having transitioned from Primary School.

As for adults; we play even less when learning something new.

So who told us to stop playing?

Picasso stated that,

All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once they grow up.

What is play?

The Oxford dictionary describes play as:

activity engaged in for enjoyment and recreation, especially by children.

to engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.

Play is a fundamental part of Kindergarten or pre-school, taking up much of these youngster’s day. Play is important to build imagination, collaboration and friendships and they are “developing their language, math, and social-interaction skills.” (Osei Ntiamoah, The Joyful, Illiterate Kindergarteners of Finland, October 1st 2015). Further more, according to her research study The Power of Play, “in the short and long term, play benefits cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development…When play is fun and child-directed, children are motivated to engage in opportunities to learn”.

But is play just for the young learners?

 

Get the Play-doh out!

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Photo Credit: el genio del dub Flickr via Compfight cc

There is nothing more satisfying than playing with a lump of clay, plasticine or play-doh. At any age, the feel of the soft dough (and the smell) brings back memories of childhood and a uncontrolled time of wondrous abandonment! As an art teacher, my classes go quiet when clay is out and students would genuinely choose this medium above all others! But clay work higher up the school is far less used and painting, drawing and photography dominate our exhibitions every year. Other sculptural media feature but less so ceramics. Is this due to their fear of failure or just that we don’t allow them to play enough once past Primary school?

So how can we bring back fearless play and incorporate Play-doh into other curriculum areas?

In the Edutopia article “15 ways to use Play-doh in the High School classroom” (Carrie Wisehart, 6th November 2017) she reminds us that “Create is at the top of Bloom’s Taxonomy. When students are forced to synthesize what they’ve learned and make a sculpture, they are doing some crazy critical thinking. Play-doh is a great way to keep students engaged, let them use their hands, employ creativity, and you can have a new and different form of assessment that is actually fun.”

We remember when we engage.

Real world play (a bit like imaginative play, make believe or role play) may well be the way forward for many of our older students. In the article, “How to bring Playfulness to High School students” (Zaidee Stavely Mindshift July 24th 2015) students are more motivated when faced with problems to solve that take them beyond the classroom walls. Arana Shapiro, director of school design at the Institute of Play, believes that “when you start with content, and then you think about play, you often think about a game like ‘Jeopardy’ and the facts that kids need to know. If you can really dig deeper into the understandings you want kids to have five or 10 years down the road, those are almost always real situations.”

Play lights up our brains

Elizabeth Perry, in her recent talk “Play On” at the Learning 2 conference in Warsaw, Poland, reminds us that almost all creativity involves purposeful play. She talks us through her own experiences of new learning and how she nearly gave up when faced with a failed drawing.

“stay playful by doing something badly, then keep doing it”

You can read more on the creative exploits and daily drawings of Elizabeth at her blog, Wool Gathering.

 MIT Mitchel Resnick

 

The Importance of Play

When trying out something new, play offers no boundaries and no assessment, allowing us the freedom to experiment to learn.

One of my most favourite TED talks, “Watch me play…the audience” shows Bobby McFerrin “playing” the audience as an instrument and tapping into their ability to learn music on the spot:

There is an inherent need for play in us all, whether just to let off steam, as an antidote to our stressful lives or as genuine therapy.

Child’s Play

Play therapy (for adults) is a thing. In fact, in the Telegraph article “What’s behind the infantilising trend for adult play?”(The Telegraph, 3rd March 2016) I discover there are “creative counsellors” helping clients to let go and revisit the footloose days of their childhood, playing with sand and wellness centres with therapeutic play practitioners. Husni Bey, founder of Creativity Unmasked, believes, “creative play can help connect us with the subconscious, free emotional blockages and develop our confidence, optimism, self-worth and personal growth.”

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Photo Credit: ClevrCat Flickr via Compfight cc

We get lost in play and stop thinking.

Popping up in the UK are adult soft play nightclubs. The first, in Birmingham at Amusement 13, hosted a “Regression Session”, with bouncy castle, a lego lounge and ball pits and BallieBallerson, in London, boasts 250,000 clear glow-in the dark balls in its adults-only ball pit bar, pulsing away to the music!

That’s it! I’m off to bounce away my Monday blues- care to join me?

 

Some of the most popular buys on Amazon this Christmas were adult colouring books and board games. In our busy and technology driven lives these retro tools give us a well earned breather and a step back into how it used to be before were were permanently connected.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my devices but we need to strike a balance and games, books and even jigsaw puzzles are a nod back to the days of calm and uninterrupted focused, unstructured play.

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Photo Credit: mondays child Flickr via Compfight cc

But is it just a fad or a need for nostalgia?

In the article “How jigsaw puzzles became the latest warriors in the battle against the digital revolution” (Telegraph, March 26th, 2017), Sara Allbright, senior buyer for John Lewis says, “People see it in terms of trends like mindfulness in a world of technology,” says Allbright. “Using things like jigsaws to re-engage and take a moment away from the day-to-day.”

What sort of play do you remember and what do you think of digital vs traditional methods of play?

Learning a new tool

Just this week, I attended the local ADE meet up where we were invited to play around with the relatively new tool Apple Clips on our phones. We were challenged to tell a story using simple images and video clips including natural, outdoor and close up shots as well as selecting from some quotes to include.

We had 20 minutes to collaborate with other ADEs, have fun and learn the tool. Chaos and laughter ensued. The results were hilarious, clever and downright silly (ours) but it took this unstructured play to let us loose with our creativity and get to grips with the app. Needless to say we will all be looking for ways to include it in our classes as a result.

Mark Anderson (@ictevangelist) has written a great post on using Apple Clips in different curriculum areas

https://ictevangelist.com/5-ways-to-use-apple-clips-in-the-classroom/

100 day project

This week I decided to commit to being more playful as a result of this post. I invite you to look at the 100 Day project, which originated in New Zealand or follow the posts on Instagram. Participants sign up online (this year’s starts on May 22nd) and commit to posting one creative thing every day for 100 days. Beck, an art teacher colleague, and I decided to both participate so we can encourage each other and track our creativity over time, much like how Elizabeth first started her daily 10 minute drawings.

Watch this space for the final (100) artworks.

What would you choose to do creatively daily for 100 days?

What would you like to pursue to bring back the child like playfulness in you?

What ways can you bring play into your classroom?

What if…

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All drawings made with Adobe Draw and Adobe Capture. Animations made on Brushes and Keynote. Credits to Dave Caleb for the family photographs towards the end.

Script: 

What if JK Rowling had stopped believing in her story when she was rejected by 12 major publishers?

What if Walt Disney stopped creating when he was fired because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas“?

and what if underdog Eddie the Eagle Edwards had given up on his inconceivable dream of Olympic glory in ski jumping?

But they didn’t – why was that?

Because they were passionate about their work, it mattered to them and they were determined to carry on

But what if you’re not passionate about something and you still have to do it? What then? 

How do you motivate the unmotivated?

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As parents you might give extra pocket money incentives or take away privileges, and as teachers you might have used rewards or punishments, but, according to Dan Pink, these carrots and sticks just don’t work. Not in business or in education.

You are more likely to stick at something and be better at it, if you are intrinsically motivated.

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and it is Autonomy, Purpose and Mastery that drive us.

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But what about the individuals, the unmotivated ones?

Luca is a fun loving guy who loves music, art and gaming and, as a typical teenager he is easily distracted from work by playing games with his friends, watching wrestling and funny videos. But he was getting frustrated with the challenges he was facing with his cognitive skills and, like so many of us, needed regular support and feedback.

So I showed him Peak on my phone, an app that levels up your brain, using games that challenge and motivate to build Focus, Memory, Problem Solving and Mental Agility

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soon he was showing Progress and improvement and this was having a positive effect on his cognitive skills.

Further up the school the fun element sometimes gets lost and curriculum content takes over. Piers is a creative thinker, musician, filmmaker and, no surprises, a gamer. He will commit days to edit a film, practice for hours on his guitar and while away time perfecting his driving skills in Euro Truck Simulator! But he is not so motivated when it comes to revising. With just one month to go before his final IB exams and university offers to study Film making, he has purpose but has he got the drive?

He uses Quizlet and flashcards to study?/review key concepts, but how can he motivate himself to revise Hamlet’s monologues or molecular Biology? So we looked at sketchnotes as a way to map his thinking and and he started to plan some of his own.

Just as mnemonics, narrative and songs help us remember, adding visuals to text (dual coding) and connecting new learning will help to retain memory.

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We are more motivated when we have freedom and choice, so what if we could have more autonomy in our learning?

Richard loves sport and is a keen footballer, but he’s a little overweight, has high blood pressure and a bit of a weakness for beer! He uses the Activity app on his watch to track his runs, distance on the pitch and general fitness and, like Peak, it shows him small measurable progress that motivates him to keep improving.

But unlike Richard I am not motivated by competition and leaderboards, in fact I am more likely to swap the gym for a packet of Maltesers! But I am engaged by games (Luca), passionate about visuals (Piers) and driven by small measurable successes (Richard).

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I use WaterMinder which visually (and audibly) reminds me to drink more each day and tracks my progress to keep me hydrated

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and recently I was introduced to Zombies, Run; a fun fitness app that relays an engaging story as you collect items and walk or run away from the zombies – this might just be the motivation I need to get fit.

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Now if only I could find an app to gamify report writing!

So how might you motivate the unmotivated? Could technology the magic trick you are looking for?

Understanding what drives us works, as it did for Luca, Piers and Richard. And the reason I know this? is because these aren’t just anyone’s family – they’re my family and my motivation. What I see in my family, I also see in my students, and every day is an opportunity to help others to drive and motivate themselves, whether a future blockbusting screenwriter or a regular 7th grade guy.

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Get rid of those carrots and sticks and try some motivation magic, then perhaps it won’t be game over for you or your students just yet.

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and if you want to see the live video here is the link on YouTube

Visible Thinking

Posted: October 2, 2016 in Visual Thinking

New Year New Learning

Around 5 years ago I stumbled on the work of Ron Ritchhart through my Vice Principal Paul Brogden, an avid fan and user of the Thinking Routines. I devoured the book, “Visible Thinking” and pored over the HGSE website, specifically Project Zero, wondering how I had ever lived, let alone taught before knowing this! Testing out some of the routines was a start and, as most new learners, I began with one that fitted neatly into the curriculum: See, Think, Wonder. You can read all about the thinking routines at the Harvard site.

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A team of 6 MS teachers from the UWCSEA Dover campus embarked on the online Making Visible Thinking Course from HGSE. We were an eclectic team of me (Art teacher and Head of Grade), a Head of English and Literacy coach, a Science teacher, a Language teacher (Head of Spanish), a Maths teacher (and MS Pastoral Vice Principal) and finally a Geography/Humanities teacher (and Curriculum Vice Principal). It was a great mix and we learnt so much about each other and the curriculum we have for our Middle School students.

The course is divided into 6 individual courses and each team has a coach who manages many other teams from around the world. We connected through the portal and comment and feedback on other teams which is wonderful. My art teacher friend from COETAIl, Matt McGrady first introduced the idea of the online course and he and a team from Abu Dhabi participated in this phase too.

creating-cultures-of-thinking

The first course opened us up to the routines and helped us to navigate the site, sharing and posting about what we discussed as a team about creating a Culture of Thinking. Earlier this year, Ron Ritchhart published the book, “Creating Cultures of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools” to help guide us in teaching students habits of mind for deep learning and to encourage collaboration and group learning to develop powerful communities.

Already, as a group we were collaborating online, meeting and chatting ad hoc and sharing experiences and ideas about our thinking as a result of the readings, videos and information shared. It was an exciting time. Time will always be a stumbling block for teachers and finding time to share and talk was always going to be challenging for 6 teachers in different areas of the school with varying constraints

As laid out below, the 8 forces that shape our classrooms are imperative in developing a rich learning environment:

cultural forces1

Fostering a culture of thinking resonated with us as we help youngsters navigate the complex digital world they have been brought up in. So much is done for them; an answer is just a click away. When do they stop to think for themselves? Do we give them thinking time on class when we ask questions? Do you give students at least 7 seconds pause time for thinking when you pose a question to the group? Which of the cultural forces most resonate with you? It seems that this course opens our thinking and help us to encourage others to draw students away from their comfort zone and to enhance their critical and analytical thinking more.

 

 

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Dr. Seuss

Learning in the Library of COETAIL a visualnote drawn by Nicki Hambleton on iPad with Adobe Ideas

Learning in the Library of COETAIL a visualnote drawn by Nicki Hambleton on iPad with Adobe Ideas

Let me start at the very beginning…

Back in Course 1, I found the greatest learning was through connecting. (Connect Collaborate Create). Twitter, in particular, gave me an online family to offer support, answer questions and helped me to develop. I have never been so in awe of an online platform to learn from. At times it is overwhelming and there is too much information that I try to take note of. My Evernote is fit to burst, my Instapaper unread and my Flipboard not working, but I try to stay on top of what is important to me.

It was during this time that I asked myself:

“how can I connect students outside of the art classroom?”

During one of the live COETAIL chats, Dane Watts also talked about student connections and it was in Course 1 with the guidance of my mentor Clint, and help from Vivian, Joe and many other COETAILers online, that the seed was sown for what was to be the beginning of the end of COETAIL. It has been incredible to connect with Matt and Anne, both teaching art and members of the COETAIL online cohort like me.

The Beginning of the End? Visual note drawn on ipad using Adobe Ideas by Nicki Hambleton

The Beginning of the End? Visual note drawn on ipad using Adobe Ideas by Nicki Hambleton

As I was preparing for the end of Course 4, my thoughts turned to a bigger concept. I loved the online wikis and websites that I talked about back in Course 4: how art teachers in Asia can connect through the ARARTE ning and IB Visual Art students and teachers can share their work on Mrs Anderson’s wiki.

I marvelled at the way you can be connected with like minded people and share and learn alike on sites like Deviant Art. Much as I love reading others blogs and looking at websites, the real growth comes in the interactions and activity. You learn so much from one another and it was with this thought that the idea evolved.

GOALS

Having posted my plan online, Matt contacted me and asked if I would like to collaborate on Course 5 and also with Anne, both Art teachers in Abu Dhabi and China. Together the 3 of us set out to connect our students to share their art and give and receive feedback online. Matt suggested using Quadblogging, as I explained on an earlier Course 5 post, and I researched its origins and successes.

Photo Credit: SurfGuard via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: SurfGuard via Compfight cc

For me, my goals were clear:

“for students to connect online and to give and share feedback on their artwork”

“to learn about and apply digital citizenship to their daily practice”

but also:

“to see how far the connections would reach and what developed from them”

Here is the original UBD from the end of Course 4 documenting my idea:

INTRODUCTIONS

As the project kicked off, I introduced it to all of my classes, sharing my thoughts and blog with them. They ALL wanted to get involved! The plan was to only use one class, but who was I to say no?! I had to draw the line at Grade 6, despite their enthusiasm for the project, as I knew that would take the most time and energy in educating them about internet safety, careful and respectful commenting and sharing online. I still have plans to start the new academic year blogging with all classes.

I set up the landing page to connect all classes with one another but also for parents and the wider community to see what we were doing. It think it also helped the students and teachers in the other schools to find their way! You can find it at the top of my blog as a separate page called Quadblogging.

The landing page for the class blogs

The landing page for the class blogs

But as the students got more involved it seemed that the goals were changing:

“how could we share our work with a wider audience and develop a student orientated space online?”

TOOLS

I decided to use Blogger as students already have Google accounts and it synced seamlessly with them. Talking them through the process of signing up and commenting was just the start and beyond that students worked on designing the space asking for authorship rights. This was a new risk for me as they inevitably designed, redesigned, changed layout, logo, headers and labels almost daily!

As the project developed, I found I was pulling from all four courses of COETAIL and in fact the students were beginning to mirror my own experiences.

Mirror Me image drawn by Nicki Hambleton on iPad with Adobe Ideas

Mirror Me image drawn by Nicki Hambleton on iPad with Adobe Ideas

I always think far too big, but if I was to give the students a valid and authentic experience I couldn’t help but incorporate my learning from the whole of my COETAIL journey.

The 5 rooms in the COETAIL house drawn by Nicki Hambleton on iPad with Adobe Ideas

The 5 rooms in the COETAIL house drawn by Nicki Hambleton on iPad with Adobe Ideas

REACTIONS

All my classes were excited to be involved in the blogging task. I introduced it in class and sent an email explaining the project to all parents.
Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 15.57.25              Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 15.57.42                            Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 15.57.01

It seemed the right time and place to be addressing Digital citizenship yet in a practical way alongside the lesson work. Students too were eager to get started with connecting as Ashari, Khush and Tamzine explain in my video:

Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 16.02.29   Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 16.02.47   Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 16.03.11

Here is the final video of how the project evolved:

From start to finish I have been both impressed and surprised at the students tireless enthusiasm and constant commitment to pushing the boundaries of online connecting. I love that I too learn from them as they find alternative (and better) ways to connect and collaborate.

HITTING THE TARGET

Photo Credit: wizzer2801 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: wizzer2801 via Compfight cc

From listening to my students and reading their ongoing reflections it seems clear that they have met the goals of connecting and understanding digital citizenship. We have begun to see a glimpse of what might happen as the connections grow and deepen over time too. Even though Grade 6 were not involved at this stage in the blogging project the aims of understanding Copyright stretched to them as they shared photos on a Flickr site and they discussed using music in their Stop Motion animations. It was great to see the learning flowing into other classes as a result.

Zain talks about starting a Flickr site to share their own photos

Zain talks about starting a Flickr site to share their own photos

Making Stop Motion videos and addressing music copyright

Making Stop Motion videos and addressing music copyright

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With youngsters it is crucial to keep revisiting digital mindfulness as they can be lulled into a sense of familiarity the more they connect and communicate. Just the other day I found one of Grade 8 students discussing the reasons why a video should or should not be uploaded due to its unusual style and content: “Might it offend someone in another country?” “Would they understand it” “How personal to a culture is humour?” The video stayed online for little over 4 hours before he decided to take it down and rework some aspects. It is controversial but he wanted to debate the idea too. Is blogging a place for such debate? I believe that it can be if handled appropriately. Often online we are watchful of what we say and debate is rarely seen effectively and openly, so it is important we teach our students how to debate effectively and respectfully.

LEARNING

Did my students learn from the experience? How did my learning change too?

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Students reflected that their learning had and still is changing due not just to the project but as a result of connecting and sharing. They changed their ideas about how they could learn not just what they were learning. They are enjoying the process so much their thoughts are currently looking ahead to how they can incorporate different types of learning about art online and to a wider audience. I have learnt so much with them about how students learn best and how learning changes as they move up the school. I still want to involve my youngest Middle School students, those eager Grade 6s and, as the academic year draws to a close I would like to integrate them into the process somehow: maybe with just one blog and for interested individuals to post, yet all can view and comment?

Next year as our online learning platform takes off with all classes, there will be ample opportunities to work with students online, sharing and commenting and this may help to develop good practice and start to journey towards the ultimate goal of a more connected space for artists.

WHAT WOULD I CHANGE?

Antonio and Eric talking about using  rotating teams to connect for ease and diversity of comments

Antonio and Eric talking about using rotating teams to connect for ease and diversity of comments

Reflecting the voices and opinions of Antonio and Eric, it would have been far better to have focussed on just one class. But how could I have chosen and known just how interested and intriguing the process would have been if I had not allowed all 5 classes access and involvement?

I like the idea of using teams across schools that rotate and change as the weeks evolve. This would allow everyone to receive comments and to grow the connections far better. The original Quadblogging site documents a similar process where the “quads” are changed after each 4 week cycle. With this in mind, I wonder if we can set this up online with the help of art teachers worldwide: a more focused, subject-specific version of David Mitchell’s initiative?

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Anyone interested in starting this in the new year? Please spread the word online and get in contact with me if you are interested in linking your art students to mine. It would help me and my students to start connecting further afield and bridge the gap to the classroom in the cloud.

Whilst asking the students for feedback towards the middle of the process many students suggested ways to connect beyond the blogs including via Skype. This got me thinking that we could use this more in the classroom to talk to and learn from experts. With this in mind I reconnected with a British painter, Niki Hare, via email who my students had sent questions to last year about her process of working and the meaning of her work. They are excited this year to be able to connect with her via Skype this week to ask her advice when creating abstract and emotive paintings. I cannot wait to see how their thinking changes with this connection and how Skype might broaden our learning in the art room.

Connected Classrooms? when pigs fly drawn on Adobe Ideas by Nicki Hambleton

Connected Classrooms? when pigs fly drawn on Adobe Ideas by Nicki Hambleton

WHAT NOW?

Right now my students are still in the process of awaiting comments on their second post. This has taken time to await the 4 week turn around and it set me wondering if there was a more natural way for it to progress. Should students work more organically, posting as they wish or would that clog the page and lose the thread and equality? My thoughts slipped back to the idea of the website and how this would give much more autonomy for student choice.

brainstorming ideas for the website

brainstorming ideas for the website

This was where my students thinking really took off. It was only supposed to be a lesson starter, a suggestion of an idea, but they tackled it with gusto. They worked collaboratively and discussed and debated names and designs for the online space as well as offering concepts and suggestions for what they, the participants would want to see included on the space. It helped to show me that if you are thinking for kids, ask the kids! After all it is them who will be using it.

ideas for the nme and concept for a global art classroom

ideas for the nme and concept for a global art classroom

I wish I had incorporated Twitter more into the process with my students. It is difficult as it is to keep up with Twitter but I wondered if I could have created a class hashtag to share and communicate more to a wider audience. I will ask students how this might work but to quote a HS student:

“students don’t use Twitter, we use Facebook”

How can we change this practice, show them the benefit, the swiftness and versatility of Twitter? and what about the under 13’s? How can we offer them a social space that is both easy and safe to use?

Photo Credit: Mike Gabelmann via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Mike Gabelmann via Compfight cc

I wish I had thrown down the gauntlet to my students much earlier in the process, asking them what they need, want or would like in order to connect, learn and collaborate. It is always an eye opener to see and hear their opinions. Often, as teachers, we think we have a good idea of what is needed, but involving the students more in the process changes thinking and helps us step into their shoes a little more easier.

Discussion about Learning

Discussion about Learning

SHARING

Right from the start I have shared my learning on COETAIL with my senior team who have supported my journey. The IT department have been a source of help and advice and particular thanks must go to Andrew, Pete, Noah and Ben. Without them I am sure my questions and deliberations would have gone unanswered and my path would have been less clear. Paul Brogden, Vice Principal Curriculum has been following my progress online and was keen to see how the journey evolved. Perhaps now staff can see the value in connecting our students beyond our classrooms and how imperative it has been in teaching digital safety and responsibility.

Just last Friday the Tech mentors at UWCSEA met for a sharing session and I talked about how powerful an experience this had been and how much learning had taken place.

sharing COETAIL blog

sharing COETAIL blog

I would like to offer a session about connecting, to help more teachers to see the value of social networks both for them and students and how blogging can start this process. I offered this a number of years ago and the Languages department have taken it on board. The problem with our school as it is with many schools is TIME! How do you add to the already bursting curriculum without taking anything away? It has been tough juggling so many variables and ideas through the COETAIL journey but it has been worth it to see the growth in both me and my students. With our online platform Teamie coming onboard with all MS classes in August, this could help us encourage discussion, to connect more and may, in time help pave the way for more online connections.

Teamie - online learning platform

Teamie – online learning platform

As the idea continues to evolve I would like to push my learning so I can help my students find the best route through this jungle of ideas. I talked before with Noah about learning some html and with Peter about HYPE but now I am interested in web design and I have found a free online course through ALISON that might meet that wish. I have already bought my domain name, nickihambleton, hosted through Hover, but I am yet to set it up. Perhaps this will kick start that process.

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For years I have looked from afar at the work of The Harvard team’s Visible Thinking and Project Zero. I have read the book, studied the website and resources online and yearned to visit Harvard or at least take the online course. I missed out on a 3 day course with Ron Ritchhart in Asia this month and so I was excited when Matt shared the new MTV online courses. They contain a new concept – learning in teams. I am in the process of discussing this with my curriculum leader to build a team at UWCSEA to pilot this work and then take it into a PLC. Keep your fingers crossed I can participate so that I can work with not only my school but with other educators on what surely is an invaluable curriculum-wide skill.

GREATEST LEARNING

The greatest learning for me in the whole process was:

that the students can have ownership and change your thinking

that is doesn’t matter that you don’t yet know where this is going or what the outcome may be

Talking to Emily Maclean from Chatsworth International School at a recent TeachMeet, I will try in the future to hand the project over to the students much earlier on for them to devise teams of workers to problem solve. Asking the right questions is a crucial part. It is enlightening to see how Emily can get a class of grade 5 students to devise and share an online course single handedly! She too did not know what the outcome would be or how it might evolve. Taking risks as a teacher? We should do this more often! You can read more about Emily’s work at emilymaclean.com

shared with kind permission from Emily Maclean

shared with kind permission from Emily Maclean

REDEFINITION

Could we have done this without technology? As Nick states, the main benefit of connecting online was the immediacy of receiving feedback and the ease of the connections. It opened his mind to more possibilities and helped to change his thinking. Another student laughed as she explained that we could have sent the artwork by post, waited to receive a letter or some art in return! The project might have taken a year to happen!

Nick explaining how we could not have done this without technology

Nick explaining how we could not have done this without technology

So what does redefinition look like?

Back in Course 4 I drew a seed germinating growing to a plant to represent the process of SAMR, but looking back it should be seen as a circular design much like my application video to Apple Alumni earlier this year:

As students reach redefinition it allows thinking to restart and evolve again. Following the introduction of the blogs, commenting online and forming connections has become second nature, a natural progression to gathering feedback in class and from their peers. So what next, to redefine redefinition?

Reflecting on the process made me question what difference I made to my students’ learning, but also how it redefined learning in the context of the SAMR model. Nick Coulter (TPACK and SAMR) recently shared this infographic by Jackie Gerstein:

SAMR as a framework for Education 3.0

SAMR as a framework for Education 3.0

Looking at the lower area of the graphic, my students redefined their learning about art, by connecting online and began to develop a PLN as a result. They are sharing their knowledge and ideas online and learning from others they have connected with in return. Grade 7 are uploading their demonstrations to their blogs as I speak, in order to share their skills with others and are hoping to see some in return so they too can extend their learning. They range from Photoshop tutorials to how to draw and eye, pulling together their own learning from class and their personal interests outside of school.

Grade 7 uploaded demonstration videos on Google Drive

Grade 7 uploaded demonstration videos on Google Drive

It is exciting to see how much the original idea is growing and how the students are helping to reshape it. We are still a distance from what I envisioned with the connected classroom but we are working our way towards it. With one lesson a week of art, I am not rushing it. Good things take time to develop and this is just the beginning.

WHAT NEXT?

Back in February, Edutopia article by Elizabeth Bostwick, talked about student voice and it was here that I realised the true future of helping my art students to find theirs in a predominantly visual context. She talks about growth mindset through community building and collaboration and about giving opportunities for our students to open up, to connect and communicate in other ways than speaking out in class allowing greater opportunity for the introverts to find their voice.

“the greatest voice in the classroom is the student’s” 

Elizabeth Bostwick (Empowering student voice through classroom culture, February 2015)

Also on Edutopia another article, “Help Students use social media to empower, not just to connect” resonated with me:

Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 18.32.42

Even though this article is over 4 years old, the sentiment still rings true. We should be helping our students to use social media not just to connect with one another but to empower them to take an active role, to participate, and to add value. Andrew Marcinek talks about student’s criteria for a PLN and to become an active member for the hashtag or group they follow.

In time I hope to work out how to get the collaborative online platform for connecting Middle School art students up and running. I am testing the water and the technical aspect of the Drawing board/Artery/The Blank Canvas/ Global Palette (or whatever it will be called) in the final weeks of term and reaching out to Twitter in the hope there are some equally keen art teachers out there ready to step in and join me. Once I have some interest the next thing will be voting on a name!

As always, watch this space………….

COETAIL: The swiss army knife of learning drawn on iPad with Adobe ideas by Nicki Hambleton

COETAIL: The swiss army knife of learning drawn on iPad with Adobe ideas by Nicki Hambleton

“never stop learning because life never stops teaching”

by Robert Tew on livelifehappy.com

 

Connect Collaborate Create visual note by Nicki Hambleton made on iPad using Adobe Ideas

Connect Collaborate Create visual note by Nicki Hambleton made on iPad using Adobe Ideas

“Alone we can do so little but together we can do so much” Helen Keller 

All I have ever wanted as a teacher is for students to be happy and relaxed in my classroom and eager to learn. I wish for them to have the courage to tackle tough tasks and to grow as an individual. When I started teaching back in the UK in the 90’s I was young and keen and desperate for the students to get on with me. I felt, and still do, that students work best when they are comfortable and supported and it is still with this philosophy that I teach today.

Photo Credit: Akamï via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Akamï via Compfight cc

I remember when I first started teaching, older teachers advised me not to smile for the first 2 weeks. How ludicrous does that sound? Do newly qualified teachers still get told that in the UK? Why on earth would we not want to enjoy our job and show students how much we enjoy it. I could never adhere to that advice and always wear my heart on my sleeve. I have been told I am an open book, that is is blatantly clear if something is wrong. I am a rubbish liar and an even worse actor. However, I have always found the greatest rapport with my students and that is why, years later I still love my job.

I still connect online with students I first taught at a lovely school in the UK. Just today one of my 11 year old tutees is a dad of 2 and running the London marathon. Another is about to have an operation after a knee injury playing Premiership football for the past 17 years. Most are regular mothers, husbands, working adults or students at university. Teaching keeps you young, yet connecting with past students makes you feel old as time passes and they become adults themselves.

Photo Credit: carlaarena via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: carlaarena via Compfight cc

Teaching internationally has changed me as an educator and as a person. Connecting has brought the world closer and now we can talk to another person despite their distance. Being an international teacher has also brought connections that have helped me to grow more and Twitter has been at the heart of this. I remember in Ghana when my colleague introduced me to Kim Cofino’s blog Always Learning and it was through Kim that I began to use Twitter far more effectively to reeducate myself in the world of technology and pedagogy. Only when I moved to Singapore did it begin to make more sense through Learning 2 and in particular with Jabiz Raisdana. Being inspired by him to connect and follow, lurk and stalk, I began to develop an understanding of the benefits of Twitter and indeed connecting, but it wasn’t until much later that I had the confidence to give back into the community and form the beginnings of a PLN.

Nowadays my reach is far and eclectic. I have groups of art teachers, sketchnoters, COETAIL groups, International teachers and online friends that have become real friends in life. Joe Teft and I connected first through Learning 2, then COETAIL and eventually met face to face when he moved to Singapore last August to join CIS. We met over wine and talked like long lost friends and this is how powerful connections can be. You develop a depth that cannot necessarily be developed with a classroom colleague or a condominium neighbour. You spend time communicating, asking questions and thoughtfully responding and it is this that I am trying to impart to my students.

The Dating game

I introduced the blog task first to my Grade 8s, believing that they would be the best guinea pigs to try this out on. Most were over 13, keen for some excitement in their day to day existence and active social media participants already. They took to the task, like ducks to water, finding both meaningful learning and fun as the weeks progressed. I still giggle at their funny comments when I introduced the motivational aspect, to encourage them to connect and collaborate with the students in the other 3 schools, when one student asked how many points he would get if he got someone’s number!

But it was with the under 13s that my interest ultimately lies. Those who (legally) cannot connect on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, many of whom do, albeit superficially and disrespectfully.

As Head of Grade 6, the majority of the issues I have had to deal with in my first year with these impressionable 11 year olds has been through misuse of digital media, clashes online and misinformed conversations through social media. Despite informing parents and guiding students through a structured PSE programme they still use Instagram and Skype and many disagreements are through this. One student, let’s call them “X”, vehemently accused other students of reporting him on Instagram, yet he too had blocked another Instagrammer as she was underage. He spouted threats and accusations on Skype, screenshot by a parent and vowed to find out who they were. The irony was he too was only 11 and should not be on Instagram in the first place.

So my thoughts led to developing a programme that helped Middle School students to learn how to connect in a protected environment and to use similar platforms to connect and learn from. Developing this has been the hardest part of Course 5. Quadblogging has been just the beginning and I have plans to grow the connections further.

Motivation

Icon made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com is licensed under CC BY 3.0

Icons made by Freepik from http://www.flaticon.com is licensed by CC BY 3.0

Looking back I wondered if COETAIL subconsciously included a slight element of gamifying: maximum points for the number of blog posts and connections, encouraging words, being published on Flipboard, retweets, being featured or mentioned on another’s blog or Twitter – this is the kind of incentive that works for adults, not necessarily, points, prizes, rewards. These rewards go deeper and last longer. The knowledge that we have connected and made friendships that do far more than give us prestige that we are top or second on a leaderboard or the fastest poster of COETAIL this week.

These connections have longevity, are real and support and encourage us.

Being part of a PLN

My PLN seen through MentionMapp

My PLN seen through MentionMapp

Before I joined Twitter, I did not know the benefit of an online PLN and I would have probably baulked at someone who said they had strangers online who they learned from. I joined Facebook back in 2007 when we first lived abroad and I wanted to connect or reconnect with friends in the UK and with students we used to teach. It was a fun way to chat and dip into their lives from afar.

But Twitter became a different entity: it became my learning zone. Until I was introduced to Tweetdeck, I was a little overwhelmed at the sheer amount of information coming at me. I could not fathom how Keri-Lee Beasley could track so many things, add them to Diigo, respond, share and create so much in so little time. I watched her, enthralled, at a conference, listening, tweeting, storifying, sharing notes on google docs and all in the blink of an eye! Nowadays, even though I am nowhere near the league of KL, I can see at a glance the groups of people I follow, the hashtags I am interested in and the individuals I want to learn from.

Tweetdeck

Tweetdeck

As you can imagine, this is just a section of the many hashtags and groups I follow!

I am sure I still miss out on key things but as I was once told, it is like coming into a room: you step into a group and join the conversation as it happens, you do not worry about what was discussed 5 or 30 minutes previously.

Building a tribe

Connecting the Dots visual note by Nicki Hambleton using Adobe Ideas on iPad

Connecting the Dots visual note by Nicki Hambleton using Adobe Ideas on iPad

COETAIL connections have been more widespread. As I documented in Course 4 (Connecting the Dots) there are often key people in one’s network who you draw most from. Pana, Joe and Matt are the ones I have grown most from as they give so much back to the community and extend my thinking. We often “meet” on Twitter chats beyond COETAIL or in one to one conversations: Pana in #kchatap, Joe in #enviroed and Matt in all things Art. Early on, Jamie, Vivian, Andrea, Clint and Joe helped me gain trust in the system, helping me to believe that I had thoughts and ideas worth writing about, and leaving comments on my posts. Connections I have made often cross platforms, so if I connect on COETAIL I will inevitably search for them on Twitter to continue or extend the conversation. It is through this that we can develop deeper and lasting friendships. Looking back at my activity on the COETAIL page gives me a sense of who I have connected with across the course and beyond the official records on my Gradesheet:

https://www.flickr.com/apps/video/stewart.swf

My main focus of connecting is through the strong friendships that have grown over the course on Twitter. It is not easy to track all my activity on Twitter but I try to remember to use the #COETAIL hashtag frequently when connecting and sharing.

Searching for a good way to view past connections and tweets I stumble on some clever websites. Liking the look of Visible tweets but not seeing it fit for purpose here, I used Tweetbeam to view my connections and conversations on Twitter. I took a screencast to show these many connections, although presented live at an event they would pop up randomly.

https://www.flickr.com/apps/video/stewart.swf

I wondered how I could get my own students to learn better not only in the classroom but beyond. It was with this thought that Course 5 developed and is still developing. Students started tentatively commenting on other student’s blog posts and posting themselves, waiting eagerly for their first response and the beginnings of connecting globally.

But the hardest part for both adults and students is to develop meaningful connections and that is what I have been trying to encourage and build over the past few weeks with my classes, just once a week and within the 75 minute lesson alongside their practical art!

To grow a friendship you have to spend time nurturing it. But how does one invite comments without seeming pushy? How do we ask for feedback online? Often we expect another to respond to our comment and reciprocate on our blog when we have spent time replying to theirs. But it doesn’t necessarily work like that. This is a real lesson to teach our students.

I look back at the record of my connections through COETAIL and my involvement in the community. I was not a very good Diigo user and Google Reader ceased to exist so I built on the growing friendships I had through Twitter to help connect deeper, focusing on responding to the hashtag #COETAIL and searching for like-minded individuals through posts from the online2 cohort. I wish I had done more to reach out further beyond COETAIL, but time is tight as a working mother of 2, in a new role as Head of Grade in a very busy and manic school such as UWCSEA. Add on Learning 2 preparations and I reflect that my connections grew considerably, all things considering. I may not have nurtured enough connections beyond Twitter and COETAIL but sometimes it is better to have fewer stronger friendships than many weaker ones. Or so I tell my kids.

Using Twitter Advanced search I can review specific connections with other Twitter users under #COETAIL or conversations between collaborators or friends. Often, I discover, I have tweeted a lot but not necessarily utilising the hashtag and so it is difficult to see the wood for the trees. Here are some screenshots of the types of more recent conversations on Twitter:

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 21.04.03 Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 21.06.30

I used to comment diligently each week during Courses 1-4 recording these on my Gradesheet, but within Course 5 it felt more natural to search, comment and connect at particular times and with a wider range of people, some not even connected with COETAIL. I tracked these widespread connections using MentionMapp, a fascinating tool online to see your connections relating to Twitter users and hashtags. Again, I took a video of the screen as I clicked the nodes of connections to show how my reach has developed.

https://www.flickr.com/apps/video/stewart.swf

I would love to pursue this avenue more in order to track connections and their interconnectedness, reminding me of the 6 degrees of separation and how social media brings people closer.

As our online and offline connections brought us together, Anne in China, Matt in Adu Dhabi and two Art teachers from Dubai began to chat more about our connecting project on Gmail. Matt shared the link to a doc so that we could see how Quadblogging could work and our emails have been going back and forth since February, checking, questioning and clarifying:

Gmail connections and conversations

Gmail connections and conversations

Working closely with my fellow bloggers, Anne and Matt, we attempted to connect on Google Hangouts during Course 5. Our first meet up helped us to see where we wanted to go with the blogging and how it would work in practice. The second was meant to reconnect us visually to review how it had been going and we tried, in vain to record the conversation live. For some reason it did not work out as we had envisioned and we laughed our way through it as I appeared to be talking to myself, watched Anne hear me, although she herself was mute and Matt’s icon with no sound! So much for technology.

Google hangout and Twitter connections

Google hangout and Twitter connections

I recounted this to my students who thought this hilarious but I don’t see them having any success themselves since setting a similar challenge when connecting! However, one such student forged better connections, albeit within our own school community and he evidenced these through his GDrive folder just this last week. He is a quiet and reserved student, keen to do well and he connected with another equally shy boy in another class. Together they talked online about collaborating and even managed a Hangout to talk about possible ideas. I am so pleased that my words meant something and that he was able to connect outside his usual peers. Talking to Pratyay, and viewing his “evidence” we can track back that the connections begun with a comment on his first blog post. They decided to email, then google chat and finally on Hangouts. I look forward to what they manage to collaborate online with art, as other students in China and Abu Dhabi test out Ping Pong, remixing each others artwork. ArtyRemix didn’t really get off the ground back in Course 1, maybe now is the time to resurrect it?

 

ezgif.com-gif-maker

I love that this has followed such a similar thread to how I connect. From initial unknown commenting on COETAIL blogs, to chatting more openly, to video conferencing. Rodd Lucier talked about the 7 Degrees of Connectedness back in 2012 and back in Course 1 I could see how this thermometer of growth could help our students to connect.

Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 23.38.06

Visual Note by Nicki Hambleton Course 1: Connectedness

I see how the tentative commenting at the start of the project began to grow into more confident and natural friendships, like Arran and Pratyay. If only I could get them on Twitter! I think we can see that connecting takes time, not just for ourselves, fully embedded in a connected cohort and confident on Twitter, but for our students. We need to nurture them in forging friendships and finding their tribe. For some it feels awkward, for others it is fun. For most I wish for them to be able to do this beyond the classroom, in preparation for their life ahead of them, immersed in social media, armed with the skills and knowledge to do so safely and authentically.

Since our own fateful afternoon, Anne, Matt and I have discovered other ways to connect, asking our IT specialists and students who suggested Zoom and Twitch. I love that there are multiple ways to connect and have real F2F conversations beyond the tweet or blog comment.

A problem shared

I had much more luck with Hangouts with Pana and Susan last Sunday as we set out to support one another in our final weeks of the course and in sharing our ideas for our final video. Pana invited us (and David) to connect through Google, we logged on, and it worked. We spent a lovely 30-40 minutes supporting one another and genuinely feeling less stressed having shared our thoughts and worries. Even though we did not record or present the Hangout live, so we have no visual record or evidence, we all felt the conversation allowed us to be relaxed and open, which ultimately moved us all forward with our thinking. Through Pana I have connected with other visually interested Tweeters on #kchatap and had some great conversations back in October. It was good to connect with other COETAILers here too and about a subject close to my heart.

Twitter chat #kchatap on Visual Literacy

Twitter chat #kchatap on Visual Literacy October 14 2014

Beyond COETAIL

From the #C5 Hangout I went straight on to the #COETAILchat about life after COETAIL. I have found much inspiration connecting from Day 1 with Vivian through Twitter and online chats. She befriended me and I am genuinely grateful for her constant kindness and responses over the year and a half. I enjoyed watching and tweeting throughout the COETAILcasts and then listening to her for real later on in the course. She has been a source of help and support and I would love to continue this one day and pay back her kindness into the community as a mentor myself. There have been numerous connections, old and new, mostly through Twitter, that have generated powerful conversations but it is in connection with COETAIL where I feel the most affinity.

#coetailchat slowchat The impact of COETAIL

#coetailchat slowchat The impact of COETAIL

#COETAILchat on life after COETAIL April

#COETAILchat on life after COETAIL April 26 2015

Beyond COETAIL, I have connections with my immediate colleagues, International educators, Art teachers, Learning 2 and the ADE community. I gain so much from the interactions with these inspiring individuals and I continue to reach out to forge new friendships to connect and grow further.

Questions are the answer

Art Alternation: Antonio's blog post inviting critique

Art Alternation: Antonio’s blog post inviting critique

 

Replies to Antonio on Art Alternation

Replies to Antonio on Art Alternation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This last week, I invited my students to connect on a deeper level with the art students from the other 3 schools and we discussed how this might work. They tracked back who had commented and who had replied back to comments they had left. They looked for the reasons why they commented and whether they had started to develop a rapport and how. Students at AIS specifically asked for questions and my students, from the beginning, were advised to ask and invite questions as part of their lesson in connecting and commenting. It seems that this is at the heart of connecting. Students were frustrated at the length of time it took and some were without comments so this was hard. I knew just how they felt, as I too found it difficult to know sometimes if what I was writing was good enough, interesting or indeed if anyone was actually reading it! Some found the process took too long and were missing valuable class time to learn the practical skills in art. It was a tough task to complete before the end of COETAIL drew nigh.

Back in Course 1, I wrote:

“How do the youth of today connect and grow as learners? In what ways is this different to how we learnt as teenagers and how we now connect to grow and develop as adults?” (I didn’t get to where I am today… February 16, 2014)

I hope by my final COETAIL post I will have reflected more about how students learn, how they can connect and in turn become better individuals. At this point I do not want it to end but to continue: to begin something new. It has almost been like a pilot for the new academic year when Teamie, our online Learning platform, will launch across campus with all students. Through this students will be able to access information, links and connections far more seamlessly and this may help in the process of timing yet also may hinder it. There will become a day when students go to their own tribe of like minded students online, as I do, without it being a mundane, teacher-led task. There will be a day when students will learn in different ways, outside of my classroom by connecting and sharing practice online with other artists, students and teachers.

Until that day, I want to encourage connections, encourage sharing of resources and demonstrations and to inspire them to develop their own learning networks. COETAIL has helped to plant this seed and over time we will see what it bears forth.

Personalised Learning a visual note drawn by Nicki Hambleton on Adobe Ideas for iPad

Personalised Learning a visual note drawn by Nicki Hambleton on Adobe Ideas for iPad

Whatever we do, whatever we teach, whatever wondrous new fandangled gadget or app appears on the market, whoever we teach and whenever we are teaching them, learning should be at the heart of it.

It may sound crass or even naive, but often in this brave new world this fundamental aspect is forgotten or at least pushed further and further backwards. Literacy hour, genius hour, standards and benchmarks, aims and objectives, collaborative work, group work, authentic use of technology and many more bombard our daily practice and jostle for space in the short amount of time we have with our students.

In Middle School Art, students have but a mere 75 minutes to learn and grow as a artist over the year, and with Sports Days, visiting speakers, training days and public holidays sometimes this can be whittled down to just 30 lessons. This equates to around 37.5 hours, just over a day and a half. What can you teach a 12 year old for a year if you only had a day and half? If assemblies run over or it is the start or end of a term some of this time would be reduced even more.

So, how do we prioritise what we want our students to learn?

From the mouths of babes

UWCSEA Dover

UWCSEA Dover

IB PYP philosophy promotes purposeful inquiry as the leading vehicle for learning and through this it is clear that students are the key, the centre of learning and that they need and want ownership of their education. They may not have the skills nor the knowledge, yet they know what they want and need and, with guidance, can and should help to shape the lessons. It may again be naive of me to think that children can plan your curriculum but we spend so much time as adults forgetting what it is like to be a child and what it means to learn as a child. They want to know why they need to learn this concept or that information or skill, and what use it is in today’s changing society. We cannot neglect that the world is a very different place to that which we grew up and learned in: we must think in the shoes of our students more often and ask them their opinions and ideas. So, even though I do not teach PYP, I honour the philosophy and turn the discussions over to them. I ask my students what they want to learn and what they think they need to learn to be a better artist, thinker, problem solver, collaborator, team player, independent learner and what the use of learning art is.

It is an eye opener. It develops new thinking and shapes the curriculum.

Adding Value

When I worked in the UK, a judgement of a child’s success was based on “value added”. What did students come into the school with (or at what level) and what did they leave with (and at what level) compared to the expectation? For those too young to have heard this phrase in education, here is a simple diagram to explain this concept:

Value Added - a simple diagram by Nicki Hambleton

Value Added – a simple diagram by Nicki Hambleton

What might surprise you is that this assessment is centred around the teacher not the child, rather the child as a result of the teaching. Not something that ever sat well with me or, for that matter, many teachers. How can we measure learning? Is it possible solely by testing?

Last year, in Florida,

the teachers’ suit challenged the state’s 2011 Student Success Act that requires school districts to evaluate teachers based in part on “student learning growth” — defined by increases in standardised test scores. Florida is one of several states that have passed “value added” teacher evaluation laws linking teacher merit pay and retention to students’ standardised test performances. (Law Professors, May 2014)

The judge found Florida’s teacher evaluation unfair, but legal. How else can we assess learning and student growth in a less numerical or judgmental fashion?

What value have I added to my students this year? What new learning has happened through Quadblogging?

Words don’t come easy

Photo Credit: dslrpena via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: dslrpena via Compfight cc

For most, blogging at the Dover Campus is a new thing. A handful of students had a blog in Primary school or with their Spanish teacher, but on the whole, connecting and posting online was a new experience and one that needed nurturing. It astounded me that, in their social media-centric lives, they were unaware of what makes a valuable contribution to commenting, so it was here that I started to teach them real value in their words. We have worked all year on purposeful feedback with peer groups verbally at several stages in their work using various models such as “I see I think I wonder”, “invisible artist” and even “poo sandwich”, a phrase coined by one of my Science colleagues (don’t ask!). Armed with the skills and strategies to comment intelligently and meaningfully, we tested the waters commenting locally before embarking on public sites, trialling post it comments at the High School Art Exhibition, sending emails to the artists and practicing in a Picasa web album of their own class’s photography. They began to see the real power of their words, discussing starting sentences and suggested etiquette to keep themselves both on track as well as respectful.

The biggest learning so far was that of questioning. During the blogging process they figured out that when they asked the artist a question or reached out in their own post inviting critique or connections, they added value to their own thinking but also that of the receiver. It helped them to connect and began to form a conversation: a 2 way conversation. This in itself was powerful learning and prepared them well for the blogging ahead.

Freedom to choose

Photo Credit: pennuja via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: pennuja via Compfight cc

Reflecting on my own learning over the past year I can see so much growth in the manner I present my findings, in the depth of my posts and the actions I have taken back in the classroom. I have documented this through writings and drawings but the real results are less easy to measure or see as they are deep within the curriculum development, the forward planning and the nuances of my lessons. If you were to ask my students how the lessons have changed, I am not sure that they will have noticed drastic changes, more gradual drip feeding or subtle additions, as I am loath to add a new app or concept just for the sake of it, especially with time being so precious. I believe in authentic use of technology that doesn’t dominate the learning, it enhances or transforms it and this takes time to develop and authenticate. I yearn for the day when my students pick up an iPad or use an app or software of their own choosing as just another tool in their kit to learn with. I feel we are fast approaching this and we have to race to keep up with the plethora of new ideas firing at us and to filter the most effective ones to teach our students that would benefit their learning. What does this swiss army knife of new skills look like? Teachers should pool the ideas they offer students so other curriculum areas know what students can pick and choose from. What does your bag of tricks look like?

Modelling lifelong learning

Picking from my own COETAIL bag of tricks I found so many aspects I wanted to focus on when developing my Course 5 project. For me, at the heart of COETAIL, and its ultimate success and longevity, is connecting and sharing. My wish was for my own students to develop their own online communities in a similar manner so that they too could grow and learn. But now I look back and think, is this me, as an adult, thinking I know what is best for them to learn better? What if I thought more in the shoes of a 12 year old, as a child, learning art surrounded by all the influences and distractions a child in today’s world has? What would I want to learn and how?

Holistic education is at the centre of UWCSEA and our mission states:

The UWC movement makes education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future. The UWCSEA goal is to educate individuals to embrace challenge and take responsibility for shaping a better world.

Kurt Hahn’s philosophy is at the heart of how students learn.

He championed the importance of developing the whole person, and based his thinking on the ideals of a holistic, experiential, values-based education.

“I regard it as the foremost task of education to insure the survival of these qualities: an enterprising curiosity, an undefeatable spirit, tenacity in pursuit, readiness for sensible self denial, and above all, compassion.” Kurt Hahn

The world is a very different place since Hahn founded the UWC movement 50 years ago. But his educational philosophy, with a focus on academic achievement, leadership, experiential learning and service to others has remained, and will continue to provide our students with a unique learning experience for many more years to come. (From UWCSEA website)

Experiential learning should be at the heart of our lessons and Ed Batista sets this out in his article on How to get Unstuck back in April 2010. Referencing Jessica Hagy and Andrea Corny’s models I believe the simplest is the most effective: What? So What? Now What? and Do it! hits the mark.

Self directed Learning – at the heart of Course 5

Photo Credit: clappstar via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: clappstar via Compfight cc

It has been both exhilarating as it has been daunting working through Course 5. Self motivation is at the heart of self-directed learning and time seems to run away from one, especially in a busy place like a school. But we are adults and at the end of a course that has taught us well, modelling research and structure enough so that we cannot possibly flounder at the last hurdle. How can we learn from this experience and help our students to be more self directed, motivated, organised and committed right up until the final flag?

Perhaps planning the year around this model would work, beginning with teacher-led instruction and demonstrations, modelling good working practice. Then, as the year unfolds, the next unit has some aspects of self-directed learning with guidance and a little hand-holding leading up to the final term. Lisa Nalbone neatly demonstrates the process of self-directed learning in her diagram below. Starting with a question changed how I looked at learning in my classroom as well as within COETAIL and asking students to ask more questions to direct learning is a powerful way to start in any subject area of the curriculum.

Self-directed learning model by Lisa Nalbone

Self-directed learning model by Lisa Nalbone

How do I make learning more engaging?

Looking back at COETAIL, the aspect that influenced, inspired me and changed my thinking the most was Course 4. It lit a fire. I would like to try to integrate gamification, or at the least some aspect of motivational learning into the framework next year to urge and push students in their pursuit of growth.

As I am currently at the stage of reflection on the course and in the final term of the academic year, I figured that it would be good to test the waters and ask the students: what they wanted to learn, how they learn best, what helped them to learn and grow this year and how they might demonstrate this learning? A large proportion of my students say they learn best by “trial and error”, their words not mine. Many said they learn best by seeing and doing, experimenting and trying out and this has been at the heart of this Connected Classrooms project. I said at the start I did not know where it was going to go, and I still don’t. I am letting the students lead the way, make the choices of how to alter the course and to find new ways to do what they used to do. It takes me back to the beginning of my course and the visual:

Mark Prensky's "Shaping Tech in the classroom" visual note by Nicki HAmbleton

Mark Prensky’s “Shaping Tech in the classroom” visual note by Nicki Hambleton

But it also draws me closer the the fundamentals of SAMR and redefining learning. With the learning firmly in the hands of my students I am excited for what happens during the final weeks of the course yet even more for what happens after. I am pushing the learning right up to the last minute of COETAIL, desperate for it not to end and to squeeze as much out of it as I can. I am a long way from personalised learning but I am heading in the right direction, slowly. The next posts will track the choices they make, the collaborations they plan, the gamification of the learning and finally the results of their work.

Watch this space….

 “Education is not the filling of a pail, it is the lighting of a fire” W.B.Keats

What fires have you lit today?

Connected Classrooms? when pigs fly drawn on Adobe Ideas by Nicki Hambleton

Connected Classrooms? when pigs fly drawn on Adobe Ideas by Nicki Hambleton

Kicking off Course 5 in the Classroom

Photo Credit: dview.us via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: dview.us via Compfight cc

It is with trepidation and anticipation that I begin the final phase of my COETAIL journey. In my previous post, Classroom in the Cloud, I said that I know this is not the end, just the beginning, and as I start introducing my students to the concept of connecting globally it feels like a new start and the beginning of something great.

Middle Schoolers cannot hold their feelings, they don’t mince their words and they show in their faces exactly when they are excited or upset. As I explained about my own COETAIL journey and shared with them my wish for them to have the same level of connectedness, to learn from others usually out of their reach and at the same time have fun, their faces reflected my own positive thoughts (thank goodness!). You never know whether what we plan is right or even interesting to our students, even if we think, as experienced educators, that we know what is best for them. They were genuinely excited to meet other MS art students and share learning with them.

All under one roof

The concept began to take root at the end of Course 4 where Matt McGrady and Anne Dirilgen, both Art teachers too, were thinking through their ideas for their final project. As we had connected long before COETAIL we wanted to build on this connection of like-minds and share that with our students. My initial idea, and still a huge part in my plan, is to develop a digital classroom that connects Middle School students in the ways that older students can interact: sharing videos or stories, commenting on photographs, chatting in a group or starting a discussion in a forum for example. Finding a format or platform is not so easy, especially for younger students. Edmodo exists and Nings are a possibility but I want the students to own it, design it, develop it and build and grow within it.

Previously many of my Middle Schoolers have had blogs which I connected to each other through my initial art blog (thisisallaboutart). It started out as a way for me to get to know them better as a person and to encourage interaction, positive sharing, pride and feedback. But teaching over 250 students every week made this very difficult to manage. Google Reader, at the time, made it slightly more palpable by allowing groups to be added to my blog and tracking when an individual posts. What a shame Google Reader ceased to be as I haven’t found a similar widget or tool to embed the collections in the same easy go-to fashion. Sadly, since starting COETAIL my time has meant my first blog has been on pause, whilst I developed my own voice here on Thinking Tradigitally. Perhaps the students will allow me a little space on their pages?

Quadblogging

Following initial contact on Twitter and the decision that we should continue to work together, Matt suggested Quadblogging, developed by David Mitchell, Deputy Headteacher of Heathfield Primary School in Bolton, UK. Since its inception in 2011, over 500,000 students from 50 countries worldwide have taken part, connecting their classrooms. Connecting students outside of their usual domain is the underlying takeaway of this phenomena and when Mitchell asked on Twitter, “A blog without an audience is like…..” the responses came back such as:

“A library without books, a car without an engine and Beyonce without a ring!”

I asked a similar question to my classes, “Why do we share online” and their responses were equally heartfelt:

“When you are proud of your work, you want to share it”

“To share your story and to create memories”

“To receive feedback, to be noticed”

“You want to know what people think, what you are doing right or need to change to make it even better”

You can find out more about Quadblogging on the Edutopia post, from September 2012 or more about David Mitchell on his website Ask Sir.

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Some Grade 7s and 8s have Instagram and share their photography through this method, trying for the most amount of “likes” and it is this that, to a 13 year old narcissistic girl, signifies their success or popularity. But do participants really add value to Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest? Comments range from “great shot” to “Love it” often with many emojis. So do they grow as a photographer, artist, writer or as a person as a result? What is its purpose?

I teach feedback to my students through the Visible Thinking routines with the favourite one being I see, I think, I wonder, as Silvia Tolisano eloquently describes on her post, Reflecting in the Learning process. With this framework peer and group feedback models useful yet positive commenting to take the artist forward and it is through this that my students are gaining insight into how to grow.

Hanging out

screenshot mid-hangout with Anne and Matt

screenshot mid-hangout with Anne and Matt

As part of the plan, Matt, Anne and I met online the other weekend to talk through the process, our aims, challenges and to discuss the timeframe. Matt set up the chat and we proceeded to try to record the hangout (just in case anyone was in the vaguest bit interested in the process and to laugh at us floundering with the new technology!). Google Hangouts on air will be our next learning curve when we should have our initial reflection on the first few weeks recorded.

3 became 4

Matt introduced us briefly through email to Alissa at The American School of Dubai and we are hoping that she and her colleague will join in the collaborating to spread the connections further afield. I am sure that there are other Art teachers with similar classes of youngsters that would love to take part in a programme like this. If you know of anyone, please connect them to me via Twitter: @itsallaboutart

The Class blog

This week, Matt’s classes will prepare their first blog page and introduce themselves to us. We wait in anticipation to see the first insights into life in Abu Dhabi, a country not many of us have had the pleasure to visit.

UWCSEA Dover High School Art Exhibition 2015

UWCSEA Dover High School Art Exhibition 2015

In the run up to the first week of commenting, my students took time out from the classroom to walk around our current High School Show to view and were amazed by the variety and quality of work on show. I asked them to chose just one student whose work had affected them and to write on a post it, these 2 things:

screenshot from my Active Inspire lesson for Grade 6

screenshot from my Active Inspire lesson for Grade 6

 

At the end of the week, I am compiling the multitude of post its (I currently teach 176 Middle School students in one week) to display as a “virtual blog post” alongside print outs of the artists’ work. In this way the students (and the artists) will get to grips with posting publically and how their comments can be viewed by many.

In addition, students are researching the look, feel and content of blogs on a theme of their choice to compare the writing style, design and layout and use of images for homework this week. This in turn, I hope, will inspire their class blog design to be both functional and attractive to draw viewers in and help them to want to return.

Under the same umbrella

Photo Credit: anettehustad via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: anettehustad via Compfight cc

I still hold on to the dream of the connected classroom in the cloud: a one-stop, all under one roof place for art students to interact. A place to connect artists, a little like the NING art teachers in Asia have with ARARTE, created by Kendra Farrell; not dissimilar to Michelle Anderson‘s IB Visual Art site, and not forgetting the wonderful GCSE and A Level Art site created by Amira Gale Student Art Guide. I also recall a site The Incredible @rt Department which has been going since 1994, originating as an Elementary Schools site, now serving not only the US but with some International Schools participating too. Deviant Art, started in 2000, is a wonderful community of artists too, but often open to comments and sharers that would leave my impressionable youngsters, and their parents, covering their eyes and leaving their hearts wounded.

Through this project I want to teach them the basics of digital citizenship, how to be safe and protected online. They need to learn about using their images properly, about licensing and sharing respectfully, about tagging and labelling. But I want them more than anything to forge friendships; to learn and grow without walls, to share and teach others about what it is to be a pre-teen, about culture and art. Not every 11 year old will be as keen to be involved and I get that. Just today I saw the face of a Grade 6 bubbly, impetuous boy, open as a book, clearly thinking more of the football pitch or what he was about to have for lunch than the prospect of blogging his latest masterpiece online! You cannot win them all, but it will be my pleasure and challenge to engage them all, in some way, in the wonderful world of global connections.

Where next?

Photo Credit: aturkus via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: aturkus via Compfight cc

The plan for the next few weeks is to test drive quadblogging and get the students up and running their class blog site, sharing content and connecting and commenting with the other schools. I would like to allow the students to be moderators and authors on a rotation basis to help them to organise and play with the system new to them yet also to work together to create a living, breathing space that reflects who they are, not that of the teacher. This is a crucial aspect of my plan.

The following weeks, not only will they be curating content but I would like to involve them in the design and structure of the major plan – the connected classroom in the cloud.
Through discussions with Peter Li, one of the Digital Coaches at UWCSEA, we looked at Edmodo, Pathfinder and Google sites as gatekeepers, settling on the possibility of creating a “landing page” that the blogs and other features could link from. What I am investigating over the coming weeks is HYPE, I will have some fun in the coming weeks learning keyframe animation and HTML5, but Peter will be there to help along the way. Students will design the base image and the buttons and icons that will take them forward to the blogs or galleries and we will discuss what makes an aesthetic yet functional initial webpage (see Course 3 Visual Literacy: Design Matters).

The image I currently see is of a palette of many colours linking to the blogs, videos, artworks and forums; or of a classroom with different doors to take them to various sections of the site. But who knows what the students will design and whether this idea really is akin to “pigs flying”.

I know this process will take me beyond May 2015, but this is not a short term idea. I intend this to be  something that will evolve and transform as classes move up the school and beyond my four walls.

But however it ends up looking, ownership is everything.

 

 

The Beginning of the End? Visual note drawn on ipad using Adobe Ideas by Nicki Hambleton

The Beginning of the End? Visual note drawn on ipad using Adobe Ideas by Nicki Hambleton

 

Looking back over the past year, it amazes me just how much I have learnt, grown and changed due to COETAIL. I had been so excited to start the course last February and it has not disappointed. In fact, I believe it has been and still is the making of me. When asked for a 140 character summary to a prospective COETAIL applicant I wrote:

Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 20.17.57

The Beginning of the End

Reviewing my notes, both written and visual, helps me to remember my thoughts and directions to decipher the way to move forward into Course 5, effectively the beginning of the end of COETAIL. It helps me to rewind through my ideas to see where the most learning and growth occurred yet also to see where the vision for my students crept in during the course. Despite thinking I knew exactly what I wanted to work on, it surprises me, through a comment from Clint, that I had made some suggestions all the way back in Course 1 about connecting my students and helping them to grown in the same way that I had.

A Classroom in the Cloud?

Photo Credit: mugley via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: mugley via Compfight cc

Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project?

Having rewound through the past 28 posts, far too many words and 21 visual notes, I found it initially hard to decide what aspect would be right to pursue, so I looked back at myself and my passions to help take new direction. It was clear that we gain so much through our connections and often students in Middle School cannot be a part of this due to their age and online restrictions. Yet this is a huge part of my growth and learning and I want students to be a part of it too. From this the idea to connect artists online, bringing together their art work, cultures, discussions and feedback was born. Now I know this is nothing new as many teachers have websites doing similar things, such as Michelle Anderson‘s IB art site (currently not working) and The Incredible Art Department to name only a few, but these are largely teacher driven and I would like my students to drive it. In this way they own it, create it and develop it for students by students. Course 1 asked us to reach out and develop our PLN documenting the benefits from like minded groups and I want to help my students to reach out beyond their classroom, their school and country to learn much deeper with other similar aged youngsters. In Course 2 we looked at responsibility and digital citizenship and I feel that helping students to communicate and post online will help to address and teach students this first hand. In Course 3 we focussed our attention on Visual Literacy and working on a wiki, website or blog will help students to understand good design, aesthetics and functionality. Finally in Course 4, the course that taxed and pushed me the most opening many doors in my learning, focussed our attentions on using Technology authentically. It was here that I grew the most and I know my teaching has changed because of it. Connectivism and problem solving will be at the heart of the project, driven by SAMR to aim towards transforming the way art is learned and shared.

What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit?

In the past I have helped students to set up a blog and use Picasa web albums to share their work and thoughts online, connecting with their fellow peers for feedback. They were largely successful and, with my encouragement, began to receive comments but not true connections as a PLN might be. This aspect worries me, as at this stage I do not know how we can create an online forum for discussions like Twitter, exhibit artwork to comment on like Voicethread, connect with a multitude of schools globally yet keep them protected and safe. When I look into blogs, sites and wikis I can see the potential but not the depth or functionality for all to participate or take turns in moderating or curating. It feels like an unanswerable question but:

Is there an appropriate platform out there that would work and if so, why hasn’t someone done already this before now?

How can I ensure all students have ownership and work collaboratively to create, upload, share and comment? How can I ensure students drive this with limited experience of such a task? I have a great Technology team behind me who can suggest and show us ideas and options but even so, any ideas and advice would be gratefully received at this stage!

What shifts in pedagogy will this new unit require from you?

In my last post I was told that problem solving sometimes means you don’t know what the outcome may be and this scared me. But as I look ahead to this project it feels a little liberating and exciting to not know, not plan every step and to believe and trust that my students can work through this with my help. It is odd to not foresee the outcome but I am confident that it will be what it will be and most definitely grown by my students.

What skills and/or attitudes will this new unit require from your students?

I really want to push more problem solving and student directed work through this project. I know our students are great thinkers yet also demanding of answers, so it will be a shift in what they are used to and possibly unnerving for them (and me!). But the benefits far outweigh the concerns. It will require them to adopt the new method rapidly and to be adventurous in posting, connecting and sharing ideas. Our students are used to technology and work naturally in Google apps so I am concerned they will find “yet another thing” tiresome to adopt initially. It will also rely on them encouraging others to participate beyond their classroom and away from their school but I am hoping that my PLN will help to encourage involvement and to spread the word once it is up and running.

Please look over the following UBD and let me know your thoughts and feedback:

Photo Credit: Andreas Kristensson via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Andreas Kristensson via Compfight cc

It feels rather sad that COETAIL is coming to an official end but reading the outline for Course 5 helps me to realise that this may only be the beginning, the beginning of what happens next. I know the connections we have formed will be long-lasting and I hope that the group will keep posting, sharing and connecting both online and, where possible, face to face. I like the idea of continuing to work with COETAIL, perhaps as a coach if that were to be possible, in order to help others as I was helped and to give back to the community. So perhaps it should read “The End of the Beginning”.

*the above drawing “The Beginning of the End” make visual reference to Escher’s Upstairs and Downstairs, 1960, lithography.