My Community Story

Cross posted on the DEN blogs

If we consider life a journey, it’s important and fun to look back at how we ended in the place we are today. For the past 10 years or so I’ve been on a journey and many of you have been on one similar to mine. Some have started at different points but the idea that we’re a community of learners looking to leverage technology to create better and transformative learning experiences is what keeps us together. That and the vibrant and diverse nature of our relationships.
Let me go back 10 years. While the DEN was just birthing, so was my own community experience. On Feb 6, 2005 I started a blog. Without knowing what it was but had heard that it was free and easier to publish than using Dreamweaver or Frontpage, I thought I would try it. To say it transformed my professional life would be an understatement.  Specifically the first comment I received which came from a special needs educator from Texas had my mind spinning. Why was he commenting? How did he find me? What did I know that might help a special needs educator? As I reflected
Read the rest

Happy Anniversary to Me

10 years ago today I wrote this. Brilliant. Not really but I continue to believe and advocate this kind of a space both as a way to reflect, but to collect. My enthusiasm for this medium early on was a result of discovering what it was to connect and learn from strangers. I spent a great deal of time over the next 5 years in particular trying to get others to share in my zeal.  I assumed everyone would jump in and see the same value I did. I managed to get many teachers and students to create a blog, but few stuck with it.  The last 5 years I’ve had my students create them and have had a slightly better success rate. I don’t consider myself the most resilient person in the world but I did stick with it. It wasn’t because I had a huge audience or popularity. There are lots of things within the web that I’ve started and stopped but blogging has stuck.

It has been the single most important space in my professional development.

 

This is still true today.

What I will tell you is that I need to blog more. Not for … Read the rest

The Problem with Exemplars

Years ago while working on new curriculum, I spent a great deal of time with colleagues collecting and identifying exemplary work. Usually attached to rubric, these artifacts were intended to showcase the highest quality of work and present students with something to aim for. We often would reference these with students to the point where these became more than guides but the ultimate goal. It’s one the problems with rubrics. But it’s not just within curriculum where exemplars can be an issue, it happens all the time.

There’s no question that exemplars can be useful and even motivating. But often they are unattainable or perhaps not even desirable.

Let me share a few examples.

In Curriculum:

While I believe showing examples of quality work can be useful, many students immediately shut down when they perceive too great a gap between their current ability and what is deemed exemplary. I’m certainly not against the use of high quality exemplars but caution against too few examples as well as a lack of scaffolding to see where incremental success can be found. In addition, the power comes when the student decides what they want their work to be.

In my pre-service courses … Read the rest

Reflection Trumps Connection

This month is Connected Educator month. That’s a good thing. I think we need to continue to support the notion that teachers need each other. We now have a myriad of ways to stay in touch with the brightest and best around the world. We can form groups as easily as a click of the mouse. In one might be considered the most challenging time to be an educator, we need each other and often times “each other” doesn’t mean the person across the hall.

Being a connected educator is important but I think being a reflective educator trumps that.  As has often been the case in the past several years, people like Bud Hunt and Tom Whitby, two of the smartest people I know, sparked this post.

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When I think about my transforming or growth as an educator it came primarily because I started blogging almost 10 years ago. The act of writing down ideas, playing with concepts and clarifying my thinking had a direct impact on my work as an educator. Combined with the idea that my writing allowed me to connect with other people made it a home run for me. Blogging continues to dwindle … Read the rest