Tag Archives: November


A contribution to OSSEMOOC‘s pic-and-post series:

Sylvia Rosenthal-Tolisano (@Langwitches) is one of my favourite bloggers. She does visually represent the learning in incredible ways, and I have a number of her posters hanging in my classroom. BUT, it is her teaching through her blogs that I so appreciate.

In this post, “Building Content Knowledge: Collaborate and Curate”, she includes video, images, and annotations to help her reader really “see” the Digital Learning Farm (Alan November) in action!

Screen Shot 2014-06-08 at 7.28.11 AM

Tolisano never forgets the role of technology in the teaching and learning cycle. Skill-building in reading for meaning, gathering information, and note making–all key components in the research process–are front and centre here without the traditional teacher lecture and notes for students and in ways that support students’ acquisition of information literacy skills.

Take some time to explore Langwitches’ Blog. It will be worth your while.

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#Cyberpd 2013 ~ Collaboration for learning

This is the final day for the incredible book study on Alan November’s Who Owns the Learningfor #cyberpd 2013. This event is hosted annually be the marvellous Cathy MereJill Fisch, and Laura Komos. To read what others are saying see the Jog the Web that houses the #cyberpd blogs.

November’s message is that students must have the opportunity to experience purpose and ownership in their work.  We can create such opportunities by incorporating roles or jobs for students that enable them to contribute to the learning of all. When students are tutorial designers, scribes, and researchers for their peers in their classrooms, and importantly, beyond their classrooms, and their work is available on-line, they leave a legacy of their contribution. How exciting and engaging is that!

My personal goal for this summer is to become better versed in creating visual content. I have where ever possible to represent my thinking about Who Owns the Learning? visually.

A few posts back, I wondered about the learning that would emerge by annotating an existing video in Popcorn Maker. What I discovered was that not only did the process of annotation deepen my understanding of the content, it also extended my editing skills.

By chance, I came across a post by Kim Wilkens in her Google+ community Women Learning Tech about using Popcorn Maker as a collaborative tool. She asks “What does open and closed mean in the digital age? Members of the community were invited to view her video and then to add their thoughts. What do you think of their collaborative experiment? This remix represents two contributors. There were more, but the challenge in making this a collaborative project is that each participant needs to ‘pick up’ the most recent remix to add his or her thoughts, not the original version.

I decided, since Chapter 5 is on the student as global communicator and collaborator, I would give Popcorn Maker a go with the #cyberpd crowd. I Tweeted out the idea, and Amy Rudd jump into the project. The first portion of this video is mine, and Amy’s portion is the VideoScribe.

If you would like to try your hand at Popcorn Maker and at collaborative content creation, click on the remix button found at the bottom of the screen below.  Add your ideas, save, and Tweet out the new remix.

For some reason, the Popcorn Maker begins to play as this page loads…so I have removed it for now. You can access the remix HERE.

I do like this idea, especially for assessment as learning. I envision my students each creating 30 seconds of video (either in Popcorn Maker, an Animoto type tool or in Movie Maker) and then annotating the video with links and text  that illustrates their big learning (synthesis) of a unit. Students can post their individual Popcorn Maker video to their blogs, but we can also connect them all (remixing) and post the class reflection on a wiki.Thanks to the #cyberpd folks for engaging in this book study in such creative style! We have definitely moved from thinking and writing about the ideas, to creating visual content too! Thanks to Cathy Mere for gathering our posts at Jog the Web and for initiating our own board on Pinterest. 

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#Cyberpd 2013 ~ The Student Researcher

Darren Kuropatwa speaks about the shift of control from teacher to student as we ask our students to take on more of their learning responsibilities. Central to ensuring that this is a successful shift is preparing our students to cope with the volume of information to which they have access. If I am no longer the disseminator of  the content, then I must ensure that my students have the strategies and the critical thinking skills to find, filter, assess, and attribute information.


The Process:
I have made many Glogs over the years. I use Glogster when I need to create layers of information that my audience can choose to access. As you scroll over the Glog, those elements that are linked to on-line text will have a WWW appear. Click, and you are whisked away to relevant, supporting information. Normally, I would have the Joyce Valenza video embedded in the Glog, but it is in Vimeo, and for some unknown (the temperamental nature of the tool) reason, Vimeo was not going to embed for me today. I first made this Glog in a horizontal template, forgetting that I wanted to embed it  here. Although, you can chose code for a blog size Glog, it still appeared squashed. So, I reconstructed the Glog in a vertical template. As an aside: My grandmother used to say “stupid head makes for sore feet”. I need to update this saying to reflect the consequences of not thinking through my on-line work!

The Reflection:
I have spent hours on the ideas emerging from chapter 4 because in spite of being a teacher who has always taught researching skills, the shift of control that I want to happen in my class room means that I am not the sole purveyor of content. I want to teach with student inquiry. I want students to decide what part of “Why is global dignity important?” (for example) is meaningful to them. I want them to engage in the research process- find, filter, choose, create, attribute, share-because the work is meaningful to them. I want students to be excited about learning. 

Questions I am thinking about:

  1. How do I gain the attention of students who already think they know how to research?
  2. How much time will each step in the process need?
  3. Where will students think about their work as researchers? Journals? Blogs? Wiki? Is there choice here for students?
  4. What tools will students use to gather their research? Paper? Google docs? Wiki? Word?
  5. Will they work collaboratively? And if so, how will that happen? Google docs? Wiki? 

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#Cyberpd 2013: Chapter 3

#Cyberpd is an annual on-line book study hosted by Cathy Mere, Jill Fisch, andLaura Komos. Today begins the sharing of our thinking on chapters 3 and 4 of Alan November’s Who Owns the Learning?, although in this post, I will tackle chapter 3 only.

“The Student as Scribe” is all about how our students can work collaboratively everyday using the various tools that are available to schools now. But I so appreciate Kuropatwa’s point that this work is not strictly about the technology, but about pedagogy. He explains how deliberate and intentional he is in introducing the collaborative tool students will use for scribing.  “That time can involve going over the goals for the scribe posts, outlining how to set up the blogging or other program, reviewing the basic option settings” (pg. 46).  And, he is equally intentional about ensuring that his students do receive feedback from a global audience. This is the work that is before us. The way we plan has to change, the way we assess has to change, and the way we teach has to change. Thus, we have the “shift of control”.

Since one of my goals for this summer is to become better acquainted with visual tools, I decided to push myself here to create a video, and then to annotate the video using Mozilla’s Popcorn Maker. These tools support the work our students need to do to read deeply, make connections, synthesize main ideas, and consider audience and purpose.

The Process:I used Sparkol Videoscribe (the 7 day desktop trial version) to create the initial video. I then uploaded that video to Popcorn Maker. There I added the pop ups, the thought bubbles, the images, and the Wikipedia page on Alan November.

I created the videoscribe quite quickly this time, although I did run into a problem at the video rendering stage where the process got hung up at the zero mark. After many attempts at finishing the video, I did consult ‘them’ and I discovered that in fact this is a problem for many people. Finally, by re-saving as a new file, I was able to render the video and upload it to YouTube.

Popcorn Maker is quite straightforward to use. There are a number of tools, or Events, with which you can annotate a video. The only glitch here was that in the tutorial on Popcorn Maker one of the Event choices was Twitter, but Twitter did not appear in my list. I did consult the Google + community Making Learning Connected (#clmooc), and according to one member, “Twitter recently changed something with third party apps and sites. I’ve been hit and miss with some sites & Twitter working.” Very odd.

The Reflection: 

Chapter 2 (Students as Tutorial Designers) and Chapter 3 (Students as Scribes) are merging for me as I consider these tools. In both tutorials design and in scribing (if students create a video as the note), other students in the class can annotate the video to include their own understanding of the key concepts or examples. Another idea is to have the scribe take the back channel conversation generated while viewing a content area film or a film adaptation of a novel and annotate the film using the main ideas that emerged from the tweets.

The salient point is that students must be generating their own content. Videoscribe and Popcorn Maker are superb tools to help teachers and students do exactly that.

This week’s host is Jill over at My Primary Passion. Head over there to link up with all the terrific conversation around Alan November’s Who Owns the Learning?

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#Cyberpd 2013 Students as Tutorial Designers

Finally, a video scribe! I have made many excuses for not not creating visual texts, but as I am returning to the classroom in September, I really need to push myself this summer to acquire some skills in this area.

The tool: Sparkol VideoScribe VideoScribe is fairly straightforward. I used the 7 day trial version and there are enough features included to make a decent story. I did access YouTube to view a few tutorials (irony is not lost on me here!).  I discovered too late in the process for editing, that you need to use a lot of space for each ‘scene’. A scene is comprised of a group of elements that all have the same camera setting. If the elements are too close together then everything shrinks. Beyond ensuring generous use of the canvas, the more elements you include, the more time consuming the process, which makes sense, but it also means the harder it is to edit. In my case, half way through, I realized that I needed more space and that the elements should be larger. However, to edit would mean shifting the whole story element by element. Next time.
The reflection Throughout the process, I thought about the value of this tool for my students’ learning.  I discovered that just like the students’ Alan November describes in Who Owns the Learning?, I spent far longer on VideoScribe than I had planned as I considered what elements to include to best tell my story. What’s more, my understanding of chapter 2  at  the end of the process is much deeper than it was after having read the chapter.  In the SAMR model of technological transformation, VideoScribe definitely comes in at the redefining level if students are generating the video. The student is the creator of the content and as such is the teacher.  The task of reading, synthesizing the reading, and presenting content that is remixed.
The questions I produced this text on a laptop. How is the process different on mobile devices? Does the app work in the same way? What would happen if a VideoScribe text is further remixed in Mozilla’s Popcorn Maker?

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#CyberPd 2013–Who Owns the Learning?

Today begins the third annual #cyberpd event hosted by Cathy MereJill Fisch, and Laura Komos. This is an online book study that offers up deep reflection and wide-ranging discussion across grades, disciplines, and time zones.


This year we are discussing Alan November’s Who Owns the Learning?


It is important that I finally read Alan November’s Who Owns the Learning? because I have been playing at the edge of his thinking for the past year. I happened upon his TEDxNYED talk first, and was compelled by his stories of transformed classrooms; of what the buzz words “authentic” and “relevant” and “meaningful” learning could look like. He describes how students tackling real problems in their communities and working towards finding real solutions are not simply engaged in the tasks, but that they are ‘owning’ it.November establishes the analogy of the family farm, where everyone had a role and all contributions were meaningful and purposeful, to assist us in understanding how we need to shift our roles in our classrooms.  As it was essential for the success of the farm that everyone, including the young people, contribute, so too is this true in our classrooms.  November posits that  “the power of purpose and meaningful contribution has been missing from our classrooms and our youth culture for some time” (p. 5).

This rings so true for me.

Consider the rise of the maker movement.  It is a reflection of people’s desire to “get real”–to make, to create, to produce. From arts and crafts to robotics and coding, maker fairs are popping up in and out of schools to help us reconnect our lives in physical and productive ways. But November’s point is not just about productivity. It is importantly about the power of purposeful and meaningful contribution, not just “look what I made”, but “look how I have solved this problem.”


The Big Question:
Will the work survive beyond the student’s time in school?

When my youngest son was in grade eight (2007), he won the regional Heritage Fair with his project on the historical architecture of homes on Manitoulin Island, Ontario. He built a replica of the buildings and mounted them on plywood. Later, the local museum requested to include the project in its display, and there the Heritage Fair Project remained until the museum renewed its exhibits.Was this a terrific experience for the youngster? Absolutely.

Did the project solve a problem? Contribute to the knowledge of the world?
No. Once its usefulness as a static exhibit had run its course, the work became trash.

The issue, then, is one of curriculum design. How do I understand the curriculum expectations through the Digital Learning Farm lens? How am I supporting students’ development in reading, writing, listening, and speaking in a way that is purposeful and meaningful? This must be curriculum design that goes beyond having students write reviews for GoodReads or construct comments for online news articles, beyond running a Today’s Meet back channel in class, beyond writing reflective blogs, and beyond writing essays or collaborative poems in Google docs.

This is curriculum design that fuses the gradual release of responsibility, the student inquiry and deep questioning process, the sophisticated integration of information and communication technology, and November’s concept of the Digital Learning Farm.

This is curriculum design that breaks the traditional game of school.

Although #cyberpd has chunked chapters one and two together, I want to think through each of November’s four roles for students and what they might look like in my classroom, so I will post a second entry on “The Student as Tutorial Designer” separately.

I look forward to reading what everyone else thought about this week’s reading.

Thank you to Cathy for hosting this week’s #cyberpd blogs. Don’t forget to stop by Jill and Laura‘s blogs in the coming weeks to keep the discussion going!

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