Connected Feedback

Today was a great day.  It may have something to do with the fact that we start a two week spring break today.  But it also was a day in which I made connections with the following ideas:

1. It is great to be a connected educator. 

2. You can be connected online or within your own school environment. 

3. Feedback is essential to move forward.

We have recently started blogging with students and so I have been looking for ways to help students connect on each others blogs and leave feedback for each other.  With one grade level, we are looking for students to comment on each others posts. In another, students have made videos and were seeing feedback.  I found this video which I thought was good but still wanted a little more:

Today, a 4th grade teacher shared Austin’s Butterfly with us. It is a great example of the power of feedback and how specific feedback can help a student in their learning.  The progress made by Austin is amazing but even more amazing is the powerful reaction of the students in the video who are guided through the feedback process.  It is so powerful:

Austin’s Butterfly: Building Excellence in Student Work – Models, Critique, and Descriptive Feedback from Expeditionary Learning on Vimeo.

As I sat down to write this post, I first glanced at my Twitter feed and Grant Wiggins was at the top with a new post:

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The post he shared, was an article about the use of video footage from different angles so baseball players could see specifically what they were doing, how they were responding, and how they could improve.  Watching footage of themselves prior to a game, was become just as important of a part as stretching in order to make sure they were optimally prepared during Spring Training.

Both of these examples of feedback, point to the power of specific, timely, accurate feedback in order to best move the learner forward.

When I zapped off an email of thanks to my colleague, she replied with a link to a post where she had got the video from in the first place – fellow COETAIL participant, Reid Wilson, who’s work I have shared a lot of in the past. His post has a wealth of ideas of how to draw better comments from your students when giving feedback on the work of others.  Well worth a read.

I feel really lucky to work in a time when we are not limited to our immediate environment for inspiration and ideas in our teaching. I love that there is so much out there to help me become a better teacher and a more reflective thinker, and I am so pleased that I have invested the time into growing a network of educators who inspire.

Together Everyone Achieves More!

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One of the main facets of the PYP Exhibition is the ability for students to work collaboratively. Teams of students are asked to work together with a common goal, heading toward a common goal.  This is not always easy for students (or adults for that matter!) and it could be really worthwhile to spend some time having newly created groups or teams come together and figure out how they are going to work as a team.

One part of this could involve having the students design their workspace. Giving the students the chance to create a learning space and have a dedicated wall space and learning blog may help them figure out their roles and purposes as a group.

Another way, would be to dedicate a few minutes each day for the first weeks of Exhibition to some team-building time. While looking at the Destination Imagination website, I saw these team building exercises.  They are pretty standard exercises that you may be familiar with but they also come with the reminder that time for reflection needs to be built into the exercise and they offer these suggestions for post-exercise evaluation:

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Here is the link to the PDF download of instructions and exercises.

Take A Moment

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In remembrance of the people who lost their lives in the Germanwings crash over France today.  Thinking of the families and friends of the students and teachers who were on their way home from an exchange program. Heartbreaking.

Imagine A School

Almost three years ago,Seth Godin wrote Stop Stealing Dreams.  This manifesto is a powerful piece of work that has the potential to change the way we think about and “do” education – if people will read it.  As Seth said of his work, “This isn’t a prescription. It’s not a manual. It’s a series of provocations, ones that might resonate and that I hope will provoke conversation.”  He goes on to add that, “None of this writing is worth the effort if the ideas are not shared” and urges his readers to most of all, “Go do something!” – anything, but settle.

This was my response:

If you are looking for further inspiration, check out any of the following:

Stop Stealing Dreams by Seth Godin

A New Culture of Learning by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown

Creating Innovators by Tony Wagner

Out of Our Minds and The Element by Sir Ken Robinson

Linchpin and Tribes by Seth Godin

Dancing about Architecture: A Little Book of Creativity by Phil Beadle

Seth Godin’s Blog

Simon Sinek’s Blog

So Few Of Me by Peter H. Reynolds

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon

Samaritan Blog – A Case for Organized Compassion

What-if-Concepts Blog – Connecting causes and people who inspire to their best ideas.

Dallas Clayton’s Blog and Books

Inspire My Kids Website

At the recent ECIS Technology Conference, I asked attendees at my workshop, “What is one thing you could do to make school different?”.  Will you join us?  What is your one thing?  Click here to add your ideas.

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ECIS Technology Conference Notes

This weekend I attended and presented at the ECIS Conference in Munich.  Here are some of my notes from the weekend.  A full write-up is on it’s way!  Follow these people on Twitter to keep up with their thinking on education and technology.

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Keynote speaker Kim Cofino @mscofino

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Connected Learning Through Blogging with Tricia Friedman @friedEnglish101 (1/2)

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Connected Learning Through Blogging with Tricia Friedman @friedEnglish101 (2/2)

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iBooks Author Reloaded with Martin Fritze and Tobias Schnitter

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Engaging Students With Instant Feedback Tools for Formative Assessment with Fred Nevers @fred_nevers

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iPads in the Play-Based Classroom with Jocelyn Sutherland @JKSuth

These are my notes from my presentation that I wrote when planning my own presentation.

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Technology won’t revolutionize education – teachers will. @terSonya

Telling My Story In An Infographic Resume

As part of my COETAIL course, I took on the assignment to redesign my resume in an infographic style. I already had a fairly unique looking resume (it is still up on my Resume page but will be archived soon) but I wanted to get it down to a single page. After many revisions, here is the latest version:

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Sonya terBorg – Resume (PDF)

My thoughts on this version:

  • I like the little icons (thanks Noun Project!) as I think they add a clean visual to the document
  • I like the photo of me and my daughter as it shows a very important part of who I am without me having to articulate that I am a mom
  • I like the QR code link to my personal blog
  • Creating the ‘bar graph’ of things I believe in was actually really hard – the ranking of items – and I liked that this gave me the opportunity to reflect on what was important to me, philosophically
  • I am on the fence with the L/R Brain although I do like the idea of this. I just took an online quiz and that was the result and so I took the key words from the test analysis and created the little graphic.
  • I really like the “Let me help you” and “Hire me” titles (this idea ‘remixed from #23 on this list) and these titles helped me to focus on what I wanted to say about my skills and my purpose
  • I thought the timeline was an easy way to see where I have been although it does make it clear how much I jump around!
  • I really wanted to keep the concentric circles but I modified the wordiness of them and refined my purpose.

I have spent so long looking at elements of good design that it really was hard to narrow this down.  I think the resume looks good (it is entirely done in Pages, btw, as I wanted to try not using anything ‘fancy’ but to see if I could create something in a fairly standard program).  I do think I will also create a ‘slick professional’ resume that is less infographic-ish.

I think this would stand out in a pile of resumes – I just hope for the right reasons and not because the recruiter wanted to be sure to not take a second look!  I think I would like to partner this resume with an online profile such as the one I am working on at about.me  and I updated a previous one that I had created at re.vu

Thoughts?

Great Conversations – Great Achievements

“The quality of our conversations matter. Great achievements only come after great conversations.”

—John O’Leary, communications advocate 

Someone I respect and admire sent me a TEDx talk and told me it was worth my time to watch it.  She wasn’t wrong.  John O’Leary’s talk is a great reminder of the power our words can have, either spoken or not. His talk outlines the massive connection between conversations and the success (or failure) of your endeavours.

According to John, the quality of conversations influences the quality of our decisions which dictates the quality of our outcomes.

While this is not entirely new information to anyone, he shares examples of very high profile incidents in which conversations lacked the quality they needed to ensure good decisions were made.  So why are we not constantly engaged in quality conversations in which people speak their mind?

John speaks about three myths that keep people silent when they are asked to ‘share their thoughts’ to new ideas in meetings:

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Saying “I really want to know what you think” is not enough to overcome the barriers that many people have when it comes to sharing their thoughts in a conversation so John offers up these techniques to change the context of a conversation:

Independent deliberation. (Asking people to come prepared with their ideas written down and a rationale for them). Result: Either a natural consensus which builds confidence that the direction to be taken is a good one, or people will bring very different ideas to the table – offering exciting opportunities for exploration and change.

Devils Advocate/Red Team. The leader assigns a group to poke holes in an idea.  The task is to see all the failings and lay them out. O’Leary says that by giving people permission to do the things we wouldn’t typically expect from a group discussion, you are testing the strength of the idea before launching it ‘live’. (Think “putting on the black hat” aka Edward DeBono’s Thinking Hats).

“Conversation is used to draw out the pitfalls but conversation can also be used to inspire, and to engage and to bring people into an ambitious endeavour.”  As I watched John’s video I thought how effective it would be to “assign” this TED talk to a group or team before a meeting in which big decisions needed to be made.  How empowering it would be for a team to know their leader valued and appreciated their voice and how the only thing that was important was everyone’s ability to engage in the conversation.

While we are not launching rockets or starting wars as teachers, we are dealing with educating children which is certainly worth having a conversation about. What is the quality of your meeting conversations? Are you setting  up yourselves, your school, and most importantly, your students, for quality outcomes?  What do you need to change in the way you facilitate meetings in order to be the best team of teachers you can be?

If I could add anything to John’s talk, it would be to conclude with this image from Hugh MacLeod of Gapingvoid:

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