When Students Run the Class



‘Bring Me Sunshine’



I took a leap in the last Digital Learning Grade 5 class when I gave them a rotation to teach themselves something, create a product, and teach the class. Like usual, I was impressed that most students more then delivered. A few students under delivered given their abilities which I attribute to not being sure exactly what to do with this new found freedom. I put together a VoiceThread of their projects to showcase them. We did have a couple technical and logistical issues which is why there is not one for each student. I will for sure do this again and frankly think we may want to do more rotations like this one as even though it was more work then all of us working on one project at the same time, it was a way more engaged and energized classroom. Besides, I never even thought of stop animation as that was a suggestion from the students. One group took over 300 pictures to create the duck movie.


What is Your Sentence VoiceThread Project – Please Add Yours



‘Sentience Structure’



I have been working on my NCAIS Master Teacher Academy project with my group of 5th grade students. I wrote about Daniel Pink’s Two Question video earlier. In my last post on Learning to Teach how to Learn is Hard, I wrote how I was having to help my students take time to go deeper with this project. After 3 days of work in our Digital Learning Class, they have added sentences for each of the 5 people, added their sentences, (two were absent so not quite done). Some worked on trying to come up with who the two people are that Daniel Pink refers to as “He taught a generation of kids to read,” and “She invented a device that made people’s lives easier.” I do not know about you, but these were not obvious people to me so I thought the students should figure out who they are by researching. I have to say, that some of the students were taken aback when I said, I do not know for sure who these two people are, help teach me. It is interesting to listen to their findings. I think this might be a neat way to flip the research of people where the students are given a sentence and then must make the case for who the person is or why it is their sentence. Some of my students did add reasons why it was who they think it was. I left this part pretty wide open as I wanted the process to be guided by the students and not directed by me completely. As I wrote previously, this is not easy for both of us in the room as the students looked to me for advice and approval, and I struggled with saying just enough. I enjoyed watching the students begin searching for the sentence to see if it would be that easy. Of course, the result was usually Daniel Pink’s blog which meant the students had to try different search terms and strategies. I had hoped this would be the case as I tried to scaffold the lesson in such a way so that students would develop this understanding.


Now it is your turn to add to this VoiceThread. Please take the opportunity to add your sentence, have your class add their sentences, and figure out who those two people are. Pass this VoiceThread along to any one who might want to add to it. All I ask is that the work be serious in nature. If you have a video camera, record video, if you have a good microphone, record audio, or if you only have a keyboard, type the sentences. I would suggest if you are typing that you use a Word Processor to type the sentence and then copy and paste it into the comment as while any sentence is good, a misspelled sentence seems less educational.


What is My Sentence? and Am I Better Today Than Yesterday?


I have confessions to make regarding the iPad, iBooks, and Daniel Pink’s Book Drive. I have owned all of them since April 8, 2010. Drive was the first and only book I purchased to test the iBook app on the iPad. I started to read it but never felt compelled to continue as there were so many other things to do each time I opened up the iPad. Goodreader and Instapaper get a lot of attention as does Angry Birds and Doodle Jump. I still prefer to listen to audiobooks as I have a 25 minute commute to work each day. That leaves me 50 minutes of listening time each day. Between audiobooks and podcasts, I can learn a lot each week on a variety of topics related to ed-tech and how advances or news about technology. I subscribe to MacBreak Weekly, This Week in Tech, iPad Today, This Week in Google which are all from the TWiT Network. The Ed Tech Talk Network keeps me plugged into what is happening in the Ed Tech world.

After reading the blog post by George Couros, I have picked up the book again and am reading it as well as annotating like crazy. I have been thinking about my sentence and have yet to focus in on what it is as it changes depending on what I am doing or thinking. A couple I have come up with are: He was willing to try new things with his students or He was willing to help his colleagues.  These sentences both relate to  my teaching and not the other parts of my life. Those areas would produce a different sentence. He loved his tractor and farm, or He loved to play with his grandchildren. Can a person really be one sentence? One big problem I have is that my sentence is in the past tense! Yikes, Am I already a past tense? I think this means I have not found my sentence but rather am still looking for it since I will know it when I hear or think it. Maybe my sentence is not one that I know but is defined by others? I will sit with this some to see what comes of it. I have created a project for my class to create a video of their sentence. Maybe 5th graders will not over think it like I am.

The second question that Pink asks is “Was I better today than yesterday?”. This is somewhat easier, as I try to be more present each day which, I believe, can lead to being better. I struggle with being better each day as I can often get on a tangent and become critical or arrogant with what I think is the correct answers to questions or issues. This can lead to mistakes in judgement and certainly days when I am not better then I was the day before. Of course we could also debate what “better” means I suppose. I do know that I want my actions with my students and colleagues to be based on helping us all be better tomorrow then we are today as it applies to educational technology. For that, is my sentence now.

Daniel Pink’s Two Questions

Daniel Pink’s What’s Your Sentence? A collection of people telling us their sentence.

Daniel Pink’s Speech from RSA Animate

Image: ‘from the driver’s seat‘