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Filling the Mindtool-Box: Bubbl.us

18 Feb

Bright, independent, critical thinkers.  Of course, that’s what every teacher wants  to have filling their classrooms.  As it turns out, there are strategic ways that we can use technologies to encourage the development of these thoughtful learners.

According to David Jonassen (2006), Mindtools allow students to create models of their cognitive connections. In Meaningful Learning with Technology, Jonassen and others elaborate on the Mindtool concept, stating, “When using computers as Mindtools to model phenomena, students are teaching the computer, rather than the computer teaching the student… learning with Mindtools requires learners to think harder about the subject-matter” (p. 193).  As a Mindtool, concept maps specifically provoke, and then aid in modeling, the cognitive connections that students are making.  Used effectively, concept maps provide an adaptive framework for students to use to identify and model connections and relationships between knowledge and ideas.

Jeff Hawkins

In the interesting TED Talk, How Brain Science Will Change Computing, Jeff Hawkins (starting around minute 10) talks about intelligence as the ability to recognize patterns and connections, then using that recognition to make predictions about novel situations.  In my experience, I have seen that concept maps help develop such intelligence by giving our students frameworks for developing and organizing their thought patterns.

Want an easy way to give this a try?  Bubbl.us allows students to have a free account where they can create and save up to 3 concept maps at any given time.  The application is incredibly easy and intuitive to use.

bubbl.us | brainstorm and mind map onlinePlus, it gets better! Bubbl allows students to work collaboratively on the same concept map (sheet).  Students can “share” their concept maps with the other students to cooperatively work on brainstorming and research activities, provoking the type of reflective and deliberative thinking perfect for meeting Common Core standards!

Here are a few ideas for getting started!

  • Collect research with source links on a social studies topic.
  • Brainstorm ideas for writing a narrative story.
  • Analyze a text and organize observations.
  • Model the relationships between key concepts/vocabulary in a science unit.
  • Identify the cause and effect relationships of various variables on a public policy.
  • Compare and contrast the styles of a set of artists or authors.

And if you are a current Bubbl user or you decide to give it a try, I would love for you to share your ideas, success stories, or an example in the comments below! Happy mapping!

Howland, J., Jonassen, D.H. & Marra, R.M. (2011). Meaningful learning with technology (4th Ed.). Columbus, OH: Merrill/Prentice-Hall.
Jonassen, D. H. (2006). Modeling with technology: Mindtools for conceptual change. Columbus, OH: Merrill/Prentice Hall.

Remembering Steve Jobs: Education and the Empowerment of “Black-Collar Workers”

5 Oct

CC License – Jon Snyder/Wired.com

“There’s an old Wayne Gretzy quote that I love.  ‘I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.’ And we’ve always tried to do that at Apple.” – Steve Jobs

Today, one year after the loss of Steve Jobs, people still remember, celebrate and live according to his bold entrepreneurial lifestyle.  And I think that the education reform movement can gleam a lot from his example.

In his new book World Class Learners, Yong Zhao proclaims, “Everyone needs to be entrepreneurial in the 21st century.”

Zhao continues, “Entrepreneurs today are the “black-collar workers,” a term coined by Auerswald with inspiration from Steve Jobs’ black turtleneck (Auerswald, 2012b). A teacher who does not believe we need all to be entrepreneurs asked me the same question that Auerswald answers:

From where we sit now, it seems improbable that an entire economy could be built of such workers. Where are the drones in this picture? Where are the undifferentiated masses of the unfulfilled? Try asking yourself this question instead: from the standpoint of a 15th-century peasant, how likely is the reality of the present day? . . . Just as former farmers were compelled to convert themselves into blue-collar workers to realize their potential in the economy of the 20th century, so will former factory workers (and retooling economic drones of all types) convert themselves into black-collar workers to realize their potential in the economy of the 21st century.‘ (Auerswald, 2012a)

The future success of our students is dependent on their ability to be self-directed, to create, to be entrepreneurial.  It is not enough to teach the content of reading, writing and arithmetic, or even the literacies of the 21st century information economy, without also giving intentional thought to how the pedagogy, the processes behind that teaching, is affecting the student-ownership of that very education.

Education, pedagogy, the learning process itself, must belong to the students.  We can no longer treat students merely as the customers of the current educational system, but instead must empower them as vital participants in developing the information economy of the future.

As Alan November states (in this video interview), “[Students] need to be self directed. They need to be life long learners, which means they need to be empowered to manage more and more and more of their own learning.”  Though a systemic shift of control from “the teacher managing learning” to “interdependent, globally connected students” may take the five to ten years November predicts, as educators, there are so many things we can do in the present to usher in this change and to prepare our students for the 21st century “black-collar” culture.

It is my goal to continue passionately pursuing educational practices that directly address strategies for empowerment and the development of student-driven learning.  I look forward to having you join me for the journey!

In remembrance of Steve Jobs for his unapologetic creativity and innovation
February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011

Auerswald, P. (2012a, March 11). Bliss is on the way: Black-collar workers and the case for economic optimism. Good. Retrieved April 5, 2012, from http://m.good.is/post/bliss-is-on-the-way-the-case-for-economic-optimism
Auerswald, P. (2012b). The coming prosperity: How entrepreneurs are transforming the global economy. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
November, Alan. (2010). “Alan November on Curriculum21.” Video retrieved on October 5, 2012 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ivq3TZ6Bfic&feature=player_embedded.
Zhao, Yong. (2012). “Introduction.” World Class Learners: . Retrieved on October 5, 2012 from http://zhaolearning.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Introduction.pdf.

New Article in Creative Educator: Authentic Audiences

17 Sep

“Beyond waiting “To Grow Up”

For too long, our students have worked tirelessly for an audience of one: their teacher. When class assignments assume that work is simply preparation for some future “real world,” this singular audience makes sense. But in the course of a 21st century school year, if a class of students never produces anything worthy of being showcased for a real audience, the students’ potential has been both overlooked and under-realized.

Brilliant solutions to problems, insightful compositions, and entertaining performances are not unique to grown-ups. I have watched a fourth grader write a short novel that hit number seventy-five on an Amazon bestseller list, and a kindergartener execute a talent show performance that moved an audience to tears. In 2012, people across the nation marveled as 15-year old, Jack Andraka won the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair with research likely to revolutionize pancreatic cancer detection.

Each of these examples is the result of quality 21st century educational experiences… the result of experiences that allowed students to set personal goals, take ownership of their own progress, engage a real-world situation, and make an impact on a community significantly larger than an audience of one….”

Read the rest of my article and contribute to the conversation on the Creative Educator website.

 

Empowering Students with Digital Media Creation

25 Aug

The new school year is getting underway.  We are filling drawers with math manipulatives, cabinets with supplies for science experiments, shelves with books… and lesson plans with inspired ideas for teaching reading, writing and arithmetic.

Yet, while we make plans to teach these tangible standards, let’s not forget to plan lessons that teach the intangibles, too — Dignity, compassion, identity.  Let’s commit to intentionally making plans that provide our students with opportunities to discover their greatest potential, to making plans to share that potential with the world.

One way to start is to give power to their unique voice though digital media creation.  Technology tools provide opportunities for students to create diverse and engaging media that can be showcased for live audiences around the world.

Throughout this year, I will be posting innovative technology tools, lesson applications and even opportunities for you to share about the amazing digital media created by your students.  Interactive Student-Created Digital Media PortalIn addition, this summer at ISTE 2012 was the official launch of the Engaging Education Interactive Student-Created Digital Media Portal.  This portal provides ideas and tutorials for integrating Movie-making and Animations, Digital Storytelling, Audio and Podcasting, 3D Media, and Web 2.0 Apps. Plus, the Resource section can direct you to free, copyright-friendly photos and screen/video capture apps.  This Interactive Portal is the perfect place to get that first idea to kick off the school year.

So, what are you waiting for?  Empower your students this school year through student-created digital media projects…  And be sure to share their amazing creations with a world who sincerely needs to hear their inspiring voices!

Get Back-to-School with the 2012 Learning 2.0 Virtual Conference

20 Aug

Uniforms are neatly hanging in bedroom closets. School supplies are flying off shelves. Yellow buses are getting reacquainted with neighborhood streets. This can only mean one thing…

It’s time to go back to school!

Of course, this is not just an exciting time for students. This is a time for us as educators to dream of educational ideals and new beginnings, to imagine the next great learning adventure. It’s a time to take a chance and try something new in order to make a difference in the lives of our students.

This week, I encourage you not to dream alone.  In the midst of the hustle and bustle of back-to-school, I encourage you to take advantage of a unique opportunity to dream alongside educators around the world through the Learning 2.0 Virtual Conference.

As part of Connected Educator Month, the Learning 2.0 Virtual Conference is “a global conversation on rethinking teaching and learning in the age of the Internet.”  From August 20-24, the conference will feature powerful interviews and keynote talks from experts like Howard Gardner, Yong Zhao, Heidi Hayes Jacobs and Sugata Mitra, as well as a diverse offering of concurrent sessions.  A full schedule of the conference can be found here.  And the best part?  Participation is free!

So, check out Learning 2.0 and join me in kicking off the new school year by building a new dream for improving student learning by harnessing the amazing technological resources of the Internet age!