So, I’ve been thinking about curious conversations with #CLMOOC. It’s been about close listening, digging into an idea, narrowing in some ways. I post about it. I plan to talk more with Scott Glass about what he does with his students so that I can maybe use it to improve my podcasting ideas, which so far have refused to take off despite serious and quality attention from me and others.
Then, everything turns upside down and I’m thinking about the big picture of connections and community rather than the small, one-one conversations. Here’s how it happened.
I headed over to my #CLMOOC column on Tweetdeck to reply to a few tweets and see what was happening before the day got away from me and I saw this.
Game over. No work is happening. (But it’s good. I mean it’s learning, right.)
I followed the link, read the brief post, and then went to the real data cloud. Go look at it now! The data cloud in action is amazing. It’s mesmerizing. I love the idea of making ideas, thinking, and connections visible. But then, to do something about it, to aim to make an introduction or pathway for someone on the edge to connect? Fantastic. This is what we as teachers try to do all the time with students. We want them to be able to connect with their classmates, connect deeply with ideas, listen to each other. But, do we have the data to know not just who talks, but with whom, who connects and who needs an introduction? I can look around my room, listen, and look and get a sense of who is participating and who isn’t. I try really hard to know how my students learn and to push and support them. But, this dynamic map of the conversation, it’s a game changer.
Here’s what I’m thinking about at the moment:
- Similar kind of conversation mapping is done sometimes as part of formal observation or research and is time-consuming to do. What could I learn if I record my class and then go back and make a similar, but not dynamic, map. I’m sure I would discover something new.
- What about in larger, community spaces? Which students have expansive social networks that go across sociocultural groups, and which don’t. For those who don’t, what does this mean in terms of the range of ideas and opinions they hear from peers? How many of our students are in idea bubbles? What data would we need to learn this and what could we do if we had that data?
- Same for colleagues in the school. Who keeps the his or her department? How does that impact his or her greater understanding of the school, the curriculum, the student experience?
Since the world of classroom and teacher conversations do not happen on Twitter, I won’t be able to use tag explorer. And, classroom observation is not new. However, I do think that thinking about classroom observation not as an evaluative event, but as a way to gather data about connections is different.
Then, before I could even post this, I tweeted a little about how interesting the connection visualization is and wondered about classroom use and got a couple of replies including this one.
Read the post. It’s about seeing which student to student connections are there and seeing which student to student connections are NOT there. I saw it a while ago, and it does really connect to this connections puzzle.
So, what am I going to do about this? Well, first off, I am definitely going to do some conversation mapping of my own classes. In particular I am going to try to do this when we talk about non-controversial topics and then more controversial ones. I suspect there will be plenty to think about with that. Second, I am going to talk to a group within my school who was doing research on sociocultural identifiers and their connection to a lot of things. I think combining this with classroom conversation maps could be really interesting and important. Of course, all of this will take time, lots of time. I’m still looking for that extra hour in my day. I think it’s hiding with the cleaning fairy.
Oooh, I am so excited about this, which meant I had to talk about it. the first
victims lucky winners to hear about these ideas were some colleagues at lunch on that very day.
Who should I talk to next?