Posts Tagged ‘clmooc’

So, I’ve been thinking about learning walks. Learning walks were a topic of discussion in #clmooc a while back. I did not exactly get on it at the time. However, the other day, I was walking around school looking for potential images to turn into patterns with one of my new favorite apps, Adobe Sketch.

I wasn’t really thinking about it as a learning walk at the start. Then, I was looking at something not through the camera and when I looked down my camera was focused on the patterned carpet and my toes. It turned out that image was more interesting than what I was seeing up at eye level. This got me thinking about what other patterns there might be around school. So, I went on a walk around school looking for different floor surfaces. I kept my toes in each image, because toes are summery. But also, schools are learning spaces for people, and people have toes. Not everything is so serious.

Here is a collection of some of the different floors I found. (Images combined with Pic Stitch) This lead me to think about the learning spaces associated with the various floors, which I tweeted to #clmooc.

Some of them certainly look more inviting to me. Some of them also look like they would be part of rooms that would be more conducive to learning, rooms that would be come comfortable, rooms that would be more informal. Loud rooms, quiet rooms, even outdoor rooms with no walls.

My picture then needed some more commentary. I used Adobe Spark to add text.

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 11.30.06 PM

I have some follow up questions for myself:

  • Could students at my school identify the various rooms or areas based on the floor?
  • What choice do we give students about the spaces in which they learn?
  • What sort of images would students take from a school learning walk?

So, I’ve been thinking about weaving and my ongoing taxonomy project. (I started these sets of works after hearing a colleague talk about her MFA program assignment in which she made 10 sets of 10 works. I am going with sets of 5 and using the term ‘works’ very loosely.) My most recent set of works for my taxonomy project was weaving with sticks and yarn. At the end of my post about it, I thought about doing something with words next as I have been doing quite a bit with blackout poetry this past year. And, that is what I did. I combined weaving, blackout poetry, sewing, and some loose pieces (stamps) to create this set of works.

Each image is a combination of facing pages torn from The Adventures of Ulysses by Bernard Evslin. I have a very hard time destroying books, but I am getting better at it. The first tear is the hardest. This particular book was not in good shape, pages taped it, very discolored, etc. Anyway, I started with a page of text and cut each line part, keeping the very left hand side uncut. Then I found other paper, brown craft paper, music score, magazine images, and patterned paper, and cut a similar sized rectangle with wide vertical strips. I wove these together. That was step one.

For step two I decided to take the facing page and make a blackout poem.

The next step was creating dome sort of unified image with both pages and some other bits and pieces. I have a lot of Greek stamps, so I got those out first. Since I had heavy white paper as my background I thought about painting some of the backgrounds. However, in the end I didn’t like most of the painted backgrounds and swapped them out. The light water color colors were not working for most of the images.

Finally, I sewed on top of everything. Sometimes the sewing related to the words or image, other times it did not.

Now for the images.

This is one of the images that started out with a watercolor background. I think the white is much better, especially with the red stitching, which I did with a sewing machine.

The music score makes the right hand side very busy, but the poem side is minimal. I had another watercolor background that I decided not to use for this one. I like the free form swirls on on both sides. I had a stamp that I was going to put on, but I forgot and decided that it is fine without it, for the moment anyway.

I wanted muted colors for sleep, hence the gray edge and blue stitching. The image on the stamps seem sort of dreamy. The image on the right has a picture of kids on one of those swing rides at an amusement park.

This is the only image where I like the pastel softness. The last line of the poem reads, “she did not flinch.” So, I like the combination of the lily on the stamp, the lavender stitching, and the strong words. The image woven into the text is a woman standing next to a battered boat, which I thought was particularly good since the books pages were from the Circe chapter.

This one has the most going on. Between the patterned paper on the weaving page, the multicolored background, the writing, the stamp (the ‘and yet’ part come to life as the men return to fighting) and the sewing, there’s a lot to take in. And yet, (ha!) I don’t find it overwhelming. I really like how the yellow swirling stitching connects the two sides of the image.

What a great way to spend a staycation day.

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?

So, I’ve been thinking about curious conversations as part of #CLMOOC. One of the “dive in” suggestions for this week is to think about Curious Conversations. There was a lot to think about with the examples, links, and audio.

In addition, I really appreciated Kevin Hodgson’s wordcloud-thinglink combo that he made the other day from my post that was in response to his post. He posted it in the comments of my post and on Twitter.

So I am trying it out myself.

Here’s what I did. (This is just what I did. Insert “thinking” in and between each item.)

  1. I read the Make Cycle 3 newsletter and was particularly interested in the description of Kevin’s and Scott’s curious conversation. I went to the links, read, listened.
  2. I went to the Institute of Curiosity website and read their page on how to have a curious conversation.
  3. I copied their content into tagul, a word cloud generator. I messed around with the formatting options, chose a speech bubble for the shape and a more free form font and organization since I think of conversations as being more random (not in a bad way).
  4. I uploaded the image to Thinglink and added my comments.


I’m excited to combine some of Scott Glass’ ideas (all here on the newsletter) with my earlier attempts at podcasting. Maybe I was aiming for too much with the podcasting. Small, curious conversations might be just right.

So, I’ve been thinking about change and being on the edge. I think about it because of my primary role as Director of Educational Technology, but also reflect about my affinity, or not, for it when I was in the classroom.

I am currently participating in CLMOOC 16 (Connected Learning MOOC) and Kevin Hodgeson posted a link to his blog post in the CLMOOC Google+ community. He included this image and quotation (from Howard Reingold) which got me thinking some more. Most of the schools I have been a part of have not been the out there on the edge kind of places.

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 3.49.05 PMKevin commented that he has sometimes felt pressure to move away from the edge, if I am paraphrasing correctly. In comparison, as someone in edtech I am often encouraging people to come closer to the edge, to experiment, to try a small change. I lure them with food and prizes try to help see why it might be a place to visit some times.

Then I thought about when I was exclusively a teacher and at first was thinking, “oh yes, I was totally fine with change and exploring the edge.” However, if I am more honest, I was enthusiastic about changes that I wanted to make, edges I wanted to explore. I tolerated changes and edges that I was indifferent to, but changes and edges that I did not like, I did not exactly embrace. This is hardly unusual. And, because I was not opposed to exploring the edge in theory, I always described my opposition as opposition to the particular rather than the edge, but I’m not sure that is 100% true. I got away with it because it was clear that I wasn’t just putting my head in the sand, and I led change or exploring the edge in other areas. Sometimes I had to back away from the edge, or was asked to, just like Kevin.

Maybe what frustrates me is when folks are not interested in even thinking about what exploring the edge might mean. Or, maybe what I find frustrating is that this disinterest in change comes across as prioritizing teacher ease over student learning. Exploring the edge just because it’s there isn’t what I’m suggesting. What I do think is important is to remember that the context in which we are teaching changes regardless of whether we want it to, grant that permission, or pretend otherwise. If we do not change as well, not only have we not even investigated the edge, in our stasis we have moved farther from the edge not remained in place.

The flip side of course is equally frustrating. An institution filled with folks on the edges of all different ideas, strategies, and curricula does not look like a school program so much as it does the 3rd day in a row of indoor recess. Schools have mission and vision statements, strategic plans, and cultures to guide them and help to determine which edges to explore. And, they are big beasts that do not make quick turns.

Individuals exploring change in the midst of bigger institutions is a tricky business.

So, I’ve been thinking about postcards and CLMOOC. The other day I wrote about how excited I am for the new CLMOOC to start. Then, I got to postcard making. Since I am also still working on taxonomy projects (sets of 5 works), I decided to make 5 postcards.

So, I printed some recent pictures of this and that–a few images from my family’s outing to the Creative Africa exhibits at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (I loved the fabric exhibit and Colorspace by Francis Kéré best) a magnolia flower on a tree at school, Falls Bridge in Philadelphia (a longtime favorite subject of mine), and some big leafy plant at Longwood Gardens (Longwood is showing Nightscape again later in the summer. If you are in the area, do NOT miss this.)

Then I thought about what to do with the images. I have been working a lot with text and blackout poetry this year, but that did not seem right for this. I do love vellum, so I thought about having a top layer with some sort of words in vellum. Then, the picture is underneath and a layer of craft paper is under that. I hand sewed them together with embroidery thread. Here are those two.

Then, I didn’t have any more vellum handy, so I started thinking about other options. I decided it would be interesting to hide part of the image and to suggest that the recipient rip the cover off to see more. I used brown craft paper and printed the directions to tear off the cover on top. Then, I cut holes in the paper so that there was a teaser section of the image showing and put another layer of craft paper on the back. Finally I machine sewed all the pieces together. I love the peak-a-boo aspect of the card as well as the fact that if you want to see the picture you have to rip the top. These should not be precious, in my opinion; they are not going in anyone’s keepsake box. Yet, it seems wrong to throw away what someone has made. This fixes that problem. Tear it apart, look at the picture, keep it around for a while, and then send it to the great beyond.

The more I think about it, the more intriguing it is to me that to see the entire image, to make sense of the image which you know is part of a larger whole, you have to alter the work, which in turn breaks apart a different whole image, that of the postcard. I did not think of all that in the moment, but I find it interesting now. I might need to make some more of these.

Ah, making stuff.

CLMOOC postcard from Karen

CLMOOC postcard from Karen

So, I’ve been thinking about the new summer of CLMOOC.

I signed up for the postcard swap and got my postcard in the mail the other day. I a few photos and am ready to make some postcard too. I know I’m a little late on the postcards, but I’m going to combine the postcard making with my taxonomy project (where I make sets of things). I’ve got some ideas to combine my images with some blackout poetry perhaps. Lots of ideas swirling around in my head during a week where I have a and a week-long, all-day class, so it’s weekend making for me.

Anyway, I’m excited for the rest of CLMOOC to start on July 10th. (The FAQs page gives some good background on the experience, which I find a little hard to explain.) The emphasis on making and connecting that with really abstract ideas about place and community really spoke to me. I spent hours both thinking about the ideas and making things that related. Not all of the things I made were successful in terms of projects, but spending time thinking about making something to speak to these larger ideas was a great exercise. It made my brain hurt, in a good way.

Reflecting back on it, I think that the work I did on CLMOOC put me in a different mindset when the school year began. It meant that I had been thinking, making, and writing about some big issues over the summer. It was like cross training. I came back to my usual topics in technology with renewed energy, excited, and ready to think differently.

Win, win, win!