“Someday we’ll find it. . . the rainbow connection”

For anyone familiar with the IB, specifically the PYP, framework, the notion of Connected Learning isn’t too far fetched. Connected Learning? Huh? The jargon might be new, but take a look…

Wikipedia defines Connected Learning as,

“…a type of learning that integrates personal interest, peer relationships, and achievement in academic, civic, or career-relevant areas.”

The Connected Learning model suggests that,

“…youth learn best when: they are interested in what they are learning; they have peers and mentors who share these interests; and their learning is directed toward opportunity and recognition.”

Certain components of the PYP echo the Connected Learning approach. Students are given autonomy to showcase their learning for their summative assessments. During a unit of inquiry, students are often seen in partners or groups for collaboration, feedback, and support . Furthermore, students are given the opportunity to take action – to go beyond the summative assessment – as a result of the learning process. Their action extends the student’s learning or it could have a wider social impact; for example, to benefit the school community.

I’ve color-coded the possible relationships between the two. See what I mean? Obviously there’s more to each framework, but you get the idea. You can read more on the research synthesis report of the Connected Learning Research Network here.

However, if your schedule doesn’t allow you to dive into the 100 page report, Dr. Mimi Ito’s article, Learning That Connects, provides a quick summary of Connected Learning. She discusses its main principles and presents current studies of the shift of education with the youth culture. All was good and well until I came near the end of the article in a section entitled “Offering Opportunity.” Dr. Ito says,

“Helping equip young people to thrive in this environment of abundance, cultivating mindfulness and attentiveness are a new set of capacities for a new kind of landscape that we have to navigate as educators.”

“Educational institutions need to connect young people’s learning to their social lives, their communities, their interests and their careers.”  

I get you, Dr. Ito. We’re in the process of doing just that. But what about everyone else? What about other educators who don’t have access to this research? What about schools who lack the resources to train their teachers? What about Title I schools who can’t afford to study the research, much less the technology to be (and stay) connected? One of the core properties of the Connected Learning experience is that it is production-centered – “digital tools provide opportunities for producing and creating a wide variety of media, knowledge and cultural content in experimental and active ways.” Schools serving low-income students and families sadly have to prioritise their needs.  As much as they would like to provide the tools for the future success of their students, the notion just seems out of reach. I feel that we are missing out on THEIR potential. But how can we reach them? How can we connect? Connectivism and the Connected Learning approach won’t work if we can’t do just that: connect. 



You’re checking Facebook? At work?!

As a specialist in a school, you’re usually “the one” in your department. Two if you’re lucky. I needed more. I needed resources. I needed ideas. I needed someone who has taught in my field for YEARS and could share words of wisdom. I needed a music network.

Thanks to Facebook, I belong to several music education groups. I have written comments on at least three posts, posted a question of my own, and responded to a fellow music teacher to suggest an idea to use in the classroom. Does this elevate my status from “lurker” (as Jeff says) to “semi-lurker”? I should at least receive a sticker or something.

For me, it’s a work in progress to build the courage to be visible in this digital age. Once it’s posted, it’s out there. You can’t undo it. Right..? I read through the first two chapters of Reach, then read it again and again. I wanted to make sure that the ideas formulating in my head as I read the words were making sense. Between mini tutorials on how to create an RSS reader to an avatar, I got the feeling that Jeff was slowly nudging me to embrace the web 2.0. I felt like he was saying, “Look at all the cool things you can do out here, Kehri. You can connect with people outside of your building. They, too, have insecurities and qualms about being ‘out there.’ But look at the possibilities…”

I met with the third grade team for our unit of inquiry on people, culture and the arts. We were challenged by the concept of perspective and how we were to tackle this concept with our students. I needed more time to think about it. I walked back to my room feeling a bit defeated that I couldn’t offer any ideas. Maybe I was too tired to think and needed to de-stress? I logged onto Facebook (gasp!) to see if there were any two-minute puppy videos to get my mind off work. It’s my way of unwinding. Don’t hate. Something on the left side of the screen caught my eye: my Facebook groups. Hmm…I paused my video, clicked on one of my music education groups and started typing. Who am I and why am I posting something for the world to see? Are you mad?! No. Just desperate. I submitted the post, finished my puppy video, filed student work and prepared my instruments for the following day. I was getting ready to pack my things, but then saw that I had notifications. Curious, I logged onto Facebook again and realized that I had gotten responses. So. Many. Responses. Music teachers unite! They shared resources. They shared ideas. They shared their words of wisdom. My heart was full and my brain was on overdrive. I stayed a bit longer to collect these new ideas and excitedly created a plan of action to present to my team.

My music department just got bigger. So yeah, you’re right. I AM checking Facebook. AT WORK.


Be brave.

Blog. Grade sheet. RSS feed (what IS an RSS feed?) Flipboard. CoETaIL + GET?! Wha…?!

What did I get myself into? Fingers point to my lovely colleague/partner in crime, Yasmeen, for cajoling me into taking this program – the program from which I’ve heard so many great and wonderful things. I was, and still am, uncertain because of my limited technology integration knowledge. However, it’s either now or never to take the leap.

“Be brave. Even if you’re not, pretend to be.” (unknown)

Online 9 Cohort, y’all ready? Let’s do this!