Designing for Equity & Possibility

If you were educated on Earth, you have background in course-like learning and you might feel the temptation to reflect on your making and learning as would suit a course. In the same way, just as you are susceptible to Earth’s gravity, you are susceptible to associate learning with courses. Instead, consider your learning in a way you might consider your learning after a camping trip, after a visit to the museum, or after a dance that leaves you sweaty, laughing, and looking for a drink of water.— Joe Dillon, CLMOOC 2014

As we enter our final two weeks of class, I encourage you think about your learning in the way that Joe so beautifully describes … did your hands get any less cold and sweaty as you got used to hitting the “submit” button on your blog? Were you able to find a way to balance your weekly findings with your need to get the laundry in and rest after a week of teaching? Have you made any new connections with students or colleagues that have propelled your thinking forward?

These are essential learnings and it will look different for each and everyone of us. There is no one way.

A key thing to remember are our objectives here at ED677: we have been connected learners in order to ground ourselves in what it means to teach in connected ways. We have also been working to critically examine what we are doing and why in order to support connected learning in social, participatory and equitable ways for all learners. And we’ve been learning new things through playing, creating and reflecting as a community of learners both within and outside of ED677.

Embrace what you have learned and wondered about throughout this journey … and use all of that to inform your final work ahead.

The next week/s ahead …

I believe connected learning principles can provide a vocabulary for teachers to reclaim agency over what and how we best meet the individual needs of students in our classrooms. With learners as the focus, teachers can rely on connected learning as a way to pull back the curtain on how learning happens in schools and agitate the possibilities of classrooms today. — Antero Garcia, Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom

Reading/Watching: Take time this week to finish Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom by reading the concluding sections of the book and then return to the introduction. With the learners as your focus, ask yourself how you can make moves, small or big, that provide access to connected learning opportunities in equitable ways beyond ED677.

Blogging/Making: Go back to your inquiry questions and blog about the ways your inquiry question/s are connected to what you are thinking about in terms of your final make. What the implications for supporting connected learning and equity beyond ED677? How does it help to pull the curtain back and make learning more visible and viable in your context?

Finally, focus on your Final Make and your Self-Assessment. These are due anytime during the Finals week at Arcadia, which is May 3-9.


Final Make

Final “makes” should be something that you design that emerges from your inquiry and supports you in building towards equity and connected learning beyond ED677. This make can relate to your work with youth and/or in your personal/professional practice. 

When you share your final make, I’d also like you to also reflect on and describe what connected learning principles inform your work as well as how it might address or impact equity in learning. Please include at least 3 of the principles specifically in your reflection.

Note that do you do not have to start from scratch— you can continue, remix, remediate something you or your classmates have already started in this class (or in any other). That said, I’d like you to take whatever you do to its next level and consider it as something you are creating that can help make connected learning and equity a reality in the world (in a big or small way).


Please also submit to me a final self-assessment of your learning and connecting over the course of this semester. These are the same assessment questions we stopped to work on mid-semester so please refer back to your notes then and also review your blog and all of the work you’ve done this semester to support this process.

Start by reviewing the performance expectations on our syllabus …

  1. Exploring the key principles of Connected Learning, with specific attention to issues of equity, as demonstrated through weekly making, reflecting and sharing.

  2. Contributing regularly to our class discussions.

  3. Engaging with others (another community, students, colleagues, etc.) outside this course each week and sharing that work with us.

  4. Documenting and reflecting on your journey in support of your own assessment and reflection.

  5. Create and share something to support your own work as well as others in thinking about connecting learning in equitable ways beyond the life of this course.

    … then reflect on your process and learning using these prompts:

  • How well do you feel you met these expectations this semester?

  • Where do you think you could have improved?

  • How do your successes and reflections on improvement inform your connected learning moving forward?

  • What else do you want me to consider when assessing your performance and participation over the past semester?

You can share this on your blog if you want to share publicly or else in an email or Google Doc that you share with me privately.


Image: Pinwheel installation, Community Block Party on Pearl Street, Asian Arts Initiative, October 2015.

Academic, Civic, Community and Career Connections

“Learners flourish and realize their potential when they can connect their interests and social engagement to academic studies, civic engagement, and career opportunity” (Ito et al. 2013:8)

Unpacking this definition, it is important to consider the context of academic learning being framed: educators must push to integrate the socially and culturally meaningful contexts of youths’ lives with the academic expectations of today’s classrooms (Garcia, 2014)

The week ahead …

Readings/Watchings: This will be our final week with Garcia, et al. in Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom. Please start on page 39 this time to think with Antero, Janelle, Larissa, and Nick about academically-oriented teaching within connected learning.

In thinking about equity, what ways can we make to integrate the social and cultural contexts of youths’ lives with academic expectations in our classrooms and learning communities?

Notice that in the quote above, Ito, et al. describe the power of academic connections at the same time they describe civic and career connections. In helping us also think about the implications of civic connections — read this blog post in the Washington Post Why getting kids ‘college and career ready’ isn’t enough and this post from Educator Innovator  with a focus on being college, career, and community ready.

In a recent webinar, teachers from Los Angeles, Oakland, and Chicago shared their experiences implementing curriculum exploring the expanded possibilities and risks associated with youth civic and political engagement in the digital age: Educators’ Experiences Educating for Participatory Politics. (Note: find more resources from the Educating for Participatory Politics project here.)

What are the implications of these shifts in focus for equity in connected learning and teaching?

Finally, in thinking also about career connections and their implications for learning, members of the Connected Learning Research Network studied a set of fashion design programs.

We selected fashion design programs as a case study for connected learning for two overlapping reasons: the demographic reach of the interest area … and its potential as a link connecting youth interests with academics and career.

Browse the case studies here in their report — Fashion Learning: Connected Learning through Fashion Design Programs — and then focus on the research findings and analysis which brings up both equity issues as well as the role of mentoring.

Here, btw, is a quick view-in: a fun video from the fashion program at the DreamyardArt Center in the Bronx, NY, part of the Hive Fashion Network mentioned in this report.

In thinking further about the link between youth interest, academics and career, I am also reminded of Asha Richardson’s story and her connections to Youth Radio and how this work helped her to weave together her interests and ambitions in interesting and successful ways.

What are all the different elements you can see coming together here that supported Asha in making these kinds of connections?

Blogging/Making:  Connecting youth learning in successful ways to academic, civic, community and career is a huge but essential topic of connected learning and equity, and no doubt requiring, ultimately, a larger ecosystem connecting both in and out of school learning. The Connected Learning Research and Design Agenda provides these guiding reflections when thinking about the “Academic” piece of Connected Learning:

  • Do adults celebrate youth participation as academically meaningful and relevant?
  • Do formal/academic settings provide space/opportunity for engagement with interest?
  • Are outputs made visible within academic/institutional contexts that have relevance to the adult world?
  • Are mentors present who can help young people to connect their interest/activity to academic/institutional domains?

Here’s a fun experiment: What if we could use our (smart) phones and design a (pretend) mobile App that allowed you to create more of these kinds of connections for the youth we work with? … What would it do?  … How is it awesome?

Youth Radio provides this DIY Toolkit: How to Come Up with Your Own Mobile App. The example here is about making public art more visible. What if our apps here at ED677 were instead about how to make youth participation more visible? Or to create space for youth interest? And/or create more connections from our academic contexts to the adult world … and/or provide supportive mentors?

In other words: With our shared ED677 goal to create equitable connected learning opportunities for youth that supports academic, civic and community connections … what would kind of App would you design and why?

Do some imagining and playing this week with this idea and share on your blog — you can be as practical or fantastical as you like! (Just so you know, the time I did this I ended up with drone delivery and sci-fi effects 🙂 Share your App ideas and tell us about it while also reflecting on the implications for equity in connected learning and teaching.

Interview Three: This PDF is provided by Youth Radio to support the process of making an App — and it suggests that designers put together three questions and then interview three other users as part of a user research process on the way to creating the App:

User Research allows you to understand your users’ wants and needs. Figure out the users’ problem, and how they might like it to be addressed. Or figure out the opportunity your users have, and how the app can help them achieve it. This is also the best time to get ideas.

Instead of finding 5 this week, interview 3 people to support your own “user research” for your App. You can pick 3 people to ask in this class or outside of it .. youth, colleagues, neighbors, friends, mentors, etc.

For example, if you want to create an App that supports interest-driven learning tied to academic pursuits, you might ask these kinds of questions (I modeled this off the questions in the PDF that Youth Voices provided):

  • What do you notice about the interests students bring to their classrooms?
  • In what ways do you (or can you imagine) connecting these interests to academics pursuits and curricular goals?
  • How do you mostly use your phone? To connect with people? To create something new? To play?

This might be challenging, I realize, but try to have fun with this — the stakes are low here … only the potential for learning is high! Please also note: You can always create documents and share any data you collect in our shared-with-us ED677 Google folder. And to reach each other, our class list is here where you can leave your email and also find the email of others.

And just because: Check out this youth-created Sushi Platformer if you like this kind of game play … pretty cool, huh? I find this kind of game relaxing.

In connected learning solidarity,


Image captured at Science Leadership Academy during EduCon, January 2016.

Peer-supported Learning

Arches Utah display, Philadelphia Flower Show 2016

It’s peer-supported learning time. And we’ve been peer-learning all along … so you might be thinking, what else is there to say about it?! Take this week and try to dig further into this question … what does peer-based learning have to do with learning in schools? Outside of schools? And what are the implications for equity?

I love the badges you all made … and I think they speak volumes about the kinds of peer learning we have either been experiencing or wish to experience in our teaching and learning. A few that I noticed so far include:

 organic Organic Connected Learning

creativeplay Creative Play

Transparency_c3d24ceb-9ecc-4be9-9fab-15bbd0a6b6f0 Transparency

whospeaks Who Speaks

powerinwords Power in Words

communitybuilder Community Builder

Now that we have these great badges, you can apply for a badge from one of your fellow ED677ers. The community badging forum at P2PU is pretty unique in that it is created so that whomever created the badge can give you the badge, and then once you have the badge, you become an “expert” in that and can give that badge to others.

The week ahead …

Reading/Watching: Once again, I encourage you to go back again to Garcia, et al. Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom to think about peer-supported learning with Cindy O’Donnell-Allen, Katie McKay, Lacy Manship, and their awesome students (starting on page 25).

This is also a helpful webinar discussion about peer learning called Connecting to Something Bigger: The Power of Open, Peer-to-Peer Learning that brings in a few people you met already from the NWP as well as some potential new folks and organizations like Kristen Swanson of EdCamp and Mimi Ito of the Connected Learning Alliance.

Mimi Ito’s research, Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media (often referred to as HOMAGO) is referenced in the video above and underscores some of the critical elements of peer-based learning.

Blogging/Making: This week I’d like us to give each other peer response on our inquiry questions. Here is one way to work on this — feel free to suggest others.

  1. Work to refine your inquiry question(s). What is the key question you’ve been exploring this semester? What answers are you discovering? What further questions arise?
  2. Share your inquiry question (or questions … although try to focus in on one or two) with us in this shared google document.
  3. Give feedback to 3 others in the class. Here are suggestions how:
    • Technical how-to:
      1. Google doc has a handy commenting tool. You can use that and mention the person in your comment with a + sign and their email (ie.
      2. You can also just type directly under their inquiry. Use a different color to distinguish and please include your name as an identifier.
      3. Since we will work at different paces, please come back a few times this week to make sure that you and others got responses.
    • Process how-to:
      1. Look at the questions posted by each person and consider what they have written and shared already this semester (via their blogs, twitter, etc.).
      2. Do you have further questions for them to might help them to further develop their inquiry? These could be questions about things you’d like to understand better and also things that their question raises for you.
      3. Do you have further suggestions for them that might help them to further their inquiry? Suggestions could come in the form of resources, reflections, and/or ideas from your own work.
      4. Feel free to respond back to the response that you get – even a simple thank you is fine. You are welcome to add more or simply blog in response.

On your blog, reflect on this process and on the peer-learning we’ve been doing together all semester already. In what ways does it support your learning? How does it connect to your interests and your small moves in being more openly networked? What about production and shared purpose have been important in learning from peers? And what are the implications for connected learning and equity for the learners you serve?

Finds: I was looking for some stories by youth themselves about how peer-based ways of learning, connected to larger networks and opportunities, supported their goals and interests. Here are a couple I found at the CLTV website … can we find more? (Don’t worry so much about quantity this time around … let’s all try to find some examples of youth learning with peers that support them in connecting their learning in powerful ways. Share them on your blog and/or via twitter.)

Unpacking Interests

“How Much Is That Puppet in the Window?” Spiral Q Puppet Theater, Philadelpiha February 12th-March 8th
“How Much Is That Puppet in the Window?” Spiral Q Puppet Theater, Philadelphia 2016

My colleague Paul Allison from the New York City Writing Project claims that all interests can be approached academically. He has learned this through working with youth and their teachers at an online social networks forum called Youth Voices.

At Youth Voices, youth are encourage to tap into their interests and start to research, write and share via blog posts with a community of other young people and their teachers. It includes a set of shared curriculum, called Missions, and also links student topics through tags and educators within the site getting to know each other students and connected those with similar interests together.

Spend some time at Youth Voices and see what the youth there are writing, thinking and sharing about while engaging with the reading/watchings below.

The week ahead …


This week, go back again to Garcia, et al. Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom to explore interest-driven learning with educators Nicole Mirra, Christopher Working, Chuck Jurich, and Meenoo Rami (starting on page 10).

When thinking about interests this week, I think its important to keep in mind the multiple uses of the word “interests.” Ben Kirshner, a professor at University of Colorado Boulder, reminded me at the DML Conference in 2013 that the word interest personal as well as political:

… when we think about the word interests … we think about the hobbies, the passions, things that we like to do, things we enjoy, which is one kind of interest … but another kind of interest that I heard the presenters from LA speak about is a more political type of interest, meaning a sort of need, demand, a kind of self-interest … in other words, what are my interest in this game, what do I have at stake here? And what do I need from my community, what do I need from myself, what do I need from my government? What are my political interests?

Constance Steinkuehler is a games-based learning scholar from the University of Wisconsin and in this interview on Interest-Driven Learning published to Edutopia she describes how her work with games-based learning led her into a focus on interest-driven pedagogy.

Last week I mentioned the work of educators that has been supported through a competitive grant called the LRNG Innovators Challenge. This hour-long webinar (you are welcome to skip around to the sections; or watch and make comments via Vialogues) involved three of the grantees presenting their work to create “No Bells, No Walls” for learning out of the interests of their students.

If you want to check out more: Librarian Joy Kirr’s K-12 Online Conference presentation pulls together a range resources on passion-based learning.

Making/Blogging: Back when we first started this process of connecting our learning here at ED677 we took the time to honor our interests. This week we are focused on unpacking interests — personal, professional, political — and thinking about their implications for ourselves and for the young people we work with. What does it mean for learning to be driven by one’s interests? And what are the implications for teaching and for equity?

While unpacking, a making challenge this week is to create a badge that represent something you’ve valued about being a connected learner and teacher here at ED677.

What is a badge? HASTAC defines a digital badge as:

… a validated indicator of accomplishment, skill, quality or interest that can be earned in many learning environments. …

And then states:

The world is changing fast and, today more than ever, traditional modes of assessment fail to capture the learning that happens everywhere and at every age.  Digital badges are a powerful new tool for identifying and validating the rich array of peoples’ skills, knowledge, accomplishments and competencies. Digital badges inspire new pathways to learning and connect learners to opportunities, resources, and one another.

What do we think? We’ve been working together, here at ED677, as connected learners and teachers. Can badging be a way that we assess some of what we’ve learned together? Do they help us identify a rich array of experiences otherwise not captured in traditional assessments? Can they inspired new pathways  and connections? Let ‘s play with this a bit here as a means of exploration.

Think about what you value about this community and make a badge about it this week: P2PU has a peer-based system that is easy and nice to use for digital ones. Share your badge with us; why did you make this particular badge? Does it capture your interests and experience in new ways? What might be the implications for equity in connected learning and teaching?

Find 5: Find 5 things that could support you in honoring and celebrating the interests of the learners you serve.

Openly Networked Learning

Image from slideshow at Freer|Sackler Gallery in Washington, DC. Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan, March 5, 2016 – January 29, 2017

I appreciate the shared purpose I sense in the blog posts this week. Although we are all working on our own inquiries, I think the larger shared purpose of thinking together about connected learning and equity shines through. Here are a few things I’ve seen come in so far this week that have stood out.

I noticed Shayla sharing an experience of creating “an interest wall” from her own after school space – an interesting design idea that seems to have led to some important results. She writes about the impact of this experience among both her colleagues as well as herself as the teacher:

What made it better was having some of their teachers come downstairs to see students they would describe as ‘problematic’ or ‘disinterested’ often being the leaders in the discussions and in the group work. Through this project I was also able to learn so much more about the neighborhood and their families as well.

Lana writes about shared purpose experiences in professional learning with colleagues …

As educators, we all were attending the workshop to accomplish the goal of improving our teaching methods by practicing how to teach Arabic language without using English in the classroom, and how to engage our students by implementing the 5Cs in our teaching.

… and then does her own research and shares what she finds with us.

In the course of her Find 5s this week, Lacey started wondering about an important set of questions “Where are the model schools that WORK …?” Her find fives lead her to blog posts by Chris Lehmann, principal at Science Leadership Academy (SLA). Holly’s find 5 also links to a recent book by Chris and Zac Chase called Building School 2.0.

Tom wrote about the shared purpose he has experienced as a member of sports teams while also sharing some interesting thoughts about shared purpose and how it might differ from other approaches to learning:

… I think shared purpose is about changing the nature of a classroom.  Shared purpose uses big picture projects in the community to engage students to make a difference, and create learning opportunities organically.

Daryl shared a description of a recent shared learning experience in her school, along with things she learned from the students while beautifully describing the grins on their faces throughout the day. In her Find 7 she adds this note:

After this week, I would like to add to my exploration that I want to investigate how I can use the principle of shared purpose to develop class assignments that honor and give voice to my students’ unique expertise.

And thank you Khalia for your thoughtful questions and for sharing the equality/equity infographic. As Daryl responded:

These words we use so frequently as part this course sound so similar, but in order to identify answers to the questions we raise as part of this course, we MUST use them correctly!

Robert is then sharing a project-in-process where he and his colleagues have a clear shared purpose to learn together, alongside the kids. Can’t wait to learn more from this endeavor Robert!

All of this and we are beginning without a firm plan as to where this will lead, but with guiding inquiry questions, respect for rigor, formative assessment, collaboration, feedback, and outcomes that students will present and share with their peers and adults.

Oh, and if you haven’t checked out the #ED677 Flipgrid: Shared Purpose yet — it’s pretty cool. (Including a well-timed photo bomb and flash card response!) Looking forward to hearing from you here too.


The week ahead …

Reading/Watching: So far we’ve explored making and production as well as shared purpose in connected learning. This week we’ll dive into what it means to be “openly networked.” We’ll look at this from a few angles — human as well as technological, the possibilities as well as the challenges.

Start by reading Bud Hunt’s chapter in Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom which begins on page 71.

You then can also meet Bud (also known as @budtheteacher and, as well as Antero Garcia and Janelle Bence, plus several of Janelle’s students, in this webinar called Classrooms as Community Hubs: Developing Open Digital Networks.

You will hear Janelle’s students referencing “Do Now” in the video above. Do Now is a weekly activity for students to engage and respond to current issues using social media tools like Twitter. Do Now aims to build civic engagement and digital literacy for young folks.

Take some time this week to learn more about Do Now and related resources. In what ways can a project like this potentially support connected learning and equity?

Finally, this recent EdWeek article highlights some recent work that presents a range of important questions for educators to think about together moving forward, particularly as industries continue to grow digital networked (open as well as not) tools and environments: The Future of Big Data and Analytics in K-12 Education.

Making/Blogging: In the conclusion of Bud’s chapter he writes:

Embracing the connected learning principle of openly networked learning is manageable. It does require, however, that teachers and other facilitators of learning make small moves toward openness and connectivity. Making a move, like Gail, to invite teachers exploring similar topics to do so together is not difficult, but it does require an awareness of what others are doing. Gail’s position as a district employee provided her this perspective. Mike chose to reach out to others online and to reconsider his museum practices. Jenny and Adam reached out to experts in the community who had expertise that could help their students. Small moves, but with powerful impact.

Which makes me wonder: What kind of small moves can we make in our practice to further open our networks, on or off-line?

Let’s play a bit with this idea of “small moves” and what these moves can be … This week put together a short narration about a small move you have made, plan to make, and/or would make with your super-powers in support of the youth you teach. Your narrative could be based on your experience or fictional — it could be written, or drawn, created in something like Comic Life, done with Flash Cards, or simple be a set of images you compile in something like Haiku Deck.

Inspired by Gail Desler’s work in Voicethread, I created a VT narrative that is both about small moves we can take in ED677 to further openly connect our work. What do you think? (Note that you are welcome to respond right in Voicethread.)

To help you get started with your story, you might want to brainstorm a few things — drawing from the vignettes shared in our reading, in what ways do you become aware of what others are doing? How and in what ways do you reach out to others to support your practice, either on or offline? What connections do you make (or want to make) with experts or expertise in your community in support of youth learning?

Or, do you need some pressure-free creative inspiration instead? Try your image-making narration powers at Five Card Flickr.

Find 5: This week, I encourage you to find a set of openly networked ways of learning that you believe do (or could) support your inquiry question.

In connected learning solidarity,

Shared purpose


Happy Monday! I hope you all had a nice and connected spring break.

In the next 5 weeks, we will continue to work our way through the ebook Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom while making and sharing along the way. During this time, you should be return to your inquiry questions about connected learning and equity. Start to focus on what you discover about your learning, your teaching, and the questions you are asking.

Where are we headed with all this? Well, if you look at the syllabus again, in the last few weeks of class we’ll focus on our final project, or final “makes.” Final makes should be something that you design that emerges from your inquiry and supports you in building towards equity and connected learning beyond ED677. 

Thinking ahead then, I would like you to share your final makes by presenting them to each other syncronously, if possible. Since this is an online course, I’d like to schedule a set of online gatherings where there are at least 3-5 of you so you can share and get feedback on what you are working on. Here is a doodle poll where you can let me know what date/time is best for you between April 25-May 3. (Email me if these date/times won’t work for you at all and we can figure something out.)

The week ahead …

This week our focus is on shared purpose — a principle of connected learning that I find particularly interesting as well as complex. What are examples of shared purpose you have seen or experienced? What does it mean to learn with a shared purpose? And what are the implications?

Reading/Watching: Start this week with a focus on Danielle Filipiak’s Chapter on Shared Purpose, starting on page 87. She frames the three vignettes in this chapter with the idea of resistance, resilience and relationships.

I also recommend this recent English Journal article by Danielle, Antero and Nicole Mirra: Revolutionizing Inquiry in Urban English Classrooms: Pursuing Voice and Justice through Youth Participatory Action Research (downloadable PDF available on Blackboard). In this article all three authors organize around a share purpose they describe this way:

A crucial common thread runs through all of our YPAR projects: a profound commitment to flipping traditional classroom power dynamics and honoring young people not simply as adults-in- training, but as curious and critically thinking civic agents on their own terms.

Nicole, in fact, will be hosting an online discussion about YPAR work this week at Educator Innovator. Plan some time to tap into this: find out more about that below and note that an archive will also be available if you miss the live show.

YPAR in Action: Lessons from the Council of Youth Research

Finally, I found a Harvard Business Review article on how A Shared Purpose Drives Collaboration that might also be helpful.

Blogging/Making: Since our shared purpose in this class is to make, play and explore connected learning, I’d like to ask you to experiment with me and collaborate to make a Flipgrid about our shared purpose of exploring connected learning and equity … and then help me assess whether you think this might be something worth purchasing for future use.

Flipgrid is a project from the University of Minnesota and I used it a couple times when it was free. Now I notice that it has a yearly cost (for the instructor), but I am trying the demo anyway; I invite you to try it with me and help me decide if it’s worth investing, or not. I created the first ED677 flipgrid around our shared question this week: What are examples of shared purpose you have seen or experienced? What does it mean to learn with a shared purpose? And what are the implications?

You might want to organize your response to this question first on your blog … and then once you’ve considered these questions, create something you can share in 90 seconds when spoken. Then record it via Flipgrid … Here’s how:

  • Go to our #ED677 flipgrid
  • Click on the green plus sign
  • Follow the instructions … you will be asked to confirm you are older than 13; you will be prompted to activate your video (video is required; there is also a Flipgrid App if your phone has video)
  • Take a picture of yourself that will show in our shared Flipgrid.
  • Then record your 90 seconds.
  • If you get stuck, here is the FAQ page.

Once you experiment by posting something and look around Flipgrid a bit, feel free to share your thoughts about its use for ED677 with me.

Find 5: As we continue to work on our inquiry projects, I encourage you to focus on finding 5 things that support you in thinking about the questions you are focused on. What are you gathering as you connect with others? Where does it lead you? What questions does it continue to raise?

*Ps. If you are still looking for your inquiry, I am happy to think with you about a way you might focus some ideas you are thinking about or questions you have. Just email me and we can find a time to chat.

Agency, Voice, and the Maker Movement

IMG_3916Happy Monday!

As we transition into the second half of the semester, I’d like to do 3 things: introduce more explicitly the idea of “making” into our connected class, start working on a mid-course self assessment, and encourage you to follow your questions and inquiry as we focus on each of the learning and design principles of Connected Learning, one at a time.


This book, Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom will be our guide for the next six weeks. This text is divided into chapters, by principle, and draws together work and reflections by educators who originally shared their inquiries at the Digital Is website. This week we will start with production-centered learning and making.

This week …

Reading/Watching: Start with the introduction to this collection by Antero Garcia called Teacher Agency and Connected Learning. You can also make notes/annotate this chapter here at Then focus in on Chapter 4 by Clifford Lee about Production-Centered Classrooms.

Next, dive into some theory, going back to Seymour Papert — a mathematician, scientist and educator from MIT — who is known as the father of constructionism, a production-centered theory of learning. Papert and Harel’s introduction Situating Constructionism from the 1991 book Constructionism gives a good overview of constructionist theory.

Today you are also likely to have heard of the “Maker Movement” and making is part of the educational lexicon in various ways both in and outside of school … let’s explore more specifically what this is all about:

What about the makers among us? As we know, Happi is a maker … and it’s been wonderful the things she’s been sharing with us along the way. From my perspective, you all have been makers here at ED677 as writing is a act of creation and blogging is a way to share what you create.

Finally, Taylor Mali has his own answers to What do teachers make? just in case you ever get asked this question 😉

Making/Blogging: This week, I encourage you to “make” something new that goes beyond blogging with words; this week I’d like you to Make A Map!

What is a map? According to Wikipedia, “map” comes from the early 16th from medieval Latin mappa mundi, literally ‘sheet of the world,’ from Latin mappa ‘sheet, napkin’ + mundi ‘of the world’ (genitive of mundus ).

Start to make a map, or a world napkin, of your learning and thinking so far … a map could show a path you’ve taken or one you are thinking about, it can show places you’ve been and artifacts you’ve collected, it can pick up dreams you’ve had or ambitions you are fostering, or a map can support another in finding a way. Your map can start anywhere … and end anywhere … and like these educators from CLMOOC 2013, your map can be on paper, can be made with watercolor, it can be digital, it can be interactive, it can be textual, it can be chronological. It can even be a collage or a mash-up.

How and why you make your map is completely up to you.

Once you made your map, you can blog about what you made, how you made it, and what you notice about your journey so far. What the the implications for connected learning and teaching and equity?

Find 5: This week, find 5/6/7 things that inspire you to make and to create.

Amplifying the Teacher Perspective on Connected Learning by Nicole Mirra at DML Central

Over the next couple of weeks …

Since we are almost mid-semester, it’s a good time to check in and do a quick self-assessment. This self-assessment is the same one that I will ask you to complete, and turn in to me, at the end of the semester. This mid-semester one is not a requirement to turn in, however, but simply meant to be a tool for your own learning and reflection.

I would encourage you to do this over the next two weeks (note that this spans spring break). And note if your learning map is useful in this process.

The questions for the self-assessment include:

  • How well do you feel you met these expectations this semester?
  • Where do you think you could have improved?
  • How do your successes and reflections on improvement inform your connected learning moving forward?
  • What else do you want me to consider when assessing your performance and participation over the past semester?

And here are the performance expectations as outlined in the ED677 syllabus at the beginning of the semester:

  1. Explore the key principles of Connected Learning, with specific attention to issues of equity, as demonstrated through weekly making, reflecting and sharing.
  2. Contribute regularly to our class discussions.
  3. Engage with others (another community, students, colleagues, etc.) outside this course each week and sharing that work with us.
  4. Document and reflect on your journey in support of your own assessment and reflection.
  5. Create and share something to support your own work as well as others in thinking about connecting learning in equitable ways beyond the life of this course.  

Wonderful work everyone — Cheers!

In learning and connecting solidarity,

Practitioner knowledge and networked inquiry


If you were educated on Earth, you have background in course-like learning and you might feel the temptation to reflect on your making and learning as would suit a course. In the same way, just as you are susceptible to Earth’s gravity, you are susceptible to associate learning with courses. Instead, consider your learning in a way you might consider your learning after a camping trip, after a visit to the museum, or after a dance that leaves you sweaty, laughing, and looking for a drink of water. – Joe Dillon, CLMOOC facilitator 2014

Thank you all for your continued exploration, expertise, and support for one another’s learning and sharing. The check-in was really helpful to me to get a sense of how you all were feeling and I greatly appreciate all the work you have been doing both individually and together. It’s interesting how community can start to form even in these online spaces and I continue to puzzle myself all the possibilities. (And speaking of puzzling, I’m working on my own blog post reflecting on this work we are doing together — I’ll  share it later this week.)

Okay, so we are entering our 6th week already and the focus has been on Theories of Knowledge and Communities of Practice. Building on last week’s theme of learning in community, this week the focus will be on the role of practitioner knowledge and networked inquiry.

The week ahead …

Readings/Watchings: I’d suggest starting with a reading from Susan Lytle, a professor from UPenn, founder of the Philadelphia Writing Project, and scholar in the field of practitioner/teacher research. In this essay At Last: Practitioner Inquiry and the Practice of Teaching: Some Thoughts on Better, Susan picks up on the idea of inquiry across practice, building from Atul Gwande’s description of what it means to get “better” as a doctor and surgeon and thinking about this from an educator’s perspective.

(If you are interested in taking a deeper dive into teacher inquiry, I would recommend Inquiry as Stance: Practitioner Research for the Next Generation by Susan Lytle and Marilyn Cochran-Smith.)

From here I suggest checking out this collection at Digital Is called From Professional Development to Professional Practice curated by Stephanie West-Puckett of the Tar River Writing Project. Although Stephanie does not use the term “inquiry” explicitly, she is engaging with a group of teachers in a professional setting where the shared mantra is “make, share, connect, reflect, and repeat.” She provides some context for this work and then points to resources created by those educators as they engaged in their own inquiries, individually and also together.

In addition, please find a PDF in Blackboard of the Introductory chapter to the book Assessing Digital Writing: Looking Closely at Student Work by Troy Hicks. This builds on Christina Puntel’s work that some of you wrote about last week, Looking with Heart …, and describes the what and why a group of writing project educators got together online to look at digital writing and media products created by their students.

Blogging: Based on the idea then that we all have key questions that drive our practice forward daily, as well as important knowledge to contribute to the field, we want to tap into both our questions and our knowledge to help us in bringing equity to connected learning.

Therefore, I would like you to start to identify an inquiry question (or a set of questions) that will be a guide for you during the rest of the semester. And these questions should relate, in some way, to the equity focus you were thinking about earlier.

Inquiries are not necessarily “answerable” and there will not be a test, or even a research paper, due at the end of the semester about it. Instead, because the topic of connected learning and equity are so big, I’d like to support you in having some key question/s that come out of your own interest and practice that help you to focus a bit. Your question/s should therefore have more than a yes/no or otherwise quickly findable answer … instead inquiry questions tend to be the kind that keeps you up at night (or wake you up in the morning) … ones that emerge when you are exploring, playing, and stopping to wonder where to go next … that which you seek to make “better”.

If it’s hard to get started, you can try something that colleagues of mine do with their students — it’s called “10 Self/10 World mission” and is used as a way to support youth as bloggers at The steps include:

  1. Write 10 questions that you have about yourself (as a connected learner) and 10 questions that you have about the world (about connected learning and equity).
  2. Next, pick one question and write about it as though you are the expert. Write about why it is of interest to you and all that you already know about it. Write about what you would like to know about it that you don’t already know.
  3. Now find one focused sentence from this “expert writing” and do some freewriting. Use this freewriting to take you a bit deeper with your question … and/or surface a new one!
  4. Keep going back and forth between step 2 and step 3 to go more deeply with your questions. You can use this more deep reflection for blogging this week. (See Freewriting, focused sentences, and generative themes: Finding your niche from Youth Voices for more.)

Note that you are welcome to do a lot of this in a space of your own and then bring some sort of reflection/summary to your public blog/shared writing. Of course, how you ultimately want to do it is up to you — and if you have other ways you have found that support identifying key questions and inquiry, please share those with us all too.

Find 5: Don’t forget! One idea is that this week, maybe you can find 5 things that you might want to follow-up on and people and/or communities you might want to start to connect to who can support your inquiry.

Happy exploring!


Image: Exploring how to get up to the Manayunk bike/pedestrian bridge … and being a little lost by Christina Cantrill, cc by

Learning in Connected Community


Educator Sean McComb asks, Why do you love teaching? And writes:

Last February, teachers told their stories and shared their love. Five million people interacted with the campaign through the #LoveTeaching hashtag — from the then-Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, to classroom teachers across four continents, and even future educators.

We are asked then to share the love …

During the week of Valentine’s day, from Feb 14th to the 22nd, tap into why you #LoveTeaching and write a blog post, compose a Tweet, post a picture, take a video, rant on Facebook — let’s hear the love!

Want to join in? There might be no better time related to this class because this week is all about learning in community and thinking about the implications of these connections for our learning and teaching. Why don’t you tap into this worldwide community of educators sharing their thoughts and add a few of your own?

Here’s what I tweeted:


And here’s the related campaign page for more.

The week ahead …

Reading/Watching: Here are some readings for this week that focus on learning as educators and within communities of other educators.

  • The Introduction from Garcia and O’Donnell-Allen’s new book Pose, Wobble, Flow: A Culturally Proactive Approach to Literacy Instruction
  • Chapter 1 from Baker-Doyle’s, The Networked Educator (Note: this has been uploaded as a PDF to Blackboard)
  • Lave & Wenger Communities of Practice at
  • NWP’s Digital Is itself is a rich source of vignettes and stories shared by teachers in a larger community. At this website you can also find stories of learning in community, such as:

Lacy Manship works with very young learners doing what she called “social assessment” in this Digital Is resource Wanna See the Movie?

Jennifer Smyth tells the story of a cross-school student-led Bioethics Day in her Digital Is resource Bioethics, Informed Consent, and Open Networks: The Story of Bioethics Day

Danielle Filipiak writes about her collaboration with teaching artist Issac Miller in her Detroit high school classroom: Using Media to (Re) Claim The Hood: Essential Questions & Powerful English

Christina Puntel has been working with other educators to learn from student work; she documents why and shares some of her process in Looking with Heart: Celebrating the Human in the Digital.

Blogging: This week, try to connect to a new community and/or spend some time actively reflecting on your connections to community/ies that you are already involved in. What do you notice about them? How do they impact your learning? What are the implications for teaching?

Ultimately — what does any of this mean for the creation of connected learning opportunities for  youth and the implications connected to your interests in equity?

More ways to connect: Here are a few new things you could try this week, and alternatively blog about, if you are interested.

  • #LoveTeaching could be fun way to explore how to connect with a distributed set of educators online this week — what kind of communities are in these online spaces? What are the implications of them?
  • Today is President’s day and there are two related events online I know about — A President’s Day Annotatathon (happening all week) and a Twitter Chat about Civic Engagement and the 2016 Election (8:30pm ET TONIGHT). Again, who do you connect to here and what are the implications for you as a learner and as a teacher?
  • Given how much we’ve been writing and sharing with each other recently, and using mostly public spaces online to do so, what are your reflections on this process and the implications for learning in connected communities and for equity? (Note that many of you noted some really interesting things about this in your 3-week check in that you might want to extend upon.)

Find 5 Friday: What are 5 things you have learned, from our community and other communities you are connected to, about community … Please share/link to related resources for each.


In learning and connecting solidarity,


Playing with Playful Ways of Knowing and Thinking

Happy Monday!

It’s been three weeks already — congratulations for getting connected to each other and for sharing. That’s been the goal of these first weeks — to get connected and practice sharing with each other. Therefore, before we move to the next thing, I wanted to ask: How are things going? What are you noticing about getting started with connected learning? What stands out to you?

(Leave feedback on the shared document above and/or email me directly at

Play is training for the unexpected. – Marc Bekoff, biologist

In the weeks ahead, we will continue these same practices — reading, engaging with each other via social media and collaborative tools, and continuing to experiment. The focus of the next three weeks is on theories of knowledge, learning and community — and to kick it off, let’s start with play, theories about play, and the implications of play for equity in connected learning and teaching.

Here are some readings/recordings to get us started:

The week ahead …

Blogging: I encourage you to take the week and think about play in the course of your daily life. Where does it happen? Where does it not? What are the implications? … Try also to deliberately approach something that you are doing in a playful way. What happens when you do that and how does it impact your learning?

Blog this week on the implications of play for learning, whether its through your own experience or through observing or interviewing someone else. What are the implications for equity in learning and teaching? Share your thoughts and observations via your blog this week.

If you aren’t feeling in a particularly playful mood, here are a few ideas and resources that might inspired you:

Find 5 Friday: Find 5 things — from each others blogs, the readings, and other work you are doing — that you would like to continue to play with (ideas, materials, technologies, etc.) into the future.

Hot tip … 

Check out Letters to the Next President 2.0:
This is a project I am currently working on at the NWP … click on the website above to learn more about it and see the range of opportunities and resources for educators seeking ways to support youth engaging with the upcoming U.S. Presidential election. We will return to this site in future classes but you might be interested in signing up now as it gets underway.

In learning and connecting solidarity,

Image attribution: Shelley Spector’s Keep the Home Fires Burning, Philadelphia Art Museum September 2015