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.

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