Honoring Our Interests

Describe an interest that you had as a young person, whether or not that interest was recognized as learning in school. Write or make something about it that you can share with others … Tell us about what might have piqued this interest. How did you pursue that interest or what did it make you think about? What and who supported you as you dove deeper? In what ways were your interests connected to school, or not? What were the implications?

When I was in seventh grade, my parents bought me my first horse.  In the moment, it was the end of a long and tortuous wait, but looking back, it was the first day of a lot of learning.

  • As a young girl, I learned to enjoy hard work.  Sometimes there were three inches of ice on top of water buckets that needed to be broken, other times there were ten or twelve horse stalls to be mucked.  My parents were adamant that this hobby was my sole responsibility, and I found pleasure in proving to myself, and to everybody else, that I COULD do it.
  • I learned how to fall (in the field, on a jump, in the ring, at a show) and get back on. There was times when I was bruised, afraid, utterly frustrated, or all of the above, but I swallowed those anxieties and got back into the saddle.
  • I learned how to make judgement calls.  Owning a horse is an experience in decision-making that is not evident from an outsider’s view.  Where some might just see a horse in a pasture;  I see an owner who decided that the 30% chance of snow showers was not great enough to warrant keeping a hot-headed Thoroughbred shut inside for the night, so long as his thickest blanket was kept on and he was brought in by seven am.
  • I learned what an iron is (no, you don’t press clothes with it), how to pull a mane (yes, that’s a thing), and how to tie a slip-knot (not the band).
  • I learned how to cope.  Owning horses is an emotional rollercoaster; any equine enthusiast would tell you the same.  That world brought me down into valleys I had never been before, and I learned how to deal with being there.
  • Most importantly, I learned how to learn.  Bringing home a horse exposed to me how little I knew about what I was doing.  To remedy, I joined the local Horsepark, I became President of the 4-H Horse and Pony Club, I started working for a local barn, and I became a stall-girl for the farm down the road.  In retrospect, I joined learning communities that connected me to the people who I wanted to learn from.

My interest, and these lessons that came along with it, were never recognized in school.  However, all of these lessons that I learned shaped my character that I brought to school.  My parents, who brought this entire fortunate experience to my backyard, certainly saw this connection.  They recognized that the barn was where I might grapple with life’s biggest challenges and learn to work through them.  And I thank them for taking that chance for me.


Find 5 Friday

Find 5 Friday

1. I know I read in one of the blogs about the concern for using Twitter. I forgot who it was but don’t worry you are not alone. I know Twitter has been out for quite some time and I feel that I am somewhat technology savvy, but I am lost when it comes to Twitter. I did read the directions that the professor supplied but I still don’t feel confident. I found this video and step by step directions about how to use Twitter. I read the steps, and watched the video. While the video was playing I stopped, started, and repeated to follow the directions. It was helpful for me to watch the video and put the steps into practice.


2. I looked at the personal stories that the professor shared with one and viewed the one of Brianna Crowley. What stood out to me in the key takeaways is “don’t assume connectedness is automatically exciting or engaging. It can be just as scary for students to feel connected and to put their work out in the public as it does for adults who are not as open to technology.” I often think that as educators that we assume our activity/lesson that we have planned is going to go well or it is going to be engaging for the students. Brianna became a connected educator because she wanted to learn more and have conversations. She wanted to become a better educator. It was interesting to see how Brianna started out and where she has taken it. At first I never thought I could be a connected teacher, it all seemed overwhelming but maybe I will get it.


3. While reading about Brianna Crowley and how she got started as a connected educator she mentioned where she got started. She mentioned the Center for Teaching Quality. What I took away from the site is that they really believe in the teachers as the most powerful tool for educating students. It is not the administrators or policy makers. It states “A high quality public education system for all students will not be achieved without a bold brand of leadership from their teachers.” The three strategies to achieve this are; cultivate, incubate, and scale. They want to assess the impact of teacher leadership on learning, improve school designs, and spread teacher knowledge and skills as leaders.


4. Part of process of being a teacher is being evaluated by your administrator one or two times a year, depending on if you are tenured or not. Your observation is then put into some sort of formula that then indicates what kind of teacher you are. As a kindergarten teacher, and having my tenure, I think the idea is great. Teachers should be evaluated to make sure they are doing their job. I find too often that teachers that have been in the profession for a long time lose their passion and just fall in a rut. They aren’t worried about their observation or evaluation because they have tenure and won’t lose their job. I came across this blog about an idea a state representative had in Florida. They were going to add money as an incentive for the first seven years. A teacher could earn an additional $8500 a year depending on their students ACT/SAT scores. I obviously don’t think this would work or this is the right way to motivate teachers. Really, I don’t think you should need to be motivated. We get into the profession because we want to educate and have an impact on students’ lives. I found the blog to be interesting and found it amusing that the representative thought the answer was to throw money at teachers.


5. I really enjoyed reading this blog. There has been many times in which I have walked out of professional development and felt like my time could have been used much more wisely. Much of last year we spent our PD learning about SMART Notebook and SMART boards. If you don’t know what a SMARTboard it is a large interactive whiteboard that is connected to the teachers computers. You can display activities, pictures, videos, etc. and the children can interact with the board. I was able to receive a board the previous year to be the “guinea pig” for the building. There was concern that the boards wouldn’t work in our building because we have kindergarten and first grade only. Once we all had our boards, all of our PD was geared to SMART technologies. I was fine, but the other 99% of the staff was lost. I really enjoyed this blog because it talks about administrators thinking like a teacher. As a teacher we have to differentiate our instruction for our students, so why doesn’t administration differentiate their PD?


About Me

My name is Ryan and I currently teach kindergarten. I have taught kindergarten for the past four years and have experience teaching in third and fifth grade. I chose my title because when I tell people what I do they refer to the movie Kindergarten Cop. I am a guy and tall so most people make the connection. 

I got married just over a year ago, and my wife is also a teacher. She teaches 8th grade math, and last year we bought a house together. I am enrolled at Arcadia in the Masters program for Educational Technology. I am currently taking two classes and will be finished my masters this summer. 

Readings re: Science and Social Justice Teaching

Excerpted compilation by Kathy Walsh, April 6 2015

I am reading a book called The Art of Critical Pedagogy:   Possibilities for Moving from theory to practice in urban schools,  which is filled with very empowering ways to engage students who have been marginalized in schools.  Other books I have read in the past month that have a lot of Student-driven action projects and ideas for engagement:  Deep Knowledge: learning to teach science for understanding and equity by Douglas B. Larkin; Urban Science Education for the Hip-Hop Generation by Christopher Emdin; Teaching Science for Social Justice by Angela Calabrese Barton, and Democratic Science Teaching: building expertise to empower low income minority youth in science by Basu, Calabrese, and Tan. and Empowering Science and Mathematics in Urban Schools by Tan, Calabrese, & Barton.   For science teachers there seems not to be a lot on the subject of teaching for social justice compared to teachers of other subjects so I thought this list could prove helpful if this is something you are interested in. 

Just seven things (yet there are many more!)

The seven things I notice this Sunday? Connected learning (ie “It doesn’t need to be Earth-shattering to be meaningful”) … Connected learning (ie. “Every student has their own unique strengths and interests”) .. Connected learning (ie. “I have had several experiences in working in various communities just in the past week!”) …. Connected learning (ie. a Modge Podge How-to) … Connected learning (ie. high school math teachers sharing) … Connected learning (ie. coaching, learning, teaching and leading) … Connected learning (creation of new blog that works better for its author).

Save Mr. Frog & Ms. Cat: A Mini-Figs remix

While I have a great deal of respect for Scratch as a forum and a platform for visual programming and creation, I haven’t done that much myself in it as a creator. So I figured I would start with a remix during this week of remix and play in ED677 … Here it is: “Save Mr. Frog & Ms. Cat: A Mini-Figs Remix”

Can you save Ms. Cat from going in the water while allowing the Mr. Frog to make it to the pond? It’s kind of tricky! :)

Getting Started: Honoring our Interests and Connecting Online

Welcome to ED677 where we will be seeking equity in connected learning and teaching … and we will start that process by first connecting some of our own!

I am Christina Cantrill and I work for the National Writing Project as an Associate Director of National Programs. I am excited to work with you this semester. My background and experience is based on working alongside writing project educators exploring the implications of digital media on learning and literacy. A few key places to connect to some of that work are NWP Digital Is and Educator Innovator.

What does “connected learning” mean to you? Take a few moments to yourself and jot down some words that you think of when you read that phrase — and then use this Google Doc to share it with the rest of us.

And no worries … There are no wrong answers because whatever it means to you is probably exactly right — there are many ways to connect (both on and offline) and to learn through those connections. This course will be about exploring ways that we can connect and reflecting on the implications for learning and teaching.

Read more about the course via our syllabus. Please also comment on anything you have questions about, or email me those questions directly at cantrillc@arcadia.edu.

An Overview …

This week we will focus on getting started by getting connected and introducing ourselves to each other. A key piece of connected learning is about being networked to and learning alongside others, whether on or offline. Therefore connecting to each other as  fellow students/colleagues is an important first step; we will also connect with others thinking about Connected Learning here at Arcadia and in the wider world.

As the instructor, I will work to support your learning and connecting by establishing some patterns that you can count on and create from as the semester unfolds. And we will be using a range of online spaces to work in which will allow us to experiment with the affordances of different kinds of spaces, play with different technologies, and connect with a range of different people for different purposes.

Here’s an overview of what you can start to expect:

  1. Each Monday I will post a blog post to kick off the week. This blog will be posted at our ED677 class blog and then I will also cross-post it to our G+ Community and also to our “learning hub” at Arcadia’s Blackboard.
  2. The ED677 class blog will be a shared public space where we can connect to each others’ blogs, find a link to the syllabus and course archives, as well as always find Monday’s post. Please visit this site now and bookmark this link for easy access.
  3. Each week you will responsible to read/watch/consider a set of content that I will post that is related to the themes of the week and with a focus on equity. You are welcome to share new things for us to read/watch/consider too — we want to grow our knowledge together. See this week’s readings/watchings below.
  4. Each week I will prompt you to make something and share it on your blog related also to the theme of the week. You can choose to respond to the prompt I send but you can also decided to respond to something more interesting/relevant to you. See this week’s prompt below.
  5. At the end of every week we all will do a “Find 5 Friday” activity (or “Seek 6 Saturday” or “Seek 7 Sunday”) where we will find 5-6-7 things to share about each others’ work and/or the larger field of Connected Learning related to the themes of the week.
  6. All the while we will be working in and across several online spaces. I ask you to use all of these different spaces and encourage you to think about the different affordances of each one as you go. We will stop every 3rd week to specifically reflect on and discuss this aspect of what we are doing.

That’s the overview of this course, which might, I realize seem somewhat unfamiliar if you haven’t been part of a connected course/experience before. I’m happy to discuss any questions you might have and you can refer to the syllabus to see how this course is assessed and what the expectations are for participation.

This Week …

Honoring our Interests

Connected Learning is an approach that sees learning as interest-driven, peer supported, production-centered and oriented toward powerful outcomes for youth. What then is the role of interests in learning? What does it mean to be interest-driven? And what are the implications for equity in learning? Let’s begin our work together by honoring our own interests this week as we start to get connected.

In preparation for this week’s work, please read/watch and consider the following:

Ito, et al. (2012) Connected Learning Research Report and Agenda

Personal Stories @ Connectedlearning.TV
(watch the ones that seem interesting to you)

Blogs and bloggers to check out
(this is an open and public list … please add any of your own suggestions)

Here is a prompt to respond to on your blog (you may write or use another form of media):

Describe an interest that you had as a young person, whether or not that interest was recognized as learning in school. Write or make something about it that you can share with others … Tell us about what might have piqued this interest. How did you pursue that interest or what did it make you think about? What and who supported you as you dove deeper? In what ways were your interests connected to school, or not? What were the implications?

And don’t forget, Find 5 Friday (#f5f):

By the end of the week/weekend, find 5 things that you appreciate that others have shared. Post links to these things, with a sentence or two about them, so that we can see them too. Note: If you wait until Saturday, find 6 things (#s6s) — If Sunday, find 7 (#s7s). Here is an example from last year.

Get Connected

This course will use a range of online tools for connecting. Here are a few steps to make sure you are connected this week.

G+ Community

We will use a G+ Arcadia Connected Learning Community that is hosted by Arcadia and includes other students/educators who are part of the Connected Learning Certificate Program. This semi-public social space is meant for us to share beyond our class but still within the University.

I created a guide to Connect Via Google + that should help you do this via your Arcadia Gmail account.

Your Blog

We will each also maintain our own blog to share writing and media with the wider public. This week you should create that blog, if you don’t have one already, and connect that blog to our ED677 class blog.

I created a guide for that too: Connect Via Your Blog.


We will also all use Twitter and the shared hashtag #ED677. This week you should create a Twitter handle, if you don’t already have one, and share your new handle with us so that we can find each other.

Here’s are a couple handy guides about getting started with Twitter:

Twitter’s Getting Started with Twitter guide

Hashtags, Twitter Chats and TweetDeck for Education by Sue Waters

Question: Meeting Live Next Week?

Next week, I would like to meet online via Google Hangout, if possible. Please respond to this Doodle Poll and let me know what might be a good day/time for you.


Really excited that you are participating in this course and I am looking forward to learning with all of you. If you have questions you can email me directly at cantrillc@arcadia.edu.


Featured image attribution: Mural on Chestnut and 7th streets in Philadelphia taken by Jason Murphy via FLICKR cc by 2.0.