Sketchnotes, Doodles & Visual Thinking Jam #GAETC2014

Jill Gough (@jgough) and I (@lottascales) are facilitating a session entitled Sketchnotes, Doodles & Visual Thinking Jam at the  Georgia Educational Technology Conference.

The provocation:

How might we incorporate symbols and doodles (“on paper” and digitally) in order to better express ideas, and summarize/synthesize our learning and reflections? How might notetaking become more personal, visual, brain-compatible and shareable across networks? Come join an introduction, conversation, exploration and practice session to learn and share about the “doodle revolution” and how we might grow ourselves and our learners through visual thinking?

The plan:

The norms:

  • I can talk about what I know, and I can talk about what I don’t know.
  • I can be brave, vulnerable, kind, and considerate to myself and others while learning.
  • I can learn from mistakes, and I can celebrate what I thought before and now know.

The slide deck:

 

The sketchbook handout:

photo[1]

 

The reflection:  Connect, Extend, Challenge

    • How do these ideas connect to what you already know?
    • What new ideas did you get that extend or push your thinking in new directions?
    • What is now a challenge for you to get your mind around? What questions, wonderings, and puzzles do you now have?

[Cross posted on Experiments in Learning by Doing]

Visual Notetaking – Join the Doodle Revolution, #GISA2014

[Cross posted on Experiments in Learning by Doing]

Jill Gough (@jgough) and I (@lottascales) are facilitating a session entitled Visual Note Taking – Join the Doodle Revolution at the 2014 Georgia Independent School Association (GISA) conference this morning.

The provocation:

How might note taking become more active, personal, brain-compatible and shareable? How might we incorporate symbols and doodles to improve listening, better express ideas, summarize/synthesize learning and make connections? Join a conversation and practice session to explore how we might grow ourselves and our learners through doodling and visual thinking.

The plan:

Our norms:

  • I can talk about what I know, and I can talk about what I don’t know.
  • I can be brave, vulnerable, kind, and considerate to myself and others while learning.
  • I can learn from mistakes, and I can celebrate what I thought before and now know.

 

The slide deck:

Doodling the C’s by Jill Gough

The sketchbook handout:

IMG_5680

The reflection:  Connect, Extend, Challenge

    • How do these ideas connect to what you already know?
    • What new ideas did you get that extend or push your thinking in new directions?
    • What is now a challenge for you to get your mind around? What questions, wonderings, and puzzles do you now have?

The Promise of a New School Year

TMeLdNCthaCHJ55bMg_Ku7pliWtgqEs4rDIsdL-87GA

[cross-posted at #WAlearns]

A few minutes after the first bell this morning, I encountered a parent – a strong-looking father with long dreadlocks – standing alone on our Upper School campus. I started to offer assistance, and then realized he was dropping off his son, who was headed into the Science Building several yards away. As he waved to his boy disappearing through glass doors, I was completely disarmed by the tenderness on his face. I exclaimed “That was awesome!” He smiled and told me that he needed to leave before he might cry.

He continued, cupping his large hand close to his chest, explaining that his son had weighed less than two pounds at birth, saying “I remember when we brought him home and I held him like this.” I made an involuntary empathetic sound and asked if this was their first year at Woodward. He replied that it was. “My son is a good scholar and a great kid. If he weren’t already my child, I would try to adopt him. I am so proud of him. I can’t believe he is a freshman in high school.” I thanked him for sharing with me and told him that I felt sure it would be a great year.

I teared up several times today recounting this dear moment to colleagues. Today I was reminded viscerally of the meaning and impact of the work we do in our community, and of the precious children entrusted to us – to whom we owe our best efforts and most authentic selves. What a gift on a beautiful morning of brand-new-school-year-promise.

Shelley Paul (@lottascales) serves as Director of Learning Design at Woodward Academy. She is a poet, questioner, design thinker, idealist, feedback-junkie and champion of teachers and learners.

Telling Our Story: Bright Spotting to Serve as “Two-Minute” Narrative Champions

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to join my good friend Jill Gough at a PD session she facilitated for teachers who are interested in getting started with Twitter. I always learn much from observing and participating with Jill and her teachers — Jill is very intentional about modeling purposeful and transformative uses of technology, about elevating the learning and collaboration and NOT the tool, and about learning WITH her teachers. I appreciated her modeling of “I can…” statements to set learner goals for the session:

I can send a tweet to highlight a bright spot at Trinity.

I can use the #TrinityLearns hashtag.

I can use @jgough (or other) to communicate with another educator.

In this instance, I was not really learning about Twitter, but about how teachers can grow together, feel inspired to try something new, and uplift their community. One of the most meaningful parts of the conversation was when second grade teacher Samantha Steinberg (@spsteinberg) recounted some of her experiences from less than a month of tweeting — Samantha inspired those who are brand new to Twitter by sharing her successes — which included live-tweeting at a conference, participating in a book chat (and winning a book!), connecting with an author and celebrating her students’ learning!

I was especially excited that Jill would be promoting the concept of “bright spotting” learning through pictures and tweets using a community hashtag — something I intend to ignite in my own community, particularly among principals and department chairs, as a way to model their “lead-learnership,” and to help us tell the story of our learning community. “Bright spot” tweeting (inspired by Chip & Dan Heath’s Switch) is something Jill regularly does at Trinity and when she visits other schools — including my own :).

Our focus on “bright spotting” reminded me of a significant conversation I had with Dean Shareski (at Educon in 2011) about the need for school leaders to serve as “narrative champions” to help our teachers (and learners) tell their stories. Dean wrote:

So the idea that really resonated for me was re-imagining leaders as storytellers. As we discussed the barriers of sharing and telling the stories of great learning and great teaching, time and humility seem to be the two significant barriers. As leaders we can help overcome this by telling the stories of those around us. Shelley Paul helped me think through this concept and used the term “narrative champions.” I like that. We can model the kind of sharing we want for our work places by becoming narrative champions [emphasis mine].

Last night, I was proud to serve as a narrative champion for four of my Upper School colleagues as they presented their takeaways and action research findings from an intensive year-long cohort experience studying Assessment and Brain & Learning (many thanks to Bob Ryshke, The EE Ford Foundation and the Center for Teaching at Westminster who provided this opportunity for 20 teachers from independent and public schools in the Atlanta area). I was then able to Storify the Tweets to share with my entire school community (and the world).

Screen Shot 2013-05-03 at 5.00.35 PM

“Bright spot” tweeting, which takes all of two minutes, offers a powerful way for teachers and school leaders to engage in narrative championship for each other and for our young(er) learners.

At the close of the workshop, Jill issued this “challenge” to her teachers: “What if we send 1 tweet tomorrow, using #TrinityLearns [or in my case #WAlearns] to highlight a bright spot of learning in our community?”

What if “bright spotting” learning was our norm? What if we all served as narrative champions for one another? Would teachers and learners grow together, feel inspired to try something new, and be uplifted?

I hope we can find out.

 

 

 

 

Courage to Abandon the Shore

Recently, Jill asked “What gives us courage to accept the challenge to lose sight of the shore to act as explorers, inventors, and innovators?

This question brings a bunch of things to my mind as I think about “schooling forward” — I’ll share three partial, possible ideas that may be part of the magic potion (at least as I am thinking about it right this minute) …

  1. An unrelenting feeling of urgency. A feeling that this — that learners — CAN’T WAIT for us to DO BETTER, and that we can’t wait either. What if we employed an “autopsy without blame” approach against the status quo? If it’s really worth doing (given our limited time, energy and competing priorities), won’t we be able to articulate why and give evidence? If we can’t, then what does that mean?
  2. An unrelenting awareness (terrifying, exhilarating) that it has to be you. I have sometimes heard colleagues (rationally, sensibly) say that they are waiting for a clear declaration from administrators of the direction the school plans to head. I do think we need our school leaders to set the vision and create conditions to help us move, but if learners can’t wait (and I believe they can’t), then we mustn’t wait for someone else to guide us away from shore.  In Working on the Work, Philip Schlechty says “Teachers are leaders and inventors” (not just program-executors, performers or clinicians). What if we approached every learning event as an opportunity to lead and invent, and to develop our learners’ capacities as leaders and inventors (and not program executors, performers or clinicians?)
  3. Unrelenting partners and co-conspirators. This is the best part: Even though it has to be you, it doesn’t have to be you by yourself. In his TED talk “How to Start a Movement,” Derek Sivers shares the power of the “First Follower.” I think I prefer co-leading and co-following, but the power of two (and more) is unparalleled, in my experience, for giving me courage to abandon the shore. I am blessed to work among a brave and billiant tribe of partners and co-conspirators. Increasingly, those partners are students as well as colleagues.

The (One Sentence) Story We Want To Tell

Today, Jill asked more questions about co-learning, and co-creating learning episodes with students, concluding “[i]f we are the authors of the history of our age, are we writing the story that we want told?

In his 2009 book, Drive, Daniel Pink invites each of us to ask (and answer) the question “What’s my sentence?” — thinking about legacy, about focus, about summing up the essence of who we are or aspire to be. This sentence can act as a kind of “north star” for forging our purposeful paths. He suggests asking a second question as a kind of “sentence-driven” feedback loop: at the end of each day, ask, “Was I better today than yesterday?”

What if the sentence of “school” was something like: It was a vibrant community of learners, who were challenged and delighted by authentic, purposeful opportunities to struggle, grow, and act on the world together.

And what if, every day, everyone asked, “Were we better today than yesterday?” And then could reflect and respond, with evidence, because we had created meaningful feedback loops — the minute-by-minute kind of assessment for learning that Dylan Wiliam espouses — for all of us, teachers and learners (whichever we happened to be minute-by-minute)? And if we weren’t better today (sometimes we won’t be!), we had strategies and support and companions to help us course correct (or course-reinvent)?

And what if we lived that sentence, together, as best we could, every day? What story would we be telling then?

What should be the sentence of school?

 

 

Blurring the Lines: Co-Learning to Build Community

Yesterday, my friend (and co-learner) Jill Gough asked: “What if we blur the line between faculty and student to move closer to becoming co-learners?” I have one idea of what might happen: it could change how we (students and teachers) “are” in relation to one another, it could create co-ownership of the process of learning and the outcomes.

I have been thinking about co-learning a lot lately, in large part because I’ve recently had the good fortune to facilitate and work alongside students and faculty members — as partners — in prototyping and designing solutions to improve community and connection in our Upper School (Faculty-Student “Speed Meeting” anyone?). The project, a partnership between the Community Council (faculty), and 5 Points Diversity Club (students), brought together 4 teams of 2-3 students plus 2-3 faculty members for a semester, over a dozen “sacrificed” lunch periods.

We used the Stanford d.school Design Thinking methodology, which is grounded in empathy, to approach our challenge. To engage in authentic design problem-solving, you need three things: a process (DT), teams, and space (an environment built for creative action). We had all three, plus pizza. You also have to have users — humans with needs. We had plenty of those, too.

What struck me early on, and persisted throughout, was how the act of co-learning, of solving a REAL problem together, was actually solving the problem…. the experience changed how we were together, and how we related to one another… everyone a teacher, everyone a learner: level ground, doing something none of us had done before, figuring it out together — building (improving) community.

In the end, we implemented two of our prototypes. One was a digital photobooth celebrating “visible and invisible differences,” in which students, faculty and staff were invited to share something “different” about themselves written on small chalkboards (anonymously or not) as part of our school’s annual “Week of Understanding.”

The resulting photos ranged from silly to touching to very brave, and the booth was crowded all day. I don’t know how much the product impacted our community, but I know what it meant to those of us who created it.

Blurred lines = powerful co-learning.