Week 15: Our Final Makes and Self-Assessments

Dear colleagues,

It’s been a wonderful semester learning alongside you all here at ED677. Look at all the things we made:

Nicely done everyone!

Here in final week then we will devote the time to finishing our final Makes and our self-assessments; we also have a final online gathering on Thursday May 2 at 7pm ET for those who can make it (and if you can’t, we’d love to have you share via Flipgrid; see below).

Final Makes

By the end of this week, Sunday May 5th, please have your final Make posted to your blog with a set of reflections about how it supported equity and connected learning. From the syllabus, here is a reminder about your final Makes:

Final Makes: Final projects, or our final “Makes,” should be something that you design that emerges from your inquiry questions and supports your work as an educator. Your project should explicitly focus on building towards equity and connected learning. 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). The expectation is that this final project will be shared publicly.

Spend time on this blog post; do not write it in one sitting. Draft it, then return to it at another time and revise. Spend the time this week reflecting on what you learn, what you made, and why you made it. Share your personal reflections and also think about a reader finding your final Make and wondering what it is about; explain it to them using the learning and design principles of Connected Learning.

Final Self-Assessment

By the end of this week, Sunday May 5th, please email me your final self-assessment. From the syllabus, here is a reminder about your self-assessments:

Self-Assessments: While I will encourage you to be self-reflective about your learning throughout the semester, we will stop to do self-assessments in this course at 2 specific points—mid-semester and end-of-semester as part of the final project. These self-assessments will inform your final grade. These self-assessments are not meant to be publicly shared unless you choose to do so.

Here is the self-assessment guide. Please make a copy.

I will respond to your self-assessment and also share with you the grade I am submitting for this course if you are taking it for credit (which I believe all of you are). You are welcome to contact me directly if you have concerns or questions.

Oh, and speaking of grades, here is another highlight from the syllabus:

Final Grading: For those registered and seeking credit, grades will be based on your own self-assessment and instructor assessment (70/30). Note that we will not be using the grading tools in Canvas. Instructor assessment will be based on: 1) Active and regular engagement with classmates and colleagues around the concepts of connected learning; 2) Reflection on your own learning and the implications of connected learning principles and values; 3) The completion of a final self-assessment and final public project.

Final Gathering/Sharing Makes

Our final gathering is a chance to celebrate and also share some highlights from our final Makes.

If you cannot join the gathering but would like to verbally share your final Make with us, feel free to add a new post to this Flipgrid before Thursday — https://flipgrid.com/1e50bc42 — and we will check it out there instead.

Instructor Feedback

As I mentioned mid-semester, I really appreciate any feedback you have for me as an instructor, about ways I might improve ED677, and/or concerns you have about me or this course supporting you in meeting expectations. Feedback is anonymously and will not impact your grade in anyway. The self-assessment guide includes a link to a form for this.

Great job everyone; almost there!

In Connected Solidarity,


Week 14: Designing for Equity, continues …

When working on that slide together we all had a shared purpose. I think the beautiful thing about it is that we were able to build off of each other’s ideas. I know that before I completed my slide I looked at all of my classmates beforehand to see what came to mind for them. It helped me to decide how I wanted to go about making my slide. An implication or conclusion from this is that we all learn from each other. I think I gain the most knowledge when I learning from other peers as well. Connect. Learn. Reflect

… all throughout my younger years when I spent a lot of my time doing cheerleading, I always felt very invested and as though my team had a sense of shared purpose around our work. We always knew we had to show up and never give up because we were all working towards the same end goal and we were relying on each other. We cheered for one another, cried with one another, caught one another when we fell, and we were constantly striving for an end goal which consisted of performing better than we had the time before. We always said practice makes “permanent” NOT perfect. Connection is Powerful

I am still thinking about my inquiry questions linking student behavior to equity and self-confidence in the classroom. I still feel that if we connect with students and get them involved in projects based on their interests, we may be able to decrease some anxiety and off-task behaviors that we often see in the classroom. The students will be more motivated and focused since learning will be focused on their own personal interests and goals. Connecting an Equitable Learning Community

Reflecting on my practice as a teacher has encouraged me to be more transparent. This “openness” permits me to grow as an educator. As I discuss strategies with colleagues or read more academic blogs I become an active member of a community that strives to evolve. Educators evolve by creating opportunities- both for their students and themselves. ED677 – Connected Learning Blog

I was so excited to see that this week is focused on the change we advocate and make based on our interests. It’s always especially inspiring when we see students taking action based off of an interest they have or a change they want to make in the world. I’ve included some resources below highlighting some youth stories I found impressive or deeply connected to. Since March is National Women’s Month, I’m making all of my finds about young women and their activism/change. This is my favorite Find Six Saturdays yet! In Learning We Are All Connected

This week for my findings I wanted to showcase work created by students around my building. For #s 1,4,5 I showcased work created by my 8th grades, some of our special education students, and a 6th grader. Jessica’s Blog – Ed677

Our shared purpose as a class is much more than this slide building activity for this week. Our shared purpose is making education better for not only the students, but for ourselves and the community. Syke’s Science and Connected Learning

I think drawing out my map of learning a few weeks back made me realize how I was supported and supported others throughout my learning journey. It was clear that those moments of connected support and shared purpose were times when I learned the most. My own examination of my learning was something that made me reflect on the opportunities present for my own students. The Journey to Connected Learning

A different way to look at learning how to draw portraits. The art teacher at Golden High School in Denver had his students visit a local retirement home for senior citizens to meet the individuals that would become the subjects of their drawings. Students used this time to not only learn the faces of their subject but also the stories of their subject, their personality, and their character. All of these aspects were reflected in the finished portraits of the senior citizens which the students gifted to the subjects of their drawing. The Sweet Art Lady

For this week’s map, I decided to use the format of a Synthesis Circle and free wrote about my journey in education thus far. As I wrote and reflected on my journey, I noticed familiar themes of learning and gaining new perspectives from my students, colleagues, and my own children. All of which have helped me grow as a teacher and have challenged my thinking about what it means to teach and learn. The Thoughts of a 3rd Grade Teacher

I know that my students are constantly scrolling through Instagram, and it is incredible for them to see themselves represented in a positive way. The open network of Instagram has given face time to individuals who would have never been given the opportunity for success in a world that has discarded their stories and experiences. The open platform of social media allowed these individuals to share themselves with the world. At the same time that I praise these individuals, I know that there are also negative aspects to self-publishing on Instagram and other social media sites. I won’t link to specific examples (because I don’t want to give them any more traffic), but there have been many influencers who use their platform to sell hair products, quick-fix diets, vitamins, and other products that are in fact harmful and in some cases quite dangerous. The Radical Reider

What I liked about each story was that some of them were not direct experiences of empathy but they still had an impact on the student. An example of this, is a story that a young girl shared about a time in which one of her parents was an upstander by helping a man who was being physically assaulted. Even though the young girl was not a part of the situation, she was positively impacted by what happened and through that moment, learned about the importance of empathy. Jullette’s ‘Connected Learning’ Thoughts

You all = Awesome.

This week

This week we continue to work on our Flipgrid consultancies and final projects as per last week’s post. Please email me too if you want to go over your ideas and/or have questions about the consultancy process.

Also make sure to take time to look/listen to the online hangout from last week with special guests Amy Logue and Robert Sidelinker — it was a great conversation and I think could be helpful as you work on your final projects too.

And just because it’s inspiring and also fun, make sure to stop and view Caine’s Arcade. Robert mentioned it as an inspiration for his work in our hangout conversation and I don’t think we watch it together this semester. So in case you haven’t otherwise seen it (or want to watch it again), here you go:


As you work on your final make, don’t forget to check in on your own assessment of your progress with our ED677 Self-Assessment Guide. I will ask you next week to submit your final self-assessment to me, so use this time to do some reflection on your process.

Final Gathering

We have one more online gathering scheduled on Thursday May 2 at 7pm. I know not everyone can come but if you can be there please try to make it. We will talk about our final projects, chat about how the consultancy process went, and answer any final questions about final assessments and project submissions.

Have a wonderful week ahead!

In connected solidarity,

Week 13: Designing for Equity

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 few weeks of class, I encourage you think about your learning in the way that Joe Dillon 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.


This week (start this work this week for sure, but it may take us into next week, tbd) … I’d like to try something new; a Consultancy via Flipgrid!

What is a Consultancy? According to the National School Reform Faculty, a Consultancy is:

A structured process for helping an individual or a team think more expansively about a particular, concrete dilemma. Outside perspective is critical to this protocol working effectively; therefore, some of the participants in the group must be people who do not share the presenter’s specific dilemma at that time. When putting together a Consultancy group, be sure to include people with differing perspectives.

Sounds like us, right? 🙂

The goal of this Make activity is to support each of you to get direct feedback on the project you are designing to take forward from ED677 that supports more connected learning and equity. We will use a customized Consultancy Protocol to support our process.

What’s protocol? According to the National School Reform Faculty, a protocol is:

Protocols are structured processes and guidelines to promote meaningful, efficient communication, problem solving, and learning. Protocols give time for active listening and reflection, and ensure that all voices in the group are heard and honored.

Over this next week, I’d like each of you to start this process:

  1. Find a question that you can ask your classmates about your project to support more connected learning and equity.
  2. Develop a presentation of 5 minutes on Flipgrid that allows your classmates to hear your question while giving them enough context for them to respond to it.
  3. I have put you into small groups this week; respond to the others in your group and they will respond to you.

Ready to try? See our ED677 Consultancy Protocol, Flipgrid Style! for all the details.

Here are the small groups I am suggesting:





And please note that your group members will be waiting for you to post your presentation. If you need more time, that’s fine — let me know and I can inform your group.


This week I encourage you to read this blog post that I wrote about the ongoing work of ED677 participants, Learning Together: Catching up on the adventures of connected learners and teachers via ED677.

Then takes some time with this more recently published article by Lana Iskandarani – she is the Arabic teacher I mention above and this directly emerges from her project: Production-Centered Classroom Environment Increases Students’ Understanding and Interest in Learning Foreign Languages.

Our Final Self-Assessments

You also have the next two weeks to work on a final self-assessment of your learning and connecting over the course of this semester. I’d like you to take your time with this and integrate this into your final making process. (Please do not submit this to me until the final week.)

My recommendation is to take some time this week to review the performance expectations from the syllabus, the questions for the self-assessment (below) and then jot notes to yourselves about your work in this course. Put that aside and continue to work on your consultancy and project. I’ll prompt you again next week to return to this, update your notes, and then get ready to submit it to me, with your final project during the final week.

ED677 Self-Assessment Guide

Note that 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.

Data Detox

As I mentioned previously, after working online for awhile, I’ve done a process of Data Detox to make my online environment more healthy. Over the next few weeks, as we work to wrap up this online course, I share the link again if you want to try a few Data Detox exercises yourself if you are interested. Remember to that Mozilla provides resources and activities for thinking about a healthy Internet through supporting us all in being a bit more web literate.


Reminder that we will be gathering online again this Tuesday April 16 at 7pm and we will have two teachers from the Central Bucks School District as guests — Amy Logue, QUEST teacher and Instructional Coach, from the Linden Elementary School and Robert Sidelinker, STEM teacher and staff technology coach at Warwick Elementary. They both took ED677 and excited to meet with you all.

In connected solidarity,


Week 12: Empathy in Action

In order to avoid falling into the trap of promoting action-less empathy with our students, I suggest that we consider ways that we can make commitments to progress in three interrelated areas of our lives: The personal, the professional and the civic. – Nicole Mirra, Educating for Empathy

Happy Monday everyone!

I tweeted our our presentation; whoo hoo! Where else should we share? Feel free to pass it around (Note that I made a public version of it in case we still wanted to use the original between us).


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. … — Antero Garcia (2014)

With your own learning as the first focus, take this week to reflect back on what you have been working on this semester. Reread your blog. Visit the blogs of your classmates. Look at the things that you made — from blog posts, maps, to annotations. With the learning of your colleagues as part of our shared purpose too, take this week to spend some time with our shared Presentation and connected teaching flipgrid. What are the small moves you made along the way? What about your classmates? What are some of the big ways they supported you in being a connected learner this semester? What have the implications been for you as a teacher?

… 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 (2014)

And now, with learners as your focus, turn your attention to the implications for them on what we’ve been doing together this semester; what is important about it and why? Ask them to be part of this reflection if you can. If you don’t currently have learners you are working with, what do you see as the implications for your learners-of-the-future?

After all this, start to think about your final “Make” for the semester. Final “makes” should be something that you design that supports you in building towards equity and connected learning beyond this course.

Blog this week about the make you are thinking about and list a few dilemmas that come up as you think about how to best design for connected learning and equity in your context. And then, as you read the blogs of others in your class, think about a question you might want some feedback on from your classmates (we will have a chance to dive more into these question next week).

Kind of getting tired of blogging? Another way to share ideas is by making a Zine! It’s super easy and gives you 8 panels on which to share your plans. See how to make a Zine here: https://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Zine … and use it to do the same thing – ie. start to described the make you are thinking about and list a few dilemmas that come up as you think about how to best design for connected learning and equity in your context.


Read the concluding chapter of Educating for Empathy (pages 102-110) which brings a focus on putting empathy into action on the personal, professional and civic levels. Let’s continue to think think together about how we can build our own supports and networks for this work.

Then join these colleagues from three (actually four, if you include the NWP) teacher leadership development organizations in order to explore key questions about teacher leadership: What is it? How is it fostered? And what good does it do in the world?

Beyond the potential partners you named this past week, Nicole also recommends finding others who are doing this work in national and community-based professional organizations and via networks on social media. Maybe of you are already thinking in this direction! Let’s continue this line of thought with two Philadelphia educators who have also been working on this, including Arcadia’s Kira Baker-Doyle. Kira’s recent work on transformative teachers traces many of the connections teachers are making both locally and digitally (Start around 9:00 to skip the way-too-long intro. Oy.).

And a late addition here, but if you are interested I invite you to participate in this month’s Marginal Syllabus reading Cultivating Urban Literacies on Chicago’s South Side through a Pedagogy of Spatial Justice.  Also this was a great related conversation with middle school teacher (now professor) Kara Taylor and her co-authors.


Find ways to make some of the connections you thought about this past week; no need to blog about them. Just use the time you’d usually use searching to start to make some of those small moves and connections. If you wish to share feel free; either way though, keep notes for yourself as you can use these when building your final project.


We won’t gather this week, but we will get together next Tuesday, April 16 at 7pm. Also, don’t miss last week’s hangout where we talked a bit about our final Make projects and looked at projects by former ED677ers.

In connected solidarity,


Week 11: Educating for Critical Civic Empathy

I’m not asking for some all holy savior to come and coddle us
into equality
I’m asking for you to understand our struggles and our hardships
To understand that if we have to learn with each other we should also
learn about each other so we can bring each other up

– Excerpt from ‘Bored in 1st Period’ by Obasi Davis

Happy National Poetry Month!

Your blog posts this week are filled with powerful and provocative questions; thank you for your good work and make sure you catch up with each others work if you haven’t had a chance.

Let’s also takes some time to give feedback to each others Connected Learning and Equity slides (not yet shared beyond this group). I can make a final copy of our slideshow for next week; this week take a look at what others contributed and see if there is anything else you’d like to add or ask about before we share it online.

Good work, everyone!

Over the next two weeks, I’d like to organize our work around the question “What rises when the focus is on teaching and equity?” and to start our exploration with a focus on empathy and connected teaching.


What is empathy? Let’s do some exploration of that this week, starting with Brené Brown:

Then spend some time this week with Educating for Empathy: Literacy Learning and Civic Engagement. Read pages 7-14 and then Chapter 4, Navigating the Digital Public Sphere Through Connected Learning (and Teaching). (Note that I requested this for the library but I’m not sure it’s there yet. For those who couldn’t buy it, I’ll add these pages to our Canvas forum for your access if needed.)

Nicole focused on ELA and literacy teachers here, yet I have often heard her say things like “All disciplines are essentially civic disciplines” as she repeats in a related NWP Radio show and I encourage us to all think about this notion in the week ahead.

What does that even mean? What can it look like? … What happens when we think through our disciplinary lens but take a civic empathy perspective? What happens when we think through our disciplinary lens but take a critical empathy perspective? (We even had a civics teacher in our mix to learn alongside too 🙂

Now let’s look at some work collected and created by teachers and students today that connected civic empathy, critical empathy and/or both. We can visit a group of high school students in Charlottesville, Virginia with students and their teachers in considering the role of monuments in the wake of white-supremacist violence in 2016: Engaging Community History and Civic Dialogue in Charlottesville

This collection was highlighted in Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom and if you didn’t have a chance to spend time with it, do that now: Upstanders, Not Bystanders collected by California educators starting in 2013 and including the voices of elementary, middle, and high school students. In what way do you see empathy surfacing here? What’s important about it? A related resource is On Becoming Change Writers.

Another example might be this Fourth Grade Service Learning Project by Philadelphia teacher Robert Rivera-Amezola. Or this Immigrant Alphabet project created by students at Northeast High School (and which you can go see now in person at the Cherry Street Pier in Philly). Also when thinking disciplinarily, don’t miss the work of organizations like the Algebra Project and The Youth People’s Project.

I recently found and was struck by this TEDTalk by Ebony Green and the way she expressed being a teacher as well as a learner. To me this is one ways we start to surface empathy:

Finally, as promised awhile ago, take time this week to browse a set of final projects created by former participants in ED677. One thing I think you’ll notice is a the diversity of educators who have been in this course and the different ways they approached created connected and equitable pathways for learners and teachers.

What inspires you in thinking about your inquiry question and what you might build to take forward from this class? Where do you see empathy playing a key role in their work? What would you like to learn more about and what questions are raised?


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. … Small moves, but with powerful impact. – Bud Hunt, Chapter on Openly Networked from Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom

To prepare the students to be producers in a production-centered classroom, I took small, consecutive steps. For each move I made, I examined the success of the change. I then adjusted these changes as needed, to reach the desired outcome. – Lana Iskandarani, Production-Centered Classroom Environment Increases Students’ Understanding and Interest in Learning Foreign Languages

In chapter 4 of Educating for Empathy, Nicole asks us a range of questions to consider while exploring Connected Learning and teaching, including a focus on these small moves that can make a difference. Let’s use her questions this week to grease the wheels of our making (not to mix too many metaphors!).

Do some writing and reflecting on these questions during the early part of the week and use them to create your make a day or two later (ps. you don’t have to post this writing to your blog but you are welcome to if you’d like to do so).

  1. Consider the policies and practices around technology that exist in your school/learning site. What narrative about technology is being told? Explore the 21st century or connected learning elementary and reflect on how learners and teachers internalize these narratives.
  2. Which of the Connected Learning principles resonate most with you? Which feel more difficult to implement?
  3. What is the new media tool that you would like to explore in order to tease out its own potential pedagogical uses? How could you structure your own Genius Hour experimentation?
  4. Think about potential partners you could enlist in your local context to help you move from traditional to connected teaching. What small moves could you make to cultivate this partnership?

Ready to make and share? Focus in question 4 and this idea of “small moves” and see where that leads you. Take what you wrote and put together a short performance/presentation to share with us that is 3-minute long. Record and your performance/presentation on a shared Flipgrid that I created for this (me and your classmates only will see this).

I have posted a link to the Flipgrid in Canvas so that the open link will remain private. Please find it there and also find a related discussion thread in case you are having any problems or want to ask questions about it.


This week, find examples and resources and tools you might use to support empathy building, especially of the critical and social/political engaged variety, in your context and/or those of your classmates.

Feel free to find new things and/or go back in time and resurface things you already found, link to what others found, and/or things that were in the readings/watchings … bring a focus on empathy may support us in seeing things with new eyes this week. I encourage you to also use the chart on page 11 of Educating to Empathy to support your search.

You also might try a new search engine this week to do your searching! I admit that I use Google almost all the time — I also often use Google’s Chrome Browser (Firefox is my safe alternative, but I use it less). However convenient this is for me, I know that I compromise my online privacy in doing so and constrict what I am seeing to what Google’s algorithms want me to see. From time to time I’ve experimented with doing a Data Detox to make my online environment more healthy; read more about Data Detox here.

From Day 1 of a Data Detox the suggestion is to use alternative browsers (like Firefox) and search tools that don’t collect your information – they also suggest using alternative search engines just to experience how different engines work. DuckDuckGo or Startpage are two non-commercial search engines they suggest that don’t collect or share your personal information or searches. They also don’t provide personalised search results – try them out this week and see how the results vary.

Common Sense media also reviews kid-safe browsers and search sites if you looking for those … I just learned about Ecosia.org which has a mission to plant trees; this is a search engine I’d like to learn more about too.


We have another online gathering scheduled for tomorrow evening, Tuesday April 2 at 7pm ET. Find the link on our Calendar in Canvas. We will start to talk and think more about final projects that we can design to take beyond ED677; join us if you can and we will record it if you can’t make it.

In connected solidarity,


Creating Opportunities

“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)

“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)

“Knowing how to read, write, and participate in the digital world has become the 4th basic foundational skill next to the three Rs—reading, writing, and arithmetic—in a rapidly evolving, networked world.” Mozilla Foundation

“Both youth and adults have a lot to learn.” danah boyd, Data and Society

This past week’s hangout was attended by a small group — Alexis, Grace, Jennifer and myself — along with Kathy Walsh, a science educator and makerspace creator from Building 21 in Philadelphia. We had a good conversation and talked about different aspects of our interests and teaching given the range of expertise (from pre-k to college to STEAM/STEM).

Take some time this week to hangout a bit with us and listen.

In the week ahead we will continue explore what it means to be connected with a focus on creating opportunities related to interests and relationships. We will dive back into Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom for the final time and explore what it means to be “openly networked” as well as academically and community connected.

Start with your own experience with networking — what does being networked mean to you? How does the idea of “open” networking change or shift that? … Write down a list of all the ways you hear or experience openness in networking and in learning. Next to that list, write out what questions you have about it.


Since our shared purpose in this class is to explore connected learning and equity, let’s make a collaborative presentation about our work that we can ultimately share with others online.

Here’s the prompt: “Equity in Connected Learning and Teaching. We’ve been seeking it. Here’s what we’ve been finding …”

Here’s the slide show; the how-to begins on slide #2.

After you work on this, share reflections about this process on your blog and reflect on the implications of us having this shared purpose in this class. How does it make you think about your inquiry questions as well as what are the implications for teaching and learning more generally?


Focus this week’s readings from Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom with Antero Garcia’s Chapter 3 focused on the principal of being Academically-Oriented and then move to Chapter 5 by Bud Hunt on being Openly-Networked. Finish it by by reading the Conclusion and Afterword.

I’d like us all to spend a bit more time focusing in on a set of ideas about today’s connected and networked environments considering both the possibilities, but also the complications, therein. There is a lot to say about networks, in general, and as more and more of what we do everyday goes online, a lot of the same problems and inequalities that exist off-line move their way into our online environments, unless “actively combated” (h/t to Juliet Shor).

“New institutions and new practices, as they arise in a highly unequal and stratified society … will take on those inequalities unless they are actively combated.” Juliet Shor, Connected Learning Research Network

What does it mean then to work and learn in networked public spheres? The Mozilla foundation has put forward a framework for being literate on the web that describes the 21st century skills necessary to read, write and participate online: Web Literacy Framework.

Click on the different pieces of the pie chart and explore different aspects of web literacy. What does it mean to read in a webbed context? To write? To participate? What’ skills are necessary and how do you foster those in your own work? And in work with your students?

For an analysis of the relationship of these skills to current K-12 standards, read What Web Literacy Skills are Missing from Learning Standards? by An-Me Chung and Iris Bond Gill.

Let’s get some perspective on what youth know, and maybe don’t know, about these digital networked public spheres. Let’s check in with danah boyd and her influential book It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. For this class, start with the  introduction for context (pgs 1-28) and Chapter 7 titled “literacy: are today’s youth digital natives?”

Another direction to take this exploration is to notice the role of algorithms and how they impact our lives through search engines, social media and the like. Here are two videos from important scholars/data scientists whose work you might want to keep track of — they are presenting here at the 2016 Personal Democracy Forum: Safiya Umoja Noble and Cathy O’Neil.

(Note: NSFW language used in this video, just fyi while you are listening.)

Let’s bring it back to our classrooms specifically. What are the questions we as educators need to be asking about this work? Browse through Monica Bulger’s 2016 article on Personalized Learning: The Conversations We are Not Having. What resonates with you here? What questions are raised related to your thinking regarding connected learning and equity?

And this important article, The Stories They Tell: Mainstream Media, Pedagogies of Healing, and Critical Media Literacy was part of last year’s Marginal Syllabus. Not just for english educators, the focus on being critical consumer and creator of digital media media has great impact on our lives and the lives of our community. (Note that it is annotatable so feel free to jump in or leave notes in our group comments.)

Focus in on a couple things from this week’s read/watch to reflect on and share on your blog with others. What do you notice? What questions are raised? What do you want to know more about as you design for Connected Learning and equity?


Spend your “find time” this week exploring connected opportunities that support your own classroom and your context.

What does this look like then when we connect a philosophy of working in open ways to academic and community outcomes? How do we create opportunities for our students that tap into their interests, connect them with others, and then extend beyond the walls of our classrooms and connect to powerful opportunities? What might these connections look like off-line as well as online? What needs to be considered in the mix?

Given the mix of educators in this course, here are some that I found that I thought might be might be helpful starters:

Hear very briefly from Melissa about this work:

  • What possible when introducing computational thinking to the youngest learners? Robin, a Virginia kindergarten teacher where it is mandated, writes from her experience.
  • Joan Ganz Cooney, the founder of Sesame Street has an inspiring story all her own as a woman and leader. And as early as 1966 she was asking a question we still are asking today — how can emerging media help children learn? Learn more at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center.


Just a reminder that we will be gathering on Tuesday April 2 and Tuesday April 16 at 7pm ET. At one of these meetings we will be have more visitors (exactly date still to be determined). They both work at the same Elementary school where they teacher as well as provide coaching for their QUEST program. They both also graduated from ED677.

Please add these dates on the calendar; I’ll send an update when dates are confirmed with our guests.

Have a wonderful week ahead. In connected solidarity,


Building Relationships

What characterizes classrooms where peer-connected learning takes place? – Cindy O’Donnell-Allen in Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom

Shared purpose is perhaps one of the most urgent aspects of the connected learning framework, in that the relationships that drive it are essential for motivation and, in turn, feeling and experiencing love in the classroom. – Danielle Filipiak, Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom

Welcome back from Spring Break! I hope you found time to some time to relax and reboot. Over the break I had a chance to catch up on all your great writing and, as Mekenzie wrote, I am also inspired by all the wonderful links you found related to youth and the work they are doing in the world. 

In the wake of all of this, let’s keep going in our thinking about how to design for connected learning in our own contexts but continuing to read and watch the work of our colleagues. Start this week with a making project but maybe also experiment a bit …  start working on your map and then stop to go through a bit of the readings/watchings, and then go back to your map. How does making while you read and think about building relationships impact the ways you remember and create your learning journey? 


This week I’d like you to start by Making 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 … 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 educator-made examples, your map can be on paper, can be made with watercolor, it can be digital and interactive, it can be textual, it can be chronological. It can even be a collage or a mash-up.

How you make your map is completely up to you. However, on this map, I’d like you to describe your own journey/journeys as learners and as you go highlight the role of peers, mentors and caring adults along the way. How did these individuals make a difference in your journey of learning? And what do you think are the implications for you now as a teacher?

Then go back to your map and think about shared purpose. Do you see it here and if so where? How did those purposes impact your learning and your journey? What do you think are the implications for you now as a teacher?

Please share your map with the rest of us and then blog about your reflections about your map making as well as what it makes you notice about learning, about teaching, and about equity


Building relationships in connected learning are described by the overlapping ideas of connecting with mentors, family, peer culture as well as media while working with a sense of shared purpose.

What does shared purpose look like? Let’s hear from the National Veteran’s Art Museum in Chicago.

Dig back into Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom this week and read chapter 6 re: Shared Purpose curated by Danielle Filipiak (page 87). Then go back to chapter 2 of Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom with Cindy O’Donnell-Allen’s chapter about Peer Support Learning (page 25).

Additionally, here are a set of conversations that pick up on similar themes. Engage with those that you find interesting here …

Here is a conversation I had last year with educators Laura Bradley, Kate Fox, and Jennifer von Wahlde as we discuss the ways they have been supporting students by finding authentic audiences and making connections outside their classrooms that are meaningful beyond the standard audience of one, the teacher.

Tap into this discussion recorded by Danielle Filipiak back in 2013 and featuring panelists: Tolu Olorundu, Nicole Mirra, and Joshua Nelson, each of whom talked about the ways they thought about generating stronger connections between classrooms and the community.

If you are thinking about work with young kids you might be interested in browsing this resource On Becoming Change Writers about a group of young people who work together as peers around a shared purpose in their work as well as with community members both on and offline. They are “doing history” says Gail Desler:

Here are some other middle-school age kids “doing” math and science via a suite of app tools from the NY Hall of Science: Math, Science and Recess. What might be important about this work?  In what ways could these projects connect youth to family and community, to mentors, to peers as well as to academic content and ideas?

What happens also when educators work together as peers and mentors? Similar to the Writing Project where I work, Math Teachers Circles create a space for educators to connect with the joys of discovery and collaborative problem-solving, creating lessons that inform their classroom practice. Check out some of the work they are exploring.

Speaking of educators working together, over at Marginal Syllabus this month we are learning from Debbie Reese, an author and educator tribally enrolled at Nambe Pueblo, who writes about the problematic ways Native people’s stories are represented in books, classrooms, and schools. Reese advocates for critical indigenous literacies and shares how Native people’s stories are often written and taught by non-Native people as being part of the past but rarely the present. What kind of relationships does Debbie Reese’s work make you think about? What kind of shared purpose is possible in thinking about the ways we celebrate the many cultures in our communities and classrooms?

(I encourage you to dive into this discussion if you are interested; free free to use our class group too if you don’t want to annotate publicly.)

Finally, let’s close this week with the words of Brother Mike, formerly of the Digital Youth Network in Chicago, talking about the role of mentoring in his and his students lives. (Brother Mike died in 2014; he leaves a legacy that continues.)


This week organize your finds around shared purpose — this is 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? In what ways does it make you think about your own inquiry questions about your work?

I can start us off with some recent work in connected networks. What is the role of shared purpose in these projects? What are the implications for learning and equity?

  • Student Voice “brings students voices into the education conversation.” Check out their Student Bill of Rights and other projects they are working on.
  • Writing Our Future: American Creed. Check out what some of the youth have been publishing. And look for insights into the work happening in classrooms under Resources/Visit Our Classrooms.
  • Share Your Learning is a “national movement to transform schools into places where students can communicate, collaborate and contribute.” Visit their website to see what they are up to and why.


Tonight, Monday March 18, is our next ED677 Gathering at 7pm. Kathy Walsh, a former ED677er and science teacher at Building 21 in Philadelphia, will be joining us. Please find the link in Canvas.

In connected solidarity,


Connecting Interests

I [am] reminded of just how revolutionary it is to say out loud that learning should be shaped by what our students are interested in. Amplifying the Teacher Perspective on Connected Learning, Nicole Mirra, DML Central

… 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 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? Thinking about Interest-Driven, quoting Ben Kirchner, presentation DML 2013

Congratulations everyone! It is mid-semester and you all are doing a great job working on your weekly cycles and sharing and learning together.

This week we are going to first stop for a moment and do some self-assessment — you can work on this over the next few weeks, no rush here. 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 now, but simply meant to be a tool for your own learning and reflection. I have also included a link for you to give me feedback as the instructor.

See the ED677 Self Assessment Guide 2019 and feel free to email me if you have questions or want to talk this through (please note that I will be out of the country from March 1-10 with intermittent email access).


As we start our transition into the second half of the semester we begin to dig into Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom which we will use a main guiding text for the next three weeks. This text is divided into six chapters, organized around the six Connected Learning design and learning principles, and draws together work and reflections by educators.

Another way to describe Connected Learning looks like this:

During these six weeks, I encourage you to follow your inquiry question/s while we dig into these principles and the role of interests in learning and equity.


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 learning. What does it mean for learning to be driven by one’s interests? What is, as Nicole says above, revolutionary about it? What are the implications for teaching and for equity?

This week, write a letter that expresses your ideas, makes an argument, or otherwise advocates for something that matters to you and that you are passionate about. Choose an audience for your letter; this can be a hypothetical person, a real person, a group of people, an open letter to a more public community, etc. Choose a purpose for your letter; what do you want to express, share, advocate for, question? Your letter can also be made with or include multiple media, including text, images, drawing, video.

Need inspiration? Visit NWP’s Letters to the Next President 2.0, a project from 2016 where youth 13-18 were asked to write a letters to the next U.S. president (before the election) about matters that mattered most to them. Want some support thinking about public writing? Check out NWP’s Civically Engaged Writing Continuum for support and additional student created ideas.

You can publish your letter on your blog or else just share an excerpt of it or a highlight with us (no need to share if it’s personal/sensitive … again, please make your own decisions about this). After you write your letter, take some notes about your process reflecting on the how, why and what of your letter, as well as consider the implications of this kind of making for connected learning and equity.


Start your reading/watchings this week by downloading a copy of Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom; please re-read the Introduction by Antero Garcia along with Chapters One and Four: Interest-Driven Learning by Nicole Mirra and Production-Centered with Cliff Lee.

Let’s think about these interests and check out a Teaching Channel “Deep Dive” called Educating for Democracy in a Digital Age. Read the overview blog here and then dive into their resources related to student voice with a core question: How can students voice their perspective on issues that matter to them?

Remember this video that we watched a few weeks ago? Young kids clearly have interests and things that matter to them that they want to share. Check out the work of another group of teachers and young students who are documenting and sharing what they care about with their community in this resource Today’s Reasons Why We Need Students To Write for Authentic Audiences from Bastrop, Texas.

Then, going back to our discussion about around play and games, 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.

Finally, let’s think about the role of authenticity and purpose in our own professional learning with this recent Marginal Syllabus reading: “Generative Principles for Professional Learning for Equity-Oriented Urban English Teachers” by Allison Skerrett, Amber Warrington, and Thea Williamson. A related interview with the authors is also here:

Finding 5/6/7

This week find and share inspiring work created by youth that to speak to their interests.


This week spend some time reflecting on the role you see interests playing in your learning as well as that of your students. How might interests provide a path towards equity? How might production enhance interest-driven learning and support equity?

In connected learning solidarity,


Practitioner Knowledge and Networked Inquiry

“… It is the questions, after all, that make real learning possible.” Allen & Blythe, 2004

It’s Sunday morning and my cat is on my lap as I drink my morning coffee and catch up on your blog posts for the last week or so. So many wonder wobbles and reflections on wobbling; I am filled with appreciation for all the ways you are sharing and contributing to the community here at ed677 and beyond. Thank you.

Thank you too for understanding my delays given the loss in our family and for your emails. The work of teaching takes our whole selves so it is important to acknowledge what’s happening and where the tensions lie in our work that come from all sorts of directions.

Keep paying attention to what’s happening in your own lives and those of your students, keeping notes as you go. These wobbles raise questions. And the questions will support us in connecting our learning in new and different ways as we move towards inquiry questions that we can work on throughout the rest of the semester.

The week ahead …

Let’s start first with some additional inspiration for our flowing and connecting: What, for example, can we learn from the genius of Hip-Hop?

More here with Chris Emdin about Hip-Hop in education:


Let’s take this week to focus on ways of staying fresh, learning from each other, and being resourceful. How do we do that? One way is by continuing to notice where we wobble, to ask ourselves questions about these moments, and begin to take an “inquiry stance” around our practice. Read At Last: Practitioner Inquiry and the Practice of Teaching: Some Thoughts on Better by Susan Lytle.

Using the notes from your pose/wobble/flows, and the questions that emerge from them, I would like you to start identifying an inquiry question (or set of questions) that will guide what you do the rest of the semester. 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 as you pose/wobble/flow… that which you seek to make “better”. What keeps you up, in your context, when you think about designing for connected learning and equity?

Again, make notes to yourself — In what ways do you see this educator-blogger wobbling? What are the ways they are doing this in public networked spaces? What are the implications?

Now I’d like you to look back at your questions and thinking about how you might bring equity into the mix. This selection of writings, Making Equity Explicit in Inquiry and Examining Questions of Equity in Teaching from a 2006 NWP resource Teaching Towards Equity can support you in thinking about what this might look like. Pick a 1-2 of these essays here to read closely in support your process:

  • Finding Myself in My Inquiry: A Teacher’s Story by Sarah Capitelli
  • Building on Success: Changing Our Practice to Better Serve African American Students by Pirette McKamey
  • Leading from Personal Experience: Autobiography as a Foundation for Developing African American Teacher Leadership by Gwendolyn Williams
  • An East Oakland Odyssey: Exploring the Love of Reading in a Small School by Elena Aguilar
  • Taking Tests by Robert Roth
  • Learning to Listen: Supporting Classroom Teachers Through Collaborative Inquiry by Oreather J. Bostick-Morgan
  • Learning to Teach Elementary Mathematics: Inquiry in Preservice Teaching by Marcie Osinsky

Find one more story to dig into here at The Current. Where do you see the inquiry and questions of equity in these pieces? A few resources I suggest include:


Blog this week — using text, drawing, video, sound, collage, etc. — about the inquiry questions that start to surface for you as you pose/wobble/flow your way around being a connected learner or about connected learning and equity. It doesn’t have to be fully formed yet .. start to wonder about your wonders and wobbles and see where that leads you in your making.

(See a new discussion posted in Canvas about a “Loop Writing” process you might want to try in thinking more about your inquiry question/s.)

Finding 5/6/7

In addition to writing a blog about your inquiry above, find 5/6/7 resources that might relate to the questions you are asking about connected learning and equity. Take the time and go back through what you have referenced or gathered so far, tap into the sources I’ve been drawing from each week for our shared readings/watchings, as well as each others blogs. Richness abounds!


Our next online gathering is this Tuesday, February 26 at 7pm ET. Here is a link to Bluejeans and a related document (we will be doing some “loop writing” together, just fyi); looking forward to seeing those who can make it there!

In connected learning solidarity,

Learning (and Wobbling) in Connected Community

As the 12-year olds in Mitch Resnick’s essay tell us:

Start simple
Work on things that you like If you have no clue what to do, fiddle around
Don’t be afraid to experiment
Find a friend to work with, share ideas!
It’s OK to copy stuff (to give you an idea)
Keep your ideas in a sketchbook
Build, take apart, rebuild
Lots of things can go wrong, stick with it

I see these ideas and ways of working throughout your excellent app designs and curated Find 5s links — what great resources to get us all thinking and making! Keep going with this kind of approach while we consider the ways that we pose, wobble, and flow through our work as learners as well as teachers.


This week, let’s continue to play, make, and learn alongside colleagues, with a focus on what it is like to learn, and to wobble, in connected communities. And what are the implications for learning and for equity?

What does it mean to wobble? Let’s start to think about this by doing some social reading (and writing) with Antero Garcia and Cindy O’Donnell-Allen using the Introduction: “What it Means to Pose, Wobble, Flow” from the book What it Means to Pose, Wobble, Flow from Pose, Wobble, Flow: A Culturally Proactive Approach to Literacy Instruction.

… we offer a framework we call Pose, Wobble, Flow, which will prompt you to maintain the continual focus on personal reflexivity and professional growth that is so necessary for acknowledging how privilege and cultural positionality shape one’s practice.

This chapter has been shared on the Marginal Syllabus project and therefore is very crowded with annotations. To try a new thing together, let’s start to annotate in a private group instead of in public. I created a group for us that you can join here: https://hypothes.is/groups/wpZk8PiM/ed677-spring-2019.

Join this group by clicking on the link, logging in, etc.. You should now be a member of this group and you can come back to be a group member at anytime. Learn more about annotating in groups here if you feel stuck.

Now, to get started, go to the Marginal Syllabus article “Introduction: What it Means to Pose, Wobble, Flow”. Now whenever you are logged in you can toggle between “Public” or “ED677 Spring 2019” to decide where you want to annotate. Remember you can use the eyeball icon to turn on/off annotations for reading too.

Try annotating this article in our new private group for our class. How is that different than annotating the article publicly? Add something publicly if you feel moved to do that; how is that different than annotating with our private group? … Feel free to experiment and think about the ways you pose, wobble, and flow as you go.

A second reading is titled “Chapter 4: Working with Tension,” from Teaching for the Students: Habits of Heart, Mind and Practice in the Engaged Classroom by Bob Fecho. This chapter also has a annotation layer added to it. Start by annotating with our private group. Next add at least 2 annotations to the public layer (This is a new public layer, so you will be getting the conversation started here!).

Finally, stop by a project of Dr. Fecho’s called Storri at Teachers College at Columbia University. This is a site where teachers courageously share their stories of wobble. Pick out 2-3 stories from across the different categories to focus on. What issues were causing wobble for these educators and what complexities are discussed?

Share these on your blog this week along with the Make project below (which might take you a little longer than one week).


Note: this may take you more than just this week to accomplish, depending on when you start.

This week, check out the set of provocations that Antero and Cindy offer at the end of their chapter (page 14 of Pose, Wobble, Flow):

  1. Keep a journal or diary (digital or nondigital) and begin listing the areas of your practice that you continue to struggle with. Prioritize those areas that require the most in-depth scrutiny. [slight edit] Do you think any of these are poses? If so, make notes to yourself about this.
  2. Try jotting brief notes in your daily lesson plans or recording a few words on sticky notes that will later jog your memory about classroom events related to your wobble. If it’s easier, you can even record voice memos on your phone or computer and listen to them on your way home to reflect on how your teaching went that day. As you interrogate your wobble by inquiring into your practice, what insights are you finding? Where are you experiencing flow?
  3. Use the same process above to reflect on your students’ work. Seeing this as data for meaningfully informed wobbling, what are your students producing, and what does their work say about your classroom’s culture, your teaching practice, your understanding of who your students are? Don’t forget that your students are the best source of information about their own learning. Talk to them and try to find common ground.

Try these suggestions for one week. And then share a reflection on what you learn in the process of doing these things. If you are comfortable sharing notes you took along the way, feel free (but please make your own decision about this; you should always consider the public nature of blogging before posting). Keep those notes so that you can look back and reflect on them throughout the semester.

Remember in your reflection to come back to our main questions, ie. what is it like to learn, and to wobble, in connected communities? What are the implications of wobble for connected learning and equity?


The 12 year olds above tell us to “Find a friend to work with, share ideas!” Drs. Garcia and O’Donnell-Allen also ask us to “Seek out allies and mentors” and write:

… even though the model as we’ve described it above often sounds individualistic, we don’t intend for it to be. In fact … we have found that we go through P/W/F cycles most successfully when we collaborate with colleagues who provide moral support and at the same time challenge our thinking.

This week, start to identify some allies and mentors for yourself or others who you might support you when you wobble. Are they people you work with or connect with through school? Are there networks to connect to, professional alliance or organizations that can be supportive? What about some of the new connections you’ve been exploring, both on and offline? Where do you as an educator find moral support while challenging your thinking?


Finally, if you are up for it, it is Valentine’s week after all and love is in the air. Why not share with the world what it is you love about teaching! Check out #loveteaching to learn how.

New to Twitter? Many educators are using twitter to connect with colleagues and also to engage in discussion about education as professionals in the field.

If you are interested, the Studies of Literacies and Multimedia (SLAM) Assembly of NCTE ran a webinar (yes, that is the same Antero Garcia and Nicole Mirra you’ve been reading!) on learning to Tweet. Check it out.


In learning and connecting solidarity,