Connected Learning partners with schools, organizations and experienced educators to support next practices in education.
Connected Learning partners with schools, organizations and experienced educators to support next practices in education.
Welcome new subscribers to the Connected Learning newsletter. Our mission is to support those who desire to learn more, are willing to take risks, and think differently about the problems we face in education today. Through this newsletter you will hear about our upcoming events, news in education, and be provided with resources that will help you and your schools continue to think differently about learning. Learn more about our team by clicking here.
This past Saturday, Connected Learning hosted ChromeCamp 2016 at Fox High School. Then wonderful event brought together 130 local educators and administrators for an un-conferences focused solely on Google apps for education. If you were unable to attend, don't worry. Click here to read more and access the all the great resources that were shared.
It's almost here! Our biggest event of the year. What is EdcampSTL? EdcampSTL brings together those interested in learning and sharing more about best practices in education in an "UNconference" format. This innovative format allows the knowledge and interests of those in attendance to lead the conversations of growth. Learn a little more about the unconference format here.
If you plan on attending, be sure to bring five colleagues along and share the power of networking, collaborating and learning in a different way. Help spread the word on your campus by downloading our flyer from this newsletter.
February 6, 2016
8:00 - 3:30 PM
Pattonville High School
2497 Creve Coeur Mill Rd
Maryland Heights, MO 6304
Now that you and your colleagues are registered for Edcamp STL, you're making plans to attend our Friday night Tweetup at Urban Chestnut Brewery, right? Our Tweetup is an easy way to meet the new people you'll be learning alongside on Saturday morning. Additional details about the Tweetup can be found here.
Nine Network is proud to present "Works in Progress," an American Graduate documentary featuring four young people from the St. Louis area who are struggling to overcome difficult personal circumstances in order to graduate and build successful futures for themselves. By amplifying the voices and stories of these four youth, the film examines issues of economic and educational disparity and the lack of opportunity that is often tied to race and class, but also highlights the supports needed for these young people to succeed. Learn more.
Premieres February 8 at 7 p.m. on Nine Network of Public Media.
Works in Progress | Trailer
This past Saturday Connected Learning hosted ChromeCamp 2016 at Fox High School.
The event brought together 130 local educators and administrators for an un-conferences focused solely on Google apps for education. An un-conference is where all the attendees create the day's learning agenda and are in charge of their own learning. This half-day event had sessions from Google 101 all the way to Design Thinking with Google. Overall, the attendees led 30 different sessions and shared their wealth of knowledge on a variety of important teaching topics.
Miss ChromeCamp but want to catch up on all the great sharing? No fear! Click the button below to access all the day's awesome resources.
Connected Learning has joined #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide. Companies and individuals interested in supporting Connected Learning on #GivingTuesday are encouraged to connect with our partnership page www.connectedlearningstl.org/partnerships.
Growing up did you ever have a teacher that made a tremendous impact on your life? A teacher that you could tell truly cared about his or her job, and showed it through the way they taught. Teachers are the people who educate our youth, who in turn become our leaders, doctors, lawyers, police officers, and much more. They give us the tools to prepare us for not only education but also life.
At Connected Learning, we are an organization that engages educators through professional learning experiences that are done differently to elicit a different response. Every dollar we acquire supports education through the development and expansion of professional learning networks. These networks to provide advice, support, ideas, and opportunities to our incredible community of learners and supporters. All of these avenues make our connected community stronger to give teachers the tools they deserve.
Connected Learning supports those who desire to learn more, are willing to take risks, and think differently about the problems we face in education today. Connected Learning does this by hosting, sponsoring, and supporting events.
Connected Learning is able to maximize its mission of supporting a deeper level of connected learning through these tasks:
We released our first podcast available on itunes (for free).
We expanded our board of advisors from 3 to 5 seen here: http://goo.gl/BAhEoH
We secured an accountant to oversee our finances through quickbooks online.
We expanded our volunteer leadership team from three to twelve leaders of our program seen here: http://goo.gl/BAhEoH
We’ve developed new relationships with: Cambridge Innovation Center, EdSurge, Pattonville School District, Fox School District, Ferguson-Florissant School District and the United States Department of Education.
We’ve established a working relationship called “The Edcluster” which includes other organizations supporting teacher and education development such as MoreNet, Education Plus, Google Education Group, Educational Technology Association, and TeachSTL.
Our mailing list has reached over 2200 emails and subscriptions to our newsletter.
We want to continue doing this great work for teachers and we will do it free of charge. We are fortunate to get funding from amazing sponsors and donors like yourselves. o please, participate in #GivingTuesday by supporting us today!
This month Connected Learning partnered with several organizations to put on EdSurge St. Louis. The event, held at Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School (MICDS), brought together administrators and school leaders on a Friday and then teachers on a Saturday to interact with a variety of education technology vendors. Edsurge showcases the latest and greatest in education tools and allows educators to talk directly with the creators. If you missed the event, looks through the list below and check out what these awesome companies are doing!
Sarah Hernholm is the founder of the non-profit Whatever It Takes (WIT) which provides a college-level course for high school students where they learn entrepreneur and leadership skills while designing, launching and growing social impact projects. She admits she never set out to start this non-profit organization, but now her dream has become a reality and it’s impacting high schools across the country.
WIT started out of the idea that high school students need more leadership and business skills while at the same time students need more of a connection between school and the community. Through this program, students get the opportunity to reflect on what issues face their own community and then they come up with an idea to solve it. During the problem-solving process, students gain not only business knowledge but they also gain real-world skills such as résumé building, budgeting, and interviewing. Most importantly, students walk away from the experience feeling loved, valued, and heard. WIT cares about what students think and their ideas. They’re helping students learn to stand up for themselves and also for their communities.
“Whatever it takes.” That was Sarah’s motto as an elementary school teacher. The message is simple and that goal resonates across high schools too. This non-profit encourages students to #doWIT. Make a difference in the world, whatever it takes.
To hear more about Sarah and her vision, watch her TEDtalk here.
Show notes written by Steven Shaw
Podcast Music: Happy Rock - Bensound.com
Amy leads Design Challenges with her students at Fontbonne and this is her relfection from one recent challenge: school scheduling. How can we incorporate more "real-world" experiences into classrooms? Read the solutions her students came up with!
Ok, after quite a bit of in-class work and letting it fester for a while, I'm sharing the solutions that made it through the design challenge, several that didn't (but may be worth a look), and some resources they were sending after we were finished. The general consensus is that there is no one schedule (no matter how innovative) that will work for every school.
Subject-focused weeks: The idea that each day could center on one subject was explored by several and made it into the final plan for one group. The general premise is that Monday (for example) would be focused on Math. Students attend their classes as scheduled, but Math is integrated into each subject area in a way that demonstrates how it would be used within that discipline. Tuesday could be Science, etc. While these elementary teachers felt it could work for the schedule all year, some believed having periodic weeks like this would be more feasible.
Topic-focused day: another iteration of this idea manifested in a topic-focused day. These were early childhood majors, so they saw this in terms of something small kids might find fascinating, like frogs. On "frog day", they would sing about frogs in music, draw frogs in art, learn about frogs in either ecology or biology, do word problems in math using frogs as the subject....you get the idea. For older students, an area of specific concern for them (maybe a recent environmental disaster, social topic, etc.) can be selected and all faculty tailor a lesson to integrate that theme. This helps students understand that issues of importance transcend subject lines.
Group learning: One group decided to take advantage of concepts learned in multiple intelligences and break the school day into two parts. First half has students in study groups based on their learning tendencies as they relate to MI (musical students learn with other musical students, etc.). Second half breaks them into new learning groups with people who are quite different. While several members wanted to see this done all year, others saw benefit periodically. The concern stemmed from what they saw as a real world concern with people isolating themselves into only like-minded groups (something that is being facilitated by our technology use). While this particular scenario caused some debate, everyone agreed that getting students into mixed groups and holding them accountable for that learning was a real world skill.
Other concepts that were either runners-up or are a combination of ideas among several groups are below:
School designed for the real world: While students can leave the school for real world experiences, many of them can be replicated on the campus itself. School gardens, green houses, student-run businesses, auto repair shops, medical skills labs,
Fontbonne Day! This is a culmination of several ideas I heard. A school can partner with a local university to provide a day of real world learning (and to give teachers the opportunity to attend a conference or work together). Pre-service teachers can come to the school OR students can come to campus for a variety of learning experiences. This would take some work, but could be mutually beneficial.
Standards-driven learning: The possibility of student-created curriculum came up several times. If all students had devices and a portfolio system with the year's "real world" objectives loaded, students could select the open-ended learning opportunities offered each week and simply "check off" that item on their list. For example, if one of the objectives was to learn personal finance, they could attend a Friday afternoon workshop from a financial advisor in a classroom, but they could also opt to visit a bank, help their parents balance their own budget, or set up their own field experience to explore the costs of living. These things wouldn't necessarily have to be learned under the purview of the school if they can demonstrate through an artifact (video, digital photostory, paper, etc.) that they understand the objective. A lot to consider here, but an idea worth exploring further, I think.
Early release/support staff classes: Schedule early release days for school-wide PD in the afternoon and "club time" during the day. Each student selects a "club" to participate in that day. Support staff and admins (with the help of parents and volunteers) can coordinate field studies related to academic pursuits that don't require a certified teacher. One group can visit neighborhood stores and companies to learn about the role of small business in the economy. One can collect specimens from a local park and test them in the lab, etc. MRH does a modified version of this now (except the teachers monitor club days). Having support staff, admins, and community members running the show allows them to take part in the education of our students (making them more invested when it comes time to pass bond issues) and leaves the teachers to themselves (WITHOUT admins running workshops) so they can sort out their own issues in the classroom. When the others return, any issues that affect the entire school community can be discussed when the kids are released early.
Class/Extra-Curricular partnerships: Some classes could blend well with after-school activities. Getting teachers and advisors/coaches to collaborate could be useful.
Simple tweaks to offer a real-world experience:
a "no tech" space with only whiteboards that can be used for people to hold conversations and collaborate (the argument was that students are losing the ability to hold live conversations and they still need to know how to do that).
Virtual field trips and skype guest speakers
Mobile learning labs (STLCC, Mo Bot, and Beta Box in addition to many others offer to bring the party to you in the form of a RV or prototyping studio that can be parked in the school lot).
Expanding PE options beyond team sports (incorporate the way most people get exercise: running, yoga, bowling, ice skating, exercise classes, etc.)
A no-desk classroom (not so much real world as it is designed to encourage collaboration and creativity)
The students were adamant that any schedule changes or curriculum decisions involve the students and their parents (and not a sampling for a focus group, but a whole community survey). They believe that any radical changes will need the support of the community and they could also bring ideas teachers hadn't thought of.
They attempted to search for creative school scheduling options and were getting very frustrated. Everything they found was just a slight variation from what is already being used. The first article addresses a few unusual ideas and the second is actually a discussion forum that has some insight.
We want to know what you think of these options and how your school offers students real-world experiences. Leave us your comments below!
Last week we hosted St. Louis's first ever BreakOut EDU session. As the name suggests, the goal of the session was for teachers to "break out" of a room by solving puzzles in order to unlock the key. The catch? They only got 45 minutes to do it. The BreakOut experience gamifies learning and is meant to show teachers the fun of challenging students to work together and solve their own unique problems in the classroom.
We had 4 different groups come together to solve the riddles and break out in time. The participants came from many different school districts including Union School District, St. Louis Gateway STEM Academy, Soulard School, Affton School District, Principia School, the Disruption Department, and the Innovative Technology in Education Fund. These strangers had to collaborate with each other and think creatively in order to solve the challenges of our BreakOut. Some escaped in time, some were very close, and for others it was a struggle. The one thing everyone had in common? They agreed it was not only challenging, but also engaging and fun!
But don't take our word for it. We have actual footage from the event and we will post reflections from these groups on what they thought about the experience. Connected Learning had a lot of fun hosting the event and we look forward to offering more BreakOut sessions in the future! If you'd like more information about BreakOut or how to host one at your school, send us an email: email@example.com!
At Connected Learning, we're all about bringing the best teachers around St. Louis together to improve education for all. We believe that teachers have the best knowledge, skills, and ideas because they are practicing it in their classrooms every day. If only there were a way to share all these successes and also get re-inspired from the successes of other local teachers who are giving it their best for their students?!
That was the teaching conundrum that led us to create Connected Learning. We want to give teachers learning opportunities that give them voice and choice in their professional growth. October is Connected Educator month which reminds us to step back from the daily classroom grind and find new inspiration for our teacher through connecting with other educators. Think that sounds like what you need? Then join us at our next learning event!
Next event: PLAYdate
People Learning and Asking Y (PLAY) is a time for teachers to gather and share their classroom successes or ask fellow teachers for ideas to improve their instruction. The set-up is simple: for three hours teachers will have the chance to propose a room discussion topic and share or walk around to explore rooms for ideas. The learning isn't forced, but you are guaranteed to walk away with many ideas and fantastic new connections!
Check out pictures from our last PLAYdate and register from this FREE learning opportunity today!
Our very own Alexandria Mooney wrote a blog post for another site recently to recommend some cool new technology tools for her classroom. Have you tried Pixlr, Storymap, Hero Machine, Knight's Lab, or WeVideo before? If not, check out Alexandria's ideas for them here.
Do you have any cool new technology tools to recommend? We'd love to hear about them. Leave us a comment and we'll share it out! Or if try out Alexandria's and want to tell us how you used it in your class, send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-The Connected Learning Team
The University of Missouri St. Louis just opened up a new space on their campus dedicated to innovating education. It's called the EdCollabitat. The College of Education turned what used to be an old library into a completely re-designed, modern learning space. The Chancellor of UMSL and the Dean of the College of Education were there to celebrate the opening and tell the story of how UMSL first conceived of this undertaking. Born with the principles of the Stanford D.School in mind, the EdCollabitat will serve as a space to inspire design thinking for everyday problems in education. Design thinking is all about asking the question "What if" to imagine creative new solutions for decade-old problems. The EdCollabitat has three main goals that will guide it's function in the College of Education: to explore possibilities in education, to design and build solutions and to create a plan to implement these new ideas.
Within the space there is a collaboration area, a makerspace, and even an area for local edupreneurs to work on their startup education companies in partnership with MasterCard. There is no shortage of innovative technologies in the space that also add to the learning inspiration. Robots, drones, a green screen, video games, and more enhance the space and reinforce the EdCollabitat's goals. The most important mission, however, is what the EdCollabitat means for local schools. It represents an opportunity to bring teachers together to collaborate professionally and help elevate the education that students in St. Louis receive. It further represents a new opportunity to connect secondary with higher education.
Last night was just the beginning of what lies ahead for the EdCollabitat and the great work being done at UMSL's College of Education. So, go check it out!
When students make and create they are proud of what they make. They feel good about what they make. Questions that come to mind are how much of school work actually makes kids feel this way? How can I have kids do more work like that?
Andrew Goodin is a makerspace teacher at Grand Center Arts Academy and has been for the last three years. From the beginning Andrew had students design and create working solutions to real problems by using the D School Design Thinking Process. He models design thinking in the makerspace by using it to continually improve the learning opportunities available. The results with students are impressive and Andrew has set up a fantastic example of what a makerspace is capable of in a school setting.
He started out discussing teaching with teachers and about how to make it better. They started with a problem. Kids needed computers in Andrew’s chemistry class. Mastercard donated some computers and Andrew and his teacher friend Greg started a group called Tech Army after school. This was a group of kids passionate about technology. Kids gained a few skill in repairing hardware and loading software and were able to get computers up and running in Andrew’s class within three months. He then began to question how he could engage kids in more learning like this.
This led to the next pilot program of makerspace at Grand Center Arts Academy in 2011. It started small on Fridays only for one semester. Their budget was $100 for the entire year. They made good friends with people who could give them resources and consumable material very quickly. It was low tech
The following year in 2012 Andrew was hired on to do makerspace full time at Grand Center Arts academy.
Makerspace is now a hybrid at GCA. Andrew has more formal elective classes as well as time where students can drop in. Everyday Andrew works on different skill building projects with kids in his classroom as well as individual projects that kids pick. Seniors are now including their makerspace work as a part of their school portfolio that is submitted to colleges. Andrew works with middle through high school age students.
Goal 1: Students use Design thinking applied to a problem. By the end of the class students should be able to be a voice at the IDEO shopping cart challenge.
Goal 2: building creative confidence by allowing kids to learn through failures and gain familiarity with certain tools.
Goal 2.1Students build work in their digital portfolio so that it can be submitted to an open portfolio college after graduation
Start with design thinking and model design thinking to improve your makerspace.
Andrew credits the success that his makerspace is to implementing design thinking and continuing to iterate.
Makerspace is not plug and play. Different places will place different demands.
Makerspaces do not look all the same, and they shouldn’t. Makerspaces need to be flexible and need to be designed for the space and the users.
Makerspace Blog: gcaamakerspace.wordpress.com
Makerspace Twitter: @gcaamakerspace
Makerspace Instagram: @gcaamakerspace
Personal Twitter: @Mr_makerspace
Who should we interview next? email me at email@example.com
This week Connected Learning teamed up with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Education Technology and hosted the first ever Urban Education Design Challenge here in St. Louis. Thanks to our gracious sponsors at the CIC (4240 Duncan Ave) and the Innovative Technology Education Fund (ITEF) for providing us a venue and refreshments for this special event. We had a packed house of professionals from a variety of fields come together to go through the design thinking process together and work toward improving St. Louis education. The design thinking process started from the Stanford Design School and is a step-by-step method for imagining and then implementing new solutions to everyday problems. Here is the format we used for our Urban Design Challenge:
With the the groundwork in place, the rest of our challenge rested in the hands of the participants and the first step was to empathize. We had the participants learn about each other’s educational backgrounds. In order to overcome the challenges of urban education, and especially given the history of race in St. Louis, it was a critical starting point. We invited all these strangers together to tackle a major issue and in order to work together design thinking requires you put yourselves in each other’s shoes to see the problem from a new perspective.
The next step was equally as important to the night’s success: defining the problem itself. The ultimate goal for the night followed this template: “How might we ACTION WHAT for WHOM in order to change SOMETHING by A TIME?” And each group came up with their own rendition of the equation. They used this as a jumping off point for the ideating and prototyping phases of the design thinking process. Here are examples of how each group defined the problem:
Then, each team had to brainstorm like crazy to create as many solutions to their specific problem. We had so many post-it notes all over the room that showed just how many possibilities are out there to defy our conventional solutions to urban education.
After the brainstorming period, we separated the team members to go learn more about the other teams’ solutions. Then, the entire room could fuse together a solution based on all the ideas in the room. Each group then constructed a prototype solution using unconventional materials to convey their solution to the other teams.
The first ever Urban Education Design Challenge produced well-defined problems and creative solutions to tackle issues facing St. Louis schools. Connected Learning now looks forward to testing and re-ideating these solutions to improve education for all St. Louis students.
This podcast features an interview with Rebecca Hare. Rebecca is a first career designer second year teacher who brings an interesting perspective on classroom design. Check it out! Who should I interview next? Leave a comment and let me know!