I think I’m going to extend this week’s Make Cycle into next week, because I haven’t made as much progress on creating games as I would like. My Find (At Least) Five Friday is going to be a document of the progress that I have made, as well as an acknowledgment of the people who have helped me along the way.
Kevin Hodgson and I have started on a game in Twine, and my face-to-face colleague Keith Bahrenburg has joined in as well by sharing some ideas he has for gami-fying his graphic arts classroom. Nadine Aboulmagd and I have also started to collaborate on a game and are in the planning stages. Nadine has also given me some valuable ideas in relation to my remediation make.
The Twitter chat on games yesterday was full of ideas. As usual, Terry Elliot made me think about a variety of topics, including fence rows. Chris Rogers got my hip-hop inspired pun on “system” and made it even better by mentioning Jamaican sound clashes, while our facilitators at Glass Lab Games did an excellent job of connecting the Make Cycle to the larger pedagogical and philosophical issues behind systems. I think I would like to reflect further on how games and power might relate to each other.
The Teachers Teaching Teachers conversation I participated in on Wednesday deserves mention as well. Kevin was there. Karen Fasimpaur was also there, and she posted links for me in the chatroom and helped me get over my nervousness about participating in a chat with so many smart people. Julie Johnson joined us on her phone from a hotel, which in and of itself was worthy of a shout-out; she also shared some intriguing ideas about inquiry and what she called “learning hubs” before her battery gave out. She said that she’s still thinking through the logistics of what a learning hub would be, but the idea seems like it might be a workable framework for thinking about how to connect students with resources outside our classrooms.
When I was in elementary school, I was in a 3rd/4th combo and then a 5th/6th combo, and the kids who were a year ahead of us in that combo were our role models. Charlie knew all about rap; Sharooz was the best at math; and Ryan was a kickball genius. Mia Zamora and Anna Smith are kind of like those 4th graders for 3rd-grade me in the CLMOOC community. They were in the TTT conversation, and they were able to articulate some of the ideas that I tend to express with metaphor or allusion. For example, Mia mentioned that CLMOOC has the tendency to re-orient teachers as learners. I tried to use an allusion to the Gospels – “the last shall be first, and the first shall be last” – to explain my idea that the most powerful teaching and learning happens when we de-center ourselves as authorities, and Mia summed up this idea with the term “co-learning.” She also mentioned in the private Google Hangout chat that there is a spiritual element to Connected Learning and our struggle to democratize learning spaces; this also resonated with me. Mia’s thought reminded me of the opening of bell hooks’ Teaching to Transgress, in which she argues that schools should be spaces for teachers and students to achieve self-actualization. (Full disclosure: I’ve only read the opening of Teaching to Transgress, which was one of the readings in the Critical Pedagogy MOOC MOOC earlier this year. I think I need to sit down with this book later this month and in August and read it before I go back to my classroom.)
Mia also wrote a blog post this week titled “A Leap of Faith” that deals with these topics; I read it quickly and plan to go back to it to read it more carefully a bit later.
I should also mention Paul Allison, without whom the TTT conversation would not have taken place, as he invited me, and asked me to propose a topic and invite people that I wanted to talk to.
Finally, Maha Bali’s ideas about power, democracy, and context have deeply influenced my own thinking about the ethical implications of my professional practice. She couldn’t participate in TTT synchronously (6 pm in California is 3 am the following morning in Cairo, and even though she is often up at 3 am, she also has added commitments this month because of Ramadan), but she watched the Hangout later and added some helpful comments on Twitter.
In particular, Maha highlighted Mia’s comment about CLMOOC’s centering of teachers as learners, which – when I read it the following morning – helped me organize my thinking about the conversation. I mention this because I’m intrigued by how the various media informed my participation. That is to say, I was “there” in the TTT Hangout, and I was directly involved in the exchange in which Mia made her comments. While her comments resonated with me during the Hangout and were on my mind, Maha’s asynchonrous comment on the conversation in another medium emphasized the importance of Mia’s comment for me. I wonder what the implications of this are for learners in our classroom? Can Twitter, for example, be a kind of backchannel (another idea, now that I think of it, that Mia brought up in the TTT Hangout!) to support student interaction?
I realize that this idea is probably very 2011, but I’m a slow learner!