#DigiWriMo & Co-learning

Digital Writing Month

This week’s edition of Teachers Teaching Teachers will focus on Digital Writing Month, also known as #DigiWriMo, a month-long collaboration that aims to encourage and promote composition in the digital realm.

Last year, I participated somewhat tangentially – primarily by keeping a log of my writing. I discovered quite a few things about my writing practice from this log, and I’d like to examine these ideas a year later – to see if I’ve made any progress, and to see where my next steps might be.

This year, I want to use #DigiWriMo to improve my blogging practice.  Several weeks ago, I published my inquiry brief, in which I pledge to blog once a week.  I’ve been writing a lot about my inquiry, but I haven’t kept up with that weekly blog pledge.  I’d like to figure out a way to make blogging a part of my routine. Easy to say, hard to do – but important, I think, for my growth as a learner and educator.

Co-learning

A visit from a very accomplished Viking alum last week led to a conversation that helped me think more deeply about my vision.

I’ll elaborate later; for now, I’ll mention that this conversation challenged me to think and write about more co-learning, and about how co-learning might change the culture in my classroom and at Mountain View – so this is what I’m going to do with a series of posts during #DigiWriMo.

Advertisements

Research brief: Student-determined learning outcomes

This is the brief for my classroom research project for 2015-16.

Question

How can I involve students in setting their own learning outcomes?

Subquestions

How do the power relationships at my school affect (or even constrain) efforts to create democratic spaces?
Can teaching practice that is non-coercive or non-deficit influence student motivation positively?
If students are involved in co-designing curriculum with teachers, will students have more meaningful learning experiences?
What is a meaningful learning experience?  How can teachers collaborate with students and families to determine what a meaningful learning experience is in their context?

Purpose

I am hoping to discover and describe practical ways to empower students and create a learning space that is more democratic. I am also hoping to include families in an authentic (non-coercive, non-deficit) manner.

Literature Review 

As I conduct the inquiry, I will conduct a limited research review by blogging about relevant research.

Method(s)

We will use James Beane’s Curriculum Integration model as a starting point for inquiry.  In particular, we will use the approach described in Chapter 4.  I will blog about this model at greater length in future posts.

We will create a Class Constitution and attempt to build a collaborative, non-coercive classroom culture that is based on honoring our agreements to each other.  We will also have brief but regular “check-ins” to discuss how well our Constitution is working for us.

I will use surveys, interviews, and perhaps sociograms to gather data from students on their perceptions in October, January & May

We will use a modified form of Writing Workshop to allow students to exercise choice and explore their identities as writers.  The main modification is the amount of time we can spend with workshop; I will blog about this modified workshop in future posts.

Data collection 
 

  • Field notes
  • Teacher blog posts
  • Student questionnaires/interviews/sociograms re perceptions of power
  • Student work
  • Student blog posts

Data analysis 
 

I will analyze my field notes daily using a version of Shagoury & Power’s method of “cooking” notes, or reflecting on notes shortly after you take them (page 45-50).

I will reflect in writing in my inquiry journal regularly – daily, if possible; otherwise at least three times weekly.

I will blog weekly about the inquiry’s progress.

I will meet twice monthly, or weekly if possible, with our instructional coach, Jennifer Yoo-Brannon, to reflect on the data collected

Calendar

October 8 – publish research brief on my blog
October 9 – October 16 – obtain permissions from students, revise research brief as needed
October 19 – October 30 – initial data (student perceptions of power)
November, December, January – implement strategies, collect data, analyze data, blog, meet with Jennifer
January, end of semester – ask students to comment/write about perceptions of power
February, March, April, May – continue to collect & analyze data, implement strategies, blog, meet with Jennifer
May – ask students to comment/write about perceptions of power
May/June – final data analysis
June/July – draft report

NOTE:  I began using the adapted version of Beane’s curriculum integration model from the beginning of the year.  Our school year started on August 25.
 
Publication

I will publish the report on my research on my blog & at Digital Is by August 2016.

 Reflection before beginning
 
I “found” my research question in the spring as we ramped up for CLMOOC, and nurtured it throughout the summer.  I thought I was ready to begin my inquiry – then the school year came, with all its inconvenient requirements.  I realized that I needed to learn more about collecting permissions from students, and that I needed to develop my research plan.

At the same time, I wanted to start right away with Beane’s ideas.

So this research project is a hybrid:  I’ve already begun the “treatment.”  But the ideas Lil Brannon shared in her email this summer made me think that I should do the project anyway, to describe – systematically but qualitatively – what I’m trying to do, and what my students and I learn.

So I’m going to use a permission form adapted from Shagoury & Power, and stop putting this off.  I need to make the inquiry process that Shagoury & Power describe a part of my daily work.  I need to just dive in and learn by doing.

Noah Purifoy & a community of admirers

On Sunday a few weekends ago, I had a wonderful, unexpected experience at LACMA.  I’d like to write more about this later, but I’ve been wanting to get it down in a post, however draft-like this post may be.

Marlene and I went to see the Ingres Madonna and Sam Doyle’s painting of Jackie Robinson from the 50 for 50 exhibit, and then to visit the Noah Purifoy exhibit again.   I had fallen in love with Purifoy’s work when we visited his Outdoor Museum in Joshua Tree at spring break.  We enjoyed the Last Supper, which, with its 13 sardine tins, calls powerfully to mind the image of Jesus as a minister to the poor, sick, and outcast.  We marveled again at the assemblage titled Summer of 1965 that features a “meticulous arrangement of photos, pigments, a skull and various objects” and juxtaposes an idyllic tourist image of the Golden Gate Bridge with images from the wreckage of the Watts Riots.  I sat and watched the documentary that was playing on a loop and had a reverie at the idea of going to the Purifoy Outdoor Museum and actually seeing the artist there working on his creations.

As we were looking at the last room, almost ready to leave, suddenly we heard a trombone. We had seen instruments in the room with the portrait of musician Earl Fatha Hines, but I had assumed they were part of the exhibit.  (Marlene confirmed later that the instruments were not there when we first saw the exhibit in the summer.)

We wandered over to the first room of the exhibit, where an older gentleman was soloing on the trombone and three young people were performing a dance.  The trombonist, who I learned later was Phil Ranelin, was positioned as if he was soloing to one of the Purifoy assemblages.  It was incredibly moving, and it got better.

The dancers moved into the next room, and Ranelin followed.  There was a bass line, as well, which I assumed was recorded; there was no bass player in sight.  The dancers performed a piece that riffed off another of the Purifoy pieces; one of the men gestured as if he was trying to cool himself off, while the other male dancer and the female dancer fanned him.  They backed away from the art, still metaphorically on fire.  Meanwhile, Ranelin soloed in front of another Purifoy piece.

Finally, the dancers and Ranelin moved into the other room, where we saw that the bass was live;  the bassist had been playing in this room the whole time.  (I don’t know for certain but I think the bassist was Wendall Williams, who, according to my brief online research, has been a frequent collaborator with Ranelin.)

It is difficult to explain how beautiful this performance was.  Especially when Ranelin soloed in front of and facing the art, I felt as though these talented performers were honoring this artist, an artist whom I of course never met but have come to admire deeply.  I felt as though I were part of a community of admirers.

Garden update

The peppers I blogged about a couple of weeks ago are coming along nicely.

The Apache chile plant, which has given me the most peppers so far
The Apache chile plant, which has given me the most peppers so far

 

From left to right: Apache (not fully visible), Black Cobra, Fresno. A lavender plant is peeking between the Black Cobra & the Apache, while a sage plant hides behind the Fresno chile
From left to right: Apache (not fully visible), Black Cobra, Fresno. A lavender plant is peeking between the Black Cobra & the Apache, while a sage plant hides behind the Fresno chile

2015-09-20 18.53.24

The Piquin, whose peppers have since ripened. The chiles de arbol are visible in the background
The Piquin, whose peppers have since ripened. The chiles de arbol are visible in the background

Here are the pickings from last week…

Mostly Apache peppers (on the right and at top), with a cute little heart-shaped Fresno (far left), a black cobra (the longest pepper), and a chile de arbol
Mostly Apache peppers (on the right and at top), with a cute little heart-shaped Fresno (far left), a black cobra (the longest pepper), and a chile de arbol

…and this week.

More Apaches (top), with a few ripened Piquins (bottom), and one each of the Black Cobra & the Chile de Arbol
More Apaches (top), with a few ripened Piquins (bottom), and one each of the Black Cobra & the Chile de Arbol

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m also going to try to grow a jalapeño pepper plant from the seeds of this beauty, which I bought today at the farmers’ market.

2015-10-04 12.47.45-1

The “eco-can” pepper seeds I bought in San Diego haven’t germinated yet; I’m not sure if they will, since it’s been a week.

One more picture, of the mint that Marlene bought for her sister’s baby shower in late May.  We use its leaves in watermelon agua fresca.

The mint that Marlene bought for her sister's baby shower in May
The mint that Marlene bought for her sister’s baby shower in May