Monday, March 31, 2014

Unplanned Lesson in Empathy

Slice of Life Challenge, Day 31 

I'm taking some time to reflect on empathy this morning. I stumbled across David Theune's request for stories of empathy on Twitter not long ago. After reading Emily Bazelon's Sticks and Stones, Theune couldn't stop asking the question: "What can I do to help promote empathy?" And so he put out a request for others to share their stories about the power of empathy in hopes of compiling them in a book. His request has me recalling an unplanned lesson from a couple of years ago.

Every semester my tenth grade students and I read Eli Wiesel's Holocaust memoir Night. As we discuss the memoir, we also read poetry, news articles, and personal essays from those impacted by the atrocities of war. Our purpose is to understand the complexities of humanity, to understand where our humanity comes from and how it can be lost.  And each semester we are fortunate enough to have a local Holocaust survivor come into our classroom to share his story of surviving not one but three death camps. His harrowing personal tale, told with such grace and strength, never fails to move all those who hear it.

My students heard Mr. Herskovitz speak again in October 2013
A few years ago when survivor Michael Herskovitz came to speak with our class, one of my students asked if he ever felt anger toward the Nazis. Mr. Herskovitz's response moved us to action. He told us that he cannot be angry. Every day is a gift that he treasures, a gift that he will not give over to feeling angry. He freely shares his story in the hopes that history will not be forgotten, in hopes that the voices of those who had their humanity stolen from them will not be quietly lost to history. He wants students to stand up for one another, to empathize with one another.

Michael Herskovitz
My students were visibly moved by Mr. Herskovitz's response. The next day as we reflected on his story, my students overwhelmingly felt that they wanted to do more. They wanted to do something to share what they had heard and learned with the rest of our school community. It was not part of a planned lesson. Instead, my students took over our English class, and together we shared an important lesson on empathy.

The students split themselves into committees. They planned, prepared, and presented an idea to our principal. The students staged a series of "What Would You Do?" scenarios around the school and filmed student reactions. The students wrote the scenes, planned the filming, informed the teaching staff, and filmed three scenes in which students were being bullied in the hallways between classes. We didn't quite know what to expect.

What we learned is that students would step in and speak up when they saw classmate's being bullied. My students interviewed those students who intervened, some breaking down in tears when they were asked what prompted them to speak up. And my students used the footage of scenes and interviews to put together a short documentary for our school television station. The students shared reflections from their reading, from hearing Mr. Herskovitz, from what they learned about our school community, and what it means to be a bystander and what it takes to stand up. At the foundation of all they had learned - empathy. Following the project, some of my students started a school chapter of the Anti-Defamation League and our school has since been designated as a "No Place for Hate" school. And two years after meeting Mr. Herskovitz and reading Night, the club and the lessons we learned continue to be shared.

What the students learned from this experience continues to influence our school community in the conversations we have about personal responsibility, about humanity, about the bystander effect, and most of all in how we think about empathy. It was not part of my planned lesson. I could not have planned for the learning that took place over the course of those few weeks. I am so thankful to work in a district and with a community of educators who value these unplanned learning opportunities, who understand that teachers have as much to learn from students as students do from teachers, and who value they lessons that cannot be easily measured by a rubric or standardized test. In five years, my students likely will not remember a single test they took in my class. However, I can guess that many of them will recall this experience in five years. And I know that it was a classroom experience that will forever impact how I think about learning and teaching.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Making It Happen: The Maker Movement

Slice of Life Challenge, Day 30 

Check out all the Make 2 Learn organizations
By now you have heard of the Maker Movement. With hacker spaces and maker clubs cropping up in schools, communities, and online spaces everywhere, opening up time to tinker has grown from a small grass-roots movement into what some might consider a paradigm shift, especially when it comes to school settings. More and more are we seeing teachers and students engaged in hands-on, project-based learning that requires learners to think creatively and critically while collaborating to construct something tangible. Students are trying, failing, and trying again. Learners plan, play, and produce. The Maker Movement attracts many teachers and students because it is not simply about producing. It is about creating. It is about the connected processes of learning that students engage in as they think through problems and construct their own learning. And at the center of the learning, of the creating and constructing, are students.  Students own not just the product, but the process as well.

This distinction between products and creation is being explored by teachers in all sorts of classroms. Hands-on learning is not just for the science classroom.  English and language arts classrooms across the country are actively engaged in the Maker Movement. Support for these endeavors can be found in organizations like the National Writing Project (NWP), the International Reading Association, and Edutopia. You'll find playlists of TED Talks all about craftmanship and articles on the international impact of the Maker Movement in the Wall Street Journal. The Maker Movement is making more than just a few small ripples in education.  It is wave, changing the way we empower students.

And this makes absolute sense to me. I’ve always been a crafter. I come from a long line of crafters. When I was very little, my mom would have me clean the gallon milk jugs we collected for her mother, my grandma. Grandma would use the plastic handles to create kitchen dish washing scrubbies, which she sold in craft fairs all over western Michigan. My mom sewed. She sat me down at a sewing machine when I was eight to stitch my first skirt, and I’ve been crafting and sewing ever since. 

My little guy has some loose teeth. Together we sewed this tooth pillow.
Crafting is not only a way to express my creative side, but it is also my connection to others. The variety of people that I have met through craft shows and classes, walking through fabric aisles and in online communities, has enriched my life. Crafters see a world of possibility around every corner. We see opportunity in discarded glass containers and potential in torn clothing. We are never far from a needle and thread and always carry a notebook for when inspiration hits, which it does quite often. We are do-it-yourselfers that like to dabble and make mistakes, knowing that however a project turns out, we will learn from the process. We are a group that encourages one another, that shares what we have learned, and that look out for each other.

I am a maker.

So it is time for me to hit publish and go connect with some other makers!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Keeping Elbow Close at Hand

Slice of Life Challenge, Day 25 

Pic from Bernard L. Swartz Comm. Inst.
I first encounted Peter Elbow's work in my undergraduate writing methods course. His writing has served as inspiration both for how I write as well as how I teach writing. Today I had the opportunity to revisit his piece from the College English journal published in 1993, "Ranking, Evaluating, and Liking: Sorting Out Three Forms of Judgement." I've been doing some research on feedback, so it makes sense to return to my mentor, Mr. Elbow.

We are a culture obsessed with feedback. Just take a cursory scan of the books listed in Amazon's search list when you type in "feedback" as a search term. Over 100,000 items pop onto the screen, everything from books on neuropsychological assessment to a children's picture book. And recently, a number of news outlets have been featuring the recent work Harvard's Negotiation Project, a book titled Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well. So even though Elbow's essay is over twenty years old, feedback is clearly a topic with which we continue to grapple.

Elbow's argument against ranking and grades, so closely linked to the writings of Alfie Kohn, Sir Ken Robinson, and many others, highlights what we have known to be true about student writers for a long time: grades kill writing. As Elbow points out, "Ranking leads students to get so hung up on these oversimple quantitative verdicts that they care more about scores than about learning - more about the grade we put on the paper than about the comment we have written on it." Any teacher of writing knows this. How many times have we complained that when we return their essays, after spending hours making careful comments and questions, students take a cursory look at the grade and toss the paper into the trash. Why is this? Elbow argues in part this happens because we have conditioned our student writers to be concerned with their rank. We have made them grade addicts.

And yet, we know this will not grow their writing skills. Elbow argues that students need thoughtful, evaluative comments that move their thinking forward, but which is mostly free of the ranking that can hinder their growth. I agree. We want our students to become reflective, confident, motivated writers. However, the threat of the red pen, whether in the form of a grade or in the form of over evaluating, can shut down the reflection and risk-taking that we need to encourage in our practicing writers to engage in. Elbow writes that "constant evaluation by someone in authority makes students reluctant to take the risks that are needed for good learning -- to try out hunches and trust their own judgement." We do not want students simply writing for us. What good is that? Elbow states that the worst influence of grading and over-evaluation of our student writers can be seen when students make changes to their writing “for the sake of the grade; not really taking the time to make up their own minds about whether they think my judgments or suggestions really make sense to them."

Instead, student writers grow when given opportunities to write for supportive readers. Students do need opportunities to write for both evaluation and (unfortunately) ranking, but we can lessen the negative impact these practices by carefully considering how to motivate student writers to reflect and revise through careful use of our feedback. As teachers, we need to be their supportive and not just critical readers.  We know this from our own experiences as writers.  I bet that most of us can recall that one teacher (or perhaps a few) who encouraged us to write more, who believed in our writing endeavors.  Elbow highlights this, too: "...the way writers learn to like their writing is by the grace of having a reader or two who likes it -- even though it's not good.  Having at least a few appreciative readers is probably indispensable to getting better." We help our writers grow when we put down the red pen and put on our reading lens. When we respond to our students' writing as invested readers, our feedback helps to support their endeavors. We highlight that connection between writer and audience, between writing and reading. And when we give feedback from this position, we help our emerging writers understand both the purpose and audience for their writing. This is where writing grows -- not in circling grammar mistakes or slashing out redundancies, but in highlighting our connections to the writer and the writing.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Power of Publication

Slice of Life Challenge, Day 24

Before sending their pieces out for publication, my tenth grade English classes used Skype to connect with experts in the publishing world. This past November, as my students were in the midst of revising a creative writing piece that stemmed from an idea found in their daily writer's notebook, my students and I had the opportunity to speak with the founder and senior editor of Teen Ink, Ms. Stephanie Meyer. Additionally, students spoke Christine Weiser, the Executive Director of Philadelphia Stories who shared fantastic advice for revising both short stories and poetry, as well as details about what her editorial board looks for in the pieces that are submitted. Students used that advice to revise their work before sending it outside the classroom for publication.

Not only were a number of my students published on Teen Ink's online site, but yesterday evening one of my first semester tenth grade students emailed me that she had received word that she is about to have her poem published in the upcoming print edition of Philadelphia Stories, Jr.  The student's poem stemmed from a writer's notebook prompt where were searched through print editions of the local newspaper for inspiration.  Her poem, "Pray for the People in Camden," will appear in the spring/summer edition of the magazine. As students learned when speaking with Ms. Weiser of Philadelphia Stories, hundreds of students submit their work for publication, but only a few are chosen for the print edition of the publication. Those that are considered for publication have been read multiple times by multiple editors who must agree that a work is worthy of publication. My student's piece was selected from among many poetry submissions by students in our area.

And the student who wrote the piece? Quiet and unassuming.  She rarely spoke in our class and shied away from attention being drawn to her accomplishments.  It was through our daily writer's notebook that I learned of her interest in poetry as a form of storytelling.  It was in asking her and her classmates to work on a piece to send outside the classroom for publication that I learned of her dedication to the craft of writing, watching her in class and online spend hours crafting the lines of her poem, considering if she should add punctuation at her line breaks or not.

Both the prompt she took inspiration from and the use of writer's notebooks in general came from my involvement in the Pennsylvania Writing and Literature Project and the connections to the teachers and writers of the National Writing Project.  And this is why I am an NWP groupie: in giving my students an opportunity to write every day, the choice of what and how to write, and opportunities to share and publish their work, I have learned more about the young people in my classes, and not just about who they are as writers, but who they are as individuals.  And that has made all the difference in how I am able to support their individual learning adventures.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Learning to Fly

Slice of Life Challenge, Day 23

A sudden burst of color shoots past my knees.  My three year old son, eager to head out for an afternoon walk at a local state park, takes off in a run toward the paved pathway that leads downhill toward the river.  There is no stopping him.  He has flown past pleas to slow down that both his father and I call out to him.  In a split second, as he gains all the speed his little legs can muster, I watch it happen.  He throws his arms behind him, and although I don't see it, I imagine that he tried to push off with his right foot. To take to the air.  To fly. Wind pushing back his blonde hair, face turned upward, eyes closed, arms held behind him like wings unfurling.

Of course, he didn't. He came crashing down, face first into the pavement.  There was a moment before the tears, when my husband and I were rushing toward him that he looked up stunned, almost finding it hard to believe that he didn't lift off. And then the tears.  I imagine them to be not only accompanying the bloody cut on his forehead, but also for a bit of heartbreak.  The gash on his forehead a reminder that he was to stay firmly planted to the ground.

For now.

See this is not a new story. This is what he does.  In fact exactly one week ago while we were getting coffee at a local cafe, my little man took off on a full run around the cobblestone courtyard, arms thrown behind him as if he were flying.  He caught himself a bit better last week; the fall only resulting in a familiar big purple goose egg on his forehead, but no blood.  He is my dreamer, my idealist. He gets up, tries again.  Eyes to the sky, this little one will fly.  And I so desperately want him to, to keep that hope, that belief in something impossible.  I want him to fly.  And more than that, I want him to keep up that persistence and perseverance that drives him to get back up and try again even after so many heartbreaking falls.

But maybe next time he can try again while running on the grass.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Connecting to Learning Communities

Slice of Life Challenge, Day 20

I am the one in the strawberry red vest, near the middle of the top row.  And that is my entire kindergarten class; 16 of us. We were small, but we were mighty. And even though I moved away from our small town when I was 12, we were already thick as thieves, and I stay in touch with some of them to this day. It was in this tightly-knit class that I grew to love school. And it was also here that I learned to take risks.

In a small school, you have opportunities to play many roles.  In fact, you have to.  You don't get cut from the basketball team because they need the players.  And so even as a young student, I had opportunities to sew through 4-H, learn jump shots through basketball camp, etch mirrors in after school art club, I was pulled out of class to participate in a Great Books reading group as well as sing in a special choir. Even at 7, 8, 9 years old, I played many roles within my school community. And so I grew comfortable trying new things, learning new skills.  I came to see school as a comfortable place to take risks.  

I suppose I carry those lessons from elementary school with me to this day.  A number of my family, friends, and colleagues have labeled me a busy-body, and rightly so.  I enjoy learning new things and don't hesitate to take on new and challenging roles.  I am the perpetual volunteer, and I have come to realize that this is in part born from my very early experiences in the classroom. I seek out opportunities to learn new things, to make connections, to build communities. As a young person, I was encouraged to be active, to be involved, and I carry that with me.  I'm a teacher and a grad students, a parent and a wife. I'm on Twitter and I blog. I'm active in a string of organizations like PAWLP, GCT, PAECT, NCTE, PCTELA, and EdCamp Philly. I flip, I 20% time, I UbD, and workshop in my classes. And I invite others to join me on these learning adventures, knowing that along the way I will make some amazing connections.

As I take on new roles, I have connected with educators from a variety of school settings, with all variety of experiences and stories to share.  I have found mentors and collaborators who have bouyed my efforts and gently pointed out my shortfalls. They have pushed me to think more carefully and critically about my assumptions of student learning and the work I do in the classroom.  And this is what makes it all worthwhile.  I am a better teacher and a better student when I emerse myself in learning communities.  Being involved in a number of organizations, presenting at conferences, participating in weekly Twitter chats connects me with these communities. Much like I felt in my small elementary school, I am able to take risks because I am connected with learning communities that will both challenge and support my learning adventures. We all need those connections.

If you follow me on Twitter, you are likely tired of seeing my posts of Meenoo Rami's new book Thrive.  But her work is about just this idea: making meaningful connections to mentor your learning, whether you've just stepped into your first classroom or, like me, have been at it for over a decade. I would encourage you to pick it up, read it with me, and connect!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Remixing Poetry

Slice of Life Challenge, Day 17

I'm taking inspiration from Kevin Hodgson today.  A few days ago he posted some of his remixed and lifted lines of poetry using Zeega.  So I just had to give it a try!

I took a first draft of an idea I wrote for our morning writer's notebook prompt and remixed it from a student's perspective, found some images on Flickr, added music from SoundCloud and, well, here it is!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Twitter PD #DFTBA

Slice of Life Challenge, Day 15

Graphic by Shawn Campbell
Some of my best professional development ideas happen early each Saturday morning. No really! Every Saturday morning at 7:30, I take to Twitter for #satchat, a weekly Saturday morning discussion with over a hundred teachers, principals, administrators, and other school leaders.  This morning's discussion of feedback, both for students and teachers, engaged educators across the globe interested in sharing resources, connections, and reflections on how to encourage learning. I participate in the chat with my Pinterest and EverNote accounts up, ready to cut and paste links to great ideas and capture the resources that go flying by on my screen. The expertise that is available each Saturday morning during the #satchat hour is astonishing. Nationally recognized teachers and administrators chatting with first-time Twitter hashtag followers. This is the power of Twitter.

Graphic by Zaneology
Over the years, I have heard many people dismiss Twitter as the 140 character playground of teenage narcissism.  But if you are an educator not yet on Twitter, you are not engaged with some of the best {free} professional development available today. Whether it is #satchat or the weekly English teachers' discussion #engchat, connecting with fellow National Writing Project teachers through #nwp or learning about new models for learning like #flipclass or #20time / #geniushour.  If you are not on Twitter, you are not a part of the conversation. And it is a conversation we really need more teachers engaged in.

New to Twitter or to weekly Twitter chats?  Start with the Cybrary Man, Jerry Blumengarten's websites. Here's his introduction to Twitter and to weekly Twitter chats. Join the conversation!
Pencil metaphor adapted from Lindy Orwin's work and graphic from Steve Wheeler's blog

Friday, March 14, 2014

In Support of Quirky

Slice of Life Challenge, Day 14

I am that mom. Walking out the door with my two little boys in tow on our way to preschool this morning, I realize that I am the quirky mom. The one who wears big black combat boots with a Goodwill vintage crushed velvet coat to drop her boys off at school. The one who hesitates only a minute when her five-year-old asks if he can bring his Zed the Zombie in for "Z" week.  He brought zucchini seeds in yesterday, tame enough. I am that quirky mom...and I am proud of that.

I suppose that I have always been quirky. I'm pretty sure that I was the only kid in my grade who was wearing clothing she had sewed herself.  And ever since doning my first pair of glasses as a freshman in college, I've been on the hunt for the perfect pair of cat's eye frames long before they were ever considered a hipster trend (I finally found them a few years ago at a flea market in Philly). My parents supported my quirkiness, as did my teachers. I have been fortunate in that I am surrounded by people who have not just tolerated my bit of weirdness, but encourage it.

And I want to be an encouraging force for quirkiness.  Being quirky is a conversation starter.  The number and diversity of people that I have met as a result of my glasses is proof alone. On a fairly regular basis, someone will tap my shoulder to ask where I found my glasses or tell me a story about a loved one who wore the exact same pair in the 60s.  Being quirky has opened up a host of opportunities and connections. Because I'm a bit of an oddball, a vintage-wearing, baby-clothes-sewing, creative-writing, geeky-tech, DIY-type, people don't hesitate to ask me for help on projects. And so I've had opportunities to collaborate and connect with all sorts of people from all walks of life.

So working with high school students, who are in the throes of figuring out who they are, who they want to be, I want to be an encouraging force for quirkiness.  I will randomly break out in song. I will dress up for Halloween every year. I will talk like a pirate on September 19th.  I will show students how to create web pages and write ovillejos. I will debate the ending of Allegiant and celebrate Holi with students.  My quirkiness is a reflection of my diverse interests and passions, my willingness to try new things.  To be a risk-taker.  As Walt Whitman once wrote, "I am large, I contain multitudes." And so I will be an encouraging force for quirkiness.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Don't Quote Me Poetry

Slice of Life Challenge, Day 13

It's time for the recycling to be placed on the curb.  Another week of newspapers gathered up with cans and cardboard.  But before I take the bundle outside, I pull open the "Sunday Review" section of the New York Times, and I stumble upon an op-ed article titled "Don't Quote Me On This" in which the writer laments the ease with which we are distracted while reading online. In our rush for efficiency while researching online, we decontextualize ideas by ripping the most quotable moments from their context.  So, I decided to spend a great deal of time with the op-ed article...decontextualizing it.

I love black-out poems.  Using the words of someone else to create a new piece, to craft meaning, is liberating.  It is a moment to get outside of my writing habits, my default topics and manners for crafting meaning, to find inspiration in another's way of making meaning. And so here it is, my black out poem from today:

"Don't Quote Me on This"

We reach for the easy
millions plus one

Steppingstone for thought,
        for my sanity.
Fragment to fragment.
Limitless content.
Precious and
rationed truisms
strip away.

best intentions
brevity and immediacy.
Who shares nuance?

Carry your context
with you
so thoughtfully.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Local PD

Slice of Life Challenge, Day 12

Frustrated does not begin to cover how I am feeling.  I had to make a call last night, actually several calls, as the weather reports for the ironically named storm Vulcan (seriously, who names a blizzard after the Roman god of fire?!) projected me driving through somewhere between eight inches to a foot of snow in what many news sources are anticipating as the worst driving conditions of the winter. And I was already a little anxious at making the 14 hour drive with my two little boys without a second driver to help.  So I made the calls.  I will not be presenting at the Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning (#MACUL14) conference in Grand Rapids tomorrow.

I was slated to do a short presentation on connecting young writers with authentic audiences using 2.0 tools.  My presentation weaves in some of my own action research on using elements of Connected Learning in my high school English classroom. I articulate a model I came up with for creating connected writing assignments, and then share an example from my classroom of students completing a 20% time research project.  In fact, my presentation for MACUL was based on the same one I was asked to do for the Pennsylvania GAFE Summit a few weeks ago but which also was cancelled as they restructured the session offerings for a smaller audience.  So, my last two presentations, two that I was very much looking forward to, didn't happen.

So I'm frustrated.  And not with the weather or with conference organizers.  I am frustrated with myself.  This is the first time in quite a few years that I have put myself out there by applying to present at conferences.  I love conferences.  I am energized attending sessions, madly scribbling down ideas and jotting down links. And what I have learned at NCTE, PCTELA, EduCon, and EDCamp conferences has not just inspired me but has changed my work in significant ways. However, I'm not sure why I am waiting for an invitation or a conference to share my work. I love presenting (seriously, ask me to present for absolutely anything, and I'll jump on that opportunity) because it is an opportunity to meet other connected educators.  But I have a whole community to teachers in my own school also eager to learn from one another.  Instead of wishing for more opportunities to learn and share with my fellow district teachers, I need to find more ways to make that happen.  How can we create local professional development that is as energizing as the conferences we volunteer to attend and present at?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Asking For It

Slice of Life Challenge, Day 9

I love this photo from today.  We decided to ditch our "catching up" day, the day we set aside to catch up on missed work and emails, phone calls and bills, on all that daily grind stuff that there just never seems to be enough time to get done, in order to take our boys out for a game of minature golf.  Sun shining and snow melting, it was a perfect day to get out and goof off.

My boys have never really spent time on a minature golf course. I qualify this statement a bit because there was the time that we took them to a local science museum which had a similar sort of special exhibit at the time, but it was crowded and both my boys expressed more interest in looking at dinosaur bones than playing golf. So today, my little shark-hoodie wearin' five-year-old got a quick tutorial from dad and was hooked.  Once he sank a putt, he would run to the next hole, but he was not trying to place his ball and swing a quick hit before we could catch up to him. Nope. He would run to the next green, and then keep running to see where the hole was. He would talk through how he was going to try to hit the ball, lining up his shot.  On the sixth hole, we had a wait a few moments while a dad with his pre-teen son finished the shot.  My little guy watched intently. It took the dad and his son both three shots.  Not bad.  It was a difficult incline shot with hockey pucks set up like Plinko along the green to make the shot nearly impossible. My son moved his golf ball toward the edge of the putting mat and hit it gently.  The ball moved slowly toward the first obstacle and banked toward the edge, skimming off the edge all the way down the incline and into the hole. A hole in one! He was so proud of setting up that shot and having it work.  You know what's coming next, don't you?  My connection to teaching, as if it weren't obvious.

My husband took time to help my son line up his shots on the first few holes, showing him how to hold the putter and hit the ball.  And to be honest, at first, my son wanted none of it.  So on the third green, he hit the ball without help and was frustrated when he couldn't get it to go through the hole in the big plastic tree like the shot required. After a number of attempts, he asked his dad for some help, and with a couple of pointers, my husband helped him line up the shot and take a slow swing.  Viola!  And that success lead to another and another.  We all need those supportive models to show us the ropes when we are trying new things, but we also need to be encouraged to try new things on our own, to figure it out on our own terms, and to learn when we need to ask for help. This has been a lesson that not only has my little guy has struggled to learn but one that I still struggle with - learning when and how to ask for help.

We all want to be successful and have things come easily, whether you are five or thirty-five. Learning to recognize when you need support and learning to ask for that help is critical. It is a lesson that not all of our students (or even some teachers) have yet learned. We need to help our students understand that they are part of a learning community, one that grows when we depend on one another and support one another's learning. We are stronger when we learn from one another, when we can seek out the experts in our community to mentor us. We need to teach out students to recognize when they need help and how to ask for it, to be better advocates for their own learning.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Playing with Poetry

Slice of Life Challenge, Day 8

Every class begins with Writer's Notebook. Even before the bell rings, my students and I grab our notebooks, leave them open on our desks, anticipating writing moments. I spent some time looking through a handful of old notebook this morning. It turns out there are many, in all sizes and states. I ran across an idea scribbled in red, sideways on the page...when I grow up. So here is this morning's Slice of Life: an idea taken from my notebook.

When I Grow Up

Photo of Elk Lake from ERSchools
When I grow up
     (I told anyone who'd listen)
I want to be a mermaid
     or an astronaut
and swim the stars
     to be lifted,
carried away by the current
     to far off places.
I'd dip and dive
under water
     wishing I could hold my
          breath long enough to make it
               to mid-lake
     where feet couldn't touch bottom.
But I'd get two breaths out
     on tippy-toes
          nose poking above the wake
     and turn toward shore
          toward home
too scared to venture much
     further than my
          breath could
               carry me.            

Friday, March 7, 2014

Grandma's Cookies

Slice of Life Challenge, Day 7

On the wall that divides kitchen from dining room, hanging next to the stove is my grandmother's springerle rolling pin. It has always hung here.  I don't remember a time walking into my grandparent's home, whether I was six or thirty-six, that the wooden rolling pin wasn't hanging from the hook by a red ribbon. In that exact spot, untouched.

Springerle cookies are a German holiday tradition.  Doughy pillows of perfection begging to be dunked in your mid-afternoon coffee to release their hint of black licorice flavor. But my grandma has never made them.  She's never made any cookie to my knowledge. We used to joke as kids - my sister and cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandma would join in - that Sara Lee was the only baker in my grandparents' house.  This is not to say that my grandmother never cooked.  Every Sunday afternoon, we would trapse over to the little black shuttered ranch-style home that sits overlooking Elk Lake for pot roast in the fall and winter, burgers and brats in the spring and summer.

Their home was always filled with people, especially the kitchen. You could stop by unannounced in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon and someone would be there visiting with Grams, drinking coffee and chatting. And despite not being a baker, my grandma always had cookies. When my sister, cousins, and I got old enough to reach the counter, she had to move them from the green metal bread box to an overhead cupboard so we wouldn't stuff our pockets full of Soft Batch chocolate chip cookies before running outside to play.

It wasn't until I was much older, living states away from my grandparents' home, that I asked her about the rolling pin hanging in her kitchen.  It was my great-grandmother's, my grandpa's mom. She used to make springerle cookies for my grandpa as a kid growing up in Detroit.  The rolling pins hangs in her kitchen as a reminder - of my great-grandmother, of my grandpa, of the little house in Detroit where they lived when my grandparents were first married - of their shared history.

I was reminded of this shared history when one of my springerle rolling pins fell from the baker's rack in my kitchen this morning.  My rolling pins do not have the same history, bought on eBay a few years ago.  We use them regularly from Thanksgiving through Christmas to make our own springerle cookies.  My boys take turns to carefully roll out the designs on the dough. The owl is a favorite. They don't want to wait for the cookies to dry overnight in our garage before they can be popped into the oven to bake. The next day, they will sit impatiently by the oven door, watching through the warm glass as the cookies plump while they bake.  This is how we are building our history.  Later, they will help me package the springerle cookies to send out to my grandmother, their great-grandma.  She will call a few days later to say this is how I remember them.  

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sometimes You Don't Get What You Pay For

Slice of Life Challenge, Day 6

I can't help it. This Slice of Life writing logo has me thinking about orange juice.

Doesn't look appealing, does it? Unless it's in a Martha Stewart recipe.
The adage is true, sometimes you get what you pay for.  Orange juice.  A friend staying with us a few years back woke to find my husband mixing frozen orange juice in our kitchen.  "What are you doing?" he asked looking incredulously at the pitcher filling with tap water.  This is how both my husband and I were raised.  Orange juice from concentrate.  So, it is what we have always done without thinking too much about it.  It took an outsider, our friend, to point out that we were two professionals with stable incomes (at the time we didn't have kids) who could afford to buy fresh orange juice.  And it turns out, fresh orange juice is much better than a frozen gob of goo mixed with tap water.  And same goes for shoes.  A pair of well-made leather shoes will not only last a heck of a lot long that the plastic department store shoes, but feel a lot more comfortable after you've been standing in them for six hours straight talking with students all day.  Well worth the extra cost initially. And this is true for many things: hair products, hand-knit sweaters, socks...sometimes there are things worth spending the extra money on.

And sometimes not.

I hear frustration from educators who have been handed fantastic opportunties - a class set of iPads, new 1 to 1 initiatives, Chromebooks for every students - but unless districts first invest in the infrastructure and professional development, this is wasted money. A lot of wasted money.  What good is a building full of Chromebooks if your bandwidth can't support more than a fifty students utilizing online tools at a time? Before spending money on the newest hardware and software, schools need to be building an infrastructure that will support their future goals.

Photo by Kevin Jarrett
Michigan teachers have recently become painfully aware of this fact.  In 2014-2015 school year, Michigan schools have a state mandate to move all their state standarized tests over to online testing.  The problem with this is not one of schools having older technology or lacking devices.  Although 86 percent of Michigan schools have the technology in the buildings to meet the minimum requirement for taking these tests online, the Detroit News reported in January that "Only 62 percent have the recommended bandwith specifications - 50 kilobits - for online testing, which is expected to replace the paper-and-pencil Michigan Educational Assessment Program." The bandwidth, the infrastructure needed to support this move to online testing, is no where near ready for this change.

We need to stop spending our money on the newest, flashiest, fastest devices because unless we've built up the support for these devices, they are simply window dressing.  When you pay for the devices to fill a school without first building the bandwidth to support a building filled with devices, you are not getting what you paid for.  Just like many of use Understanding by Design to craft our teaching lessons beginning with our end in mind, we need our districts to do the same.  Start with the end in mind.  If you want more students utilizing online tools, you need to spend your money on supporting the infrastructure first.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I Write Therefore...

Slice of Life Challenge, Day 5

Years ago, I typed out and taped a quote from one of my favorite books, Annie Dillard's The Writing Life, to the top of my desktop monitor: "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing." Today, I am a writer.

I have spent my entire day writing.  Actually, it would be more accurate to say that I have spent my entire day rewriting.  The last 14 hours...oh dear, seriously, that long??!?!...have been spent revising two pieces that I have due for one of my graduate classes tomorrow night.  I must confess that I don't know that I ever spent quite this much time on an essay for undergrad.  Wait.  Maybe once.  I had this essay due my sophomore year for a notoriously difficult poetry teacher (rumor was he was only allowed to teach required courses because he gave so few passing grades) comparing the poems of Dylan Thomas from different periods of Thomas's writing career.  I wrote that darn paper three times.  Once because had failed to save and lost the entire piece when I went to print from my word processor (yup, I am that old), and the second time because I accidentally deleted the darned essay after getting three quarters of the way through writing it. By four in the morning, the essay was finally completed, and I knew the work of Dylan Thomas better than any Ph.D. candidate on campus, having had to rewrite that *expletive* *expletive* *expletive* essay so many *expletive* times.

But today's work was different.

In my earlier undergrad and graduate programs, I have done well.  I am not someone who has struggled with writing or with school work.  I like school.  I like writing.  But, I have never put a lot of time into what I have done, usually waiting until the last possible moment to put writing pieces together, knowing that the writing would come.  Lately, however, this has not been the case.  I struggle over my words, rewriting them time and again.  This is not an exercise.  This is what I am doing.  My words matter.  I am a writer.


I don't have a book.  I haven't published in print anywhere recently.  But this is what I consider to be my life's work.  Writing.  Helping other writers discover their voice.  In doing so, better understanding my own voice.

It feels hesitant and awkward to proclaim that I am a writer. I am shy about this. But not apologetic.

I am a writer.

Annie Dillard wrote, "One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes."

And so, I will continue to write, to obsess over my words, to give freely as to not become lost.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Student's Life

Slice of Life Challenge, Day 4

As I sit here typing, my son is reclining on the couch, his V-Tech "laptop" balanced on his belly, stablized by his criss-crossed legs. He's working on math problems. "I'm doing my homework," he's declared.  Just like mom.

I've flipped roles this semester.  My sabbatical began a little over a month ago, opening up the opportunity for me to return to school full-time.  And so my Tuesday and Thursday mornings and early afternoons are spent with my nose buried in books on rhetoric and teaching writing and literary theory and research.  And when my boys return from preschool, those books are generally strewn across the dining room table, intermixed with their Lego mini-figures in awkward poses, while I'm typing up my reading notes or a literary analysis essay.  This is my homework.  And I love it!  I've been writing and reading more than I have traditionally had time to do at this point in the year.  I'm enjoying being a student.  And it comes at the same time that my son is figuring out just what that means - being a student.

On Thursday this week, I'll stand in line to register him for kindergarten next fall.  He knows this.  He has been speaking of himself in future. "I'm going to be a student. I'm going to have homework." He's excited about this. He wants to learn.  He's been practicing homework, grabbing a sheet of printer paper and a colored pencil to practice writing out his letters while I type up my essays for class. It has me wondering about the years in between kindergarten and grad school, when so many students disengage from learning. What are the experiences that suck the the joy out of learning?  When does homework become less about learning and more about work?

Digital Rhetoric

My first website
I am a geek.  In 1998 the professor of my American Women Writers course announced that our final course project could be submitted in a creative format and flippantly gave the suggestion of creating a web page.  My ears perked up.  A web page?  How hard could that be?  So I signed up for a free Geocities account and sat down to learn HTML programming code. What can I say?  I enjoy a puzzle, and that’s exactly what designing my first website was for me - a puzzle.  I researched other sites, looked at the placement of text and images, learned the code to add in backgrounds, lists, and most importantly to add in hyperlinks, and hit publish.  It likely took me three or four times as long as my fellow graduate students, many of whom put together traditional literary analysis essays or lesson plans, to complete both the design and the writing that went along with my project, but I can now point to that moment as the start of something significant.  As I worked on that first site, I not only wrote and revised a traditional essay, utilizing what some might think of as the more traditional rhetoric and composition skills, but I also had to reflect on how my medium affected my message.  Taking into consideration who my anticipated reader was and how that reader would engage with my website, I made revisions to the images that I used, the introductory message, the organization of my pages and ideas.  I was forced to think critically about my audience and about my purpose.  And in making those considerations about the digital components, I also went back and revised my composition while keeping in mind my audience and purpose.  My medium informed my message.

Bringing digital writing into our classrooms opens up new opportunities for students to write and engage with authentic readers.  As teachers we can guide our students to think critically about the choices made by the authors of digital texts.  We can address a variety of learning styles through the use of digital texts, meeting the needs of verbal, visual, and aural learners. Through careful selection of digital mentor texts by teachers, students use digital models to help them craft and produce writing for real audiences in ways that engage readers outside the walls of the classroom.  Digital writing extends our learning about rhetorical choices. Technology opens up a world of writing possibilities.

And our classrooms are filled with technology.  The smartphone in the hoodie pocket of my student sitting in the front row of class has more memory than my first computer. Students are eager to use technology to learn both inside and outside of our classrooms.  Yet, perhaps the most commonly voiced frustration about incorporating technology into instruction is “I don’t have time.” I don’t have time to add in another thing to my already packed curriculum.  I don’t have time to learn Screencast-o-matic, and then teach it to my students.  Technology should not be an addition to what we are already doing to teach rhetoric and composition. Instead, digital tools help us engage students more deeply and critically in their examination and creation of texts.  It is not an addition; it is a refocusing.  As Mary Hocks writes in her article "Understanding Visual Rhetoric in Digital Writing Environments" published over a decade ago in the journal College Composition and Communication, “I believe that teaching digital rhetoric requires profound changes in how all of us think about both writing and pedagogy: Critiquing and producing writing in digital environments actually offers a welcome return to rhetorical principles and an important new pedagogy of writing as design” (632).

Hocks outlines how digital texts, more so than linearly printed texts, offer opportunities for the readers to more readily examine their stance as an audience for the reading.  She states, “Audience stance describes how the work visually gives the readers a sense of agency and possibilities for interactive involvement” (635). We take this for granted in printed texts.  Similarly, the ideas of transparency and hybridity, as shown through her example texts, demonstrate how use of digital texts can call student readers and writers to examine rhetorical choices that are often overlooked or taken for granted in traditional print writing. As such, Hocks asserts that through the critique of digital texts, students are more readily able to examine the rhetorical stance of the author/creator. It is through use of visual rhetoric in addition to more traditional textual critique that students have opportunities to engage more deeply in the critical examination of text production. Using these digital texts as models for their own work, students move from simply being consumers of knowledge to designers of it, and as such engage in those higher-order thinking activities teachers strive to facilitate.

But technology can be daunting for the uninitiated teacher and student.  Yet as Hocks’ essay points out, it’s not really about the tech.  Her focus, like ours as writers and teachers of writing, is on the craft and critical thinking that goes into writing and the production of meaning. Her essay does not delve into how to move images on a website or how to code.  Yet this is often what will shut educators down from attempting to use or create digital texts - the fear of tech.  How do we help those new to reading and creating digital spaces understand that it is not an additional app that we need to learn/teach but a changing set of rhetorical skills?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Read to Me

Slice of Life Challenge, Day 3

Students across the country are celebrating Read Across America Day today, that is if they are not enjoying yet another snow day. The National Education Association established Read Across America Day to coincide with Dr. Seuss's birthday on March 2nd. Because of our snow day today, my boys will celebrate tomorrow by bringing their favorite books to preschool and making Cat in the Hat crafts to wear throughout the day as they share their favorite stories. My eldest son has had his book picked out for a while. The Lorax. "Dr. Seuss makes a lot of rhymes, and I make a lot of rhymes, so we're kinda twins," he declares. He loves being read to, and as he is starting to pick out a few words on his own, I know it won't be all that long before he's reading on his own. Two of his very favorite spots are the library and the bookstore.  And both his dad and I are happy to indulge frequent visits as these are some of our favorite spots as well.

My son makes a Lorax mustache with his fingers
Sadly, though, this isn't a common experience for many of our young readers.  A poll released by the Pew Research Center in January of this year states that just under a quarter of Americans did not crack a book at all last year. The average number of books read by an adult last year? Five.  That's it.  But before we throw our hands up in frustration, we need to take some time to think critically about the types of reading experiences that our young people are offered today.

My tenth grade students, as I mentioned in a post a few days ago, take the PSATs, three state exams (some will take these state tests twice in one school year), and a few will end the year taking AP tests.  Not only is that a great deal of testing, but think about the reading that students engage in as they hunker down and bubble in responses.  Short, passage-based reading.  And to prepare for these tests, students are often given short, passage-based reading.  How much time do we give to our students to select a book of their choice and read for pleasure?  No wonder fewer adults escaped into a good book last year.

Not only do our students need more opportunities to read books of their choosing while they are in the classroom, but they also need to see their teachers reading for pleasure.  They need to see principals, staff, parents, and peers reading for pleasure.  We need to establish reading communities across the content areas.  Choice over what to read should not be relegated to the one Self Selected Reading (SSR) project done in the English class once a year.

And, as Philly teacher Mary Beth Hertz pointed out a few weeks ago in her Edutopia blog post titled "Reading 2.0," all hope is not lost.  Instead, we not only need to open up opportunities for students to select their own books, but we also need to include the reading that they do engage in, which for many of our students is done digitally.  Hertz writes,
"If we're forcing students to read boring test passages over and over, and teaching them that the only purpose behind reading is to perform on a test, then we have only ourselves to blame if students aren't reading for pleasure. We also need to begin to accept new forms of reading as what they are . . . reading. Young people have more reading options today than ever before, and these forms of reading require them to read differently."
Often times teachers scoff at the idea of labeling fan-fiction as reading.  However, it is a similar arguement that many had a decade or so ago when graphic novels started to become popular in middle and high school curriculums.  Students are reading these creative texts. Students are writing these creative texts.  Young people come into my classroom surprised sometimes when I do not scold them for reading an e-book on their phone.  Why would I?  The student is reading!  What more could an English teacher ask for?  We need to start bringing digital texts, not just e-books, but blogs, fan-fiction, and social media sites into the classroom.  Let's help our students learn to read these texts critically. And let's start counting all the reading that they are doing.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Open to Adventure

Slice of Life Challenge, Day 2

Most days, my boys are up for anything.  This morning following breakfast, I grabbed my cup of coffee and my tablet and flopped down on the couch while my boys played with their Legos to engage in one of my too often indulged in guilty pleasures...Pinterest. And what should appear on my screen? Pages of Ethiopian recipes. I still remember my first visit to an Ethiopian restaurant while staying with friends in Washington D.C.  My taste buds lit up.  So this morning, when I announced to my little Lego designers that we were headed into the city to buy some ingera and spices for an Ethiopian-inspired dinner, they gave me a quizzical look and went on playing with their Legos as if to say, "Okay, Mom. Whatever you say." An hour later, they were entertaining the young shop clerk while they begged to try the mango hard candies and samosas we also purchased. They were open to today's adventure.

My three-year-old is interested in all things edible. I'm lucky in that he'll eat nearly everything I've put in front of him (though last night's pickled herring took a little bit of convincing until my husband called it "Viking food"), but he also wants to help in the kitchen in the preparation of every meal.  So tonight as I had three pots on the stove, a mess of bowls in the sink, and a cutting board full carrots, my first inclination was to shoo him out of the kitchen so I could have dinner on the table in time.  But when he looked up with those eyes and said, "No mommy. Me help you," how could I say no?  He dragged his little chair over to the counter, climbed up, and I handed him a whisk.  And when our Ethiopian meal made it to the table, not only was he excited to be able to eat with his hands, but he was also excited to point out to his older brother and dad what he made - a salad.  He whisked the dressing and mixed it with the cucumbers and tomatoes. His eyes shone.

I need to remember to also release control of my classroom and give students more moments to shine. Having autonomy of one's learning is not just motivating, as Daniel Pink and others have pointed out.  It is empowering. I want to work with empowered students, empowered students open to adventure.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Measuring Up

I have followed the Two Writing Teachers blog and their Slice of Life writing challenges for over a year, but I have never participated. Until now. Today is the first day of the 2014 Slice of Life Writing Challenge. So, what is the challenge? Write about a slice of your day for each day in March. In addition to these daily posts, participants are encouraged to comment on at least three other #SOL14 posts, giving us a chance to get to know other bloggers. So here goes my first post:

This morning, as my boys were getting dressed, pants half pulled on and pajamas strewn across their shared bedroom, my five year old son became excited to see how he "measured up."  A wooden growth chart hangs near their bedroom door, and each birthday we mark how much my two sons have grown, taking time to pause and remember all that's happened in that year. It's a simple chart, marking dates and heights, but when my son wanted to stand in front of it this morning, heels tight to the wall, palm skimming the top of his head, a little sadness caught in my throat.  Not a nostalgic sadness that wished for time to slow down, but a sadness to see how concerned he was that he was measuring up.  And I wondered how much I was responsible for this concern.

As many first-time parents do, I anxiously read all the books and blog posts.  Was he reaching his milestones at the correct time?  Did he have enough words in his vocabulary? Shouldn't he be walking by now? I measured him in so many different ways.  Had I passed this concern onto my son?  Would he always be looking for where he should be instead of enjoying where he is at?

And as a teacher, isn't this similar to what I do with my students: grades assigned to essays or tests perhaps before students have quite reached their full potential.  Some students need more time to grow, to learn and practice the skills we expect them to demonstrate.  Others will have their growth spurts early, charging ahead of their classmates for a time.  But learning shouldn't be about the race to see who measures up the fastest.  But with an increased focus on high-stakes test scores, it seems that this is all we are concerned with - how fast and how well do our students measure up.  My tenth grade students acutely feel this measuring. As sophomores, many of my students sign-up for weekend SAT prep courses or work with tutors, and take the PSATs, and take our state standardized tests in English, biology, and algebra, and then end the year in grueling AP tests.  At so many different points they are tested; their scores measured against those of neighboring districts and districts across the state.  We talk of students as groups, as numbers.  But what about the individual?

That's what caused tears to catch at the corners of my eyes this morning as I saw my five-year-old trying to measure up.  Next fall when he enters kindergarten, I hope his teacher doesn't just see how well he does on a vocabulary test or how well he knows his b's from his d's.  I hope his teacher gets to know my joke-tellin', rhyme-lovin', puzzle-solvin', song-singin' little boy. And more than that, I hope that his teacher encourages him to be creative, to explore, to listen to the world around him, to get to know his classmates, and to not worry so much about whether he measures up. I, too, need to remember this for all the students who find their way through my classroom door.

What is Heutagogy?

I learned a new word just a few days ago: heutagogy. But before I explain what it means, I want to backtrack and explain how I learned about the idea of heutagogy.

My 10th grade students collaborating
My tenth grade students completed 20% time research projects during the fall semester. This was a change from the type of research they had completed in earlier classes in that I encouraged them to select topics they did not ordinarily have an opportunity to learn about in class, and we used at least (sometimes more) one full class day each week as a workshop day to research, read, interview, create, and revise their writing and their thinking. But it also meant that my students completed a lot of research in the fall. Not only did my students complete a 20% time project, but they also completed the more traditional research paper on an issue presented in a literary text that is currently mandated as part of our core curriculum. I sought permission from my principal to pilot this new approach to teaching research after completing a MOOC with A.J. Juliani this past summer. And as students completed their research, I was also starting my own, collecting examples of student work, watching how students engaged in the research process and used class time, reviewing the reflection blogs students posted about their process and what they were learning. Now that my students are established in their second semester classes, I have an opportunity to reflect on the process we engaged in and the skills students developed as they worked toward the completion of their self-selected and self-directed research. Having a bit of distance from the completion of their 20% time research project, I wonder what students will say about what and how they learned. Although I know why I feel such learning expereinces are valuable to their critical thinking and writing development, I need to hear from my students.

So this past week I had some information conversations with my former students. When I asked students what they thought about the 20% research project, four of the five students I spoke with responded that they like the opportunity to learn something that they usually did not get to study in school or that they liked being able to select their own topic without having to chose from a list. One of the students responded that he liked that he could learn in depth about a topic of his choice. Another student liked that she could choose the way in which she shared what she learned and with whom she shared it. So, the idea of choice has started to guide some of my initial research.

Graphic found on the NCSL's site
I started to look through some of the research on writing that I already had gathered. In trying to find published research on teachers doing 20%time/Genius Hour projects, I stumbled upon a recent blog post mentioned on Cybrary Man’s web resource for Genius Hour/ 20% Time. I was intrigued because he recently retitled this resource to included Self-Determined Learning. I have never heard of this before, although it seems evident. The blog post that prompted Cybrary Man’s page name change was a piece by the American School of Bombay Research and Development team and called for an end to Genius Hour and 20% Time Research projects. The reason? Such "projects" are relegating what many think of as the most meaningful work that we are doing in our classrooms to one hour or one class period a week, putting a box around this type of learning rather than thinking about what it means for our curriculums as a whole. I was intrigued by this idea. The post mentioned the work being done by Richard Ryans and Edward Deci on Self-Determined Learning (SDL). And within a few clicks and a quick perusal of Daniel Pink’s book Drive, I realized that I had already read a little bit of their work. Not only was Ryan and Deci’s work was mentioned in Drive, but their work is also being used to support a new movement - Heutagogy.

Click to view the larger size of Lindy McKeown Orwin's image at TeachThought
Heutagogy seems to have gotten its start in the 1970s by looking at what motivates adult learners, although initially this approach was called andragogy. Heutagogy is a evolution of some of that earlier research on what motivates learning, but heutagogy also includes an educational mandate. Instead of simply examining how people learn, heutagogy is also a focus on metacognition, getting students and teachers to think about how they learned what they learned. Hase and Kenyon are thought to be the originators of this approach, which they outline in a piece called “From Andragogy to Heutagogy”. This approach is also often called self-determined or self-driven learning. A quick search of #heutagogy on Twitter revealed that in the last month, more and more educators are starting to use this term and ideas of choice, autonomy, and mastery as they discuss successful learning and writing projects.

As I learn more about the tenets of heutagogy, I see this as being a framework for my research on my students' engagement in their 20% time research project.

I wonder if other educators are also using heutagogy in the development of their curriculum.  I would love to hear from you!

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