Thursday, February 24, 2011

John Davitt Visits

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="335" caption="John Davitt - image from"][/caption]

We were fortunate to have John Davitt, a writer, broadcaster and digital tool maker, be our school's special guest the past two days. Previously I was inspired by John's presentations as a keynote speaker and workshop leader at a conference and wrote about that experience on my blog. John met with different groups such as the librarians, administrators and IT specialists, spoke to the middle school students at an assembly, and guest-taught a number of classes in the elementary, middle and upper schools utilizing his Learning Event Generator and some outdoor learning (similar to this one) . He presented “How Technology can Fit and Enhance Learning” to a mixed audience of students, teachers, and parents. These past two days were filled with a multitude of learning opportunities. If I were to go into detail about each profound thought that came from these two days, this post would go on and on.  Instead,  I'll offer just a few personal reflections:

  • Teachers need to become better at letting go and letting students own the learning.

  • Let students demonstrate their knowledge in different ways - some they are comfortable with, and some they are not.

  • In group work, students might go off in the wrong direction, but there is learning happening as they correct their course - learning that the teacher could not have planned for.

  • The power of group learning is underrated - Groups of students can achieve greater heights than individuals.

  • Given a problem with very little direction on how to solve it students will amaze you with their problem solving skills, often utilizing tools and techniques that the teacher might not have thought of.

  • There are many different approaches to powerful learning and as teachers we need to be offering our diverse learners different ways of learning and demonstrating learning.

  • There is a struggle (that enhances and consolidates learning) when you have to demonstrate learning in a way that you are not comfortable with.

Lastly, I would like to thank John Davitt for his thoughtful insights, his energy and generosity (he is leaving us with some copies of the Learning Score, which I will write more about later)  .  I would encourage any school out there to bring John to your campus if you have a chance.  You can learn more about John Davitt at his blog, his website or on twitter.

[caption id="attachment_106" align="alignleft" width="640" caption="Outdoor Learning Adventure"]Outdoor Learning Adventure[/caption]

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Facebook Friend Map in Social Studies

A colleague recently sent me a link to this article about how a Facebook intern mapped out the relationships of ten million pairs of friends.  My first reaction was to note its beauty.  But then I started thinking about how it might be used in a Geography or other social studies class.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="550" caption="Facebook Friend Visualization Map"]Facebook Friend Visualization Map[/caption]

There are actually quite a few things you can learn about geography, population and even politics from looking at this. Depending on the age of your students, you could put this image in front of them and have them come up with observations and/or questions for further exploration.  Or, maybe you have to give them some prompts such as: What does this image tell us about the geography of Canada or Australia? Where did China go? etc.  I'm sure there are plenty of educational uses for this image that I'm not thinking of.  If you have an idea, please share your thoughts in a comment on this post.  For a larger-than-full-screen view check out this post on Gizmodo, and for more about the process and data visualization check out this page on Facebook.