Category Archives: Synergy 8

SMP-8: look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning #LL2LU

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We want every learner in our care to be able to say

I can look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning. (CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP8)

But what if I can’t look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning yet? What if I need help? How might we make a pathway for success?

Level 4
I can attend to precision as I construct a viable argument to express regularity in repeated reasoning.

Level 3
I can look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.

Level 2
I can identify and describe patterns and regularities, and I can begin to develop generalizations.

Level 1
I can notice and note what changes and what stays the same when performing calculations or interacting with geometric figures.

What do you notice? What changes? What stays the same?

Can we use CAS (computer algebra system) to help our students practice look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning?

What do we need to factor for the result to be (x-4)(x+4)?
What do we need to factor for the result to be (x-9)(x+9)?
What will the result be if we factor x²-121?
What will the result be if we factor x²-a2?

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We can also explore over what set of numbers we are factoring using the syntax we have been using. And what happens if we factor x²+1. (And then connect the result to the graph of y=x²+1.)

What happens if we factor over the set of real numbers?

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Or over the set of complex numbers? 

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What about expanding the square of a binomial? 

What changes? What stays the same? What will the result be if we expand (x+5)²?  Or (x+a)²?  Or (x-a)²? 

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What about expanding the cube of a binomial?  Or expanding (x+1)^n, or (x+y)^n?

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What if we are looking at powers of i?

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We can look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning when factoring the sum or difference of cubes. Or simplifying radicals. Or solving equations.

Through reflection and conversation, students make connections and begin to generalize results. What opportunities are you giving your students to look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning? What content are you teaching this week that you can #AskDontTell?

[Cross-posted on Easing the Hurry Syndrome]

 

 

Reflection: gift of time and reflection with Honors College learners

Leveraging the power of PLNs, Grant Lichtman (@GrantLichtman) connected Bo and me with Dave Ostroff (@DaveOstroff) sometime last summer.  In November, Grant suggested that I might enjoy spending a day learning with All Saints Episcopal School and Dave.  He was right.

Today the freshmen of the Tad Bird Honors College, Dave, and I gathered to learn together.  We accepted the challenge of the Gift Giving Project. Each member of this community committed to reflecting on some aspect of the experience tonight.  So, I am fulfilling my commitment to share what I learned from and with these 17 exceptional thinkers.

_________________________

I like the tone and spirit of this group of learners, because I felt invited and accepted even though I was a stranger.  I wonder if this was because it was the second day of class and everyone is new to each other, or if this is a cultural norm.  What if we intentionally designed learning to be this open and accepting of others in all classrooms? How might we change education and learning by having this strong open door, all are welcome attitude everywhere?

I wonder if these learners know how powerful their work is and will be as they continue to problem find and problem solve together. I like how easy it seemed for them to roll up their sleeves and do the critical empathy work to actively listen and probe to uncover the root problem of their user.  What if we apply this work to local and global problems? How might we serve our communities by taking the time to ask enough questions to really hear and uncover needs?

I really like how fearless these learners are in their pursuit of understanding others and how they might serve one another.  I wonder if their fearlessness is understood, noticed, and acknowledged.  How might we bright spot the beauty of the risk and reward of listening with your heart? What if we practice sharing the unnoticed gems that require such bravery?

I love seeing the ideation of ideas. I love seeing them turn their 2-D drawings into 3-D prototypes to visualize point of view and possibilities. I wonder about the impact of the process and the product. What if we took the time to show what we know and think by building models of our ideas? How might we embrace additional creativity, communication, and collaboration by such acts?

I love the stories that accompany the ideation and prototyping. I wonder how we might capture the emotion, energy, and connectedness in these stories to share with others. What if we build to learn, create to communicate, and share? How might we better understand each other?

_________________________

Accepted as a co-learner and embraced as a colleague, I learned with this community today.  How might we learn and share and connect and serve? What if we accept this as a responsibility?

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Brainwriting…collaborative brainstorming enhanced by Google Docs

Do the same members of the learning team contribute at every meeting, brainstorming session, and discussion?  Do we ever hear from everyone?  How do we offer others the opportunity to have their voices and ideas heard?

In Synergy and our PLCs, Bo and I have used Brainwriting from Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers to hear from everyone, to help members of our community engage in the ideas of others, and to build collaborative thinking.  This process, described at gogamestorm.com, uses index cards as the collaborative tool.

Here’s an example from our Synergy 8 team.  They were asked to pick a problem at school they would like to address and brainstorm.  (I had to type it up from the big Post-it notes used in the Synergy Coffeehouse.)

I think that sleep is a big issue that we need to solve.  I think over half the students at [school] don’t get enough sleep, and that we need to fix that.  Everyone needs a good amount of sleep to function well at school.  I think we should do a survey just to make sure of how many people at [school] don’t get enough sleep.  We should research different ways to get more sleep and educate others on our findings.  It would also help if somehow we made schedule changes to help school start later.  I think this project will end up bettering the lives of the students at [school] and help them come to school everyday better prepared.  I would hope that we could change the time of school starting in order to aid not just the students at [school] but students everywhere to get more sleep.  It will take a lot of research and preparation to

Pretty great thinking from 12- and 13-year-olds, huh?  Just for a little more clarity, four different learners contributed to the piece above.  Here’s how their contributions built the idea above:

Originator:

I think that sleep is a big issue that we need to solve.  I think over half the students at [school] don’t get enough sleep, and that we need to fix that.  Everyone needs a good amount of sleep to function well at school.

Index card passes to new team member and ideas are carried forward:

I think we should do a survey just to make sure of how many people at [school] don’t get enough sleep.  We should research different ways to get more sleep and educate others on our findings.

Index card passes to a third team member:

It would also help if somehow we made schedule changes to help school start later.  I think this project will end up bettering the lives of the students at [school] and help them come to school everyday better prepared.

Index card shifts to a fourth team member:

I would hope that we could change the time of school starting in order to aid not just the students at [school] but students everywhere to get more sleep.  It will take a lot of research and preparation to

Time is called.

It is important to note that as this idea was growing, three other ideas were growing too. To be more clear, here is another brainwriting sample from this team.

Why do people cut in line?  How do we prevent line cutting?

  1. Find people who cut in line
  2. Interview them: why, when, how they avoid detection
  3. Remove the motivation: this will prevent cutting
  4. Is line cutting different in different grades?

All good questions! How can we know who and why people cut in line?  How could we make others aware of the “taking the motivation” of cutting away?

They should notice.  If people cut to get bagels, for example, we could move or remove the bagels.  Maybe if they are somewhere else the line will form differently and cutting won’t happen.  I think we need more empathy for others.

How does my cutting affect/impact the people in line behind me?  Would anyone tolerate a senior cutting in line in front of a 1st grader?  Would we allow that to happen?  What is the difference in cutting in line when others can’t “fight back?” How do we encourage our community to model and live the Golden Rule?

We have also used brainwriting with our teacher-learners in PLC to build ideas and understanding around PBL.  We have used brainwriting with our Department Integration Specialists to build common lessons on digital citizenship.

The brainwriting process is fantastic and yields great results.  The index cards and Post-it notes are bound to a physical space.  What if we shifted this experience to a set of Google docs?  Would we get the same good thinking?

John Burk outlined using Google docs to using brainwriting with a team in his Quantum Progress post Brainwriting to explore digital citizenship.

“Here’s how it works:

  1. In google docs, create a template document with a writing prompt, and then place that document inside that collection. For us, the prompt was “Describe how to serve, lead and grow in a community.”
  2. Share the document with your class or colleagues, and ask each person to create his/her own copy of the template, and rename it with his/her last name.
  3. Have each person write for 3 minutes on the prompt on their copy of the template.
  4. After three minutes, ask each person to switch to the next document in the list, read what is written and then add to that document in the voice of the original author.”

John continues in his post saying “Once you’ve got 3-4 rounds with this, you’ll be pretty amazed by how the entire group has created a collection documents that present a range of viewpoints and yet share many common threads.”

How do we teach collaboration, critical thinking, empathy, and divergent thinking?  How do we coach ourselves and others to listen and contribute to the ideas of others?

_________________________

If you have ideas of how to use brainwriting to create collaborative experiences to move teams, will you share them in the comments below?  Will you read another’s idea and extend it to learn and share?

Synergy-PBL: Questions are waypoints on the path of wisdom #CFTSI12 (After 3) Coffee and Dessert: What Will Sweeten Your Teaching After #CFTSI12?

On Monday and Tuesday, June 25-26, Bo Adams and Jill Gough facilitated a ten-hour workshop on PBL at The Center for Teaching Summer Institute (#CFTSI12 on Twitter). With this post (see below the bulleted list), we are hoping to encourage and support the most important part of any conference or institute for professional learning – the “taking-things-back-to-school-to-enhance-learning” part.

Synergy-PBL: Questions are waypoints on the path of wisdom #CFTSI12 (After 3)
Coffee and Dessert: What Will Sweeten Your Teaching After #CFTSI12?
(180 Days of Possibility in 2012-13 – Keeping the Conversation Going)

CHALLENGE: Many believe that this is actually the best part of the meal. The #CFTSI12 for Synergy and PBL is complete, but the fun, decadent portion has just begun. As we all know, peak learning tends toward project-based experiences, and students long remember the sweetness of the projects that they taste and savor. Additionally, Steven Johnson advocates for coffeehouse environments that create the conditions for great conversations and colliding hunches. So…let’s feed our sweet tooth and share in those magical after-diner-coffee conversations. When (not if!) you implement PBL with your student learners, share the plates and cups with the entire table – POST your writing, resources, insights, and struggles regarding your PBL implementations. If you have a blog, please consider cross-posting to Synergy2Learn as a contributing author. If you don’t have a blog of your own, we still invite you to post to our collective-wisdom site for PBL – Synergy2Learn.

  1. When you are ready to share and contribute, email Jill and Bo, and we will set you up as “contributors” to the Synergy2Learn PBL blog.
  2. After you are set up as a contributing author, you can keep on posting about your pursuits and accomplishments with PBL.
  3. Even if you did not physically participate in the #CFTSI12 for Synergy and PBL, this offer still applies!

_________

Coming Soon…

Amazing stories of PBL experiments, implementations, and accomplishments from our #CFTSI12 participants and blog readers (hopefully!)…

[Cross-posted on It’s About Learning and Synergy2Learn]

Synergy-PBL: Questions are waypoints on the path of wisdom #CFTSI12 (3 of 3) The Second Course: “School’s Cool” – PBL for the Student-Learner

[On Tuesday, June 26, as part of the Center for Teaching’s annual Summer Institutes, Bo Adams and Jill Gough are facilitating day 2 of a two-day workshop on PBL (project-based learning, problem-based learning, place-based learning, passion-based learning, etc.). The online course description is linked below, and the outline for day 2 follows. The pre-institute assignment (the “appetizers”) and a short description of the “flights” structure can be found here, and the outline for day 1 is here.]

Synergy-PBL: Questions are waypoints on the path of wisdom #CFTSI12 (3/3)
The Second Course: “School’s Cool” – PBL for the Student-Learner
(Day 2 – Tuesday, June 26, 8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.)

EL #1: I can share my deep understanding of PBL through PBL methods and pedagogies, as well as with direct-instruction and conversation.

EL #2: I can commit to PBL with student learners by working through stages of rapid-prototype planning, implementing, and assessing.

8:30 – 9:15 a.m.
Fail more…Fail Faster (Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail Reprise) Flight

  1. With your partner, use your PBL storyboard and developing asset pool to continue building your PBL multi-media tool. Remember to review the good thinking and storyboarding of other groups – it’s not “stealing,” it’s sharing and collaborating!
  2. Review and revise assets you made for self-selected “HW” last night…recycle, re-design, re-purpose, re-build,…
  3. At 9:00, we’ll do a quick sub-team check-in – by jigsawing among sub-teams – before we move on with the next flight. (Suggested protocol: THE 5 WHYS)

9:15 – 10:00 a.m.
Bloom’s Got Nothin’ On Us Flight

  1. Quick exploration and discussion of pbl-PBL matrix, a.k.a. “Adams-Gough Taxonomy.”
  2. Quiet reflection – place some of your current project work on a copy of the Adams-Gough Taxonomy.
  3. Brief share-out and mediated journal of possibilities for working in capital-P PBL (upper-right quadrant).

10:00 – 11:00 a.m.
I Am Not a Commitment-phobe Flight

  1. Using DESIGN THE BOX or COVER STORY, create a model and story to share with the group. The model and story should share a PBL idea that you will commit to implementing with your student learners in the first semester of 2012-13.
  2. At 10:35, we will hear 2-3 minute presentations from each designer/group.
  3. During each presentation, contribute post-it feedback: 1) I like…, 2) I wonder…, 3) I want to know more about…

11:00 – 11:59 a.m.
Pardon Our Noise…It’s the Sound of PBL Construction Flight

  1. Time to complete the next iteration of your rapid-prototype design for the multi-media PBL tool.
  2. Time to workshop some of the feedback that undoubtedly will arise from the “I Am Not a Commitment-phobe” Flight.
  3. Time to question, question, question – they are waypoints on the path of wisdom.

12:00 p.m.
Lunch…PBL really stirs an appetite (especially on Day Two)!

12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
On the TEDxCFT/IGNITE Stage Flight

  1. Each sub-team will have 15 minutes: 5 minutes for presentation of their multi-media PBL tool + 8 minutes of Q & A + 2 minutes of transition.
  2. Don’t Get Stuck – You Have What It Takes to Make the Next Steps!
  3. Invitation to “Coffee and Dessert” Flight

_________

Coming Soon…

Synergy-PBL: Questions are waypoints on the path of wisdom #CFTSI12 (After 3)
Coffee and Dessert: What Will Sweeten Your Teaching After #CFTSI12?
(180 Days of Possibility in 2012-13 – Keeping the Conversation Going)

[Cross-posted on It’s About Learning and Synergy2Learn]

Synergy-PBL: Questions are waypoints on the path of wisdom #CFTSI12 (2 of 3) The First Course: “School Tools” – PBL for the Adult Palette

[On Monday, June 25, as part of the Center for Teaching’s annual Summer Institutes, Bo Adams and Jill Gough are facilitating day 1 of a two-day workshop on PBL (project-based learning, problem-based learning, place-based learning, passion-based learning, etc.). The online course description is linked below, and the outline for day 1 follows. The pre-institute assignment (the “appetizers”) and a short description of the “flights” structure can be found here.]

Synergy-PBL: Questions are waypoints on the path of wisdom #CFTSI12 (2/3)
The First Course: “School Tools” – PBL for the Adult Palette
(Day 1 – Monday, June 25, 8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.)

EL #1: I can share my deep understanding of PBL through PBL methods and pedagogies, as well as with direct-instruction and conversation.

EL #2: I can commit to PBL with student learners by working through stages of rapid-prototype planning, implementing, and assessing.

CHALLENGE: Because you are attending this Center for Teaching Summer Institute on PBL, the CFT intends to use you as PBL leaders in 2012-13 (and beyond!). Westminster is furthering its Learning for Life vision, and Drew Charter is envisioning a PBL high school, so PBL leaders are high in demand! We want to help you prepare your PBL-leadership tool belt. By the end of this CFT-SI, you will build and present a multi-media resource about PBL that you can use to support a host of adult and student learners engaging in the complex wonder of PBL! Consider it a crucial deposit in the bank of visionary work! [We may even go Pecha-Kucha or Ignite style!]

Resources to consider including in PBL multi-media tool:

  • PBL Framework(s)
  • PBL “Expert Voices” from research and practice
  • PBL as “place-based,” “problem-based,” “passion-based,” as well as “project-based” [ideas around campus, Atlanta, etc.]
  • PBL Video Resources – pictures are worth 1000s of words!
  • Examples of PBL being tried and attempted/implemented
  • Interviews – voices from students and adults about how and what we want to learn
  • Ideas for PBL you intend to implement yourself

8:45 – 9:45 a.m.
Questions, Connections, & Empathy Flight

  1. POST-UP: What questions do you have about PBL and “the Challenge”, as well as questions about related opportunities such as integrated studies, teachers working in teams, etc.?
  2. AFFINITY MAP: What connections do we see in our questions and ideas?
  3. EMPATHY MAP: What’s it like to be a student? + provocations from “Writing-Is-Thinking” Flight of Pre-Assignments (How to Create an Empathy Map using Google Docs)

9:45 – 11:15 a.m.
School IS Real Life – From Simulations to Social Justice Flight

  1. World Peace and Other Fourth Grade Achievements – morning movie & popcorn!
  2. “Kiran Bir Sethi teaches kids to take charge” – and candy!
  3. Synergy 8 Ignite – and a Coke!

11:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Knowing Places and People Flights – Diners’ Choice

  • Learning Walk Flight – Armed with an iPad, laptop, or other smart device, explore, inquire, and record by…
  1. Capturing at least 3 pictures of people, places, or things that could spur PBL;
  2. Archiving at least 2 video interviews of people discussing a possible learning project, problem, or passion;
  3. Brainstorming at least 1 idea for a community project. [BONUS: Base it on a synergy of the above!]
  1. locally,
  2. nationally,
  3. globally.

12:00 p.m.
Lunch…PBL really stirs an appetite!

 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail Flight

  1. UNDERSTANDING CHAIN or GRAPHIC GAMEPLAN: With a partner, craft a storyboard of your PBL multi-media tool concept. With one or the other of these two Gamestorms, we will be able to co-post our “slides” or “path points” on a common game board so that we can share across groups.
  2. Begin building assets, as time permits!
  3. Rapid-prototype presentations of storyboards before we adjourn for the day.

_________

Coming Soon…

Synergy-PBL: Questions are waypoints on the path of wisdom #CFTSI12 (3/3)
The Second Course: “School’s Cool” – PBL for the Student-Learner
(Day 2 – Tuesday, June 26, 8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.)

Synergy-PBL: Questions are waypoints on the path of wisdom #CFTSI12 (After 3)
Coffee and Dessert: What Will Sweeten Your Teaching After #CFTSI12?
(180 Days of Possibility in 2012-13 – Keeping the Conversation Going)

[Cross-posted on It’s About Learning and Synergy2Learn]

Synergy – Questions are the waypoints on the path of wisdom #MICON12

On Thursday, June 14, Bo Adams and Jill Gough are facilitating a double-session at The Martin Institute’s 2012 Conference (#MICON12 on Twitter). Below, conference participants and blog readers alike can find an outline of our session (at least as we intend it before we start!), complete with links to the resources we plan to use.

Synergy – Questions are the waypoints on the path of wisdom (Framework Plans) [100 minutes]

  1. Marshmallow Challenge [18 minutes + setup + debrief = 30 minutes]
  2. Synergy 8 Preso + Showcase Project Products/Q&A [15 minutes + 15 minutes = 30 minutes]
  3. Reading from The Falconer re: Questions [5 minutes]
  4. Gamestorm to share about others’ experiences/practices with PBL (see “Post-Up”) + Gamestorm to generate future ideas for PBL (see “Storyboard”) [30 minutes]
  5. Wrap-Up + Goodie Bag[5 minutes]
    1. “7 Essentials for Project-Based Learning” article + “4 A’s” protocol
    2. Peak Learning Experience Exercise – “Think about your own life and the times when you were really learning, so much and so deeply, that you would call these the ‘peak learning experiences’ of your life. Tell a story (you may include pictures, symbols, or other icons, too) about this peak learning experience, and respond to the question, ‘What were the conditions that made your high-level experience so powerful and engaging?'(adapted from 21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times, Trilling and Fadel, 2009). Jill and Bo often use this prompt as a pre-writing exercise in order to connect people with the project-based nature of our most enduring learnings throughout life.
    3. Synergy2Learn (resource on PBL)
    4. Synergy 8 Logo, Essential Learnings, and Learning Targets (via Scribd) [also embedded below]

Title of the Conversation
Synergy – Questions are the waypoints on the path of wisdom

Conversational Focus/Audience
High School
Middle School
Upper Elementary School

Short Description
Like a tribe around the fire, let’s discuss how we implement PBL as an entire course or as an input to a class. The conversation starters will describe Synergy – an 8th grade community-issues course. Then, through story exchange, we will share a variety of PBL ideas and implementation methods.

Extended Description
In Westminster’s 8th grade, we are experiencing year two of a new course called “Synergy 8.” Synergy is a non-departmentalized, transdisciplinary, non-graded, community-issues, problem-solving course. While we begin with an “alpha project” to practice project process, we use the “Falconer” method to empower student questioning and curiosity. From the student questions, the entire team generates the projects on which learners of all ages ultimately work.

Our conversational focus will be PBL (project-based learning, problem-based learning, passion-based learning, place-based learning, etc.). We intend to generate ideas from an exchange of current practices and possibilities. We hope to move beyond mere conversation and bridge into collaboration by building for the future more student-learner generated PBL…perhaps even “big, hairy audacious” PBL that unites our various schools and increases the mass of folks working on the problems which define our world.

For more detailed stimulus about “Synergy” and “PBL,” see categories and tags on Bo’s and Jill’s blogs: It’s About Learning (Bo’s blog) and Experiments in Learning by Doing (Jill’s blog).

[Cross-posted at It’s About Learning]

Synergy 8 – Self-assessment: learning from and with students

In a post from first semester, Empowering and Guiding Students to Take Charge of Assessment – Synergy 8 Example, Bo and I wrote and cross-posted information about a primary component of our assessment plan.

The student learners take primary responsibility for preparing their reflections about their own learning and growth. The student learners initiate the communication of this self-generated progress report to their parents, their teacher-facilitators, their grade chairs, and their director of studies.

We continue this practice.  It is interesting to me that we call it practice.  We practice to learn, grow, and improve, right?  We are getting better at prompting these self-assessments, and our learners are getting better at providing rich details about their learning and growth.

Here is our most recent self-assessment reflection scaffolding and prompt.  We would love to know what you think.

Midterm Self-Assessment/Progress Report Writing

Step -1:
Re-read and review past blog posts…1st Interim forward.

Step 0:
Use Synergy 8 EL Gears and Rays of Light – Brainstorming and Finding Artifacts to pre-think evidence of learning and growth

Step 1:
Begin draft #1 Midterm Self-Assessment/Progress Report

Step 2:
Look at our current slidedeck resources and choose at least one slide to visually represent your sub-team’s contribution to the Alpha project progress.

Step 3:
Complete draft #1 Midterm Self-Assessment/Progress Report. Use Google Doc or send draft in Word or Pages via email to 2-peer review partners NOT IN YOUR SUB-TEAM and CC Mr. A and Ms. G.

Step 4:
Peer review (2x) Midterm Self-Assessment/Progress Report. Use comments feature of word processor to write to a) I like…, b) I wonder…, c) I want to know more about…

Step 5:
Work on draft #2 – Revise, edit, and re-write Midterm Self-Assessment/Progress Report.

Step 6:
By Friday 5:00 p.m., post Midterm Self-Assessment/Progress Report to wmslearns and URL to Schoology.

Blog Prompt:

On wmslearns.net, write a four-paragraphs post that tells your story of bright-spot learning, challenge, and alpha-project progress. When finished, publish your post URL [on Schoology].

In class on 03-13-12, you used a modified rubric to list some learning moments and quick write about each of the four essential learning “gear areas” of Synergy.

For this blog post…

* Insert at least one image of one of the slides from your Ignite-lite slidedeck to use as a visual representation of your team’s sub-project of our Alpha project.

  1. Your first paragraph should be a strong introduction to your sub-team’s focus for the Alpha Project and PARTICULARLY a preview of YOUR major learning from the project. This paragraph is an advanced organizer.
  2. Your second paragraph should be about your “bright spot” essential learning – the area where you are experiencing the most success. Supporting details and evidence are essential. Also include how you use your bright spot to advance the work of the alpha project we selected as a team.
  3. Your third paragraph should be about the challenges you face relative to this Alpha Project. These could be project implementation challenges, personal learning challenges, etc. Additionally, you should write about the support you need to help overcome these challenges.
  4. Your final paragraph should be a conclusion about how you see your Alpha Project concluding and wrap up about your bright spot and challenge.

*** Remember that good stories and strong writing contain a balance of general and specific details. Use evidence to support your claims, but do NOT simply describe activities that we have done in Synergy. You MUST describe your LEARNING from these activities.]

While you must have proper credentials to read our learners’ blog posts, I thought I could share a couple of my comments so that you might have a sense of what I am learning with and from our leaners.

Example 1:

I appreciate the journey your team has worked through to get to a project that is meaningful to you. I am interested in knowing about the observations your team made to reach the conclusion that people are forgetting to do KP rather than refusing to do it. Do you think that people forget KP because they have to hang back after everyone has eaten or because they do not remember it at all?

I think you are spot-on about your bright spot of Problem Solutions & ID. The divergent thinking of your team lasted a long time, which is great. This indicates to me that your team explored many different ways to identify and solve problems. I think using biodegradable tablecloths to make clean up easier was a very interesting solution to propose, but you did realize that this solution created additional problems.

I hope your team returns to the idea of finding a fun way to motivate people to clean up after themselves. If everyone would do his or her part, by cleaning up just their stuff, KP would be less of a chore. I wonder if you could use the idea of “paying it forward” or “taking care of your neighbor” to encourage people to clean up their stuff and one more person’s stuff. Cleaning up yours plus one other might make a big dent in the problem.

I understand how you feel about the Ignite-lite presentations. I need more practice too. I have now tried it twice, and I find it nerve-racking. I do think I’m getting better, and I am more confident. Just think how much better you will be at presentation building and making because you have started to practice now.

I am curious about your bright spot from last our interim assessment. Do you think that you have improved in it too? Do you think that your teams’ work has just highlighted your problem-solving skills?

I also want to know more about your team’s plan for the brightly painted KP tables where all of the supplies for KP will be found. Do you have sketches of how you want the tables painted to show Mr. Nash and us? Who is going to paint these tables, and when are they going to be painted? Do you have a plan to post who has KP on a given day as an additional reminder?

What do you hope to have accomplished by Thursday?

Example 2:

I agree, [learner], that your bright spot and strength is communication and collaboration. Look at all you have learned about the process of problem-solving. You said “It was incredible how many things could be wrong, too many words, wrong idea, too distracting, no permission, but finally we got it right!” It does take patience, persistence, and stamina to solve big problems like idling and carpooling.

Would you include an image of your team’s proposed business card? I’d like to see the current version. I’ve been thinking about your business cards, and I’m wondering if you want to create several different sets of business cards. What if you created a business card with an infographic to show the benefits of not idling? What if you created another card in your series with an infographic on carpooling? I think you want to have cards to hand out that raise awareness of idling and educate about the benefits to the environment if we would make the simple change to turn our cars off while waiting in the carpool line.

Has your team published the website? I would love to see the work you have done to date. I want to know more about the benefits and challenges of carpooling. I am interested in learning more about the benefits of not idling. I am much more aware, because of your team, of when I am idling, but I do not really know what I am doing to the environment while idling. Will it really save me money? How am I harming the environment? What can I do to raise awareness in others? (So you have made a difference in the number of people who idle.)

Do you have ideas to offer the ad campaign team? Are you looking for video ads or print ads? Have you had the ad campaign team look over your business cards to give you feedback from their perspective?

Do you have a dissemination plan for the business cards? How will your team hand them out? Will they be available before and after school? Do you plan to hand them out at the elementary school as well as the junior high?

I do want to encourage you to look in the mirror when you find yourself “challenged to find a leader when we needed one the most“. I see you as a strong leader in your team. Yours is a voice I hear moving the work forward. Your questions and determination lead your team. Remember, you do not have to have a title or designation to be a leader.

Bo and I remain committed to continuing to run some “pracademic” experiments in a number of areas, including assessment and student-progress reporting. We continue to put the student at the forefront of the assessment process.  Instead of an adult (teacher) writing a static comment to another adult (parent), the Synergy 8 students utilize moderated journaling to prepare their self-assessment reports.

From our October post:

They are precipitating virtual, student-led conferences when they send their reports to the adults who serves as guides and coaches. Unlike the database-housed comments of the past, these student-based comments stir responses from their parents and the adults at school to whom they write. During the course, we see growth and progress in EVERY student’s capacity to engage in such self-assessment and progress reporting, and we believe this is a critical skill to develop at this middle-school age.

Synergy 8: the wish, the plan, the needs…

We are approaching the end of the time we will devote to our Alpha project so that our teams can move into their Beta project.  As is our practice, Bo and I are more directive with the choices during the Alpha project stage in an effort to help our learners understand how they will develop a game plan, communication strategies, collect data, and identify community issues as a team.

We used Jamie Oliver’s Ted Prize wish as a prompt for writing to find closure for our work on the Alpha projects.  If you have not watched Jamie Oliver’s TED Prize wish: Teach every child about food I think you would enjoy taking 22 minutes to listen and learn.

We asked our learners to:

  1. Read Jamie Oliver’s Ted Prize wish.
  2. Create a one-pager about your sub-team’s Alpha project using Jamie Oliver’s – “The Wish,” “The Plan,” and “The Needs,” using one of your Ignite-lite revised  slides as a visual.
  3. Post this one-pager on each sub-team members’ wmslearns blog.

We hope this experience and activity offers our learners an opportunity to find closure as a team.  We also hope Jamie Oliver’s TED talk provides inspiration and offers an example of Synergy 8’s essential learnings in action.

I wonder how much we know about what is important to our students.  How much time do we tell them what we think they need to know, learn, and do?  How much time do we let them tell us what they need to know, learn, and do?  Won’t they learn the same things either way?

We can easily find math, biology, health, writing, history, etc. in Jamie Oliver’s talk, research, and learning just by listening.  (Can you believe the volume of sugar consumed by one child in the first 5 years of elementary school just from milk?)

Shouldn’t we listen to their questions, issues, and concerns and find our discipline within the topics of interest to our learners?  Will we?

Here is just one of the wishes from our current Synergy 8 team.

We wish to rid [our community] of littering and engage everyone in our movement to make recycling contagious.

Our plan is to find the locations that have litter on campus, where they require more trash cans, and to keep the campus cleaner. We are going to do this by surveying the students to see their opinions about the matter.  Then we [want] to change the trash cans to make them more efficient towards the environment and more convenient for the students.

This sub-team contacted our Assistant Director of Facilities and asked one question.  Here are snippets of the electronic conversation:

HC:
Our group is doing a project about recycling and littering on campus. We were wondering if you could tell us what can be recyclable in the small bins located in each class room. We are going to make signs for each bin so people can know what they can recycle. Thank you so much for your support.

SJ:
We do “single stream” recycling, meaning anything recyclable is put in one bin instead of separate bins, so anything plastic, paper, or metal can be put in those bins. When you’d finished designing the signs, I’d love to see them before they are printed.

I replied to SJ:
Thank you for the quick reply to our 8th graders.  Your quick response, especially when at a conference, shows them that their work is important and valued.  We appreciate your help as we learn more about recycling at [school].

SJ:
You are very welcome! Would it help for me to come to your class and talk about waste? Thursday and Friday are pretty open for me. I wouldn’t have a formal presentation ready, but the kids could ask questions.

Just the simple act of asking questions can lead to powerful learning, support, and change.

Jamie Oliver’s wish:

“I wish for your help to create a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight obesity.”

Do you have a wish?

What are the wishes of our children?

Have we asked?

What’s wrong with a slideument?…question from the backchannel

To offer additional support to our learners concerning persuasive presentations and slide deck development, we developed a mini-lesson on using videos from Garr ReynoldsPresentation Zen, and Nancy DuarteSlide:ology.  Half of each team watched Presentation Zen: The Videoand the other half watched Duarte Design’s Five Rules for Presentation by Nancy Duarte.  Our learners listened at their own pace, and paused the video at key moments to take notes in our Soapbox backchannel.

Select comments from the backchannel:

  • NN: simplicity- less is more
  • bt: practice design not decoration
  • IW: not about decorating, more about design
  • WL: A thought provoking video that not only moves eyes, but hearts too.
  • SDH: DE-decorate
  • TN: nancy duarte— why they should adopt your view is important in a presentation and make it easily understandable.
  • TH: 5 rules to make a good presentation: 1. treat audience as king 2.spread ideas and move people 3. help them see what you’re saying 4. practice design not decoration 5. cultivate healthy relationships, with your slide and your audience
  • SL: pictures stick with people much more than words a lot of the time
  • KU: Why are sliduments a problem? they seem okay to me.
  • LM: include only what is necessary to get the point across
  • LN: Help them see what you are saying
  • LM: conversational mannor (Steve Jobs)
  • NN: good to come across in a conversational manner even if you are speaking to hundreds
  • XE: RESEARCH: Kinetic Typography! Simple, Effective way to get information across.
  • WL: Practice design, not decoration. De-decorate.
  • SL: don’t be over-decorative, sometimes more really is less
  • TN: though provoking video helps show them what you mean and spread it to their heart. Replace words with pictures to look united and attracted to the message.
  • *Research
  • LM: death by bulletpoints
  • FC: 1. treat your audience as kings 2.spread ideas and move people 3. help them see what you are saying 4. practice design, not decoration 5. cultivate healthy relationships with slides and audience
  • TN: reduce words
  • NX: restrain from extra things that aren’t necessary
  • LM: slidument= slide and document that you put together

The backchannel offers us an opportunity to hear more questions, to share our notes and learning, and to answer others’ questions.  The backchannel offers the facilitator, teacher, and coach an opportunity for to adjust the lesson in the moment.  One comment prompted me to show my learning progression to our team.

KU: Why are sliduments a problem? they seem okay to me.

Great question, huh?  How many of us have hundreds of examples of sliduments that we have used in presentations in the past?  So, I pulled out two presentations that I have actually used to talk about establishing essential learnings and asked which of these two presentations draws the listener in to the topic and conversation?

or

Wouldn’t it have been great to learn about presentations and have facilitated practice at age 13 instead of later as an adult?

To practice and apply this lesson, our learners were challenged to return to their latest Ignite-lite developing presentation, pick one slide, and create 3 different ways to present the message on this one slide. They said no.  The challenge did not fit their needs.  The teams wanted to redo more than one slide; they wanted to redo all of their slides.

Is it okay if we work on more than one slide?  Can we divide the work and accomplish more than re visioning one slide?

Do we now know what is wrong with a slidument?  Do we want to improve our products?  What can we accomplish if we learn and work together?