Tag Archives: Integrated lessons

If a picture is worth 1000 words, what is video worth? (TBT Remix)

Which is most appealing to you?  Which draws you in and generates questions?

Infographic from Bits of Science.

Infographic from Data Visualization Encyclopedia, Information Technology, Symbols, Posters, Infographics

Video from NPR.  (Watch the video, seriously; it’s only 2:34 and well worth it!)

So…Which is most appealing to you?  Which draws you in and generates questions? I think we need all of the above, the hands-on investigation of the data with technology, the infographic that gives perspective, and the video that offers an alternate way to visualize and think about this population growth.

How are we “leveling up” concerning visualization?  Have our learners been introduced to infographics?  Better yet, have our learners produced infographics to communicate data creatively?  How are we using video to engage our learners?  Have our learners produced video to communicate data, learning, and growth?  Are we teaching (and learning) Information Age skills if we are not expecting multiple representations of ideas from our learners?

So… with lots of technology at our fingertips, if a picture is worth 1000 words, what is video worth?…and…what if we only communicate with text?  What learning is lost when/if we only offer one representation of what we want others to learn?

What is lost when we don’t show and tell?

1 image ~ 1000 words…think about it.

If a picture is worth 1000 words, what is video worth? was originally published on January 3, 2012.

Participating in Each Others Stories: Global Connections & Microlending (TBT Remix)

If shown a world map, could I find Kyrgyzstan, Uganda, or Ecuador?  Do I have any idea how to connect with someone or something in a country that I can’t even find on a map?  How will I find content to promote global citizenship while teaching content that falls under my responsibility?

So I joined Bill Ferriter (@plugusin), Dan Sudlow, and three of their students, E, C, and J, for a webinar discussing their Kiva Club and how they use microlending to help people in developing countries throughout the world.

Screen shot 2011-12-22 at 8.18.06 AM

E and C are 6th graders and J is an 8th grader. With expert and supportive facilitation from Bill and Dan, these young learners taught us about microlending through their experiences and stories. Worth emphasizing…I learned about microlending and integrating content and relationships that connect us to the larger world and the world to us from these three young learners.

The connections to math and geography are obvious to me, but I still have questions.  You can read more about microlending on Bill’s blog The Tempered Radical.  In High Tech High’s video What Project Based Learning Is, Jeff Robin strongly suggests to be successful with PBL you need to “do the project yourself.”  While the math and geography seem obvious to me, what will be learned from a microlending project?  So, I have taken the challenge to learn by doing.  I am participating in funding multiple loans.

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 6.07.24 PMI have a better idea of where Kyrgyzstan, Uganda and Ecuador are when I look at a map, and I have the opportunity to connect to these women’s stories.  I also know more about Kiva.  Listen to and watch this beautiful story from Jessica Jackley about poverty, money, and love:

In her talk, Jackley says

The way we that we participate in each others stories is of deep importance.

I collaborated with 18 others across the world to help Carlina improve her business and family income.  Her dream is to have a well-constructed house; her current home is made of reeds.

Each of the green pins in the map represents the location of a lender.  The map and pins tell part of the story, but while informative, it is not very personal.

Don’t you think there is a big difference in seeing the pins in the map and seeing the faces of the lenders?  The faces show humanity; the faces share more of the story.

If integrating “content and relationships that connect us to the larger world and the world to us” is an essential action, then what do we do? What actions do we take? How do we “do the project” ourselves?  How will we practice? What will we learn?

Still wondering how social media can be used for learning, leading, and serving?  Read One Tweet CAN Change the World from The Tempered Radical.  I cannot physically take my young learners on a field trip to Uganda, Ecuador, or another part of the world.  Social media (blogs, Twitter, YouTube, iChat, Skype, etc.) affords us  opportunities to “connect us to the larger world and the world to us.”

Let’s experiment.

Let’s learn by doing.

Art of Questioning reflection – #NspiredatT3

My previous post shared the lesson plan for our 4 hour Art of Questioning session at T³. I want to share what actually happened, my reflections and what I learned.

We used Skype so that Grant Lichtman could join us and present with us.  I LOVED doing this.  Grant and I did this the day before in a shorter session for T³ instructors.

I did a better job (I hope) introducing Grant by reading from Step 1 – Art of Questioning of his book The Falconer: What We Wish We Had Learned in School.

Our educational systems have been constructed entirely around the goal of providing the correct answer to a question provided by an instructor or handed out on a standardized exam.  This system provides a form of valid comparison for the results of a group of students, and it provides a foundation of shared information amongst those who have followed a course of study.  Unfortunately, the real world, particularly the real world of the coming century, does not and will not work this way.  Our heroes are not defined by how well they answered canned questions or what they scored on their SATs precisely because these outcomes do not determine success in real-world situations.  The real revolution in education and training, if it comes, will be overtly switching our priority from the skills of giving answers to the skills of finding new questions.

Questions are waypoints on the path of wisdom.  Each question leads to one or more new questions or answers.  Sometimes answers are dead ends; they don’t lead anywhere.  Questions are never dead ends.  Every question has the inherent potential to lead to a new level of discovery, understanding, or creation, levels that can range from the trivial to the sublime. (Lichtman, 35 pag.)

Grant told two powerful stories of leveraging learner questions to facilitate learning. He made the great point that if you teach from student questions, you know someone in the room is interested in what is being discussed.

Then it got seriously interesting for us.  Grant facilitated an experience of questioning techniques while I drove a lesson (shown below) on the TI-Nspire.

Want to explore the investigation? Here’s how:  Clicking on the screenshot should enable you to download the TI-Nspire document and open it if you have the TI-Nspire software on your computer.  Clicking on the Launch Player button should open a player file where you can interact with the document without having TI-Nspire software. (Be patient; it is a little slow to launch.)

Grant reviewed the “big 6” types of questions and transitioned to another type of question – “What if”.  Here’s what the exercise looked like when I finished following his directions.  Remember, he could not see the linear investigation, and I could not see him.


Grant then signed off so that we could roll up our sleeve and get to work experiencing learning through the art of questioning.  I opened the next section of this lesson by reading from Step 0: Preparation of The Falconer: What We Wish We Had Learned in School.

The excitement of learning, the compelling personal drive to take one more step on the path towards wisdom, comes when we try to solve a problem we want to solve, when we want to solve, when we see a challenge and say yes, I can meet it.  Great teachers lead us just far enough down a path so we can challenge for ourselves. They provide us just enough insight so we can work toward a solution that makes us, makes me want to jump up and shout out the solution to the world, makes me want to step to the next higher level. Great teachers somehow make us want to ask the questions that they want us to answer, overcome the challenge that they, because they are our teacher, believe we need to overcome. (Lichtman, 20 pag.)

Wow! Worth repeating:

Great teachers lead us just far enough down a path so we can challenge for ourselves.

So, how do we do this?  Sam accepted the challenge of modeling this type of facilitation of learning by leading a lesson.  We wanted the participants to experience the investigation, question generation, and learning. Sam chose to use the EllipseInvest.tns file show below.


Sam employed the 3-12-3 protocol:

      • 3 minutes: Independent investigation of the EllipseInvest.TNS file.
      • 12 minutes: Work with a partner to share questions, convert closed questions to open questions, and generate additional questions. Partners should identify their top 2-3 questions.
      • 3 minutes: Use the TI-Nspire Navigator to collect each student’s top question.

Facilitate a class discussion by responding to student questions encouraging responses from students as well as the teacher.

It was awesome!  Sam knew that he was going to administer a formative assessment next.  As his peer observer, I could see his effort and questioning to guide the discussion through the participant questions to the essential outcomes of the lesson. Another point from The Falconer that is worth repeating:

Great teachers somehow make us want to ask the questions that they want us to answer, overcome the challenge that they, because they are our teacher, believe we need to overcome.

Sam then used EllipseForm.tns to model the leveled formative assessment idea.


Experientially, our participants could make their own determination of the value of this type of formative assessment.  Continuing his questioning technique, Sam prompted the participants to identify why the questions were at the given level.  Could they see a leveling up in the questions?  What did it take to move from one level to another?  The discussion was excellent, and Sam received strong feedback about his assessment design.  Yay!

We were at about the 2-hour mark in our 4 hour workshop.  I asked our participants if they could stand a 4-minute Ignite talk on assessment to set the stage for the next 2 hours of work and then we would take a break.

We resumed after the break by watching Dan Heath: How to Find Bright Spots.

Leveled assessments provide the opportunity to bright spot the work of every learner.  They come in the door saying I can do this, Ms. Gough; will you help me level up? Let’s take the challenge of highlighting what learners can do rather than what they cannot.

For the next hour, Sam and I watched, listened, and coached as participants worked to designed a leveled assessment on a topic of their choosing.  We displayed an example through the projector as a point of reference. Our participants asked for the template of the table of specifications.  All files linked on my previous post are .pdfs.  The table of specifications as a Word doc is shared below.

How great that our participants asked for a usable resource! Learn and share!

I was so pleased with the engagement and the collaboration of our participants.  There were so many good questions.  I challenged our participants to share their ideas – in any form by dropping their files in my Dropbox.  I’ve promised to zip all files shared in my Dropbox by Tuesday and share this on this post.

This morning I noticed this tweet…

Screen Shot 2013-03-09 at 7.58.27 PM

I love having this type of feedback!


Lichtman, Grant, and Sunzi. The Falconer: What We Wish We Had Learned in School. New York: IUniverse, 2008. Print.

The Art of Questioning: Leading Learners to Level Up – #NspiredatT3

Today, we are delivering a ticked, 4-hour session on the Art of Questioning at the Teachers Teaching with Technology International Conference in Philadelphia. What follows in the intended lesson plan for the session.  We are so excited that Grant will be joining us via Skype!

The Art of Questioning: Leading Learners to Level Up

“Questions are the waypoints on the path of wisdom.” ~ Grant Lichtman. This session will focus on the art of questioning and using the TI-Nspire™ Navigator™ System as a formative assessment tool. Work on becoming a falconer…leading your learners to level up through questions rather than lectures. Come prepared to develop formative assessment strategies and documents to share with students to help them calibrate their understanding and decode their struggles. Be prepared to share your assessments with others for feedback and suggestions

(10 min) Introductions – Jill reads from Step 1
(20 min) Grant discusses the Art of Questioning – The Falconer
(10 min) Grant and Jill use Linear TNS file to model What if…questioning
(40 min) Sam facilitates EllipseInvest.tns and 3-12-3 protocol for questioning
(30 min) Leveled Assessment using Navigator and discussion pedagogy
(10 min) Jill’s Ignite talk on Assessment
(15 min) Break
(15 min) Dan Heath’s Bright Spot video and quotes
(60 min) Work time – participants develop a leveled assessment
(20 min) Share and feedback session
(10 min) Conclusion and Challenge

As a system…

As a system…

Drop your files: http://www.dropitto.me/jplgough
Upload password: droptojill

On Tuesday, Jill will zip all files and link them to this blog post.

Our participants have been asked to bring their laptops so that we can build assessments using the TI-Nspire software.  We intend for participants to leave with an assessment ready for use next week.

Engaging every learner – #AskDon’tTell #TrinityLearns

Do you ever worry about student-directed learning? Does it mean that the teacher is not engaged?  How are we supposed to teach if we don’t tell them stuff?  What if we asked our learners to show what they know before we teach and reteach? Are we assuming that they know nothing because they are, well, young?

When our friend Grant Lichtman (@grantlichtman) was here last week, he talked about game changers for education.  Number 1 on his list was idea paint.  What if we offered the opportunity for every child to show what they know instead of having them raise their hands and wait for the chance to respond?

Here’s what that looks like in practice:

  • Is every child engaged in this lesson?
  • Is every child working collaboratively to show what they know and, at the same time, learn from others?
  • Is every adult engaged in this lesson?
  • How many opportunities for personalized learning, formative assessment, and practice are there during this lesson?
  • Who owns the learning?

Here is additional information and context for this collaborative first grade lesson from Marsha Harris’s (@marshamac74) lesson plan:

How might we engage more learners simultaneously, offer visible opportunities to show what they know, and personalize feedback, intervention, and enrichment?

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:

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.

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].

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?

A Picture is Worth 1000 Words…

Can we use a photo to inspire learning and interdisciplinary studies? What if we start with photographs from our campus? Can we collaboratively design a lesson or series of lessons around something on our campus to implement together? How can we easily have learners contribute digital photos, ideas, and creativity? Can we will brainstorm and prototype together with photos to develop place-based learning lessons?

Lisa Nielson details how to share photos using Flickr in her post Using Flickr to Collect Images Captured on Cell Phones.  Using her advice, it is easy to set up a Flickr space for participants to share photos via email.

Bo and I use a Posterous space with our Synergy team to collect their observations and photographs.  We like Posterous because it offers our learners the opportunity to contribute images and video along with their questions about community issues.  Richard Byrne’s Try Posterous Spaces for Private Classroom Blogging will help you get started with Posterous if you are interested in collecting observations and questions along with images from your learners.

In our T³ International conference session today we started off with two photos from my campus. Details for these two photos can be found on Handicap Ramps: Connecting Ideas and Experiences to PBL – apply what you’ve learn and Connections: Questions, Photographs, Algebra Graphs, Perspectives, Environment.


Session Details:
Saturday, March 3, 11:15-12:45
90-Minute Hands-On • TI-Nspire™ CX Handheld, TI-Nspire™ CX CAS Handheld, TI-Nspire™ CX Navigator™ System