Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Connecting Learning and Life through Collaboration and Respect for Messiness #ce13

My closest connection to a classroom project right now, besides the ever-present string games, brought out on every sub job I do, is a collaboration my colleague Dan Spelce from the Forage Project and I have been talking about for some months now: a genealogy and family history curriculum for students, perhaps in a Winter or Summer Institute format, or as an after-school program. We'd not spoken for several weeks, and I called him to check in. he said I was on his list to call today [!] because he's made such progress with outlining what he's thinking of that he's reached the limits of what Microsoft Word can do for him. So we'll be meeting at the "Connecting Art and Education" drop-in at the Arts Council Santa Cruz offices on Thursday, October 17, and hopefully connecting before then to develop some of the web resources we're gathering into an accessible format.

Looking forward to this collaboration, as I read and reflect on the many blogs and comments from classroom teachers about their efforts to make learning connected. The role out-of-classroom educators like Dan and me can fulfill is to provide frameworks and resources for students and teachers to explore topics of interest, and perhaps reach small numbers of students if we can secure funding to launch an Institute. Slow, modest work. Here's a photo of Dan and his wife Yoli from our #CLMOOC Face-to-Face group.

Messiness comes in when one tries to manage a group of students each doing self-chosen, self-directed projects. They are clearly meaningful and connected to students' lives, but they are also then each unique. The role of the teacher becomes facilitating each students' journey, and balancing multiple needs and directions puts many teachers out of their comfort zone. How can we build in scaffolds for teachers that will help them deal with these challenges?

Looking at Yoli's smiling face reminds me of another Connected learning agenda item I have, just to make sure this post has a messy bit to lead it out of coherence: ¡Más discusión en español!