Connections-based learning

LIBE 477 Final Project: Final Post

This final post for my LIBE 477 Special Topics in Teacher Librarianship course contains two artifacts of learning that represent my final project. Both are on the topic of Connections-based Learning (CBL) which was developed by British Columbia educator, Sean Robinson.

Both resources are targeted towards educators who are considering engaging their students in CBL related activities.  It is not meant to be a thorough dissection of this pedagogical approach to teaching but merely a resource that provides an introduction to the topic and includes an accompanying resource for educators interested in this type of work.  


I plan to share the presentation part of the project with staff at my school with the goal of working more collaboratively with them in the future.  

The second artifact is an open collaborative document designed to be circulated within my personal learning networks in the hope of identifying and documenting a wide variety of connections that can be used when engaging in CBL. 

The spreadsheet can be accessed and edited by anyone with the link and is broken down into three distinct categories: 

  1. Organizations Who Connect Educators to CBL Opportunities
    1. Organizations that find experts for educators to interact with
  2. Individual Contacts Known To Offer CBL Opportunities
    1. Individuals who volunteers their time to connect and share their knowledge  
  3. Organizations That Directly Offer CBL Opportunities
    1. Organizations that offer one type of classroom connection such as Mystery Skype

My goal for the spreadsheet is that others will use it and add to it if and when they have positive CBL experiences, thus growing the network and establishing connections in more areas of society.   

Challenges

I experienced several challenges narrowing down my final topic and then building a digital artifact to share.  The biggest challenge was feeling like I needed to know more about Connections-based Learning in order to speak to it.  In the end, I decided that my project was merely and an introduction to the topic as the pedagogical framework is complex.  

Also, I’m not sure how successful the spreadsheet will be.  I haven’t had too much success in the past when sharing a ‘live’ document and inviting others to contribute to it. 

Successes

Knowing that CBL has it roots in constructivism was comforting.  As I continue to construct my own knowledge around learning I like to attach my beliefs to a legitimate learning theory.  It also happens to complement some other areas of interest such as inquiry-based learning and play-based learning. 

Future

I think the library can become the hub of CBL in my school.  It has the hardware, software, and physical space required to facilitate such learning.  It also provides an opportunity for me to work directly with classroom teachers and students on some of the more interesting local and global issues of our time.    

References

Arnold, E. K., & Santoso, C. (2017). A boy called Bat.

Digital Citizenship School Program. (n.d.). Retrieved November 23, 2019, from https://globaldigitalcitizen.org/digital-citizenship-school-program.

Harasim, L. 2012, Learning theory and online technologies, Routledge, New York.

Paterson, C. 2016, ‘Leading a school to be global. Case Study 2.4’, The global educator: Leveraging technology for collaborative learning & teaching, International Society for Technology in Education, Eugene, Oregon/Arlington, VA.

Robinson, Sean. (2019, April 15). Connections based Learning. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGrkUq0YtYk

Robinson, S. (n.d.). Connections-based Learning. Retrieved November 23, 2019, from https://connectionsbasedlearning.com/.

LIBE 477 Final Project: Audience Considerations

Last week I discussed five potential topics for my final project.  It is time to get serious and narrow down some options. No doubt I’ll work on most of the ideas at some point in the near future but right now I’m leaning towards creating an artifact around the power of connections-based learning.  

YouTube Storytelling Channel

It’s possible that staff at my school could work together on the storytime YouTube channel, which could be most impactful during long breaks such as Christmas, Easter, and during the summer when students may not be reading as much as they would do during the regular school.  

Living Library Project

The Living Library Project was (is) a labour of love and I was really proud of the project and idea even if the execution may not have been as successful as I hoped it would be.  I can definitely incorporate storytelling into my current position as a teacher-librarian so it may still be possible to breathe new life into the old project.  

Information Literacy Resource

Over the last week, I have flipped back and forth between developing a resource centred around connections-based learning and working on a resource for teachers and students on the topic of information literacy.  The topic of information literacy, despite its importance, seems so vast it is difficult to know where to start and stop.  

Struggles

One thing that is making me second guess both of these options is a movement that I see emerging in my school, and to a larger extent in my district, away from the integration of digital technologies.  The rationale is that students have too much screen time at home and their addiction to screens is having a negative effect on their ability to concentrate, remain focused, and engage in meaningful discussion and dialogue in school.  The rise of place-based learning, outdoor education, and mindfulness seem to be a better fit for those looking to help their students become more present and attentive in school. I think there can be a happy medium but I’ve noticed that when people first feel the need for a shift to occur they tend to move to the opposite extreme before coming back to a more central mindset.  It is a shame that at a time when digital technologies can facilitate global learning in ways unimaginable a decade ago that some teachers, schools, and school districts, will not necessarily experience this valuable and underutilized resource.   

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/26/children-tech-addicts-school

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/technology-can-hurt-students-learning-research-shows-1.3385864

Have you noticed a move away from the use of digital technologies in your school/district?     

Connections-based Learning

Having expressed some concern about how a technology-related resource may be received in my school, I’ve decided to forge ahead with the topic of connections-based learning because these experiences afford students the opportunity to develop empathy, discuss global issues such as climate change and poverty, and fight prejudice.  I plan to develop a resource that helps teachers better understand what connections-based learning means, how it can motivate and inspire students, ways to find connections, and the hardware/software required to make these connections. My resource will target teachers, so there will be several factors to consider for a successful implementation.      

Access

In my school, the comfort level around technology usage is vast.  Like most schools I know, there are teachers who integrate technology into their curriculum on a daily basis and those that the mere utterance of the word causes panic to set in.  I’m being a little facetious here, but the point is that I need to develop a resource that is accessible for all educators, not just those with lots of prior knowledge on the topic.  

Content

The content needs to be low floor, high ceiling.  The presentation needs to avoid technical jargon but at the same time meet the needs of those looking for more technical information. 

Time and Delivery

Any educators’ time is precious and I need to be respectful of that.  Some considerations around how and when to deliver the information will be necessary.

Support

It is important that teachers feel supported in trying new things, so I need to think of ways to provide additional help to those who require it.  Something as simple as team teaching, in the beginning, could be super helpful.     

References

Research-Base: Connections-based Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved November 14, 2019, from https://connectionsbasedlearning.com/research-base.

LIBE 477 Final Project Considerations

For the next three weeks, my posts will be dedicated to my final project for my course, LIBE 477 Special Topics in Teacher Librarianship.  

I have several ideas floating around in my mind for a final project.

Connections-based learning

I’ve discussed connections-based learning many times before.  It is an area of great interest to me because of its potential to motivate and inspire students.  I could produce a presentation to share with staff on the topic as well as collate resources that would help people connect with experts outside the walls of their schools.   

YouTube Channel – read alouds

I like the idea of extending beyond the walls of the school.  It’s a theme… Having the ability to record short read alouds for students and storing them in a place that can be accessed at a user’s convenience promotes a love of reading and is appealing to me.  I could even introduce a green screen to liven things up. The resource would be the channel where the clips are stored and I could put together a user manual of how I set everything up.  

YouTube Channel – book reviews

I’m always looking for reviews on great books and so, I imagine, are students and teachers.  Creating a repository of book reviews would allow me to reach a larger audience and could potentially lead to students trying different genres than they are used to.  Once I have a few reviews on the site I could open it up to other TLs in my district who could then add additional reviews of their own.  

Revisiting the Living Library Project

The Living Library Project was developed by my wife, Suzanne Bartel, and I when I first started teaching.  We were both inspired by people’s stories after attending our first WE Day.  This quote by Craig and Marc Kielburger at the event resonated with both of us.

“In all corners of the globe, storytelling is a longstanding tradition with significance that’s lost on no one.  It’s vital to preserving culture. It speaks of moments of pride. It speaks of moments of injustice. It offers an opportunity to learn.  Most importantly, it inspires us to create change for the future” (Craig and Marc Kielburger.)

We came back to our school in the hopes of helping students find their own stories and to have those stories inspire others.  The Living Library needs a refresh and a new approach so my final project could somehow centre around giving the site a refresh and a new direction.  Perhaps in my new role as teacher-librarian, I can open it up to include more students in my school. 

Collating information literacy resources – content creation app

In a time when we are inundated with information, providing a resource for students and teachers to help navigate the flood of data may be helpful to both parties.  I could use a content creation app such as Scoop. It! or Paper.li to collate and share resources, articles, and content on the topic of information literacy, media literacy, and digital literacy.  I could also help to define some of these terms and provide visuals that explain each of their components.   

References

Bartel, S., & Lister, C. (2017, January 20). The Living Library Project. Retrieved November 4, 2019, from https://livinglibraryproject.ca/.

Collect great content. (n.d.). Retrieved November 4, 2019, from https://paper.li/.

Content Curation Tool. (n.d.). Retrieved November 4, 2019, from https://www.scoop.it/.

Empowering Students and Teachers at WE Schools. (n.d.). Retrieved November 4, 2019, from https://www.we.org/en-CA/our-work/we-schools/.


LIBE 477 Professional Development: A Personal Summary

This week’s post represents a summary of learning around PLN’s, Information Literacy, Learning Commons, 21st Century Learning, and Professional Development related to my teacher-librarianship diploma course LIBE 477.

What are your key takeaways, learning and direction after all this exploration?

I have several takeaways from this series of blog postings both from my own personal reflections and also from the ideas and experiences of my peers in this course.  These last few weeks have reinforced my existing thoughts on professional development – A connected educator is a stronger educator. Through the use of digital technologies, it is now easier than ever to find and connect with like-minded people. I have found that technology continues to play an interesting and exciting part of the role of teachers and teacher-librarians. For example, I am interested in and fascinated by the potential of virtual and augmented reality in schools. These new educational tools allow students to experience learning in ways that didn’t exist before.  Imagine walking among dinosaurs to get an idea of how large they were. Amy’s post on Developing ICT Skills and Pedagogy: Hands-On Learning & Networking introduced me to Microsoft’s CoSpaces for Education.     

For those who are not connected, there is no need to panic, as it appears that many of the school districts in British Columbia are providing inquiry learning opportunities for their staff in the form of after school learning groups.  Schools are getting better at providing and funding opportunities for staff to develop their craft.  

What are the new avenues for development in your personal and professional practice?

There are so many areas of my practice that I’m interested in and would like to develop.  Currently, I am inquisitive about the #storystudio and #looseparts storytelling story writing movement.  I think that the library is the perfect place for the loose parts materials and could be used across the grades in my k-5 school.  It would connect well with the kindergarten and grade 2 prep classes that I teach and it aligns well with my philosophy on play. I don’t know much about it right now, but the TLs in my district are looking to set up a workshop to better understand how it fits within a library learning commons.

I found this article from the UBC journal of Transformative Educational Leadership on the topic of Story Studios very helpful.

A quick Twitter search for #storystudio and #looseparts also provided useful information on what it can look like in the classroom.

What are you going to take with you, moving forward from your own explorations and also from the explorations of others in this class?

Moving forward, I would like to continue to deepen my understanding and application of connections-based learning.  I recently joined a Voxer group on the topic and I am enjoying the voice conversations we are having.  I would love to set up an unofficial Voxer community for those in the Teacher-Librarianship diploma, certificate and Masters program at UBC. I would find the dialogue to be especially powerful. 

Connections-based learning fits nicely into a library learning commons because libraries tend to be the technological hub of many schools. As most students use the library, funding requests are seen as a benefit to the school rather than an individual ‘techie’ classroom teacher. 

Connections-based learning can create opportunities for students to reach outside of the four walls of the school and connect with experts, which can be used to motivate and inspire our youth. Connections-based learning is not without its challenges. Technology can occasionally fail and if one is seeking live, synchronous communication, then time zones can be problematic. Asynchronous opportunities also exist using platforms like Flipgrid, Padlet, Cloud-based productivity tools like G Suite for Education and Office 365, as well as platforms such as Belouga.  Connections-based learning can create meaningful and authentic learning experiences in a connected world by connected students. 

I have just set up a spreadsheet that I plan to leave open for myself and others to add contact information for excellent connection-based-learning activities and experts.

When I think about what I am going to take away from the advice shared by my peers in this course, it has to be the act of continuing to build relationships with educators locally and globally.  So many of the posts I read over the last four weeks expressed how critically important it is to build with, and on, the ideas of others. Teaching can be a lonely and isolating profession, especially if one is not social outgoing or confident in their practice.  Collaboration involves being vulnerable and being vulnerable can be difficult for countless reasons. I am not particularly outgoing and often find it difficult to collaborate, so I first try to find one person to collaborate with. I then focus on developing a positive collaborative experience, which will then hopefully spread to others in my school.  

If you could pick just one topic from Phase 2 that resonated with you, which is it and why?

One exploration that touched my heart over the last four weeks and one that aligns with my passion for social justice was the brief inquiry we conducted on libraries in developing nations.  We acknowledge that in developed nations libraries are important in the development of critical literacy skills but in developing nations libraries save people’s lives (Borgonovi et al., 2018). Libraries may be the only way information is disseminated in a village or a community.  In developing nations, libraries are creating tools and resources targeted to help vulnerable sections of the population. They are beacons of hope, inclusivity, and community spirit!

References:

Borgonovi, F., Centurelli, R., Dernis, H., Grundke, R., Horvát, P., Jamet, S., … Squicciarini, M. (2018). Bridging the Digital Gender Divide. Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/internet/bridging-the-digital-gender-divide.pdf

D’Aoust, C. (2018). Story Studios. Transformative Educational Leadership Journal, (November 2018). Retrieved from https://teljournal.educ.ubc.ca/2018/11/story-studios/

Loudon, A. (2019, October 11). Retrieved from https://mylearninglibrarian.blogspot.com/2019/10/v-behaviorurldefaultvmlo_11.html

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