Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Reflecting Pool

I wanted to begin this reflection with an appropriate quote. I narrowed it down to....thirty. Too many to choose from! I should not be surprised. I was searching for thoughts on collaboration. Here are a few of my top choices:

It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed. —Charles Darwin

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. —Helen Keller

I never did anything alone. Whatever was accomplished in this country was accomplished collectively. —Golda Meir

It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed. —Napoleon Hill

The secret is to gang up on the problem, rather than each other. —Thomas Stallkamp

Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean. —Ryunosuke Satoro
All from PsychologyToday.com courtesy Stephanie Sarkis © 2012 Sarkis Media LLC

This week's make cycle for CLMOOC was (is) games/play. I thought I knew where I was headed until the NWP project leaders began throwing out a wide variety of possibilities. I typically jump right in, sharing from my own classroom experiences. I thought I was going to share how students have created an enormous range of games for our parts of speech review. I considered mentioning how I have used compass games to teach any kind of categorization (think "types of a sentence" or "types of writing".) What transpired, however, was a chance for me to create a game, and to play one, although I would never have defined the group poetry tag as a game. The playing I will say more about shortly. The creating was an iteration of Jeopardy that I have used many times. Still waiting for collaborators to complete devising the questions so we can actually play it, this part required no effort on my part, but I hope, is a resource others will use. (Here's the link to the CLMOOC Jeopardy game.)  

Two HUGE take aways from my day: 1. I had FUN!!!! [Wait...I'm allowed to have fun in my summer of learning?] Having fun made me want to do more.  2. My learning and understanding deepened as a result of my collaboration, allowing others to lead at some times, and follow during others. Sheri Edwards, Kevin Hodgson, and Terry Elliott threw the first proverbial dice, but the number of suggestions and participants quickly snowballed. Dozens of interpretations of "game" and "play" sparked curiosity, engagement, and posts. Sheri's dangling carrot, poetry tag, (previously not categorized as play in my brain) nabbed me with its simplicity and openness. I had never done this before, but why not? The progress of the day's exchanges can be found on Sheri's Storify. My participation netted me a new app, a chance to express my creativity, and a sense of accomplishment at having successfully conveyed a message with precious few words. Follow this link to see the poem I am referencing: Shift  

The more I thought about the progress of my day, the more I allowed myself to become the recipient of the learning, rather than focusing solely on knowledge that would be put to use for my students. My own shift in purpose was colored by the fact that this was "supposed to be" my week off. I am on vacation. Unfortunately, or fortunately as I would rather see it, one of my many medical conditions prevented me from spending my day as I intended. I could not be out on the beach, so I plugged in, and hit the ground running. The result was a greater mindfulness of the power of sharing. 

I don't think I can successfully convey the re-wiring in my brain that occurred throughout the day. As I shifted between Twitter feeds for ISTE, CLMOOC, other Tweeps and new apps, the Google+ hub for CLMOOC, email, Two Dots, and SmartyPins, I did not feel my usual need to be curating the vast amount of information passing across my cyberspace. Rather, I chose one stream in which to participate, fully. The result allowed me the space to use my artistic brain. I took a break to take some photos, resulting in this collage (a message in itself):

Near the end of the day, I sent off an email request to my admin for a chalkboard paint spot in a common area that will allow everyone - not just my classes - to participate in the type of collaborative play that I so enjoyed today. I want the students to value the knowledge they can share. I want the teachers to play. I want the prospective families to look at this space and think, "That is amazing!" Because it is. Those quotes up at the top of this blog? They still apply. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all the leaders of the CLMOOC for your many gifts. I'm still learning, and glad of it!