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Teachers Teaching Teachers #258 What would Peter Little think? Inquiries for curriculum on the Horn of Africa 8.3.11


60:00 minutes (13.73 MB)

This episode of Teachers Teaching Teachers started a couple of weeks ago on Google+. Here's the story of why we invited anthropologist Peter D. Little to join us in our planning for classes this fall. 

It started when I (Paul Allison) asked a couple of questions after reading about a meeting in Rome, where the international community rallied "to the aid of drought- and famine-affected populations in the Horn of Africa with an immediate, twin-track programme designed to avert an imminent humanitarian catastrophe and build long-term food security in the region" (The Standard, 07/25/2011). I wanted to learn more about what was happening on the Horn of Africa, and so I ventured forth by quoting a couple of paragraphs from this article, and by asking a couple of questions.

These two paragraphs leave me with a lot of questions. The notion of a pastoralist is new. I want to learn more about these livestock owners who travel from place to place. How does that work? And the notion of "agropastoralists" seems to imply that they also do farming, which would mean that they move less often. How do these people work in Somalia and other countries? Are they in one ethnic group? Is the famine affecting these folks? Can they provide long-term solutions?

Soon after I posted this, and some back and forth had begun, we received this note from Kris Jacobson, a high school librarian who is interested in learning, libraries, education, professional wrestling, news and politics:

I'm glad that the proposed solutions include letting agropastoralists & pastoralists maintain their nomadic way of life and their animals. Development specialists should not be in the habit of trying to make people abandon their cultures and economies. If you're interested in East African pastoralists, Peter D. Little is one of the top researchers in the field:
http://esciencecommons.blogspot.com/2011/07/what-we-can-learn-from-african.html

What a wonderful lead this turned out to be into my ongoing inquiry into the Horn of Africa as we plan curriculum together for this fall. With a hat tip to Kris Jacoboson, I continued to read and to write on Google+ about what I to what I was learning:

Thanks to +Kris Jacobson I've just been educated on the pastoralists in the Horn of Africa. Carol Clark writes with knowledge and clarity about the the pastoralists, whose lives, Professor Peter Little has been documenting for some time. As he writes:

During the past 27 years, my research has addressed the anthropology of development and globalization, political economy of agrarian change, pastoralism, environmental politics and change, informal economies and statelessness, and food insecurity in several African countries. Most of my field studies have been conducted in Africa, with a primary emphasis on eastern Africa (Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia).

I was off and running, inspired because I had a frame to work with. I followed up by reading a couple of studies and a chapter in a book by Peter Little, and I found that his voice was echoing in my head, with hope in local solutions in Somalia. At least librarian Kris Jacobson and the writer of the Emory University blog, Carol Clark had sent me through Peter Little on a quest to find what local knowledge and indigenous culture and industry and agriculture there might be in Somalia and Ethiopia and Kenya and the rest of the Horn of Africa. How are the people there dealing with the droughts and what's preventing them from finding their own solutions? I began to ask. 

As my inquiry continued, I found myself wondering, "What would Peter Little say?" His work had provided for me a perspective, perhaps a conscience as I have been reading (and writing) about the complex, ever-developing issues surrounding the famine.

And so, we asked him to come on Teachers Teaching Teachers to guide us toward the questions we might be asking our students, to wonder what approaches he will be taking this fall himself, and to dialogue with him about the famine that we are facing on the Horn of Africa.

Thanks also for our other thoughtful guests, Shannon Sullivan who developed curriculum for PBS, Chris Sloan, Zac Chase, and Adam Cohen.

Click Read more to see a copy of the chat that was happening during the webcast.

Teachers Teaching Teachers #257 Youth Voices with Alice Barr, Matt Montagne, Sandy Scragg, Sheri Edwards, Valerie Burton 7.27.11


66:04 minutes (15.12 MB)

On this episode of Teachers Teaching Teachers, we get together and talk about Youth Voices with Alice Barr, Matt Montagne, Sandy Scragg, Sheri Edwards, Shantanu Saha, Valerie Burton, Chris Sloan, and Paul Allison. 

Click Read more to see a copy of the chat that was happening during the webcast.

Teachers Teaching Teachers #250 Meenoo Rami on #engchat and and Samantha Adams on mobiles in the NMC K-12 Horizon Report 6.8.11


61:11 minutes (14 MB)

What are your personal learning networks (PLN) online? What do your students do? Do we use different or similar tools to learn online? Do you use mobiles? Do students? What do students’ PLN’s look like now? What will they look like in 1, 3, and 5 years?

Samantha Adams and Meenoo Rami are two of our guests on this episode of Teachers Teaching Teachers.  Samatha Adams joined us for further conversations about the NMC Horizon Report: 2011 K-12 Edition, and Meenoo Rami let us know what’s happening at #engchat on Twitter on Monday evenings and beyond.

Samantha Adams
Director of Communications, NMC (www.nmc.org)
Samantha Adams came to the NMC with an extensive writing and research background in both print and digital publishing. After working with the top trade publishers in the world for a previous job digitizing content for ebooks, she fell in love with writing about emerging technologies. At the NMC, she works closely with CEO Larry Johnson to spearhead the NMC Horizon Project, which encompasses the The NMC Horizon Report series. In the recently released NMC Horizon Report: 2011 K-12 Edition, she was deeply involved in the research and writing of the report. As the lead writer at the NMC, Samantha also focuses on strategic communications within and outside of the NMC member community, promoting special events and publications, while managing the organization’s social media forums. In her free time, Samantha enjoys writing fiction and has recently published an anthology of short stories.

Meenoo Rami and a couple of her colleagues who helped make #engchat the place to be on Twitter on Mondays at 7:00 PM Eastern / 4:00 PM Pacific.

Click Read more to see a recent sampling of #engchat
and a copy of the chat that was happening during this webcast.

Teachers Teaching Teachers #249 - Writing, Making, Sharing, and Learning about Gardens: National Writing Project Makes! 6.1.11


64:20 minutes (14.72 MB)

Do you garden with your students? Do they make things? And do they read and write about these experiences, japan_136.jpg.scaled.1000and sometimes publish the results online?

On this episode of Teachers Teaching Teachers, you'll hear National Writing Project teachers from Colorado, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, and California describe the gardens and writing projects they are doing with their students.

One of the guests, Patricia Paugh, recently did a session at the National Writing Project’s Urban Sites Network meeting in Boston.

Adventures in Text Analysis: Reading and Writing a Community Garden Project
Mary Moran and Patricia Paugh,
This session investigates theories related to genre pedagogy enacted in a year-long project on community gardening in an urban neighborhood. The session will include analysis of multi-genre texts and sharing of artifacts related to purposeful writing by students who worked with an urban farming collaborative. (Patricia C. Paugh, is an Associate Professor Department of Curriculum & Instruction at the University of Massachusetts Boston.)

We were also joined by an elementary school teacher, Denise Ferrell, who told us about the multiple garden projects she has been doing with Annie Ortiz and other colleagues at the Skyline Elementary in Stillwater, Oklahoma:

We are fortunate at Skyline to have several kinds of gardens. We have a butterfly garden, an 83 ft raised bed, 5 small square raised beds, a cistern, some small dwarf fruit trees. We also have an outdoor classroom.

Fred Mindlin, Associate Director for Technology Integration at the Central California Writing Project, joined us from a Whole Foods store! Fred has been working with gardeners and digital stories and videos, and more as part of the National Writing Project’s Makes project.

Marshall Woody from the Southern Colorado Writing Project who has just starting gardening with his students, was on the call with us as well.

Enjoy!

Click Read more to see a copy of the chat that was happening during the webcast.


Teachers Teaching Teachers #248 - Gaming Questions from Texas, Minecraft, and the "2011 Horizon Report K12 Edition" - 5.25.11


67:37 minutes (15.48 MB)
One of the more inspiring threads of our collective inquiry on Teachers Teaching Teachers (TTT) has been to explore how to bring gaming into our classrooms. (See some of our shows on gaming from the past 18 months.) With this episode,  we add to that list of shows.

This episode of TTT began with a study group on gaming that teachers Janelle Quintans Bence and Colleen Graveskull have been involved with in the North Star Writing Project (Texas). We first met Janelle in July 2007 in the National Writing Project's Tech Matters workshops.

Janelle and her colleagues in Texas are filled with questions as they plan to bring gaming into their classrooms this fall. She sent me some of them. What better way to jump back into gaming than with a bunch of questions -- the kind of questions teachers often ask when they consider adding games to their classes.

Here are the questions we've been brainstorming in our study group on gaming:
  1. How did you all begin including gaming curriculum in your classrooms?
  2. What are some of your biggest successes? Challenges?
  3. How much game playing goes on in your classroom? Do students only play in social action games? What does that conversation look like? What norms are set prior to this?
  4. I'm thinking about using the games students play on a regular basis as media for students to deconstruct and analyze in terms of influencing identity. Should I be playing all these games to get a better idea? Or will observing the students play suffice? What does a teacher do if he or she is not good at playing those video games?
  5. Designing games really requires deep content knowledge. How much experience with game design did you have prior to letting the students explore that avenue?
  6. Could you tell us about Scratch? What are the benefits of this program as compared to Game Star Mechanic?
  7. What kind of evaluation do you use around gaming? 
  8. Is it all informal discourse based assessment, or do you do something more formal? 
  9. Has your game playing been limited to computer games or have you also used standalone consuls? 
  10. How much time did you have to dedicate to help students understand how to utilize the game design tool before they began designing? Do you feel that this time has been detrimental to fulfilling your ability to satisfy state standards?
Joining us on this podcast to help us to explore these questions is Samantha Adams, the Director of Communications, at the New Media Consortium (NMC).  Samantha is one of the writers of of the recently released Horizon Report: 2011 K12 Edition, which has a section on gaming:
Game-based learning has gained considerable traction since 2003, when James Gee began to describe the impact of game play on cognitive development. Since then, research and interest in the potential of gaming on learning has exploded, as has the diversity of games themselves, with the emergence of serious games as a genre, the proliferation of gaming platforms, and the evolution of games on mobile devices. Developers and researchers are working in every area of game-based learning, including games that are goal-oriented; social game environments; non-digital games that are easy to construct and play; games developed expressly for education; and commercial games that lend themselves to refining team and group skills. Role-playing, collaborative problem solving, and other forms of simulated experiences are recognized for having broad applicability across a wide range of disciplines.
As the lead writer at the NMC, Samantha Adams was deeply involved in the research and writing of the report. We can't wait to see what she has to say about gaming and the other items in the report: Cloud Computing, Mobiles, Open Content, Learning Analytics, Personal Learning Environments.

Given the questions coming form the North Star Writing Project's study group on gaming, we also invited Chad Sansing, from the Central Virginia Writing Project. This June, at ISTE's Unplugged, Chad plans to "take a closer look at student writing and multi-media compositions created in response to game-based learning on Digital Is, the National Writing Project's new media archive and initiative."

And that's not all! Fortunately, we were smart enough to ask Chad who else he thought we might invite. Thanks to his connections, Janelle and her colleagues (and all of our listeners) get to hear about gaming from these three educators as well:

  • Joel Levin, a computer teacher at Manhattan's Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School. Joel decided to start using the game Minecraft to teach an entire unit to his first- and second-grade students recently. (See an with Joel, "Educational building blocks: how Minecraft is used in classrooms," by Andrew Webster | Published about a month ago in ars technica.)

  • Melanie McBride, who also recommended...
    ...my partner, children's author and elementary teacher, Liam O'Donnell for this episode. He's currently using Minecraft with a spec ed class and taking an interesting approach (I'm biased of course). In addition to his experience as a teacher, he's been writing and advocating for games based learning for a very long time. As well he's written extensively about reluctant readers, boys and learning and many of his graphic novels are aimed at those readers - high action, lower vocab.http://liamodonnell.com

    As for myself: I'm currently on a leave of absence from high school teaching to write my book and research *situated* informal learning (the out of school kind) of gaming and virtual worlds. While I still locate myself peripherally to the games based learning in schools/education, I quite intentionally chose to focus on "informal" and "situated" learning contexts rather than school examples.  We're studying Minecraft for use with early childhood educators (post secondary) with small children. http://edgelab.ryerson.ca/2011/05/19/tinkering-with-minecraft-learning-from-the-edge/

  • Liam O'Donnell is on this podcast as well. Liam sent along this link:
    "Here's a post about my first week using Minecraft with my kids. It'll give you a sense of my teaching style and philosophy. http://liamodonnell.com/feedingchange/2011/05/messy-learning-with-minecraft/"
    For me, it was the perfect vehicle to build the literacy skills of seven grade 5 and 6 students who come to me for reading and writing support three days a week. For these students, motivation to read and write is a big challenge. Previously, we had done a writing unit around their Nintendo DSi’s, specifically Pokemon, where they had drawn maps of the game areas, profiled their favourite Pokemon and written strategy guides for specific Pokemon fights.  I knew they loved video games and after screening a few Minecraft videos on youtube, they were totally eager to play.

We think you'll find this to be a provocative podcast!  Janelle and her colleagues in Texas probably got some questions answered, and maybe they were inspired to ask a few new ones. Maybe you will be too!

Click Read more to see a copy of the chat that was happening during the webcast.

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