Monday, 26 December 2016

Dare to Dream | #CBL Collaboration Lens

1.3 billion people don't have access to sustainable lighting.  The immediate danger isn't the carcinogenic nature of kerosene lamps: people are dying in fires due to flame based light use at night.  My Science 9 students got to hear firsthand of the conditions in areas dealing with light poverty.  In a Skype chat with Eladio, Dennis and their students from The Community For Learning School in the Dominican Republic, we heard about the conditions in the bateyes.  These workers in the sugar cane fields live with little to no electricity; accessing safe light at night is one of the many struggles with which they deal.

In Doing something beyond ourselves I share my dream of meaningful making with Connections-based Learning. Connections-based learning is an approach to teaching and learning that leverages the connected world.  After making a connection, the most natural response is to ask "how can we help?".  We design the learning experience by first seeking out needs.  I share how we sought the needs in the Dominican Republic bateyes in Empathizing the Local and Global Needs. The students and I then created learning goals together (See: Co-construct Learning Goals) as we sought to meet those needs.  The next step in CBL Design is to develop a response to achieve those goals.  At this stage, students dream what they propose to do and to make.

Dream a CBL Proposal

Time must be given for students to dream up a response to the need and to flesh out what their response could look like.  Through the inspiration of a real need, brainstorming sessions, and group discussions, students develop their plans.  We used OneNote Class Notebook to collaborate and share ideas.  We also Skyped with Ian Fogarty and his students and learned about Engineering Brightness, an association of teachers hoping to address light poverty by STEM based making.  I then ask students to make a polished document or blog post that outlines their proposal.  Finally, students share their proposals to the rest of the class to further refine, get help for ideas, or to combine ideas.  For me, proposal day is just as important as when students share their final products.

Engineering Brightness Student Proposals

"Create a more efficient source of light for countries that have light poverty using electromagnets" - Alhan's Proposal

"Make a solar powered light but also teach them how to make it so they can fix it if they brake it and also they can make even more if they need them so they are self sufficient" - Liam's Proposal

"one of our goals, would be for Kaleb to start creating a model of our light source in his Industry and Design 10 course, to give us an idea of what it would look like. We could get help from outside sources of the school, with the connections that we have made from the Skype calls, or even with a new source." - Olivia's Proposal

"Fundraise enough money to supply Alhan's group to make shakable lights and be able to teach our friends in the Dominican Republic to make lights as well" - Ashiana's Proposal

"We could do a bake sale and possibly pair up with another group and maybe work with Citadel Middle School and their leadership team to raise money at their school. - Clare's Proposal

"Raise awareness about the light poverty in the Dominican, and also raise $1000 dollars towards buying/making lights to send to the Dominican Republic" - Sabrina's Proposal

"Our plan is to make a power point on everything that has happened during this project and what other people are doing. To also try and spread awareness for light poverty." - Brynne's Proposal

"We were thinking about working with solar power, because it’s safer and easier to charge the light, we also thought that it’s really interesting and trying new stuff. We are now connecting with a company called Liter of Light to get some ideas" - Maria's Proposal

The above links are just a few of the proposals students shared out to the rest of the class.  Each student works out loud sharing their proposals to allow for meaningful commenting.  I encourage you to take a look at the proposals and make a meaningful comment.

It has been amazing to watch these students' dreams become a reality.  As they connect, design, build, and campaign, they must work as a team.  Part of the CBL design is to plan to work together.  I will share how we do that in a post: Teamwork makes the dream work.

Thanks for walking with us as we attempt to make a difference in light poverty.

See previous CBL Design Posts:
- Empathize Local and Global Needs
- Co-construct Learning Goals
Consider partnering with us as we fight light poverty in the Dominican Republic

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Co-construct Learning Goals | #CBL Collaboration Lens

Bottle Flipping is sequestered to the back deck in the Robinson household.  If you don't know what I am talking about, see this Dude Perfect video:

It is all the rage.  I see it at soccer practices.  At breakfast.  In my class.  In the car.  I am not sure, but I think it actually can cause parental madness.

But I can't ban it all together.  To see someone work to perfect something must be pondered as an educator.  It is the equivalent of kids developing their skateboarding skills, practicing that ollie over and over and over again until they get it just right.  It causes me to ask myself what causes this drive.  And how can I utilize this for learning.  When we tap into students' own drive, learning is transformed from blowing on embers to managing a blaze.

This is the second in a series of posts that look at the Connections-based Learning Collaboration Lens.  In the previous post we examined what it means to empathize local and global needs.  Now that my students have discovered needs that they want to address in response to the Dominican Republic provocation, the next step is to bring out students' own learning goals.  Here is where bottle flipping meets school.  Can we tap into students' own interests while guiding them in meaningful directions? Can we construct learning goals together?

Co-construct Learning Goals

In our Engineering Brightness CBL, the students were asked to ponder the connection.  An answer to the light poverty in the Dominican Republic is a natural response.  Hearing about the need for safe efficient light sources leads to students to consider how they can help.  In our case, after brainstorming and discussing the Dominican Republic connection, the students were to write down their goals for learning.

I comment on these goals encouraging students to elaborate, press into, or try a different direction for their goals.  Often students have ideas on what they want to do, but I encourage them to develop what they want to learn.  As I do this, I keep in mind my own goals for this CBL.  In this case, my goals stem from the competencies that I selected from the new British Columbia curriculum.  They look like this:

Students also get to make their own rubric that looks at the focuses of the  CBL Collaboration Lens, considering ideas such as Design, Network, Create, and Celebrate as they construct their learning goals. Later, this rubric will be used to self-assess after the students receive meaningful feedback on their digital portfolios.

You might notice that below each rubric strand is a place for evidence.  When I ask the students to do a final evaluation, they need to add evidence that supports how they assess themselves.  I take a copy of these Co-construction sheets and then give them back to the students.  They can use these sheets to guide them as they develop their proposal and carry on with their work.  Will their own goals engage them as much as bottle flipping?  Time will tell.

The proposals the students came up with are amazing.  I am going to outline them in the next post: Dream a Proposal | #CBL Collaboration Lens.  Here is a little taste of what one group came up with:

Consider partnering with us as we fight light poverty in the Dominican Republic

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Empathize Local and Global Needs | #CBL Collaboration Lens

My Science 9 students are well on their way with their Connections-based Learning to help the bateyes of the Dominican Republic with the problem of light poverty.  I shared how this CBL came to be in Doing Something Beyond Ourselves.  At that point, I had a few ideas on where I wanted to take my students, but it was all speculation.

Now the students have been unleashed.  Connections do that.  They catch students right where heads meet hearts. They reveal a compassion that might hide dormant without prompting.  Connections fan the flames of empathy and lead to action.  Learning becomes a necessity, not an assignment.

We had two amazing Skype chats focused on light poverty.  You can find a taste of these chats on these student posts:

The Connections-based learning Collaboration Lens helps educators steward the connection.  It is one thing to make an amazing connection with the community, an expert, an organization or another group of students.  It is quite another to maximize it for learning.

I want to share how we used the CBL Collaboration lens to take us from connection into response.  It starts with the Design focus and specifically Empathizing local and global needs.

Empathize local and global needs

Seconds after our Skype chat was over with Eladio, Dennis and the students from the Dominican Republic, we were talking needs. Now the needs might be a little more obvious when we are talking about the people living as sugar cane workers in the Dominican Republic.  There might be one or two hours of electricity a day.  There might be none.  And if electricity is available, it is during the day.  Light at night is a real issue and affects both learning and safety.  It was hard to hear about people dying in fires as a result of candle and kerosene lamp use at night from Dennis during our Dominican Republic Skype chat.

But empathizing needs looked vastly different for the SSEP CBL my students did.  In that case, our experiments would never get on the Space X rocket if they didn't address a need.  The need gives meaning to the action.  It gives meaning to the making.  The need has to be there. Without it, why bother.

My students went through a whole CBL process as they designed their Engineering Brightness learning experience. The first thing was to reflect on the connection, ponder the needs they discovered, and develop the learning goals they have for themselves.  Here are some student samples:

With students discovering needs through the connection, the next step is to Co-construct Learning Goals.  I will continue to share as this CBL develops.  Look for the next post: Co-construct Learning Goals | #CBL Collaboration Lens.

Consider partnering with us as we fight light poverty in the Dominican Republic.