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[youtube][/youtube] Prompted by the YouTube video "Above and Beyond", I started reflecting over whether I empower my students to think outside of the box, push the limits of their innovation and creativity while learning to redefine the rules without breaking them. Successful people do that well, I'm told... and it is my sincerest hope that I empower my students - and push myself - to do this. What about you?

Above and Beyond

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In my Course 4 looking ahead to Course 5, I was torn between two ideas.  I chose the second project option, thanks to Verena's challenge to be a risk taker.  So, here I am, having given this project to my kids after careful thought and planning.  One of my students blurted out, as I was giving the instructions, "Oh my gosh, I'm so excited for this project!" Needless to say, I was encouraged. Well... here it is.  For the Language and Mass Communications part of the IB English Language and Literature syllabus, I've recalled my knowledge from the days I used to teach Film Study and taught film as one of the text types.  They've gone over various mise-en-scene terms, barely scratching the surface as any film majors would say but sufficient for students learning how to examine the basics for conveying, therefore making, meaning: camera angle, distance, movement, color, and composition. I've been told often that handouts should be appealing to the eye.  I've asked my seniors to help me out if they can figure out how to make this text-heavy handout become artistic.  Whether out of honesty, laziness, or busy-ness I'm unsure, but they all told me that this works just fine, no need to change the presentation... I agree, but only b/c I'm a verbal person and words do the trick for me.  ;) Therefore, please, if you have tips on how to make this handout look awesome for my visual learners, help! Feedback on the content would also of course be much appreciated! (link to gDoc - commenting is enabled.) (My rubric was inspired by this blogging rubric as well as well as this one.)

Taking a Risk

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I am torn over two projects.  I am in the process of developing both projects’ details; the first one is a refinement of the Interdisciplinary Project that I require of my 1984 unit.  Here's its rubric.  The second one is new and it’s exciting to me… I apologize if it reads a bit unclear to you, but there are loads of ideas in my head that I haven’t quite articulated well enough… yet. [caption id="attachment_174" align="alignleft" width="300"]Project-Based Learning Framework Project-Based Learning Framework[/caption] Project-Based and Problem-Based learning sources have been a huge motivator for me, and I am looking forward to what might come of of either one (or both?) of these project ideas.  Here's the link to the document as the embedded one below can look a bit wonky. Course 5… you’re definitely gonna be putting this brain to work…! Happy Holidays, everyone! And of course, ideas, suggestions, criticisms all welcome! (Yes, I am literally yelling in my head, like this! But out of excitement, of course! :))

Course 4 Final: Looking Ahead to Course 5

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At SIS, we have an Advisory Program in which all the teachers are advisors to 8-12 students.  The idea behind it is that all students will have a trusted adult in the building that they can go to if they have an problems, concerns, or issues; it centers around the well-being of a child and our efforts to ensure that they are all cared for.  Out of an 8-day cycle, four of those are designated Advisory days where a 40-minute block is carved out for Reflective Learning, Service Learning, Global Citizenship, or Assembly. Our Director of eLearning, John Burns, shared this video about the Future of Learning with us a few months back and since then, I've seen it a myriad times.  Last time was two weeks ago with the seniors as my co-senior class advisor Mark McElroy and I discussed with them what they think about the future of learning.  The seniors got into small groups of 3-4 and discussed the following questions: 1.  What implications explained in the film will impact your future learning? 2.  How will these changes impact your experience at university?  Is university still necessary?  Why or Why not? 3.  What are the most critical learning skills for your generations?  According to Professor Sugata Mitra those would be: ( Answers: a.  Reading Comprehension; b.  Information search and retrieval skills; c.  How to believe) 4.  How are you cultivating the skills mentioned above by Sugata Mitra above? The kids had an intense, engaged conversation with each other, question by question, about the future of learning.  The simple answer is that the future of learning isn't in the banking system of education - it hasn't been for a while.  With the growth of technology and so many ways to connect and learn, the schools have got to adapt, and thankfully, I'm learning from an incredible cohort of colleagues and administrators who support this. Try out this exercise with your kids; it really gets them thinking... and is a fabulous, relevant way to engage in meaningful conversation with your kids.

Future of Learning

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tweet to Dough "I'm a very good teacher if it [were] 1997... How does an old guy get better?"  -Steve Kelley Steve Kelley nailed it in his speech to the Michigan State Board of Education: "It's not about the videos... it's about the quality instruction that you give on top of the videos." He also asks, "How does an old guy get better?" and talks about his journey that got him to the flipped classroom.  It's an inspiring 2.5-minute video to watch - take a look. My colleague, Doug Grezeszak, is a former retired chemistry teacher.  This means he decided to come out of retirement, back into teaching, to be back into the classrooms in the international arena.  So, when Kelley asks of himself "how an old teacher gets better", Doug is an incredible example of how "old" is not an excuse for anyone to not be able to flip a classroom.  One of Doug's and my mutual students posted on her blog about Mr. G's iTunesU courses that engaged her to learn in chemistry, a class that is not her usual forte.  Take a read over what she wrote - it's as genuine as it gets. Flipped classroom is certainly not about just flipping where you end up giving your lecture from and that being the end of it all; it's about the engagement that happens within the classroom when the students walk through your door and are ready to engage with questions and application, the trial-and-error of what they've learned. I'm in the process of figuring out how I can make this happen in a HS English classroom; right now, what I'm doing is giving a lesson and making that lesson be available in my shared Evernote class notebook so kids can access it at their own time and pace for review, so it's not quite completely flipped.  So far, this has been fabulous for some students (the already-engaged ones) but not so much for some others (the ones who probably need it most). What's cool is that I'm not alone and once you connect with other teachers out there, they're all willing to help.  Edutopia is a great example as when I took a risk in putting myself out there, I got encouragement and helpful tips: Edutopia responseScreen Shot 2013-12-15 at 5.10.37 PMSo no, flipping isn't just about switching a teacher's delivery of the lesson from the classroom to a screen, but adding to that the high quality differentiation and authentic exploration that must happen in the classroom.  

flippin’ awesome.

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Gee. Am. I. Fie. Cat. Ion.  Gee.  Am-I-fee-cat-ion.  Guh... am-ee-fie-cat-ion. Guhameefi-cat-ion.  Guh-ami-feeca-tion... Beeeeeeep! Time's up. Ohhhh, dang it.  What was it? Gamification. Oh... man, so close! Have you ever played Mad Gab? If you haven't, I highly recommend it.  It's a game where you're given a series of words and you have to sound them out in order for your teammates to guess what it is that you're trying to say before the buzzer cuts you off.  It's quite hilarious, really. Why am I using the analogy of Mad Gab for Gamification? After reading the studies on gamification and the conclusions of those studies by Pim van de Pavoordt from Amsterdam University, Cristina Ioana Muntean at the International Conference on Virtual Learning (which I had no idea existed until Course 4), or Ian Glover from Sheffield Hallam University,  I find myself intimidated by this concept.  It's as if whatever they're saying is like a series of words that I have to decipher by figuring out the tricks here and there... like I'm saying it, getting it, but not really - b/c I can't quite hear what it's supposed to be. With Gamification, I feel like that's where I am as a teacher. I see my incredibly dedicated colleague Mick Huiet having done amazing things with his elementary school kids using Minecraft.  And when I do, I can't help but become a cynic in a way to say, "Hey, you guys have it so much easier with younger ones... let alone in a math class."  But in my heart, I know for a fact that that isn't - can't - be true.  I am missing something, and when I saw "Gamification" pop up for Course 4, I kept pushing my assignments back b/c I was intimidated by that word all together. I still am. Nonetheless, I feel that gamification definitely has a place in my school, particularly because I see kids on games all the time.  I think it'd be an incredibly amazing thing to figure out how to bridge their love of games with learning in my English classroom.  I'm not sure how to do it... and I guess that's where I'm pushed to the outskirts of my comfort zone to try. I really appreciate Pim van de Pavoordt publishing that this isn't an easy task and validating for me that this process is not easy: gamification complications Glover's + and - of Gamification It's not that I have suspicion or hostility toward gamification at all, nor is it that I wish to not use gaming as a learning tool. On the contrary, I very much wish to do so.  I just don't know how yet.  As Ian Glover concludes, I need to spend time to carefully plan for what this looks like. That doesn't make me any less intimidated... and I might just have to sound like a blubbering fool until I figure this out, but I won't know until I try. Is anyone else stuck on the "how" out there as much as I am? I could use some encouragement and ideas.  


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The fact that this is my first Course 4 post is really embarrassing.  I'm sorry, Jeff… and Brandon, whom I believe is my supervisor for this course since my names begins with "E" (though I was a bit confused which one you'd count: "L" for Liz which would put me under Rebekah or "E" for Elizabeth…? I'm going with E, the legal name!)  This is me rambling, like a student would, to make excuses for my lateness in posting.  And reading.  And responding. I'm so sorry. However, I must share, inspired by Beth Marinucci's revisitation of the COETAIL Effect, how much I've been affected by it. A week and a half ago, I traveled to Boston to present at NCTE's annual convention whose theme for the year is "Re-Inventing the Future of English".  Two former colleagues of mine and I had submitted a proposal last year and was pleasantly proud of ourselves when we got selected out of 2,000+ proposals.  This was our title and explanation: NCTE Cho Flier I started the presentation off as the teacher who comes from the mid-to-high SES private international school whose tech to student ratio is 1:1 and teacher to tech ratio, 1:2.  I talked about how using the gDoc backchat function, something so simple and easy, can redefine the simple fishbowl discussions and debate.  I then shared the beauty of blogging and how that can be a tool for learning, sharing, growing, and connecting beyond the classroom walls of 20, 30 kids and what it means for students to have immediate feedback on their thoughts and reflections. My friend and former colleague Jenny Bonafide, coming from a mid-to-high SES area public high school in Virginia, USA shared how she uses Tumblr to connect her kids to the unit on Culture, and what it means to redefine lesson planning from pen to paper to the digital platform that kids not only familiarize but use on a daily basis. Again, another friend and former colleague Caitlin Murphy, coming from a low-mid SES area public high school in Kentucky, USA shared how she uses Twitter to connect her kids to each and her about their learnings, findings, and questions to make learning not only real but continuous outside of the classroom hours, not forced by homework but authentically engaged by curiosity and desire for positive affirmation and interaction. We pulled our three bits together by presenting on how we connected our students from Kentucky to Virginia to China through discussion boards that I created on my class blog.  We posed questions that were thematically relevant to our units and invited all teachers and students (and parents, though I've no responses from them yet!) to join us in the discussions that were happening real-time.  Abut real stuff.  About the world.  About them.  About, believe it or not, school, without them even realizing that this was work. We then shared our resources on this Padlet. [caption id="attachment_155" align="aligncenter" width="395"]Today's Meet snippet 1 Today's Meet snippet 1[/caption] What I brought to the table was something that has become so second nature to me in teaching: blogging, tweeting, Padlet-ing, Today'sMeet-ing.  My best friend and colleague's husband here in China said to me the other night, "Listen to you! Liz Cho two years ago would have never said those words out of her mouth!" It's true.  I never would have. So, what's changed? COETAIL Effect has contaminated me, this whole talk about connectivism, SAMR model, Flipped-Learning business… I hardly recognize myself. [caption id="attachment_154" align="alignleft" width="397"]Today's Meet snippet 1 Today's Meet snippet 2[/caption] The feedback that we got from our presentation was incredibly encouraging, and I'm hoping to continually infect others with the coetail effect.  I am fortunate as well to have the amazing support of my school's eLearning crew who are out-of-this-world amazing (John Burns, Mark McElroy, Marty Ruthaivilavan, Diana Beabout) and the incredible SIS colleagues who are on this COETAIL journey with me (Ceci Gomez, Mick Huiet, Carlene Hamley, Louise Van Steveninck).  It's one thing to be a part of the COETAIL cohort, but without the physical and mental support surrounding me, I probably would have fought off the infection with a pill called, "I-can't-do-it-it's-too-hard". [caption id="attachment_153" align="alignright" width="391"]Today's Meet snippet 1 Today's Meet snippet 3[/caption] It's great to be infected with the COETAIL effect, and I hope the incredible level of connectivism gets those of you that are the "Liz Cho two years ago" itching for contamination.

The COETAIL Contagion: Catch It

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“Liz Cho, we’re gonna be here all night.” “Nope, we’re gonna finish this in the next hour.” [shake, shake of Ceci’s head] “Okay, you’re right... we’ll probably be here all night.” “Yep.” [Opening the second bottle of wine...] “Well, any other Saturday night, we’d be out and in bed by 12:30, 1:00, right? So... this is the same, except we’re gonna be awesome with our video.” “Yep, absolutely.” “We’re such geeks...” “Yep...” [sipping on wine as they export one video clip from one Mac to the other through a 2008 iPod b/c neither can place a single thumb drive though they both usually have a gazillion...] [Project start time: 20:15; Project end time: 00:27] "Ceci, did you upload the wrong video?" "Oh, sh*#... so sorry." [Bahahahahaha... shared laughter, several facetious 'I hate you' s, and another upload onto YouTube later...] [Real end time: 00:44] Ceci: "If we didn't live in China, upload time wouldn't be this long." Liz: "Yeah... it's totally China's fault... right..." [youtube][/youtube] When we knew that we had to finalize our video for our Course 3 project during our pseudo-staycation in Hong Kong during Chinese National Holiday week, Ceci and I decided that we'd collaborate on ours together.  As the last week of the course drew near, we realized we had a lot of ideas in our heads but hadn't the time to actually sit down and piece it all together. Last night, we fixed that problem. I must tell you, I felt like a kid again.  We had so much fun creating our project together.  (And I wondered if all my students do my assignments thinking, "This is SO fun!"... but then realized that must be the wine talking.) Let's start with our storyboard; Shall we airplay our iPad?; Quicktime sounds good; Will google pres support Keynote?; I'll look for the preloaded template; Here's a Youtube tutorial on how to do that; We'll duck the sound there; How about the fade-in here but blur-focus there?; Yep, let's transition that in a bit quicker, but let this word linger longer; Overlay the text into that clip; What words do we want to pull out?; Ah, zen; Speed's in video adjustment; match 60 seconds here, 4 seconds here; Avenir, 40, Book... perfect. We paused at one point and said, "I'm so glad we can understand each other.  Can you imagine what this must sound like to some people?" Between serious thinking and laughing, collaboration on a Saturday night was never so much fun.  And Jeff's right: we ask our students to do things like this often and we don't always try it for ourselves.  Just like creating mentor texts to teach my students how to write better through modeling that behavior for them, going through this project planning and actually making a final product with conscious application of the course content was a genuine showcase of my learning process.  It's pretty cool to have something like this to share with my students. Thanks for the collaboration, Ceci - this journey is much more pleasant with an amazing educator and friend traveling alongside me!

zen: coetail course 3 final

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In the process of taking my COETAIL and PTC Tech Leadership courses, I have been really aiming to make my teacher blog relevant to what's happening in my classroom and what my kids are learning.  I've been working hard to make my blog a true blog, not just a series of posts that say, "Here is a reminder of your assignment, guys!" (which is how I started three years ago). In order to do so, I started to blog about what was going on within my classroom, inside and outside of it, as well as my echoes as a teacher.  I changed the layout of my blog to include images that would catch my kids' attention (as well as others', I hope).  I also started to think that there must be ways to give my kids a broader perspective than they'd have in my classroom alone, so I tried something new with my 19 seniors and their discussion forum: I invite students from across the world to join in on our conversations and debates, virtually. I did this through reaching out to my former colleagues and inviting them to engage their students in the discussions happening with my kids.  I invited all the teachers, too.  My friends - lawyers, realtors, university admissions specialists, etc. (as you can imagine a spectrum of professions in your own friend circles) - were also invited to share their thoughts.  I also tweeted out my blog for others to see, #COETAIL, #SISRocks, #IBEnglish.   Then something amazing happened, so I tweeted about that, too: Class Blog Hits I cannot even begin to describe to you how exciting this is. The hits jumped from a total of 70-ish hits over 4 weeks to 2,700+ in a given week.  How does this impact student learning? My class of 19 seniors have now the voice of 50+ others who have responded to their thoughts specifically.  My class of 19 seniors now know that people are actually reading, and reflecting on, what they have to say. If this isn't inspiring to you in the way that you look at connectivism, well... I don't know what to say.  For me, this is incredibly powerful.  Imagine the possibilities - oh, the possibilities! I'm a novice at this; if there is any of you doing this and can give me tips on how I can improve this process, please do let me know.  I'd love to hear from you! My class site: Forever Young

Connecting Students

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