Month: July 2019

On the Power of Inquiry and Language

#DigiURI Reflections (Part 1)

On ancestry and identity [Street art in Providence, RI]

The 2019 Summer Institute in Digital Literacy (#DigiURI) was a five-day, immersive workshop experience which took place in the Alan Shawn Feinstein College of Education and Professional Studies, in the University of Rhode Island, Providence. The program is the brain child of Julie Coiro, who joined forces with her dyad partner Renee Hobbs to bring to life one of the most intense and insightful learning experiences I’ve had to date. And mind you, dear reader, I have had my fair share of deep learning experiences. Lucky me 🙂

There is certainly a lot to process still. And I must say that I was privileged to have been accompanied by a group of brilliant Brazilian educators, all engaged in the promising Educamídia program, set forth by the Instituto Palavra Aberta and supported by Google.org. Educamídia was created to empower educators and educational organizations, as well as to engage society in the process of youth media education by developing their communication potential in various media.

This week, my dyad partner Carla Arena and I had the chance of sharing some of our most powerful takeaways from our experience at the Summer Institute in Digital Literacy (video above). We chatted in Portuguese then (we are Brazilian), but I would like to begin sharing my most compelling insights with you in this post.

Inquiry at the Core

I had already been made aware of the fact that inquiry-based learning approaches are truly in the center of powerful learning experiences. My experience in DigiURI really drove that home for me. I found myself fully immersed in thinking, creating, communicating and building meaning, both on my own and collaboratively. The constant sharing among all participants was very powerful. The digital artifacts which we created as the outcome of our collaboration were purposefully designed because they were a natural result of the powerful process in which we engaged, in constant reflection and feedback loops from our dyad partners. Inquiry-based learning is the pedagogical pathway that naturally pulls in critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity. It also naturally elicits the meaningful use of technology. It’s the pathway to follow for ‘minds on – hands on’ learning.

Inquiry at center – the sketch I created and that served as inspiration for our DigiURI project

Use Language to Change the World

Inspired by Paulo Freire’s critical pedagogy, Kristin Ziemke struck a chord when she talked about literacy development in young learners, and how powerful it is when kids begin naming the world – their world. Kristin made us aware of the power of visual literacy, and also of the meaning making process that we engage in when learning to name our own worlds. Therefore, changing language is part of the process of changing the world. And that, my friends, is exactly what happens throughout the inquiry-based learning pathway. Language is used to empower, to set high expectations for students, to reflect, and to communicate learning to the world.

Kristin Ziemke in her keynote (photo by Carla Arena)

…to be continued soon

Still more on the power of images, how it connected to leadership for me, and digital empathy.

A Long Trip Beckons. Be Guarded.

Lands End, San Francisco, CA. June 21, 2019. This video is how I felt after the three days I spent engaging in PBL World 2019. Clouds dissipated, and I could clearly see ahead, a new horizon – it had always been there.

I explain.

This was when I came to the realization that I had been going at innovation in education from peripheral perspectives – educational technology, technology integration, active learning methodologies, digital citizenship, media literacy, deep learning, 21st century learning, maker-centered learning, social-emotional skills development – all terms that we hear being thrown around when innovation in education is being discussed and advocated. Those are all great, but they are all peripheral. They orbit around a core which is pedagogical, and that is project-based learning.

PBL is the pedagogy that naturally pulls all those components. Sustained inquiry generates critical thinking as a natural byproduct of collaboration and communication for an authentic purpose, to solve an authentic problem. Technology serves a concrete purpose, that of documenting, demonstrating and showcasing learning. Tools for student creation, though not for the sake of learning a new cool tech tool, but to make learning visible.

PBL mobilizes the whole individual – teacher and students alike. Projects is how people work together to create things in the world. However, PBL requires a very specific type of teacher, a true educator, awakened and moved by the vision of equity in education. Meeting each student where they are, hands on, minds on work. Beautiful work.

Providence, RI. July 14, 2019. The Summer Institute in Digital Literacy. #digiURI

I am about to get further down the rabbit role. Moved by this insight of PBL as the core pedagogy for all things innovative about education, I am looking to explore this idea: what does professional develop that will inspire teachers to become PBL educators look like? How might we support teachers in their journey towards the development of the refined pedagogical skills that will enable them to sustain inquiry-based learning in partnership with their students?

 

A possible map (above).

It’s as the Lands End fortune teller showed me.

        

It’s all good. I’m in it for the long haul. Let the learning explorations begin. I’m getting those #rhizo14 feelings all over again.