education

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 ūüôā

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.

7 Ways in Which our VISION 2020 is Coming to Life

2018 has been an exciting first year in our Innovation Project РVision 2020! Have a look at how much we have accomplished so far:

We began the year with our 1st Maker Summit during our In-Service. All our teachers engaged in it either as facilitators or as participants of a series of hands-on and maker learning experiences with the purpose of giving you guys a taste of what maker-centered learning could look like in our classrooms. The 1st Maker Summit was also the kick-off of Vision 2020. Over 2018, an important step was taken in the realization of our innovative Vision for 2020: Our team of Course Coordinators partnered up with our Innovation Mentors to design Maker Activities to be incorporated in our courses. Since then, many teachers have been exploring the creative possibilities of maker-centered language learning with our students. Our Facebook group is sizzling with new activities and projects being shared by teachers every day.

Right after our In-Service and Maker Summit, we began engaging in the CoDesign Labs. The name itself says it: the Labs were creative sessions designed and facilitated by our Innovation Specialist, Clarissa Bezerra, in which our school leaders, Asa Norte and √Āguas Claras teachers engaged in co-creating innovative ideas to be implemented in our school. The hottest ideas, as selected by the groups themselves, have been compiled in our¬†Community’s Innovative Ideas Platform, which you can access¬†HERE. In 2019, teachers from Asa Sul, Taguatinga, Sudoeste and Lago Sul will have the opportunity to create together in the CoDesign Labs.

We have just finished the third Digital Learning Lab Module on Google Slides! This year we offered three modules:¬†Google Drive,¬†Google Docs, and Google Slides for teachers to learn the basics of these very useful tools for learning. We had around 35 teachers taking the modules and tweaking their Google skills in order to design and facilitate new and better learning experiences leveraged by these intuitive and friendly Google tools. The Lab modules were co-moderated by Clarissa Bezerra, Mariana Sucena, Ana Netto, Erika Oya, and Innovation Mentors Jos√© Ant√īnio, Pedro Tapaj√≥s, B√°rbara Duarte, and Fl√°via Franco. In 2019, we will offer a rerun of those modules, but we also intend to offer a module on¬†Google Forms¬†and¬†Google Classroom.

The Shifting to a Maker Mindset mini course ran twice in 2018, with a group of around 15 teachers attending it in May, and a group of around 20 of our school leaders in August. The mini course was designed and facilitated by teachers Ivna Trevas and Leonardo Sampaio, both Lago Sul teachers working in the Bilingual Adventure course, where maker-centered learning plays a major role in the learning process. Teachers and leaders were able to experience the thrill of making as part of learning, and also understand and discuss the methodological and pedagogical implications of MCL (maker-centered learning) applied to language learning. Also in October, Erika Oya designed and facilitated a workshop on Bilingualism for teachers interested in diving into the bilingual teaching and learning universe, which has become increasingly more important for our school. In November, two sessions also on Bilingual teaching and learning will be offered and facilitated by Daniela Lyra, our Makerspace Instructional Designer, and Lago Sul Branch Manager Denise De Felice.

In July, during our In-Service, a group of around 20 teachers, including Course Coordinators Domingos Di Lello and Maria Da Luz Delfino, designed and presented posters in which they shared Maker activities that were successful in the classroom. Teachers engaged in discussion with poster presenters and were able to ask all types of questions about the activities. It was a highly energizing morning. The idea was to get everyone motivated and confident to try new approaches in their classrooms. In October, we ran a mini showcase again with the participation of teachers Bárbara Duarte, Alan Borges, Victor Hugo Andrade, Tatiana Faria, Ricardo Nardelli, Flávia Franco, Daniela França, Talita Lima and Hugo Lima during the 1st Maker Day Brasil in our Asa Norte branch. The larger community could see all the innovative activities that our teachers have been facilitating in our classrooms. Our 1st Maker Day Brasil was a huge success!

One of our goals within the Vision 2020 innovation project is to have all our teachers and academic staff become Google Certified Educators РLevel 1. Last year, around 12 teachers became Google Certified, some of whom at Level 2, such as Paola Hanna, Leonardo Sampaio, and Ivna Trevas. This year, Branch Managers, Course Coordinators, Resource Center and Makerspace staff members will also engage in preparing for the certification at Level 1. We believe that the very learning process that takes place as a result of the Bootcamp training could be rather transformational, enabling the educator to find and design new opportunities leveraged by technology. In 2019, we will keep pushing towards that goal of certifying our educators.

In September, a group of approximately 30 early adopters entered our Vision 2020 Shared Learning Platform. They have begun engaging in a learning cycle which has been structured inside a Google Classroom. During their learning journeys, participants engage in the self-assessment of their educator digital competence levels. They will later engage in self-reflection and will establish an attainable goal to increase their digital competence and apply their learning to the classroom. The platform is running in beta mode, and soon the group of early adopters will be invited to take part in a face-to-face gathering that will help them take the next steps in their Vision 2020 learning journey. Invitations to join the platform will soon reopen, so stay tuned!

2018 has been a year to nurture a CLIMATE and a CULTURE that are welcoming of innovation. We are gradually learning to take more risks, to fail fast and apply our learnings in our everyday practice as a community. Our LEADERSHIP is also working on incorporating those values in their everyday practices and in changes that have been and will continue to be implemented from now on in order to drive innovation.

In 2019, we will continue this cultural work, which will help shape a new¬†MINDSET. We will also keep encouraging¬†PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT¬†by offering a¬†framework for learning¬†via our Vision 2020 Shared Learning Platform, along with¬†plenty other learning opportunities¬†for all those who share an Innovator’s Mindset in our community.

JDO & CTJ Global Partnership Program

We are thrilled to share some news about a great innovation initiative which has just begun in our school. It’s the JDO Global Partnership Program, a partnership between the¬†JDO Foundation¬†and Casa Thomas Jefferson whose main goal is to develop teachers’ and students’ global and digital citizenship skills. The partnership was born of a recent connection made between Beth Rabello, Denise De Felice, Mariana Sucena and JDO’s CEO Heather Rooney during the¬†2018 ISTE conference¬†in Chicago in March.

JDO’s misson is to provide an enriched educational experience for U.S. and international classrooms (students aged 8-14 years) by providing state of the art technologies (if needed), and professional training to the educators managing these technologies.¬†JDO facilitates global collaboration among partner schools to enable students to be accomplished, well-informed digital citizens. The Program matches international partner teachers and provides a framework to build co-curricular lesson plans that will inspire creative and innovative collaborative learning experiences for students.

Our students and the students from Betsy Ross Elementary School and Benito Juarez Elementary School, both located in Anaheim, California, will  collaborate weekly through email, Google Classroom, and blog, and they will also connect in a live setting via Google Hangouts. We have six Teens 6 groups piloting this project. Two groups in our Asa Sul branch with teachers Lilian de Melo and Victor Hugo Andrade, two in Sudoeste with teachers Abimael Almeida and Candice Rauter, and two in Lago Sul with teachers Helena Stegawski and Natalia Duda this semester. Teens Course Coordinator Sílvia Caldas is working closely with the team, coordinating all pedagogical aspects for the success of this wonderful project.

JDO also offers free professional development modules on various relevant areas related to innovative teaching practices leveraged by digital technology, which is totally in synch with our own innovation and teacher digital transformation program, Vision 2020. As a matter of fact, the six teachers involved in this project will be the first ones to start their Vision 2020 learning journeys by taking advantage of all the learning that will take place during the development of this partnership during this semester. (Stay tuned to find out more about how you can start your own Vision 2020 very soon!)

The Casa mission is to facilitate and deliver unique learning experiences for our students. This partnership will ceratinly foster plenty of opportunities for us to do just that. Not to mention that we are very proud to be the first school in Brazil to have been invited to be a partner in their program.

Stay tuned for more JDO & CTJ Global Partnership Program updates soon. We are working to make this project a success so that more Teens 6 groups, or even other courses, will be able to take part in such a enriching and connected learning opportunity for teachers and students alike.