The Freedom Trail

Yesterday David and I took the dogs out to explore the Freedom Trail. In retrospect, it was probably a bad idea to bring the dogs. We didn’t realize much of the trail went through the city. There were tons of people and our dogs were getting overwhelmed.

(Side note: If you ever see a dog and you want to pet it, you shouldn’t reach out to pet it, even if it looks friendly. You should first ask the owners if he or she is friendly, and then put your hand out so the dog can smell you. Some dogs, especially rescue dogs, are a little weary of human contact and might react aggressively (barking or growling) if you just bring your hand toward them. Just thought I put it out there as this is something I noticed on our journey today – people just reaching out to try and pet our dogs.)

We didn’t end up doing the whole trail – we went up to the Copp’s Hill Burying Ground and turned around. We were exhausted, and so were the pups.

It was still a fun experience. It was great to see how Boston has built itself around these important historical sites. I’m also happy we’re getting to know our surroundings, little by little. We will definitely be exploring the other parts of the trail soon.

Started from the Bottom and Now I’m Here

This past Friday classes were canceled for a HGSE event: Critical Conversations and Bold Ideas.

The event kicked off HGSE’s new fundraising campaign. There were many speakers and panels on key topics in education. The U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spoke, as well as Geoffrey Canada, founder and president of Harlem Children’s Zone. The event culminated with a performance by Yo-Yo Ma and then there was a block party with free food and drinks.

All in all, the event was quite inspiring, overwhelming, and amazing. It was great to be immersed in an environment where everyone was clearly passionate about education, and people were coming together to share their ideas on how to address the problems the field is experiencing.

All throughout the event, I kept thinking how surreal it is that I’m here. Sometimes I worry about how people might perceive me when they see that I go to Harvard, or that all the universities I’ve been to are private, or that I have been a part of TFA. I worry that they might think that I come from a privileged background and make assumptions about me, when in fact, my story is quite different. I think about my identity and the circumstances I’ve been in, and how incredible it is that I’m here.

Continue reading

My First Scratch Project!

One of my assignments was to create an interactive Scratch project. Here’s my first stab at it.

Sometimes it’s intimidating because I see all these projects on the website that are amazing, but then I have to remind myself that these kids spent a lot of time revising their projects. I’m sure that the more I play around with Scratch, the more I will learn about it.

http://scratch.mit.edu/projects/27115073/

Deschool the System

I find myself being exposed to so many different learning theories and am trying so hard to make sense of how they all fit together.

I recently read Ivan Illich’s Deschooling Society, which I found to be intriguing. Illich points out the problems with traditional, institutionalized education – it’s ineffectual, inequitable, and socially polarizing. He argues that we should do away with schools entirely, instead creating a society where children can engage in self-directed and informal learning based on their interests, and connect with mentors who can guide them through the process. He also argues that technology can be used to create a good educational system, which he defines below:

A good educational system should have three purposes: it should provide all who want to learn with access to available resources at any time in their lives; empower all who want to share what they know to find those who want to learn it from them; and, finally, furnish all who want to present an issue to the public with the opportunity to make their challenge known. – Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society

Continue reading

T509: Participation Rubric Draft

T509- Massive: Online Network Participation Rubric

(Draft: Sept 17; Revision: October 8)

Personal Compass: I would like to learn how to evaluate MOOCs and other large-scale learning environments, and identify the characteristics that make those spaces successful. I would like to build my skills in constructing content/design for these spaces.

Participation Commitments:

  • I will explore and share 1 interesting massive space a week via Twitter.
  • I will write 2 blog posts a month sharing my exploration of one of the course themes

Participation Rubric

Describe a few criteria that you’d like to evaluate yourself on, and be evaluated on by the instructional team. Define what it would look like if you met your personal expectations, if you fell short, and if you did totally awesome. While some of these metrics may be quantitative (I will do X at least Y times), most should qualitatively describe your desired learning and impact. (While there are 5 rows and 3 columns below, feel free to modify this general outline to suit your purposes.)

Criteria Exceeds Expectation Meets Expectation Underperforms Expectation
1 weekly tweet about a massive space Tweet link to space + short explanation of what it is/why it’s neat Tweet the link to space with no explanation about it No tweets
2 monthly blog posts about course themes (e.g. blended learning, connectivism, MOOCs) 2+ very detailed posts with multimedia that explain my experience with the theme/space 2 personal posts that explain my process/exploration of each theme/space No blogging

Tinkering and Things

I find myself falling into a manageable routine now. I’m so happy and proud of myself for keeping up with readings, projects, and also going to the gym. For the first time in my life, I feel like I’ve actually got a handle on things. It’s a great feeling.

Today I started my new internship, and so far I really love the environment I’m in. It’s a really collaborative and creative space, and my colleagues are awesome. I also like that I’m getting to see the iterative process in action. There are some upcoming revisions in Scratch, and it’s great to see what goes on behind the scenes and the design thinking that goes into these revisions.

One of my first projects is to help standardize the current system and update existing content on the Scratch website. Once it is standardized, I will be creating new content for the website.

In my Designing for Learning by creating class, we’ve been creating design journals and physical models of constructionism. It was an interesting project assignment because our professor gave us intentionally vague instructions. The only instructions were to make visible the elements of constructionism. In some way, I feel the assignment was given so that we could engage in constructionism ourselves. We are each creating our own model of a constructionist learning environment based on our own ideas. I created tangible colored shapes out of cardboard and duct tape. To me, constructionism is all about creative experimentation. I remembered playing with colored blocks as a kid and building various things. There weren’t any instructions, and that was okay. I learned by experimenting with the different shapes.  Tomorrow we’re going to be able to explore each others’ models, and I’m interested to see how people will interpret mine.

photo 2photo 1

I just found out that I will be paired up with EdTechTeacher for my partner project in my Massive course. I’m not sure of the specifics yet, but according to the original description, I will be working with other students to create a structured self-paced online learning experience about technology for educators. Tomorrow I’m going to find out more details. I’m excited!

In my other classes, I’ve been learning how to create wire frames, prototypes, and social graphs. I don’t know if I will become a master of all of these applications by the end of this year, but I will at least have familiarity and be comfortable with using a wide range of tools. One thing I’m wondering throughout this experience is whether it’s better to specialize in one or two things, or if I am better off doing what I’m doing – learning the basics of many things, and then building specific expertise as needed.

In other news, the weather here is starting to get colder, and I’m realizing I need to shop for winter weather clothes sooner rather than later…

T509: Personal Learning Compass

Write a statement describing your personal compass for this course [T509: Massive]. What are you trying to accomplish? How will you do it? How will you know that you have succeeded?

I am taking this course with the goal of developing a deeper understanding of massive online open environments, blended learning, and intelligent tutors. I am very interested in learning what roles these spaces have in education. Specifically, I would like to learn how to evaluate these tools and develop a criteria of what makes a successful massive learning platform. I am hoping to take what I learn from this course and apply it to my future work as an educator, whether it is creating content for widespread users or identifying useful resources for others.

I am really looking forward to the partner projects. I feel that working side-by-side with current professionals in the field will give me the hands-on experience I need to continue developing understanding of these spaces. Additionally, by keeping up with the course readings and engaging in discussions with others, I will continue to push my learning in this area.

I will know I have succeeded when I can critically critique different massive platforms, and be able to back up my assertions with research. Additionally, I hope to develop (or find) some kind of rubric to evaluate these spaces, and plan out my own ideas for a space where I can effectively distribute content on a massive scale. Lastly, I’d also like to be able to engage in a conversation with people who may not be familiar with these topics, and be able to explain them thoroughly.