What’s your favorite way to learn?

My learning experiences have to be meaningful, memorable, and somewhat personalized, while helping me become better for kids. At conferences and unconferences alike, I look for ways to become better in addressing the Whole Child at 30,000 feet, before landing on one specific path at a time.

Being leaner-driven and data-informed, I’ve been wondering a lot about how educators can better integrate the Whole Child to personalize learning. How can we craft curriculum-specific learning experiences around students and their interests? More importantly–How can we do this efficiently and realistically over a sustained period of time?

My favorite professional learning experiences are the ones in which I get to DO something.

In a post-ASCD #Empower18 Conference conversation about presentation skills led by #IgniteYourSHINE’s very own LaVonna Roth, I commented on what matters to me. I’m very passionate about this:

“Give audience the Why and some thing(s) to do that are relevant to them during the presentation. Learning thru doing can create memories, especially when an engaging, personal experience is attached to a message or theme. Most audience members won’t remember sit-and-get points a year, month, or week later, or even by the end of the day.”

I just had another awesome professional learning experience co-presenting with seven-time author and sixth grade science teacher, Bill Ferriter. This time, we co-facilitated “Hashtag Your Curriculum” at the 2018 North Carolina Technology in Education Society Conference. Even as I compose this reflection one month later, I’m still smiling–for so many reasons:

1–Learning By Doing

Hashtag Your Curriculum session attendees transformed into active learners by doing. After a very brief introduction in which we established our Why and How, educators then created content-specific videos asking Bill Ferriter‘s sixth grade students I Wonder...” questions about sound. And they did this DURING our session. This was especially relevant, because Bill’s sixth graders were researching sound at that time.

2–Archiving Thru Hashtags

All session learners posted with the same hashtag #sci6P13, citing the North Carolina Science Essential Standard and Objective 6L13 that reads:

“Explain the relationship among the rate of vibration, the medium through which vibrations travel, sound and hearing.”

By using the same hashtag, they contributed directly to that specific topic of learning. They helped archive a library of learning and teaching resources.

3–Sharing Thru Hashtags

If one sixth grade science teacher in every county in North Carolina tweeted one resource to #sci6P13, there would be 100 MORE resources from which we could learn and grow together.

Think about that for a minute….

THAT. Is. Powerful! 

WE are each other’s best resources–Not the powers the be, not third-party publishers designing semi-curricula-related kits and books several states away. We can help each other archive and share educational resources. What are we waiting for?

4–Telling Your Story

Hashtagging Your Curriculum also communicates your school’s learning journey to your community. It seems like the general public has very little understanding of exactly what’s being learned and taught in our schools today, especially because what’s being learned AND how it’s being taught is very different than even a few years ago.

That’s a problem. A BIG problem.

As public servants serving our learners, we also owe it to our communities to publicly archive, share, and tell exactly what’s being learned and taught in our spaces. 

After all, how can we build relationships with families without communicating learning targets? How can we keep seeking help from our families and communities if we’re not very specifically and publicly posting and sharing what’s being learned and taught? Is it a secret? Could you imagine if workforce employees realized–and then supported skills that resonated in their fields being learned in schools today?

There’s an opportunity here to do better. Could you imagine a fast food sign celebrating a school project every week? Why aren’t our local airports decorated with students’ artwork? Where’s the local TV/radio commercial about third graders and sixth graders finding new ways to dig deeper into plants, and then the local landscapers, after seeing/hearing the commercial, volunteering to host a field trip? How about all news channels sharing education highlights in every thirty-minute segment?

What we’re learning and teaching should be commonplace in our everyday society. But it may take educators to lead the way in making that happen. 

5–Modeling Learning 

As educators, we talk about things like flexible seating, active learning, more meaningful experiences without homework, and feedback over grading. But then we get to our conference, edcamp, and professional learning spaces, and we usually don’t model or DO what we’re saying.

NCTIES Closing Keynote Speaker said: “Don’t talk about it–BE about it!”

6–Providing Feedback Opportunities

Perhaps the best part of the entire experience was observing several North Carolina educators doing professional learning by creating questions, tweeting them with a specific hashtag… And then seeing Creating A Culture of Feedback co-author Bill Ferriter‘s sixth graders actually respond to educators’ questions from our session! This really happened! What kind of conference or professional learning sessions have had this kind of learning, transformational and transactional, directly from session educators to current students?

THIS. Is. Powerful!

I also presented #Hashtag180 vision in another 2018 NCTIES session:

Bill Ferriter and I also co-facilitated “Hashtag Your Curriculum” at a previous session in the WCPSSITLMS Convergence Symposium in the Fall, 2017.

More feedback from sixth graders to Hashtag Your Curriculum session educators: