Ben Wilkoff
Cresthill Middle School - Douglas County School Distrct
[Please add to, edit, change or refine our conversation through the live chat/backchannel in the ustream channel, the discussion tab on this wiki page, or within our Classroom 2.0 group.]
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I ask you this question because I genuinely want to know. By the session title, you can already guess if not outright make a judgment on what I think learning is, but the session is not meant to be a singular sensation, a tap dance of how my classroom is better than other classrooms. This session must become a conversation about learning. It must become a conversation about what we believe about it and what we think that it should look like. So, let's get concrete. Let's talk about which tools are better than others for creating collaborative environments. Let's talk about what a connected classroom really is. And most of all, let's talk about plans of getting there.

I have made the case over the last year that Learning is only worthwhile if it is authentic, meaning that it has a real audience and a real purpose. But, how do we create authenticity in the classroom. To be sure, authenticity cannot be boiled down. It is not something that can be copied from one situation to another. Authenticity exists because of the people that create it not in the technology or the systems.

So, I would like to take you on a journey of what I have seen in my attempt to create an Authentic Learning Environment for my 7th and 8th grade students in The Academy of Discovery, a technology integrated model of teaching middle school. After each element, I would like to pause to talk about how you see it as a part of Authentic Learning. The following are what I call the six strings of Authentic Learning. Although it may be a little hokey, here is the justification for them:

Play chords, not single notes.

A string, no matter how out of tune, can play a note. It can resonate and reverberate for all that it’s worth, but a single string can never play a chord. It can never join together with others to create complex music, moving and memorable.

Such strings are abundant in education. They are the singular solutions to complex problems that are so easy to hear. They appear original and hopeful because we want learning to be the natural product of stretching out our fingers towards one foundational standard. And yet, learning is complex, and reaching for it should not result in the atonal nightmare of plucking at the first things that our fingers run across. It is only through carefully planned finger placement and calculated strumming that Authentic Learning can be achieved.

So, what are the right strings to strum our educational fingers across? How should we tune our learning environments to make them Authentic?

An Authentic Learning Environment is the foundation for any modern classroom, both brick-and-mortar and online. It is the one place that asks students to take full ownership of their learning by coupling the technologies of creation with the pedagogy of critical thinking, constructivism, and inquiry.

The six strings of Authentic Learning do not ask students to use technology because it is somehow virtuous or out of fear of an increasingly flat world.

Rather, it is an integral part of the Environment because it is impossible to create immediate context, find elusive connections, collaborate fully, change direction adeptly, forge ongoing conversations, or learn continuously through any other medium.

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So, where do we go from here? What is the next step to make more of our classrooms Authentic?

[For our digital attendees and backchanneling, here is the video stream and chat for this session]

U-Stream Chat from this presentation:

11:07 drichards : can you focus the camera on the speaker?
11:09 khokanson-1 : does anyone else keep losing audio of is it just me because I am trying to do too much?
11:09 drichards : karl fisch is speaking?
11:10 dwarlick : You'd think I'd get enough of conferences......
11:10 techicebreaker : No problem with auido here
11:10 John_Tranter-1 : me too
11:10 robinellis-1 : my audio is ok
11:10 drichards : @khokanson-1 audio fine here
11:10 loonyhiker : my audio is okay here in SC
11:11 khokanson-1 : I have all 4 ustream channels plus the home page (live blogs) going at the same time.....wirelessly...could be my issue :)
11:12 drichards : me to kristin - no problem in massachusetts - must be the philly airwaves
11:12 dwarlick : We really need Ustream camera operators -- to aim the thing...
11:13 khokanson-1 : no biggie I just click refresh and it comes back... I like that ustream now archives the chat so if you refresh you don't lose it
11:13 drichards : principal from a catholic school in la, ca speaking
11:15 drichards : decided to make 2 classes - LA and Canada - into one
11:15 drichards : ongoing, ubiquitous communication for teachers and kids as a foundation
11:16 drichards : focus on one subject at a time. - outsiders - book circle
11:17 drichards : lots of challenges - hard to let go of what you like to do in your classroom and collaborate with another classroom - have to let go of stuff you like to do
11:18 techicebreaker : Here's a link to the page with the video
11:18 babs-1 : Barbara from LA here
11:19 drichards : hi babara from la - great learning story you are telling in this video! thanks
11:20 BenWilkoff : @dwarlick Thanks for announcing this on twitter.
11:20 babs-1 : @drichards thanks... this is fun
11:21 drichards : no troubles from kids - new ways of doing school changes everything about school - assessment - grades --> mastery for the 21st century
11:21 drichards : hi be - we finally meet up
11:21 drichards : that's "ben"
11:22 drichards : what is essential learning for kids today? great answer barbara
11:22 BenWilkoff : @drichards Yeah, perhaps we can get some time to talk today.
11:23 wcgaskins : wcgaskins from SC
11:23 drichards : my wife may have something to say about that - i'd love to though
11:24 drichards : the conversations begin
11:24 khokanson-1 : reenvisioning teaching and learning THAT should be the focus!! SO is a whole different way of learning...conversation needs to be about what is essential learning for kids today...When I look at the MANY worksheets that come home to my house, the skills are important, but context & meaning
11:24 khokanson-1 : NECESSARY
11:24 dwarlick : Yow! How many people out there?
11:24 babs-1 : old habits die hard
11:24 babs-1 : on the wiki it says 120
11:24 khokanson-1 : @dwarlick I hear there is about 120
11:25 drichards : who is talking now?
11:25 khokanson-1 : this is Karl
11:25 babs-1 : Karl Fisch
11:25 khokanson-1 : he doesn't stand still much when he presents :)
11:25 drichards : good people at this conference
11:25 babs-1 : Not ever
11:26 mjantzi : motion sickness setting in
11:26 drichards : i like karl's writing and thinking
11:26 mjantzi : Amen!
11:27 budtheteacher : As we begin sessions, there are four channels to choose from.
11:27 drichards : have a great session ben! i'll drop in
11:27 babs-1 : See you all a litle later
11:27 khokanson-1 : @bud will the recordings be embedded on the wiki
11:27 drichards : thanks for the channels bud
11:27 loonyhiker : i want to see all of them! don't know where to go first lol
11:27 drichards : by barbs-1
11:28 derrallg : Is there a page with all the Ustream feeds together like at Educon?
11:28 khokanson-1 : @loonyhiker we did recordings for educon...hopefully these will be embedded somewher
11:28 khokanson-1 : @derrallg I didn't find one where they were embedded
11:29 khokanson-1 : but the links to the channels are here
11:29 khokanson-1 : will need to copy & paste
11:29 derrallg : thanks
11:29 dwarlick : Heading over the Channel 3...
11:29 khokanson-1 : ustream doesnt' like +s
11:30 drichards : is this ben?
11:45 drichards : is this chat working?
11:45 drichards : can someone tell me what session this is?
11:49 budtheteacher : This is Ben Wilkoff's session:
11:49 budtheteacher : I've asked him to adjust camera - hope that's better.
11:49 budtheteacher : The video he's showing is available on the link above if you'd like to take a clearer peak.
11:50 budtheteacher : Oope - peek.
11:50 drichards : it is better bud - thanks
11:50 budtheteacher : oops - oops.
11:50 budtheteacher : I can't make him stand still - he's chock full o' energy.
11:50 fceblog : Thank you Bud.
11:50 drichards : ben got the message - he's trying
11:55 budtheteacher : You're welcome. Dennis, since you've been here from the beginning, would you be willing to capture and post the chat at the end to the wiki page?
11:55 budtheteacher : It'd be a big help.
11:57 budtheteacher : Actually - lots of capable people here - anyone willing to cut and paste?
11:57 drichards : i have to go soon, but i will let it run on the computer and then cut and paste it later.
11:58 drichards : i'll try to do it for all three sessions if you want.
11:58 techicebreaker : Is that all you have to do is cut and paste?
11:58 drichards : not sure - that's the way i'd do it - other suggestions?
11:59 fceblog : @drichards Just do not let the page refresh itself, or you'll lose the chat. Yup, cut&paste is the way.
12:00 drichards : fceblog - okay - will do.
12:00 fceblog : Or partial cut&paste just to make sure. Each entry bears the time of posting so there will not be overlaps, I guess.
12:02 budtheteacher : Any and all archiving would be awesome!
12:02 techicebreaker : I can handle that for this session
12:02 budtheteacher : Partial archives are probably best - stopping and cutting and pasting as you go - but I'm asking so I'll take whatever you're able to do - thanks!
12:04 techicebreaker : What is Grazr?
12:05 fceblog : @techicebreaker Grazr allows you to create RSS feeds and embed in your site.
12:06 techicebreaker : @fceblog thanks
12:13 cfoote-1 : interesting comment
12:14 cfoote-1 : hm, disagree with that 100%
12:14 cfoote-1 : I was thinking he was going to say that showing the romeo and juliet video was making students passive
12:15 cfoote-1 : so he was using technology like blogging to make it interactive and connected
12:15 cfoote-1 : but, I just came in the room to listen, so playing catch up.
12:16 cfoote-1 : good point. connecting at home through connecting afar
12:17 sine : is there audio and video now? I just get "please wait while I connect."
12:19 budtheteacher : @cfoote: What was the comment that you are disagreeing with?
12:21 cfoote-1 : teacher who said that he used to show romeo and juliet, now he bans all technology from his classroom completely
12:22 cfoote-1 : i think he said it interferes with community building?
12:22 cfoote-1 : it was a few mins ago.
12:23 cfoote-1 : reminds me of a comment one of our teachers made--
12:23 cfoote-1 : he said that he made his wiki and thought everyone would rush home and log on..
12:23 cfoote-1 : lol..and quickly realized that wouldn't be their first place they go online
12:24 cfoote-1 : but had a sense of humor about it and is trying to deepen how he uses it with students.
12:24 cfoote-1 : I'm thinking of the fischbowl use of blogging in Anne Smith's project at Arapahoe recently.
12:24 cfoote-1 : is good example of how to bring the tool into the classroom discussion.
12:25 cfoote-1 : good question, tho.
12:28 ehelfant : this is being archived for later viewing isn't it?
12:30 cfoote-1 : i think so.
12:30 cfoote-1 : im' trying to watch two at once ;) so I hope so!
12:32 ehelfant : I'd like to put some parts on the school ipods to give to a few folks
12:34 fceblog : 24 viewers
12:36 fceblog : 24 viewers
12:38 ehelfant : I need to go be mom for a little while...will watch later..thanks
12:39 techicebreaker : assessing/grading group work can be hard to do fairly
12:39 techicebreaker : yes the chat is being archived
12:40 tgray352 : Using Google Docs - allows everyone to have a voice.
12:40 nancito : Hi!
12:41 budtheteacher : Everytihng this weekend is CC - Attribution ShareAlike. Help yourselves - just let us know
12:47 techicebreaker : Any final comments before I archive the chat?
12:47 techicebreaker : Any final comments before I archive the chat?
12:48 techicebreaker : Sorry for the double post
12:49 colearning : nope... go for it. Thanks