February 5, 2011

Junior Achievement, Lesson 1

Posted in Junior Achievement at 2:02 pm by kristibroom

With apologies to those of you following for CCK updates, I have a new learning experience to mull over: I’m a volunteer facilitator for Junior Achievement. For those unfamiliar, JA is a non-profit organization that provides financial literacy and workforce readiness curriculum to K-12 schools. Volunteer facilitators from the business and parent communities teach the prepared, grade-level appropriate curriculum to the kids over a period of a day or one day a week for several weeks. Last year, I facilitated JA-in-a-Day to my daughter’s 4th grade class. The curriculum, Our Region, taught about resources and what it takes to start/run a business.

This year, I’ve signed up for 5 weeks of 30-minute lessons from the Ourselves curriculum for kindergarteners – my son’s class. So, over the next 5 weeks, I’ll be sharing my thoughts and reactions in this space.

Curriculum

I have to say that I’m really impressed with the curriculum. Each volunteer gets a kit with all (almost all) materials needed for the full course, which includes a facilitator guide. So, even though I am biased as a former facilitator (trainer), I think they are easy enough for anyone to follow.

I will say, though, that timing seems a bit off. This year my lessons are to last 30 minutes, and while we did get interrupted – A LOT – for discipline issues (it’s kindergarten after all) and a few announcements, we made it only halfway through the material. I will say that it’s very similar to what I see in other training: we plan to fill every moment, and don’t account for questions, extra discussion, or interruptions.

The Class

The class I’m teaching has 22 students — not unmanageable. And, I’ve been in the classroom a few other times, and they are really good kids. But, they are kindergarteners, and it is Friday afternoon (my choice), so disruptions are expected. It amazed me last year, and I’ll say it again, that when I ask a question, almost all the hands are in the air to answer. That’s so different from my experience with training adults — I have counted to 5, to 10, many times before the first brave person shares a response.

I’m excited for next week. I know that I’ll need to adjust the curriculum a bit. This week, the kids took the activity home (color a picture of your favorite animal). Next week we scratch off to reveal pictures of coins on bookmarks. I think we may need to do that one in class, which probably means less time for discussion. That’s too bad, because hearing their minds absorb and question is my favorite part.

February 4, 2011

CCK Week 3, Friday Elluminate Session Notes

Posted in CCK11 at 5:18 pm by kristibroom

I’m finding that it’s helping me to make sense out of this course if I publish my notes here. Not only does it allow me to reflect on them and their sources again, but I greatly appreciate the comments that help to clarify them.

So, below are my notes from Friday’s Elluminate session. I will admit to a bit of…ahem…”filtering” during some of the more esoteric conversations. So, like all of my past and future posts, this is not an all-inclusive list of points.

Property

  • Our experience with an object is based on our perceptions.
  • Those perceptions are not of the object itself, but of its properties.
  • Of all the properties, we select those that are salient perceptions.
  • We combine the salient perceptions to describe the object.

Connections

  • Connection implies more than relationship. Next to, same color, from the same parents are all relational statements, but do not necessarily equate to a connection.
  • In order for a connection to exist, a change in state in one of the things has to have the potential to result in a change of state in the other.
  • If someone talks and no one listens, there is no connection.
  • In a crowded room, lots of relations, lots of connections (as you listen to bits of all of the conversations); as someone calls your name, that conversation becomes salient.
  • Knowledge is a set of connections in the mind.
  • If you have perceptions about things, you are connected to them.
  • Because you are always perceiving, you are always learning.

Meaning

  • Meaning of words is not located in a single place.
  • Rather, it’s a cluster of connections.
  • We talked about Paris, and its many connections (the city in France, plaster of Paris, Paris Hilton, more).
    • Each of us has a set of connections associated with the word Paris.
    • Those connection clusters will overlap.
    • Wittgenstein talks of social sense of words, which is the sum total of people’s perceptions.
    • We create a network of uses of words.
    • In order to make sense (to learn), you insert yourself into the network and start interacting with the entities. In doing so, your knowledge is impacted by signals from others, and by reacting, you impact others in turn.

And the point that I will continue to ponder for a while: The question is not how we get people to learn, but how we shape their perceptions so they learn a set of information and not others.

February 2, 2011

CCK11 Week 3 Notes

Posted in CCK11 at 5:47 pm by kristibroom

This week I find myself with more questions than answers, more confusion than understanding. I’ll start with a full admission that I did not make it through the readings this week, and likely won’t return to them. Instead, I’ve been reading A New Culture of Learning by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown, who also discuss networks, knowledge, and new ways of learning.

In Chapter 2, the authors describe the old way of learning as mechanistic toward an end of efficiency. Their new way of learning is described as an environment that contains and is shaped by context, boundaries, information, students and teachers. Later, they talk about explicit and tacit knowledge, and how tacit knowledge is learned via a collective.

I think there are connections to CCK11. I think the environment that Thomas and Seely Brown describe is similar to the network we’ve been discussing. Their descriptions throughout the book of knowledge and learning seem very similar to networks, connections, entities, and transfer. At least at this stage.

I’m almost finished with the book, so as I finish reading and reflecting, there may be more to share. In the meantime, I do have a few notes from CCK11.

In “An Introduction to Connective Knowledge”, Stephen shares the following with us:

  • In the past, 2 types of knowledge have existed: qualitative and quantitative
  • Distributed knowledge has been added
  • Entities must be connected because a property of one leads to or becomes the other; the knowledge that results from these connections is connective knowledge
  • “Connective knowledge requires an interaction.”
  • He goes on to talk about salience, interpretation, emergence, meaning, and other very relevant, very philosophical, and, to me at this stage of learning, very confusing concepts. I’m looking forward to learning from the network on this one.

In Wednesday’s Elluminate session, Thomas Vander Wal compared Information to Connective Tissue, saying that without it, the other important pieces (bones, muscles) wouldn’t function.

He described 3 categories of connective tissue: hyperlinks, workflow, and metadata, complete with some great examples of tools that support information’s ability to connect, his real-life workflows, and a great discussion of folksonomy and its comparison to taxonomy. Here are some key points:

  • Links are what powers the Internet, but also make desktop computing much easier.
  • Social software applications and common social tools (e.g., blogs, wikis, activity streams) allow for information sharing among people.
  • He then described an InfoCloud ecosystem that includes a Personal InfoCloud, a Local InfoCloud, Global InfoCloud, and External InfoCloud, with the goal being information flowing easily throughout the ecosystem.
  • Our workflows describe how we seek, evaluate, and use information, both personally, and within our networks. The examples of Thomas’s personal and professional workflows were helpful. I’ve (loosely) captured them below.
  • Personal Workflow:
    • Follow activity streams (RSS, daily sites, etc.)
    • Open items of interest in a browser
    • Drop interesting items into Instapaper for later reading
    • Things that are valuable are added to DevonThink
    • Things that are valuable to others are shared via Delicious
    • Search is enabled across DevonThink and Delicious for later retrieval
  • Professional Workflow:
    • Most work with others is done in a wiki
    • Ideas shared broadly in a blog
    • Documents shared in DropBox or Box.net
    • All conversations done in Skype
    • Project and status shared in microblogging
    • All pieces connected, tagged, searchable
  • Metadata helps us classify and aggregate things, so that we can make sense of them in relation to other things. It also enables search.
  • Folksonomy describes a personal tagging/retrieval system, different from a taxonomy, which is imposed upon us

 

I look forward to your contributions, comments, and especially clarifications.