A week ago, I returned from the best conference that I have ever attended- the Teach Better 22 Conference. Given the amount of conferences that I have attended/presented at, that says a lot. You might wonder why I share this statement so confidently.  It is because of the amazing interactions and connections I made while there.  But it's more than that. 

As I tried to gather my thoughts and share about my learning, I found that I had a lot of unpacking to do. This feeling of not being able to make my thinking visible is not unusual. Many times, our students need scaffolds to help them share their thinking. I help my students with this using thinking routines. So in my efforts to model what I preach, here is my 4 Cs from the Teach Better conference.

I started by going through both my Twitter feed and the hashtag #TeachBetter22 to help me reflect. The graphic on the left is where I started- it struck me how many quotes that I heard really resonated with me. It especially hit me how much the keynote by Mickey Smith Jr connected with me. It was probably the best keynote that I had ever heard and if you look at the quotes, you can see why.

Reviewing what are the ABCs of Transforming Learning are-

Two weeks, I shared the second blog post called C= Collaborating While Creating. . This post continued my commitment to sharing ways that we can transform learning using technology in a strategic and focused ways. It shared how it is essential that we promote creation using digital tools with our students over consumption. But that's easier said than done. That post focused on two amazing tools that we can use to promote collaborating while creating.

This week, we will focus on D = Design Collections and Artifacts of Learning. It shares two free online resources that can truly transform learning for our students.  They allow our students to become curators of knowledge and share it with the rest of the learning community.

D = Design Collections and Artifacts of Learning

The two resources to the left are great examples of how you can design collections and artifacts of learning. What I love so much about both of these is that they are hidden gems in our educational landscape. Not enough people know about them, but they should. These resources offer educators high impact teaching moves to help move our students from compliance to engagement. In addition, both of these resources are easy to use. They give educators an easy entry into their use and provide students windows into new worlds and points of view that they might not have accessed previously. Throughout this blog series, I have focused on the importance of creation- whether amplifying student voice, building connections between icons and content, or collaborating while creating. These resources provide our students new ways to curate and design collections and artifacts- it takes them from passive consumers to active creators. In doing so, they engage and empower their learning in new ways.

Design Collections Using Smithsonian Learning Lab

The Smithsonian Learning Lab is truly a hidden gem. I found out about it during the Washington International Summer Institute for Teachers back in 2019. The Smithsonian Learning Lab takes all of the collections of the Smithsonian and gathers them in an online space where these resources are at you and your students' fingertips. Not only can you explore all of these collections, but there are a wealth of crowdsourced teacher created learning collections ready for your use or for you to edit. Think about the possibilities for both your science and social studies content. But even better, your students (with parental permission in my district) can also create their own collections using this resource. They can design and curate collections for their own chosen audiences to explore. They become the museum curator and take their learning to the next level. Wow!

Design Artifacts of Learning Using Project Zero's Thinking Routines

If you have been following me for a while, you know how passionate I am about Project Zero's thinking routines.  These amazing routines help reveal our students' thinking. At the beginning of this blog post, I used one of these routines to help me synthesize my Teach Better 22 experience.  I knew that I needed a tool that would help me synthesize my learning. There are many that I could have chosen that would have helped me to do that- but the 4 Cs is a favorite of mine. Using this routine, I was able to first share the connections I made to Teach Better 22, then what challenged me about Teach Better 22, what concepts I wanted to hold on to and finally any changes as a result of this conference. 

Using thinking routines with your students works the same way. First, you determine what type of thinking that you want students to do and choose a thinking routine that pairs well with it. Go to http://www.pz.harvard.edu/thinking-routines to find a huge toolbox of thinking routines. Then, using the scaffolds provided have your students do each part at a time. Thinking routines are not to be used once or collected like stickers. Start small with one; use it for many contexts, and when you do these thinking routines will become habits of behavior.

Amplifying Thinking Routines Even More with Tech Tools

When I present about thinking routines, I always start with why we use thinking routines, After participants have a good foundation on why they are used, I share how certain tech tools can amplify these routines even more. For example, when using the 4 Cs, I love using Jamboard, because participants can add sticky notes to each section and all participants can see other participants' thinking. This gives all of our learners the message that their voices matter. Some of the other tools I use to amplify these thinking routines include Padlet, Pair Deck, Flip and Google Slides. To learn more about this, check out these blog posts: