Sharing and Broadening Our Thinking With a Perspective Walk

Today was the first day of our three day 2017 Lanier School Academy Institute, a professional learning experience for returning and new to the Lanier cluster teachers.  This academy provides teachers of all grade levels and subject areas opportunities to talk about project based learning across the Lanier cluster, to unpack how our cluster thinks about PBL, and to share and brainstorm ways we can craft meaningful and authentic PBL experiences for our students (and ourselves!).  I will be joining the faculty of Lanier High this July as an 11th grade English teacher, so I am excited to participate in this three day institute.

This morning we worked in small groups to take an inquiry stance on PBL (project based learning).  We began by sharing PBL experiences we had implemented as teachers and discussed insights, successes, and what we might do differently moving forward with PBL.  Next, we contemplated and discussed these questions about PBL in our small groups:

  • Benefits?
  • Drawbacks?
  • Misconceptions?
  • What’s your perspective?

After we brainstormed our list of ideas for each question, our facilitator, Dr. Kyle Jones of Lanier High, asked us to pull out the one idea from our list of ideas for each question.  He then asked us to distill the idea to its essence and to write each “essential” big idea that stood out to us as a group (consensus!) on a medium sized sticky note.  Each group then shared out their responses for each question; similar responses were “bundled” together by Dr. Jones to be placed in a slice of the perspective walk “pie”.

Once Dr. Jones had placed the responses for the first question in the perspective walk slices, we gathered in large circle around the perspective walk pie.  He then asked us to look at the responses and to step inside the slice that resonated most strongly with us.  You could not “straddle” a pie with a foot in two slices; you needed to choose one that you connected with the most.   Once we had selected a slice, we then turned and talked in our small groups about our ideas and thinking about the response we had selected.  Once we engaged in small group talk, we then had an opportunity for three groups to share out to the entire group.  We repeated this process for each question, and for each round, Dr. Jones asked for volunteers to share who had not previously shared before though you could also add to the discussion if you had previously volunteered to share.

For our last round, we first considered the question, “What is your perspective?” where we picked a perception about PBL that we found most important to address or challenging.  After we discussed this question, Dr. Jones challenged us to think of ways to change that perception, and after small group discussion, we then shared out once more.  Approximately 50 teachers participated in the perspective walk, so this is an activity you could do with a large group or combined classes as well as an individual class.  During our lunch break, Dr. Jones took each group of responses and hung them on the mobile dry erase board that is our “parking lot” of ideas (more on this tomorrow).

I found this activity to be powerful because I got to hear so many interesting ideas from my fellow teachers, and the small and large group conversations gave me food for thought and pushed my thinking as well as “idea sparks” for the upcoming school year.  This is an engaging activity with tremendous synergy that is participatory and builds on the power of crowdsourcing ideas and the social aspect of learning.  I cannot wait to try that this activity with my new students this fall!

I hope to do some additional posts about our thinking and other great learning activities we’re engaging in this week in our institute.  Kudos to Dr. Jones and all the Lanier cluster teachers for such a provocative and fun morning of thinking and sharing today!

My Sweet Sixteen List of Things I Learned in Librarianship in 2009

Twitter / aarontay: What did you learn in libr … via kwout

In response to Aaron Tay’s tweet on Monday, here is my top sweet sixteen list  of things I have learned, in no particular ranking or order, in 2009 (and am continuing to learn into 2010).

16. Rethinking collection and remixing my physical collection to better meet the needs of my students.  Please see my reflection blog post from earlier this year to learn more and how my PLN enhanced my thinking in this area.

15.  The power of gaming—this concept has only been on my radar the last few months, but I’m looking forward to incorporating gaming more into my library.   Many thanks to Christopher Harris/Bryan Mayer, Justin Hoenke, and Andy Woodworth for their help on this front.

14.  More emphasis on content creation by my students and how to make those creations part of our virtual collection (this will be a major focus for me in 2010).

13.  The power of using Skype and Elluminate for professional learning, networking, and learning (for me and my students!).

12.  Rethinking what we mean by reading and books, particularly the potential, promise, and perils of e-readers and future of digital reading.

11.  Continued growth, reflection, immersion, and application of a participatory librarianship paradigm/lens.   Deeply grateful to Dr. David Lankes for his continued work.

10.  Advocacy and marketing strategies (particularly Andy Woodworth, Bobbi Newman, Seth Godin) thanks to the wonderful people in my personal learning network and the SLJ Summit in October 2009.

9.  Transliteracy (thank you, Bobbi Newman)

8.  Interesting and cool mashups  for libraries and data as well as the ways libraries may stream information. (primarily through Aaron Tay)

7.  Mobile computing for libraries—ideas, inspiration, and future directions via my attending Internet Librarian 2009 and Alison Miller.

6. Getting Googleized: Hands on applications of using Google Sites, Google Docs, Google Reader, Google Chrome Google News, Google Alerts, Google Groups, Google Moderator, Google Wonder Wheel, and other cool Google apps for myself as well as my students in my library; many thanks to so many of you in my PLN who have informed my ideas and insights.  Special thanks also to Marianne Lenox for teaching me about bundles in Google Reader and tips for organizing my feeds.

5.  The power of using LibGuides for creating powerful and useful research pathfinders—thanks to Elisabeth Abarbanel for her inspiration and encouragement!

4.  The concepts about presentation zen–special thanks to Kim Cofino for providing really concrete tips and strategies to help me apply this to my own practice and now helping my students learn these concepts.

3. Rethinking authority, what constitutes authority, and how I apply those ideas to my information literacy instruction/research pathfinder construction with my teen students; there are too many people to name here who have influenced my thinking , but again—my personal learning network and social media connections have played an incredibly significant role.  See my authority and information literacy bookmarks (there is some overlap) for more ideas and inspiration.

2.  The importance of fear/failure as well as play (special thanks to Helene Blowers for introducing me to the joy of play)—I think both are essential to continued growth, lifelong learning, and effective practice.

1.  Continued and deeper thought on an inquiry stance to literacy and information literacy—I could write  a blog post in and of itself (and have already written a few), but again—my personal learning network and transactions with people and events at AASL 2009 are a tremendous resource for me.

While I am sure there are other ideas that may be escaping me right now, this list is representative of the “big ideas” that have profoundly influenced my practice this year.  Where can you see evidence of my learning?  Here are multiple spaces that are learning artifacts of my growth this year, growth that would not be possible without the wisdom of my wonderfully diverse and supportive PLN that challenges me to think deeply—thank you!

What have you learned in 2009?


New Layers for the Media 21 Capstone Project

Used with permission under a Creative Commons license from

Here are some new possible layers/options I am thinking about adding to my Media 21 Capstone Project for 2009-10:

  • After reading Wendy Drexler’s blog post, “Crowd Re(Sourcing)”, I am thinking about introducing Zotero to our students.   I’m trying to figure out where, if at all, Zotero might fit into our class wiki, class Diigo account, and possibly a course delicious account.  I’m also wondering how it might complement NoodleTools.  I like the idea everything would be transparent in one place.  I would need to test to see if students would have rights to fully use it; right now, they do not have access to Firefox (sniff!).
  • New Twitter friend also suggested I check out Mendeley as well.
  • Evernote is also an option still on the table.

Clearly, Mrs. Lester and I have some playing around to do and decision making to do in a few weeks.  If any of you have experience in using these with high school students, I welcome your feedback!

Two other new ideas:

  • I am thinking Susan and I should each blog the whole process of working through this unit to chronicle our ups, downs, challenges, and insights from our experiences.  They might be helpful to anyone else who decides to approach information literacy in this manner.
  • I would like for students to present their projects—not just the content, but to also share their insights as to how all the research tools and social media we’re going to be using worked or did not work for them.

What do you all think about these two additional layers?  Suggestions?  Other ideas?