Blog post – Week 12 – 4/9 Shared Purpose

Geometry in Construction

I absolutely LOVE this story! A math teacher and industrial technology teacher came up with this idea and it seems to be highly sucessful! “To Burke, the program really is about providing a valuable experience to students and a service to the community.” The students really seem to want to connect their learning!  “The students conducted a survey of some members of the Loveland community, asking if they are interested in helping the homeless and trying to determine where that desire to help ends.”

Arcadia Public Art Project


For several years, I commuted through the Glenside train station.  It’s really great to see a positive change in the community lead by Arcadians.  The project does need more funding in order to achieve the goal of including LED lighting which looks REALLY COOL!  I will be donating to this project and would encourage others to do the same.  

The College March

The students of Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School in New York City marched to the post office together to mail their college applications.  The streets are closed and the student body as well as the community outside the school are there to show their support for the seniors in their quest to go to college.

Purpose is good.  Shared purpose is better.

This article was written for a business audience, but the concepts can certainly be applied to the classroom if you substitute students for customers.  The main idea is that having a shared purpose is more important than simply having a purpose.  “Most leaders think of purpose as a purpose for. But what is needed is a purpose with.” When the purpose is shared, the engagement is stronger.

When students and teachers can work together towards a shared purpose, the sum of their work is greater than the parts.

I really like this quote as a reminder that small changes can sum to a large impact.  This helps me to not feel overwhelmed by trying to take on too much at one time.  

Student Talk

This week, I decided to take the topics we have been discussing in our connected learning class and discuss them with my students. Since we have been discussing topics like equity, interest learning, student choice, and technology, I decided to listen to what my students had to say!

The following examples show my students’ viewpoints about each topic (in their point of view):

Equity/fairness/respect: During testing, teachers bring in snacks and make sure that every student in the class gets some. We enjoy getting snacks because it shows that our teacher cares about us. Also, our teachers show respect to each other because they say “in my class you can do ______, but in another class you need to follow Mrs. ______’s rules. This tells us that our teachers respect one another. We know our teachers care about us because they tell us things like “we are a family” and that makes us feel good inside. In class, some kids get taken out to go to other classrooms to work on what they need. This is good for us and our friends.

Interest learning: We like when teachers talk about our interests with us. They know what we like to do, but it does not always get talked about when we are actually learning. When we are done our work, we like how we can choose what we want to do from a set of choices.

Student choice: We like when we can choose from a lot of things we might be interested in because if there is one option you might not enjoy, it can get boring. Also, some things might be more difficult for certain students to do, so they can choose what is easy for them. When we have choice, it makes us feel lucky and happy.

Technology: We really like to use technology because we use it a lot every day. It is easy for us to use and we want to practice more because it can help us in real life in the future. Also, laptops can help us find things like a definition, a picture, etc. When we practice using technology, it makes us better and we like that.

What can teachers work on: We want to go on more field trips! On field trips we see things you wouldn’t normally see in the classroom. Also, we get to know new places and new things. We want teachers to take us outside more often. We could connect health to doing exercise, so that we get more in shape while we learn. We wish teachers would ask us even more questions about what we like to do, so we can be the teacher and the teacher can be the student. That would be fun. Then our teachers would learn. Last, we want teachers to learn some of our language (their native language), so that we can all speak the same language.

Connected Learning and Equity in Education

Working in the field of special education, and working with students who are on the spectrum, I am no stranger to the inequalities that exist in education.  All of my students are limited in certain skill sets that come more easily to some of their typically developing peers, thereby creating an unequal playing field.  With that said, this inequality is not specific to my students, as there are a number of students at the high school who find themselves on that same unequal playing field.  These students find themselves on that unequal playing field due to socio-economic status, language barriers, opportunities, and so on and so forth.  Therefore, it is our duty as educators to do our best to ensure that our students have what they need in order to become successful.  Will it always be fair that some students receive more supports than others?  Not necessarily.  However, fair does not equate equity; rather, fair enables for equity as every person then ends up on that very much desired level playing field.

Not only is Olivia Chapman a student giving this TED Talk, but she is so insightful, despite not having a lot of life experience.  This only further proves how equity and equality go hand in hand.  


Ms. J

Shared Purpose- Find 5

1.  This collaboration between The National Veterans Art Museum in Chicago and youth highlights an example of Shared Purpose.

2. This article, The Common Denominator Between Sesame Street and the Internet?  Learning, shines the spotlight on The Hive Chicago Fund for Connected Learning and Northwestern University’s Fuse program.

3.  This video, Ask a Maker Educator:  Involving and Empowering Young Learners explains the process one middle school went through to create a maker space.

4. Most of my finds this week originate in Chicago…maybe it’s time to take a trip!  This video from the Fuse program shares their connected learning vision.

5.  Exploring the Benefit Mindset takes the concept of growth mindset to the next level.  “ According to benefit mindset theorist Ash Buchanan, it is “a purpose-driven mindset that is redefining success from being the best in the world, to being the best for the world.” Examining how our attitudes and actions affect others leads us to make conscious and conscientious decisions based on mutual advantage. “

Equity and what I found this semester


Watching this video, it sums up what I have been learning about equity in the classroom this semester. It is the hard truth about our education system and how it needs to change, it needs equity. We have schools with low income students who do not have the resources that are needed like other schools that have more of a budget. Students are falling out of interest in school because they are feed what they must know due to standardized testing. We are not allowing them engaging and creative learning. Students need new ways of teaching and more support in classrooms. We want all students to be the same, to do that we must provide help where help is needed.

Video found on Youtube by The Leadership Conference

Find- Shared Purpose


This article focusing on shared purpose leads to civil action. The article is written by a teacher in a struggling school. The school was forced to get taken over and talked about turning into a charter school all due to standardized testing. The students all shared the idea that it was wrong that they must do something about it. Them sharing in this similar topic had them work together and fight for a cause they hold close to them.


The shared purpose in this article is more about a common thing that can happen to anyone with anything, failure. This article talked about how students fear failure and will dismiss anything that can lead them to that. They take the safe road because in school failing is bad. They don’t see how failure can be good. The shared purpose in this story is that students shared their failure not to mop but learn and teach. Students not only failed themselves but they learned from their failure along with others who have shared.  This helped students with their confidence along with problem solving.


This video is a great way of shared purpose. This teacher asked her student to tell them a lie they heard about. This would be a lie that relates to them. It was a strong shared purpose movement that had young students share their story about a lie they found hurtful. A lie that relates to them whether it is about their gender, race, education, appearance, etc.


I really like this program! They are student centered program that focuses strictly on children. They “Taking all kids interest equally serious.” I find this program amazing. The different projects offered gives students choices. They do just have to work with robots, they can go into the arts or the engineering side. They want kids to problem solve and fail and work as a team. They share purpose.


Shared purpose brings collaboration. When you want to share ideas you share them with others that are similar. You are collaborating with others. This is a great way to build your social skills and your social contacts. Collaboration also bring passion when they share a purpose

Designing for Equity

If you were educated on Earth, you have background in course-like learning and you might feel the temptation to reflect on your making and learning as would suit a course. In the same way, just as you are susceptible to Earth’s gravity, you are susceptible to associate learning with courses. Instead, consider your learning in a way you might consider your learning after a camping trip, after a visit to the museum, or after a dance that leaves you sweaty, laughing, and looking for a drink of water.— Joe Dillon, CLMOOC 2014

As we enter our final two weeks of class, I encourage you think about your learning in the way that Joe Dillon so beautifully describes … did your hands get any less cold and sweaty as you got used to hitting the “submit” button on your blog? Were you able to find a way to balance your weekly findings with your need to get the laundry in and rest after a week of teaching? Have you made any new connections with students or colleagues that have propelled your thinking forward?

These are essential learnings and it will look different for each and everyone of us. There is no one way.

A key thing to remember are our objectives here at ED677: we have been connected learners in order to ground ourselves in what it means to teach in connected ways. We have also been working to critically examine what we are doing and why in order to support connected learning in social, participatory and equitable ways for all learners. And we’ve been learning new things through playing, creating and reflecting as a community of learners both within and outside of ED677.

Embrace what you have learned and wondered about throughout this journey and use all of that to inform your final work ahead.

The weeks ahead …

I believe connected learning principles can provide a vocabulary for teachers to reclaim agency over what and how we best meet the individual needs of students in our classrooms. … — Antero Garcia (2014)

With your own learning as the focus, take this week to reflect back on what you have been working on this semester. Reread your blog. Visit the blogs of your classmates. Look at the things that you made — from maps, to annotations, to connections with others. What are the small moves you made along the way? What are some of the big ways they supported you in being a connected learner this semester? What have the implications been for your agency as a teacher?

With the learning of your colleagues as part of our shared purpose too, take this week to spend some time with our shared Equity in Connected Learning presentation. Make sure everyone gets some feedback on what they are working on and thinking about; respond when you get feedback; talk together about what we should do with this presentation – with whom should we share it, why and how?

… With learners as the focus, teachers can rely on connected learning as a way to pull back the curtain on how learning happens in schools and agitate the possibilities of classrooms today. — Antero Garcia (2014)

And now, with learners as your focus, turn your attention to the implications of what we’ve been doing together this semester; what is important about it and why? Blog this week about the implications for learners you specifically work with. Ask them to be part of this reflection if you can; if you can’t, allow yourself to use what you know to imagine.

After all this, start to think about your final “Make” for the semester. The next two weeks will focus on doing this work and getting prepared to share it with others.

Our Final Makes

Final “makes” should be something that you design that supports you in building towards equity and connected learning beyond this course. What you make can relate to your work with learners and/or in your professional learning.

Go back to your inquiry question/s and see where that leads you. Note that do you do not have to start from scratch— you can continue, remix, remediate something you or your classmates have already started in this class (or in any other). That said, I’d like you to take whatever you do to its next level (i.e. a new audience or purpose) and consider it as something you are creating that can help make connected learning and equity a reality in the world (in big or small ways).

When you share your final make, I will ask you to reflect on and describe what connected learning principles inform your work as well as in what ways your make supports equity. So just fyi about that for now.

Here are the dates for the Final Makes and sharing:

  • This week: start on final makes
  • Next week: continue to work on final makes
  • Gather to share; sign up to present either on Thursday April 26th or Thursday May 3rd at 7:00pm ET (note your date preference here)
  • Final makes (public share on your blog and/or with class) and self-assessments (private share directly to me) are due anytime during finals week at Arcadia.

As inspiration, here are some examples of final makes from ED677ers in the past. We also discussed these at our gathering last week: here is the recording and the related document.

Our Final Self-Assessments

You also have the next two weeks to work on a final self-assessment of your learning and connecting over the course of this semester. I’d like you to take your time with this and integrate this into your final making process. (Please do not submit this to me until after you share your final Make, however.)

My recommendation is to take this first week to review the performance expectations from the syllabus, the questions for the self-assessment and then jot notes to yourselves about your work in this course as you review it. Put that aside and continue to work on your final make. … The following week, after you present your final make, return to what you wrote and review it. Then you should start to write it up your self-assessment and share with me.

ED677 Self-Assessment Guide

Note that these are the same assessment questions we stopped to work on mid-semester.

Data Detox

All semester we have been using the Internet to search for things, to sign up for things, and we’ve been posting content about ourselves, our interests, our questions, etc. We have been participating. And, if you look at these Mozilla web literacies standards regarding participation, you will see there are several skills and competencies that we need to address, including: Connect, Share, Contribute, Open Practice and Protect.

Protection, ie. the Managing and maintaining the privacy and security of your digital identity through behaviors and digital tool settings, is one of these skills and competencies. And in a moment where the use of Facebook data to feed Cambridge Analytica, and the acquisition of EdModo by Net Dragon, is making both popular and ed-tech headlines, let’s think about our data and privacy and do some spring cleaning.

Learn more about data privacy through these privacy protect activities  (scroll down to see) created by Mozilla; or work alongside me this week and do a Data Detox. Data Detox, is a 8-day process meant to support you in having a “healthier and more in-control digital self.” Check it out and if you are interested, follow me as I blog about my data detox process.

Happy Making in the week ahead! I’m happy to talk with you if you want a thinking partner as you move forward with your makes and/or detox processes.

In connected learning solidarity,


Shared Purpose

Something that I love about education in general is that all students have a shared purpose. Whatever the topic of the class is, the students all share the purpose of learning more about that topic. Of course, sometimes students are more passionate about certain topics than others, but even so, the bond created through a shared purpose is very strong.

Every Friday morning with my third grade students I have a “sharing circle.” In this circle, each student has the chance to share one short phrase that has to do with something going on in their life. For example, students might share something like, “Mom’s Birthday” or “Excited for the weekend.” Then, based on what they share, they then call on two other students to ask them probing questions about their topic. In this circle, we are all connected through one shared purpose: to learn more about each other. Through learning more about each other, we connect on a deeper level. I think this is an excellent example of a shared purpose.


Shared Purpose Finds

This week I found inspiration in some of the posts of my fellow classmates from their blogs regarding equity.  I also looked at some of the class readings and felt the following finds were worth sharing.

1). Prince EA video – Education today tried to fit all students into one specific mold and assumes that all students learn the same way.  This could not be further from the truth.  Each student is unique and how they learn is just as unique.  As educators we should be striving to create individualized learning plans for all students.

2). Ensuring Educational Equity for All Students video – This video brings up state assessments and how students are forced to take standardized tests to show what they learn in school.  It shows how students’ struggle with certain topics and a standardized test cannot accurately show that.

3) Design Thinking for Educators – This site helps teachers deign meaningful solutions and ways to teach for their particular school and community.  It has examples for teachers to view to gain inspiration that they can use to create their own design thinking challenges for their students.

4). KQED Education – Above the Noise – This lesson plan incorporates the above the noise YouTube series that discusses current issued being talked about by middle and high school students.  The lesson plan then has students do research and call to action.  Using the issues that are current for students definitely is more engaging and will increase student participation in the classroom.

5). DML Central – 10 Connected Learning Lesson Plans from the Remake Network really struck me as resembling everything that we have discussed in my grad class this semester.  One teacher from Pittsburg shares ten lesson plans that promote connected learning.  Sharing resources for other teachers to use or remix as they call it is what makes connected learning so special.  Teachers want to help other teachers in any way possible and that is truly amazing.


Equity in Education

Screen Shot 2018-04-15 at 6.25.46 PM

The above photo is a copy of my latest class post relating to Equity in the classroom.  When I read my own post as well as the posts from my classmates regarding equity, I find myself getting very concerned for the students I teach.  I teach in a very good school district that fortunately has plenty of technology such as laptops, iPads, 3-D printers and scanners and much more for the students to use on a daily basis.  However, I live in a school district that is not as well off.  I have friends who went through the same district that I live in and turned off with great careers that came as a result of their education.  Those people clearly did not let the lack of technology or rank of the school affect their learning and what they chose to do with the knowledge they learned in school.  But what happens to those students who are not as driven as some of the others?

In classrooms that do not have the technology to use, teachers are still coming up with new and innovative ways to teach students.  They use resources that some would never think of using.  I find those teachers to be the most inspiring to their students as they set a great example for them.  There are always ways to introduce topics to students that are not a typical lecture style lesson.  As a teacher, I know I do not use nearly as many resources that I have available to me as I should.  This is doing a disservice to my students.  So what makes that any different from the students without technology in the classrooms? All of these ideas have come to me throughout this course.

Instead of looking at all of the differences in classrooms across the country, we should be trying to find ways to make them the same.  Offer students the same type of resources regardless of what technology is available.  Create curriculums that allow all students to learn even if that means creating unique learning plans for each student to ensure they all can learn in a way that makes the most sense for them.  We as teachers can only do so much with the tools that we are given.  But we cannot say we are doing everything we can until we actually are all doing that.  The students deserve an equal opportunity to reach their full potential.