Democracy and Participation

Happy Monday!

What an excellent week — of course, it got a bit warmer, which helps, but it’s been so fun reading your blogs and getting to know each of you a little bit through your design, the story of you interests as a kid, as well as your notes about your current pursuits. I was inspired to write my own blog too.

If you haven’t already, make sure to check out the blog of all of your classmates. Our blogs are now feeding into the shared class blog that I set up: You might want to bookmark this site as it can be your go-to place through the semester. Here you can see all the posts together, in creation order, and you can also click through to each individual blog by following the right navigation links under Contributors.

As we get started …

A note on commenting: There are various ways to comment to blog posts if you want to do so. If the blog supports commenting, you can comment directly of course. If the blog doesn’t support commenting however (Tumblr often doesn’t unless you set it up), then you can make a “comment” on your blog and then link back to the original blog you are referencing (ie. “I like the way that Christina mentioned flow and creativity in her blog on honoring interests and connecting learning”). In fact, this method of commenting via referencing/linking to others work is a key way the “blogosphere” communicates.

And a third way to do it is via social media — for example, when I posted my blog post, I tagged my colleague @poh on twitter with a link to my blog to share it with him. (You will need to share your social media information to do that, of course.)

Read/Watch + Annotate

And, as we keep working on “getting started” while we also dive into another one of the key values of connected learning: participation. This week I’m inviting you to participate in something that may be very new to many of you in relation to your reading and watching online — an experiment in social reading and web annotation.

The invitation is to connect with other educators via an online project called Marginal Syllabus:

This project convenes conversations with educators about issues of equity in teaching, learning, and education. … And it also engages a double-entendre, ie. we partner with authors whose writing may be considered marginal – or contrary – to dominant education narratives, and our online conversations occur in the margins of texts using web annotation.

To facilitate this work, Marginal Syllabus uses a tool called
Last year, ED677 and the Marginal Syllabus shared a reading that I invite you to dive into this week as well; The School and Social Progress, a speech made by John Dewey in 1907. Here is how to get started:

  1. Start with the collection The School and Society, a series of lectures in the public domain by Dewey. Check out this Wikipedia page to get some background and find out more about the context in which he was writing:
  2. After familiarizing yourself with the its context, click on this version of The School and Social Progress. Print out the text if you want or read it online, with or without comments (to turn off comments, click on/off the eyeball that shows up on the right side of your screen).
  3. Make some notes to yourself off-line in a notebook or something else. Feel free to take your time reading this speech and don’t feel you need to comment on everything. You can use these prompts if helpful: What does this speech make you think about? What questions does this speech raise?
  4. Then take a moment and think about our context today. …

The Global One-Room Schoolhouse: John Seely Brown (Highlights from his “Entrepreneurial Learner” Keynote at DML2012) from Connected Learning Alliance on Vimeo.

Okay … ready? Now let’s annotate, online …

  • Here’s a screencast on how to use on the Marginal Syllabus website (created last year; so specific dates are no longer relevant).
  • Return to The School and Social Progress and read through noting other people’s annotations and related discussions.
  • When you are ready to annotate or comment, sign up for (check your email, etc. to activate your account). Return to The School and Social Progress.
  • Find at least 3 things that you would be comfortable commenting/annotating from the text in public.

Here are some questions that might support you in sharing publicly:

  • What is important about the relationships between schools and society?
  • How might what Dewey wrote at the turn of the last century still be relevant today?
  • What ways does Dewey reflect what John Seely Brown talked about? How does it relate so far to your readings about Connected Learning?
  • What does this make you think about in terms of equity (or inequity) in learning today?

And a few things to try:

  • You don’t always have to make your own annotation but can instead respond to others here who have already made a comment. Note that when you do, they will receive an email and may then also reply.
  • If you refer to content we have read in this class, mentioned that in your comment and make a link to it. That way these become resources beyond our class and others can find/read them too.
  • Add the tag #ED677 to your annotations so that we can see all of our annotations together.
  • Try responding with not just words, but also images or other media you think might be relevant and of interest.

Next, let’s read a contemporary article by Linda Christensen together. Linda is a colleague from Oregon and editorial board member of Rethinking Schools. This essay was published last year in Voices from the Middle and titled Critical Literacy and Our Students Lives.

I try to make my literacy work a sustained argument against inequality and injustice. I want my students to be able to “talk back” when they encounter anything that glorifies one race, one culture, one social class, one gender, one language over another: texts, museums, commercials, classes, rules that hide or disguise domination. A critical literacy means that students probe who benefits and who suffers, how did it come to be this way, what are the alternatives, and how can we make things more just?

Just recently, as part of a NWP & Marginal Syllabus collaboration, this article was also available for annotation (the link above will lead to you the annotated version).

Linda took part in the annotation as well as an online conversation with other colleagues, including Kevin who you met previously. Check out these resources this week. In what ways do these address equity in connected learning? What questions do they raise?

This time experiment with the ways you approach this annotation. For example try to keep the annotations on as you are reading it for the first time — what’s that experience like? Where does it lead you?

Finally, when you are done here are some related readings that highlight some of what can be powerful about annotation and social reading (again, no need to annotate — just for your interest):


Reflect on your participation in these Marginal Syllabus events and/or shared annotation of a public article. You can write a blog post, or create a video, make a drawing, to express your ideas; post this to your blog. What do you notice in this process? How might “Marginal Syllabus” support you in thinking about connected learning and equity? What are your thoughts on the value of participation in this context? What questions are raised? What are the implications?


As I mentioned in the ED677 syllabus, each week we will each find things — at least 5 things — online to share and reflect on that are about each other’s work and/or the larger field of Connected Learning. I’d like you to start this process this week.

Find things that:

  • Your fellow classmates shared or posted;
  • That were mentioned or linked to in our shared readings/watchings;
  • That you find online and that relate to the topics are are thinking about together.

Have fun with this as if it is a game (because it is!) … for example, if you can get this done by Friday, then find 5 things and call is your “Find 5 Friday” (or use #F5F as a hashtag). If it is Saturday though when you get this, then you can “Seek 6 Saturday” (#S6S). And if it’s Sunday, the “Search 7 Sunday” is perfect (#S7S).

Here is an example from 2014. Notice how Lizzy writes something about each one and then makes a link to where she found if the post is public and online; to start you can use Lizzy’s example as a model.

Please post what you find to your blog.


Just to remind you that there is an online meeting for this class on Thursday January 26 at 7:00pm ET. I know that not everyone can come and that is fine — I will record this gathering for those of you who missed it. We will use Bluejeans for this meeting and I will send you an invitation to attend.

Into the semester: I did hear from a few of you about potential conflicts on Thursday, although it does seem like overall Thursday will work. Therefore I’d like to aim for Thursdays and will plan to record each meeting in case you can’t make it (and we all have busy lives, so come when you can; we will look forward to seeing you).

I will update the calendar to reflect upcoming meetings every other Thursday at 7:00pm ET.

In connected solidarity,

My Interest in Gymnastics

I admit that the initial reason I wanted to begin gymnastics class was so that I could use the leotard as a swimsuit.  I knew another girl that had taken gymnastics then quit and was using her leotards as swimsuits.  Since I did not have many swimsuits and wanted more, I convinced my mom to sign me up for gymnastics but did not tell her my reasoning until several years later.  I was rather upset that I did not get a leotard when I began gymnastics as we used regular clothes in my first class and the first recital leotard had sequins and thus was not suitable for swimming.  

After one term at the first school, we switched to a gym that was farther away, but ran a much better program.  I was fortunate that my mother was willing to spend the extra time and money to support my interest.  By this time, I had become better at gymnastics and wanted to keep my leotards for gymnastics only.  I enjoyed the challenge of the balance beam and appreciated the focus and concentration required to be successful in this event as well as the uneven bars.  I also really enjoyed practicing on the trampoline.  In addition to the weightless feeling at the vertex of a jump, we used a harness to assist with learning flips which was another really cool sensation.

Gymnastics was not something that was practiced in school.  We were not even allowed to do cartwheels at recess nor in gym class.  However, when I moved to a new school in the middle of 6th grade, the next unit in gym class was gymnastics!  I was beyond thrilled to show off some of my skills. I continued practicing gymnastics, but stopped at the end of 7th grade.  I was able to use some of my gymnastic skills again in 10th grade.  I had joined the track team in high school and at the end of 9th grade began trying the field event high jump.  As I continued practicing high jump and improving, my technique began to improve.  One of my coaches commented that while jumping over the bar, my body moved in a snake like pattern as I maneuvered over the bar.  I was able to clear higher heights than other athletes who were taller than myself.  I attributed my unexpected ability in part to the flexibility I had developed through my earlier years of gymnastics.  

Music and arts are being diminished in many schools.  Funding for these programs can be a challenge and many people do not see the benefits of including these topics in education any longer.  Physical education is also being reduced in many schools due to budget cuts and an increase in academic focus.  Physical activity is very important to the health and well-being of our students.  In addition to the obvious physical benefits of physical education, studies have shown that student’s learning ability is in increased when they are physically active.  The brain receives more oxygen and thus performs better when the body is active.

Future Teacher

It started in Kindergarten.

I was fascinated. In awe. IN LOVE…with school. I knew I wanted to be a teacher on day one.

I was fortunate to attend schools in a very well-rounded and well-respected school district that employed a lot of great teachers.  Many of these teachers supported my interests in school, even continuing to support me in college by allowing me back into their classrooms.

There were a few years that I had teachers who gave me school supplies to utilize while I played school at home. I was SO excited to bring home extra copies or a Math Textbook! Looking back, I know realize that many of these worksheets, workbooks and textbooks were probably becoming obsolete, but at the time, I didn’t know and I wouldn’t have cared! I had real supplies to use with my (fake) students thanks to my teachers.

When I was in fourth grade, we moved. I didn’t have to switch schools, but when I went into our new basement for the first time, I realized I had hit the jackpot! On our first day in our new house, I discovered a student-sized desk and chair that had been left behind. While it may seem silly, this piece of furniture became the centerpiece of my playtime! That Christmas, my parents got me a school dramatic play kit and I was entranced! I spent HOURS playing school in the basement – teaching lessons, giving tests, reading textbooks, grading papers, and taking attendance. Psh – I did it ALL!

Screen Shot 2018-01-21 at 11.48.20 PM*Disclaimer: This is NOT the actual kit that I had. This is one I found on Google.

My desire to be a teacher really had nothing to do with learning, though it did help to pique my interest in school overall. I loved going. I loved reading. I loved my teachers. I loved learning! This love and interest had a lot to do with my success in school as well – I wanted to do well, to impress and to make my mark before I had students of my own.

Over the years, I paid attention to the teachers I liked and especially the teachers I didn’t like – what did they do or not do? Little did I know then, but this has really helped to shape who I am as a teacher. Over the last two years, there have been a few times when I have said or done something in my own classroom and I immediately knew which teacher I was emulating…kind of crazy! Am I alone in this?!

I have to wonder, if things had been different for me, would I be where I am today?

Luckily, I am where I am today. I love my job and can’t imagine doing anything else!

If nothing else, I think we can all agree that even if our interests didn’t pan out, our lives would be very different without the experiences we’ve had and the people who impacted those experiences. Think on that…

All my love,




Blogging Breakthrough

I am Jacqui Gallagher. Welcome to my world! 

Though I’ve always had an interest in blogging, I have never before been a blogger; I am so excited to begin this journey with all of you! 

I graduated from Gwynedd Mercy University with a dual major in Early Childhood Education and Special Education. Soon after graduation, I was hired to teach fifth grade and I am about half-way through my second year teaching. Throughout these first two years, I found myself doing all that I could to find resources and learn as I took on my first teaching job. I am now a Keystone Technology Innovator, a Certified Microsoft Innovative Educator, a Flipgrid Certified Educator and a Quizlet Teacher Ambassador. However, as I entered my second year, I knew I had so much more to learn, so I quickly started working on my Masters of Education, focused on Reading and Connected Learning, at Arcadia University.

Growing up, I knew I wanted to be nothing more than to be a teacher. When I graduated and was hired, my first thought was “FINALLY!” Once I started working, I quickly realized that as a fifth grade teacher, my students felt the same about entering fifth grade. They are FINALLY the oldest in the school!

After a lot of thought, it seemed only fitting that with all this “finally” happening, I would begin an online presence for my classroom using the title “finally fifth.” 


Thank you so much for joining me on this journey. I look forward to continuing to blog with and for you…finally!

All my love, 

Tap, Jazz, Modern, and Ballet

As some of you might have guessed already, tap, jazz, modern, and ballet are four interests of mine that revolve around dance. These four types of dance played a huge role in my life growing up. My first dance class was a ballet and tap class at the age of five. At the time, my mom signed me up because I had a lot of energy, and she thought it would be something fun for me to partake in. Little did she know, I would stick with it for thirteen more years.

I believe my love for dancing started because I loved music. My parents always played music in my house, and when I was at dance class, different kinds of music were always played. Even though I was not always the best dancer, I loved learning new steps and trying to master them. Also, I was a shy kid, who was somewhat bashful while dancing. However, my parents always supported my love for dance and told me how proud of me they were. As I grew up, I gained new friends who became a constant support system and family to me. Two of the biggest influences of my love for dance were my two dance teachers. My dance teachers noticed that I was shy and quiet spoken. Even so, they pushed me to work hard and stick with dance, even when I doubted myself. This constant support from my family, friends, and teachers, kept me in dance class up to the age of eighteen, when I graduated high school.

Even though dance was never really connected to school, it helped me grow as an individual, which affected how I behaved in school. Growing up, I was an extremely shy child. I never left my mom’s side, and I rarely spoke to anyone I did not know. Dancing was a way for me to express myself, and to get to know other kids my own age. As I got older, I formed friendships with these kids which helped me socialize with new individuals. Also, our many performances were in front of large audiences. Performing helped strengthen my confidence as an individual and I became much more social and outgoing.

Even though I do not dance now, it is still a passion of mine that helped shape me as an individual. When I teach my own EL (English learner) students, I value their interests and hobbies. Most of the time, their skills can be brought into the classroom to help with learning. Also, these interests helped shape them as individuals, so it is important for them to maintain these interests and feel appreciated.

Childhood interests

I have always been a math geek and intertwine my love of math with my love of sports. Sports fans often judge one another on predictive analysis and ideas in team-building. My obsession with these ideas have spilled into my professional life and on the side as a hobby.

Growing up, my first sports memories come in 1993, when I was in second grade and the Phillies were surprisingly chasing a World Series trophy. I went to one of the playoff games with my dad, and they tragically lost the championship in six games. Some of my friends still don’t like talking about it. As I’ve grown older, I’m into way more than just baseball, and it’s about so much more than simply rooting for a win or a loss.

My childhood dream job was to be the general manager of a sports team. While that is no longer really a dream job, I do enjoy analyzing sports team building strategies. I tend to take a more statistical point of view, which is why I’ve developed a probability/statistics elective at my school, where I can shape the curriculum to tailor my and students’ interests. I enjoy challenging the norm of how to analyze sports with unknown variables and prefer to introduce new ways of thinking where numbers can tell the story.

I have found that talking about previously not well-known factors scares a lot of people in talking about sports; however, by now, most people who know me expect me to discuss sports in a unique way. I’d like to think that with my background as a teacher, I’m more likely to introduce unique discussion points in ways that people can understand rather than trying to ‘one-up’ someone else.

I really enjoy blending my two childhood loves of math and sports into a fun adult hobby that — hey, who knows — could lead to some career avenue one day. Regardless of it’s for fun or for a job, I’ll always enjoy coming up with strategies and analysis that are a little bit different from everyone else.

Adolescent Interests…where do I begin?

As far back as I can remember, I have had many, many, interests. I’m just into everything. I love to learn how to do things.

What I’ve noticed is that my interests go through cycles. When I was very young my grandpop and uncles would take me fishing at the beach. Fishing eventually cycled out of my primary interest and I moved on to the next interest. Presently, about 15 years later, I am cycling back around to saltwater fishing. By allowing time to pass it allowed me to take on a renewed interest that was fresh, not forced.

I am interested again. I started reading a lot of books, watched a few videos, and talked with my uncles and brothers. I was gathering information from all my sources and cross-checking it in my mind. I have done this same cyclic routine with all of my interests.

I am trying to make several points here. One, interests come in cycles, sometimes with a frequency of a decade or more. Two, I gathered information about my interest in several ways, but through reliable methods, like books, first, always. Then I bounce that information off other people. Sometimes people with similar interests are biased or superstitious about things and this can be misleading and confusing for beginning learners.

Fishing is a perfect example: where and when fish are biting usually begins with a simple statement, such as, fish bite best before sundown. From that point forward all your brain is trying to do is reinforce that concept because you think it’s true. It might be true, but until you have unbiased data you will never know.

Third point, becoming a well-rounded learner stems from having well-rounded interests. Some, dare I say a lot, of people just aren’t interested in anything. Could having an interesting mentor or social network help these people vary their interests? Not sure. Would it eventually come naturally? Also, not sure.

Lastly, I’ll just end with an idea…could teachers already be the ultimate social network? Could schools already be the most well-rounded network of reliable information? Should we trust that our interests will naturally form a well-rounded individual, or will students pigeon-hole themselves with statements like: fish bite best at sundown?

ED677 What Interested Me

The first time my mom ever took me to a hair salon, I fell in love with everything about it.  I loved the people who worked there, I loved watching them cut and style strangers hair and I loved the feeling of being pampered when I was there.  From that first visit, I had wanted to become a hair stylist.  I wanted to be the reason that people walked out of the salon with a huge smile on their face.  I thought it would be such a fun place to work and do what you loved.

After that visit, I would constantly want to style the hair of anyone who would let me.  I used to play “hair salon” with my best friend.  As we got older, we even shared a dream of opening a salon together one day.  I had it all planned out, I would go to cosmetology school first before college.  I would then be able to cut hair on the side during school to make some money while getting a degree.  It was the perfect plan, or so I thought.

My plan changed when I ended up getting one of the worst hair cuts of my life.  Now, I was maybe 10 years old at this point.  The stylist convinced my mother to cut my hair above my shoulders and add these awful bangs.  Needless to say I did not walk out of the salon that day with a smile on my face.  This made me really reconsider wanting to become a stylist.  I thought about all of those “what if” moments that could happen.  What if someone hated the way I cut or styled their hair? What if they didn’t walk out with a smile? What if I didn’t succeed?

As I grew up, the dream of becoming a hair stylist drifted away.  To this day, I still love getting my hair done and even doing my own hair.  I find it relaxing to curl, straighten and style my own hair.  I even have become pretty good at updos for weddings and special events.  While it is not my full time job, it is still a big interest of mine. Who knows, maybe one day I will change my mind and go back to cosmetology school!

Hello :)

My name is Brianna and this is my first EVER blog!! I was a bit nervous in creating it, but here goes nothing. 🙂

I am a middle school math teacher and currently teach 7th and 8th graders.  Most people think I am crazy when I tell them the grades I teach, but I love middle school.  I have taught at the high school level as well, but they tend to be “too cool” or too stressed out about college for me.  Middle school seems to be the perfect age as they kids are still young at heart yet old enough to be able to hold a meaningful conversation with you.  Besides the students, my colleagues at work are also pretty awesome people! They make working so much fun for me.  Plus, having summers off kind of sealed the deal for me!

Besides work, I am a graduate student.  Going back to school while teaching has been quite the test of organization and planning for me.  Trying to juggle lesson planning and grading around classes and homework can get a bit crazy.  I keep telling myself that grad school is there to help my become a better teacher and I truly believe it already has started to do that.

Outside of work and school I try to spend as much time as possible with family and friends.  I love being able to just sit around and talk/laugh/cry with all of them.  They remind me to cherish the little things in life and to never take myself too seriously.  My mom is my best friend and I literally could not do life without her constant love and support. I am also lucky enough to have 8 very close girlfriends who all inspire me everyday.  They may even end up inspiring some of my posts!

“Live every hour like it’s Happy Hour.” ~ Lilly Pulitzer


My professional success-from the K12 encouragement I received

When I was a kid, I was very much interested in reading.  I would readily admit that all of my K12 educators would confirm that as an acceptable form or learning.  However, I think my passion for reading has greatly influenced my current educational technology career.


When I was in high school, I readily expected to complete a pre law baccalaureate degree and successfully complete law school.  With that goal in mind, I took many social sciences classes and continually honed my analytical ability through reading and writing.  Many of the educators that I have had throughout my education have encouraged me analytical ability.  While I think my ability to learn through reading was innate, I know that without the support of my teachers, my analytical ability would not be what it is today.


I think that the implications for this reading analytical ability have influenced my current educational technology support career path.  In order to build educator rapport and acquire new technical expertise, I consistently have to be reading knowledge base articles and tech support articles.  Many educators believe that information technology skills are garnered through computer science classes.  However, the ability to read and learn new trends is by far a more crucial ability.  Furthermore, the ability to communicate (or read interpersonal interactions) enables me as an educational tech supporter to resolve not only technical issues, but have educators have confidence in my recommendations.  I successfully tie my technical ability to resolve educational technology issues within my current career to the encouragement of my reading ability that I received in my K12 education.