Saturday, 25 November 2017

Connections-based Learning Book Available! #CBLchat

Find the book in your Amazon book store.  See: Connections-based Learning.

There is a reason I have not posted in a while.

Our time is limited.  We can't do everything and we have to make choices.  For me, I have always wanted to give a full-fledged explanation of connections-based learning.  I set my sights on writing a CBL book and gave up my blogging to do it.  But I am back.

I am so excited to be able to provide this resource as educators navigate the connected world.  I have combined a clear outline of the connections-based learning approach while sharing relevant hashtags to not only explain how to teach with the #ConnectionLens but how to get involved.  And of course I include some silliness here and there.

At the time of this posting I have been so encouraged to see that CBL is number one on the Amazon Best Seller list for Pro D books.  This is pretty surprising and super encouraging particularly because this book is about as indie as you can get.  It reminds me of those videos students make for class that say: written by Jimmy, produced by Jimmy, filmed by Jimmy... with special thanks to Jimmy. You know that Jimmy kinda played a big role in the whole thing.

The book is loaded with ideas on how to make connections-based learning a reality in your class, but also makes a special effort to connect learning outcomes to CBL. I wanted to put to rest once and for all the notion that have to make a choice between following the curriculum and making local and global connections.  You don't.

I will continue to moderate the #CBL Voxer Chat with new vigor. Each week we will look at a "Vision Checkup" question (at the end of the chapters) and dialogue about it on Voxer and as a Twitter #CBLchat slow chat.  If you want to join the Voxer chat then don't hesitate to contact me.

Thanks so much for being a part of the Connections-based Learning community.  Here's to leveraging connections for student learning!

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Teamwork makes the dream work | #CBL Collaboration Lens

My son loves the dudes.  I've mentioned the love-hate relationship I have with the bottle flipping epidemic before.  I have Dude Perfect to thank for that.  But it's not just the flipping.  It's the trick shots, and the videos, and the making anything into a competition.  It's the cap flips and the 30 foot 3 pointers.  It's making me loony.  But I can't help myself.  I gotta keep taking those shots.

Dude perfect represents something to me, though: teamwork.

If it was just Tyler Toney, taking the shots, it wouldn't have caught on.  It's the synergy.  It's the team.  It's buddies working together to work against each other to make something happen.  I love the Dude Perfect team.  They are real with their strengths and weaknesses.  They capitalize on both.  And they make something special together: something motivating, something engaging, something inspiring.

Something to get me to make a 2-story no-look cap flip.

Think about the last time you worked on something as a team.  Did it go well?  Were you happy with the product, the process, the experience?  Did you feel as though you had come to an understanding with your teammates?  Or did you decide to never work with them again?

Working in groups happens day in and day out in school. From long term group projects to 30 second think-pair-shares, students are often working in groups.  But how often do we as educators give students tools to help them do groupwork effectively?  We can't simply throw students together and hope for the best.

Teamwork is a skill.  After a semester of developing teamwork skills, the teamwork I see at the end of the semester is different than the teamwork I see at the beginning.  Students seem happier with the team.  They seem more effective.  They seem to come up with better responses.

Strategize a Collaboration Plan

No one goes into a partnership without first discussing the terms.  How can we ask our students to do just that?  A collaboration plan is crucial as students embark on Connections-based Learning.  In the CBL Design process, students reflect on the collaboration at the beginning of the process.  This was crucial as we responded to the dire conditions in the bateyes we heard from Eladio, Dennis and the students from The Community For Learning school in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.  The students had empathized the needs, co-constructed learning goals with me, and developed a proposal to address light poverty.  The next step was to establish how the team would function.

Answering questions such as what strengths do we bring to the group, what non-negotiables do we have, and how do we see the work load divided must take place to guide the collaboration.  Using our OneNote Class Notebook collaboration space, students ironed out some group parameters by answering some guiding questions.

They then signed the plan, demonstrating that they were committed to these ideas.  Opportunities for guided collaboration must continue throughout the CBL.  Having digital and actual time and space for collaboration is crucial for developing teamwork.  Whether it's brainstorming questions for Skype chats:

or gathering a list of materials to create 3D printed lanterns

collaboration is entered into by the students, but monitored and guided by the teacher.  Finally, it should be reflected upon by each student, as they bookend their learning.

When teamwork skills are built, there is no telling what students can do.  I am amazed at what these students created to address light poverty in the Dominican Republic as they worked together.  And I love the sentiment above: 

"we can accomplish anything if we put our minds to it"
Thanks for walking with us as we attempt to tackle light poverty.  Support us in further attempts by visiting our My Class Needs page.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

How to Tackle Light Poverty

On November 21st, 2016, I wrote a post called Doing Something Beyond Ourselves.  In it, I outlined an idea that I wanted to press into: meaningful making in connections-based learning.  Provoked by a connection, the natural response is to ask "what are we going to do/make about it?"  Admitting my own lack of electronics skill, I went about making connections to facilitate my students to get involved with battling light poverty.  We went through the whole CBL process as we connected with collaborators in New Brunswick and the Dominican Republic: design, network, create, and celebrate.

What follows is what my students created in response to our connection with students in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and the Engineering Brightness group with Ian Fogarty in Riverview, New Brunswick.  I am very proud of where the students got to: prototyping, fundraising, light building, connecting with other schools.  It was a pleasure to work with these students.

When a connection is made, the possibilities blow open wide.

I encourage you to look at these student "Artifacts of Learning" posts, see what they have accomplished, hear what they have learned, and comment on their thoughts.

Lantern Housing Design


These students prototyped their own light, designing and 3D printing the lantern housing.  They created top and bottom, ready to add the light components.

Gavin's Post  Liam's Post  Owen's Post


Janna's Post  Angie's Post  Sabrina's Post

These students connected with other schools to raise money and awareness for light poverty.  Right now schools around our district are getting involved and raising money to help the cause of light poverty.  Other students put on a Photo Booth to raise money.  They created a video to advertise the event.

Social Media Campaign

Electricity Production Design


These students developed an innovative technology to use kinetic energy to charge the lights.  These shake-able lights could be carried around by a person or an animal to charge and then used at night.  In these posts is a video that asks for future students to continue working on the idea.

Alhan's Post  Josh's Post  Ben's Post  Zac's Post

CBL Historians

These students created a video to curate the activities and learning that was happening with the teams.

Ella's Post  Clare's Post  Ria's Post

Lantern Production


These students were able to re-create the Engineering Brightness New Brunswick students' design and make a fully functioning light.

Kaleb's Post  Olivia's Post  Evan's Post

These students all helped in other capacities to tackle light poverty: creating Powerpoints, participating in Skype chats, supporting other teams, finding other methods of creating lights, and bringing an awareness to light poverty.

Thanks for walking with us as we attempt to tackle light poverty!  Support us in further attempts by visiting our My Class Needs page: