Discussion is lively in our PLP Network Community Hub, where PLPeeps from across all of our communities can collaborate and join discussions. Joseph Terch IV, posted an interesting question to peeps: What gets you excited about education? Joseph suggested the answer could be something that was tried in the classroom, something students asked or something read or heard about. Our peeps had a lot to say! Check out highlights from their discussion.

Sister Geralyn Schmidt commented:

What excites me about education?  Hmmm…. As a high school teacher, when my students declared, “COOL!” and then bobbled their head.  Now, at the DIocesan center, working with teachers, there is a entire new level of passion.   What gets me fired up is the realization that every person in the world is now connected as long as they have internet access. 

Educators must NEVER again teach in a silo.  Their vision must no be their class, their school, their district but their WORLD.  To teach with the vision definatley changes the dynamics of what teacher/learner is all about.  Teacher and learner are equals when vision is of education stretches to the horizon.  This is how an indvidual can change the world beginning with one person at at time.



Brenda Sherry commented: 

I get really excited when I’m helping students and their teachers create digital stories. The students (and teachers) usually need some help from me to understand conventions and techniques for this genre of media-making — but after that they blow me away!

Many digital kids – who don’t always excel at traditional pencil/paper school tasks – have such talent in this area!

It makes me wonder…what other talents do kids have that we hold them back from demonstrating? I think this is an exciting time in education when technology can help us awake and unlock these talents!


Marsha Ratzel commented:

I’ve been trying to hand over the power of my classroom to the students.  This past week I tried tiered lab groups….by that I mean I found/and or created 3 different levels of lab activities that investigated heat and energy transfer.  I picked the groups and partnered students of like ability together.  After we did a whole class demo lab showing how to use the temperature probes and software, each group started on their work.

Each tier started with a lab that let them figure out what heat transfer really looks like…one group used a mitten, another group mixed different temperatures of water and another group looked at insulation.  The second lab was more open-ended where it required them to apply their learning.

The lowest tier kids had to design and build their “perfect mitten” and another group had to design/build the best insultated travel mug.  The top tier had to study how the HVAC went on and off in our school by setting up a 24 hour monitor of temperature variations…and I found a mechanical engineer who is helping them think about how all this plays out in designing buildings.  They are exchanging emails with him and he will come into work with them the tuesday after thanksgiving.

While I set up a very structured activity….how they timed it, organized it and executed it….was very student-controlled.  In my mind the success of all this happened because some of the lowest level learners in my room….totally owned the mitten lab.  They wanted to repeat the trials with other mittens…and they argued with each other about where the heat came from.  I had more than one or two of the kids who never do anyhting, totally kick it into gear and become a leader.  And the highest tier learners are so excited to be working with an engineer that I’m almost irrelevant.

Tiering is a WHOLE lot of work. But it’s worth it.  It made me want to suggest to the administration that using common planning time would be so productive if we could jointly build these kinds of experiences by taking our cookie cutter labs and building them out into tiered learning experiences.  Now I wouldn’t want to work in same ability groups all the time…that’s not good….but sometimes you realize that same ability groupings allow student to shine that don’t when you are in heterogeneous groupings all the time.


Becky Bair commented:

Last year I introduced my kids to blogging at the beginning of the second marking period. They thought it was interesting and were excited, and they typed away. Three days later we got our first comments from a class in Nevada. My kids CHEERED (yes, jumping, clapping, yelling) when they read the comments and couldn’t wait to write more. They were writing every chance they could at school and many of them were posting from home, too.

Cool as it was, that’s not the best part of the story. My kids went out to recess that day and told their 5th grade friends about the blog and their comments. Those fifth graders went to their teachers and said, “Why can’t we blog like Mrs. Bair’s class?” After much prodding from their classes, my teammates set up blogs for their classes, too. The enthusiasm of my class seeped into the other fifth grade classes, and even though those teachers weren’t as comfortable with technology as I was, they tried it. And we’ve gotten even more people to try it this year.

Kids being enthusiastic about their learning and getting their teachers to make a change is very exciting to me!


Alan Strange commented:

Learning free from grades excites me. I like the experience of connected learning within a flexible, transforming, studio design that extends outside the confines of a single room or building. Learning environments that encourage inquiry, personal learning and differentiation excite me.

These were some of our discussion starting points, but many more ideas were tossed around throughout the week. Consider posing the same question to your own personal learning network.


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