Learning Conversations

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Category: Teaching

Make Your Room as a Dissertation Writing Service

If you are having trouble writing your dissertation, there may be a few factors that come into play. First, you may not be interested in the dissertation writing, which means that you should try some writing services and ask them “can you write my essay for me” instead. Second, you may not have time to write all your dissertation chapters, leading you to ask for help and buy them from online dissertation writing services. That is all well and good, but some students cannot afford themselves to buy dissertation chapters online.

The best thing you can do for yourself in this situation is arranged your space to allow yourself to write dissertation better. Even if you are pressed for time writing a lot of assignments, being in a serene environment can help you work faster and better. Instead of looking for dissertations online to buy, try to settle your space first.

College dorm rooms can be a disaster zone, especially when you or your roommate are messy people. This is not a conducive area for studying and you can’t always pull all-nighters at the library anyway. Don’t get us started on expensive coffee shops either. So what can you do? Here are our tips.

Why go out when you can stay in to write your dissertation?

1. First of all, you need to clean.

Before you can rearrange anything in your room, you need to tidy up first. Let go of everything that you do not need. Take photos of loose notes and look at them through your phone or laptop instead. Throw them away. Do the same for any materials that are placed on paper. Recycle them instead. Otherwise, throw all memorabilia that means nothing to you. If you think it looks good, ask your roommate. If they say no, throw it away.

2. Next, you need to organize.

After you achieved a clean space, it is time to maximize the heck out of it. Adjust your desk to receive natural light from the side. Not from the front, because it causes distractive glare from outside. Not directly behind you, because it can block the light that you need. Even if you have a lamp, natural light lets you study better during the day. Categorize your study materials and put them in a specific place. Never put anything else in their place.

3. Lastly, you need to noise control.

You cannot tell the world to shut up, but you can shut your ears. Invest in noise-cancelling headphones. There are cheap ones on the market, but you should maximize them as much as possible. Do your best to avoid any distractions that you do not welcome. Even if you listen to music, make sure that you like it when you are studying. Choose a genre that lets you study the best. If possible, ask your roommate to be as quiet as possible when you study.

If none of that works, you may need to check for some online dissertation writing services because you will have a hard time writing on your own. Otherwise, you can just leave and find a quiet place to study every night.

Mixed Messages

I sat with my 12yo daughter tonight, encouraging her to get her homework done.

She was working on her monthly reading assignment she gets to pick the book, she has a whole list of options for what to do for the assignment and I’m pretty sure her teacher would allow them to suggest alternatives, if they want. The options include written assignments, comic strips, Power Point presentations, videos, etc. The kids are allowed to use any method and any medium they like.

My daughter loves art, so shes drawing a comic strip. She has said before that she doesn’t like when the teacher picks the novel, so shes allowed to make her own choice. I thought shed like this assignment.

And yet she resists.

Is it just because its homework and therefore its automatically onerous?
Is it because she gets anxious about getting things done, or because perfectionism makes her want it to be so fantastic that the task is daunting?
Would she just, plain, rather be playing?

These things are probably part of it. But this is a kid who makes up long, complex stories with her brothers, spends hours drawing on Google Sketchup, researches dog breeds to incredible depth and regularly blows me away with her questions and ideas.

As she whined and complained about having to do the work, I asked her But you like drawing, you got to to choose the book. How come you dont like doing this assignment? It seemed to me that her teacher had done the stuff we always talk about empowering learners, providing choice, allowing personalization.

Because I don’t like being forced to do it. she responded.

So we talked about the times when we have to do things, even when that’s not our choice, but that it has a larger purpose in our lives. I don’t like paying bills, but I love my family and want us to have a place to live and keep it heated and have electricity for lights, etc And that perspective can help me grind through the stuff I don’t necessarily enjoy with a lighter heart.

She looked at me, agreeing in principle. But nothing resonated with her here. She can relate to having to clean her room so that she can have her friends over or so that she find her things when she wants them. She can understand having to scrub the bathroom so that we all have a home that is healthy. But she cant understand how drawing a comic strip about her favorite scene in this novel helps her achieve her dreams or that it will somehow help her function in life. She grudgingly went back to her homework seeing it simply as the hoop she has to jump through in this game we call school.

In that moment, I realized something. She had no idea why reading and comprehension are important for her life. This assignment isn’t meaningful for her, at all! There is no relevance. And I also realized that I’m not sure how the assignment relates to real world skills either?

Its assumed that reading is important and that kids need to be able to show their comprehension somehow with some sort of output. We all agree that its a necessary skill. But why? What is the end goal of reading? Of a book report? Of a monthly reading assignment?

I struggle a little to understand her disinterest because, to me, reading is almost as necessary as breathing. I love it. I love the art of it, just for the experience of it. I love rolling the words around on my tongue, tasting them, imagining the scenes being painted, letting the ideas stretch and dance in my mind. At her age, reading was my escape.

But as I think about it, my daughter would prefer to make up her own stories. She is a creator more than a consumer. She loves reading for facts absorbing and retaining information as quickly as she can find it. But has never loved reading fiction.

In fact, isn’t that true of the culture of this generation? These kids are creating all sorts of content! YouTube. Blogs. Facebook. Photos. Creating their own characters on all sorts of game sites. They create their own avatars on our Wii. They engage with the world, expecting to be part of creating their own experiences. They are less willing to sit back and receive. To consume. To accept what they’re given.

I sit here wondering what this all means?

If my daughter never does connect with a love of reading, is that a problem? She has other ways of experiencing her love of art and stretching her imagination. She engages with storytelling constantly with her brothers, with her friends, in her own head. In fact, she enjoys reading when it has a social component for her she loves snuggling up to me in bed, both of us lost in our own books but sharing a moment together. And she has certainly shown her ability to read and consume information, as well as assess and communicate her findings. Shes got the basics down.

Beyond that, what are the necessary skills for navigating this world? For being a contributing citizen? For connecting with others? For supporting herself and her family? How do we show kids the relevance of what they’re being taught when were not really clear on that ourselves?

I grew up in a world of have to and should be and seeking to please those in authority. I excelled in school partly because I just plain love learning, partly because I was really good at knowing what people expected of me and delivering that. I found it easy to succeed in the existing system in school and upon entering the workforce.

But is that the world that our children are coming into? Is that what we want to prepare them for? To obey? And jump through hoops?

Because I think were giving them some really mixed messages right now. On the one hand, were encouraging them to care to stand up against bullies, to make changes that will save our environment and feed the hungry. We are empowering them to stand up and make a difference. Were telling them we want them to care and to be passionate about what matters to them.

And yet we expect them to do their homework, even when they don’t understand why they’re doing it. Because these are the rules and that’s what they need to do in order to get the marks and move on to the next level. In fact, this is the work world that we know as well one of rule following and doing as were told, even when it doesn’t make sense. Where the world of Dilbert is just a little too close to the truth in our organizations

I sit here, wondering which way this will all go? Which messages will our children absorb? Is this part of our path, our journey of change? Is this how societal change happens? No wonder our kids are struggling at times were struggling too! Yes indeed, times of change are difficult because this churning, this indecision and mixed messages, this uncertainty its a necessary part of revolution and its uncomfortable. Were trying to figure out how to do all these things were talking about and its hard work, darn it!

And I wonder about my little girl who is growing up so quickly, who is so bright and so determined. Will she change the world? Or will the world change her?

What we know about learning…

How we design technology tools and systems must be firmly grounded in all we know about learning (from both current research and educator experience). I believe that the qualities of effective learning environments must guide IT decisions and design processes.

Here are my initial ideas – what are your thoughts? Things I missed? Does it resonate?

Focus on Student Learning

  • The ultimate focus is always to support student learning and growth.

Learner Centered

  • All learning (i.e. students in a class, teacher pro-d, parents seeking info, etc…) requires similar types of supports (relevant, empowered, social, etc…)
  • We all need to be lifelong learners. Process of continuous improvement is critical.
  • The rate of change in the world is still accelerating and isn’t likely to stop, so we need to be able to continuously learn

Relevant

  • Connect learning to real world situations. Don’t want learners to have to ask “why am I doing this?” without an answer!
  • Continuous communication of the “why” of everything we do is critical
  • Create meaning within each person’s own context. When I can connect something new to something I already understand, learning is better retained and becomes sustainable.
  • Bring together and respect existing communities. People self-organize by what matters and has value for them.
  • Community and parent inclusion in learning strategies can both support and reinforce the learning that happens in schools.
  • Problem solving within real world contexts helps learning “make sense” to learners
  • Critical thinking is a necessary real world skill (we rarely have only the information we need – so what is relevant vs. what is needed vs. what is superfluous?)
  • Access to up to date information and expertise.

Empowered

  • Need to respect diversity of needs/abilities/learning styles, etc…
  • Flexibility is critical to success. Provide a variety of options and let people select their own combination of tools/techniques.
  • There is no “one way” or “one size fits all” solution. Asking questions and being curious is critical. We will provide a variety of tools and options that can be assembled as needed.
  • Support differentiated methods of instruction and access, ability for individuals to select their preferred tools

Social

  • Learning is social – we learn together, no one is the absolute expert, need for “co-learning”
  • Relationships are fundamental to all learning. Learning is social.
  • Every project must be approached as an opportunity to build a culture of learning that supports any kind of change (current or future)
  • Everything we do must provide an opportunity to build and support relationships
  • Trust/safety is required for risk taking and learning
  • How we build trust and individual comfort levels will vary

Networked Learning

  • Learning at all levels supports student learning in classrooms.
    • “Expert Learner” Networks (learning from…)
      • Teacher/student, Principal/teachers, District Leadership/Principals (and VPs), Parent/student, Principal/parents (PAC), Teacher/parents, subject area experts/learners, etc…
    • Peer Networks (learning together…)
      • Students, Teachers, Principals, Parents, District Leaders, Support staff, etc…
    • PLN Personal Learning Networks (self reflection, making meaning of my learning…)
  • We must provide tools and environments that can support all of the different types of networked learning, so that they can be used as needed.
  • These networks are fluid and continually shifting, depending on the topic or the expertise in the room. The “expert learner” is not always the “authority figure” – teachers sometimes learn from their students, principals also learn from their staff, etc… The “expert learner” is the one with the experience and expertise on any particular topic.

Involve Parents and Community

  • Learning is continuous and extends beyond the school day, so also includes families and communities
  • Respect that families all have different values and learning outside of school will reflect those values/interests. Work to connect, not replace, learning outside of school to the learning inside classrooms.

Financially Responsible, Sustainable and Effective

  • We operate within an environment of limited resources, so have to balance idealistic beliefs with the reality of available funding.
  • Build tools that leverage work being done across multiple contexts (e.g. the approach we implement for training users during the IT project could be used for training principals regarding leadership standards)
  • Clarity of purpose is required to ultimately keep the focus on supporting student learning
  • Every project, pilot or test must be considered from a point of view of a District wide implementation – is it feasible? Is it sustainable?
  • Think creativity and build in measurements of success and effectiveness (both quantitative and qualitative, re: hard and soft benefits)
  • Assessment tools must support summative and formative assessment (assessment of learning, assessment for learning, assessment as learning.) (e.g. self assessments, peer feedback, survey tools, etc…)

The Push and Pull of Learning

My youngest son is four years old and just started Kindergarten. He’s joyful, loving and extremely energetic!

Whenever we walk in the local park or on the sidewalk in town, he lets go of my hand and skips ahead or stops to examine some rocks. I empower him to follow his own interests, to spend some time seeking out his own learning, asking me questions about the things that interest him. I love seeing the world through his eyes – its all fresh and new and ever so exciting!! His insights or questions often surprise me, leading me to think “wow, I’d never thought of it that way!”

He’s curious and wants to explore everything, all the time, everywhere! He is the epitome of the “continuous learner” that we want everyone to be! And all I have to do is get out of the way and let him lead the way!

However, when we have to cross the street or when we walk into a parking lot, I take his hand. He hates it! Sometimes he screams, he tries to pull his hand away from me and he loudly protests that the hand holding is even a requirements. “I can do it, Mommy!! Let goooooo!”

It’s important for me to recognize that there are times when he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know! As we walk through the parking lot, I stop and remind him to listen – does he hear any car engines running nearby? Does he see anything? Do any cars have someone sitting in them? I point out the white backup lights on a car about to start moving. I talk about why those lights are there and what they mean (that the car is running and in reverse). I ask him what he thinks might happen if we keep walking? When we cross the street, we look at cars that are approaching and we just stand and wait sometimes, to see how quickly cars move or how to gauge when it’s safe or when it isn’t? I talk about turn signals and what they mean – and that even when a car has their blinker on, it’s still smart to see if they’re actually turning or if they might change their mind at the last minute?

He still likes to think that he’s got it all figured out and he doesn’t need me to teach him anything. I support his independence and self confidence. And I still do my job of keeping him safe and teaching him the things that he doesn’t understand yet. I don’t need him to agree with me, in these cases. I don’t need him to like it.

There is a balance I strive for in raising my children. I strive to make sure that they are loved, that they feel safe to take risks and fail and get up and try again. I encourage them to recognize their strengths, follow their curiosity and pursue their passions. And yet, I have perspective, experience and some resulting wisdom that I apply to decide when the risks are too great. Sometimes, I can recognize opportunities to share some of my hard-won wisdom to help them think of things they hadn’t considered. And when they’re trying to do something and don’t know why it’s not working, I offer to help. After all, it’s ridiculous for everyone to reinvent the wheel – why wouldn’t we want our kids to know how to learn from each other (and from mentors/leaders)?

I choose to lead AND to empower. This is what I think of as the “push” and “pull” of learning. And the trick is to know when to step back and let someone learn their own way vs. when to step in and provide direction or guidance? It’s a very fluid way of being. It takes a willingness to allow others (even children) to do the same – to sometimes learn from us and other times to teach us.

I’m learning that leading an organization or team is no different (in this way) than parenting my children. There are some times when I seek input from everyone, strive to make sure that all have a voice and empower those around me to accomplish our goals their own way. It’s a powerful culture to develop – one where the hierarchy disappears and the lines of leader vs. team disappear.

We are all leaders when we feel ownership and pride in what we’re doing! That kind of shared ownership and collaboration results in better solutions – I have no doubt! And empowering people leads to relevant, meaningful learning for all – just like my four year old remembers all about the rocks that fascinate him so.

There are also times, though, where we see something that not everyone else does. Perhaps we have experience that others don’t. Maybe it’s an area of particular interest or research. Whatever the reason, we know something that others need to know. With that knowing comes a responsibility to share –and sometimes, the responsibility to lead or take control/make decisions. Even if people don’t like it or they fight you –just like my four year old fights to pull his hand out of mine as we cross the street.

This leadership needs to happen with integrity and respect – not from a desire for power or control. Just like I strive to make sure my children feel loved, I need to have a relationship with my team and that sense of trust before people will follow me when I try to lead.

The push and pull of learning – and of life – needs to be a cross between individualized, empowered learning and a benevolent dictatorship with caring, inspiring leaders. I believe that either, in exclusion, is insufficient – it’s the blend of the two that has always been the most powerful

The Dimensions of Social in Learning

I was chatting with a friend recently, bemoaning my struggles to “be different more authentic, true to myself, putting my beliefs into everyday action. And I was describing how distant I often feel – that despite connecting with some fantastic mentors and surrounding myself with people who are modeling what I aspire to, I still felt really lonely at times…

He thought for a moment and said “don’t forget that you don’t just need your personal truth and wise teachers, you need community too…” He then went on to explain that the foundations of Buddhism are the “Three Jewels” – the Buddha (the wise teacher), the Dharma (the teachings) and the Sangha (the community).

I’m not going to go off into a discussion of religion at this point, but this chat got me thinking about how we learn and what the dimensions of social learning need to include. It got me thinking about how I would design a system to support all of those dimensions? Because we all need a balance of all three to learn most effectively!

To start with, I believe that learning is learning is learning is learning…

In other words, what we want for students is ultimately no different than what we need to provide educators in terms of professional development opportunities, or what we need to help parents experience as they support their children’s learning. It’s an idea I’ve espoused for quite a while and it’s showing up for me now as I look at how to leverage what we know about learning in order to create a supportive technology infrastructure for all participants in our education system?

So, I believe that there are three dimensions of “social” in “learning”:

  1. We “learn from…”
    • This is our “expert learner” network. I like to think of it in these terms because it really emphasizes that we are learning together – but that “experts” will arise from different places. Traditionally, this would be the teacher in a classroom, a mentor or coach when we’re looking for assistance with business or personal growth. It could be a leader of your religious community or your grandma. In less traditional terms, this is anyone who holds a level of experience and wisdom beyond the crowd and is willing to share that with others. It could be one of the students in a classroom. It is often our children, teaching us about using Facebook or how to win at Wii Mario Kart…
    • We all need time with our teachers or mentors because they offer us the perspective of someone who has “done” what we’re trying to do. They look at our efforts objectively and can give us feedback that we can’t see ourselves because we’re too close. They help us by knowing the questions that we don’t even know enough to know we need to ask! And they have a view that allows them to “push” us to develop in ways we don’t know we need because we don’t have the experience of completion or success yet…
  2. We “learn with…”
    • These are our “peer” networks. For a student, it’s their classmates. For a teacher, it’s their fellow educators. For most of us, we have several communities we participate in (local, virtual, centered around our hobbies, interests, charities, work, sports, etc…). Twitter is probably my favorite peer learning network – oh the conversations we have and the depth of learning I experience there!! *contented sigh*
    • When we learn with our peers, we struggle together. Learning that contains some struggle to figure things out, and ends in the creation of meaning, is a powerful thing! We’re all in the same boat, in this case. No one has the “answers” and the process is what we’re after here. How do we work together? How do we ask questions and get curious? How do we scaffold off each other’s ideas or thoughts – creating something greater than we could have done alone?
    • This might be group projects for students. Maybe it’s teachers coming together on inquiry based learning teams. It might be parents talking over coffee about the trials of puberty and having tweens! Often, this works best when we figure out how to be a “team” (incorporating a variety of skills that are used to complement each other), not just a “group” (two or more humans interacting together). And the larger the team/group, the closer we come to being a “network” (enter George Siemens and “Connectivism”)
  3. We “learn about ourselves…”
    • This is the “personal” part of learning – though I don’t think this is what we mean when we talk about “personal learning networks” or PLNs. What we learn this way is what drives the formation of our PLN, but they are two different things, in my mind.
    • This is the time we spend self reflecting or thinking about what really matters to us? Who am I? What matters to me? What am I good at? What would I like to be better at? What causes me grief or pain (and therefore, warrants my efforts to change)? And what do I want to develop in myself?
    • Often, my interactions within groups or comments that my mentors make will help highlight things personally. My patterns, my beliefs, etc… So they’re definitely linked.
    • In terms of the Buddhist model, this is my “personal truth”!

Without a teacher, our learning is incomplete. We quit because we simply can’t imagine that achieving our goals is possible. We lack the wisdom to even know what we need to learn…

Without our peers, we struggle to “Do it all” by ourselves. We feel isolated. We lack all the skills to accomplish the things that we want to do. We get tired of struggling alone – of feeling like we’re “the only one”…

Without time to learn about ourselves and examine who we are, we stay in reactive mode. We trust outside voices rather than our own gut feeling. We lack direction. We’re unmotivated. We make poor choices about what to do or how to do it (since we don’t understand our own strengths and motivations).

As we plan our training efforts, our classroom activities, our professional development programs – are we considering all three of these dimensions? Because they all contribute to a rich learning environment.

And if you’re tech planning, make sure you incorporate all three in the methods or tools you provide…

Can you stand in the way of genius?

I was over at Kris Wandering Ink blog today, reading about her perspective on our school system and how it impedes the development of genius.

Its a powerful piece and definitely worth the read (if you haven’t already).

As I read through the comments, I noticed a few people saying (or implying) that genius will develop despite the system that its natural and will come out, no matter what the world is telling them.

While I agree to some extent I also think that were fooling ourselves if we think were not damaging these kids. Whats the matter with saying a child is intellectually gifted?  How can we possibly believe that our parenting and teaching doesn’t influence how these children develop into adults and use their talents?

When we don’t support and foster their talents, we send them the message that it isn’t good to excel in this way that they need to tone it down and fit in if they want to be liked and accepted. They end up feeling like there’s something WRONG with them!

Now, granted, not all kids react this way I’m sure there some that can brush it off and go on being themselves. But there are lots of kids that aren’t that secure with their own worth, that haven’t been raised to feel their own worth and value.

So, it follows quite easily, that those gifted kids who get ridiculed for knowing the answers, for using advanced vocabulary, for being particularly sensitive or for having an artistic flair well, they stop openly developing those talents to avoid further pain. And if they’re holding back in class, how are they really developing to their full potential??

Coincidentally, I meandered over to Tamara Fishers blog, Unwrapping the Gifted, and read her wonderful article (http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/unwrapping_the_gifted/2008/08/varsity_academics.html) about exactly this topic. She articulates it much more eloquently than I have go have a read!

The fact of the matter is that EVERY CHILD deserves to develop their talents whether that be academic, athletic, artistic, social-emotional, leadership, comedic, etc

Our children all have their unique gifts our job as adults is to help them find and value those gifts.

Honestly, I think its the most important thing we can do for this next generation!

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