The smell of crispy latkes and sugary doughnuts is starting to slowly recede from the building as another Chanukah has come and gone. We are now in that unique window between Chanukah and Winter Break – when both student and teacher eagerly anticipates a much-needed vacation after all the hard work and effort that has been poured into a most exciting and successful beginning to our year. A few interesting threads are coming together at a moment when our secular calendar affords us an opportunity for reflection. (The nice thing about a shared identity is that we have plenty of holidays, new years, and chances to reflect!)
Under the leadership of our 21st Century Learning Team of Silvia Tolisano and Andrea Hernandez we hosted a conversation of local (and not-so-local) Technology and Curriculum Coordinators this past week at our school. [The meeting grew out of our recent experience at the FCIS (Florida Council of Independent Schools) Conference of having so many of our teachers present on how we are utilizing a 21st Century Learning approach at our school and receiving such positive feedback.] We are proud, especially for a school our size, to play a leadership role in our local community. So…the thread of “21st Century Learning” and “Curriculum 21” was made more explicit for me this week.
Another thread has been the beginning of our formal observation period. I am in the midst of observing and conversing with all our teachers about the work that they do. It is amongst my favorite (and, yes, time-consuming) tasks because we get to focus in on what we all are here for – teaching and learning. So far I have been pleased with what I am seeing and enjoying the opportunity for dialogue.
I am also finishing up the first “semester” of my “Parent University” class for parents of students in our school. It has been a wonderful first experience and I promise that I am learning at least much as I am teaching. I am looking forward to continuing to study with my two groups and hopefully adding some new people after Winter Break. Another thread…
What I will use to tie it together will be a Wordle…
I realize that I am late to Wordle, but having seen a few teachers make use of it during their observations, I’m discovering it for the first time and loving it. In a nutshell, Wordle (through an algorithm only it knows) takes any piece of written text and represents it graphically in a way which highlights frequently-used words. It is a fantastic device for visually summarizing the essence of a written text. What is great about it, is not only can you cut-and-paste in any written document, you can type in blogs, websites, etc., and it will go back and search them for content, add it all up, and spit out a Wordle representing the sum of all its written content.
So…as an experiment in the spirit of reflection, I created a Wordle of this blog:
Is it a perfect reflection of the blog? Probably not (mine has “Christmas” larger than “Chanukah”!), but it hits most of the high notes. It helps me realize what I’ve been emphasizing (or over-emphasizing) or what is missing that perhaps I thought was there. Either way it really gets you thinking…
Of course, I immediately thought of a thousand fun ways to use Wordle – should I check every classroom blog that way? My dissertation? The Torah? Our school’s Behavior Code of Conduct?
So…let’s Wordle Up! Find a text that is meaningful to you, create a Wordle, and find a way to share it. The wordle is waiting!