Monday, January 18, 2016

@TheCLAlliance: A 21st Century Graphic That Summarizes My Pedagogical Stance For Teaching Writing in 2016

In my work as a researcher, teacher, Writing Project director, and lifelong learner, I am often looking for ways of framing what I know and how I can dialogue this with others. A few years ago, the Connected Learning Alliance debuted this graphic that was mailed to all NWP site directors. With much research using activity theory and socio-cultural, historical lens to view phenomenon around me, I was thrilled to learn of the Connected Learning model for understanding production in K-12 schools, especially to achieve the written outcomes and success I desire for young people.

To have an outcome, an activity system is needed. With admiration of Urie Bronfenbrenner's ecological theory (a throwback to my Masters in environmental science and David Orr), the Connected Learning heuristic is...for lack of a better word...brilliant. It offers a vocabulary and framework for analyzing and thinking critically about how our culture, history, and social groups acknowledge and/or implement written communication. This is how we create equitable, social, and participatory learning communities.

Production Centered. Peer Cultures. Interests. Shared Purposes. Academics. Open Networking. 

Although I have not used this framework deliberately in my analysis of classrooms, I can easily trace successes as a high school educator and my work researching successful K-12 writing classrooms to activity systems that utilize the parts of this model. It is an ecosystem that views youth as active minds that seek relevant instruction in a real-world way. The most effective teaching for these young people is hands on, collaborative (UBUNTU), creatively innovative, personal (there's no learning outside a relationship) and agentive - it helps young people to transform their lives. My goal now is to bring this CL graphic into my academic writing, adding it to the Ubuntu/Activity theoretical lenses that have already helped me to make my case.

My blog is not a location to capture all the incredible work that the Connected Learning Alliance is accomplishing. Rather, I write today because I want this visual to be at the forefront for my instruction this semester (already added it to my syllabi).  I also want to frame CWP-Fairfield's work in southern Connecticut with its leadership institutes and young adult literacy labs in the language the graphic provides.

The Connected Learning Alliance has built a meme (of sorts) that articulates visually/textually exactly what needs to be said. All involved with this effort...thank you. The image was resurrected on my screen today and I'm thrilled to be inspired by it once again.

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