Week Nine Essential Question: How can I use Pearltrees to differentiate content in the classroom?
Colin and I both got a late start on this week’s assignment to learn how to use Pearltrees. We didn’t plan to collaborate, but a conversation that we had been having over Twitter and e-mail drifted into a Google Chat while each of us was getting started with Pearltrees. Pretty quickly we figured out how to link to each other, and then we started sharing discoveries back and forth. Colin saved me a lot of work by posting several great links from his diigo library into the MinecraftEdu team pearl. It was very cool to see the changes happening to our Pearltree in real time as we were each working simultaneously on different parts of it.
I realized afterward that we had just had our own differentiated learning experiences. Colin caught on to how to add pearls much faster than I did, and his work freed me up to add some comment pearls. We both worked on reorganizing and had some hands-on learning about joining teams, deleting pearls and links, etc. We worked at our own pace, learned from each other, and were able to focus on the aspects that were most interesting and useful to us. Here’s a link to my Pearltree.
I think Pearltrees would be a great graphic organizer for students. I can imagine using it for K-W-L. A team of students could start by creating a central pearl identifying a key topic. They could add pearls to it listing what they already know (K) about that topic, including links to useful websites, images, etc. Next, they could link pearls from what they know to what they want to know (W)– questions that they have, related topics they’re curious about, etc. As team members explore each other’s pearls, they would probably think of new questions and interesting topics to add. For the final stage of the project, the students could research some of their questions and new topics and add whole new Pearltrees with what they learned (L), and maybe even create new teams based on new shared interests or questions.
As happened with Colin and me, I think there would be natural differentiation in this process and in the content students explore. Students would be free to add pearls anywhere they had questions or particular interests, and students could share knowledge and resources with each other by adding more comment pearls and weblink pearls.
I think working in Pearltrees simultaneously and seeing the realtime changes to the connections would be motivating for students. I also think they would enjoy the power to collaborate and share expertise and questions with each other. A paper K-W-L chart can be a useful graphic organizer, but I think a K-W-L Pearltree would be so much more dynamic and engaging.
Life in the MOOC
Well, I felt like the swimming lessons were going along nicely, and I was learning to paddle around and do some pretty cool things out there in the big cyberspace ocean. I was really looking forward to the UAS spring break week– no new homework assignments for a week, and I could maybe even get ahead a little during the peace and quiet while my kids were at school. And then their spring break was the next week, so we’d have some good family time together because I’d have all that work done ahead of time. Ha! Want to make God laugh? Tell Him you’ve made plans.
My daughter caught a nasty virus at the beginning of our UAS spring break, and I spent pretty much the whole week taking care of her. Of course I was rewarded for my efforts by coming down with the same virus myself just as she was recovering. And somehow I never do accurately gauge just how much time my Girl Scout volunteer commitments are going to take… so the past few weeks have been a blur of illness and Girl Scout cookies.
Add to that the enormity of Project 2 and the Week Nine Pearltrees project and the looming prospect of Week Ten and the final project, and I feel like I’ve been caught in a riptide that has pulled me underwater and is dragging me out to sea. I just want to catch my breath! And maybe lie on the beach for a while. I wish!
I have continued to learn about Minecraft. My son showed me how to generate a flat world in the regular Minecraft game, so I started building Proportion World there. Then I discovered that there are some special teacher blocks in MinecraftEdu and decided to start over building Proportion World in MinecraftEdu. So unfortunately, progress has been slow, but I think when I am done, I will have a useful world that I can share with Nathan and other teachers to use for teaching proportions and three dimensional scale relationships. It won’t be fancy, but I think it will still be very engaging and memorable for students to complete their math lesson in MinecraftEdu.
Meanwhile, Colin has done amazing things in MinecraftEdu. He figured out how to import a Google map into a MinecraftEdu world, and he set up a server so that those of us included in the MinecraftEdu trial version can visit his Douglas Island/Juneau world. In an amusing coincidental connection to my blog theme, I seem to find myself underwater most of the time there because I’m still not that great at maneuvering around in Minecraft. Oh well. Learning to swim in yet another world.
I can’t wait to have some time to visit my classmates’ blogs and explore their projects for Assignment 2. I hope that will happen soon. So much to learn!