Friday, 18 August 2017

A More Beautiful Question - The Importance of Inquiry

"Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question." - e.e. cummings
Last summer I began reading (well in my world reading means listening to the audiobook) Warren Berger's A More Beautiful Question.  I credit the book as the read that spark my love of sketchnoting - my very first sketch was inspired by it.  As I listened I could not let the words and ideas escape me.  I needed to capture them.

Well, life got in the way last summer and I never finished it.  However, I continued to think about it.  So, I picked it up again a week ago and devoured it!  What a phenomenal read.  It spoke to me as a mother, teacher, learner and coach.  I think had I stuck to the sketchnoting it might have filled a whole sketchbook.

Much of the professional development I have done in the last couple of years was most definitely influenced by the ideas in this book (it is about 3.5 years old).  Ideas about mindfulness, ideation, cognitive dissonance, empathizing with your audience, and embracing failure are shared alongside real life examples of people and companies who have successfully incorporated these ideas into their work and/or life and flourished.

I don't want to spoil it but I will share three of my favourite take aways.

1.  While people will resist answers they are often very open to questions.
This idea struck me on two levels.  Firstly, as a coach I really reflected on how to help others.  Going in with all the answers might turn people off; offering questions so they can come to their own conclusions is far more empowering.  Secondly, it made me think about schooling in general and the importance of Inquiry.  If we as teachers just offer the answers than we can surely expect MANY of our learners to resist and feel disenfranchised.  Asking question, so learners can forge their own path is a far more authentic (and difficult) way of learning.

2. Follow someone you disagree with on Twitter with an open curious mind.
I am not very political, but being a Canadian educator I think my values align far more with the Democratic agenda.  While I was on vacation this year I met a number of supporters of President Donald Trump - one was even a teacher who took her students to a Trump rally during the election trail.  I really enjoyed speaking to these people about their reasons to support someone I cannot understand*.  I did keep my mind open and learned a lot.  Dissonance is good for growth.

3.  Mission statements as questions
This likely struck me the most.  When organizations have mission statements it suggest finality.  Missions should be, like their audience, dynamic, not static.  Posing a mission statement as a question allows for an organization to change based on audience needs, and gives a chance for employees to feel they have a voice in finding the answer to the question - hence creating a collaborative environment.  Think about adding How Might We in front of a mission statement and tweak it from there.

Bottom line:  Read it.  I might have to read it again - and I think I might go buy the paper copy so I can mark it up.

*I didn't want a political tirade to tie up my post but I cannot fathom someone who would support a man who has build a platform on what I see as racism, misogyny, homophobia, and hate.  That said, I do realise that I form these options because of the biased views I am presented with in the media I choose to read/watch.  For example, the people I spoke with gave me insight on the Chelsea Manning case I had not considered.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

TONS of New Flipgrid Features

Getting ready for the event at the ballpark!
"Voice is more than just spoken voice" - Charlie Miller, CDO Flipgrid

If you follow me on Twitter you likely see a ton of tweets about Flipgrid.  I definitely have #FlipgridFever.  Tonight, the fine folks at Flipgrid released a whole boatload of new features - just in time to play with before we go back to school in Canada!  Did you miss the live event?  No are (just some of) the great new features!!  For all the great features check our the Flipgrid blog.

(I will apologize in advance for all the exclamation marks - I am just so excited!!)

Note:  Most of the features can be turned on and off is you want - and all the info is kept - no refreshing.
  1. Purpose of the Grid - You can now have a blurb that explains what the grid is all about.
  2. Profile Photo!  Now students can see the face of the grid creator!
  3. See Grid Engagement - Look for "Engagement" - it shows how the grid has been engaged with - recording, re-recording, or watching Click it for a cool little tip (e.g., this is how long it would take to watch all Harry Potter films back to back 17 times!)
    I had a great time hanging with Flipgrid François this summer
  4. Share the Grid by URL - Now you can embed them in other places.
  5. Plan your semester by scheduling - Scaffold your semester in advance by setting the date when your topic becomes visible and when they freeze.

    New attachment options!
  6. Vimeo, Gifs, & Camera Roll - Along with YouTube, you can now upload from sources other than just YouTube.
  7. Spark Icon - Tag something with the spark icon and you can make a response a topic!
  8. Topic Attachment - A TON of new sources to be able to attach from a HUGE whole list!
  9. New Time Limits - Elevator pitch mode (15s) and 300s (5 minutes) - think mini presentations and Ignite Talks!
  10. Title for posts - Give a summary of what was said - and and to searchability.

    SO many badges!
  11. Links - Add a link to a post which can be seen by teacher only or all viewers.
  12. Moderation at the topic level, not just the grid level.
  13. Custom Feedback - Create a rubric and it follows you! (Coming soon - ways to share them.)
  14. Badges - TONS coming - let's gamify this!
  15. Office 365 integration - Post a grid into OneNote and it appears!
  16. Custom Icons - Don't just like a post, tell people you got them thinking or even DROP THE MIC!  
    Drop the mic!!
  17. QuickView - Watching videos from within your Teacher Admin is also easier than ever with QuickView. Provide feedback, watch replies, share, and navigate between videos with a single click.
  18. QR Codes - know you don't only need a code, you will have a QR code to use as well!
  19. Use Hashtags to link responses - Hashtag responses and then you can view linked topics!!

    Stickies to track your thoughts
  20. Real time refreshing!
  21. Sticky Notes - Now you can make notes in Flipgrid to leave for yourself as notes as you record. 💗
  22. Stickers on Selfie - When you take your selfie you can customize it with stickers for personalization.
  23. Canvas integration - Flipgrid is now integration into the Canvas LMS.
  24. Private Links - Share videos with a singular stakeholder - read: parents can see how their child is being a digital citizen in class and download it to their camera roll.
  25. More Explorer series - Coming every month!  On Sep. 18 Jason Osborne - a paleontologist is coming to Flipgrid.  
Oh...and don't expect Snapchat filters...they will not be coming.  They want to keep the integrity of student voice.  #Amen

Finally, I tweeted it but need to put it here too - Charlie Miller should host the Oscars!  His energy is SO infectious!  

If you are not on it already...get the fever and join!  And you can use the code JENGIFFEN to try Classroom free until Sep. 30.  See you on the grids! <-- final exclamation point.