Photo Credit: Lilia Efimova via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Lilia Efimova via Compfight cc

Today was one of those sessions that I lurked mostly.  I couldn’t help it.  There was so much that was unfamiliar to me, that I just had to stop and take stock in what everyone was talking about.  The session today, presented by Dave Cormier, was all about Rhizomes, MOOCs and Making Sense of Complexity.  I’m not sure that I left that session with any more sense about complexity than when I started it.

The image to the right is not the same as the one presented in the webinar, but it does seem a little be more informational.  The one from the webinar can be found down below.  We took time to come up with strategies and examples of things we use in the classroom or real life that fell into each one of those categories.  Without having the image to look at, I sat and watched, but I gained a bit of insight as to what it was all about.

Diving into the complexity of learning, and even making the learning complex is something that I’ve been doing for years, without even realizing it.  Maybe this is the reason why I am a self-proclaimed credit junkie.  I am constantly learning, whether in a university class, online via Twitter, or now as my first experience in a MOOC.  I must say, that I am truly being pushed to get out there and share my knowledge.

When I first joined the team of teachers that I am currently on, I introduced the idea of #geniushour to them.  They were thrilled by it, but we never got it off the ground.  The idea of a genius hour allows students the inquiry and the choice of their study that they don’t often get with a prescribed curriculum.  The mastermind of Genius hour is Dan Pink, except he formulated it for the workplace.  His model was based on Google’s 20% model.

So where does this all lead?  I think that it all comes down to fostering the motivation to learn.  I was floored after I watched that video that Gmail was a product that  20%.  That is just incredible!  The things that people come up with on their own and learn about because there isn’t a grade attached to it… this has very real-world applications, so why shouldn’t we give them that opportunity?

The students on my team are very deep thinkers, and they can look at the world with a critical eye, because they have been taught by 2 of the best teachers I’ve had the opportunity of working with.  Kate Jorgensen and Vera Naputi.  These 2 ladies have had a year and a half with this kids, and it shows.  When I look at their writing, I am amazed at what they produce.  They gain so much knowledge from the media-rich lesson which they learn through, and they are great at applying it to other topics and forums.   It makes me wonder what they will do if they have an audience outside of our classroom, one that responds to their writings and ideas . . .


By Snowded (Own creation, own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons


Photo Credit: giulia.forsythe via Compfight ccc

Over the past two weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of participating in two lives sessions of #etmooc using Blackboard Collaborate.  The sessions were intense.  First, starting with a session with Alec Couros that centered on the Introduction to Connected Learning.  There was well over 150 people in attendance and the chat window was moving so quickly it was hard to keep up!  I couldn’t imagine using Twitter AND the chat window in Collaborate at the same time.  Far too much information in too short a time for this girl.  There are some definitely advantages of live sessions:  you can add to the whiteboard when the feature is enabled, you can ask questions of the presenters, taking the mic if needed, and you can interact with the participants via the chat window.

The second live session I attended was Sharing as Accountability, presented by Dean Shareski.    It was not as well attended, which I think was beneficial to those that were able to finally keep up with a chat window.  There were many great points that Dean made in his presentation, which prompted me to go and watch another video by him, along the same topic.  I never really considered how far-reaching this idea is.  I knew that entering the ETMOOC that this would be my goal, but seeing how it can affect so many people… whoa.  Talk about an Ah-Ha moment.

So 2 live sessions down, and the week got busy and I wasn’t able to attend any other live sessions.  I entered the Advanced Blogging Session with Sue Waters to realize I was way over my head.  I decided to leave it, and come back to the Introduction to Blogging session later.  I was finally able to do that today, so I went back to that advanced session after the intro session.  Both of those sessions were recorded.

While I wasn’t able to interact with the presenters or the participants, I found that I liked doing the recorded sessions better.  Since it is Saturday, and my husband was off running around town, I had my two munchkins home with me.  I can’t tell you how many times I paused the session to go intervene or just take a break to go chill with them on the couch for an impromptu cuddle session.  This “pausing” ability, by far, takes the cake.  I know that I can access Sue or Alec, or even Dean with a simple tweet if I have a burning question, or I can simply post a tweet using the #etmooc hashtag and it won’t take long for me to get an answer.  This connected learning is something special!  I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it.

In the words of Dean Shareski, this is a HUGE take away from this evenings #etmooc session. I wasn’t planning on sitting in, since my little boy celebrated his 5th birthday today, but I was pulled in by the reminders set on my iPad, and my phone.  #ETMOOC session, starting in 15 minutes!  I tried so hard to ignore it, but this is the biggest goal for me… to share.

After spending the hour with Dean and Alec, I took another 25 minutes to watch Dean’s video:  Sharing: The Mortal Imperative.

I wasn’t done yet.  I was inspired by George Couros’ Idenity Fair, and I emailed a link to my principal, suggesting it might be a fun way to start off the school year with our open house and our Family Fun Nights that we have bimonthly.

I’ve found some great tools that allow me to share more readily.  I’ve set up IFTTT for my blog, Twitter, and Diigo accounts.  I’ve also set up the Chrome  extension to tweet out what I’m looking at.  I wonder… is there an IFTTT to allow a Favorite tweet to become a bookmark on  Diigo?  I bet there is, and I haven’t found it yet!  Feel free to share, to save me a little bit of time.

One thing that I’m finding difficult with this journey.  The time.  I am a tech addict.  I spend hours online, learning, searching, watching.  This is time away from my family.  I’ve started to show my kids what I’m doing, sharing an earbud with my daughter so she can hear what I’m listening to when in session.  She knows what learning is.  I do not want my children growing up to think that the time that I spent on the computer was wasted, that I wasn’t accomplishing something that was meaningful.  I also don’t want my children to grow up thinking that I didn’t pay attention to them.  Now, to strike a balance, and maintain it.  That is the key.

After having ended the Connected Learning BB Collaborate session on a seemingly excited note, I’m happy that they are recording the sessions!  There was so much information, the chat window was going a mile a minute, and it was difficult to effectively multitask.  I’m baffled at how people were able to do it on Twitter as well! So, to answer one of the questions that was posed towards the end of the session: What skills and literacies are necessary for connected learning?  How do we develop these? First, people need to be comfortable with the fast pace of the PLN.  The first several times I “lurked” for a #sschat, I ended up opening close to 60 tabs in my browser in an hour.  Talk about overwhelming!  There is no way that you can go through the resources that people offer at the time, but the 1 hour #sschat turned into about 2-3 hours of learning about resources that were out on the web that I had never known about.  What a gold mine! My biggest goal for my adventure with #etmooc is to go from a consumer to a curator, creator, and collaborator.  I want to be the person offering those resources to people.  I have found ways to do it in my small community inside of my school, now I just need to expand my skills to be able to think fast, and share fast.  Finding the resource in my bookmarks, then tweeting it out, is one of those things that scares me to death.  How do they do that without skipping a beat?  So that is another skill that is needed to be a connected learner. Organization… My bookmarks are organized, when people look at the things that I have, they get overwhelmed.  But my bookmarks are organized in Chrome.  There is nothing “social” about keeping all of those resources to myself!  I found a little extension to add to my Chrome browser, which I think will help, but that means that the resource needs to be open.  There must be a better way… This is definitely something that I will be coming back to, as I don’t have hardly any of the answers I need to answer the question!

Aside  —  Posted: January 22, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Making my learning visible…

Posted: January 21, 2013 in Uncategorized

Just finished watching the Orientation and Welcome recorded session on Blackboard Collaborate.  I’ve always felt like a person that has been on top of the technology movement in education, but now I feel a bit behind!  I know that compared to many of my colleagues at school that I am on top, but there is so much to learn out there!

Seeing the co-created whiteboards in the session with the participants adding to the slide was as awesome as seeing students co-creating a Google Doc together, and the enthusiasm when they saw each other adding to the document.  It gives me chills just thinking about it.

I saw somewhere that it is common to feel overwhelmed with MOOCs.  They aren’t kidding!  I have a diigo account, but I so very rarely use it, that I almost forgot it was there!  With the ability to link my bookmarks to any Google Chrome browser, the need for an online bookmarking tool fell away, but now I realize how important it is for sharing… and sharing is truly what is all about, isn’t it?

Time to go familiarize myself with Diigo again, and get that IFTT working for me!


Posted: January 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

So a few things about me:

298731_10150311744828476_960858261_nName:  Jess Henze

Hometown:  Fort Atkinson, WI, USA

Job:  7th grade teacher – mostly science, some math in a team based, full inclusion middle school

School District:  Madison Metropolitan School District

Family:  Husband, Paul, 2 biological children:  Chase, 5 and Holley, 6 and 2 step daughters at home, Crystal 11, and Tiffany 16.  We can forget the furry family members, 3 cats:  Kaibab, Yaqui, and Jewels and 1 oversized yellow lab:  Moose.  Enjoy 25 seconds of my form of free entertainment.  This can go on for close to an hour before the dogs gets tired of it.  You’ll notice he is pretty smart and likes to take unfair shortcuts under the table.  

Here is where I will be anytime I’m working on ETMOOC stuff.  This is my space.  It is a custom designed (by me) desk that my dad and I made back when I was in college.  Considering all that it has been through, it is in great condition.  Sometimes I wish my chair was more comfy though!

This is my space.  I spend too many hours here.

I am a life long learner, self-proclaimed credit junkie, and an edtech addict.  I love learning about new tools to use with students, but I am finding that with the lack of available technology in my building, this is increasingly difficult to use with them.  My goal for the end of this school year is to begin flipping my classroom, whether it is taking lessons from one math book and having students watch it at home, then work on the problem at school, or doing the same with one of my science units.  Either way, it needs to be done!