The Connection Between Feedback & Motivation

Feedback creates lift!  ~ personal photo ~ Green River Festival


I’ve been thinking lately about the connection between feedback and motivation.

Feedback doesn’t have to be formal or written or even spoken. Feedback can come in the form of being present. Of witnessing the work of our students and our colleagues.

For students it can come in the form of fully listening, of being present. It can look like a smile, a nod that says, “I see you – I’m glad you’re here – keep going!”

Stopping momentarily to witness a colleague’s use of a new teaching strategy, a tech tool they’ve just begun trying, or a well-honed lesson … our attention matters.

Our presence with one another conveys awareness, value, respect. And this in turn motivates all of us.


In Dan Ariely‘s TED Talk below he says, “Ignoring the performance of people is almost as bad as shredding their effort in front of their eyes.”



In our online lives, motivating feedback can come in the form of ‘likes’ and ‘comments.’

In this Learning 2.013 talk by Madeleine Brookes, she describes her quest and experience learning to take pictures on her iPhone. She craved feedback and used her Facebook comments and likes to help refine her craft.



While longer, thought-provoking comments keep the conversation going and push thinking, simple ‘thumbs up’ comments  – “Hey, I saw and appreciated this!” can inspire motivation in the form of work being witnessed, mattering somewhere to someone.

What other examples of non-traditional feedback motivate you? What about your colleagues and your students?

1 Weekend + 2 Conferences + Twitter = Powerful Learning Opportunities

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I love Twitter for its sheer power for learning and sharing, and attending a conference via Twitter feels like a luxury. I can learn and participate with the best, even if I can’t attend in person. Last weekend I couldn’t fly to Singapore for Learning2.0, nor could I physically attend the Prague Google Apps Summit.

But I could attend them both via Twitter, which I did. It’s not the same as being there in person, but the opportunities for learning are still quite plentiful and powerful.

~ Here are the top things I gleaned via Twitter from each conference ~

Prague Google Apps Summit

1. Google Resources +++

The number of Google resources for educators has grown significantly–from Maker Camp to Doodle 4 Google, there’s something for everyone. It’s now just a matter of taking the time to view the catalogue of possibilities.

[HT: @ldimitrov]

2. Force a copy  

There’s now a way to share a document and force recipients to make a copy. Here’s a clip via Google Gooru explaining how it works:


[HT: @drpresident & @warrena]

3. Technology is Transfer of Power

This quote comes from a presentation given by Ben Hacking, the Digital Learning Integrator at Vienna International School. His presentation (GAFE-Powered Inquiry Environments: Google Apps in the PYP) is well worth a peek!

4. Demo Slams ~ LOVE this idea for faculty meetings

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This form can easily be adapted for building or school-based faculty meetings with the focus on sharing something tech-related (or any specific goal a school may be working on.)

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5. Digging into Data and making Choropleth Maps with 9th Grade Geography

~ Great  presentation via Warren Apel, Director of Technology at the International School of Amsterdam, showing G9 geography students gathering data in Amsterdam and using the power of Google Apps to analyze it.

6. *Search is the New Key Literacy* 

~ Slide shared via Dan Leighton ~ John Mikton, Director of Information Technology at the International School of Prague: Search should be part of our daily curriculum.

7. First follower changes a lone nut into a leader ~ presentation by @OllieHartwright on the Story of a GAFE Insurgency.

Takeaway: Colleagues learn by doing – use Google Apps (or any change you are aiming to implement) in your departments/sections/meetings.

8. Quick Bookmarks for future exploring: (free photos) HT: @amollica image generator) HT: @amollica

Advanced Charts and Graphs via @warrena

Thematic Mapping HT: @ldimitrov

9. You are not alone.

Empathy and support are critical.

“Fantastic keynote by +Sarah Woods on the bravery involved in collaboration, banishing the lizard brain and the need for authenticity. Closing thought – “You are not alone” A reflection on the need for empathy and support to embrace tech and the change involved.” — reflection shared via Linda Dimitrov.

Miles away …

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~ Here are the top things I gleaned via Twitter from the Learning 2.0 Conference in Singapore ~

(Learning 2.0 Conference mission: be different, be social, be a connector, push all participants to learn and to challenge their understanding of learning.)

(Note: attendees at this conference were ‘prolific’ tweeters. I’ve ‘attended’ several conferences via Twitter and this one generated the most tweets by far! As a result, it was really important that I favorited tweets I wanted to find easily.)

1. Inspiration ~ The shared talks provide excellent fodder for inspiration and change.

If you haven’t seen Patrick Green’s talk, “The Relevant Teacher,” I urge you to watch it.


“It’s the human interaction that [my son] has each day that is shaping him, which means it’s the teachers that matter.” – Patrick Green

[HT: @jutecht]

2. Inspiration+

Jeff Utecht’s talk, “The Future is Now” ~


“Why do we live in the most incredible time in history where science fiction is meeting reality and education isn’t changing…that education hasn’t changed?” — Jeff Utecht

“If you do not change what you do on Monday in the classroom, this conference has failed you.”

Jeff asks, “What’s your moonshot? What are you going to do when you go back on Monday?”

[HT: @ChezVivian]

3. Takeaways far beyond Singapore ~ Talks Like TED, only shorter.

There were many 5-minute talks given at the conference. They are all different from one another and yet each one has something important to say.

You can find them all here. [HT: @dimac4]

4. Visual Literacy, Big Data and Infographics

This link and site got me thinking about a variety of things. First, it’s got a great overview for those new to visual literacy along with several resources to take learning further. The workshop presenter, Kelly Grogan, from Hong Kong International School, included two specific tasks within her workshop and in her site: exploring and building an infographic.

The strategy of sharing this level of detail via a site makes it particularly easy for attendees to bring learning home to teach and share with colleagues.

5. Visual note-taking rocks!

Twitter was abuzz with Nicki Hambleton’s presentation about Visual Note-taking! One of our new teachers brought The Sketchnote Handbook to our school this year and I’ve been deeply impressed with how it is being used with our 6th graders.

You can see examples from the conference here, here, and here.

6. Bookmarks for future exploring:

 5 Transformational Triggers for the Integration of Digital Technology via Sean McHugh.

Bring Badges to your School [HT @ktenkely]

Speak Up: Transforming Classroom Discussions by Robert Appino [HT Madeleine Cox)

Everything is a ReMix by Rebekah Madrid [HT Heather Bailie]

Crowd-Sourced Lesson Hooks via @pgreensoup

Color Scheme Designer 3 via @bensummerton

Create your own text-adventure games via @curriculumstace

Attending a conference via Twitter

If you are new to Twitter-Conferencing, note the difference between using the “Top” vs. “All” for tweet searches.

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If you have a small amount of time and want the “executive summary” click “Top.” If you want the entire experience (and/or are looking for new people to add to your personal learning network), click “All.”

Can you be a connected educator if you are not a collaborator?

For schools struggling to get teachers connected globally, the first step may be to create a collaborative culture in which teachers no longer shut their doors and work in isolation.
For schools struggling to get teachers connected globally, the first step may be to create a collaborative culture in which teachers no longer shut their doors and work in isolation.

Open up! 

Despite the great push for connection and technology integration, many educators are still most comfortable closing their door and continuing to teach the way they always have.

But working in isolation doesn’t mesh with collaboration, which has surfaced multiple times in our Coetail readings, including in the NETs for Teachers.  And it’s become clear to me that integrating technology isn’t just about using the tools. It’s about connection and collaboration and nurturing a growth mindset

Without a mindset for learning, we are apt to struggle with confirmation bias, simply basking in opinions, blog posts, and articles that match our own beliefs.

[You like chocolate? me, too!]

Which would of course mean missing out on the deepest elements of sharing, growing and transforming as learners and as educators.

School Culture = Essential to Fostering Mindset for Learning

With the connection between collaboration and 21st Century Learning in mind, I can’t help but think that schools struggling to get teachers connected — and past the stage of “doing old things in new ways” — might need to spend time building an open school culture.

A collaborative culture is an essential foundation for fostering connection and transformation. Once day-to-day collaboration is the norm, getting teachers connected globally is a natural next step.

(Course 1 Understanding: Collaboration, on a global scale, is a key component of 21st Century Learning.)

Why I love Digg Reader!


Reading my favorite bloggers and news sites just got better!

As much as I read blogs, news and Twitter, I haven’t really had an organized system until COETAIL. It wasn’t that I didn’t want a system, I just made do with remembering to check (or joining the mailing lists) of blogs I wanted to follow.

For me, learning new technology happens in fits and starts. I love using it, but I rarely use it for the sake of using it. (I set up an account, but didn’t actually use Feedly six months ago when a clever colleague said I would love it…) I think I wasn’t entirely sure how much I would really LOVE using a reader.

I am apt to try new technology when it makes something easier or better or when it tickles my brain (This did earlier today so I spent a bit of time dabbling). And I suppose I use it when something new is forced upon me like when Gmail or Google Chrome undergoes a change…)

Before the requirement of setting up a Rich Site Summary (RSS) Reader account with COETAIL, I was more likely to randomly look through my favorite blogs. Digg Reader has allowed me to put them all together into one easy-to-reach click.

During Connected Educator Month 2013, I hope to introduce more educators at my school to some of the basic ‘get connected’ tools such as Twitter and RSS Readers.


Why get connected? 

While Digg Reader was simple and exactly what I was looking for, there are many reader options. I’ve listed a few below along with insight from other users.

Feedly  ~ (Fellow Coetailer Payal Kapadia ~ Feedly Feeds Me)

Pulse ~ (Fellow Coetailer Robin Montgomery ~ Pulse in a Minute)

Newsify ~  (Fellow Coetailer Ceci Gomez-Galvez ~ Newsify App Post)

NewsBlur ~ (Quick review via Macdrifter)

Flipboard ~ (Fellow Coetailer Mick Huiet ~ Sold on RSS & Flipboard)

I was amazed to discover just how many feed aggregators are out there!

I’ll be sticking with Digg for awhile. It makes me happy to click the little digg icon in my bookmark bar and see what’s new.

What other RSS readers have you tried and loved?

Top 10 Things I Learned in “Living with New Media”

We’ve been reading the MacArthur Foundation Report, Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project in Coetail Course 1.

Here are the top 10 things I learned from it:

1. Find a way to highlight and take electronic notes ~ Reading a long document electronically is much easier if I can highlight or take electronic notes as I go. I couldn’t highlight it in Diigo or in the ‘box’ format but I could after I downloaded the document as a pdf. 

pdf highlight.notes.screenshot
Highlighting and note-taking were easier when I downloaded the document as a pdf.

2. Online + Offline Relationships = Not So Different ~ It turns out that the relationships youth have online are mostly made up of those connections they have offline, with local friendship-driven networks being the primary source of their activity.

3. A small number of youth engage in interest-driven networks and connect with people far beyond their communities ~ The online world provides numerous opportunities for students to connect with peers who share their passions for art, music, gaming, or other niche interests. These youth might have existed on the fringes of their local social worlds, but find common ground online.

4. Sigh. Parents and many adults are clueless about the ways in which youth engage with technology and new media.

I stumbled on this clip for a new iTunes Film release and it seemed an apt, though humorous reflection of the ways in which many adults are portrayed in Living with New Media.


5. Gritty, Clever Teens ~ Today’s youth participate in social and recreational activities the way their parents hung out at school, the mall, and their neighborhood. And there’s no stopping them. Youth frequently develop “work-arounds” or “back channels” to connect amid technical, institutional or social barriers to hanging out online.

6. Peer-based learning has power and purpose ~ Student authenticity, voice, and a deep sense of purpose can be found in online communities in which students are creating, sharing, and receiving feedback about their work.

(kamshots, Flickr Creative Commons)


7. Mean Girls & Mean Boys might make headlines, but aren’t the norm ~ Most students demonstrate a degree of consistency in their on and offline worlds. They aren’t engaging in riskier behavior online. Plus, their online activity “is conducted in a context of public scrutiny and structured by shared norms and a sense of reciprocity.”

8. This stuff is hard to measure ~  The report is from November 2008. It describes the difficulty of measuring ever-changing literacy standards. That hasn’t changed much in the last five years.

Here’s a tweet from two days ago:


9. Playing around is good ~ Youth (and let’s face it, everyone) learns by messing around online or with technology. Whether using the terms geeking out, tinkering, or diving in and trying stuff out, we shouldn’t underestimate the real learning that happens during these trial and error experiences.

10. If not now, when? ~ Change is required. 

photo (4)



Learning as a way of being…

 Sharing ideas from Connectivism: Learning Theory for the Digital Age. 
1. Learning must be a way of being…

“Learning must be a way of being – an ongoing set of attitudes and actions by individuals and groups that they employ to try to keep abreast [of] the surprising, novel, messy, obtrusive, recurring events…”

I love this. It’s never finished. It’s like mindfulness. It’s a process. A path. A way of being.

2. Professional Leaning Communities & Personal Learning Networks

Many schools have recognized the power of collaboration and connected learning for adults–even without the Internet and web-based options. Perhaps Professional Learning Communities (or PLCs) could be thought of as smaller, local versions of Personal Learning Networks. Or for someone familiar with PLCs, but new to creating a PLN, think of a PLN as a community of your choosing. You rarely get to choose your colleagues, but you can choose the direction in which you want to grow by the voices and thoughts of those you select to follow, read, and learn from.

3. Thriving in Chaos.

“Chaos is a new reality for knowledge workers…”

Brick-based schools and libraries are no longer the primary distributors of knowledge. As information grows from Terabytes to Petabytes,  the need for educators to connect, to navigate thoughtfully through the constantly shifting landscape, and to keep learning, unlearning, and relearning is great. 



Getting started … When blogging is a mountain to climb…


I’ve had blog on my ‘to do’ list for a really long time.

When I arrived at my current job (now going into year 3) I sensed that blogging would be helpful.

I thought it might help me clarify my thoughts and provide a way to share them broadly with my colleagues and anyone else I might learn from and with.

As I read other education blogs, I could see the learning potential blogging offered the writer. And I kept seeing posts like this one from George Couros: Another Reason to Blog; Proactive Through Reflection.

But it took forever to start. And honestly, once I did, it didn’t immediately get easier. I wrote three posts in six months.

Now, as part of this community, I know I have to blog. Maybe that’s part of my journey with Coetail. I’ve got a large Personal Learning Network (PLN) on Twitter, but I worry that I’m like a silent librarian sharing articles and tidbits. I haven’t felt comfortable putting my own voice out there.

Reading Jeff’s book, Reach, was enlightening. It feels written for anyone who is still learning about creating a community online. I could quickly skim sections about topics I am familiar with such as Twitter, and spend more time reading about RRS Readers, which I hadn’t used before.

And I also read this:

Someone who is just there watching and learning, but does not give back or actively shares within the community itself is all fine, but the real learning and relationships and network building comes when you become an active part of the community…It is those connections that are created by you reaching out and connecting and communicating with others that lead to the deeper learning that happens within a personal learning network” (p. 17-18).

I want to feel comfortable being an active member of the community. Maybe this shift is part of my own journey of learning, unlearning and relearning.

It was also helpful to read in Jeff’s prologue that it was only a few years ago that he, too, grappled with blogging, wondering: “Who would read my thoughts? Wouldn’t people make fun…What if someone doesn’t agree with me?”

I read that and thought, “Jeff Utecht felt this way? And he’s someone I’ve followed on Twitter forever. Okay. I can do this.”

I have also really appreciated the comments of my fellow coetailers’ early posts:

Michelle writes: “I am just not that kind of a person who just puts everything out there for all the world to see.”

Sophie writes: “…I feel on the cusp of change. I am ready to roll….or type…”

I completely relate to these statements. In fact when I think about blogging from the perspective of vulnerability and putting myself out there for the world to see, blogging can seem illogical. This is a perspective I am in the process of unlearning.

And like Sophie, I, too, feel on the cusp of change. I feel ready to begin climbing.