19 September 2012

A Box of Learning Treats

I have often perceived learning as a spiral experience, a living fractal in motion and movement. There have been times when one moment I have learnt, then forgotten or muddled what I thought I knew with something else. Occasionally, I despaired with myself, until the unexpected moment came when, like a puzzle snapping together, it all made sense to me. 

More recently, my have perceptions have drifted towards learning as a mind dance. With every step forward, the mind waltzes a step sideways, backwards, then forwards again. A constant rhythm, a constant motion in mind and knowing, until agility becomes a flow of  perfection, and knowledge is put into elegant practice. Despite my many years in classrooms, the precise moment of learning still escapes me, remaining as elusive as ever. Yet, after it has taken place, there is no doubt in the sparkle in the eye, the confidence in the mind dance, the enhanced smile, of the student. It's a priceless (and dare I say, addictive) experience to witness, one that any educator recognises. 

Achieving tasks is part of this learning dance and the above sites are all worth presenting and sharing with students. Many will know TED Talks, but have you ever dipped into TED-Ed? As the name suggests, TED-Ed is composed of videos ranging from Science & Technology, the Arts to Thinking and Learning. Topics are clearly displayed and easy to navigate. Learners can watch the video, answer a short quiz and are then offered further challenges with additional questions and resources. Undoubtedly one of my favourite video sites at the moment. 

Infographics have exploded everywhere and Good Labs  is a simple tool for learners to create their own infographics. They can create infographics for practically every subject and project they are engaged in and then display them in their blogs or in a class presentation. Other two options  to create infographics are easel.ly, should students be more design and visually orientated, and Stat Planet, which includes the steps to create interactive maps. 

Another current favourite treat of mine is Journal Jar. Click to shake the jar and....! you have your very own writing prompt! As with other writing prompts, once students have become accustomed to using a jar of prompts, they can also create their own for the class to share. The jar will become the class writing jar, with personalized prompts which teachers can use for other classes as well. 

Lastly, two references which are great  to use: Skimzee  is a search engine with a twist - you can search for news from Twitter to YouTube to Wikipedia, and by using the control button, also control how many items and summaries you wish to see displayed. An interesting resource for who needs current information on a topic or news item. Mission:DS106  is an anthology of digital media resources and assignments. It can be used in different ways, as class tasks, as self-study or learners can dip in and choose their favourite to present to class. Students love taking the role of the teacher, boosting their confidence while the others also learn how to listen - after all, team work skills do not come easily, and the classroom is a perfectly safe environment to foster them. 

Dancing -  an act of pleasure, an act of liberation, an expression of joy. So too should learning be an experience of joy, with liberating movements of knowing and knowledge. If one regards learners as butterflies, helping them to unravel themselves from their cocoon walls, letting them mind dance is only natural. 

How do you encourage mind dances?


  1. Easel.ly blew my mind! I've been looking for a good tool to make infographics. They seem to captivate people so much... I like 'em! This is exactly what my Pinterest account needs :) Thanks!

  2. Hi Dennis,

    Glad you liked it! I have more tools to create infographics here for whenever you have time to take a look:


    Thank you for your visit and feedback! Would love to see your infographics when ready :-)