Wednesday, May 28, 2014

a meditation on extra credit-- & your first opportunity to get some

What is "extra credit"?  Presumably, it means credit above and beyond expectation and requirement.

But what exactly is expected and required?

Traditionally these parameters are set by an authority figure (e.g., a teacher) who doles out assignments and creates rubrics that set comparative performance benchmarks using metrics such as points, percentages, and letter grades.

In that relationship students are passive consumers: get your work, shut up and do it, accept the judgement of the authority figure, and stuff the paper in a binder/backpack, where it will remain as a private testimony to... what, exactly?

What if you could use your work to demonstrate your mastery and enhance your value in the community?  What if, instead of showing an essay to one person, you could share it with a network that celebrates your successes and helps you improve where you need it?  What if you could use an academic course to explore the Big Questions you've always wondered about (whether they're related to English or not), or pursue your own path of inquiry, or to create Collaborative Working Groups to create projects and even create business ventures?

Today's digital culture presents opportunities we've never had before.  In coming posts I will formally introduce you to Open Source Learning and help you make some decisions about how to take full advantage of the opportunities it presents.  In the meantime, with regard to credit & extra credit, think of it this way: every idea you offer the network has value.  Your contributions establish your identity and enrich others' thinking.  More/better ideas = higher value.  In this course your value will be determined by the quantity and quality of your thinking and your work product, so please begin by introducing yourself in a comment to this post.  The questions below are designed to help get you started.  Please feel free to extend the topics and include your own perspectives and questions.

1. Who are you?
2. Why are you taking this course?
3. What do you hope to get out of the experience?
4. What (if anything) gets you excited or nervous when you think about next year in general or this course in specific?
5. In your life, what do you care enough about to give it your all?* (*this doesn't have to be academic or school-related)
6. How can this course help you achieve your goals and set the stage for a senior year that blows the doors off expectations and requirements?

Be on the watch for more soon, both here and in person.  This year's seniors are putting together some live introductory experiences, and we will have a formal lunchtime orientation in mid-May.  In the meantime, I look forward to seeing your thoughts here.  Mahalo.


  1. 1. I am Alec McFarland, a triplet.
    2. I am taking this course to prepare for the AP exam and to gain new knowledge.
    3. I hope to gain new friends, connections and insight.
    4. I am excited to be a senior and that much closer to going to college. I am nervous thinking of the rigor of the course and the inevitable AP exam.
    5. I give my all in nearly everything I do but especially in anything that can help my future of those that I care about.
    6. This course can exceed my expectations by making my experience enjoyable, introducing me to new concepts and ways of learning and helping me to pass the AP exam.

  2. 1. I am Bianca Aleman, a very outspoken person and the oldest of 3 children.
    2. I am intrigued that this course is based on learn by what suits you best, not read what is on the board, do it, then turn it in for credit. I want to be able to better learn about English and maybe then I will learn to like it.
    3. I hope to be better prepared for how to take on challenges with the right mindset and learn about things I would never have dared look into.
    4. I am extremely excited to almost be done with high school. I am nervous for what is to come next year. I thought I knew exactly what major I would pick and what college I would go to but as we get closer and closer to college applications, I have serious doubts about what life I want to lead.
    5. I give 110% to anything that I am passionate about, which I try to make sure is everything that I do. I want to put my entire heart into something that I know will bring someone joy or will help someone in some way, whether it big or small.
    6. This course can exceed my expectations by being a class where it is not just based on doing what the teacher says and moving on to the next topic, but instead showing me to learn on my own so that I can be sucessful in the rest of my AP classes for senior year and any other class that I take in the future.

    1. Thanks for sharing here Bianca-- I look forward to working together and I hope your experiences in this course help you clarify some of the decisions you're about to make.

  3. My names Breanna Rodriguez and I am a social butterfly although I also enjoy keeping to myself. I can be one to talk your ear off or not say a single word depending on who you are. My charisma and desire to learn is what won me best personality in junior high and golden warrior in high school (although I've only gotten Golden Warrior once I have to admit). In this course, I hope to gain fundamental knowledge of learning how to learn the right way and not just the way the system has taught us. I also hope to improve my english reading and writing skills as I prepare to go off to college. Being in a hands-on class, I feel I will experience necessary life skills such as learning how to speak up about my ideas and to just approach people in general. I'm nervous of the amount of work I will be receiving and how I will be able to balance school, work, social time and college preperations without procrastinating(which is a big weakness of mine). I am also excited for the sigh of relief and victory I will get when I walk across the stage with a new mind set and plan on my life as I go to college. My life goal to travel the world and experience things beyond Santa Maria or California for that matter is what keeps me giving school my all because I know college is my only way out of here. This course will help me see life and school work in a new perspective where completing homework won't feel like a chore anymore rather an exercise for my brain like one exercises their muscles. And that, in a nut shell, is who I am.

  4. My name is Stephanie Villalovos and I am a very open-minded student athlete that strives to achieve everything within my grasps. I am very independent yet I love to bounce ideas off my peers and learn from mistakes taken by many. However I am also a very family orientated girl and will do just about anything to keep them safe. I come from a household family of 4 including myself, my brother Anthony as well as my step siblings who are fraternal twins, Dylan and Allison. As much as each and everyone of them push my buttons, I want to see them succeed and knowing that they follow my footsteps and learn from my actions, I want to be the best role model I can be. Within this years course load, I hope to not only exceed my expectations but to become a more advanced and knowledgeable person both in and outside of a school environment. I hope to be put outside of my comfort zone, to be challenged to learn in a new way, and to juggle multiple topics while still understanding and having the capability to comprehend each individual meaning as well as the meaning when they combine into a whole 'big' idea. My reasoning for taking this course isn't simply to get the extra grade point on my GPA but to gain friendships and in doing so realizing my weaknesses and learning how to cope with them. In many situations public speaking always makes me nervous and stresses me out. Not because of the audience listening to me speak, but mentally I psych myself out and thus make the situation worse. On the flip side of that, having the opportunity to work outside the classroom with other peers and even the community makes me smile from ear to ear. I love to give back and knowing I made a difference is all the reward I will ever need. With all this said, I try to only involve myself in activities I am truly passionate about and know I can accomplish a goal in the process. Whether I simply help to tutor a child or I step onto the field with my teammates I always try to do my best and put in 110% for others. I don't simply do what I do to make myself look like a better person but to help others accomplish their goals and overpass their obstacles in life. In my life, I have high hopes to go to a University and follow my passion while continuing to pursue a well deserved education and I believe taking this course is my first step into that new chapter of my life. Realizing that our educational system is becoming technological yet this course is the only one provided to students that truly prepares us for that world is outrageous. I am thankful that I am learning in a different surrounding with new tools and this course will only help me in the future to mold to a very technological generation.

  5. Hi, my name is Stevie Wisz. I am a hardworking, dedicated student who loves to learn and is willing to go to any extent to become the best I can be in life. Whether it be in school or in extracurricular activities outside of education, I always give 110%. Growing up I was always taught to work hard and treat others the way I would want to be treated with the idea that good things will come back my way. I'm a firm believer of karma and always will be. Suffering from heart disease my whole life has really had an impact on who I want to be and become as an individual. I live life to its fullest every single day of my life because I never know when I will take my last breath. Because of this I am an extremely family oriented person. I am blessed with a big, healthy family who would do anything for anyone no matter what the circumstance. My family consists of my mother, Melissa (who recently just beat breast cancer), my father Steve, my two sisters, Amanda and Delanie, and my two brothers Canyon and Hunter (passed away when 17 days old.) Along with all of these amazing individuals, I was also blessed with two nieces and another on the way! My family and I are a unit, we work together, support each other, and love each other all so much. I would take a bullet for each and everyone of them, they are my everything. I am taking this course to better myself as a writer and student and also to gain beneficial knowledge I will use in the near future. I hope to gain a new level of confidence and motivation while throughout this course in ways in which will enhance my public speaking skills and also to build new relationships with my peers. This course in general, along with all my other rigorous classes I am taking this year, excite me in a way in which they put in perspective how near college is. I still cant believe I am going to be attending college jus next year! In my life, my main goal that I try to accomplish every single day is to be a better person than I was the previous day. Whether it be helping others or bettering myself, I try to live a happy and successful life. Life is way too short to waste on being negative and unhappy. This course is helping me achieve this goal. It's leading me in the right direction for success. After senior year, I hope to attend a four year university to extend my education to become an educated physician of some sort. I am outrageously excited for this upcoming year and what it has in store for myself and my peers.

  6. I am an information-hungry student trying to evoke change. Honestly I am taking this course for the AP credits and the extra rigor involved in a College-level course. I hope to gain knowledge not for regurgitation but for future references to help me become a better person. I am excited for open source learning this seems like an innovative way in getting curriculum to students but in such a way you stay mentally stimulated. I care about academics immensely, it is something that I have been relatively good at ever since I was a little kid. I enjoy learning new topics then applying them to real life. This course hopefully may allow me to explore beyond my comfort zone and try new things. I don't want the same old English class that only makes me speak more grammatically correct but a class that allows me to speak more concisely and educated about the many array of topics.

  7. 1. My name is Jisu Yoon, a very outgoing and sociable person. I care about my academics; I work hard in every subject and always try my best to become a good student.
    2. I am taking this course because I like to challenge myself and I want to deepen my knowledge.
    3. From this experience, I want to acquire new tools and knowledge that will help me become a successful person in the future.
    4. I believe that senior year is the most exciting year of high school but it is also the most important. I am excited to be one step closer to be done with high school but I am nervous about what comes after high school; being on my own when I go to college!
    5. I care about my family and friends and anything that will have to do with my future. I am very passionate about everything I do.
    6. This course will help me achieve my goals by making me enjoy the class and introducing me to new tools that will help me to become a better person.

  8. 1. Who am I? That's a good question that I can't really answer because I honestly don't know yet, and I know that sounds cliche and all but it really is true. We are just a bunch of seventeen and eighteen year olds who go to school, play sports, and get told what and what not to do. We have our whole lives ahead of us to shape our future and who we want to be There is an infinite amount of time and space and yet there still isn't enough, isn't that interesting? Sorry for all the mumbo jumbo but to start off I am Hannah Hurd and I am a little nervous right now. I have never done something life this before and it is a little foreign, but I guess foreign is good, it forces you to make something of it. I love to learn anything that is new, even if it is the dumbest thing in the world, I still admire those who know so much. I wish I could just know everything and be done, but what fun would that be? I am the only girl with three brothers so that's pretty cool and I love to play soccer and to make others laugh because when people laugh it makes me think that I contributed just a little to the greater good of others. I know there is more, there always is, I just don't quite know it yet but when I find out I will get back to you.
    2-3.I am taking this course for the AP credits, as most do, but also for the ability to learn how to answer and interpret different questions in this world. I love to listen to others opinions because they help me shape my own. I know that sounds like I am a follower or can't form my own opinions but in a way others help me clear my mind. I want to be ready for the future, if that is even possible, but hopefully I can be in this class.
    4. What makes me nervous is speaking in front of people and giving my thoughts on things. I like to listen and observe and absorb information rather than make my own. I am going to try something new this year though because why not its senior year! Back to the speaking in front of people. I don't particularly enjoy people blankly staring at me especially when I have the ability to make a mistake like in reciting a poem. I know I have to get over that sometime so might as well start now. I am excited to get a new perspective on things. I like to think outside of the box and get inspired. I want to make memories because that's what everyone wants, a memory to go along with a story. ( that makes me wonder, what are the different connotations of a memory and a story? Are they the same thing? How do they differ?)
    5. In life what I care the most about giving my all in is when it involves a group of people and the sheer fact of knowing I accomplished or finished something to the absolute best of ability and I don't have to be embarrassed by it. Most people can't say that so I strive to do it. In a group, they expect something out of you and I want to rise to the occasion.
    6. I don't really know what to expect from this course. I guess I don't really know a lot then because I keep saying it so I hope to learn A LOT in this class both in the school sense and the personal sense. I know this class won't fail my expectations because I will work diligently and make the best of every situation. Thanks for reading and hopefully you learned a little more about Hannah Hurd than you did before!

  9. Hello, my name is Judith Lee. I consider myself a passionate, hardworking student who loves to smile and to see others happy. My life revolves around academics as well as my faith, tennis, piano, community service, and my wonderful family and friends.

    Honestly, part of the reason I'm taking this course is because I've always had the mentality of taking mainly AP courses. I don't necessarily know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but I do know that I like to challenge myself and push my limits.

    From this course, I hope to not only expand my English norm but to also develop as an intellectual learner. I was to expand my knowledge whether it be in academics or life and take in all the information my brain can absorb.

    What makes me most nervous about this upcoming year is attacking college season. I so badly want to go to college, specifically Pepperdine University, and the idea of failing is one of my biggest fears. Balancing all important elements of senior year will be a difficult challenge, but I know I will end up where I am meant to be as long as I give it my all.

    My family means the world to me and I would do anything if it means my family's happiness. My parents have always been very caring supporters and have always put me and my siblings first. My sister is my absolute best friend and my little brother is the sweetest thing in the world to me. I'm also very passionate about my future and am willing to invest everything in order to become a better me and to be happy.

    I hope that this course will lead me towards a successful senior year by helping me grow as a person and by molding me into an active learner. This class will prepare me for a college-like course where it is ultimately in my hands to build my future.

  10. 1. I'm Naiomi Desai, a very reserved yet very confident individual who passionately works towards achieving perfection in everything that I do.
    2. My reason for taking this course is very simple and basic but the most important one: to challenge myself. I believe that by challenging oneself, one strives for excellence.
    3. I hope this experience makes me a better thinker, writer, and viewer of the various perspectives surrounding me. I think a person learns and understands more by being culturally active with diverse people.
    4. The thought of going to college next year and staying alone and independent without the support of my parents gets me excited and nervous simultaneously.
    5. I can give my all to everything in life to see my parents happy and proud of me. To see that one smile on their face, I'm ever ready to face all problems and go through every pressure in life.
    6. I hope this course allows me to lead a difficult yet a successful and fun senior year while learning from a unique technique: Open Source Learning

  11. 1. Well for starters my name is Sierra Sanchez and I am a very sarcastic and confident person when I am around people I am comfortable with. When I first meet new people it takes me a little while to open up and be myself. I may seem shy when you first meet me, but hopefully it doesn't take me to long to warm up. I am very passionate towards everything I set my mind too and I won't ever give up on something because I like to get things done. On the outside I may look small and sweet which I am partly, but that doesn't quite sum up who I am. I think of myself as bigger than I actually am because my personality is so vivacious and I am usually the "bigger" person in situations, and I tell the truth no matter what. That is just me so far but I'm only 17 and I'm still figuring out who I'm going to be.

    2-3. I want to be a part of this course because I hope to sharpen my English skills not just the typical English and writing part of it, but I want to be able to show more confidence and speak my mind. Not only do I want to be able to write a paper without it taking me hours or read without comprehending parts of the story, but find ways of learning that are right for me. I would also like this course to prepare me more for the real world by letting me be independent and doing certain assignments my own way. By being allowed more freedom to choose how certain tasks are going to be done, I think it will allow me to find myself as a person and set me up for what is expected of me in college.

    4. I am nervous for how the course is set up because I know this class is more of an independent learning environment, while being able to share my ideas with a group. I'm excited to push my own limits and be able to think on my own while being confident enough to share what I think to other people.

    5. In my life I strive to be the best I can be in everything I do. In school I push myself to not only get good grades but be able to learn something from each assignment I'm given. When I don't do my very best in a subject I am extremely hard on myself, just as I am in volleyball. I love playing this sport because not only have I grown up around it, it has taught me how to be a team player and always be a leader and help people. Volleyball has also taught be to be patient, because when someone isn't doing what they are supposed to be doing on the court it may be frustrating, but it is better to be calm and help them through it than yell or get mad at them for doing something they mat not know how to do right. I will forever cherish the life lessons volleyball has shown me. Another aspect of my life that I have a deep passion for is fashion. I not only love shopping, but assembling pieces if clothing together to make the perfect look and it brings me such much joy. I expect myself to continue in the fashion industry because that is what I want to study in college and do for the rest if my life. Most importantly I love my friends and family so much. I will do anything to help out any person in need especially when it comes to those I care most about. I like to be the person one of my friends to come to for advice or just to listen to their problems. I want to be the best daughter, sister, granddaughter, and cousin that I possibly can be in my family because I love when people are proud of me and I hate letting people down. I will always try to be the best friend and family member I can be because they have helped make me who I am and who I am going to be.

    6. This course I believe will make me learn how to do things on my own and challenge myself to be more creative. It will show me how to be independent and become more confident not only in myself but my work and ideas. All the lessons I learn and all the work I put into my goals for Senior year and my future will be achieved by my passion, focus, and diversity that sets me apart from everyone else to help me get through my future goals.

  12. 1. Who are you?
    I am Jhaicelle Laron and I am still trying to figure out who I am and what I want to become but right now I can tell you that sometimes I like to learn, sometimes I am lazy, and sometimes I am sociable. I don't believe what I am involved in matters as much as they do on a resume or applying for scholarships or jobs but I like school spirit (ASB), l love helping people (Special Olympics & volunteering), and I also like social media & fashion.
    2. Why are you taking this course?
    I am taking this course not for that extra point on my GPA. I am taking this course because my favorite teacher *for now*, Mrs. Byrne, spoke highly of you and since I liked her a lot, I might like you.
    3. What do you hope to get out of the experience?
    I hope to learn how to be comfortable with my writing and thinking and to share it with people through your Open Source Learning and to make my writing better.
    4. What (if anything) gets you excited or nervous when you think about next year in general or this course in specific?
    I am nervous for senior year because after this year, we are off to college and I feel like I am not fully ready. I think this course can get me ready because it makes me nervous. It makes me nervous because just like I answered in the last question I am not comfortable having my own thoughts on school subjects out where people can critique what I say.
    5. In your life, what do you care enough about to give it your all?* (*this doesn't have to be academic or school-related)
    What I would give my all to is my goals. One of my goals in life is to go into the business of fashion. It's a far fetch goal but I want to be the CEO of my own company or a company such as Nordstrom or Macys. I know this will take some time to accomplish but I am working on it by joining groups and clubs that will help me learn to accomplish my goal. Another goal is that in my life I want to help people and that could be for me volunteering in the community or with being a youth leader for Special Olympics. Another goal is that I want to be the best person I can be. I have other goals but you has time to write them down.
    6. How can this course help you achieve your goals and set the stage for a senior year that blows the doors off expectations and requirements?
    I think this course can help me achieve my goals because it is making me more comfortable with my own writing and will help me in college on how to collaborate with other people.

  13. 1. My name is Daniel Black. I love meeting new friends and I have also learned to not be afraid of what others think of my ideas and personality. I base my life on faith, love, friends, family, and learning.

    2. The honest reasoning for me taking this course is that it is an AP. I take all the AP classes I can possibly take to challenge myself and to prepare for college. This class will be a challenge and I am ready for the difficulty of it.

    3. In this experience I hope to learn something new and interesting that will add a new perspective to my life. I also hope that my writing and reading will improve before I take the SAT again so I can raise my score. In addition, I would also like to pass the AP exam and continue to improve my critical thinking skills.

    4. I am so excited to be finishing up my Senior year and preparing to embark on the next journey of my life. College and this year will hopefully be the best years of my life so far.

    5. I try to put forth my best effort in everything that I do. I'm not perfect, but I give all that I can give. My best is the best that I can do.

    6. I am so excited for senior year and can't wait to engage in this class. I will learn to think for myself and develop as an individual.

  14. 1. I am Hikaru Kasai, a knowledge hungry student. I tend to be very curious about topics or interests I like. I frequently read articles online and absorb new ideas, research, etc. Since I love technology, I follow the latest in today's technological world. I can be a bit shy at times but most of the time I try not too.

    2. I am taking this course to prepare myself for college rigor. I also would like to improve my writing and analytical reading skills. Also, I am interested in the idea of open source learning. Another reason for taking this course is so that I can surround myself with bright people, so that I can improve as well.

    3. I hope to get out a very unique, yet informational experience out of this course. I also hope I will learn more about how to be successful in life.

    4. I am very excited that i will complete high school and move on to college. I am slightly nervous that I will not be accepted to my top college pick, but I am working hard to realize that goal.

    5. I care about my friends, family, and my future career to give it my all. I respect my friends and family because they are important to me. My future career possibly in computer engineering is very important to me, so I am working hard in high school to make that first step into a great college happen.

    6. With open source learning, this course can help give me new ideas or tips on how to become a more successful person. This course can also help my achieve my goals by preparing me for college and give me a head start. By exchanging and having discussions on college with my colleagues, I hope to gain more tips and maximize my potential as a great student.