The Herd of Elephants #diglitclass

Only once in my life did I come face to face with a real life elephant. They seem like such nice and peace giants and I would say they are. But when my six year old self saw one face to face, I was amazed (and slightly frightened) by how big they are! It just loomed overhead! That is where the old saying “the elephant in the room” came from. These are big issues that are looming in the background of a situation that everyone decides to ignore even though it is a huge problem. There are several “elephants” when it comes to the topic of education. Will Richardson discusses several of these in his article 9 Elephants in the (Class)Room That Should “Unsettle” You.

One of the biggest elephants that Richardson discusses is that “We know that most of our students will forget most of the content that they “learn” in school.” This is a huge deal. We as teacher spend so much time in the classroom teaching things that have little to no relevance to our students’ lives and that they will not even remember in a month. We should be focusing more on teaching and having students learn things that bring meaning to their lives and that they will remember and draw from in their future.

Another elephant that I find rather large is that “We know that grades, not learning, are the outcomes that students and parents are most interested in.” When I was in high school, I was extremely concerned about my grades. I had a slipping grade that was on the verge of a B. I went to my teacher and asked if there was any way to do extra credit or anything that would keep my grade an A. He got rather frustrated with my pestering and finally told me something I value to this day. He told me “Sydni, grades don’t matter. It won’t matter in five years if you got a B or an A in your history class.” There are many things that matter more than getting good grades in school. Living life to the fullest, learning things you are truly interested in, and having fun, are way more important than how well you could memorize dates and information. At the time, I was very mad at him for saying such a thing, but weeks later, I really began to understand what he meant and how he was right.

The last big elephant that I will discuss is that “We know (I think) that the system of education as currently constructed is not adequately preparing kids for what follows if and when they graduate.” Schools have been focusing so heavily on things like test scores that they have fallen away from what truly matters: teaching students what they need to know in order to succeed in the next step in their lives. Schools should bring back classes that teach life skills, such as cooking and financial planning. These things are inevitable in the future for students, so why not prepare them for it?

In conclusion, there are several looming elephants in the back of the classroom. I just hope we as teachers can move towards leading them out the door and back where they belong.

Innovation and Unlearning #diglitclass

I have definitely started thinking like an innovator both in my learning and life in general. I have had to come up with ideas on how to complete daily assignments that are left up to interpretation. I am beginning to really evaluate my past education and how I could teach in the future. Innovation in learning looks like students or people creating things and being the leader of their own learning. It is students of all ages questioning the known and paving the way on new and exciting ideas of their own. I hope to one day be an innovative educator such as George Couros. In his article, The Mindset of an Innovator, I especially like when he says, “I am an innovative educator and I will continue to ask ‘what is best for learners?'” I hope to always ask this question when thinking about my teaching. Couros also has an open mind when it comes to different perspectives and how those can better everyone.

By participating in the independent learning project, I have unlearned the idea that all school and teaching comes from a teacher telling their students what to learn when and to what extent the learning is done. I was the one in charge of my own learning, setting up when and what I would learn. I have unlearned that schools are the best way to educate children. With the way school is run today, it no longer benefits all the students. It focuses on the wrong things. I still need to unlearn that the way schools are run today is the only option and me being a traditional teacher is the only way to impact my students. I need to learn about other types of school more in depth and how I could contribute. Will Richardson’s article on The Steep Unlearning Curve has several things that we need to unlearn in order to be innovative. “We need to unlearn the idea that every student needs to learn the same content when really what they need to learn is how to self-direct their own learning.” I think this is a very important thing for all teacher to unlearn. It shows that our students are all unique just like our classrooms. We all learn differently and we all do not need to know the same information. That would make life so boring, if everyone was the same. I think my favorite thing that Richardson says we should unlearn is this: “We need to unlearn the premise that real change can happen just by rethinking what happens inside the school walls and understand that education is now a community undertaking on many different levels.” The school systems today and how society views school will have to be completely flipped upside down in order to make big change happen.

I really learned a lot from this week’s module and it is changing my thoughts on how school or learning should function in the future.

Digital Stories #diglitclass

This week, I completed my second digital story making experience. The first was an art assignment where we created a stop motion picture. I mentioned this project earlier this semester in one of my crochet posts. So, I went off of my previous knowledge to create this digital story.

Our assignment was to create a digital story with the topic of a metaphor of our experience as a learner or a teacher. I chose to do a combination of the two. My metaphor I decided to have as my central theme was that learning is like gardening. When cultivated, cared for, and nurtured, a garden or student will flourish and thrive. When a student’s potential is overlooked, nothing good will happen. I chose to make my video over this metaphor because I believe that understanding this and applying it to a classroom is very beneficial to all teachers and students.

I found our reading for this week very intriguing. The article on Poetry for Everyday Life, discussed how metaphors relate to many aspects of our lives. we use food metaphors when discussing ideas. We use war metaphors when on the topic of arguments. Health metaphors are used when discussing relationships with other. I never realized how the metaphors we use every week relate to each other or how they correlate to other aspects of life. I also did not realize how common metaphors are in my life. I use them all the time, and do not really realize it. How odd. We say things all the times and never realize that we mix topics or conversations, one to the next.

The topic for this week, along with many things I have encountered over the holiday weekend, have really gotten me thinking. I have come to the realization that I should take a step back and really look at how I run my life. I should probably pay more attention to what I say and do and how these things affect the ones around me. Although, focusing on myself is important when necessary, I need to keep in mind what is truly important, why I am doing what I am doing and who I am doing it for. These are things I will be pondering and working on in the near future.

Here is my digital story. I uploaded it to YouTube. Hopefully it will work well for others. It played well for me.

Wrapping up my ILP #diglitclass

In terms of my Independent Learning Project for class, this will be my last post. I have learned so much about myself through this project. I have learned that when I am excited about my work, I enjoy completing it and am more motivated to do it. Every week, when it  was time to work on my Independent Learning Project, I got to work crocheting right away instead of procrastinating and waiting until the last minute. I learned that if I am motivated, I can learn anything I would like. Another thing that I have learned through this project is that without a set time to work on my hobbies, I tend to set them aside until my class work is done.

Most of the time, it was extremely easy to motivate myself to work on my project. With the amount of course work I have, I didn’t have much extra time besides the hour or two a week to work on my projects. I would say that one of the challenging aspects of my independent learning project was figuring out which crochet projects I would like to do.

In my opinion, the best part of this project was that I got to make gifts for people and bring a bit of happiness to other people. I got to do something that was relaxing to me. Those were the best parts. In the future, I could see myself applying some of the things I have learned to my future classroom. Something I could do in my future classroom is to have a time for students to explore their own interests. Maybe during free time. I could have a craft that involves yarn, but maybe not something like crocheting or knitting. For a young elementary classroom, I think trying to teach a whole class of six and seven year old students may be really challenging.

I did not get to some of the projects that I wanted to. That does not mean I won’t. I have the supplies to make the baby hats for the hospitals and plan on completing them in the near future. I am close to half-way done with the afghan for my father. For my brother’s birthday, I have made a bow tie, pictured below. I plan on making two more bow ties, one for each brother for Christmas. My crocheting adventure does not end because we are done with our Independent Learning Projects. I hope that I will be crocheting for many more years. Hopefully, I will also be able to keep blogging about my crocheting creations.

Here are the afghan in progress and my brother’s bow tie.

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Creating Graphics/Visuals #diglitclass

When I was in elementary and middle school, my favorite part of beginning a new class and having a new teacher was getting to see how they decorated their room. Every room was unique and creative. There were always colorful posters and pictures, a fun lay-out of the classroom, and an interesting way to run their class. These colorful posters would grab my attention and make me want to read the information on them. And in class, when my teacher would pull our a graph or some visual aid, it always sparked my interest because it was different and new. Graphics are extremely important in every classroom.

As a future educator, I am very glad for this module lesson on creating visual tools. I decided to make a presentation on Canva. I created this presentation on the benefits that I have learned throughout this semester of crocheting. Some of these I have learned through personal experience and others I have heard of from other sources such as my mother and grandmother.

The process of making this presentation was quite simple. You pick a layout, like a presentation, poster, flyer, etc. Then you can begin creating it. You can put text into it, upload pictures, add shapes or other elements like charts or icons. I added some pictures in this presentation of projects that I have completed. I enjoyed that I could upload pictures or take pictures from the internet in the tool. The only thing that was slightly challenging for me was finding where the options were. Where were the options for adding text or pictures? It was very simple to use once I found them, I just was not looking in the right spot. To figure out what information to include in my presentation, I thought about what I had done throughout the semester with my independent learning project and what I would like people to know about crocheting.

I will definitely use this or another tool like it in my classroom. I can use it to make flyers to send home to parents. I can use this to create presentations for my students. This adds great visual aspects for the visual learners. I think it is a great tool for teaching. I do think there is value in presenting information in visual and graphic styles. This moves away from the same old boring ways of teaching and learning. It keeps students engaged and excited to learn.

My advise for all teachers is to creating visuals for students so they become and stay engaged and excited about learning.

Story Time, Online! #diglitclass

As a young child, what was your favorite thing to do before going to bed? For many children, it was story time. Parents all over the world read bedtime stories to their children to leave them with happy thoughts before drifting off to sleep. As children get older, bedtime stories occur less and less as children learn to read and grow up. Story telling turns into writing essays and filling out scholarship applications. However, the creation of podcasts and digital storytelling have brought back the love we as children had for story time as digital stories.

Educators are especially enjoying the benefits of podcasts in their classrooms and lessons. Podcasts are a great resource for supplementing lessons. These help students who are auditory learners and also just give students a different way to learn. Podcast and digital storytelling benefit students’ cognitive skills, speaking, and listening skills. These also are of interest to students due to their interest in technology. This is discussed in the article Teacher’s Guide to Digital Storytelling. This article also gives ideas for possible lessons that could involve podcasts and digital storytelling. Some ideas involve children interviewing people and making podcasts or digital stories. This helps develop communication skills. One disadvantage that I notice is that there are some students that have hearing impairments. There would have to be some written transcript or something for them to use to be able to learn the same things as the podcast.

I do think I will have students create both podcasts and digital story videos. I think it gets students thinking in a different way than simply reading something and doing a worksheet over it. Students learn secondary skills such as how to work as a team and problem solving. I also think that it is great to get students actually creating things. It shows them that they can do things they never thought about before. It gets them to explore their creative side. In my Art for the Elementary Teacher class, we had a whole unit over digital storytelling. We read several articles on this subject and then we created a stop motion video on a routine or story we wanted to tell. It was great to be able to have an assignment like this because I could really do whatever I wanted, within reason of course. I learned so much about myself as a student through doing this. I had to figure out what I wanted my story to be, how I wanted to set up the pictures, the format I wanted it in, and much more. I really find it interesting how two of my classes taught about the same topic, but were worlds away in the delivery and the focus of the topic. I find that in Digital Literacy, we focused heavily on technology and how that benefits our students to hear stories using technology. In my Art class, we focused on the storytelling portion. How telling stories benefits children and things like that. I think both classes taught the subject well, just with different viewpoints.

My biggest take away from this was that telling your own story, like the children did in this article, can bring you closer to your friends and family, and that technology is a great way to get your story out their for people to hear.

Photo CC- By Alan Levine

My Activity Log #diglitclass

Isn’t it curious how we all think of ourselves in a certain way simply because we are ourselves? We know our perception or ourselves and what others tell us we are, but our true self can remain hidden from us. At least, hidden from our conscious self. Sometimes, the only way to grow and learn about ourselves is through projects like the one we have been assigned for class. We are to log five or more of our online sessions. Five times we are online, doing whatever we do, taking note of certain aspects of our time. These include: the physical space we were in, the device we were using, what occurred during this time, what we did, how we felt during this time, what worked, and what did not work. The purpose of this assignment was to have us learn how we spend our time online and how it impacts us.

So, to begin with, I logged five of my online sessions. Three of them were times where I was completing assignments of doing something academic and the other two were when I was just on my IPod to pass the time pretty much.

My first three sessions were my assignment sessions. I was sitting at my desk for all of them, in the living room. Two times, my roommates were also doing homework or hanging out in the same room. The other time, I was the only one home. I learned that while doing homework, I am pretty even keel. I am really just focused on learning what I need to learn and completing my assignments in the best possible way. Sometimes I was frustrated with how my homework was going or overwhelmed with the amount of things I needed to accomplish, but overall, I was alright. I found it interesting when I came to answering the what worked/ didn’t work part. In the first session I tried to listen to my show while doing homework. I couldn’t function well so I switched to listening to music and it went much better. The second session I started off listening to music, but that wasn’t working well, so I shut off my music, but left my headphones in my ears. That worked well. The third time, I had learned that having the earbud in my ear with nothing playing actually helps me a lot. The earbud block some of the background noise from the room, but doesn’t add any noise. I found that I work very well by doing this.

My last two sessions were mainly on social media sites. I was relaxing on the couch or chair with friends. My birthday was yesterday, so I was commenting and thanking people for wishing me a happy birthday. I felt very happy and blessed to have such kind and amazing people in my life. Today I was the only one home and was occupying myself by scrolling through Facebook and talking to my sister and friend through Snapchat. I was feeling very tired after a long day of school. I was not interested in Facebook, so that didn’t last long. My conversations lasted for awhile and lifted my spirits some.

Altogether, my sessions were fairly even between academic work and social media. I have learned what works for me when doing homework, but I do believe that I should spend less of my free time online and more time doing things worth while. I will keep that in mind in the future. Now, I don’t think that I have truly found out who I am, but I have learned several things about myself that I didn’t know before this assignment. I encourage others to analyze your usage of the internet. You may learn things you never knew about yourself.

Photo CC-By Marcelo Graciolli 


Technology Mindfulness #diglitclass

Photo CC-By

Have you ever been to a dinner party or gone out to a restaurant and looked around at other people? How many times were they all glued to their cell phones when there was a lag in conversation? Many times, this is the case. We use our technology as an avenue of entertainment and route to forego awkwardness or boredom. I myself struggle with this. I tend to gravitate towards my devices when I have breaks throughout my day. With that time I could be doing more productive things. This was our focus for this week, mindfulness on the internet.

In regards to myself, I think I use technology mindfully most of the time, but not all. Maybe close to three fourths mindfully, one fourth not. Much of my time online involves doing homework for my classes. Otherwise, it is just a time filler. Not good. I think much of my inattentive time comes from scrolling through social media like Facebook and Twitter. I have just downloaded the Moment app, but haven’t really looked at it yet.

When learning about technology mindfulness, I watched a TED Talk about someone who quit using the internet for a whole year! The video is at the bottom of the post. I found that so interesting! Without technology being a distraction there would be so much time to be creative and have fun! This is discussed in an article that I read: Bored… And Brilliant? A Challenge to Disconnect from your Phone. This article shows a study that found that “spacing out inspires creativity and deep contemplation.” This brings to mind the picture that I had at the beginning of my post. Yes, I think it is a bit harsh, but I think there is some truth and value to it. To be a true intellectual or poet or anything on that list, you have to be that in real life, not just online.

I would love to quit using the internet and my technological devices like my computer and IPod, if I did not need them for school. I think I would have loads more time for more creative projects and more quality time with family and friends.

One question posed in this lesson is ‘When do we need to stop multi-tasking?’ I find this question very interesting because I have learned that no one can actually multi-task. The physical act of doing multiple things at once cannot really be done. Sure we can all do two projects at relatively the same time. I can listen to music while writing an essay, but I don’t really absorb what music is playing until I stop focusing on my essay briefly to switch songs or sing along. We have become very good at switching from one task to the next quickly which makes it seem like we can multi-task. Back on topic, we should stop ‘multi-tasking’ when it impedes our ability to perform the tasks proficiently.

When tethered to our devices, we lose our sense of identity and authenticity. We think our lives are in our devices, when we should be out living our lives. Some articles I read explain that there are negative effects of being on technology for too long like this Huffington Post article. It described that when you are on Facebook for more than 20 minutes, you become sadder. A Mind Shift article described a lesson where students gave up their devices for three days. This was interesting to see how students felt about giving up technology.

From this lesson, I learned that although technology is great for many things, too much technology can be detrimental. We need to focus on our priorities and focus on them. Don’t let the internet get in the way. I hope to be able to quit using the internet for an extended amount of time, but for now I will try to simplify my internet usage. The article Simplify the Internet from Zen Habits has great tips for ways of simplifying your internet usage.

Crocheting Check-in #diglitclass

Well, my Independent Learning Project has been going great! I have been working on two project in the last two or three weeks. I am loving this project to the fullest extent!

The two project that I have been working on include my dad’s ripple afghan and another bunny. On the ripple afghan, I have changed colors of yarn several times to begin making a pattern. I am super relaxed when I am working on this project. I can just let my mind wander. I also made another stuffed animal bunny this week. This one was smaller than the last one I made. I plan on getting some black yarn and making some eyes for them. I believe that these bunnies and maybe some other ones will be given as Christmas gifts to my little sisters and cousins. I have also considered donating some of these to hospitals for children.

Others projects that I have decided to make are bow ties for my brothers for their birthdays and Christmas. One is in his final, professional year before becoming a teacher, so he is professionally dressed all the time. My other brother is in high school and likes to dress nicely very often. Another thing that I think I will be making this year is a little stuffed animal elephant for one of my best friends. She loves elephants and has voiced her desire for me to make her a stuffed elephant. In the next several weeks I plan on making some baby hats as well and donating them to the neonatal intensive care units and the nursery at the community hospitals.

So far, I have loved this project. It is my stress reliever for the day. I tend to do more than the required amount of time each week simply because I love crocheting and have the time to continue. While looking at ideas on Pinterest, I found this article about how to make your yarn softer before crocheting with it rather than after you have made your project. It involves putting your skeins of yarn in a netted laundry bag and putting it in the washing machine and dryer. Your yarn will come out so soft! I think this is great! I hope to get a laundry bag so I can do this. It works so much better when the yarn is softer and more pliable.

Here are the pictures I took of my projects that I did this week. I hope you like them!

Digital Activism #diglitclass

There are people all around the world initiating and making change in their communities and across nations through the help of social media. This is known as digital activism and is the use of electronic communication such as social media to bring about political or social change. This can be through technologies such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, E-mail, Google+, and many others. Now more than every, social media sites are being used as a platform for diving into the world of activism and making change. An article that I found useful on this topic was The New Face of Teen Activism.

In the article, The 6 Activist Functions of Digital Tech, I learned that there are six functions of social media for digital activist. These are to shape public opinion, make a plan to action, protect activist through ambiguity, share a call to action, take action digitally, and the sharing of resources. This article states that these are the finite functions that technology does for activists.

Young adults or teenagers are using this type of activism. Through social media, teens can get their ideas out there for people to see and this also spreads their ideas far and wide. Through social media, their campaigns do not just stay in their individual areas or communities but travel to different states and even different countries across the globe. Teens are using digital activism by tweeting, blogging, making video blogs and several other methods to get their campaigns out there for the world to see. I believe that this type of activism is effective in part. When it comes to national or even state or region concerns and campaigns, I feel like social media is a great way to get information out to a broad range of people in a big area. However, when it comes to small, community social or political change, I think that it really impacts people to have physical representation and real life interactions.

In all honesty, I do not think that I have participated in digital activism as much as I should. I like and share some social change campaigns on social media like Facebook and Twitter, but beyond that, not much. I am not a big fan of “stirring the pot” when it comes to politics. I have my own opinion and others have their own. I may have face- to- face discussions with people if I am passionate about a controversial political topic, but I tend to stay away from social media debates.

There are several key issues that are spurring digital activists into motion. Some of these are rape culture, bullying and cyber- bullying, mental health and self-harm, and political change. These are very important issues that our country, as well as many others struggle with constantly. Some questions that I have is how can digital activism help in small communities? How can one go about becoming a digital activist?

Photo CC-By Brian McDonald