9 Elephants Focused

This week we had to read an article written by Will Richardson. The article titled, “9 Elephants in the (Class)Room That Should “Unsettle” Us”, takes into consideration several problems educators face when it comes to their students learning.

The phrase “There is an elephant in the room!” is not an uncommon one. When people say this it usually means there is something going on that is pretty obvious and obnoxious and it needs to be addressed. According to this article, there are nine different elephants residing in a classroom, none of which are pleasant but all are based around something important: the students learning in the classroom. I want to address a few of these “elephants” and share my standpoint with them.

I want to start off by saying this article makes some pretty good points. Each of these “elephants” will probably be placed into an educators mind at least once throughout their career. They are important to keep in mind especially when you consider your students learning and their futures in and out of the classroom.

  • 1. We know that most of our students will forget most of the content that they “learn” in school. / 9. And finally, we know that learning that sticks is usually learned informally, that explicit knowledge accounts for very little of our success in most professions. 
    • I chose to pair these two together because I found them similar in nature but also equally as important.
    • All students will go into a lesson the exact same way, but no two students learn the same and that is something that should be respected. If this is done right a student should be able to exit a lesson confident that they learned something new. I personally have instances in college where I would be working on an assignment and I will remember something I learned in high school. Sometimes it would help and other times it would not. Either way I sit there and I think “how on earth did I remember that?!” These moments are important. Unfortunately, when I was in grade school I didn’t have many teachers accept and respect learning differences, they all taught the same way. I feel like if there were more educators out there willing to accept that no two students are the same, there would be more of those “I remember that!” moments.
  •  5. We know that grades, not learning, are the outcomes that students and parents are most interested in.
    • This is a point that is absolutely heartbreaking to me, simply because of how true it is. Students and parents pull away from a classroom worried about what grades are being presented. They couldn’t care less about what the student is learning because those grades should reflect what the student is learning, right? Well, wrong. Grades are handed out to show how well students are doing on their tests and assignments, most of which are based off of memorization anyways. Students get so caught up with the task at hand that they might not take away much once grades are all completed. It is impossible to grade a student on what they have learned or are learning. If parents are students become more learning oriented over the other options then I believe we would see more student success.

All of the elephants in the article are important. It is also important to remember that those elephants to not determine who you are as an educator, who your students are, or what goes on in your classroom. Everything can be worked with and the elephants can be addressed properly.

9 Elephants In The Classroom That Should Unsettle Us

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Reflecting On Who I Am… A Learner

Everyone knows that online courses are trickier than most lecture based courses in college. They are tricky because your learning experience is completely in your own hands. You have to pace out your work so you don’t get overwhelmed, you have to figure out the material on your own with occasionally straightforward directions and maybe an email to help you out. If the teacher is nice, you’ll get to interact with your other online classmates, but most of the time, you are one your own.

For the longest time, online courses were very intimidating to me. My adviser told me they were very time consuming and not many people can work with that. For the longest time I was being scared out of taking online courses and I was absolutely fine with that; I got my in class work done and I was able to have a life in the process. Until one day I had to break the streak, I had to take an online course. My first experience was rough, but it got better over time and it helped me develop into the learner I am today.

This online course was no different from the others: it was intimidating and it was time consuming. I find that I am very flexible as a learner. I can make adjustments that I need to see success based on the course and the things I have to do. This is great because I can sit there and take just about everything that is being thrown at me and complete it to the best of my own ability. I stayed very flexible with my learning throughout this course: I planned out and worked on assignments when I could and I always got everything done. The ILP’s were specifically tricky since we were absolutely on our own building this project based around us. I chose to do mine on rock climbing. Rock Climbing is something I am passionate about, I knew that if I didn’t complete this project over something I actually liked then I would struggle with it from beginning to end. Once the end came, I find that I seemed to glide throughout the entire project. I liked the ILP because we could work at our own pace and do the things we wanted for that week. If I was unable to go out and climb I sat in and did research. My findings were so great that I was able to build a weeks work out of it. I was able to push my learning abilities to a whole new level.

I really think this course has changed the way I look at learning, others learning abilities and my own. Flexibility is important and that is how I would describe myself as a learner: flexible.

The Journey

I recently shared a video I created on a site called Animoto. I became very familiar with Animoto when I was in high school and have grown quite fond of the site. It allows you to create wonderful short videos for free and if you so choose, longer videos for a fair price. Being a poor college students, I did not pay for a long video to be made but was still gifted with many wonderful templates and other options in video development.

As for the video I made, the goal was to capture and create my metaphor that represents my process in education and becoming an educator. The metaphor I chose is “journey”.

A journey is something that is supposed to be filled with adventure and joy, but also many trying experiences. When you live a journey you will learn many new things, you will see much and you will discover many things about yourself and the world around you. Some good and some bad. My experience with education and the process of becoming an educator has been a journey similar to this. Nothing that I build can truly represent the situations I have faced throughout this journey but I did my best with the materials that I had.

Digital storytelling is about expressing yourself and sharing something that matters to you by means of technology. Technology is great because it provides many options. Since Digital storytelling can be so personal it is important that the creator chooses a template that will benefit them to the fullest. Animoto is something that is familiar to me and something that I feel can express what I need expressed.

Though my journey in education is almost complete, my journey as an educator is about to begin. I have learned so many things that only help prepare me for my future adventures. I know this upcoming journey, the journey of beginning my career as a teacher in particular with hold many trying situations but I know they will all help me grow as an educator. I want to be a great teacher for my future students; I always want to help influence them to appreciate the ups and downs that the educational journey may bring. But I know that they will find their own metaphors for education. All students are individualistic and these metaphors and unique to them as mine is unique to me.

“Every New Beginning Comes From Some Other Beginning’s End”

As we begin to wrap up the semester, we also bring our Independent Learning Projects to an end. I can’t believe it’s already time to wrap everything up and reflect on the different things we have learning. I want to begin by saying that I think Independent Learning Projects are great. At first I was a little skeptical, I wasn’t sure how well this was going to play out and how well I would be able to stick to my topic. With the winter season approaching I wasn’t sure on how frequently I would be able to get out and actually climb.

My doubts were a waste of time. I found that I was able to work on this project with depth and excitement. Not only was I able to get outside and do something that I loved, but the amount of research I did for this project increased my knowledge and respect for the subject undeniably. Rock climbing has been a passion of mine for a few years now and I am always looking for opportunities to express this passion. This project brought out a certain motivation in me that most projects prevent. I found myself wanting to work on it and wanting to improve. I found that I was also just as excited to share my findings with my classmates as I was to read about their own findings. I really loved seeing the effort that everyone put into this project.

The fact that everyone was able to work on topics of their choice was pretty cool to me. I think this is what brought in the interest, motivation and excitement. Everyone had an opportunity to pick a topic that they were interesting in and you could just see the passion bloom from there. Earlier in the semester we learned about the importance of passion based learning and building assignments based off of the students personal interests. We got to experience this first hand and that brought even more emphasis to the importance of this type of learning, in my opinion. Over time I even saw a couple students change their topics and find further success. I thought it was nice to see so much comfort in a project that students felt okay with changing their topics.

Overall, I felt like these Independent Learning Projects were a success. Not only did I learn quite a bit about something I was already interested in but my eyes were opened up to new ideas about what I can use in the classroom. I have learned through this project that students will want to learn more about the topics they are interested in. With this being said, incorporating a project like this into the classroom may be an excellent opportunity for student growth and success. Even though this project has come to an end, it will continue on hopefully in our future students!

Creating a Piktochart!

A few days ago, for our Daily Create Challenge, we were encouraged to create a piktograph or something similar to it. I found it pretty ironic but useful that for this week we were asked to create a graphic or piktochart and record our experience. I decided to recycle the piktochart that I created for our Daily Create Challenge and share it with you guys!

new-piktochart_26156493The Challenge was to create a graphic that includes hints at the title to one or many of the creators favorite books. I decided to have some fun and build a piktochart hinting at the Harry Potter novels. Usually, when people create a piktochart it is for informational purposes. They use it to create business handouts, statistics, or maybe invitations to an event. I used mine for creativity purposes, I didn’t include any stats or facts but I built something I felt would be visually pleasing.

I wanted to use pictures that would give away hints of different things that can be seen throughout both the movies and novels while adding a more modern and aesthetic twist to it overall.

As for the experience of creating the piktochart, it was interesting. The Daily Create didn’t specify on which creation tool I should use to create the project for that day so I had to do some searching around. Piktochart ended up being the site I liked the most, I enjoyed the variety of templates that they provided and I liked how it was so personalized. The site also provides many useful tutorials that help you accomplish what you want to get done and they even teach you a few things about the site that you might have known existed otherwise. Overall, I found this experience to be a success and I can see how using something like this in the classroom may be useful; not just for educators, but for students as well. Educators can use this program to create useful handouts for their students. Piktochart is simple and great for expressing creativity. I would definitely suggest using it for those simple, statistical based presentations that don’t quite seem to fit Powerpoint. When I was in high school I was constantly looking around for new and interesting ways to create a presentation. I seemed like everyone was getting tired of using Powerpoint or even Prezi for basic presentations. This is where Piktochart can come in handy!

Podcasts and War of the Worlds

Reading and learning so much about Podcasts really brought to mind how useful they may actually be if used appropriately. As discussed in a few of my previous blog posts, technology is very relevant today and can be very useful in a classroom. Podcasts are a great way of sharing information and are, from my understanding, auditorial reporting and even a form of auditorial blogging. They provide a great way for students to listen to information and gain an understanding of the topics being discussed to an extent that may not have been possible without the Podcasts.

When I first saw that we were reading and doing research on Podcasts, for some reason this brought my mind to the War of the Worlds radio cast. In 1938, a radio cast was released that sent half the country into terror because they thought they were about to experience an alien invasion. Apparently, the radio cast was so realistic listeners became under the impression that it was actually happening.

In honor of the famous War of the Worlds radio cast, I found a Podcast on Radiolab reflecting and discussing this situation!

In our very first live hour, we take a deep dive into one of the most controversial moments in broadcasting history: Orson Welles’ 1938 radio play about Martians invading New Jersey. “The War of the Worlds” caused panic when it originally aired, and it’s continued to fool people since–from Santiago, Chile to Buffalo, New York to a particularly disastrous evening in Quito, Ecuador.

Radiolab is a site known for their Podcasts and Journals that demonstrate the curiosity and knowledge of the artists displayed. They discuss interesting and progressive topics around science, philosophy and the human experience. According to their site, Radiolab is shared on more than 500 different stations. This is a great demonstration of how frequently Podcasts are used and that they cover a wide variety of tastes and interests. Radiolab is just one of many of many sites used and does not even begin to narrow down the amount of Podcasts there are out in the technological world.

Since there is so much information to be shared through Podcasts I can see how they would be an excellent contribution to a classroom. Unfortunately, they are mostly uncensored, so if an educator would decide to share a Podcast in a classroom they should know exactly what they are sharing and the effects it may have on the students and their learning!

Rock Climbing: The Do’s and Dont’s

In light of the chilly weather and my inability to actually go outside and climb, I decided to mix things up a bit with this blog post. A lot of my work so far has been based off of my experiences with climbing and some serious research. Since I’ve been stuck inside the house I decided to take a different and more lighthearted approach. And I mean, as much as I would love to freeze my butt off for some cool snowy climbing pics, I’d rather not risk hitting some ice and slipping to the demise of one of my limbs. With that being said, I present to you, some rather obvious (in my opinion) do’s and dont’s when it comes to Rock Climbing!


#1: Don’t Climb in Bad Weather 

This is probably the most obvious “dont” on my list which is why it falls under the #1 slot. Now, I understand that there is a thing called ice climbing. You get all bundled up and use ice picks or other climbing materials and you conquer an ice mountain. As awesome as that load of doom sounds, I climb rocks, not ice. Climbing in weather that in inappropriate for what you are climbing is extremely dangerous. But I mean, if you want to catch some unwanted ice or hit a weird mud slide because you couldn’t wait out a season, be my guest. That’s what indoor climbing gyms are for!

#2: Don’t Panic!

Some of the comments I have been receiving lately is about how rock climbing is scary or nerve wrecking. Rock climbing is a sport that I would recommend to anyone, it pushes your boundaries and is a great stress reliever. But I cannot tell you how many times I see a new, inexperienced climber attempt something, panic, and then end up really hurt. What I have to say is, know your limits! When you’re new and starting off, you want to try out some easier things. So you can learn the sport! Great things come with time, so trust the process and remain calm!


 

#1: Do Be Prepared!

Another thing I see a lot with new climbers is lack of preparedness. This can become incredibly frustrating, because no one wants to share gear. You don’t see hockey players sharing their pads, I don’t want to share my harness or my ropes or any of my gear. I always come prepared and if I have to share, that interferes with my climbing experience. Don’t be that guy!! If you want to get involved with a sport, do your research and come prepared with everything you may need!

#2: Do Appreciate What You’re Doing and Your Surroundings!

Rock Climbing is a sport with many perks and you may not always notice them as you are scaling the rock and moving towards your destination. Sometimes you just need to take a moment and really take in everything you are doing. Your body is nearly limitless, your surroundings are beautiful and unexplored, and not a whole lot seems important outside of you and that rock. Love what you are doing and great things will happen. Make sure you respect and appreciate your surrounding and it will do the same for you!

Digital Mindfulness

phone

Digital mindfulness is a topic that should be talked about but seems to be rarely and alternatively discussed. Above is an older picture of my dad and I, sitting on our phones, utterly distracted. I remember this day in particular, we had just finished up with a softball tournament and we were waiting to be seated for a team dinner. Instead of interacting with the rest of the team, we sat on our phones so blankly we didn’t even notice that someone had taken a picture of us. We were tired and it was nice to kind of dull out the world around us for a bit but in the end, the picture was quite the topic of amusing discussion at dinner.

It’s been several years since the above photo was taken, and there are still moments of issue with this type of distraction. My friends and I have to go as far as piling our phones on the table while we are eating so we don’t sit and play with them instead of actually interacting with each other. It honestly cracks me up that we have actually progressed to this point. I absolutely hate that we cannot just sit and connect physically with one another, we have to worry about technology.

Technology is something big in our world. It develops more and more everyday and it creates new ways for us to connect with one another everyday. It’s even allowed us to connect with people we may not usually have a chance to sit and interact with under regular circumstances, which is nice! But in my opinion, technology is taking away from how people interact with one another under those regular circumstances. People are relying so much on their technology that they actually get anxiety and they try to avoid connecting with someone physically. This is absolutely astounding to me, and honestly pretty funny that someone can be more comfortable with their digital identity to the point that they don’t try to put themselves out their physically.

Thinking back on the articles and the TED Talk, I have some serious respect for the teens who took the chance and disconnected from their digital identities. They did get the chance to move away from technology and live physically for a bit, but disconnecting from technology also means cutting yourself off from a whole other section of the world. People use technology for more than just connecting with each other and social media. Technology is a great way of keeping yourself updated with what is going on around the world, it is also a great resource for research. Disconnecting from all of this almost forces that person to reach out for alternative resources and they have to learn all over again. It’s something that is hard, but very possible.

Lets not let this world result into us having to permanently stack our phones at the dinner table.  Lets pay attention to our use of technology and be mindful of what is going on around us.

Digital Activism

So this week I got to spend a lot of time down in Denver for Halloween. It was a blast but unfortunately I fell behind in this weeks module, now I’m trying to play catch up.

Digital Activism, also known as Internet Activism is defined by Wikipedia as

“Internet activism (also known as web activism, online activism, digital campaigning, digital activism, online organizing, electronic advocacy, cyberactivism, e-campaigning, and e-activism) is the use of electronic communication technologies such as social media, e-mail, and podcasts for various forms of activism to enable faster and more effective communication by citizen movements, the delivery of particular information to large and specific audiences as well as coordination. Internet technologies are used for cause-related fundraising, community building, lobbying, and organizing.”

To me, and by my understanding, activism is when someone is very involved and very active with what is going on in the world and the community around you. There are many forms of activism and there are definitely extremists when it comes to activism. In fact, that’s what most people think of when they think of activists. I have a previous history with researching activism and it’s actually pretty interesting to see people wanting to be so involved with something they are passionate about.

Digital activism has been making a break through recently with how involved everyone is with technology and social media. It’s a great way to reach out to those who may be interested with what you are active with and make yourself known to those who may be unaware. It is changing how people are involved with different organizations and politics.

“Digital activism has transformed political protest in the last two decades. Smartphones and the internet have changed the way political events, protests and movements are organised, helping to mobilize thousands of new supporters to a diverse range of causes. With such activity becoming an everyday occurrence, new forms of digital activism are now emerging. These often bypass the existing world of politics, social movements and campaigning. Instead, they take advantage of new technologies to provide an alternative way of organizing society and the economy.”

Beyond hashtags: how a new wave of digital activists is changing society

Digital Activism is something to be expected now with how technologically advanced our world is. There will always be activists and they will always find a way to make their thoughts an opinions heard. Resources such as social media is a great way to make this happen.