Storify was such a cool tool that I wanted to embed mine here.
Our long term EDL 630 project is super awesome in that we get to create our own curriculum. This project took a lot of brainstorming for me, though. It's not that I don't have passions, it's just that over the last few years I have learned many of the things I've been curious about, including learning to sew, knit, drive manual transmission, and I learn new recipes all the time.
So I had to kind of rack my brain for something I want to do that I could learn in 5 weeks or so. These are the options I came up with. Read the beginning of my questions and take the survey below to vote on what you think I should do.
Learn to Brew Beer
When Jeff mentioned it in the video it immediately caught my attention. My Dad is a home brewer with a friend of his, but I really don't know much about it except drinking it at the end. I love beer and I've been on some local brew tours, but I'd love to know more about the process and it seems to be doable in the time frame we have. My end result will be some quantity of beer, I have to research more to see what I can do in the time we have.
My authentic questions could be:
Learn to Make Pickles
I love to cook and I'm pretty good at baking too, but I've never attempted pickling things. I've always wanted to try my hand at making pickles, but became discouraged last year when my cucumber plants died, that I never looked into the whole pickling process. This time I will start with cucumbers from the store, I'm not that ambitious. My end result will be a few batches, as there are different types at the store.
My authentic questions could be:
Learn to Crochet
I love to knit, and I taught myself about 6 years ago with a starter kit from Michael's Craft Store and YouTube videos. I have never tried to crochet, however, and it has enough differences from knitting that it looks totally foreign to me. One hook is used to create essentially the same effect that knitting creates with 2 needles. It does seem a bit faster, and I've always wanted to try it out and test that theory. My end result would be to create something simple from a specific crochet pattern.
My authentic questions could be:
Please take the poll below to give me a little feedback!
This animation of Sir Kevin Robinson's lecture is just awesome. One comment on youtube asked if there was a print of this available, and sadly it was never answered because I would definitely buy one.
Sir Kevin Robinson touches on everything from the origin of public education and it's outdated model, toand as a very visual learner I loved this animated form and how it reinforced the emotions trying to be expressed. It was interesting to hear someone connect the ADHD "epidemic" to the need for school reform. I agree that the viewpoint needs to shift from "change the kids" to "change the education". I worked with kids in a "gifted" program for a short time, between mostly working with "at-risk" kids, and oddly enough they had many overlapping issues with the education just on opposite ends of the spectrum and still many instances of ADHD. I had to take a screen shot of this image for how clearly it portrays the current state of education:
The way he described using the student's "manufacture date" (birthday/age) as a guideline for education really resonated with me as well. My district is currently dealing with this problem, with many kids coming into our system years behind in school but past practices dictate they be put in grade level courses. It takes a lot of human work to figure out what courses a student really needs, rather than simply populating lists by age, but it is a learning process that is worth it.
...but is it a logistical nightmare? Call me a realist, but after the warm fuzzies started to wear off after watching 13 year old Logan LaPlante's inspiring TED-talk, my mind wandered to how this could be achieved on a large scale, for every kid, in an educational "system" of sorts.
Logan LaPlante was pulled from the traditional system and able to design his own version of school. How do we allow students still in the system to design their own curriculum, with ever rising class sizes and frequent budget and staff cuts? Logan is obviously a very passionate kid, but some students don't always have things they are super passionate about, especially students with difficult home lives that are too focused on just surviving to have many extracurricular interests. Some need a little guidance and resources to discover different options.
We hear a lot of talk about personalized and real-world education, and that is most definitely the way of the future. This video made me imagine teachers as a sort of education "case manager" or facilitator that meets with kids on an individual basis and sets up internships and involvement in community programs with others of similar interests, while providing some kind of academic core base. This and other articles we have read show that the role of the educator is certainly changing.
Logan must have some pretty knowledge-able adults in his life to pass those skills on to him. I'd like to do more research into how he was able to do this and what sort of programs or systems are already out there to provide Hackschooling on a large scale.
The TED talk by Michael Wesch, "Knowledgeable to Knowledge-able" was humourous and right on point. I wholeheartedly agree with Wesch's assertions about the potentials of technology today, and the catch-up game that the education industry has been playing or avoiding for the last few decades.
Wesch points out that "literally there is something in the air," and that "something" is everything ever recorded in all of human history. It is absurd to continue to operate schools as if the teacher is the holder of all the content.
Wesch's example of the Dove rebuttal video that went viral and actually effected real change in the world, is a great example of just how easily our students can make real things happen if given the opportunity. Imagine the learning that takes place when they are working for real audiences, and know that they may have a real time effect.
I do appreciate that Wesch makes a distinction between the fact that the technology is "ridiculously easily" while the skills are not so much. In the article we read about Twitter it discusses how hard it is to effectively "teach" these skills, and students have to really use them to "get" them.
I could see myself using his idea to use accessible, real world problems, specifically ones there are no answers for. I think it's really powerful to teach kids the answer isn't always the end game, and that sometimes the journey to the answer causes more questions and that is totally okay. I can only imagine the empowerment my students would feel if they, incarcerated kids that may have given up on, could affect real change and make a difference.
In the video presentation "Visitors and Residents", Dr. White tackles some dated terminology and ideology. I like his idea of a shift away from "natives and immigrants" that implies that "old people just don't get this stuff". My first teaching assignment was "Careers and Technology" and one of the first things I noticed was that many teens were "digital immigrants" too. Not all of them had access to technology, and some just weren't very interested in it. Age had nothing to do with it, and sometimes skill didn't either.
Dr.White's new continuum of "visitor and resident" focuses more on the motivation to use social media. Residents see the internet as a social space, like a park, to collaborate and interact. Visitors see the internet as a collection of tools to be used and put back.
I think I am mostly a visitor, but working toward a similar place Dr.White described for himself. Although I am just starting out, I'm excited about the concept of creating a professional social presence. I was a visitor that picked up a few tools, but this blogging and using the accounts I've set up motivates me to keep it going. In the video he says residents treat their online presence like a brand, that needs to be visible and also productive in some way. I hope by the end of this program to have built my own "professional brand."
In my personal life, my non-institutional zone, I think I am in the middle of the spectrum. At first I thought I was more a visitor, as I use some social media to communicate with a few friends and family, but I'm not on there all the time and I'm not very invested as if it were a brand. Dr. White said that visitors don't see the need to have online networks, but may have the skill and desire to create them if it helps them be successful, and that is a good description of where I am now. I have created some strong social networks around my knitting and my art, in order to build my skill and collaborate, though not in much of an effort to build a brand. Therefore I put myself in the middle, leaning toward visitor. Like Dr.White, I'd prefer to keep my family and personal life offline for the most part.
Will Richardson's book "Why School?" is a great read for educators in today's changing system. At times I felt myself disagreeing with him, but ultimately he is just describing reality and what we all really know has to change.
The first type of school reform he covers, the old school, has sadly been the norm for some time and I really connected to Richardson's point of view. San Diego has had an explosion of charter schools in the last 10 years and although some have been very successful, many are similar to Richardson's description of "internet schools". Schools using the internet to give students access to lectures and ability to turn in assignments may sound forward thinking, but in reality it's the same teacher-driven type of learning just in a different form. Doing the same things, slightly differently, and expecting different results is dangerously close to the definition of insanity.
I graduated high school in 2003, so I feel like I have a unique place in the history of school reform. Many of my teachers subscribed to the old school of thought, but a handful were actually trying to do more "new-school" project-based things, with internet becoming a reality in nearly everyone's house in the late 90's. When I joined the credential program in 2008, the first ice-breaker activity was to share why we chose to become a teacher. In a room full of people that lived their lives knowing they wanted to be a teacher, my answer was "I want to become a teacher because I hated school." I had spent 8 hours a day, 185 days a year in a place that was not fulfilling save a few hours in my elective classes where I could be creative and explore my own interests through music and film, but a part of me knew it didn't have to be like that. Learning was fun, everyone likes to grow and learn new things, so why was school so boring?
As I became a teacher I saw many of the barriers that Richardson discusses, that keeps good teachers from doing different work because of bureaucracy and past practices. I saw some teachers breaking out with innovative ideas. I saw a few teachers perpetuating the old system and somehow making it work. I also saw the business side of education that Richardson discusses. Corporations that, "salivate over the potentials of the $500 billion K-12 education industry," know schools will eagerly accept help from as a way to improve, but mostly it just perpetuates the same old issues. Technology can be a difficult field to navigate, with new things coming out every day, which was one of my reasons for choosing this program.
Of the six unlearning/relearning ideas for educators, one I could definitely commit to is to "Discover, not deliver, the curriculum". It's something I've already been starting to try with my students now that I have a class set of Chromebooks with internet access. This week for example, we are starting to read "The Crucible" by Arthur Miller, which takes place in Salem, Massachusetts. My students had a lot of questions about the state, so I decided to give them a day to discover it. In the past I could have done a little front-loading with a power point I made and a graphic organizer for them to take notes on, which could work for some kids. Instead I broke down some topics into a jigsaw form and told them to teach the class about the people, weather, culture, landscape, etc., of Massachusetts. The results were awesome, because they had had so many questions already, just now it was a little more organized. I didn't know many of the answers myself as I'm not a Massachusetts expert, so they taught me and we all learned together.
The one that might be a struggle for me would be "Talk to Strangers." Richardson makes a great point when he says "the reality is that the kids in our schools will interact and learn with strangers online on a regular basis," with or without us. I agree that school is a great venue to show them how to use strangers to learn and build on their skills. Opening your classroom up it scary though, but I am exploring some slightly more controlled options. Next month my students will be participating as a class in a Webinar with manufacturing experts at Alcoa Davenport, a major aluminum manufacturing plant in Mississippi. It is delivered by Discovery Education and although I can send in my student's questions live, it is more or less a 1 way delivery by these professionals. I like the idea of blogging and having students reach out to authors, but it's something I need to learn more about before I'm comfortable.