As I was driving to work today, thinking about last night’s amazing session with Alan Levine (more to come), I was also still thinking about this digital community we have formed. In only three short weeks (sad to be done yet elated), this class will end. I know that most of us, having formed some great digital bonds will remain in contact; blogging, tweeting etc. Then on the radio, CBC with Sheila Coles, I heard about a group of people on Twitter who decided to meet in person. The event is called the YQR tweet up. The organizer said this was a way for people to chat in more than 140 characters. Imagine that! The experience would be one similar to meeting with friends since you have connected, know each other, have helped each other etc, just never actually met. I thought it was an interesting concept. What do you think?
Getting to know you November 8, 2011
The further we get into this class, the more I feel like I am getting to know everyone. However, I am finding this connection weaker than if we were in a class together physically. I wonder whether we wouldn’t know each other better if we physically sat at the same tables in a class once a week. I realize that part of getting to really know one another is based on how much we all individually share and that perhaps for sharing purposes in education, it isn’t necessary to know one another on such a personal level. However, I do know that we are human, we all have “things” going on in our lives. In our class, we have pregnancies, new babies being born, people with health issues and perhaps even people going through divorce or other heartache that we don’t even know about. For some reason, on a personal and social basis, this bothers me. It is disturbing to me that these great and not-so-great things are happening and we are not “there” for one another. I don’t know the answer to this question either. I have gained a lot from this group of people and I guess it is just troublesome that we aren’t a community; there for one another. It’s weird for me to think that we are all living our lives and we have affected one another, yet we really don’t know each other or what’s happening d the computer. Thoughts?
Who’s YOUR teacher? November 3, 2011
Our session with Dean Shareski had me intrigue and interested before it even started. I had seen loads of tweets and comments about this Dean Shareski guy. In fact the day before the presentation, I asked Honni “who is this guy?” All I knew was that people respected his opinion and were quoting him and tweeting about him.
When I saw that our discussion would be about sharing, the first thing that came to mind was the book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum. I often find myself quoting this book to my students and in my parenting. I also used it last year in my administrative address to our grade eights at farewell. I was very happy to see Dean using this book in his presentation, with the emphasis obviously being on sharing.
One of the very first lessons we teach our children as parents is to share. Share your books, share your toys, share with friends and siblings. I knew this was a learning lesson but I never thought of sharing as learning that continues. This is a powerful statement and really struck me!
Expectations November 2, 2011
I was reading Seth Godin’s blog and came across a post about expectations. I am not really sure how I feel about his post. At first, I thought he was advocating for setting the bar high and trying to achieve no matter what. However, when we don’t attain these expectations, we feel like failures. He questions whether we just shouldn’t have expectations, just effort and acceptance. I don’t think effort without an expectation is possible. We will always expect something at the end of our efforts. When something doesn’t work, we try again. This is possibly the most important part of learning. When at first we don’t succeed, we try again. Try- fail-learn- reflect- try again-success. Isn’t this what encouragement is all about? Don’t we always say to students that it’s not how hard we fall but how we get back up? What do you think?
by tinou bao
Tonight I shared my opinion on a youtube video where a young girl was being beaten for disrespecting her parents (father happens to be a judge). I was shaken when a member of the Saskatchewan Roughrider’s tweeted that just because the dad beat the daughter didn’t mean he didn’t love her. I tweeted back that it was wrong no matter the reason and the debate went on from there. In fact we are still tweeting as I write this blog! The content of the debate isn’t what amazes me most but rather the fact that I am able to SHARE my opinion and hopefully EDUCATE someone I don’t know via a social media tool. The concept of education via social media has so many possibilities. I am proud that I was maybe able to point out some facts and challenge someone’s thinking. For so long, I have thought that this was only possible within the four walls of my class, in my family and perhaps among friends. However, I feel like I am now a “card-carrying member” of twitter having really voiced my opinion on something that matters to me! Anyone else have experiences like this?
Weeds are taking over October 25, 2011
Tonight, we had the privilege of listening to and discussing with Dave Cormier on Rhizomatic education. He began by asking us why we educate students. My answers were: we educate for the future, for our benefit and the children’s, to develop creative thinking & problem solving, to open new doors and new possibilities. Cormier stated that all these ideas of teaching a prescribed curriculum means that someone needs to decide on the outcomes of learning. So, who gets to decide on the outcomes and how do we decide? Personally, in my teaching the outcomes are decided upon by the Ministry of Education. I work with outcomes every day. In fact, we are so focused on learner outcomes that we are now working with the backwards planning model, which emphasizes picking the outcome first and basing teaching and learning on the outcome. To me this implies that the outcome is completely out of the learner’s proverbial hands! Therefore, I really don’t think this is what Cormier is encouraging us to do in education. More on this in a moment.
Cormier stated there are 3 types of people or learners: the workers, the soldiers and the nomad. Workers by nature understand and obey the system. Soldiers defend the status quo and try to replicate the system we have while Nomads are the creative thinkers. These are the people able to do the investigating, divergent thinking and hopefully change the world. These are the learners who challenge the answers! These people are purposed and mindful discoverers. Immediately, I knew this wasn’t me! How sad. I am totally a worker. I like to know what to do, how to do it etc etc. Cormier stated that we (society, teachers etc) slowly start to eliminate creativity in our children and in students. Again how sad to think that I am part of the stifling of creative, imaginative young minds. For me, it comes back to creating a safe, respectful environment where the students (and I) are comfortable to explore, create, and make mistakes. This means that as a teacher, it is important for me to be the mentor and not the knowledge keeper. I also try to remember this when working with my intern this year. It is definitely a fine balance giving enough feedback as a mentor and learner myself and pulling away to let the lessons be learned themselves. I caught myself thinking about this today in Social Studies as I tried to explain the role of an Elder in educating the youth. There are lessons and stories shared that have been part of oral tradition and history for hundreds of years, but at times, the young ones must be allowed and encouraged to learn a lesson for themselves.
I do believe in education, at least in my division, we are moving away from the memorization model of school where the “best” or “smartest” students were those who could retain and regurgitate facts. We no longer look for a student able to repeat facts, but rather students who can apply their knowledge in an applicable way to become someone different. When thinking about old vs. new ways that we try to teach, I always think back to my math education. I could subtract multiple digit numbers like nothing. However, I never really understood why I was doing it. The concept of place value when dealing with ones and tens never clicked. It is sad to say that I really didn’t have anyone communicate this concept to me well enough to grasp it until I was in my teens! I would like to believe that had I had the opportunity to explore subtraction, I may have actually understood what I was doing.
Ironically enough the first line is talking about technology sucking the brain right out of the skull.
Lastly, it really resonated with me when Cormier stated that moments of knowing- really knowing and having learned something- change the person. Learning should be a process of becoming or of coming to understand. Since we are all different, and to our learning we bring different baggage, our knowledge must not be considered outside of us, but rather must become part of us. In my head, I am anticipating all the resistance. Not because I do not believe in this, but rather I know so many people will be the soldiers discussed earlier. In the end, Cormier says that there will be resistance but that new ways and new responsibilities are not easy. This is learning!
I am going now to rototill everything I know and try to find a nomad roaming some rhizome…
Step 2 October 24, 2011
Today, the students did their very first blog post- About me. At this point I am still screening all posts and approving all comments as well. One thing I am struggling with is the spelling, grammar and structure of the student posts. I don’t know how far I need to correct them before they post. Some students have few mistakes and others have so many I can’t understand what they are saying. I know this will be worse in French! Instead of submitting the blog, I am just going to have them raise their hands and I will read so they can make corrections right then and there. I don’t like having to read the post and email the student changes. I do know that I can make corrections and revisions, but at the same time I do not feel like this is my job, my place or helping the students learn. I am wondering what other teachers do for their blogging students?
I took some pictures today of my students (as seen above with permission from his parent). They were so engaged! After blogging, we used the computer for Science. The students needed to find 3 French definitions and examples. It was really nice to see them doing research in French and working together to create working definitions. I am definitely going to have to get them all set up and used to using google docs because the panic at the end of the class to save the Word document and then email it home to themselves is just too ridiculous.
Presently, I have two laptop carts in my room with 26 computers charging. I know I am supposed to share with the school but if no one else books them out, I might just house them permanently!