New is Better.

Image result for Barney stinson i have one rule new is better

According to dictionary.com, innovate is a verb that means “to introduce something new; make changes in anything established.” Verbs are actions in a sentence. Your learning should be active, and moving. Innovative learning is not sitting back in a classroom continuing on the way things have been. This semester I have had the opportunity to be an innovative learner.

I have actively been learning new things that completely go against everything I have always known. This module is important, but uncomfortable. It forces us to look at how things are, and that there are changes that need to be made. These changes cannot be made without the innovation of teachers and students who want the best for themselves and the following generation. I now can move forward with this information and look at everything in a new light.

A point made by George Couros in his post, The Mindset of an Innovator, “I actively reflect on my learning, as I know looking back is crucial to moving forward.” This is solid advice for anyone and everyone. How can you move forward without building onto what you have already learned. Whether to prove yourself right or wrong. You come out stronger on the other side.

School is hard for some because it is the same for everyone at all times. No students are allowed to grow in their own learning because it doesn’t fit into the box that the curriculum expects. According to Will Richardson’s post, The Steep Unlearning Curve, “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.”

Before any of us entered into school at the age of 4 or 5 we were learning every day. How to talk, how to walk, how to properly formulate sentences. We all did it at our own pace too. Some kids aren’t potty trained until they are 4 while others are trained by a year and a half. Each kid learns at their own pace when they are ready. None of these things can or should be forced on a child. So why do we do it when they are in school, and not only that, but scold those students who aren’t up to pace with others. While also holding back those who are ready to go farther.

This ideal seems counter-intuitive to me. We are so scared that our kids won’t catch up, but if we allow them to take on their own learning they will get there one day, and be much happier. It also would give them more of a chance to know what they want to do for the rest of their lives. Not just what they don’t want to do. Sending kids out at 18 all having the same classes doesn’t give them much of an option to decide for themselves what they want to do for the rest of their lives. Self-learning offers more trial and error than traditional school offers.

If we all become more innovative for ourselves and our kids we would be doing the world a favor.

-C

Elephants Belong in the Wild

This week I read the article, 9 Elephants in the (Class)Room That Should “Unsettle” Us by Will Richardson. They are some of the major issues that can be seen in classrooms that should be taken care of, but may take a while for it to happen. Especially if they are not being spoken about as issues. I will be looking at the following points as some of the most important ones that need addressed.

First point he makes that I find important is, “We know that most of our students will forget most of the content that they “learn” in school.” A lot of learning students do in schools today they are expected to learn in a short amount of time, and then regurgitate it onto a test to “prove” their knowledge of a subject. Once this test is done the students no longer need that information therefore, they forget it. Unless it is of interest to the student they have no use of it.

Another thing that is important to look at here is that the classes deemed most important for teachers to teach are the subjects that only work for a limited amount of jobs, and interests for students. I know that I do better, and remember more when I feel as though I have a stake in my learning. If it benefits me and my future it is worth my time. All of the math and science classes beyond the basics were pointless. Many kids look at it this way as well.

The next point of his I want to look at is, ” We know that grades, not learning, are the outcomes that students and parents are most interested in.” We are all so conditioned in schools that grades are the equivalent of your worth. If you get A’s and B’s you are obviously smart, and worth something. The students who get C’s, D’s, and F’s shouldn’t bother to strive for anything. At least that was my view going through school. For me a “C” was the equivalent to an “F”. It wasn’t good enough. Whenever I saw that “C” meant average I knew I had to be above average. Average was a failure in any subject.

In my class we are on contract grading, and it is such a help. Not having to worry about how many points are going into each post I write. I get to do my work, and decide for myself what grade I am striving for. The base grade if you do everything exactly as it is asked is a “B”. A’s are reserved for those who continually go above, and beyond. This is fair to me. I shouldn’t get the same grade as someone who is doing more than I am.

This semester I was really bad in my other class about putting my learning above my grade. I slowly stopped doing certain assignments simply because I could sacrifice the points, and still do okay. This really was me stealing learning opportunities from myself. It shouldn’t be about the grade or the points. It should be more about what I am able to take from the class. Actual learning is so much more important than looking like you are learning. This is true for everyone. Don’t steal opportunities from yourselves like I did. Make learning more than the grades.

Make the elephant go away.

-C

#ridethatplane

Here is my Digital Story of being a learner! I didn’t realize how much of a lisp I can get… but I hope you all enjoy, and cheers!

Photo Credits from my video all taken from Flickr: astrid westvang , Michael Cheng, Michael Cheng, Robert Taddeo, my own, Travis Olbrich, My own, Sandra, TomaZ Strolfe, Sean MacEntee

-C

La Fin

My ILP was a bit of a bumpy ride for me. Though it is something I enjoy it certainly wasn’t easy. It has been quite the last two months working with things out of my comfort zone! I came out better on the other side than when I started so I call that a success!

From doing my Independent Learning Project I learned a few things. The first is how I learn. I am a visual learner. Going and looking for blogs, or tweets with writing tips was a huge help and asset to me during the time of my ILP. Getting advice on editing, and just little things like “How to write a memorable last line” or “Are death scenes worth it?” type of questions were little diamonds in the rough to hold onto as I continue down my journey of learning and writing!

The second is how much I enjoy writing. I have always been a writer, and a story teller. It wasn’t hard to pick my topic for my ILP. Working on it alone helped me know it is a true passion I have. Which is good as I have a writing Independent Study this summer, and two creative writing classes in the Fall. If I didn’t like writing I would be miserable!

The third is I make a horrible learner on my own when it is for a grade. I love learning on my own, and do my work for class. Mixing them together…not so much. It was hard to set aside time each week to ensure I was getting the right amount done so it wasn’t as unrestricted as what I am used to. Not an excuse, just an observation! It was good to learn that about myself!

My ILP was challenging some weeks like when I was working on editing my pieces, or just the weeks when I couldn’t find the motivation or the words to say to make the story work. Then other weeks it would just flow, and I would find that peace that comes with accomplishment!

The best part of the project was to be able to work on something for myself. All school is for me I know, but to choose my own thing to set to work on, and then be “forced” to do it for the grade was cool even if I struggled some weeks! Though it was like when teachers let you pick your own topics for an essay and since it can be something you’re passionate about you won’t struggle with the content. That I think was nice!

I am not on the track to being a teacher, but if I was I would probably use ILP’s. They are a strong way to have a teacher guiding you with how you learn not what you learn. I think that can be very beneficial for students in the long run as they grow older, and have to learn to do more and more on their own anyways.

This was a great assignment, and would love for more classes to incorporate something like this!

-C

Canva-ing

Writing my ILP.png

I’m going to start off this blog post by explaining the above graphic, and then move into its creation. When thinking of my ILP, and what I could share in a graphic format I thought simple is better. I didn’t want to fit too much into a small graphic, but wanted to get across a point about what my ILP is to me. I also thought keeping it shorter made it a little more poetic, and poised!

I put up the picture of the books to signify all of the stories and ideas I started during my ILP. I then chose the notebook lined background because that is where all of the good ideas start from. I then put “Writing my ILP” because that is what my title of my ILP has been since the beginning. Then the “Practice Makes Perfect” is about how many times I wrote something, and had to edit the crap out of it. Though in my opinion it is near impossible to practice writing enough to be perfect at it in any circumstance. This is my quick explanation of the graphic for my ILP.

This week for class we were looking at different tools that can be used that aren’t the normal ones introduced in classes. I chose to use Canva as my resource for the graphic this week. It looked simple to use, but had multiple options for putting it to use. I also created a book cover/poster thing on it. It does a walk through right when you get on to ensure you understand how to use it, and with a little extra looking around and playing with it I figured out a majority of its tools.

They start you out with simple layouts that allow you to switch out for your own information, but have a template for you to follow for the look you’re going for! For this graphic, I searched their pictures, and found the books which I really liked for the theme and color scheme. I then looked at the font options, and chose the two different ones that looked good. I then went to background options until I found the notebook paper! It really was as simple as that!

My biggest challenge for creating the graphic was getting the sizing of the text to look okay. I had originally chose a different font for the bottom text, but it wouldn’t line up properly no matter what I did so I ended up just choosing a different one. Besides that I found my way around with ease!

Canva would be a great asset to any classroom. As I have said, it is simple to use. Especially, for anyone who has a normal amount of digital literacy. If you had students who were good with tech doing this in a classroom it would be super easy and beneficial! Teachers could use it to make handouts, and other important sheets more interesting. Students could use it for presentations, or maybe teachers could make it a fun homework assignment for the students! I would recommend it to my teacher friends for sure!

These graphics allow more color, and easy navigating that Word cannot offer to some. They can be manipulated to fit different classes as well. They will maybe be more eye catching for students. There is definitely value in utilizing these in teaching!

-C

Tell me a story…

Podcasts and Digital Storytelling are both interesting in their own right. I personally prefer Digital Storytelling because it is like a colorful informative movie done in many different mediums. Even the ones that may have mono-toned voices I was able to pay more attention to than to the podcast that ranked at the top last year, Serial. This unit was eye opening for me. I knew I didn’t like podcasts, and never really think about them because of that. It was interesting to see how many ways that podcasts and digital storytelling can be useful in and out of the classroom!

The differences in voices throughout both the podcasts, and ds I think would keep most students interested than if it was just a single voice. Podcasts are able to paint pictures with their voice inflections which isn’t an easy task. Its as if you’re watching tv, but the screen won’t turn on. This can be a big asset to students who learn in a more audible way than those who learn visually. Digital stories are also an asset because it is in the language of students and their technology. They can utilize their own personal knowledge to tell a story without having to write it down. This could make a huge difference to students. Here is a link to a great article that gives great ideas for utilizing DS in the classroom- Teacher’s Guide to Digital Storytelling,

Using podcasts and digital storytelling in the classroom for tools can be an asset to both the students and teachers. If I were to be a teacher I think I would utilize them more in a creating option than listening. Letting the students have these as options for homework can help them learn beyond what they may in a book.

The few disadvantages I can see lie in the fact there are a bunch of people who don’t learn the same way. Making sure to offer different types of learning is something that will help a classroom. It also can be a disadvantage depending how much extra time a teacher has to take in order to get their lesson plan done.

My biggest take away from this whole unit is that podcasts are not all completely boring mono-toned scientists talking about their findings. Though I still do not feel a connection to them, and know for a fact I will probably not touch one again, I do see their use for others, and think it can be a huge asset when done the correct way.

-C

IMHO

The black strikes the heart like an assassin of the night. The mind numbly follows, submerged into an icy black lake. The attack swift; an ambush. The hollowness inside unable to fight back. The body completely useless as the inklike ice continues twining its way around the soul. Until there is nothing left. The resemblance of a human now a husk, a shell. The cure offered is only temporary. The light back long enough to remind what has been lost beckoning the black to pierce the heart yet again. Sometimes the cycle of it is too much to bear. The black beyond calling to its mate now nestled in the diminishing soul. 

This week for my ILP I decided to do a little poetry. I find poetry interesting. Rules to follow and yet, nothing is off limits. Though I enjoy rhyming, and parallel verses I very much enjoy writing in free verse. It also may be a little cliche, but it allows you to write freely without having to think too much about it. Because it is telling a story of its own without needing an actual beginning middle, and end. Poems are also often times left to the reader for interpretation. This can either be riveting for a reader, or it can drive them nuts depending on personality.

Each day I chose to write something a little different. I tried working with alliteration a little bit in this poem. Though I never had a sentence full of it I tried to incorporate “b” a lot as it is a harsh sounding vowel that helps set the tone brought on by the poem. I chose free verse for this poem for that reason as well. It sets the tone, and I wanted it to flow through on it’s own. Not allowing the reader any real breaks that would have been brought on by lines instead of sentences.

It is a little nerve wracking every time I put out something I wrote for the scrutiny of others. I am normally able to take criticism okay, but as we have been talking about in Dig. Literacy people are a little more free with their thoughts through the keyboard than they would be in person. I would love to hear opinions though in order to grow as a writer you have to be willing to hear what people have to say instead of sitting and wondering. I would like to say I am curious to see what people think of the poem, whether it is what you think it is about or any comments!

-C