Let's Get Digital

A blog by a student, for the student

Elephants — April 28, 2017

Elephants

Image result for elephants in learning

For many students, school is about snoozing the alarm clock until the very last minute, dragging themselves to school, socializing with friends, and getting the “grade”. School is no longer fun for students. Why? Becaue school has become focused on getting a good grade not learning new information. Students retain the information until the test and then let it go knowing that new information will be force feed to them later. Teachers do not take the time to engage with students and fully develop the information. Many believe that if a student gets an “A” on the final test then they have done their job, but the truth is that students forget information immediately after the text. Students have been wired to look for a good grade, not for retention of learning. If you were to give a student the same exam that he took three months prior, he might do well, but that is not because he retained the information. Many students are being taught how to memorize the information not learn it. If he were to be given the test in a different form and different questions, chances are he has already blocked that information to make room for something new. Because of this student phenomenon, Will Richardson wrote the article “Nine Elephants in the (Class)room That Should “Unsettle” Us.” In this article, Richardson talks about nine classroom realities that teachers are turning a blind eye to. While all nine of the realities seem valid to me, I found three to be too true to ignore.

The first elephant is the second in Richardson’s article:” We know that most of our students are bored and disengaged in school.” There is so much truth in this elephant that it is almost disturbing. Thinking about being a future teacher, I pretend that I am going to be the fun, relatable, and cool teacher who still holds her ground. But the truth is, no matter how cool and fun you are school is still going to be boring. While we cannot change the instinct in students to be bored by school, we can change how school functions. It would take some time, and a lot of convincing, but as soon as the idea was set in place, I believe that students will wake up and be excited to learn. Another elephant that I found to relate well with my thinking is number four.

“We know that we’re not assessing many of the things that really matter for future success.” We all claim that we know that no one student is going to learn the same as another, so why do we believe that all students will assess the same? Even if you differentiate your classroom and learning, many teachers leave out the assessment. It is easier to assess using one single test that applies to most the students, but what about the students who have trouble memorizing answers, or have other ached emic disabilities? What matters is knowing what your students learned at the end of the day, not knowing how much information they can hold before an exam. We are also only assessing the information that the “curriculum” tells us to assess, but what about the information that is valuable to their lives and futures? Why do we forget about the most important aspects of school?

The third elephant falls at number five on Richardson’s list: “We know that grades, not learning, are the outcomes that students and parents are most interested in”. It is obvious when you walk into a school that learning is happening. But what kind of learning are we promoting? To play a sport you must have good grades. To go out with friends you must have good grades, and to be the best student you must have good grades. We have decided that receiving a good grade is the proof that students are “smart” or that they are “learning” but really, it is just a label. A label that says “I can memorize answers, and turn in my work”. Students no longer take their work home to show their parents, but rather, parents get online and look at the grades of their students. To change this, we must find a way to focus students on the learning. We could do this by not assessing for grades, but rather for self-interest. And let students decide what is important.

The truth is that learning is the most important. Sending kids out to learn from the world and know how to handle life experiences. Memorizing and tallying information will never help them to be the best that they can be. If we want the best for our students, and the best future leaders, we must start now. We must stop the idea that learning is reflected through grades and we must show kids that school is fun. When students and teachers work together, collaboration and LEARNING can happen.

 

 

 

Unlearning and Innovation — April 26, 2017

Unlearning and Innovation

I have never heard of the word “unlearning”, but I have been an advocate for it since day one as an education student. I grew up with a few teachers who use the same information, lessons, and assessments every year. These teachers do not take the time to learn new information or use new technology to present a lesson or help the students learn. Something that has always pushed my buttons is when a teacher does not think that they have anything more to learn. You, as a teacher, should plan on learning something from your students every day. Even of you do not learn something from your students, you must be able to learn from other teachers. Will Richardson states that unlearning is “attempting to understand how these technologies can transform our own learning practice”. If a teacher can simply attempt to learn and adapt to new technology, they will relate better to their students. Students will always be more technologically advanced than the students due to their young age and ability and access to more technology. Because of this fact, teachers need to be constantly on the watch for new technology and new advances to give them an edge in the classroom.

One thing that I have unlearned in this semester is that there is always something new. just when I get the hang of a new technology or find a way to cope with the new websites, something new pops up. One thing that I had my mind set on was that technology should not be the main aspect of the classroom. As an English Major, we will be reading and writing more than anything and my idea was that technology might be a distraction. But this class has shown me that technology can be applied to any subject and any classroom. By the time that I am a teacher, the students will have already had access to more technology than I have ever experienced. One thing that I still need to unlearn is that all of the technology that I am learning about right now will be the stone age technology to my students. So I need to be ready to learn the new technology every year and know that I will always be climbing the tech mountain.

I think that we have all been very active innovators this semester. During this class, we have continuously thought about what we can do for our students and what we can do to help them learn to the best of their ability. I think the most innovative activity that we have done this year has been our ILP. When you teach yourself something you learn so much about yourself and how you learn best. I would like to incorporate that aspect into my class in order to learn the most about my students. “I am an innovative educator and will continue to ask “what is best for learners””. This is a quote from George Couros who talks about being an innovative teacher. I think he really covers what it means to be an actively learning teacher and how each student is different and must be attended too.

All in all, we have learned how to do so much in this class. The main thing that I have pulled from this is that there is always room to learn whether you are the teacher or the student. We must be innovators and unlearners. To be the best teachers, we must learn from those around us, especially our students.

https://midk23.wikispaces.com/21C%20teaching

http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/5216

Digital Story — April 21, 2017

Digital Story

I am not going to lie. Watching yourself on video is actually very difficult. I had a hard time making a video of myself and it will be even harder to post it.

For my teaching metaphor, I decided to stick with what I know best. The classroom should feel like running track. The video will discuss the five key components to learning successfully that also translate to running track.

  1. Starting Point
  2. Practice
  3. Repetition
  4. Proper Nutrition
  5. Performance

The song that plays during my video is “Fade” by Alan Walker on NOCOPYRIGHTSOUNDS.

Thanks for watching!

 

What God can do for YOU! — April 18, 2017

What God can do for YOU!

I will forever look back on this class and remember Literacy in the Digital Age as the class that changed my life. I am a huge believer in the idea that facts, truths, and history are important, but not as important as making a difference in a student’s life. So, Thank You DigLit for making that difference in mine. Because I was already a religious person, but a struggling one at that, I decided to focus my ILP on bettering my religious life and relationship with God. To begin this process I went to a local bookstore and bought the one book every human should own: The Bible. I bought the cheapest and most flimsy of them because. let’s face it, it is what is inside that counts. I also bought a journal. In this journal, I wrote about life, love, God, and prayers. While I will most likely burn this journal so only the great winds can read my words, I found writing about my life very enlightening, sometimes boring, and always a great wat to reflect. I also bought two books. “Parables” by John Macarthur, and “Inventing Hell” by Jon M. Sweeney. Both books were bought simply because the covers intrigued me, but later served a great purpose in my ILP. Once I had my materials I was ready to get started.

My main goal coming out of this ILP was to make it to Mass every Sunday. I wanted to strengthen my relationship with God to the point where I yearned to be with Him on Sunday’s. While I may still dread getting up on a Sunday morning to go to Mass, I have found it much easier to get up knowing that I had someone waiting for me. That someone is God. I am the kind of person who is motivated by the fact that someone is relying on me. I am always the one to take charge in a group project (usually doing all the work). I worked harder in athletics when someone was hurt because I knew that if I didn’t step up we would not make the podium. And in school when I notice a teacher taking interest in me, I step up my game. I never thought anyone, but myself, relied on me going to Mass…but then it dawned on me. God is relying on my presence. Our going to Mass gives God the fuel necessary to help us and others. If we all stopped praising God, He would flood us again. No, I am kidding, He promised that He would never destruct the world again, although He may want to sometimes. Anyway, God needs us! He needs you! He needs the love that He gives to us to be returned. Once I figured this out, it became easy for me to get out of bed and meet Him at the altar.

Another lesson I learned from this is that the Devil will eat at what you give him. If you open the gap, you can let him in without even knowing it. I opened the gap when I stopped going to Mass. When I stopped relying on God, Lucifer came to the “rescue”. Since the dream encounter that I had with Satan I have become a much more prayer filled person. Any wavering moment I will ask for the intercession of a saint, or of God. When I am struggling with a decision I call Mary the Mother of God. When I have lost something I call on St. Anthony. When I struggle to forgive I call on St. Maria Goretti. And when I struggle with anything that life throws my way I ask for guidance and light from the Lord. The truth is that I need God. If I did not have a relationship with Him I don’t think that I would have made it this far in life. Whenever something good happens to me I thank Him, and when something bad happens I praise His name, and when I hate the path that He put me on, we have a civilized discussion about changing it. I do not expect anyone to understand my relationship with God, as I would not understand yours, but I do encourage you to build one. Whether you are starting from nothing, rekindling the flame, or have already established your place with God and are ready to build upon it, I challenge you to see what is next.

I hope to one day challenge my students with an ILP. I think it is a great way to improve yourself and find something new about yourself. And I hope that they can find the change in their lives the way that I did.

Graphics in the Classroom — April 14, 2017

Graphics in the Classroom

Graphic design is one of my most profound weaknesses. We had to create a story in high school, and all the students had so much fun making videos and writing the stories, but I could not figure it out. I ended up with a roller coaster and an octopus and some woman named Carrie…I really have no idea what it was about, but I do remember being completely confused throughout the project. While I may not ever pursue a career, or project in graphic design, I do think that it would make a great asset to my classroom. I would like to associate as much as possible when it comes to technology, and I think comics would be a great way for students to reenact a reading, poem, or story.

The graphic tool that I decided to use was Bitclips. This online app lead me to Bitmoji which is actually a huge contribution to today’s social media. A Bitmoji allows you to create your own avatar that looks like you, dress them, and use the created designs to present your avatar in different ways. There are hundreds of different designs, and clips that let you apply your avatar to any situation. I have used this app before, but never to create a sort of comic. This time I decided to pick a few designs and connect them to my life. I used pictures from the internet, or my own (poorly done) drawings to help guide the design.

Some of the issues that I found with this app were that you cannot design your own scene. I would like to see the app advance to a graphic design app that allows you to put your avatar in any situation, with any object, or in any device to portray your own feelings rather than choosing from the limited options. I would have also liked to see the Bitclips portion of the app, but for some reason the only one I could find was Bitmoji. While I improvised, I would love to see this change to watch Bitmoji grow into a great graphic tool.

I would now like to share with you a few of my own creations.

IMG_3459

(Me, crawling to the end of the school year)

climb

(When you get a bad grade and are trying to get it back up)

dspace

(Relaxing anywhere and everywhere possible)

theo

(Me when I see Theo James)

After using this graphic tool, I have decided that I would love to incorporate Bitmoji into my classroom. Maybe by having a weekly creative assignment using your avatar, or even bringing in a different app that allows for the creation of a comic strip. Either way, I think that graphic design should be incorporated into each classroom no matter the subject or age.

Podcasts and Learning — April 9, 2017

Podcasts and Learning

I have never really listened to a podcast. My coach made us listen to one on competing the day before a state cross country meet, but that is about it. I have never thought of podcasts as mush of a learning device, but after this module, I have decided that I will be using podcasts and digital stories in my classroom. Not only is podcasting another way to help kids learn using different methods, it is a great way for students to access a part of their minds that imitates imagination. Just like reading, podcasts and digital stories let you set the image in your head. No two people are going to picture that same image. Because of this freedom, students become more creative and self-involved.

I could see some disadvantages of podcasting. I think one is that there is a very low number of people who learn aurally. Because of this, some students may find it hard to focus and keep notes during the cast. To help keep kids interested, you should have activities planned, require a test after, or take frequent breaks. Some students may tend to dose off if they are looking at nothing, and only hear the story. Maybe ask them to illustrate the story as it goes, draw the main characters, and get an idea of the setting. This way students can express themselves creatively while basing that creativity towards the podcast. Another con may be that the podcast must be paid for. Often times you have to buy podcasts that relate to the certain areas in which you are discussing, Many schools could afford this technology, but it may seem unnecessary to others.

I think that podcasts would be great for the classroom. They are often exciting, share real-world experience, engage students in deeper thinking, and attract the student imagination. I love the idea of using something different that not many students are aware of. I think that podcasts and digital stories would make a great asset to the classroom, and really help the teacher portray the best message and lesson. I remember listening to the podcast before my race. It had a real impact on me. If you take the time to listen and understand, and relate it to your own life, the true meanings of podcasts will reach each individual. I think every student deserves the best learning, and by applying new tools and ways of insight, students will be receiving the best of the best.

Mindful Mindlessness — March 30, 2017

Mindful Mindlessness

I do not spend that much time on my phone. I am usually too busy to be looking at social media or spending mindless hours on my phone. I cannot say that this is always the case, but most of the time my phone is with me but I am not on it. I am usually mindful of what I am doing on my phone. I know when I have been on too long, I know when I am using it to distract me from more important agendas, and I know when I need to turn it off and enjoy what is around me. Something that I need to do better is to learn how to regulate my time when I have time to look at my phone. The most common time for me to look at it is when I am in class. I need to learn that class time is important no matter what we are learning. I often feel as though the material is self-explanatory or easy so I find myself looking at my phone or messing around on my computer. Sometimes, I will work on other homework, so I guess that is a productive task.

I believe that technology is putting us two steps forward and one step back. While this may not seem like that huge of an impact, it is impacting the most important aspect of human life. Communication. Communication is the part of humans that makes us human. While other animals and creatures can communicate we have formed the most intrinsic of languages. But we rarely use it. We are constantly texting, emailing, face timing, tweeting, commenting, posting, etc. but we are never having in-person conversations. One effect I have seen in my life is that instead of facing someone when I have a problem or concern I text them. This way I can hide behind the mask of the message rather than facing the person head on. I fear that this will impact my future and well being if I cannot figure out how to conquer the issue. We need to look up.

This video above really captures the idea of digital mindfulness. We get so lost in our technology that we are missing so much happening right in front of us. You never know the chances that you could miss if you are looking down. So look up! In the Ted talk by Paul Miller, he talks about how he became more emotionally available when he was off the internet for a year. He really took in everything around him and saw it for how it was. He wasn’t taking pictures, or sharing his experience on twitter, but rather taking in the entire experience. I think it would be good for each and every one of us to put down the device just for a moment. Look up and see. Not through a screen, but through your eyes. Be still and know where you are and live through the experience…don’t just document it.

I tried the Moment app and wanted to see what would happen throughout the day. The truth is that I do not spend much time on my phone, but what I noticed was that I was using my phone more when there was something else going on. In class, talking to a friend, hanging out with a group, or working on homework, that is when I went on to social media. I hope you get the app and try it out. Change your habits and start living today through your eyes and not your screen.

It’s Time to Believe — March 29, 2017

It’s Time to Believe

I was recently sitting with my boyfriend working on some homework. We were both silently working when he randomly asked me about the Bible. He is Lutheran, but rarely practices the faith and told me that he wished he knew more about the stories in the Bible. I explained to him that the Catholic faith does not believe that every story written in the Bible is true, but rather exaggerated for human understanding. When I began to explain a few of the stories to him, he asked…Why do these things no longer happen in the world? By “these things” he was asking why “crazy occurrences” such as Jonah and the Whale, Lot turning into Salt, or the sick/dead being brought back. I thought about it and remembered…they do happen. Miracles happen every day. Every day people are punished for their wrong doings. And every day people are saved for the goodness they believe.

Because we read so heavily into the Bible it is hard to see the amazing ways that God has interacted with the world today. When is the last time you saw a man rise from his grave? The answer? Never. But the truth of the matter is that people awake from the dead all of the time. Without the machines and ventilators that we have today in modern medicine, anyone claimed to be in a coma would be dead. Therefore, when a man in a coma comes back to life, you could praise the doctors and machines, or you could praise God. People, myself included, often look past the possibility of God contributing to our lives because there are so many distractions.

When a car swerves out of the way just in time to miss an oncoming semi, or a man is only bruised after a horrific accident…we call it a coincidence. But what if you called it an Act of God? Would that change your outlook on life? Watch some of the video below…and decide. Are these really the luckiest people on earth, or was God standing by their side?

This is my new outlook on life. I usually think I am just really lucky when something good happens to me. I once ran a stop sign out of stupidity…right as a garbage truck was pulling through the intersection. He was going fast enough to have really hurt me and my car, but I stopped just in time. I cannot even remember hitting the breaks my heart was beating so fast. Was that God? Who knows? The truth is you never know when God is changing your life. You never know when He is saving you, leading you, or letting you walk on your own. So thank Him each and every day. It is time that we put our luck aside and know who really helped you make that winning half court shot, and who was there when you almost hit another car, and who was there when you survived a rare form of cancer. It is time to Believe.

 

Get Active…Online!! — March 27, 2017

Get Active…Online!!

Digital activism is the new streetside protest. Instead of standing on a street corner in a small town only reaching the people who drive by and think to read your sign, you are reaching out to the world. Whoever clicks on your link or likes your post can then share and once your ideas get shared there is no stopping the momentum. Because of this, it is important to know what you are posting online and to make sure that you are posting something that you truly believe in and are ready to accept criticism on. Many times that people post online, they do not expect negative feedback and remove their post due to the anger or negative conversation in which it got. For this reason, you need to be sure that you are using digital citizenship online, and focusing on the facts and your own backed opinions rather than impulse.

I think it is great that students and teens are getting involved online and making a difference through digital activism. I once participated in digital activism when I became a part of Runners for Life. This is a team of people who run across the nation to spread awareness for the pro-life cause. The people who did not run (me) were asked to post scriptures and encouraging words online to raise awareness and let pregnant women know that they do not need to fear the unknown and that they have a whole team of people who will welcome their child with open arms and help raise money for the baby. This was a great experience for me because it allowed to get involved and to feel as though I was making a difference.

I love the fact that students are getting active online and using the internet as an overarching tool. One of the articles that I read “The New Face of Teen Activism” was interesting because it discussed all sorts of ways that you can be digitally active. I love the idea of Tumbler. I have always thought that digital activism came through facebook, youtube, or a blog…but I was very wrong. Students are using so many apps and types of social media that they can really reach all crowds. In “My kids, a cause, and our classroom blog” The teacher discusses how she began a classroom blog for her students to post on. This way her students can be active online and still have guidance. Teaching students to navigate their way online and post ethically can lead students to a more digitally active and aware lifestyle.

 

Parables — March 23, 2017

Parables

There is something about the Parables that really hits the trigger when it comes to lessons of Jesus. The Parables share stories that teach us lessons about life, love, and God. I have grown up learning the Parables and knowing each one by heart, but they never came back into my life until I started this ILP.

If you do not know what the Parables are…you have probably heard about their context in everyday life. I would like to describe a few of these parables and relate them to YOUR everyday life.

The Parable of the Lost Sheep: a tale of a little sheep who ran away from his pasture. When the night came, the shepherd saw that one of his flock had gone missing. He searched throughout the night hoping that his sheep had not been taken by a wolf. Tirelessly, the shepherd went looking for his lost sheep. He had left his flock behind to search for the single missing sheep, and finally, he found his lost treasure and praised his sheep. You may wonder when you are going to have to find your lost sheep, but the point of this parable is that you are the sheep. You are going to run away, you are going to fall off your path, but God will always, ALWAYS chase you down and bring you back home.

The Parable of the Sower: There is a sower who is throwing seeds for his harvest. He is throwing them so carelessly that some land among the thorns, some lands where the sun shines all day long, some land on the stone path, and some land where the sun does not scorch them. The seeds in the thorns grow well until the thorns consume them. The seeds in the sun grow quickly until the sun burns them and take their energy. The seeds on the path are stepped on and picked off by birds, but the seeds away from the evils grow tall and strong. Be mindful of where you plant your seeds. Seek growth for your crop and do not seek out the evils for you or your loved ones.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan: An old begger is lying along a dusty path. He sits begging for a ride, money, or some food, but his own people pass him by and by. Finally, a man dressed in the clothes of his enemies comes trotting along. The begger thinks that surely this man will not help him, but the man stops and brings the man great happiness. In this parable, we discover that even our enemies will come to our aid, but the true meaning is that we are the enemy and we can stop and help our enemies no matter the circumstance.

The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders: For this parable, you have two men. One man decides to build his home next to the nice cool river and another on a rock overlooking the river. Both homes are built and the men are happy. But then a huge thunderstorm comes. The man on the rock sits happily knowing his home is safe above the river, but the man who built his home on the rocks is flooded and has to move. The point is that you must plan for the future and be wise in your actions. You never know what life is going to throw your way.

Parables are very inspiring to all people and you do not need to look at the religious affiliation in order to see the life lessons inside of them. I think the parables should be taught to all people no matter school or age.