When I first began to read the article by Thom Markham I thought of the backlash from conservative groups over the revamping of the AP United States History. As a history teacher, I welcomed the change. Don't get me wrong, I love my country, but I have always believed that it is important to talk about some of our more, we'll call them, unintelligent moments. The basis of the argument against the "new" APUSH was the fear that if students begin to question and learn about our darker moments as a country, then their patriotism would be diminished. I believe that if you ask any teacher, they would completely disagree with that notion. Students can safely learn about our past, contextualize it, and then see how it has shaped who we are today.
Unfortunately the sentiment of teachers being caught in a wilderness of resignation, cynicism, and learned helplessness is true for many educators. Houston, Texas has a good understanding of this, and they seem to know where teachers are most lost in the wilderness. For the past few years Houston School District has set up recruiting fairs in Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina. NC teachers are among the lowest paid with the worst benefits, and toughest job standards in the US.
Luckily for us, there are paths out of the wilderness. One such path is to "appriciate the power, beauty, and challenge of the present moment. (2015, Markham)" It is impossible to fully prepare for the variables that come in the daily practice of education. However by focusing on the passion that brought us into this profession in the first place, will help us keep our energy up and give our students the 110% they deserve every day. It is no suprise that Koreans call teachers, "Nation Builders." I have always liked that, it reminds me that every day we get to shape the future.
Another remedy that I particularly agree with is to live the collaborative reality. I have taught with teachers who don't share, and I've taught in truly collaborative schools. The day to day workload of the collaborative schools was much more manageable. Plus it was fun for both the teachers and students. If they didn't have me for class, but had Mr. Cunningham, they could still talk about what they were doing in class, and form their own collaborative groups. Working with others is much more fun than working autonomously, I mean, there is a reason we chose to pursue our Masters via a cohort.
Markham, T. (2015, February 11). Redefining Teachers with a 21st Century Education 'Story'. Retrieved June 22, 2015 from http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/02/11/redefining-teachers-with-a-21st-century-education-story/.
... not really, but it is a catchy title to get you to read my blog post. In the article "How to Get a Job at Google" (2014, Friedman) author Thomas Friedman discusses the things that Google looks for when evaluating candidates for employment. He speaks with Lazlo Bock, head of people operations at Google, essentially he is in charge of hiring people. Mr. Bock lists five attributes Google looks for:
1. Cognative Ability (the ability to process information rapidly)
2. Leadership (the ability to step up and lead, and as Winston Churchill said, "what it takes to sit and listen")
3. Humility (The ability to fail, and not let it destroy you)
4. Ownership (Stepping up and taking charge, but also, stepping back if someone else has a better idea)
5. Expertise (this one is not as important as the others, someone with the four above traits can easily learn specific job task expertise after being hired)
As I read the article and pondered the five important attributes I couldn't help but think of Blooms Revised Taxonomy. Blooms has been around for decades, since the 1950s to be a little more specific. During the 1990s a former student of Bloom revisited the taxonomy and it was changed to a verb phrasing schema:
So how did I begin to think of Blooms while reading about Google's hiring practices? Simple. Google is interested in what a person CAN potentially accomplish. Their past actions and accomplishments, while exciting and good for them, is in the past. Our students, and future members of the workforce, need to be able to consistently produce, and learn, at a high level. Last year I had the privlege of attending the CUE conference in Napa. I can't honestly remember the full name of the presenter for one of the sessions, mainly because the original presenter didn't show up and his friend Joe took over the presentation. Besides being one of the best sessions of the conference, he said something similar to what Bock said. Joe said that as teachers it is important to teach our students how to learn, unlearn, and then relearn new information throughout their lives.
It takes cognative ability to create a product. True Leadership and Ownership are necessary to fully Evaluate their end result, and Analyze any mistakes and fix the problems, even if the problem is the direction the leader chose for the group. This is where humility comes in, a leader needs to be able to look at the evidence without any ego involved, then apply the solution to a problem. Expertise is where Blooms comes together into one cohesive package, expertise is the end goal, the learning objectives. When a student successfully completes the task they will have demonstrated a majority of Blooms Revised Taxonomy and the main characteristics Google looks for in potential employees.
(2004). Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is ... Retrieved June 22, 2015, from http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/winstonchu161628.html.
Friedman, T (2014, February 22). How to Get a Job at Google. The New York Times. Retrieved From: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/23/opinion/sunday/friedman-how-to-get-a-job-at-google.html?_r=2.
Revised Bloome Taxonomy. 1st ed. Arlington: N.p. Web. 22 June 2015.
"If the Internet is Lucky Charms, then Instagram is just the marshmellows." (Neistat 2012) This has to be one of the best quotes I've heard in a long while. I also completely understand the metaphor, as I am a fan of Lucky Charms. There are many cereal options out there, but none as good as Lucky Charms, they stay true to what they are. Cheerios seems to be like Facebook, our presenter says Facebook has lost its way, so have Cheerios. Don't try the Dark Chocolate ones.. just don't do it. Twitter is like the cereal Kix, yes its fine, but it is limited, far outshined by coco puffs. Cereal metaphors are the best, and they serve to further our presenters position.
I've never used Instagram, I have an account for my class, and understand the basics of taking and uploading a picture, but I don't, as of yet, understand the purpose. I am hoping to explore using this in a purposeful manner that can be adapted to my classroom practice.
"The documentation of life is important. Use Instagram to tell a story." (Neistat 2012) Before watching this video I had never considered Instagram as a tool (I know that I am still channeling my 'visitor' identity [see previous blog posting if you are confused]) for digital storytelling. As Daniel Pink tells us, "Most of our experience, our knowledge, and our thinking is organized as stories" (Pink 2006, 101). If our students see the content as a story to experience, they will understand it more deeply.
I find it fascinating that we are working on our graduate degrees communicating via a blog, or on twitter, Google +, and other social communication mediums. Our blogs, especially the 20Time projects are the authentic stories of our learning. If we are able to learn this way, then our students should be able to learn this way also. Instagram can be a way for our students to chronicle their learning, like we will in the 20Time project.
At the end of the school year, I have my students create a project that reviews everything we have learned. The only instruction is that it has to be creative. I've had students do projects based on Harry Potter, Star Wars, Sesame Street, and other pop culture entities. Being that I have never used Instagram, it didn't occur to me that I could have my students use an Instagram account to tell the story of their learning experience in my class.
The tutorial on Instagram etiquette was appriciated as well. I promise to go easy on the hashtags, and not to bleed the feed, I'll post one picture at a time, and then chill.
(2012). Instagram i love you - YouTube. Retrieved June 15, 2015, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GacoqdKjVyE.
Question, "Where does your homework go after the teacher returns it to you?"
Answer, "The Garbage."
This is just one of the many questions asked to students in order to demonstrate the need to get students more involved in the discussion, both in the classroom, and the larger global community. How does writing a paper and turning it into the teacher give students an audience? Simple. It doesn't.
By encouraging students to post online and share their thoughts and Ideas, it exposes them to a much wider audience. Depending on your individual school districts privacy regulations, you can control the audience. Posting on a blog or other content sharing mechanism forces students to try harder to impress their peers and the strangers who would be reading their work. They want positive attention from their peers, so they work more diligently for as close to perfection as possible.
Some of my former colleagues put together a presentation for the North Carolina Technology in Education society conference. Their presentation called, Achieving Audience: Digitizing Student Voices in the 21st Century, explores the avenues and pedagogical processes for giving students a voice.
Students are social creatures. This is not new. When I was in High School my desk was Grand Central Station for note passing. I had the wonderful ability to pass a note without the teacher catching me, so most found their way to my desk. From my observations students now send text messages instead of writing notes, but the basic elements are the same. They want to communicate with a wide audience. If we provide a safe mechanism and guidance, then step back, I believe we will see our students communicating in an authentic capacity.
(2012). Achieving Audience - Sites - Google. Retrieved June 15, 2015, from https://sites.google.com/a/ucps.k12.nc.us/achieving-audience/.
Transforming Teaching and Learning with an authentic audience. - YouTube. Retrieved June 15, 2015, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kq9_Z8crD-4.
As I watched Dr. Michael Wesch discuss the power of mass media conversations, especially the video segment with the gentleman giving away free hugs as an example of changing the traditional media paradigm (Wesch, 2010), I was reminded of another video I watched on Youtube. This one is called "How to start a movement? Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy" It humorously talks about the stages of starting a trend or doing something new. From the single person changing his behavior, to the first follower, to the avalanch of copy cats who emerge after the first few join (Huang, 2010).
If you watch the video it describes the process of creating a new movement. From being a lone nut, to the first follower, to embracing others who join as equals.
Television revolutionized the world. People were able to bring the conversation into their living rooms every evening, albeit it was a one way conversation. Walter Cronkite would talk to us about the events of the day around the country and the world. This made Walter one of the most powerful people in the country. What he said was recieved as the absolute truth. He, and other news reporters, had the voices in the conversation. People were disenfranchised from having a significant contribution to the dialogue.
When I first got a twitter account a few years ago, a fellow teacher of mine asked me why I wanted to be a pretentious human being. Tweeting out every though, idea, and letting people know what you are up to was considered to be a bit narcissistic by my colleagues. After watching this video, I have been thinking about my students and how often the instagram images of their world around them, they tweet every minor detail of their lives, they send pictures of their food to let the world know what they eat, they worry about college acceptance, and occasionally send out tweets for help out of ackward situations. This is the first time that the mass populace has been able to contribute to the national conversation, or any large conversation, in a real significant way, as you no longer need to be on telvision to have a voice. So are my students narcissistic (as my former colleague tried to label me), or are they merely grasping at relevance? Personally, I think they are looking for a way to be relevant and contribute something meaningful.
Here are some examples of tweets by teenagers about various situations they experience.
Huang, G. (2010, October 8). How to start a Movement? Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy [video file]. retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbaemWIljeQ
Vagianos, A. (Ed.). (2015). Best Tweets. Retrieved June 6, 2015, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/best-tweets/
Wesch, M (2010, October 12). From Knowlegable to Knowlege-Able [video file]. retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeaAHv4UTI8.
Dr. White's discussion about residents v. visitors has made me think about the way I classify my students. I learned the terminology 'digital native' and 'digital immigrant' so long ago that I don't remember where I heard it. Most probably from the context of a conversation with a fellow teacher, or an administrator. I had always considered myself a digital native, I grew up in the heart of Silicon Valley and watched the tech boom happen in front of my eyes (so I physically lived where the technology happens, that sounds like a native to me). My schools always had the latest computers and other gadgets, so using technology comes naturally to me. But after listening to Dr. White make his case that we should rather look at people as 'residents' or 'visitors' I realize that I am a visitor. Yes, I have a twitter account, facebook, a recently created instagram, and a newly created website (this one you are reading, in fact!). I look at the internet as a place to find tools to accomplish either my personal or educational goals.
One quote Dr. White said that stands out to me is, "Just knowing how to use particular technologies makes one no wiser than just knowing how to read words" (White, 2013). I agree with the sentiment, many of my students can use various tech tools, but they can't seem to figure out when to use the tools in a constructive manner. This reminds me of a quote by Mark Twain, "A person who won't read has no advantage over one who can't read." If our students only learn how to use tools for the sake of learning to use tools, or to be "cool", then they won't discover how to grasp the full potential of the Internet for academic, and later entrepreneurial purposes. Individual skills don't matter, what matters is the ability for my students to learn in a culture that encourages them to use every tool at their disposal to further their education within and after they leave my classroom.
Even after identifying myself as a visitor and looking at the notes I took while watching the video, I can't help but continue to think of the internet through the eyes of a visitor. I reference the tools available, when I think of the communities I am a member of; I first think of the privacy, then how will I use this community to create something. I want to start to challenge myself to think of the internet, not as a bunch of tools and data, but like a pool, when I go swimming I just go to the pool, swim my laps, and not have any agenda or purpose other than swimming. I think it is going to be difficult for me, but we'll see if I can move in and become a resident.
Twain, M. (2003). A person who won't read has no advantage over one who can't read. Retrieved June 4, 2015, from http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/m/marktwain100303
White, D. (2013, May 31). Visitors and Residents. Retrieved June 4, 2015, from https://youtu.be/0sFBadv04eY.
Will Richardson in his book, Why School, offers a well crafted argument to demonstrate that schools haven't kept up with the world. This argument is echod by Sir Ken Robinson in his TED talk called, "Changing Educational Paradigms." Robinson argues that the current education system was designed for the industrial age and modeled after it. Schools are factories where students are educated in groups and all given the same information in the same manner (Robinson, 2010). Will Richardson offers two paths a teacher can take, the first one is the path of least resistance where teachers adopt the Common Core and use that to rephrase their tried and true practices (Richardson, 2012). The second is where I try to be. It involves taking information and using it, mastery of knowledge is not the goal, but learning how to learn is the focus. This past year I have been fortunate enough to teach in a magnet school that focuses on Project Based Learning. We recieved PD once a week after school, and then about once a month all day Saturday. The learning experiences we created for our students were great. They were excited, engaged, asking questions, and working together to answer the questions. As we progress through our EDL 680 experience I am going to be writing and learning about how to Gamify my class. I'll admit it is my new obsession. I started researching it yesterday, and stayed up most of the night gathering information from various sources. I created a google spreadsheet template for the students to track their progress during the game. I designed some badges and the criteria for "leveling up." I have also begun to work on the basic storyline for the game. I am using The Legend of Zelda (the original) (Nintendo, 1986) as a model for play. It is my hope that by transformng my classroom into a fun "playful" environment where everyone is working for knowledge, my students will increase their "buy in" and assume more of an active role in class, or as Will Richardson calls it, take the power.
I believe the upcoming school year is going to be a fun and interesting one!
Nintendo. (1986). The Legend of Zelda, (Nintendo) "video game".
Richardson, W. (2012). Why school how education must change when learning and information are everywhere / Will Richardson. New York, NY: TED Conferences.
Robinson, Ken (2010, October). Changing Educational Paradigms. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_changing_education_paradigms.