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9 Elephants

There is the saying “there’s an elephant in the room”, which is a metaphor meaning an obvious problem or challenge no one wants to face. 9 Elephants in the (Class)Room That Should “Unsettle” Us, by Will Richardson, really puts an intense focus on the “elephants in the room” with education. Out of the 9 points of validation he makes, here are the 3 that spoke out to me.

  1. We know that most of our students will forget most of the content that they “learn” in school. Let’s face it, in high school and in college, there have been that test(s) that we studied for just to pass, not remembering the material. When I was in high school, I took 2 school years of Spanish. I probably only remember 5 words in the language. Anything further than simple math I have long forgot about. I use simple math everyday (adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing), but I have never had a day that I have used y=mx+b outside of class. So if we are teaching our students material “because it’s on the syllabus” that’s not real teaching.
  2. We know that most of our students are bored and disengaged in school. Why is this problem continuous? Because students are sitting in a desk 7 hours a day with their head in a book. Students need to MOVE! According to a recent Gallup survey, only 32% of high school juniors reported that they were ‘involved and enthusiastic about school.’ Almost worse, only 17% said that they have fun in school, the same number that said they ‘get to do what they do best’ in school. Is anyone ok with that? And, by the way, let’s stop pretending that we can solve the engagement problem by handing kids iPads or other technologies. Hand them more agency over their own learning instead.” (Richardson) I’ll just leave that here.
  3. We know that we’re not assessing many of the things that really matter for future success. “The reality in K-12 schooling today is that the majority of what we assess, content, knowledge, and basic skills, is the easiest to assess, not the most important. It’s much more difficult to assess the literacies, skills, and dispositions that are required to succeed and lead a healthy, happy life, especially in a world where answers are everywhere via the technologies we carry in our pockets.” (Richardson) Being in college, there are many things I wished I had learned in high school before being on my own. I wish I had learned how to apply for a loan, how to learn exceptional interview skills, or how to create an outstanding resume. These skills would have carried me a long way, if I had only been taught them.

 

The remaining 6 points of validation that Richardson makes are very relevant as well, and worth the read. Let’s make that elephant in the room into an elephant for learning the BEST way.

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Being an Innovative Learner

Reading The Mindset of an Innovator by George, it gave me a better understanding on what innovation actually is. Being a future educator, there are many things that we will encounter while on our educational journey. Making change, alterations, or transformations to benefit the future is just what an innovator does.

“I am an innovative educator and I will continue to ask ‘what is best for learners.'” -George

Being a student, or just a person in general, I am always looking for ways to improve my personal skills. Improving studying, listening, testing, and comprehension skills is something I’m always striving to improve at. I have been innovative in many ways this semester. For one, my independent learning project. I learned and observed many ways to improve something that I enjoy. Being an innovator, I reached out and explored my resources. I ordered a few books that really gave me a great insight on some useful information towards my ILP. I had no idea that reading something about a hands-on experience could be so informative. The authors and their writing was very descriptive and visual. I didn’t get as confused as I thought I would, as I’m terrible at reading directions and instructions.

After hours and years of learning material, is there a way to unlearn skills? Will Richardson writes The Unlearning Curve, stating there is 10 things we all need to unlearn. Since our brains don’t have a rewind button, how do we do this? “There is no curriculum for unlearning, and, of course, in many ways it’s simply learning to see things differently or to at least be open to it” (Richardson).

I don’t necessarily think I need to unlearn my view and beliefs about teaching and learning, but I do think I need to continue having an open mind learning new things and techniques. Morally, I can think of a few things that I could unlearn. For example, I went to a gas station today to fill up my car. The pump wasn’t working properly so I went into the gas station to tell the employee on shift. “Well it must be your car because we haven’t had any other complaints on it.” My first thought was “geeze lady I was just letting you know, no need to be snotty.” After I left I thought maybe there was another reason to her poor attitude toward me. What if she had a crying baby that kept her up all night? What if she was sick and no one could cover her shift? Maybe she could have just received some disappointing news? I take things personally, which I’m horrible at, but it made me realize that maybe I need to unlearn not to assume or be judgmental subconsciously.

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Overview: ILP

Not very many students can say that their instructor allowed them to explore new knowledge on anything—and be graded on it. Having that choice, I was so excited to further my level of knowledge on something I wanted to do. In the beginning of the semester, I chose refurbishing and design. To break that down, I decided to find old treasures and bring them back to life. When it was time for me to choose something, I wanted to dedicate my time into something that I could benefit from in an everyday world. This past summer, I spent a lot of my free time in my Grandpa’s shop. I built pallet trays, a night stand, storage shelves, a spice rack, a coffee table, and other little projects. I refurbished an old hallway table my grandpa made for my parents’ wedding. In the fall when school started, I purchased a solid wood dresser on a Facebook page and put some elbow grease into it, and turned it into a finishing piece. The feeling of being productive and standing back to think “wow- I did that!” is truly worth all the hard work and time.

With the responsibility of choosing anything to teach ourselves, comes with an overwhelming duty of self-motivation. I underestimated the planning, thinking, and pacing part of this. I motivated myself by the feeling that I had when I finished a project. When I didn’t want to go out into the garage and getting sweaty and dirty, I thought of how hard I had worked last summer, and how I felt about the finished piece. The most difficult part for me was deciding! I can’t express how much time I’ve spent on Pinterest! Since choosing this for my ILP, I’ve definitely had my eyes and ears open. If I overhear someone talking about woodworking, staining, painting products, ideas, thrift stores, and more, I tune in on their conversation (purposely eavesdropping. Shhh!) If I’m browsing for channels on the TV, I typically go to HGTV to see if Flea Market Flip or Fixer Upper to see if I can scrape up any more ideas (especially from the pros Chip and Joanna.)

There are some great ways to incorporate an individual learning project into a classroom. Student interest is a major role in engaging kids. In a flipped classroom, this method could fit right in to the classroom groove. With students having the opportunity to do an ILP, it can teach self-motivation, self-assessment, and accountability.

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Designing Online Visuals

Since I spend a lot of time on Pinterest, I’ve always wondered how people make the cute visuals that catch your eye enough to check out the pin. Since there’s so many of them I figured, “it can’t be that hard, right?” I never put in the effort to try and figure out how to make an eye-catching visual. With the help of my instructor, I got a kick-start to finding out exactly how to make visuals used for everyday and in the classroom. Canva and Piktochart are great websites to get a non-hassle start on personal visual. All through my educational career I’ve used Microsoft Word and Microsoft PowerPoint for assignments and presentations. Through this time, I’ve come to navigate my way around comfortably. In my early college years, I was recommended Prezi. Prezi gives a new twist to boring presentations, and gives you a lot of options as far as design. The focus of Canva and Piktochart is to create high-quality visual aids. I wish I had known about these two websites in high school and in the beginning of my college career. These will be extremely helpful for 3rd teacher references in my classroom, and for field trip slips, fundraisers, beginning of the year classroom policy, posters, and school events.

Jazz Night EXAMPLE
Canva.com

Here is an example that I created using Canva. I really enjoyed the website, it’s easy to navigate and self-explanatory. The only thing I would recommend that the website changed is the free templates. There are some that have a fee to use, along with free ones. I couldn’t find any way to filter just to the free ones, as they were mixed with the ones with the fee. However I did find very flattering designs and graphics as well.

Below is an example from Piktochart. This example is based on my ILP. Signing up for a standard account, all templates offered are free, unless you want to upgrade for more templates with a charging fee. There are plenty of template themes and designs available to edit for the creation you want. Or, you can start from a plain standard template. There are three categories to choose from while making a visual—an infographic (web design), presentation, or printable. You can upload pictures from your computer or you can choose from the graphics offered.

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Education, Uncategorized

Podcasts In the Classroom

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The Odyssey Online

While some movies and books capture a child’s attention, there’s a new way to keep children engaged while expanding their learning experience. This tool is called podcasting. Podcasting is the making of digital broadcasting that is available to download and listen to. This form of technology is making a beneficial impact in classrooms. The Podcasting Host says: “Podcasting offers the opportunity for lecturers to easily broadcast engaging audio content, which students can then listen to at any time and wherever they are.” With many students having extra activities outside of school, it’s tough to make time to sit down, and read a book. Podcasting offers a new way for students to be available to content. This tool also serves as a bonus for missed lectures and class time. Students can stay up to date on lectures and class discussions while being away from the classroom itself. Students who struggle with a disability, or ELL, can better enhance auditory skills, which support reading and writing. “Many students may struggle with reading through mental impairments, such as Dyslexia, and podcasts can be a big aid in this. Podcasts are equally useful in cases where a visual impairment makes traditional learning methods arduous”, adds The Podcast Host.

With podcasts having so many benefits in the classroom, here is a short video on why to incorporate them in the classroom.

“In an Atlantic piece about “the podcast brain,” the writer Tiffanie Wen quoted Emma Rodero, a communications professor at the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, as saying that “listening, unlike looking at a written page, is more active, since the brain has to process the information at the pace it is played.’ My student Roberto offered similar insight: ‘I think it helps me out with my reading since I have to keep a pace up.’” –The Atlantic.

For students with auditory disorders or hearing impairment, this may not be the best solution to enhance learning growth. With proper use and management, it could possibly strengthen or practice auditory skills. Students who struggle with speech and listening skills may also benefit from podcasts. Practice speech therapy with using student interest as a leverage. Recording therapy sessions using podcasts can help show students areas needed to be worked on or practiced. The Speech Knob has some awesome experience with using podcasts in her therapy sessions. Class Tech Tips also supports tips on how to improve listening skills in students while using podcasts.

 

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A Fish, Toddler, and Me

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Pebble Design

Did you know that goldfish have a longer attention span than people? According to Time “The average attention span for the notoriously ill-focused goldfish is nine seconds, but according to a new study from Microsoft Corp., people now generally lose concentration after eight seconds, highlighting the affects of an increasingly digitalized lifestyle on the brain.” I’m not too sure about you, but my attention span is something near the scenario of a toddler in Disneyland. Back in high school, my parents joked that it took me about 3 days to clean my room (literally). I would fold my clothes that had been piled up for about a month and find a piece of paper in my pocket. I would go to throw the paper away and realize I needed a trashcan in my room. At the store, I would buy a cute photo album on sale. When I got home I would dig up pictures to put inside of it. My life is kind of like the mouse in Laura Numeroff’s book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.

Given the experience to keep track of my attention span was very amusing. Writing this now I’ve had distractions with my puppy, boyfriend, laundry, and eating cereal. Doing this experiment has really helped me manage my time. Now that I’m conscious about distractions interfering with my focus, I’m able to veer my attention back on track. One thing I notice is that I tend to zone out at times. I do this when I’m bored, tired, or don’t understand. I zoned out a lot in classes, as a personal tip to avoid this, I would always try to take detailed notes. Fast Company gives us 8 tips of their own on how to improve our attention span. Meditation, exercise, staying hydrated, asking questions, listening to music (classical), drinking tea, taking notes by hand, and chewing gum are some quick ways to improve focus.

My attention online I feel is very uncategorized. If I’m browsing through social media I look at my updated feed, and check out what everyone is up to. However, there are adds, links, posts, articles, and pictures to weave through. While I’m online doing homework, I feel as though I can direct my attention back to what I need to be doing. While I’ve been browsing online, I find that more often than not I’m usually in bed or on the treadmill when I check my social media. My weekdays are typically pretty busy with work and homework, and by that time of day that I’m exercising or relaxing is when I tend to automatically check my accounts of social media.

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Unplug It

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Hey Fran Hey

In this TEDx episode, there are quite a few arising questions while listening to Paul Miller share his experience in unplugging from the internet for a full year. Paul describes his life as being fully involved with technology since 12 years-old. A web designer as a teenager, Paul quickly moved to write about technology as a journalist in his early twenties. Feeling defeated using internet, Paul undergoes an independent study focusing on his experience of 365 days of being internet-free. Leaving the internet gave Paul a sense of freedom, granting him time to decide what he wanted to do, instead of taking the path of least resistance. Leaving the internet also invited deeper interactions with people, instead of giving them anything less than 100% of his full attention.

My first personal experience with internet was when I was 12 or 13 years-old as well. I was in 7th grade, and MySpace was the coolest thing. You could customize your profile, change your background, arrange your top friends (drama llama), add music to your profile, instant message someone—the freedom was endless! A good handful of my classmates had the social media app as well. I did not have internet on my phone, so I would have to log in on my computer—the one with the tower moaning and groaning when you push the power button. My mom having Facebook at the time, I saw that she connected with family, so I asked if she could set an account up for me. I thought it was boring, you couldn’t add a cool background to your profile so I thought it was lame. I only added family members until I was in high school. I didn’t have a phone with internet access until I was a junior in high school, which was in 2012. I was one of the last of my friends to have internet on my phone, so it made me grateful to have that access when I did; when I bought my 1st iPhone with my tax return.

Over the next few years I collected a few more social media apps—Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, and lastly Twitter. While I was engaged with Paul’s story, I couldn’t help but think: how much of a tool do I use technology for? I Google questions I need an answer to, I Pinterest lesson plans and cute holiday decorations and recipes, I access Facebook to stay connected to friends and news; but in all reality, am I scrolling or finding useful resources? Anyone who has a Facebook account knows how easy it is to watch a quick video and then watch another nine videos on auto play. Is technology defeating society in a way? So many technology users are adjusting their time and efforts into charging a battery or finding a signal. Society was blessed with a cordless phone, but now it’s just the same being connected to a charging port. There have been so many times that I have adjusted myself and my acts to “capture” something. I love making memories and keeping them, but why do I need to have technology be a part of my life and my moments I live? BBC News author Zoe Kleinman gently shares her views on technology integrating itself into our everyday lives and some scientific facts.

“Technology is a wonderful thing if we use it properly – and we need to use it properly.”

How can we succeed in our goals and dreams using social media? I have seen social media users use the internet to its fullest potential. Individuals searching for a member and having the post shared thousands of times to deliver the correct data to the right person. Amber alerts issued across the media, GoFundMe organizations for those in need, digital activism campaigns, all of it has made a presence in technology. Without technology, would our relationships and interaction skills change? The DailyMail.com gives a brief overlook of how individuals feel about their significant other using their smartphone and feel to be a “third wheel” in the relationship. To balance our technology use, Paul has a solution. In finding balance, do something in real life, and then tell the internet about it. Paul credits one of his friends for making balance applicable. “If you were 100% online, you would have missed this experience, and if you were still 100% offline, we would have missed it.”

pinterst
Pinterest
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ILP-ish

This past week and a half has been very crazy and abnormal for me. Starting with last week, Wednesday (my birthday), I woke up with a terrible head cold. Not how I want to spend my birthday right? The next day I woke up and was positive I had been hit by an airplane. I couldn’t swallow any water, and my ear had a horrible pounding. Thinking I had an ear infection or possibly strep throat I immediately made a doctor appointment and thankfully got in that day. Now, when I was a kid, I had APD (auditory processing disorder), so I constantly had ear infection after ear infection and eventually had surgery to insert tubes in my ears. From then on, I’ve had some gnarly scar tissue in my ear drum. Anyway, so a common head cold is my worst nightmare. All the fluid from my head gets stuck in my ear canal because my scar tissue swells up and blocks it, causing agonizing pressure. Sounds fun, right? While leaving my appointment, I was prescribed Musinex Decongestant and a steroid nasal spray. I was very consistent with my prescription because I was miserable and felt unbalanced.

From Thursday to Tuesday I tried everything to remove the fluid from my ears. I sat in a steamed bathroom, I jumped up and down with my head tilted, I laid on a hot washcloth, I used my finger as a suction cup to pull pressure out, I held my breath and blew out my nose, NOTHING WORKED! I made an appointment to see a specialist on Tuesday—the ear, nose, and throat doctor. I thought I would go in and have fluid drained from my ear. Oh boy, I was wrong. The doctor looked inside my ear and said “well, it looks like you have little to no fluid.” WHAT?! How could I not hear? I did a pressurized test in both ears and the scan for my right ear was a very high and steep triangle; the left ear scan came back a little bunny hill. Although this is not my exact result, the picture below is very similar to what my pressurized test concluded to.

 

He sent me over to another building called Wyoming Auditory and Hearing, across town to have an auditory screening. Of course, I had no appointment, so after 45 minutes of reading the same brochures about hearing aids in the waiting room they managed to squeeze me in between appointments. I sat in a little box (kind of like a telephone booth), with some big head phones on while the specialist ran auditory tests. I used to do these when I was a kid, so I knew the drill. Raise your right hand if you can hear a beep, raise your left hand if you can hear the word “hot dog”. After 30 minutes of sitting in the telephone booth he handed me a copy of my dialysis to send over to my ENT doctor. When I went back to my first doctor, he went over the results with me. It turns out that my nerve is slightly unattached to my ear drum, making it so that vibrations aren’t getting enough airflow to make the correct or full motion to make a sound—which is why I can’t hear out of my left ear. Apparently, I got it from a virus (I have no clue how), so few medicines are anti-viral. I take 6 pills a day to reduce inflammation and to produce airflow. This is called Sensorineural hearing loss, and patients who wait over a week to be diagnosed have a 40% chance of having permanent hearing loss. I have a follow-up appointment next week in April, and worst case scenario I must have an incision in my eardrum.

Overall, I haven’t been feeling so hot the past 10 days. I’ve been praying for some progress and I’ve had little “pops” in my ear, so that gives me some hope that there is a little amount of airflow. I’ve been avoiding loud sounds and vibrations, such as the car window down and wind. This process has really put me in a frustrating position with my job and with my everyday routines, along with the medicine that causes dizziness and pigheadedness. Although I did not complete 1-2 hours of labor for my ILP, I have been reading and writing down ideas for my plans with my ILP. I’m excited to recover from this and to continue with my ILP process! Hope everyone has a great week with this warm weather coming!

 

Picture CC: Medscape

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Digital Activism: A Way to Get Involved

Social media signs
grace92loh – WordPress.com

What is digital activism? To be exact, Wikipedia says it to be “(also known as web activism, online activism, digital campaigning, digital activism, online organizing, electronic advocacy, cyberactivism, e-campaigning, and e-activism) is the use of electronic communication technologies such as social media, email, and podcasts for various forms of activism to enable faster communication by citizen movements and the delivery of local information to a large audience. Internet technologies are used for cause-related fundraising, community building, lobbying, and organizing.” In other words, it’s an opportunity for teens and students to get involved in Nationwide and Worldwide events and news appropriately. The world is constantly changing, and as educators we encourage students to get involved. Digital activism is a safe, appropriate, and efficient way for students to have a voice.

By exploring digital activism sites, it gives students an educational perspective from students all over the world. With technology and social media expanding rapidly, teen activism on social media gets the word out fast. Although this is no political, electoral, or economical event, this 13-year-old football player is taking a step to make gender an irrelevant factor in sports.

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By using digital activism, it has become more effective in education. The purpose of digital activism is for young learners to be involved online efficiently. Social media users such as Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, Snapchat, and more provide the ability for kids to participate in real-life events. Here are some reliable resources relating to digital activism:

  • Youth Activism Project is a source that promotes success stories and features campaigns by categories.
  • The Shorty Awards  honors and recognizes young individuals who engage an online audience by connecting world change to social media.
  • Change.org is a site that allows a person to start a petition as well as following current petitions.
  • DoSomething.org is a “global movement for good”, offering campaigns, scholarships for getting involved, and inviting students of all ages to participate in the movement towards a better change.

Altogether, digital activism is a movement towards change in the digital world. By spreading awareness online, social media users of all backgrounds can participate in a safe way. Digital activism is connecting people online by sharing and posting. However, with digital activism, digital citizenship should apply. There are some users that are very bullheaded in what they believe- and being online is an easy way to deliver and send miscommunication and misunderstanding. Make change for a better world by being a better person!

 

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