9 Elephants: Unveiling Education

As one going into education, many times I have thought about what I can do to improve it, what I can do become a good teacher, and really try to expand my knowledge the best I can. I read something today that opened my eyes into a whole new perspective on learning about being a successful educator. That something was 9 Elephants in the Classroom That Should Unsettle Us. In the beginning of this piece of writing, Will Richardson talks about how he has noticed that everyone in the education world that he has come across “elephants” in the classroom. By this he is meaning something that they know isn’t working or is not right, but they don’t talk about it and it’s not acknowledged. The more I thought about it, the more it makes sense.

Have you ever thought about teachers knowing exactly how the students feel in school, or have a pretty good idea? Looking back to grade school and high school to the days that I felt dragged on forever and the lack of “real life” knowledge that was present during all of those 13 years, makes me really wonder how it would be different if one teacher stood up and acknowledged how they knew us students felt. I feel that I probably would have been a little more prepared for my future that’s for sure! Now I am not saying I had a bad education growing up because I didn’t. I just feel that my teachers did what every other teacher is supposed too; do what they are told and do not change the curriculum.

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PhotoCC: Safari Partners

I  decided to choose the three elephants that stuck out to me the most and talk a little bit about them. These three consist of:

  1. We know that most of our students will forget most of the content that they “learn” in school.
  2. We know that we’re not assessing many of the things that really matter for future success.
  3. We know that most of our students are bored and disengaged in school.

It is easy for me to say now, “Well these all make sense we should do something about them right away and fix them.” I don’t think it would be that easy if I was in a teacher’s position, because to be honest I am not a very outspoken person! First off what I think needs to happen is that all school staff should be aware of these elephants, so that they are finally said and brought to the table. Then it is up to the teachers to decide how they are going to turn them around and eliminate them from the list.

As a teacher, what I would do for #1 is try to really put a focus on memorization and understanding with the material that I would be teaching. Many times I see teachers trying to rush through the material just to get it done before the end of the year. I would try to combine lessons so that I could have more time to direct the students into slowing the pace down so they can spend more time on a certain topic. I would also try to make the material more memorable! Create an experiment out of it, take them outside, anything to get them up and moving. For the next elephant I chose, I would really try to relate anything I could academically to real life situations. Students are going to be faced with adult life whether they like it or not. It is CRUCIAL that they are exposed to life scenerios and learn habits that they will need to use when they are on their own. Lastly for number 3, I would bring excitement into the classroom, make sure to make use of brain breaks, and really get to know my students and their personality.

It is easy for me to say all of this because I have not been exposed to the real classroom yet. That is why I am trying to prepare myself now so that I can be as ready and educated as possible when it comes my time to teach!

Are You an Innovator?

When you hear the word innovator, what or who do you think of? Before researching this term, the things that I thought of were inventor, scientist, movie director, and Dr. Phil. I would have never guessed that after my research that I can be one as well! I always thought of it as being someone who has accomplished something great, or one who is making a big difference in the world. I never really thought of it as being something that everyone could do. Something cool about being an innovator is that it is something that you can always do better. This started to get me thinking about how this could correlate to being in education!

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PhotoCC: sopadenieve

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PhotoCC: Anat Sifri

I am going into education simply because I want to help make a positive difference in children’s lives, and help give them tools to become successful in life. Becoming an innovator will really help with doing these things! George Couros wrote a blog post on becoming an innovator. It was really informational and included some great tips on what the journey of becoming an innovator should entail. Some of his tips included:

  1. Recognize obstacles

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    PhotoCC: Isthisyou

  2. Ask yourself, “What is possible?
  3. Build upon what you already know
  4. Embrace and be open to new learning
  5. Ask QUESTIONS
  6. Challenge ideas
  7. Take risks!
  8. Utilize tools available to you
  9. Listen and learn from different perspectives

Couros also said something else that really stood out to me which was, “Isolation is the enemy of education.” This really got me thinking about how true this really is, and how many teachers isolate their students every day. Being in a classroom for 8 hours a day would drain anyone’s energy and participation level. I mean really, who wants to do that? A couple of 15 minute recess breaks really isn’t enough in my opinion. Being an innovator as a teacher would mean to take your students outside, have them experience new things and the material that they are learning about first hand. It also means showing your students what it is like to be an innovator and how fantastic it can be.

Another person who helped show me how to become a successful innovator is Will Richardson. He posted a concept on the internet that was something that all teachers should look at and understand: The Steep Unlearning Curve: The Ten Things We Need to Unlearn. Many people usually are thinking about what they should be learning instead of what they should unlearn. I feel that both are of equal importance. Richardson said in his 21st century teaching post that, “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.” Student’s will not be with teachers and their guardians forever, so it is crucial that they start to develop learning strategies to help them become more independent learners! In my opinion, that is a major concept to understand if you ever want to become an innovative teacher/person.

I really enjoyed reading Richardson’s and Couros’s takes on becoming an innovator, you should check them out too! I have embedded the links below.

Robertson’s

Couros’s

 

Individual Learning Project Benefits?

This semester, I based my individual learning project on differentiated instruction. There were so many different directions and topics I could have chosen, but I really wanted to pick something that would maybe help further my knowledge in the field of study that I am working on. Differentiated instruction was the perfect fit, being that it would be beneficial to me as a future Special Education teacher! It was not as hard as I thought it would be to motivate myself to work on it throughout the semester, which was great because I usually got all of my work done earlier in the week! The downfall of choosing something that I was really interested in learning about was that it was a little harder for me to motivate myself to work on my other homework as well.

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PhotoCC: val_godel

Differentiated instruction is a pretty broad topic. There are so many components that go a long with it, and so many different things to learn about it. The most challenging thing about creating a project out of this, was choosing and narrowing down topics to write and learn about. I decided to learn about how I could use this in the classroom as well as at home. Being a future teacher and aspiring mother, I wanted to give myself a wide range of information that I would be able to use in real life. The best part of creating this project was that I got to use a lot of the information that I learned from research, and in cooperate it into a few of my other classes and other assignments.

I learned a few things about myself during this project.

  1. I did not know half of what I thought I did about individualizing education
  2. Getting my homework done early relieves so much stress–will for sure continue to do so
  3. I am happy with my major
  4. I am more ambitious about experimenting with different technology resources than I thought!

I also learned how to manage my time a lot better. At first, I was used to just doing my homework that was needed to be done, and never really did any thing extra. Having to work on this project throughout the semester while adding onto my other homework, really taught me how to manage my free time a little more conservatively. I am really proud of myself by the way I manage my time now! I feel that I have came a long way from freshman year of college. This project not only taught me a ton about how to adapt learning material to all kinds of learners, but also gave me more confidence and excitement about my future profession.

Graphic/Visual Experimenting

This week I decided to experiment a little bit with graphic and visual aids. I am a very visual learner, so I thought that this would be a really fun thing to try out. Visual and graphic aids can be beneficial in many different scenarios and environments, and can virtually be customized towards anything you want them to be.  The visual aid that I decided to create was a daily planner page on Canvas. I researched many different sites that allowed you to create visuals and graphics, but this one seemed to be the one that would be the easiest to navigate, and more cost effective (I used all free templates). I decided to create a daily planner page because I am very reliant on my personal planner. It is something that I have with me all of the time, and helps keep track of my very busy schedule! When I started to create my page, there were helpful tips and guidelines that showed me where to go and how to get started. I chose a layout, background, and theme. Once those were set up, I decided on a text font and started adding elements such as a to do list and urgent list, notes, and goals. There were so many options, it took me a lot longer than I expected to customize it! Here is the link to my planner page: Canvas

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PhotoCC: mamachu0330

I really loved all of the different options that were available for free to use, while also being pretty easy to navigate around. I feel that the most user friendly websites will for sure become the most successful. Something that excites me about experimenting with graphic and visual aids, is how I will be able to use them in my future classroom. Although there will be students that will not benefit from visual aids, I feel that learning how to make use of them will still be beneficial to many. I think it would be a fun idea to have my students create their own poster, card, or other visual aid on a website, such as Canvas, because it would be a way to express their creativity and individuality. It is also a good way to in cooperate technology into your classroom.

While researching and learning about ways to in cooperate visual aids in the classroom is great, it is also still important to remember to be just as educated in auditory learning as well. Every student is different, and the more ways you learn how to teach and the more resources you are able to use, the higher your confidence will be teaching in the classroom. Here is a Ted Talk that I wanted to share that shows how to teach visual and auditory learning.

Podcasts and Digital Stories

This week, I have been learning about and researching podcasts and digital stories. These are two concepts that I have heard of, but never really knew what they were. I was sure missing out! Something that I learned while browsing was that they would both be great resources to take advantage of in my future classroom. I found this great website, k-12Teacher Staff Development, that gave numerous examples of how podcasts and digital stories would be beneficial in the classroom, as well as some disadvantages. Benefits of podcasts were:

  1. Easy accessible
  2. Archive of lessons provided
  3. Updates
  4. Learning on the go
  5. Creative Learning

Benefits of digital stories:

  1. Research
  2. Resource selection
  3. Script Writing
  4. Collaboration
  5. Creativity expression
  6. Technical skill development

The disadvantages that I found for both podcasts and digital story telling are very similar. Disadvantages included students attention span, the instructors unable to handle the right technology, schools having access to technology, and the students only focusing on the podcast and no other material. I can see where their can be disadvantages in any technology rich learning. There are such wonderful learning experiences available on the internet, but it definitely should be limited so students do not lose sight of the real world.

What surprised me about podcasts and digital stories, is the amount of students who were so interested in what they were being exposed to at school from them, and how many took it home to further their learning on it. I saw on numerous websites for teachers that they were pleasantly surprised with the participation and enthusiasm they saw in their students with podcasts and creating their own digital stories.

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PhotoCC: Sidneywynder

I feel that I would have personally benefited more from digital stories in grade school, but now I feel I am more interested in podcasts. I never would have had the patience to sit and listen to an audio story, but everyone learns different! I feel that in my future classroom I will experiment with both. I think that both of them would be great tools to use for many different areas of academics. I am also a big component of experiential learning as well, so one of my problems I will be learning how to work with will be time management in my classroom! I am excited to experiment more with these.

Here is a video I found on why pod casting can be beneficial in the classroom.