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.


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: 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


    PhotoCC: Isthisyou

  2. Ask yourself, “What is possible?
  3. Build upon what you already know
  4. Embrace and be open to new learning
  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.




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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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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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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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.

My Attention Log

This week, I decided to do a blog on my online attention log/journal. This is something that is used to notice how your attention while you are online. I thought this would be a fun and informational experiment for myself to participate in. Right now I am in the middle of it. It is supposed to be throughout a five day period, and I am only on day three. There were four main things to consider while trying to notice while I was online which were:

  1. What are you thinking?
  2. How are you breathing?
  3. What position is your body in?
  4. What are you feeling? (emotions)

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I did not really think that these questions were pertain to me being on the internet, but when I started to pay attention to them I was really surprised. For the first day of my experiment, I spent 2 hours on my computer doing homework. I was looking up articles, researching video resources, and writing a blog. While doing this, I realized a few things; I kept feeling myself tense up in my shoulders often, I found myself taking deep breaths as more time went on, I started to feel tired pretty easy towards the end of my homework session, and I was pretty drained at the end. I really did not realize how much strain sitting down staring at a computer for a couple of hours put on my body and mind. This made me want to research some healthy and fun ways to take breaks after being online for so long, which will also keep me motivated and relaxed. MaryGrove.edu gave me a few good ideas!

  1. Set your computer aside your device and draw a quick picture
  2. Get up and turn on music–take a dance break!
  3. Stretch and loosen up your muscles
  4. Do a few silent yoga poses.

Throughout my next couple of days of this experiment, I found that very similar things happened to me when I was online for a long amount of time. I could feel tension in my back, it made me feel anxious at times, and I just felt really tired after I was finished. I can see how this can become a major problem, especially if one finds themselves looking at a computer or other devices screen for a long period of time.

As my attention log progresses, I want to try to measure how I feel when I apply the brain breaks that I have found. I want to see if it actually makes a different in how I feel, and if it might prolong my attention span while trying to do homework. I am excited to continue my experiment!

Here is a video on some crazy ways looking at a computer screen can effect your brain!

Paul Miller’s Ted Talk: Quitting the Internet for 1 Year

Do I use technology mindfully? No, in many cases I use technology solely for entertainment and a placement for boredom. Paul Miller must have thought the same thing, because he gave up the internet for a whole year. He explained that his life, ever sense he was 12, was consumed of technology and the internet. He felt overwhelmed in life, while occasionally having a desire to get stuff done! He found himself not being productive online. This I can relate too. If I am not on Facebook checking out gossip, I am stuck on Pinterest pinning about my dream wedding or ideas for my future home. Now some can argue that Pinterest can make you really productive, and I agree, but with me it really is just a time filler. Paul Miller made a great point of which many people are being distracted by the internet, and lose track of what they really want to do in life. I hate to admit it, but I more often then not I get on social media as a procrastination tool for homework. It’s pathetic I know, but I cannot be the only one that does it!


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I found it really interesting what Paul Miller found out on his journey of not using the internet for a year. At first, he realized that he was starting to have deeper conversations with his friends and family. This was interesting to me, because if you think about it the less that is on your mind, the more ideas are able to be filled in. A little later in his journey, Paul found himself a new hobby, which was video games. This necessarily wasn’t a good thing. Paul found himself bored a lot of the time, and realized that video games were a great time filler. Later in his experiment with no internet, he started to feel disconnected with his social circle. This makes sense because the only way I know of events coming up or movies that come out is by the internet. Paul started to feel like he was building up loneliness. That kind of surprised me.

When Paul’s one year without the internet was over, he realized many things. First off, when he got back on the internet, he was very overwhelmed. This is understandable, can you imagine not checking your email for a whole year? Also something that Paul realized after he got back on was that leaving the internet is not going to fix your problems. This was kind of an eye opener for me. I always thought that if someone just eliminated social media and the internet all their problems would be solved. That was not the case although with Paul. What people need to do is find a healthy balance between the two. The internet can be so useful and beneficial in one’s life, but not if it is not used realistically and sparingly.


PhotoCC: Richard Liu

I also realized another important aspect of using the internet while watching this Ted Talk. Multi-tasking is never really the answer. I believe that you truly can never be fully present when trying to be online and trying to do something else. I especially don’t like it when someone is trying to talk to me and they are distracted by their phone. That is why we all need to learn to find a balance.

I really enjoyed this Ted Talk. It made me think of ways that I could balance my life how it should be. Here is the video below, please watch!

ILP: Differentiated Instruction in the Classroom

For the past couple of months, I have been focusing a lot on how I can utilize the information that I am learning for my individualized learning project of differentiated instruction in my future classroom. I have researched many different strategies and ways that would be applicable to students who are struggling in certain areas or topics in my class, and have found many that have made a good impression on me and a few that have not. The ones that I have found that might be best suitable for my teaching style all kind of revolve around trying to build a foundation for leadership. I want my students to feel confident in their own academic abilities, and once that is accomplished anything will be possible for them!



Here are a few of the strategies for teachers that I found came from Education CU-Portland.

  1. Design lessons based on students learning ability
  2. Group students by shared interest, topic, or ability for assignment
  3. Assess students’ learning using formative assessment
  4. Manage the classroom to create a safe and supportive environment

Designing lessons based on students ability is a key factor in keeping a student on task while not falling behind or learning something they already know. As a teacher you want to always try to make sure your student is learning new things constantly, while they understand what they are learning at a level that is going to be most appropriate for them.

I feel that grouping students together so that they all can relate to something when it comes to academics is such a good idea. I think that it puts students in more of a comfortable atmosphere when they are around others who are learning in the same way they are. I also feel that groups should be mixed around also, just so that there is no social gap between students.

I like how number 3 includes formative assessment, because this is a very controversial topic in the education world right now. I believe that formative assessment can be beneficial, only if used appropriately and for the students benefit only. It should not be used to determine student academic success nor students abilities. It can be a very good tool to use for teachers to kind of see where a student is standing, which can provide a foundation for differentiated instruction!

Managing your classroom to make sure that it is a safe and supportive environment can be a hard task if you do not prepare yourself. I haven’t quite experienced handling my own classroom yet, but I have observed many and can see how easily it can get out of control! I don’t really think there is one “right” way to run a classroom, but as a teacher you can always make sure you are supporting your students in any way you can and that they are safe. I am so excited to keep learning about how to create a classroom environment that students will be excited about, while also feeling confident walking out of.

Here is a link below to a website that includes a great map of differentiated instruction!

Building a Foundation


Getting the Message Out There: Digital Activism

Digital Activism: A concept that is so widely used in today’s society, yet one of which I am just starting to learn more about it. According to Mary Joyce, the founder and executive director of the Meta-Activism Project, digital activism is the practice of using digital technology for political and social change. This was the most clear and simple definition that I found, which made most sense to me. In this century, technology has blown up to be one of the main focuses in so many lives around the world, thus including social media. According to EMarketer, nearly one-third of the world will use social networks regularly this year. What?! That is CRAZY!! This is why digital activism is such a hot topic right now.


PhotoCC: Sean MacEntee

Many people are using the internet and social media as tools to organize, create, signal boost, and spread awareness about a multitude of causes. Many of these people, surprisingly, are teens! Teens all around the world are having such a big impact on social activism, because not many of them are going to sit and watch the news, but a huge population of them will be on social media. This creates a giant audience of people to join along with someone who wants to raise awareness for an important situation or cause that they are passionate about. Teens and young adults are changing the world by simple coming together and spreading awareness online! It is so cool how so many people can come together with a common interest, without geography or where they live being an issue. It is almost like creating your own community with a lot of people who have the same beliefs and values as you, without having to move. Here are some tools that digital activists use, that I found on EnResetKnowledge:

  1. Blogs
  2. Micro blogging
  3. Mobile phones
  4. Proxy Servers
  5. Social Media
  6. Online Petitions

I believe that in this day and age, digital activism can be very effective if used appropriately. According too Anna Rees, a number of factors strongly come into play regarding who should get involved and how when regarding digital activism. She explains that people should have computer literacy, internet accessibility, censorship, and mobile campaigns. I think it is wonderful that anyone can voice their opinion online, but it should be within a respectful and appropriate manner. I personally am not one to post a lot on social media, and have honestly never been apart of digital activism. Although I am not involved with it, I think it is great how many people are changing lives and coming together! An example that I thought of was back in 2014, and it was called the Ice Bucket Challenge. This challenge was one that started from one person trying to raise awareness for ALS, and blew up to be a huge event that an enormous amount of people participated in. Celebrities even completed the challenge, and the ALS foundation ended up raising about 115 million dollars because of this one person wanted to make a difference and put on social media. Digital activism does not all have to be about protesting someone or something, it can be about bringing people together to help benefit others lives by helping to raise money or even just hope. I am hoping to be apart of some sort of positive digital activism eventually in my life!

Here is a link to a shorter video on digital activism and its positive effects!  https://youtu.be/AN-kIJI_5wg

What You Will Find by Googling Me

I was kind of excited when I found out one of my school assignments was to Google myself to see what I find. I knew it probably was not going to be much, because I really don’t post on social media a whole lot and I am in no way famous. One thing I learned right off the bat from researching myself was that there are quiet a few Haley Hanks’s out in the world! I did find a few other things surprising too that I did not think would be online. The links that first showed up were my Facebook profile, Twitter profile, Hudl account, and girls basketball stats on Maxpreps from high school. I also found a few interviews I did for newspapers from volleyball and basketball in highs school as well. Then, I put my name in quotes and came up with a page from white pages, images, and a link that said “We found Haley Hanks.” After doing a little browsing around that, I decided to add my middle name. What I found was my school Twitter account for Literacy in the Digital age, and a couple of public records that were from people who were not me, they just had the same name. Here is the link from googling my name! GooglingHaleyHanks


PhotoCC: Corey Harris


PhotoCC: SEO Worldwide

I did not find anything too exciting, but it did surprise me that Google even knew who I was! I realized then how super easy it is to find out about someone online. What my online identity says about me is that I was in sports in high school, I am majoring in Special Education (from my twitter account), I have a Facebook and Twitter account, and that I do not post a whole lot on social media. I usually like to use Facebook for sharing pictures with my friends and family and to keep up with those who I know that live far away.

I honestly am not worried about what a potential employer would find about me on the internet. They might find a few photos of my family during vacations and some silly ones of my brother and I, but other than that there shouldn’t be anything too exciting on there! I was raised to be respectful offline, which I believe has carried over to my online identity. I think that we are all so lucky to have the internet and social media, and should all be taught how to use it appropriately. Many people are not educated on the consequences that behaving badly on the internet can cause, and in many cases job opportunities, friendships, and even some lives can be ruined by a simple post.

Behaving appropriately online is so important, especially in the century we live in. Get educated, and educate those around you!