Hey Friends! Ever wanted to learn how to use Pinterest but just couldn't figure it out? Well, worry no longer! Below is a guide to Pinterest and how I use it as a great resource for teaching. Take a look!
The above video is a TED talk given in 2009 by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie- the same woman who was featured in Beyoncé’s video for “Flawless”- if you know it, yes, that one. If you don’t I suggest you watch it here. I have to be honest before I get too far into this post, though. This is not the first time I’ve viewed this TED talk. The first time I watched this, it was in a Black Feminism Gender Studies class in my undergrad studies. I fell in love with this philosophy of looking at the world. Adichie’s main argument to the audience is to move beyond a single understanding and attempt to consider the less obvious, the hidden- multiple stories. Adichie calls this single story “dangerous” because when the same oppressive single stories are told and retold about groups, communities, and people, those groups, communities and people cease to be anything but that single story that gets repeated. When the single story becomes all that you are, you have lost your identity in its completeness and you are robbed of your dignity. “Stereotypes are not untrue, but they are merely incomplete”.
Since having first watched this, I have tried to put Adichie’s call for change into action in my own life. I believe that searching beyond the single story ( for ideas, about people, groups, and more) has made me a better student and person.
Interestingly enough, I had the opportunity to share this- my favorite TED talk of all time by one of my favorite feminists- with my students just two days ago. I am currently in my first semester of clinical practice (student teaching) for my teaching credential and I am teaching two sections of Expository Reading and Writing Course to high school seniors. The reactions of my students were varied in their interest and understanding; but I was moved when, at the end of the talk, some of my students began a genuine round of applause for Adichie’s words. This is just a hopeful picture to me of what students are capable of understanding about our world and how to fix it in its broken places.
It’s been easy for me to re-watch this presentation through the eyes of a (new) teacher, based on several levels. The first: as educators, we can never rest on the single story we seem to have of our students. No child- no person- is just one thing. People are complex and full of depth- even if they’re sixteen and- to your mind- only exist to make 4th period a pill. If you have a single story of a student, move beyond that. What valuable depths are you missing, what dignity are you robbing from your student if you do this?
The second level of application in education I see for this philosophy is the responsibility we have to our students- and as a result, the future world- to increase the number of stories they can tell about experiences not their own. If we build young people up to honor those different to them by looking for the “balance of stories”, we are doing a service to ourselves in the future. If future generations see the balance of stories, human dignity remains intact for more people than our current world. Can you imagine the freedom from hate, from hate speech and violence etc that would be possible if the dangerous single story was eradicated? I’ll leave you with Adichie’s words because she says it much better than I do. “When reject the single story, we regain a type of paradise.” I want to help build that paradise through (hopefully) inspiring those whom I teach.
Adichie, Chimamanda. The Danger of a Single Story. (2009, October7). TED talk. [youtube video]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9Ihs241zeg&list=PLbRLdW37G3oMquOaC-HeUIt6CWk-FzaGp&index=6
The video above is a presentation by Shawn Cornally about a education program that has been developed in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Cornally summarizes the program that teaches students with no curriculum, no doors, no bells, no courses and no tests. The name of the program is BIG and it’s a project based learning program. This program is partnered with traditional classes, at the time of the TED talk, and students work together with a team of advisors including Cornally to develop their classes based on their own interest. In the TED talk, Cornally enumerates several examples of what students have worked on and the courses and standards that connect. Depending on the specific project, we’re talking chemistry to sociology to genetics to english to marketing to programing and more.
The BIG program is the perfect example of necessity being the mother of invention in education. Natural disasters in the form of flooding throughout Cedar Rapids forced the community to rethink how they taught students as a result of a destroyed downtown area. BIG was the eventual result. What makes this program so special, in part, is the fact that this is a community of averages. This is not a wealthy neighborhood but rather a community whose demographics reflect a snapshot of the nation. For example, 48% of the students in Cedar Rapids are eligible for free and reduced lunch.
The goals of BIG were developed by working professionals who were asked what kids need in order to succeed. Here’s what they said: “Kids need to find joy in their work. Fail into something better. Plan their time during the day and lastly, schedule and communicate”. I value what these folks said and I agree that all of these are important ingredients for effective (teaching and) learning. These goals follow my own educational philosophy and, I hope, my own fledgling teaching practice. Student autonomy and interest are most valued as well as real life application of content and relevance.
With all of the discussion of “real life application” and communication, it’s no suprise that technology will have some use in this educational model. However, what is encouraging to me to see, jsut from watching the TED talk, is that the technology that is used in this program is really just tools to operate- the cutting edge factor isn’t the fact that they have technology, but how they use that technology. Google calanders to plan project meetings with advisors, for example. The model is the impressive point here. I see a big future for this style of rethinking education (pun intended).
Source: Cornally, Shawn. "The Tyranny of the Curriculum". (2014, March 14). TED talk. [youtube video]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aldMBgT6u-4&list=PLbRLdW37G3oMquOaC-HeUIt6CWk-FzaGp&index=27
I just finished watching a TED talk titled “Stop Stealing Dreams” where Seth Godin shared with his audience a very simple question to consider: what is school for? In this presentation, Godin wanted his viewers to consider that question get it burned into their heads.
What is school for?
The goal of school, he argues, has not been to educate and inspire the minds of the next generation. School is about teaching obedience; students are taught respect and obedience, how to take standardized tests and fall into line. Godin presents examples of education in the past 150 years where students aren’t being inspired to think, but follow orders. School wasn’t meant to prepare young people to become scholars; “It was to train people to behave, fit in, comply”. Do you know what Horace Mann called the school he founded to teach teachers? He called it the Normal School. This is, of course, because this iteration of education was meant to force students to fit in, so it follows then, that the instructors who force this compliance also must fit in, be compliant, obey.
This factoid shocked me, to be entirely honest. I was not aware of this; learning of it has convinced me to listen genuinely to the suggestions for change in what we say school is for and how we achieve that end.
It shouldn’t be surprising that technology is the foundation for Godin’s suggestions. The end goal of school should be different today than 100 years ago- thanks to the many opportunities available to educators and students, now.
Here are some of the changes Godin wants to normalize in modern education:
Godin presents an alternative to the old model for us as educators: Instead of forcing students to do work. Let’s get them to create art, instead. We can guide them to create art if we destroy the idea that they need to regurgitate facts and the status quo. Why wouldn’t we want our kids to create art, to create something interesting, to figure it out?
Sorry to say, but I don’t have the answer, myself. I personally am still working out the details of what school is for. I know technology will play an integral role, but I think that figuring out this question requires more than a blank promise to use digital resources in the classroom.
Anyway, I want to know what you have to think.
Watch Godin’s talk for yourself then tell me:
what’s school for?
Godin, Seth. “Stop Stealing Dreams”. (2012, October 12). TED talk. [youtube video]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXpbONjV1Jc&list=PLbRLdW37G3oMquOaC-HeUIt6CWk-FzaGp&index=11
In 2012, Daphne Koller presented a TED talk regarding technology based education. Koller’s presentation surrounding the for-profit education company she and a colleague created. This company is Coursera; it is an online based education service that takes college level classes from universities such as Yale and Stanford and distributes them to thousands of students. The scale of class size was multiplied- in one case by 250. To rephrase: a class that is normally capped at 400 at Stanford was offered to 100,000 people in one class. This is higher education at a truly global scale; students from Egypt and San Francisco, CA, Australia and Austin Texas all taking the same class together and collaborating while doing it.
This sounds almost too good to be true! If this is the new reality of higher education, then that opens so many doors. Koller posits that this,-provided there’s a digital device in your hands (smartphone, iPad etc)- this could lead to the possibility of education becoming a basic human right around the world. I can absolutely appreciate this and that type of global change would be fantastic to see. However, locally and at the secondary level, I worry about the state of education if this type of model becomes the prefered norm. If this is what the masses come to prefer, I feel that it will become even harder to develop student relationship and connections. What about students who AREN’T intrinsically motivated to complete work? What about students who are social individuals and do their learning best surrounded by others?
As fantastic as this type of progress is- and it is absolutely an achievement- I genuinely don’t want to see this model pervade high school level education. In higher education where the vast majority of students are adults who are responsible for their own learning anyway, this seems to be a wonderful way to reach more individuals. However, when students at the high school level I still argue the need for physical classrooms with teachers live and present to have truly effective learning. We can use the breakthroughs that have been found as a result of models like coursera to make understanding more accessible for students- ie shorter module lessons, more chances to get “hands on” with the content etc. But we don’t need to ditch the classroom in its current iteration just yet.
Take a look at the video, tell me what you think.
Koller, Daphne. What We’re Learning from Online Education. (2012, August1). TED talk. [youtube video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6FvJ6jMGHU&index=12&list=PLbRLdW37G3oMquOaC-HeUIt6CWk-FzaGp
Of all the articles related to education lately, I find myself agreeing most- almost wholeheartedly, in fact- with the author of “Redefining Teachers with a 21st Century Education ‘Story’” Thom Markham. He presents a portrayal of school today that I agree with and some remedies in order to help repair that portrayal. I might preface my agreement with this portrayal of this school with the disclaimer that the situation is improving but we’re not there yet. In the aftermath of No Child Left Behind, educators and administrators, students and families are working to change the narrative. So, what’s the story?
Markham describes the modern school as a place where “an undertone of resignation, cynicism, or even learned helplessness permeates too many conversations in hallways, staff rooms, and parking lots.” This is a valid assessment- but I reiterate, the outlook is getting brighter! The pendulum in education tends to swing from a ‘hands-on, better citizenship, student-oriented’” model to a “ ‘scientific, strict outcomes, measurable results’ approach to children’s learning”. Additionally, Markham doesn’t merely outline the doom and gloom of our past (and present) but makes suggestions for the future of education. These suggestions include thinking globally, not locally for a look at the end goal. The global youth are our audience as educators; we can be “connected [to a] network of educators trying to rally the world on behalf of youth” everywhere. Also Markham mentions the idea of redefining what “smart” is. This is not a novel idea; the push is no longer for rote memorization of fact after fact, formula after formula. Now, “smart” is defined (according to Markham) by the measure of “grit, resiliency, empathy, curiosity, openness, creativity, and evaluative thinking” an individual possesses. I absolutely support this change in mindset. This shift is a more equitable measure of skill for students of the 21st century- why should we be testing for their ability to remember what they googled last night? Instead we should be “testing” for their ability to critique that article they read on social media, the ability to analyze what they googled last night.
If you wanna take a peek at the original blog post, you can find it here:
“Redefining Teachers with a 21st Century Education ‘Story’”. (2015, February 11). Mind/Shift. [Blog Post] Retrieved from: https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/02/11/redefining-teachers-with-a-21st-century-education-story/
I have just finished reading a guest post on Grant Wiggins’ blog titled A veteran teacher turned coach shadows 2 students for 2 days – a sobering lesson learned. This blog was such an eye opener in some ways and in others, I feel entirely vindicated and validated. For my own personal public education experience, I feel like this shadowing “report” bears no similarity. I may have spent a great deal of time in my seat, but I don’t remember feeling like school was so boring or I spent all my time passively absorbing information. Maybe it’s because I was a nerd (still am!) who genuinely liked school (still do!). Maybe it’s because my teachers were engaging and fun (they were!) and pushed the learning on us students (they did!). My eyes have been opened that not every experience of secondary public education is the same. The anonymous guest writer shared that when shadowing students, she noticed that “High School students are sitting passively and listening during approximately 90% of their classes.” instead of being active participants in their own learning. The changes that this veteran teacher would make were intruiging to me and I feel that I can implement one of them into my own teaching practice. Particularly, the suggestion to make a change for lesson length.
“Offer brief, blitzkrieg-like mini-lessons with engaging, assessment-for-learning-type activities following directly on their heels (e.g. a ten-minute lecture on Whitman’s life and poetry, followed by small-group work in which teams scour new poems of his for the very themes and notions expressed in the lecture, and then share out or perform some of them to the whole group while everyone takes notes on the findings.)”
This falls in line with the idea that students are taking ownership of the content and their own learning while working collaboratively and to understand, not get the perfect answer. I would like to hope that my own practice is beginning to look like this style of learning/teaching.
The school schedule that this guest writer shared is similar to the school where I am placed this semester in my clinical practice (for student teaching). The days are longer because of block scheduling (we use a 4 by 4 model) and students spend their day in only four classes per semester. THe classes last about 90 minutes per period and I know students walk away energized and not done learning some days- other days, they look a little shell shocked as they move from class to class.
This leads into the changes and strategies I want to implement in my own future experience. I mentioned earlier that I felt validated after reading this blog post and I do feel that way. I feel the following changes the veteran teacher would make would benefit all students- block schedule or not. She lists:
This post is in fact sobering and would make any educator wonder how effective this really is in reaching learning goals like “develop critical thinking skills” “analyze texts to make meaning” etc. I feel like this blog will prove to be useful in crafting a classroom and teaching style that benefits student learning and autonomy and plan to hold on to all this great tips for the future.
Check out below to take a read of the article for yourself!
A veteran teacher turned coach shadows 2 students for 2 days – a sobering lesson learned. (2014, October 10). Granted, and…~ thoughts on education by Grant Wiggins. [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://grantwiggins.wordpress.com/2014/10/10/a-veteran-teacher-turned-coach-shadows-2-students-for-2-days-a-sobering-lesson-learned/
I participated in a twitter chat with @literarymaven and some other fantastic educators in a #2ndaryela chat. The educators who contributed are all English Language Arts teachers for grades 7-12. The topics revolved around the holiday season and how we can be inclusive and promote a giving spirit during this time of year. Check out the story for the chat below!
I recently watched a TED talk by Michael Wesch where he presents his vision for the shift in education from producing knowledgeable students to knowledge-able students. In this TED talk, I saw many similarities to what Will Richardson said in his book “Why School” in terms of this future vision of what education should look like. Both of these educators present the “wrongs” of how technology is being utilized in the classroom- where this tool has been misused- and where the path needs to lead.
While I absolutely empathize with Wesch’s un-happy and un-engaged undergraduate students because I felt the same in my some of my own college classes, I believe that I cannot swallow Wesch’s opinion hook, line, and sinker when it comes to how tragic the education system is currently; how poorly digital media is used across the board. I disagree. In demonstrating just how digital media is mis (or under) used in the classroom, Wesch eradicates the examples of the successful and beautiful moments that are already happening. This video is about six years old, which in this moment is a great deal of time, and I believe that time lapse has a role in the disconnect to what I see in classrooms around me.
In the middle of his TED talk, Wesch posits that students need to develop a barrier to the constant barrage of advertisements and trivial information that are hurled at them through tv, social media, news sources etc. This barrier is called critical thinking skills. Perhaps I’m playing into semantics but I for me to agree with Wesch on this topic, I want to replace the word barrier. Rather than having students block out everything in the world going on- or to use Wesch’s metaphor: burning down- around them, my goal would be for students to develop their critical thinking skills in order to use their skill to filter that information which they will consume. I would hope to see students being absolutely picky about which news sources they follow. Which “talking head” reporters and commentators are more biased than others (hint: everyone’s biased). And the list goes on.
As I said earlier, perhaps what I am imagining in terms of students interactions with the (digital) world is not that different from what Wesch put forth in his video. If so, then I could see my students using the media around them- flawed as it is- as a springboard to critique and improve the stories that are being told.
The most valuable statement that I will take away from this video is that we as the educators don’t have all the answers- we don’t need to and we should not even try. Because when we do, we relegate our students to sitting there in the desks, waiting, seeking, for meaning to be dropped on their desks instead of getting up, and making meaning.
If you’d like to watch and make an opinion of your own, take a look below.
Wesch, M. (2010, October 12). From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-able [Video file].
Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeaAHv4UTI8
Recently, I viewed Dr. Dave White’s presentation on the theory he developed Visitors/Residents in relation to digital presence. In this video, Dr. White shares with viewers his perspective on the well-discussed issue of digital presence within the education world. Dr. White’s principle came out of a survey of lifelong students at the university about their habits in terms of digital presence.
The theory that came out of this survey study at first appears to be a dichotomy; there are digital visitors and digital residents. Dr. White cautioned his viewers that the difference between these two groups is more subtle than previous theories of digital competency have been understood. Rather than thinking that capable technology use is based on age, Dr. White argues it’s based on user motivation in using that technology. The Visitor/Resident theory is a continuum and it pinpoints an individual’s comfort level and motivation with technology. The best analogy I found from Dr. White’s presentation to help understand this theory compares digital presence to a toolbox or a social space. The digital visitor is an individual who views technology as a tool from a toolbox to use and discard easily whereas the digital resident sees technology as a ‘space’ in which they can socialize (learn, communicate etc) just as they would do in a physical space.
A digital visitor is very capable of using technology. These individuals are goal focused; their tech use goes only so far as to accomplish a specific goal or task. After leaving the digital realm, the visitor will leave no trace of their previous presence. In contrast, the resident will enter a digital platform with the intent of leaving a persona online after they log off. The digital resident creates an identity that transfers over from their “real” physical presence and experience.
If I had to place myself on the continuum, I would argue that I am fairly divided. However, as I grow as an educator, I am growing towards becoming exclusively a resident. I have maintained a digital presence in my personal life for years through my use of social media. I have used Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and others fairly consistently since creating a profile when I was introduced to them. My use of social media includes communication with others to maintain friendships across short (and not so short) distances and learning new info about topics I’m interested in. I also get the majority of my news over social media through following news organizations. In my personal digital presence, I upload photos, share updates on my life, and share opinions on various news stories. All of these happen through technology- meaning I use the web as a “space” to socialize. For my professional life, however, using digital tools was a new concept for me. For example, I had never thought about the implications of having a twitter dedicated my professional growth and connections. Thanks to the integration of digital literacy into my credential program, this is a major work in progress. I’m learning how to use social media, and technology in general, in ways to benefit my career and my growth as an educator, and most important of all- boost my students’ success. So, though my place on the continuum of visitor/resident in the digital space is split between my presence personally and professionally, I’m working on making that distance smaller because I see great value in being a digital resident.
If you’d like to watch Dr. White’s video, you can take a look here: Visitors/Residents video.
I'm a Teaching Credential Candidate at CSUSM working towards a credential in English and Social Studies/History. Here's where I'll share my thoughts on various articles and videos related to teaching as well as my experiences in the education world.