I arrive at the end of this journey feeling more creative than ever before, tired, and in need of a break from my computer. How did I get here?
Let’s start at the beginning…
Act 1: Weeks 1 – 3
Limited awareness, hesitance, and getting out of my own way
My plan for the summer: Put in just enough effort to do well without actually committing to growth or change. (As someone who identifies as a perfectionist far more often than I would like, I’ve never actually accomplished this goal at any point in my life.)
The combination of work, life, and grad school made for an exceptionally difficult start to 2019, and I needed a break.
Honestly, I wanted to quit the course during Week 1. There were too many things that terrified me: Stepping outside of Canvas, the challenges list, and that annoying voice in my mind insisting that I’m not creative enough to do this. After reminding myself that I needed this course to graduate next year, I turned the lights off on my pity party and got to work.
What I liked, and what I learned
How to Sound Smart in Your TEDx Talk
This hilarious video teaches the recipe of a story: Set the context, tell the story, and provide closure. The best storytellers do this with tons of affect.
Story Formula Graphic
I enjoyed this graphic for two reasons. For starters, it includes so many classic and well-known stories. It visually compares the storytelling process across genres and time periods in a way that is easy to follow. Because of this, I think it could be a really powerful resource to use with students. There will be at least two or three stories that each student will be able to connect with.
Media Project #1
I remember thinking that this project was REALLY DIFFICULT.
What story should I tell? Which medium should I use? What if everyone else’s project is wayyy better than mine? What if I don’t belong in this course? Why did I think I could do this?
Because of my doubts, questions, and concerns, I stuck with something safe for my first project. I used Canva, a website that I was very familiar with, to create a storytelling graphic. While I wish that I had pushed myself a little harder in the beginning to try something new, I was proud of what I created, which gave me confidence to try new things later. Baby steps.
Digital Story Samplers
SPENT - SPENT was a huge empathy builder for me. I’ve only ever taught in Title 1 schools, so I have witnessed many families in situations similar to this. It helped me better understand the difficult choices that parents often have to make in order to provide for their children. As the website’s tagline states, “It’s just stuff. Until you don’t have it.”
That Moment When - I thought That Moment When was absolutely hilarious. I loved the concept and shared the website with a few friends who I knew would love it too. It reminded me of an interactive version of Dorm Life, which was released on YouTube eleven years ago and is still one of my favorite web series.
Act 2: Weeks 4 – 6
Preparation, experimentation, and growth
I started to feel more comfortable with course expectations in weeks 4 – 6. Following the “getting out of my own way” theme, I created and shared my first sketchnote as a part of my mid-point reflection. Check out my finished sketchnote at the top of this post! I look forward to looking back at this sketchnote in a few months to see how my sketchnoting skills have advanced and improved.
My biggest challenge during this time period was starting and abandoning 5 different projects before finally landing on an idea for the second media project. This project took me into the Prelinger archives where I found both oil propaganda and World’s Fair exhibits. I had a lot of fun experimenting with contrasting audio and video in a way I had never experienced. When I was finished, I felt like I had stumbled upon a secret that I wasn’t supposed to find… Like a lesson cool version of playing Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd music backwards…
What I liked, and what I learned
I found our Gen Z study to be particularly interesting. As an educator, I am always looking for ways to ensure that my lessons are relevant and relatable for students. This unit helped me to see the increased need for storytelling in schools. As a generation, our students want to share their voices and their experiences. We need to provide opportunities for them to regularly do that.
While looking for things to do in Boulder over the weekend with an out-of-town friend, my husband and I came across Wonder Wonder, an art exhibit and photography studio self-described as “an immersive one-of-a kind experience that is as engaging as it is inspiring.” It sounded interesting, so we decided to check it out!
Looking back, this space totally aligns with Gen Z culture. Wonder Wonder is a curated space where people can create content for their social media pages. I don’t love getting my photo taken (see photo on left for proof), but it was an interesting experience, and I can certainly see the appeal.
I enjoyed chatting with Hethyr and Paul about design thinking in education! While we each hold different positions in our schools, it was fun and insightful to share ideas and ask questions. I loved hearing Paul’s ideas on documenting the creation process and Heather’s thoughts on changing her language to promote design thinking with her teachers. While I began each dialogue feeling nervous (You want me to get online and video chat with strangers for half an hour?! Uhhh, I would rather not...), I always left feeling like I learned so much in such a short amount of time. This dialogue also challenged me to stretch my GarageBand skills as I edited the final product. I was hyperaware of my voice and the number of times I say “ummm” each minute. I also have a newfound respect for podcast hosts and editors. These tedious jobs are not as simple as I had originally imagined.
My trip to San Francisco for IDEO’s Creative Summer Institute lined up perfectly with our design thinking work in class. The main focus of our workshop was storytelling, which was based on Marshall Ganz’s Public Narrative work. After crafting my own Story of Self, my team created our Story of Us and Story of Now to determine our “why” as we move into a yearlong design challenge through IDEO’s Teachers Guild. I am extremely excited to lead my staff in this process of discovering our collective wisdom. Together, we will have many opportunities to build empathy with students and their families. Based on this input, we will work together to define our problems, ideate possible solutions, create prototypes, and gather feedback in order to benefit our whole school community.
Act 3: Weeks 7 – 8
Rededication, final attempts, and mastery…sort of
Somewhere near the end of week 6, I got busy and tired and distracted and all of the other things that sometimes happen when we take on large projects.
For the final media project, I really had to recommit. Because my mind began shifting back into school mode, I knew I wanted to create something to use with students. Like any good teacher, I scoured the internet for something that I could tweak and make my own. I came across an article about digital escape rooms and thought, “How hard can that be?”
Having spent about 18 hours planning the story, writing the script, creating the graphics, setting up and linking Google forms, and embedding it all into a Google site, I now have an answer: REALLY FREAKING HARD.
Well, maybe not hard, but definitely time consuming. My eyes hurt for a few days after submitting that project, but it was worth it. I can’t wait to try my digital escape room out as a fun way to create buy-in, review expectations, and practice with tech tools in our Innovation Lab over the next few weeks.
What I liked, and what I learned
Persuading, marketing, and teaching
The intersection between persuading, marketing, and teaching was challenging to me. Upon first consideration, I struggled to think of the connections and comparisons. By reading my classmate’s thoughts on Hypothesis, I have come to understand that the difference really comes from intention. Persuading and marketing encourages consumers to purchase a good or service, which is a short-term goal. Teaching aims to impart knowledge and wisdom, as well as to encourage students to become creators and problem solvers.
As I read through the Collective Wisdom Field Study, I began thinking of the upcoming school year with excitement. I have the opportunity to collaborate with diverse groups of students, teachers, and district employees on projects throughout the year. Although we come from different backgrounds and experiences, we all share the important responsibility of providing equitable opportunities for all learners in order to equip the for success now and in the future. MIT’s field study reminded me of the power in numbers when it comes to solving complex problems, building civic trust, and sharing leadership.
The End… But Not Really
As I look back on the last eight weeks, the term “hard fun” makes a lot more sense than it did before this course. Although I was pushed and challenged each week, the fun definitely outweighed the frustration. This has been my favorite class thus far, and I look forward to bringing my learning into my school this week as staff reports back for trainings and meetings.
I pushed myself to try new tech, explore new concepts, and expand my understanding of digital storytelling. Obviously, that original "plan" I had for the summer didn't really work out, but in the process I learned...