Generation Z, Hero Journey, Reflection

Mission Possible - Reflection Week 4

What have you learned or gained thus far?
I have learned to trust myself as a storyteller.  I spent the first 3 weeks of this course really doubting my storytelling ability and second-guessing my ideas.  Is this creative enough?  Will I be able to use a new program?  Why are we using Slack?  Did I just post my annotation to myself or the whole group?  Ugh!  But… as the hero often does in a story, I learned... I can overcome and I can do this!  Everyone has a story to tell and it can be shared in a variety of different and engaging ways.  I am excited to try new things with my students and I am constantly thinking about how I can incorporate more choice and student autonomy into what I do with kids.  This class has gotten me to think and to realize the importance of teaching media literacy at an early age.

What would you like to learn more about? Why?
I would like to learn more about the Gen Z culture and what makes them excited as learners.  My own children are Gen Zers and they have grown up as digital natives.  They communicate through different platforms and social media and often learn how to do new things through online platforms.

I don’t want to be “that person” who is always saying, “too much screen time is ruining our children and I can’t do this so I am not going to use this with my students!”

Gif by Erin Krakow

As an educator, I need to understand how to make the most of that screen time and incorporate it into their learning.  Like it or not, we live in a digital world and our kids are going to continue to learn and grow in ways that support our 21st century world.

According to the Forbes article How Generation Z Is Shaping The Change In Education  “this generation is disrupting the way learning happens in higher education. But these differences go beyond just a greater dependence on technology. Gen Z-ers tend to embrace social learning environments, where they can be hands-on and directly involved in the learning process. They expect on-demand services that are available at any time and with low barriers to access.

Have you left the status-quo behind? Do you feel challenged? Explain.
I feel like I have left the status quo behind in some ways.  My mindset has definitely shifted in a positive direction.  I see myself being more persistent, even when things feel difficult.  For my first challenge, I definitely stuck to something within my comfort zone and created a design fiction challenge on Canva.  I wasn’t sure what to expect and found myself really intrigued by what other people were posting while thinking about how to add to my next challenge in terms of storytelling ideas and media involved.  My next steps involve stepping outside of what feels safe, looking at the media I choose to use and exploring how to use digital creation tools that I’m not familiar with.

I certainly feel challenged!  I started this course knowing that it would be way outside of my comfort zone.  My hope coming out these 8 weeks was for growth.  As the hero in our journey, I am going through trials in the hopes that the journey will end with me finding myself more knowledgeable and overcoming my fears to find success.  I played around with Powtoon just to become more familiar with the program and be able to use it with my students.  I used a template to start but hope to compare it to Animaker for my next design challenge.

What did you expect coming into this course, and what have you actually received, thus far?
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this course.  In all honesty, I signed up for it at the last minute to meet an expectation of my program.  I guess I expected it to be more about digital tools and how to use them with my students.  What I have received instead is more knowledge about WHY we should be teaching with digital stories and the shifts that are happening in education that make coming into the digital world so important.  My “Zone of Proximal Development” is ever expanding as the weeks go by.  I see digital storytelling as a social learning platform and understand the power behind the tool.

What would you like to learn and do for the second four weeks of our time together?

As I said earlier, I am interested in learning more about the Gen Z culture; what makes them tick, their expectations about education. I also wouldn’t mind delving a little deeper into the use of social media and what affect social media influencers are having on our children.  I like the format of our class (now that I am becoming better at navigating it).  I am understanding the expectations and how to meet them.  I would like to explore other creation tools and would love resources on how to best use them in an elementary setting.

With whom do you agree or disagree most strongly - Sir Ken Robinson, John Seely Brown, or Henry Jenkins? Explain.

I took something positive away from each of the pieces we looked at this week.  I agree with the idea of curiosity driven learning by John Sealy Brown.  This correlates well with passion projects and problem based learning.  I was also fascinated by Henry Jenkins take on gaming being akin to the scientific process in that players are asked to make their own discoveries and apply that learning in a new context.  They are constantly problem solving in a way that is meaningful and fun for them.

However, Sir Ken Robinson really resonated with me in his video on reforming public education.  The fact that our educational structure still follows that of the one created during the Age of Enlightenment is ridiculous to think about.  Reform is coming slowly but the process is huge.  I agree that we need to be providing aesthetic experiences for our students in all subjects.  Changing the paradigm and promoting divergent thinking is something I think all teachers are aware needs to happen.  The question then becomes how do we find the time and the funding to provide unique and meaningful experiences for all students?

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About Suzie Veldman

I am an elementary school teacher embarking on my first year as a DTL next year. In my free time, I enjoy reading, hiking, traveling and trying new restaurants with my husband and 2 sons.