Reflection #1 - Exiting the Comfort Zone

What have you learned or gained thus far? Details.
Through the first 4 weeks of this class, I have learned that this type of "flipped-learning" puts me way out of my comfort zone. In my personal educational pursuits I have always been more comfortable with the not-so-creative parts of learning; the reading, the studying, the direct application of what has been learned. I have always been timid when it comes to being creative or sharing something I have created, so I'm certainly trying to leave those feelings behind this semester.

What would you like to learn more about? Why?
I definitely want to learn more about new storytelling platforms. This certainly is a learn-by-doing class, and while we have learned to use various platforms for the purposes of this class, I still want to dig deeper. As an elementary school teacher, we teach our students to read and write through the use of story. I try to engage my students by giving them choice in their learning. A reluctant student may be more engaged and able to tell their story through an alternative to paper and pencil. This type of differentiation via technology is something that interests me.  

Have you left the status-quo behind? Do you feel challenged? Explain.
I definitely feel I have left the status-quo behind. For me, post-grad learning has always been read and respond and move on. Having to create for this class has definitely been a challenge. There is a ton of freedom in this class, something that I am uncomfortable with. Having a strict syllabus with well-defined goals is something I have always been comfortable with. I am going to continue to push myself to take risks and think more freely.

What did you expect coming into this course, and what have you actually received, thus far?
I'm not really sure what I expected coming into this course. I think I expected this course to be heavy in creating content, but focused on more traditional story forms (fictional narratives, etc). I essentially thought we would be using digital platforms to do creative writing. I was hoping to learn about new platforms to excite my students about their own written stories. So far, I have definitely learned about storytelling in general and its connection and importance to the human experience. In fact, the real message I've gathered from this class is that storytelling is the human experience.  

What would you like to learn and do for the second four weeks of our time together?
This is more of a personal goal that I have for the second half of this class. I really want to continue to push aside my own insecurity and take some creative risks. I hope in doing so, I can find a way to help my students do the same during the upcoming school year.

Video/Article Reflections: With whom do you agree or disagree most strongly - Sir Ken Robinson, John Seely Brown, or Henry Jenkins? Explain.
I'll start by saying that this isn't the first time I've seen the Sir Ken Robinson video on my graduate studies. I first saw this video during a class when I was getting my MA in Education. My initial reaction was "WOW! This is so mindblowing", I feel that most of my peers (new to education) had the same reaction. After 5 years in education (and hopefully more experience), I can look back at this video a little more critically. I do agree with Robinson's ideas about changing the factory style of education. We should absolutely be affording kids opportunity to find themselves in their passions as early as possible. However, this has to come with balance. At some point, students need to learn the foundations of reading, writing, and math. Unfortunately, there are very few ways to engage students in learning letter sounds, or syllable types, these are the nitty gritty aspects of learning that just need to be learned. I'm all for this paradigm shift that Robinson is advocating for, but he really doesn't offer up any solutions or suggestions other than "we need a change".

I really enjoyed the John Seely Brown video. The part that intrigued me the most was the story about the surfers from Maui. Whether it is a WoW guild or a group of surfers trying to make it big, collaboration, dedication and competition are the most important factors in the success of their groups. Allowing students to find a group of people who are dedicated and competitive about their passions as they are, will help our students "level up" and become experts in their chosen fields.

Finally, the Jenkins article was an important read. I feel that the younger grades are obviously critical in teaching students foundational skills, something that Jenkins mentions. As students get to the upper elementary, middle school, and high school grades, learning should become more hands on. Using games and simulations to help students get real world experience from a safe environment is extremely important.  

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About Paul Joe

Teacher, Baseball Coach, Bad Golfer, (but mostly) Dog Dad.
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