Generation Z, Experience, Reflection

Reflections from the Road

I took a Sketchnoting PD course a few months ago with Sylvia Duckworth and finally got brave enough to share my own creation. I plan to add more details as the course continues, but here's a first draft! 

What have you learned or gained thus far? Details.

The most important gain that I’ve made is creative confidence. If someone had asked me four weeks ago if I was a storyteller, I would have said HECK NO without a moment of hesitation. While I may still be a bit hesitant to share my voice as a storyteller, I now see that to be human is to tell stories. Storytelling is a social activity that has existed since the beginning of time. It is a powerful tool that helps evoke emotion, share history, and build empathy.

Every day, people all over the world overcome monsters, suffer tragedy, experience rebirth, embark on quests, and begin new journeys. From radio ads to billboards and social media posts to online videos, I now see that there are stories playing out all around me at all times.

What would you like to learn more about? Why?

I’ve discovered how little I actually know about Generation Z culture.

This is surprising to me for two reasons:
1. I work with Kindergarten through fifth grade students.
2. I’m a millennial, which is just one generation removed from the Gen Z culture. I often think that these groups are pretty similar until I spend time with family members who are in high school or college.

Source: Future of Storytelling via YouTube

Generation Z culture ties closely with the topic of social media influencers. As discussed in the video above, the members of Generation Z are always connected. For better or for worse, they closely follow YouTubers and other social media influencers for product reviews and trends to follow. They utilize Snapchat and Instagram for communication rather than texting or email.

While I may not fully understand these actions, Generation Z is our future. As an educator, I want to teach in ways that appeal to my students and relate to their personal experiences.

Have you left the status-quo behind? Do you feel challenged? Explain.

I have left the status-quo behind in some ways, but I know I will continue to make progress in the second half of the course. For my first media challenge, I used Canva, a website that I often frequent for grad school projects. I attempted to use a different graphic design website, but I quickly discovered that it had less tools and was less intuitive than Canva. Using a website that I was already familiar with allowed me to focus deeply on the content and quality of the project.

I challenged myself to post my work on Twitter. I was nervous to post my work for a larger audience to see. Twitter is used by many colleagues in my school district, so I knew people would definitely see it. Yikes. Hopefully it will be less terrifying next time.

The level of creativity in the first round of our media challenges has pushed me as well. I found myself thinking, “What a great idea! I wish I had thought of that!” when checking out classmates’ posts.

Moving forward, I am excited for new opportunities to engage in hard fun as I continue to push myself out of my very comfortable comfort zone.

Speaking of hard fun, here's a photo of me hiking up to Angel's Landing in Zion National Park this past week. Don't let the smile fool you...

What did you expect coming into this course, and what have you actually received, thus far?

I expected this course to focus on tools and methods for storytelling. I assumed that we would spend our time analyzing stories and learning new ideas for implementing storytelling in our classrooms and workspaces.

In reality, this course has been a hero’s journey full of serendipity and happy accidents. I have learned a lot from our Hypothesis discussions, specifically the ones where my ideas have been challenged or where I have been asked to defend my ideas. This has pushed me to consider my own beliefs around teaching and learning.

I appreciate the emphasis on the importance of digital literacy and the study of culture, as both topics apply to everyone’s life regardless of age, work setting, or background.

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

In our second four weeks, I would like to explore ways to implement digital storytelling in the classroom, especially with elementary students. I know it can be done, but I’m left wondering the million-dollar question: How and when am I supposed to fit this in to the already packed curriculum?!

I would also like to continue honing my own digital storytelling skills and building confidence as a storyteller. Honestly, this is the aspect of the course that terrified me the most when I read the syllabus. Now, I regularly brainstorm story ideas and bounce them off of my husband. I’m not sure if he is as excited as I am…

Reflect specifically on the ideas/ideals presented in the videos above, and the article we annotated this week. With whom do you agree or disagree most strongly - Sir Ken Robinson, John Seely Brown, or Henry Jenkins? Explain.

I most strongly agreed with John Seely Brown’s viewpoint. His video focused on one question that I ask myself daily as I collaborate with teachers to integrate STEM and design thinking into their classroom: How do you get kids that have curiosity and a questioning disposition?

John Seely Brown understands that learners are bottom-lined oriented, and they want to see measurable improvement. Today’s learners have a desire to be challenged through high order tasks. He brings up the need for affinity groups where learners can collaborate and compete with others who share similar interests.

If educators truly wish to prepare students as future ready learners, we need to listen to Brown’s ideas. We must consider engagement versus compliance and creation versus consumption. Our students are asking for social learning experiences where they have the opportunity to identify and solve real world problems in their own communities. Students want time to risk failure in a supportive environment, build and take things apart, experiment, and explore.

Image Source: @markusspiske via Unsplash
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About Jodi L. Garner

Teacher and learner. Wife and dog mom. Aspiring storyteller. Sometimes creating and always exploring. IL Native. CO Dweller.
  • Longmont, CO