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Learning Narrative

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

I may still be relatively young in the grand scheme of things, but in my time here on earth I’ve had some experiences that have helped shaped me into who I am today. I continue to have learning experiences everyday that will shape me into who I will become. No matter how big or small these learning experiences are, they are all still so important.

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At a young age I started having these learning experiences. My parents divorced when I was five and it taught me a lot of things. It taught me that both of my parents love me, regardless of if they loved each other. It was the first of many lessons that taught me how to cope with tough times. It also taught me that divorce means two Christmases.

I can remember a day in middle school that has played a big role in how I’ve chosen to live my life since. It may seem like just a simple thing, but it had a great impact on me. We had a basketball game that day and we chose to dress up for school that day. I wore a pair of red chino pants, and it resulted in me being made fun of all day long. I can remember feeling like I just wanted to take them off, so that I could finally stop feeling self conscience about them. I learned from my mom after school that it was a good thing that I wore them, and people throw rocks at things that shine. Plus, I was ahead of the curve because they’re cool now.

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Sports have been a big part of my life ever since I was young. I was brought up in a household that loves football more than pretty much anything. From eighth grade until I graduated high school I played football, basketball, and ran track. While I wouldn’t have traded my experiences playing sports for anything else, it turned out to be a very challenging experience; one that I have learned a lot from. Playing sports obviously takes a lot of work, that was never the hard part. The hard part was the fact that I was never really on very good teams. We never won a whole of games in any sport, and I can remember that being so frustrating to my seventeen and eighteen year old self. It has just taught me that very little in this life comes easy, and even though it can be a grind, we just have to keep pushing.

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After high school, I decided to come to Chadron to play football. I played for two years, and decided that I wanted something different. I’ve always hated the fact that I ‘quit’ playing college football, something that so many kids would love to do, and I didn’t finish it to the end. I can remember that being a very tough decision to make, but ultimately it ended up being the right decision for me. That decision in itself was a learning experience for me. While it may not have ended the way I expected it to, I’m glad that I had the chose to stop doing it after it stopped making me happy. I hope to always remember that in my life, because I know there will be tough decisions and I hope that I always have the courage to step outside of my comfort zone.

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To be completely honest, the year after I stopped playing football was a challenging one; trying to figure out what I wanted for my life, and where I best fit. After I left Chadron I transferred to the University of Oklahoma where I studied for one semester. Between money and the sentence at the beginning of the paragraph, I ended up moving home and working for about year. Like I said, the past year has been a difficult one, and I don’t say that to draw sympathy but to explain why it has been a learning experience. While it has been challenging, I feel that I have grown up a lot. I feel that I have learned a lot of things about myself that never would’ve surfaced, had I not had some tough times. Now, I am taking online classes and coaching high school football, which has been the most rewarding experience of my life.


Digital Citizenship

Digital citizenship is very important for anyone using the internet,but it’s especially important for teachers and their students. As we move further into this society where technology is everywhere, it is crucial for us as teachers to explain what digital citizenship is to our students. Digital citizenship is essentially digital etiquette, the do’s and don’ts when you’re online.

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We preach to our students how important it is to treat others with respect in the real world, but until recently there was no one teaching kids that the same goes when using digital platforms. I think most of us are aware with the term cyberbullying, but do we really understand why it happens? I believe that it is easier for kids to say something mean to someone else while hiding behind a screen. They do not have to be held immediately accountable for the things they say and that can be a scary thing. So, we need to make sure we are teaching our students that it’s never okay to bully anyone in any setting, but also that they should stand up for themselves and others if they witness it happen while they are online. It’s bound to happen, and they need to know they have every right to stand up against the bullying.

I think that cyberbullying is probably the most important take away from researching the term ‘digital citizenship,’ but there are some other takeaways. One article I read explained that it is encouraged for our students to educate others while they’re using technology. Some students will succeed more than others when they are using the internet, or chat rooms, or social media, and those students should help those who struggle. It is important for all of our youth to be digitally literate.

Independent Learning Project

I had already mentioned that I thought it would be cool to incorporate some sort of sports themed project into the classroom, but the more I got to thinking about it, the more I questioned whether or not it would go over well. So, here goes nothing. I know there will be students in my classes that will be interested in sports, I would argue the majority of them have participated in them at some point in their live. So, bringing sports into an English classroom will be good for those kids, and the others will hopefully enjoy the process of making a film.

For my independent learning project, I will have the kids make their own 30 for 30 films based on a book they read. My thought process goes like this. Early in the semester I will bring up this assignment so there is plenty of time to complete it. I will bring five books, not sure what those books will be yet but I’ll figure that out later, that the students can choose from. I’ll let the students pick which book they would like to read, and that will create their own groups. The students will read the books on their own, then work on creating the film together (possibly using a little PLN action as well.)

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Like I said, the kids will have already read the books and now will act out, and record a digital book report that will be presented to the class on presentation day. My main idea of having them create a 30 for 30 turns out to be just a suggestion as they will have all the freedom in the world as to what they want their short film to look like. My thought is that the groups will be made up of 4-6 students, that way all the students will be able to “act” as much or as little as they feel comfortable with.

I think this is a great way to get the kids working together and get them out of their comfort zones. It will be a good way of incorporating all sorts of cool things such as: digital literacy, personal learning networks, reading comprehension, and the ability to do something fun in english class, rather than listening to lectures and reading boring books that the students don’t even understand.

Personal Learning Network

Personal learning networks are very important and they are everywhere. A personal learning network (PLN) is a network made up of people with the same interests and goals. It is used to share information, experiences, or even just fun things with a group of people. The most common PLN these days are achieved online through twitter, blogs, and other sources such as group chats.

Personal learning networks can be useful for people in all types of job fields, but I will be using mine for teaching. I think this can be a great thing for teachers because it allows for collaboration, which could spark new ways to get students excited about school. The beauty of PLNs are that what you contribute to the network is entirely up to you. If someone had a lot of information to provide, they would be able to post it for the others to see. Probably my favorite thing about them is that you could just “lurk” like the video said and essentially steal ideas from other people in your network. I only say this because I believe it would be a great way for a young teachers to get good information. There are also scenarios in which all people in the network could work on projects together. This is important because a lot good can come from teachers brainstorming together.

I think sometimes when we think of technology and all it can do, we forget that it can be used for academics as well. There are a million ways that a teacher could use a personal learning network, but I think one of the best ways would be to allow the students to do it as well. I’ve already explained how beneficial they could be for teachers, but I think they could do the same thing for the students as well. If I were to give the students some sort of class project, and encourage them to work on it for a longer period of time via PLN, the result could be very beneficial and the students would learn a lot in the process.

Passion Based Learning

I think common sense tells us that students learn more when they are engaged and excited about school. Passion based learning is a great way to make sure that your students are indeed engaged and excited about you class, or subject. Finding what our students’ passions are will only help us to reach them.

After reading about passion based learning, I learned that it is important for teachers to understand how to find out what their students’ passions are. One article brought up the fact that we use surveys and questionnaires to learn about the students, as icebreakers, when we should be using them to get to know our students and find out what their passions are. If we can find out the things that our students love, we can tie that into our lesson plans, resulting in our kids being entirely engaged.

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All this talk about passion based learning makes me think about the things I am passionate about. I have always loved sports. I played them for fun as a kid, was a three sport athlete in high school, and played football in college for a couple years. So, like I said, sports have always played a big role in my life, and I know that I will teach kids who I share that passion with. I have a feeling it would be a little difficult to get incorporate sports inside the classroom, but there are some things I think I could do.

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One of the ideas I had was letting my students who are passionate about sports create their own 30/30 film, and present it to their classmates. I will be teaching english, and I think it could be kind of cool for my students to create some sort of short film, like an ESPN 30/30, as sort of a book report over something they have read. I know that not all of my students will be passionate about sports, so I will have to try to find ways to incorporate their passions into class, hopefully resulting more engaged students!

‘Hackschooling’ Reflection

After watching Logan LaPlante’s Ted Talk about hackschooling, I felt excited. I felt excited for the future of education, and also my future as a teacher. I think there are some very important things that don’t get talked about in school, and it’s a shame. LaPlante talks about how the schools are so focused on reading, writing, and arithmetic, that we forget to talk about the most important thing of all; happiness.

In the Ted Talk, LaPlante explains something that Dr. Roger Walsh says and it really stuck with me. He says that much of education is oriented around making a living, rather than making a life. We get so caught up making sure that we are teaching the correct things, and covering all the standards, and playing the traditional rules of school, that we lose track of how important our students’ happiness is. We can do everything right when it comes to teaching, and still fail, in my opinion. If we are not focusing on our students’ happiness and healthiness then, it does not matter what else we are doing in our classrooms because we’ve already failed.

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There is certainly a new wave of education headed our way, and it’s exciting. It’s time to start making things other than reading, writing, and arithmetic a priority. Lets prioritize happiness and healthiness. Let’s prioritize mental health. Let’s teach them how to be good human beings, and not just whatever subject we’re covering at the time. Let’s teach our students life lessons, and things that they will remember in the real world.

I also love the idea of hacking, making, and playing. I said before that there is a wave education headed our way and these are the types of things that are going to be what school is all about. Letting students make things allows them to think outside the box, and forces creativity. I think the assumption is that making things in school is more directed towards elementary schools and younger kids, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Bud Hunt says that making things is essential to the craft of teaching and learning, and that students learn more when they are making something to demonstrate their learning. That sounds like it could be used at any age, for any subject.

Hunt also talks about how the word ‘hacker’ has a negative connotation, and that shouldn’t be the case. When somethings wrong, hackers are the ones to fix it. They are the people you want in your corner when things don’t go as planned because they are willing to adapt, and make things stronger than they once were. I’m not sure if I’d consider myself a hacker, but I would love to teach some students who do!

I watched a Ted Talk titled ” One Thing that All Great Teachers Do.” To be honest, it was a little corny for me but the message was great, and it went along really with all my talk about the future of education. I don’t want to give anything away but, spoiler alert, essentially the main message about great teachers is that they care. Not that they are brilliant, or that they know all the material, but simply that they care. I think all teachers could use that as a reminder from time to time.

What is Digital Literacy?

It is fair to assume that we all know what it means to be ‘literate’, and we all know that ‘digital’ directly correlates to technology. Digital Literacy is a little bit more complicated than just combining those two words. Cornell University defines Digital Literacy as ” the ability to find, evaluate, utilize, share, and create content using information technologies and the internet.”

The idea of Digital Literacy is a newer concept that is being put into school curriculums because technology is the way of the world these days. While it is important for our students to be able to basic things involving technology, like being able to comprehend things they read online, the idea of digital literacy goes a lot further than simply using computers in school. Students already use computers, tablets, and smartphones at school and in their lives at home. In this day and age, you’d be hard pressed to find a student that doesn’t know how to use a search engine to find information. This is the ‘digital’ or ‘technology’ part of the equation. The ‘literacy’ comes into play when that student is trying to decided whether or not a source is reliable. Being able to decipher the things you read on the internet and figure out if they are from a reliable source is already an important skill, and will only become more prevalent and time goes on.

Another example of Digital Literacy is being able to write papers, and do assignments entirely online. Students need to be taught how to write a paper; and then students need to be taught how to write a paper online. There is a difference between the two because there are some variables in the second equation that aren’t in the first. For instance, students need to know their audience. Is this paper going to be read by the teacher, and the teacher only or is it going to be read by my peers as well? Is this paper going out into the public, like a blog, or is this paper going to stay within the class? Students also need to be taught how to use photos and links in their papers, that enhance their work.

There are other aspects to digital literacy as well, one main one being creativity. Teaching digital literacy allows for students to express themselves in nontraditional ways, which helps to generate creativity from our students. We all know that students learn in many different ways, and through teaching digital literacy we can help reach the students that may not learn as well from lectures or more traditional ways of teaching.

Obviously, it is still important to teach our students in ways not using technology, we can’t just cut those things out because they are equally as important; but the fact of the matter is that we live in a world where technology rules almost everything. Technology is only going to get bigger, and take over more than it already has and we would be doing our students a great disservice if we did not prepare them life in a society that depends on technology.