Reading in the Digital Age

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Hey y’all! This is somewhat bittersweet as this is the last blog I will be posting for my digital literacy class! I have had so much fun through the course of this class and I really believe it has helped me to become a better learner overall! Thank you for following me on this journey, and while this may be my last post for this class, I have been looking into having a classroom blog when I’m a teacher because I enjoy this platform so much! I definitely think it is an option I want to try out when I do have my own classroom. ūüôā

Now to the actual topic of this blog: Reading in the Digital Age! I chose this as my last “A” assignment because I absolutely LOVE reading! I believe reading is a central aspect to being a successful learner.

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I read several articles regarding this topic, the first being¬†Reading in a Digital Age. It’s crazy to me how many students have never read a magazine or newspaper. Something that really stood out to me in this article was the argument “contemplative thought is endangered.” It seems with the rise of technology we are moving more and more away from reading in print form. I have noticed how dangerous this can be. I especially think we can fall into a hole where we read one article after another that all hold the same view.

The next article I read was The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens.¬†Have you ever accidentally tried to zoom on a piece of paper with your fingers like you do on a tablet? Well, I’ll admit that I have! One of the biggest points in this article was that the reader is somewhat unable to map the journey in their minds. This is actually one of my greatest quarrels with reading in technology form. I¬†hate ebooks. I can’t stand them. I love feeling the books I read and filling them with sticky notes! This article makes clear that there is a difference between reading in print form and technology form. Personally, I think it comes down to preference. My older brother¬†loves reading ebooks on his kindle app, and it is rare to catch him in free moments not on his phone reading. He loves the convenience of the digital format.

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The next three articles I read also brought light to some great information on reading in the digital age:

Reading in a Digital Age

What it means to read in the digital age

Why Digital Reading is No Substitute for Print

I couldn’t agree more that digital reading is no substitute for print. While, as the article stated digital work may be better for short and to the point information, this isn’t the best way to learn. One of my biggest issues with reading through technology is that it has in a way conditioned me to not want to read something if it appears “too long.” I even find myself thinking this with online reading as brief as social media posts. This is definitely something to take into account when looking toward our future classrooms and making sure we are mindful of the readings we assign.

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What are your thoughts on digital reading? Does it belong in the classroom?

Thank you for reading my thoughts and until next time,

Happy Learning!

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9 Elephants in the Classroom

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The elephant in the room. We’ve all heard this, right? The uncomfortable or awkward things or situations we need to address? Well, how about the elephants that exist in the classroom? Ever thought of them? In¬†9 Elephants in the Classroom¬†we learn about some of the elephants that are in the classroom.

I’m only going to talk in depth about a couple of these “elephants,” but I wanted to include them all here in list form for convenience:

  1. We know that most of our students will forget most of the content that they ‚Äúlearn‚ÄĚ in school.
  2. We know that most of our students are bored and disengaged in school.
  3. We know that deep, lasting learning requires conditions that schools and classrooms simply were not built for.
  4. We know that we’re not assessing many of the things that really matter for future success.
  5. We know that grades, not learning, are the outcomes that students and parents are most interested in.
  6. We know that curriculum is just a guess.
  7. We know that separating learning into discrete subjects and time blocks is not the best way to prepare kids for the real world.
  8. We know (I think) that the system of education as currently constructed is not adequately preparing kids for what follows if and when they graduate.
  9. And finally, we know that learning that sticks is usually learned informally, that explicit knowledge accounts for very little of our success in most professions.
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And so this leaves me¬†unsettled. How on earth do I choose two of those? All nine of these “elephants” are definitely important, and absolutely worth more discussion. But, when it really comes down to it, some of these “elephants” leave me more uncomfortable

than others.

Particularly, elephants one and eight are the ones that make me (most?) uncomfortable.

“We know that most of our students will forget most of the content they ‘learn’ in school”

Well isn’t that just a bummer? But it’s true, isn’t it? The only Spanish I remember after three years of taking the course is how to ask if I may go to the bathroom (likely because we had to have this permission to leave the class so I learned this one right off the bat), and I sure as heck can’t tell you what the quadratic formula is anymore (I had to look this up with vague memories because I couldn’t remember what it was called). So, I think my point is made. We forget much of the content we learn, and we are all evidence of this. So, why are we still going about education in this manner? The only argument in my mind I have against this “elephant” is that this content is necessary for students to be able to also learn from the “hidden curriculum” as the learning experiences in the hidden curriculum stick around much longer.

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“We know that the system of education as currently constructed is not adequately preparing kids for what follows if and when they graduate.”

Don’t you agree? I do. How many students do you know that were “set up for failure.” Because I can tell you that that number is too high. What I do know, is that I feel that I am joining the education field at an exciting time. I really believe that education departments around the country are addressing these elephants more and more, and hopefully in my career as a teacher I see some of them completely disappear.

Why are we not preparing students for life after they graduate? Isn’t the point of education to give students the tools to succeed? To create productive members of society? These are two central ideas in my own teaching philosophy, so I will strive to always address this “elephant” in my own classroom.

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As always, thank you for reading my thoughts and until next time,

Happy Learning!

Innovation and Unlearning

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Innovation. Does that word make you squirm a little? You mean, you want me to use… my…¬†imagination? This is such an interesting topic to me and I’m excited to fill y’all in on all of the great information I took in about innovation and unlearning I came in contact with this week!

The article¬†the Mindset of an Innovator¬†fills us in on just how important innovation is, not only in life, but in education as well! The author of this article talks quite a bit about how important it is to be an “innovative educator.” One of my favorite quotes from this article is:

“I will utilize the tools that are available to me today and I will continue to search for new and better ways to continuously grow, develop and share my thinking, while creating and connecting my learning.”

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This. Is. Huge. Educators have to be innovators! This is such an important characteristic to have. We have to see the obstacles that may land in front of us and figure out a way around or

through them.

One of the biggest characteristics of being an innovator, to me, is adaptability, and the understanding that you always have room to improve! This improvement can come in many forms and may include collaboration and challenges, but it is so important to always seek to become a better you!

The next article I viewed was¬†My Generation Essay: Redefining Education. The first sentence in this article was “Education is everything.” And this couldn’t be more true! And I don’t just believe this as a future teacher. Education is all about learning new things, and this is something we spend our entire lives doing, from the day we’re born! This article brought up several great points, even if some are hard to swallow. One of my biggest takeaways from this article is that this generation,¬†my generation, isn’t learning as much as we should be. Kinda a gut punch, huh? As uncomfortable as this statement may be, I totally agree. In fact, sometimes I feel sick when I think about how much of my education has been memorization rather than actual learning. As the author says, “we learn material in preparation for a test, not to really understand it.”

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This is one of the biggest changes I have seen in my education in the past two years. I have been in school systems since 2001, and just in the past couple of years did I actually feel like I was really¬†learning. Did I change anything? Nope, not really…¬†but I saw purpose in what I was learning! I was¬†engaged, I was¬†interested, and I had¬†passion¬†for what I was learning. I truly believe when I really began to embrace my passion for learning is when I actually began to¬†learn and not just¬†memorize. And I truly believe much of the credit for this change in my education is due to a few of my history professors here at CSC. They really emit a true passion for what they are teaching us, and their genuine interest in the topics they are sharing is¬†infectious¬†at times!

Another point that really hit home with me in this article was students are striving for the highest grades, not the best experience. Now, I don’t believe that a student can’t have both, but at times I believe this really applied to my high school education. I was the Valedictorian of my class, but I spent so much time memorizing and striving for perfect scores, I think I really missed out on some of the most valuable years of my life as a learner.

The third article I read was Children Educate Themselves. To me this was a weird topic to wrap my head around. In this school, students are free. All day. Every day. What? They can do what they wish, all day? This is an interesting concept for sure, and one that I would like to look into more.

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What place does freedom have in education? Everyone is sure to have a different response to this question, but it is definitely one I think we should be visiting. While I’m not quite sure how I feel about a school that doesn’t evaluate students, I do think evaluation in the typical school

is something that should be revisited.

Finally, this brings us to¬†Deschooling¬†ourselves. That’s right, you read that correct. This article is a heavy one, and one I think we should all take the time to read. The author talks about the “habits of schooling” that seem to be pounded into our heads throughout our education that stick with us for the long run. I have realized and tried to break some of these habits that I myself have gained.

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A point in this article really stood out to me, and that is the “real world.” I couldn’t tell you how often I hear this phrase. “Welcome to the¬†real world.” “Stay in school as long as possible so you don’t have to join the¬†real world.”¬† This phrase has irritated me for the entirety of my higher education, mainly because I have always felt that it demeans the work college students put in. For the entirety of my college career I have worked, as many college students do! I have always felt that calling life after school the¬†real world¬†was wrong. We shouldn’t separate the stages of life like this, especially when we should all be striving to be lifelong learners!

In all reality, I’m going to be a teacher, so realistically I will be in school my entire working life. So who knows, maybe I’ll be able to avoid the whole¬†real world business after all.

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I know this blog was long but these topics are so so important to me, so thank you for sticking along for the ride!

Until next time,

Happy Learning!

 

ILP: What I’ve Learned

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At the beginning of the semester we were told to choose a Independent Learning Project. We had a totally open choice, we could choose anything! And I mean anything. I was so excited when I saw this assignment. I had several ideas, but ultimately I am so glad that I chose to focus on Photography!

 

 

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Photo by Brittney Allen

Initially I was somewhat concerned about being able to motivate myself to work on this project. We were given a lot of freedom in this project, and while I think freedom is important, I was worry about holding myself accountable throughout the semester and actually putting aside time each week to work on this project. Well it turns out that I impressed myself! I looked forward to learning more about photography each week, and I would motivate myself with this project to finish my other homework! Such as “I can work on my ILP when I finish this paper.”

 

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Photo by Brittney Allen

As the semester went on I got more and more excited about photography, and sometimes I even forgot that I was working on it as part of a class! And if this isn’t evidence that passion based learning¬†really works,¬†I don’t know what is!

 

To me the best part of this project was seeing how much my photography skills have improved! It has been so wonderful to see my progress through the pictures I take! It has been so much fun to self-teach myself so much information!

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It has also been clear to me how important visuals and videos are to me as a learner. Each week I had a certain aspect of my camera I wanted to learn about or technique I wanted to try. Cameras are tricky, and I always immediately sought out a video to learn from. I don’t know what it is, but there is something about long articles with no visuals that really just turns me away. I would so much rather learn in video or visual form!

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I would love to incorporate independent learning in my future classroom. I am not sure quite how I can do this yet, but I do have a few ideas. Since I will be a history teacher, there are many opportunities I will have to incorporate independent learning in my classroom. While it will still have to be history based, I think doing a project where students choose something in history that really interests them and form a project around it would be a great learning and research experience for my students! Does anyone else have any ideas on how to incorporate ILPs in a high school setting?

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I have included some of my favorite pictures from my last few weeks of my ILP throughout this blog. I have loved this opportunity and am truly amazed how much better my photography has got! I had several willing participants over the Thanksgiving holiday to be my “models” so I could try out all of the new techniques and settings I have learned on something other than a statue!

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Photo by Brittney Allen

Thank you all so much for keeping up on my ILP and the encouragement along the way! This project has been a blast for me and I look forward to continuing to learn about photography!

 

 

 

Until next time,

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Photo by Brittney Allen

Happy Learning!

Tech Tools in the Classroom

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Hey everyone! We are in week 13, can you even believe it?! I sure can’t! This semester has flown by and November is already half over! I’m so excited for the future, but I’m getting pretty anxious about my student teaching semester that is now less than two short months away! I am really looking forward to student teaching and I hope I will be able to use some of the neat ideas for the classroom I have learned throughout this Literacy in the Digital Age class.

This week was a neat topic that is very important in education in today’s day and age: technology tools in the classroom. I read lots of great information on the topic of tech tools that can be used in the classroom!

This article reviews two pretty cool online tools: Piktochart and Canva. Piktochart is a great tool to create infographics. Just as the author mentioned trying to create infographics in publisher and PowerPoint, I too have tried to use these programs to create such informative photos. I was excited to find out that Piktochart is a great program that makes creating infographics much easier with templates. The author included a great tutorial video for this program as well as some of the infographics she had made! Canva is similar to Piktochart in that you can create graphics! The graphics the author was able to create on Canva were actually more compelling to me because they were brighter and more eye catching, but I am sure this could be done on Piktochart as well!

I think both of these programs would be useful for classroom projects, especially in a Social Science classroom! Either of these, Piktochart especially, would be great for creating infographics for an Economics project.

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The next site I visited was the Comics in Education site. This site is loaded with neat information but I am going to share my favorite I came across, Social Justice and Global Perspectives. These were some great comics that would be very helpful in the Social Science class. I actually remember reading comics in my high school history class and all of my peers and I always found great joy in these readings. I think comics are a great way to engage students and grab their interests. If you are interested in creating comics for your own use, Take 5: Comic Book/Strip Creation Tools  reviews several excellent tools! If that last article left you wanting more here are 20 free tools for making comics and cartoons for teaching and learning.

After learning about all of these amazing tools, I decided to try my own hand at the Piktochart program!

I made this graphic for a basic explanation of one of my favorite things I have learned about photography from my ILP: Aperture! If you are interested in learning more about Aperture Priority Mode, swing back to my ILP: Digging Deep in Photography Week 4 blog!

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This was very simple to make and only took me a few minutes! I know this is not too descriptive, but this experiment really allowed me to get comfortable with this website! I am excited to learn more about all of these tools and try them out in the future!

 

Thank you for reading my thoughts on this topic and until next time,

Happy Learning!

 

Podcasts and Digital Storytelling

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Podcasts are a huge part of my daily life. I love podcasts, I listen to one while I go on a walk with my dog every morning and I also listen to a podcast while I drive, as I commute around an hour every day. The podcast I listen to on a daily basis is the Jocko Podcast which is put on by a retired Navy Seal, Jocko Willink. Jocko talks a lot about military history and leadership, and I really enjoy his podcast.

In What Teens are Learning From ‘Serial’ and Other Podcasts¬†we learn about how much of a difference integrating podcasts into the classroom can make. In fact, the teacher found that integrating a podcast into the classroom encouraged more participation from students.

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Podcasts are huge to me. I love to learn while I’m doing tedious daily things such as walking, driving, or cleaning. I love that teachers are beginning to incorporate podcasts into their classes. I observed a classroom last semester where the teacher actually assigned listening to podcasts as homework for his class. I love this idea and I would like to use it in my future classroom. In the article, the teacher talks about having students listen to the podcasts during class time, but I would fear that this may interfere with valuable time I have with my students. Additionally, I think assigning something fun like podcasts as homework would be a great way to get students more involved!

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While I am very in-tuned with podcasts, digital storytelling is a somewhat new concept to me. In¬†Teacher’s Guide to Digital Storytelling¬†a great definition of digital storytelling is given, “the act of using computer-based tools to tell a story.” My favorite point made in this article is that digital storytelling assists individuals in “mastering the craft of argumentative analysis.” This is huge in the social science classroom and will inevitably be a great part of my future classroom. Interestingly, this article also lays out some¬† great lesson ideas that incorporate Digital Storytelling. My favorite idea from this list is to create a “Historical Slide Show.” This would be a great use of digital storytelling in a history or social science classroom.

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All of this information is brought together in a way in Meaningful Stories: How Teens Connect with StoryCorps and Podcasts. StoryCorps is¬†a great program that troubled schools adopt that assist in learning and youth development. Through this program, students are exposed to and learn about a variety of individuals path to success. Students are even able to participate in one-on-one interviews! According to the article, students participate in “honest conversations about what matters.” I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds like a fantastic learning environment. A very cool aspect of StoryCorps is that students are able to tell their story, what is important in their life and how it has affected them. One of the coolest aspects of this program is the StoryCorps app, which is free and gets students involved by offering sample interview questions and tips for effective interviews! I downloaded this app for myself and I am excited to explore on it! I will definitely add this article to my “future classroom” folder as a fun, non-traditional topic to go over with my students!

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Digital storytelling and podcasts are great tools for the classroom, whether students are listening or creating. I look forward to finding more podcasts to incorporate into my life! I have listened to podcasts for nearly three years now and honestly, I really wish I had been introduced to them sooner! I used to love listening to music, and don’t get me wrong, I still do! However, I now view time I spend doing a mindless task and not listening to a podcast as a wasted learning opportunity! I hope podcasts are something I can pass on to my students. I used to think podcasts were only for older folks but this is simply not true! In fact, there is podcasts for children as young as five or six! It is all about knowing what type of podcast to look for!

Thanks for reading my thoughts and until next time,

Happy Learning!