Innovation at its finest #DigLit

I’m a bit sad as I write this for this is the last blog post for my class but I am grateful for the semester and all the learning.

As I read the list of articles this week I got a little angry and indignant and I remembered a conversation I had with my mother the other day. She just finished up her last week of student teaching yesterday and the fifth graders she was working with were doing MAPS testing sometime these past couple weeks. I did not realize this, but these kids take the MAPS four times a year. I took them one time a year when I was in middle school, 7th and 8th grade, so that was only twice in my entire life. It was awful doing it only twice and to imagine that these students have to take these ridiculous tests four times a school year probably until they are freshman in high school makes me extremely upset. I think something needs to change about testing and innovation needs to happen. No wonder students don’t want to go to school or find themselves not learning because all the focus is placed on these tests instead of worrying about students actual learning. Teachers get evaluated based on how well their students do on these tests so of course that is where their attention is going to be. Teachers don’t want to lose their jobs and they shouldn’t have to based on a computer generated test. A test is not going to tell anyone how students are really doing. The only standardized test I ever cared about was the ACT and even then I could have predicted my own scores so I wasn’t nervous. Students do not care about these tests, they care about learning. If teachers were given the chance to focus on their students and their students learning then I believe more students would be interested in school and learning.

“I am an innovative educator and I will continue to ask “what is best for learners”.  With this empathetic approach, I will create and design learning experiences with that question as a starting point.” This is a quote from the blog post The Mindset of an Innovator. I truly believe we as educators need to think of our students first. Don’t think of the test, don’t think of the evals, don’t think of the parents, the principal, the other teachers, think of the student first. That’s why I want to be a teacher. I want my students to want to learn. I don’t want them to live life passively just getting through school because that is something you have to do. I want my students to be excited learners who look forward to going to school everyday. We cannot just give up on school and tell our students that is ok that we don’t have to go to school. You are going to need an education and a high school diploma no matter what anyone says. If anything think of it as an accomplishment. Your high school diploma shows the rest of the world that you finished school when others chose to quit. You toughed it out and learned when others just ceased to care. Maybe like me you slept through some classes, but you still passed and that is something to be proud of.

Teachers want to be there and they want their students to want to be there. That is something that doesn’t get expressed in enough in education or in classrooms. That is something we need to change. If we as teachers want to be there and we want our students to be there we need to let them know that. We need to let them know that we want them to learn and we want them to grow.

“We need to unlearn the premise that we know more than our kids, because in many cases, they can now be our teachers as well.” This comes from The Steep Unlearning Curve and it is something I think all teachers including myself struggle with. Teachers sometimes think they know it all because they are the teacher but “We need to unlearn the idea that learning itself is an event. In this day and age, it is a continual process.” Teachers can learn from their students as well because learning doesn’t stop once we are out of school. Learning happens all the time, all around us and learning never stops. Learning does not have a specific age. Teachers can and should learn from their students. I still like to see myself as a giver of knowledge, but I should see my students the same way.

Education in America needs change. It needs to start in the classroom with teachers and students. Teachers need to innovate to show students that learning is more than just memorizing facts. Learning is a life long process and teachers are just giving students the tools to become great learners.

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Daily Create #29

#tdc1571 Write a fictional backstory for a death reported by @DeathMedieval

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Found this in the archives of Twitter and thought it was perfect.

 

Thomas knew he shouldn’t be wondering near the pool. It was cursed. Despite that fact he was drawn to the pool like a moth is drawn to light. He normally wasn’t even allowed to wonder on his own but his tutor had put himself to sleep with a bottle of gin, his mother was dead and his father was too busy with the estate to notice Thomas. He started wondering around the pool because it was so close to his home and the mill where the miller’s daughter worked. She came every morning with her father to work the mill and despite the fact she and Thomas had never spoken he was convinced she loved him. She was tall, thin with a pile of long black hair. It was constantly shimmering as if it was always wet but Thomas liked that about her hair. She was always smiling at him and for some reason her father, the miller never noticed. Thomas sometimes thought he acted like she didn’t exist at all.

It was dark that night in 1311 and Thomas was looking to be alone but when he got to the mill he found the miller’s daughter there crying. He had never spoken to her or touched her but when he saw her there so helpless he went to her and held her. She was soaking wet which Thomas thought was odd and he wondered if she had fallen in the marsh and almost drowned. It would explain her wet and hysterical state. He pulled her up and instead of walking toward the estate with him, she pulled him with her to the marsh’s edge. Out of the trees walked the most beautiful black horse Thomas had ever seen. The horse brayed at the girl and came to her when she stretched out her hand. Thomas stood as in a trance as the girl climbed onto the horses back and held out her hand to Thomas. He climbed up after her and together they rode the horse into the swampy waters never to be seen alive again.

Thomas’s body was found a week later face down in the swampy waters of Horspool. The official report was that he drowned but those that lived there new better. A kelpy haunted those waters and used the illusion of a young girl to lure it’s victims to their death.

A Garden #DigLit

It was not easy thinking of a metaphor for myself as a teacher or what I want my classroom to look like so I started thinking. The first thing that came to mind was Six Word Memoirs. I first read the book I Can’t Keep My Own Secrets: Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous & Obscure (Six-Word Memoirs) when I was in high school and the idea always stuck with me. I always wanted to write my own six word memoir so when I started out this project that’s what I wanted to do. I was going to write a bunch of six word memoirs about me as a learner and how that shaped who I wanted to be as a teacher. That’s not exactly how my project went. I realized that I had to think of a metaphor and write about that which took some of the wind out of my sails. I recouped by deciding to write six word metaphors about me as a teacher and my classroom but as I started writing something else started appearing on the page. First of all it is extremely hard to write six word metaphors. Second of all I am not even sure if what I was writing would even be called metaphors. I took a step back from my work and started thinking about it differently. I looked up some articles about metaphors and then I just started writing. I ended up writing a poem, which is not something I do. I used to love to write and read poetry when I was younger but I have fallen out of that as late. I either like poetry that talks about philosophy/ideas or that talks about experiences. I also really like Shel Silverstein but I digress. I do not usually write poetry and so this is a free verse poem that has six words in each line. I wasn’t sure how I was going to present it because I am terrible with technology. At first I thought I would create a google docs slide show and just publish it to the internet or share it on my blog. I really wanted to set it to music though so I ended up creating an iMovie which was a labor of love. It took me 3 1/2 hours because I am new to iMovie and I had a plan in my head which I was not about to deviate from. After I finished the movie I watched and realized there was quite a few mistakes I hadn’t caught the first time around so I had to go back and edit my photos and change the length of some of the pictures and then I had to change the presentation of the some of the pictures. I never thought it would end but it did and I am very happy with the final result.
I really do like to think of my classroom as a garden that I cultivate and grow. I know a lot of my students will be coming to me as baby plants and I hope to pass them onto their next teachers as fully grown plants that can only keep growing.