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Innovation

I had the pleasure of reading an article this week called “The Steep Unlearning Curve” which really got me with this point, “We need to unlearn our fear of putting ourselves and our students “out there” for we’ve proven we can do it in safe, relevant and effective ways.” I am a strong believer in this philosophy. I want to create an environment where students can fail, they can try new ways of doing something and maybe it doesn’t turn out the best but that is simply the best way to learn. So many times people think that failure is it, you’re just done and you don’t understand something. That is quitting, very different than failing. Failing is simply another opportunity to try again, try something new, and to learn. The best ways that I remember learning is though failure, I don’t remember the perfect volcano that went off perfectly in my science class, I remember the one that exploded all over the two students who put too much chemical into the bottle. I will simply remember the failures, and the lessons that go along with it, much more than the successful ones many times. I think that being able to be an innovative educator will open doors for much more failure in classrooms and people not looking down on the work failure. Innovative learning also includes failure as a teacher, maybe a lesson didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to or you didn’t get everyone involved. Being able to fail in any situation is a great life lesson to be able to understand what you actually want out of anything.

As an innovative educator, I think that “The Mindset of an Innovator” really hit the nail on the head with, “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.” I think that connecting learning and making sure people understand exactly why they are learn what their learning and what impact it will have on their lives makes it easier to understand a lessons importance. Innovation really comes into play with this quote because you, as an individual and as a teacher, can make sure you create an environment filled with all the tools that students need to help them succeed. Whether it is in your classroom or the real world you can be confident that your students are innovative thinkers and that you have helped to give them the tools they needed to get there.

The Process, Not the Product

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

This is an elephant in our classrooms according to “9 Elephants in the (Class)Room That Should “Unsettle” Us” by Will Richardson. I could not agree more with this statement and I also want to change this elephant in our classrooms. Unfortunately, students forget so much of what they are told in school, I say what they are told in school because learning is to gain or acquire knowledge by study, experience, or being taught, and if they are not actually understanding what is being taught they are simply not learning. I would like to change this statement in my classroom, make sure that what is being taught is understood by all students in different ways. I would love to create a learning environment through hands-on experiences, student lead projects, and different ways of assessment that measure not how much the students appear to be learning but how much they are actually learning. I think that changing the way schools assess students should be a number one priority if we want to change this elephant in the room. What we are using now is mostly test or homework scores and the fact is that not all students learn that way, in fact few do. Creating an environment where students are evaluated on the process rather than the product would be able to make sure students are learning in school and maintaining what they need to know.

These ideas roll nicely into the other elephant that I would strive to change in my classroom someday, “5. We know that grades, not learning, are the outcomes that students and parents are most interested in.” Changing the minds of students, parents, and even school administrators is a daunting task and one that teacher have been trying to do for years, with little success. Too many times parents and students put so much pressure on grades and that simply isn’t helpful in the classroom or the real world. I think that in order to shift this perspective it goes back to how we evaluate students. Making sure all students are able to learn something in whatever way they are strongest in is essential for students to be and feel successful. I have watched so many peers and students get frustrated when they can’t understand a concept that is being taught one way and one way only. They understand most of the information but the way it is being presented is making them feel as if they are not smart enough. I want to be a teacher who encourages all types of learning, assessments, and intelligence’s in my classroom to minimize elephants in my (class)room.

What My ILP Taught Me

Independent Learning Projects are an interesting concept. The idea that the students get to decide exactly what they learn and how they learn it is very different from what seems to be happening throughout education legislation. In a world that tells students so often exactly what to do step by step over and over again, it’s refreshing to give the students a chance to use their imaginations and find something that they truly enjoy doing.

My personal ILP was photography. I already had a little background in the art form from high school and college classes. The classes I took though were either in black and white or using photoshop. I wanted to find out how to make sure a school didn’t need fancy equipment (minus the cameras) to have a great learning tool to introduce their students to the art and other integrations throughout other subjects. I discovered that it is very doable. Seemingly simple details within the camera and the area your shoot itself makes a big difference for each picture. If you are trying to teach a student how to take a good photo you must make sure they understand the importance of detail.

Throughout the project, I rediscovered my love for photography. I had lost it for a little while within me making excuses on why I couldn’t go out and photograph everything. “You have so much work to do.” “You should be social.” And so on, just different expectations that I think I should fill and I just miss out on doing something that is a huge part of my life. Once I started taking pictures every week it wasn’t hard to go out and do it every week. One of my biggest challenges was watching the tutorials that helped me out, I am a hands-on type of learner and with no one right there to help me out and answer my questions right away was kind of hard. But I think that that helped me grow as a student and teacher. Understanding that sometimes you have to teach yourself is important.

As a teacher, I would love to incorporate ILP’s into a classroom. They could be used for any and all age groups. Younger students would be able to learn more about different areas they might like to learn about and older students will either be able to study many different things or get very specific about one thing that interest them. I believe that ILP’s should be implemented for all schools in all grades.

Failure?

For this week’s tech learning I failed.

Alright, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic but I was so looking forward to using one of the comic book strips for my learning. I tried all the free ones I could get my hands on and for some reason it just was not cooperating with me, no matter how many tutorials I watched or friends I had help me I just could not figure it out. So with that loss under my belt I headed over to Piktochart.

Piktochart was extremely easy to use, lots of tutorials and advice throughout my first advertisement creation. I am very pleased with how it turned out I was just sad I didn’t figure out how to use the comic book websites. That aside I had a really fun time with my advertisement that I ended up creating.

new-piktochart_21770149_15682fc2f6e6cef28f6abaf293b980fc782d2201

The finished product looks very nice and polished; I obviously had help from the companies pre-made templates. While making this on the website the two informational blurbs were centered so obviously I needed to pay more attention to that! I decided to create sort of a mash up of a dream board and a where have you been board. One of my biggest things with my ILP is that I want to travel so much in general and having some photo taking skills will just help me much more in the long run. So when you combine what you have done with what you want to do you have made yourself a little bucket list that you can look back on and see how far you’ve come and where you want to go with it.

In a classroom this would be very beneficial. I like the idea of students being able to show what they’ve learned plus what they want to learn in the future. The way I have my graphic set up is one of many ways they can create something new. Another thing about this would be that all of what they create can be hung up in the classroom for everyone to see, learn, and absorb throughout the year.

I never had to take a class where we created graphic designs, it was an elective offered but I didn’t take it, but man would it be useful. There are just so many different uses for this type of designing, creating a flyer for an event, developing a presentation, or even making a personalized card. These unique ways of conveying how much knowledge you have as an individual can help you get further both as a student and as an individual in whatever field you choose to go into.

Podcasts and Digital Storytelling, Oh My!

“How do we reach more students through our educating?”

This question should be at the front of every educator’s mind. Whether it is the beginning of your teaching career or it is your last week of teaching ever. Making sure all students are engaged in school is a big priority. Digital storytelling and podcasts are different ways of engaging your students.

What is Digital Storytelling? Edudemic.com tells us that it is “the act of using computer-based tools to tell a story.”  This storytelling may include many different area of education, from drama to English and editing skills. Many times, these stories being told have many different aspects to them and involve student collaboration. All of these are incredibly important for student development, from communication to self-esteem building and everything in between. I believe that digital storytelling has a huge part in education classes now and even more in the future. An issue schools/classrooms may run into with this would be funding for cameras and/or film editing equipment. Now some digital storytelling doesn’t require this equipment but having it available to students to create would help immensely in not limiting what they can do. An example of digital storytelling is the one below titled “The Meaning of Life” Now this one is pretty heavy and I wouldn’t expect my students to get to this level but I do think that it is cool how he let people know what his feelings were and he shared them with the world.

http://digitalstorytelling.coe.uh.edu/view_story.cfm?vid=466&otherid=featured&d_title=Featured%20Digital%20Stories

Podcasts are another way to start to get students engaged. I personally don’t enjoy many podcasts but I know many of my classmates have expressed how much they have gotten into them through this assignment alone. I am an extremely visual learner, I have to see something written down in order to really grasp a concept. I understand that this is not how all people learn so I would love to incorporate podcasts into my classroom someday. What I have discovered with podcasts is that I can get into ones more if they have music or sound effects. The Truth is a podcast website that includes a lot of music and sound effects that I really enjoy. Podcasts for the classroom would be a very fun adventure for the students. They could listen and choose what sorts of things they listen to. They could also look into how to create their own which would be a great project that they would really enjoy.

My biggest takeaway from this research is that there are so many different ways to get students involved and that I really need to make sure I don’t just stay in my comfort zone, I need to make sure all intelligence’s are being taught to.

Product Photography

This week I decided to do some research for my Independent Learning Project. I have always been very fascinated with product photography. I think that it just so elegant and there is usually just so much detail that I can see in good product photography. So what is product photography? See the ad in the newspaper that shows the brand-new shoes coming out, the super yummy looking food on menus, or the super cute jewelry on Etsy? That is what product photography is. It is making sure that the product being sold looks its absolute best.

The Daily Egg, a blog that photographers use to communicate what they know, says that there are a few main points to emphasize when using product photography. One of the first tips is about urgency and exclusivity. People want what they can’t have. This motto seems to work for over a majority of people so it tends to sell product. When you add the words, “Only 100 available” “Limited time only” or have a select few celebrities using a product, suddenly it becomes extremely valuable and will sell more than before. Another tip they have is setting. The right setting will be able to sell more than if you were to just have the product jumbled with other things. Think about cars for a minute. Where are most car ads or commercials placed? Yes, some are in the dealership but many are out on the open road, cruising the highway or roughing it in the mountains. You then associate the feeling of freedom with that car and want to obtain it more. What photographers want to do is create an experience, not just a commodity.

So how do I actually become a good product photographer? The YouTube channel smick.co.uk had the tips that I needed to create my own product photography studio. First what I need are some lights, this makes sure you have a constant light source and you can control where the shadows are. Another thing suggested is a cube. The cube softens the light and reduces shadows. Making sure your camera is on a steady surface so your shutter speed has the option to be longer and you can get the best picture possible. There are some more tips that are interesting but I think that these are the ones that are most important. I think that product photography will be a cool challenge for me and will be interesting to see how I do.