Revisiting intuitions of the past…

At a glance, I thought, “1907? A speech by John Dewey from 1907?” how can this be relevant to connected learning in 2017?? After getting through the speech, that was somewhat overwhelming because of the length and language, I am feeling confident that I now understand the importance of this reading. Is it possible that what we as educators are trying to achieve through connected learning is what John Dewey was expressing over 100 years ago? It is! I am drawn to his thought that school and education need to evolve with society. While Dewey wasn’t the first to formulate this thought behind “hands-on” activities, he was right in pursuing it! Like Dewey and the educators before him, I feel that teachers now want to teach their students how to live and to learn. And how do you accomplish this? WE CONNECT! There is this drive to attain social significance. What does this mean? Showing our learners that there are connections between their classroom activities and what is going on in the world outside of school. I’m still a little mind-blown that so many years ago the same ideas were occurring. Thinking back to last week’s reading, I see a lot of relevant connections. “Young people today have the world at their fingertips in ways that were unimaginable just a generation ago” (Connected Learning: an agenda for research and design). This quote from last week’s reading pairs well with this week’s reading. We are embracing the intuitions, of educators, from years ago with the right tools!

After reading this speech I started thinking about my workplace. I teach in a small, rural school district in Chester County. In the Jr. High School there are not many electives available for students; therefore a lot of students are not engaged in some classes like Spanish, French, art and music. As a Spanish teacher, it sometimes feels like my room can be a dumping area. I want to be, and most years I think I win over most, the teacher that breaks the disengagement and shows them how real-world this course can be! Fortunately, all of my students are issued an iPad, so technology helps me help them connect their hobbies and interests to the target language. Another concern/obstacle I observe in the district is a lack of resources/funds in order to establish a makerspace. Some classes, specifically science, are utilizing the idea of a makerspace in their classroom and are doing excellent things with it. I ultimately consider this to be an equity issue, that our district is not as financially well-off as others, but I will address this concern later on. AND ANOTHER thought after finishing this reading was that so many classes are now geared towards testing. And as much as I don’t want to bring this up…isn’t that the direction of society now? So, is society evolving towards test-driven practices or towards equity in creation and invention or both? Are we creating connections between classroom activities and what is happening around us and is what is happening around us testing??… I don’t know…

Okay, that last part was kind of gloomy. I really enjoyed watching John Seely Brown’s speech, The Global One-Room Schoolhouse.  I was really engaged due to the presentation of his knowledge! It was interesting to revisit the one room schoolhouse establishment. The role of the educator, back then, was to act as a coach, coordinator, mentor as well as the one responsible for transferring knowledge. I thinks it’s really important to provide these aids for our students, and we CAN DO all of these roles as long as we stay connected. I am eager to explore John Seely Brown’s idea of “A Global One Room Schoolhouse.” With society evolving and lingering interest, like Harry Potter (referenced by John Seely Brown), these movements can engage and motivate students to produce. So, this whole Harry Potter movement has kids writing, which is fantastic! They are demonstrating that their knowledge is productive. Alongside the Harry Potter movement is the obvious connection to gaming. Kids are creating through a game like Minecraft. One of my colleagues created an assignment using Minecraft. They had just finished a cultural unit about architecture in Spanish-speaking countries, which they then expanded and invented more. They used their knowledge of what ruins looked liked and created more!

So, to end with a thought also brought up in this week’s reading…How do we use the word play? I think that this is worth exploring! When we play we are hooked! We are motivated! We have the drive! So, let’s play! 🙂

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#ED677: The past is helping me create today!

As a young person I had MANY interests. I played 3 different sports, spent a lot of time with friends and focused big time on school. While sports were fun and spending time with friends in and outside of school was the BEST, I found a way to do all of that and give back to my community. In high school, community service was a requirement. I started completing hours here and there just to get it done. I eventually starting volunteering through a mentor/mentee program and loved it! I committed to this program for three years. I was able to help a young child with school work and social skills, all while playing sports and creating! I think seeing the joy in this young child as he got to have one-on-one attention and do all that he loved to do is definitely what piqued my interest in volunteer/community service work.

I continue to reflect upon my community service then. This experience led me to volunteer in Mexico when I studied abroad as well as throughout my four years in college. I always felt so fortunate for my experiences and wanted to help others. My parents and friends always supported me. In fact, I feel like most of volunteer experiences became social because my friends wanted to experience what I talked so much about!

My service to communities all over started as a requirement, but quickly became an interest and passion. I would like to think that eventually I would have put myself out there in different communities in order to help, but I don’t know if I would have done any of this if it weren’t for school. And unfortunately, I have become disconnected from a lot of volunteer opportunities since starting graduate school, working, getting married and having kids.

As a junior high/high school Spanish teacher, I want to  become more involved in the community where I work. There are already programs established with the community that are always seeking volunteers. A goal for the near future is to bring my students into the Hispanic community and volunteer. In our area there are several community centers who need eager and enthusiastic volunteers to help their members with daily routine in their native language. I think an opportunity like this, for me and my students, would be memorable and meaningful!