Dr. Ellington’s classes always amaze me. The introduction of technological sources within the comfort zone of an educational setting makes them applicable to a future career. I tried to begin each week thinking, “How can I apply this to my future classroom?” As I reread my blog posts, I have to pick my first posting as my favorite. I was very candid and honest. It was well received by my classmates. I had seven people comment on it saying that they were in the same situation; a non-traditional student going back for another endorsement or finishing a prolonged degree. I remember writing that first blog and I was scared of looking like a seven year failure, the “old” student, and not having much in common with the other 18-20 year olds taking this course. I was relieve to have the support from fellow classmates.
As I read through the majority of my posts I found a resounding theme of personalization. I tried to put a personal spin on the topics each week because I know that I like to read blogs that give more than just facts. The personal application of new information to a future classroom brought the modules full circle. By describing how each aspect could apply to a classroom demonstrated understanding of the implementation required through each lesson.
After analyzing my posts I feel like my first few weeks are better than my last. I know that adding a block B class at midterms really added to my workload and it affected my posts. My time got divided again and it negatively affected my creativity in writing my blogs. It makes me upset when rereading them. I don’t think they are bad, I just think my sense of humor went out the window because I was focused on the task at hand more than putting my personality into the second half of my posts. The personal application is visible as well as the analysis of the lesson but my personal humor that makes blogs enjoyable to read isn’t present.
In the second week we discussed what digital literacy means. I had to laugh when I looked back at my blog because I honestly had to Wikipedia the term “digital literacy”. After 16 weeks of diving deeper into the term I feel comfortable with the meaning, application, and feel that I have a basis of knowledge to be able to apply it to my life as well as teach the importance of it to others.
Each week I was encouraged to find ways to let students be creative in the classroom. I learned that there needs to be structure but instead of having only one right answer, students need to be able to try possibilities. One theme that I really grasped onto this semester was the term “hacking” and it began with Logan LaPlante’s TED Talk. However, I realized that hacking is not just a term for hijacking someone’s computer and imputing viruses. It is a way of simplifying portions of life. Creativity is the basis of hacking and I tried to embrace this in my course work and in my independent learning project.
As I read through just the comments on each of my blogs I noticed that everyone was encouraging or had constructive criticism with suggestions. I didn’t have any classmate disregard my blogs. The comments were understanding in nature. It helps when we are all going through this together but each person has a unique situation and somehow we all united and became a support system for each other.
I had two obstacles this semester. The first was the establishment of a personal learning network. I struggled with this on Twitter because I didn’t feel like I had the knowledge to contribute to a learning network. I have gained some knowledge and reliable resources by keeping up with the resources they were sharing. However, in my blogs I explained that I was very hesitant in exploring and contributing to a PLN. The comments I received emulated understanding and encouragement by essentially saying, “Just do it. You need to have confidence in your knowledge.” One comment that I really liked was from Angie Temple on March 10, 2015 that said, “I hope you are finding this course to be a source of encouragement and support as you begin to dive in the social media pond. I am not an expert but I hope I will be able to become extremely fluent in social media networking. I would challenge you to think of yourself as a winner and as someone who has much to offer companies big and small.” This encouragement assisted in my pursuit of a stronger PLN.
The second obstacle that I overcame was the exposure to social media and numerous online resources. In the beginning I was resistant to Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, etc. and creating accounts for each one of these resources. I was willing to use them but not to contribute. I like the animosity of not having my name all over the internet but I soon realized that I am in charge of my exposure on the internet. I have a choice whether to have a positive or negative footprint. These thoughts were revisited in my blog on March 17 titled, “Digital Citizenship: The Big Picture” where George Couros “140 Characters of Kindness” and TED Talk titled, “Your Online Life, Permanent as a Tattoo” explained how we are in charge of what represents our name online. We need to be responsible while using online resources; it not only affects us but others who come into contact with what we have posted.
As the semester progressed I noticed that I began to gain confidence in what I was learning through multiple resources. There were reoccurring themes each week that I felt began to become more refined; especially in the final weeks. My favorite week was Module 11 that highlighted Paul Miller’s TED Talk titled “Quitting the Internet for One Year” and Zen Habit’s “Simplify the Internet” article. I feel that a balance is required in education today. Technology must be embraced and utilized but it cannot overwhelm every aspect of teaching. This idea is also true for our personal lives. We need to find the balance of creating lasting relationships, friendships and professional contacts; both face-to-face and online.
A final theme to this semester was passion. I’ve learned that I need to find my passion as a teacher, capitalize on those strengths, work to increase your confidence in areas that I’m not as strong, and inspire others. Each week I was astounded to see the passion in education. Twitter was a great avenue to be connected to successful educators with unimaginable knowledge and experience. I spent hours reading tweets, blogs, and articles associated with education, innovation, and current trends. A future teacher can’t help but leave this semester completely pumped up about education and the possible impact they will have in their future classroom. An excerpt from my blog say, “In the article “25 Ways to Institute Passion-Based Learning in the Classroom” by Saga Briggs I had four major takeaways. (1) Indulge your own passions when you are outside of the classroom. It’s important to take time for yourself so that passion can be displayed to the students, (2) Let students share their passions, (3) Value all passions equally, (4) Weave standards into passion-based learning.” Finding the passion and sources of innovating learning were at the forefront of resounding themes this semester.