Saturday, July 30, 2016

Final Reflection and Portfolio

I have had some serious fun in this course. For my final portfolio, I used MS Office Mix to create a narrated video. Hopefully, it's not too long but contains some of my thinking from a journal I kept during the summer to help me organize my thoughts week by week. The creation of the Office Mix was incredibly powerful for me as it really is a lengthy reflection of my thoughts through the summer. I think my work has changed my thinking.    As a critical reader, of the texts,  I found myself continually attempting to draw links or to even to see links between what was happening in class and what was happening in other areas of my research and professional life.  I do not know if it was serendipity, coincidence, or that I simply have begun to see these webs as I work to decompartmentalize my thinking about teaching, learning, and schools.
Lankshear and Knobel really reshaped how I thought about digital literacy and storytelling.  I have been so focused upon digital storytelling as a shared narrative.  Part of this is through the work that I have done with Narrative 4, which is a non-profit organization seeks to, "build a community of empathic global citizens who improve the world through the exchange of personal narratives."

As I read the various readings by Lanksear and Knobel, I began to let go of my myopic view of digital storytelling and broaden my thoughts around it.  In fact my first story critique was of an audio story.  I is a dual or shared narrative which is something I am profoundly interested in.  However, it did not contain any video--it was simply a shared audio narrative.  That in itself was powerful and uncluttered.

I found the idea of literacy as developing a contextualized understand compelling.  To understanding literacy as simply a de-coding competency no longer seems adequate.  We living in increasingly complex and ambiguous contexts which require a deeper understanding and relational ability than we may have required even 20 years ago.  I see increasingly stronger threads in shared experience, collaboration, and the ability to create a shared experience in a digital space.  I believe that this will only become more important in the collapsed digital spaces we live and work in.

I continue to be fascinated by the profound ideas surrounding re-mixing and ownership.  As I watch my students and others deeply engaged in the fanfic movement, I realize that they are creating something new and extending previous creative works not only to entertain themselves, but to share and create community and relationships with others.  Understanding this phenomenon in a social-cultural context allows us to understand how affinity groups are created, and re-created through digital media.  Again, prior to this course, I had not considered how valuable this might be in identity formation and literacy development.

If I had to point to a singular experience in the course which truly changed how I looked at collaboration, it would be the hypothesis flash mob. I was doubtful at the outset.  However, once I got into the 'conversation' I can clearly see multiple ways to use this in classrooms at my school.  I will admit my new staff is skeptical and I may have to launch a hypothesis flash mob of my own to show them how this may work in a very positive way for our high school students.

I appreciated several articles which I thought addressed important elements of creating culture and identity in a digital context.  I completely resonated with the Scott Campbell article, "Being Alone in the Digital Era."  We are so bombarded with input through our digital devices that solitude becomes essential and unplugging becomes a discipline rather than a natural course of daily events.

I mentioned in my Mix presentation how much of this course was influenced by the course of daily events this summer.  It has been such a tumultuous few weeks and the readings which challenged ideas of white privilege and race in America.  I took Shelley Zion's course on Power and Privilege several years ago where intense discussions occurred.  Professor Zion was amazing--but it really forced me far outside my comfort zone.  I found myself outside of my comfort zone again--as it is clear that privilege and race are conversations that we need to continually engage in.  Digital spaces can create spaces where these conversations can happen.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Week Seven Reflection: Not Quite A Wrap

In the movies, the director hollers, "'s a wrap!"

ILT 5340 is not quite a wrap.  However, we are getting close.  Week seven has been wonderful.  I have begun to reflect back on this last seven weeks and I really think that what we have experienced is a mashup between a sprint and a marathon.  I'll work on a visual for that prior to my last reflection. Each week, I have been drawn further into the ideas of literacy and what that looks like in a digital community of learners.  I have reconsidered the ideas of time and space and learned about a vital concept that will become a permanent part of my own research interest: the collapsed context.

This week, I spent all week long working on a new high school concept.  It has been challenging to build a new team with educators who are reluctant adopters of technology and who are largely resistant to change.  This has been hard--because the frustrated leader in my has often found itself inwardly screaming, "For God's sake, take a flipping risk!"

Our kids need to know that taking a risk will often lead to huge rewards.  Our kids need to know that risk taking is an important 21st and 22nd century skill and that the kids coming into our schools today will quite likely be navigating a 22nd century world.  We need to develop that kind of forward thinking risk taking.  We need to stop thinking about today--and tomorrow--and start thinking about what lies just slightly beyond our singular limited experiences.

We need to teach ourselves to dream.  It occurs to me that our stories and the stories we tell need to reach back to the idealism of Dr. King and look forward to a shared experience and collective understand empathy that looks forward to an existence where every story shared is an experience of created and nurtured co-existence.  Digital collapsed contexts allow us to share those experiences across time and space and cultural contexts.  In many ways, they encourage us to dream.  They also encourage us to never forget and to become the curators of multiple shared experiences.  Alton and Philando will become a part of those shared experiences.  Hopefully, we dream about those experiences--and hopefully we can share those experiences across time, across culture, because to be human is to know we are not alone through shared experiences.  "We read to know we are not alone," words by C.S.Lewis--We share our stories to know that we can live better, more fully when we share experience and understanding.

So, my reflection this week is more metaphysical.  But, it is also one which reveals how much the stories we share and tell intersect with my own experiences and the experiences of my children to create something much fuller, much deeper and much more important that my singular story.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Week 7: Reading Response Project Based Learning--The Real Deal

This week, I have been inundated with a host of readings around project based learning.  A key one for me is: The Main Course, Not Dessert How Are Students Reaching 21st Century Goals With 21st Century Project Based Learning? Authors: John Larmer and John R. Mergendoller Buck Institute for Education 2010.

This approach so resonates with me as a school leader working within and around a new model.  In this model we acknowledge that there are focus areas students need within and across subject models to move forward toward higher level thinking.  However, what we really want students to accomplish is higher order thinking around a set of cognitive skills which can be applied in every area of learning and by extension, life.  This has huge ramifications for what our schools and classrooms look like and really requires innovating thinking around design, structures and the role of both teacher and learner in any environment.

This led to a tremendous amount of thinking around how Remi and Lisa have approached this course. The model is intentionally not teacher led--and to some extent, not really teacher guided either.  As I look at the course from a meta-cognitive perspective, what I see is the intentional creation of a community of learners who are situating learning around central spaces of shared creativity, thought and collaboration.  This is SO powerful.

My struggle as a school leader in a 9-12 school is creating this same type of learning within a structure which has an established status quo and centuries long tradition of remaining unchallenged as our public schools have become.  This past week, I spent time with my new staff.  None of them have experienced both the fear and freedom of letting go.  They are well entrenched in traditional classrooms and encouraging them to leave that behind and start thinking less about how they are going to experience teaching and more about how students will experience learning has been a challenge.

For some of them, sadly it will be an impossibility.

For me, it will require diplomacy, the ability to coach consistently, and the patience of a saint.

For our students, it has the potential to engage them at deeper levels of understanding and a richness of collaborative thought that many will find liberating.

Hopefully, they will find a voice like Simon found in the Nilsson article.  They will make a meaning for their experiences which will add to their identities and help them find a place where they truly can make meaningful contributions to their communities.  That is the goal.  I think we have lost sight of what is truly important about teaching--creating those connections and helping our students create them in a context which encourages connection to self and to others.  There is a power in that that we underestimate.  There is a power in empathetic thought and understanding.

This brings me full circle back to change and risk-taking.  All of this requires paradigm changes and a willingness to take a risk.  Remaining in this arena means that there are days when I will get beat up a little bit.  I have to be OK with that--because firmly entrenched systems create barriers which are difficult to break down--even though we see that in order to create equity and access for all of our students, breaking down preconceived notions about learning, teaching, growing, and being is essential.  The only way to do that is to take a risk and simply go for it.

DS 106 Assignment Bank: The Bucket List

This week I went with the bucket list assignment.  My summer theme of change/transformation and risk-taking seems to lend itself quite nicely to this assignment and really, I wanted to go back and really consider a few of my life's choices.  This seemed like a great opportunity to do that.

So, I had a handy-dandy bucket list available.  A few years ago, I stumbled upon on of those ridiculous FaceBook lists.  It was a essentially a bucket list in which recipients were asked to identify the ones they had already completed.  It was a nonsensical grouping of items.  One of the really great things about being on social media for a good length of time is that is can serve as a kind of repository for these types of personal inventories.

So, I went back and, as I recalled, I found my own personal bucket list which I wrote on May 29, 2010.  It seemed like a great idea to take stock now, six years later through this particular assignment which now may become a part of my own digital story.

Here is my list:

 Sit on a balcony in a Tuscan villa drinking a lovely red wine with my husband and watching the stars twinkle in the sky (I have not done this yet--but it is still on my list today)
• Wipe the tears from my eyes as each of my children marries the love of their lives.  (I've done it once and let me tell you, it is a precious moment!)  
• Learn to appreciate a beautiful sunrise. (I am coming to appreciate the peace early morning hours afford me.  There is a goodness in solitude which is hard to find at other times of the day.)
• Learn to speak Italian. (not yet and dropping off the list quickly.  I think at this point in my life, being able to order a gelato in Florence is about as close as I am going to get!)
• Be able to retire knowing that I made a positive difference for at least one other human being as a result of my occupational labors. (I can check this one off.  My career has been extraordinarily rewarding and wondrous!)
• Develop an observable bicep muscle. (Ain't happening--time to drop this one off the list.)
• Attend a performance at the Sydney Opera House.  (This one needs to be moved up on the list!)
• Peer into the eyes of my grandchildren and see a part of me twinkling there. (Done and she's precious and definitely a part of her grammy!)
• Run a marathon  (Time to exit this one off the list!)
• Take a trip on the Orient Express (Does it even exist anymore?)
• Write one really great piece of fiction. (Not the great American Novel—I’d settle for a published short story.) (I still want to do this--and now more than ever since I have developed a real interest in the power of our stories)
• Spend an unlimited amount of time in the Vatican—and it’s archives reading Church Historical documents. (How am I going to pull this one off--I would love to--I just cannot figure out how to make it happen)
• Swim in open water without worrying about the aquatic beasties waiting to make me dinner.  (Time to remove this one from the list.)
• Learn to dance like Ginger Rodgers with my fabulous husband!  (We are two willing, awkward, geeky people.  Do you think we still could pull this off?)
• Worry less, enjoy more, love deeply,  (I am definitely better at this than I was in 2010.  I shall keep on moving in this direction more intentionally.)

I think I may see a great digital story growing out of this list--so I need to keep my mind on it as a possibility for further development.  I was so glad to have found it in my archives which is a great reminder that our social media can actually become a repository of our shared experiences and narratives.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Daily Create 1655: Contrasting Emotions

Republican National Convention in full swing.  I created this as a response to Ted Cruz's great debacle on Wednesday evening.  I could not resist.  Trump is such an easy subject for this daily create!

Week 7: Video Critique "The Power of One"

After spending the last 6 weeks reviewing digital stories, primarily in the form of movies, which are personal and really address the ideas of change and transformation, I have opted to share out a video which has a much more personal connection to me.

Last year, my daughter was inspired to create this video as a result of an assignment she was given at school.  The assignment was intentionally vague and required the students to use literary elements.  These included repetition and creating a motif around a central theme.  The teacher also asked them to not create fiction--but to address an issue or situation that was personal to them.  This was really difficult for my daughter who finally settled upon this very personal narrative.

As I critique her video, it is difficult to separate out the pride of a parent.  So, I have looked primarily at the rubric provided by the teacher and also as a part of this course.  What is immediately apparent to me is that she has developed cohesion in her narrative through the use of her central idea of 'one.'  This element ties everything she says together and draws the elements she has chosen into a singular idea.  I actually like this because I believe it helps the viewer to understand where the emphasis is. Otherwise this becomes a linear plot line with out much to pull it together.

I also hear a clearly developed voice.  She has struggled finding a narrative voice in her writing and it is fascinating to see her develop a clear one in this digital story.  Her voice is strong and passionate.  She has a great idea and concept in which her own voice emerges.

Her use of digital tools is good--the voice/music audio is well balanced and the background music compliments the story.  She deliberately chose an edgy piece of music which has an Asian feel but which is modern.  She was not satisfied with her own voice over but I think it feels authentic and genuine.

She did not use any fancy editing techniques with her photos.  She does have a nice mix of personal and stock photographs which describe her theme.  She might have used smoother transitions more effectively--fading in and out could have been more effective.  I do like the repetition of photos which match up with the audio narrative for emphasis.  That repetition is very effective and really drives the idea and theme home.

Overall, I find this digital narrative to be very effective and think that Lark met the goal of the project as it was assigned.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Week Seven: First Daily Create C64 Yourself

Commodore 64!  I actually had one of these as a kid.  64 pixels.  It's unthinkable but we actually survived this period of history!