Romeo Was an Idiot

Tech Task #6 said that we had to use one of the tools on the list to create a story.  My intention was to use Sketchcast, but the site wouldn’t work for me.  I tried out a few of the others, but they weren’t really doing it for me.  In the end I had simply decided to upload my own artwork onto ToonDoo to make a comic, but then I realized…that’s ridiculous.  I can just put the pictures right on my blog.

I sketched this out on paper, scanned it into my computer, and used my tablet for inking/colouring/text, so it is digital artwork.  I don’t know if that counts, but here we are in any case.

Romeo Was an Idiot…

…And Juliet Could Do So Much Better.

A.k.a. It’s Not Always the Prince Who Sweeps You Off Your Feet.

A.k.a. Don’t Trust Men in Obnoxious Yellow Capes.  (Except Robin.  Robin is Okay.)

A.k.a. I Have at least Ten Other Titles, But I Will Spare You (This Time).

(For the record, though, I don’t advocate kidnapping as the way to anyone’s heart.  Flowers probably would not actually go over very well in that situation.)

(Also, I coloured it that way on purpose; I was not just being lazy.  I like the way it looks.  So.)

….Anyways!

I think that storytelling in any capacity is invaluable in the classroom, whether it uses digital resources or not.  I have heard it said, and experienced for myself that it is true, that the best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else.  Storytelling is a way of teaching – certainly it’s one of the methods I most prefer.  Often when I set up a lesson or a presentation, I design it like an act in a play.  There’s room for audience input, obviously, but overall I know my lines and I know the direction I want to go in.

That’s storytelling: knowing who your audience is, what you want to say to them, how you want to say it, and what medium you want to use.  I believe that everyone should be taught the ability to tell a coherent story.  After all, from sports to politics to schools to churches to our groups of friends, we are surrounded by tales and accounts and anecdotes on all sides.

As teachers, our job is to prepare children for the world outside the classroom.  Considering the world’s trend towards digital media, then, it is quite obvious how important it is to teach them digital storytelling.

….And that’s all I have to say about that.  Have an awesome day/evening/week/etc.!

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Motivation

Many of my classmates in education seem to be anxious over this one common thing:  How do we motivate our students?  How do we keep them interested?  How do we inspire them?  How do we get them excited about learning?

Last semester in ECS 100, whenever someone asked a question like that, the response was always the same.  “When you find out, let me know.”

Helpful, no?

….

…No.

But I can hardly blame them.  What I’ve gleaned during my almost-year in this program is that there isn’t an answer to that problem because – and here’s the shocking part – we are not robots.  We are not the Borg.  We are individual people, which means that the techniques that work for one teacher in one classroom in one year may not work for another teacher, or even for the same teacher with a different group of students.

I’ve come to realize that when we ask our professors how we are going to keep our students interested, we are falling into the trap of thinking that we are no longer students.  We are still students.  In fact, we’re entering a profession where we have to be even better students than our students, because in order to do well at our jobs we need to learn quickly and efficiently all the time and then, every single day, prove and apply what we learned.  We need to sit up and pay attention, which I will be the first to admit I don’t always do.

I think that, somewhere in our heads, we all already have some kind of idea of how to answer that question.  How do you keep students interested?  Well…what kept you motivated?  What made you stop chatting with your friends and pay attention to what the teacher was saying?  What bored you?  What made you turn away or fall asleep? We’ve been witnesses to this profession our entire lives.  Now we just have to put it all together.

For instance, when I was in the eighth grade I made a powerpoint presentation on the country of Ireland.  It was a terrible presentation – half an hour long or something ridiculous like that.  The only advice my teacher gave me afterwards was to not put anything in a presentation that I wouldn’t be interested in hearing about from someone else’s presentation.  That is something that stuck with me, and which I still use as a personal standard to measure my presentations and lessons against.  If someone else were saying that, would I be interested, or would I silently be praying for the building to collapse on their head?

It’s not always effective.  Not everyone is like me.  I’m sometimes interested in some pretty obscure things, or subjects that are boring or strange to most people.  But until mankind comes up with a way to read minds, it’s something that keeps my wandering brain in check…most of the time.

There is no absolute answer – nothing that says, “If you do this, your students are guaranteed to be interested.”  Professors can show you how to work out the problem, here and there, but they can’t fix it for you, because if you’re going to be a teacher, you’ve got to be a student, too.  This problem of how to keep your kids interested and motivated – that’s your project; your pop quiz; your final exam.  And really, when was the last time a teacher wrote a test for you?

Priceless: Mexico

I was having a difficult time trying to think of an idea for this video that hadn’t already been done – weddings and graduations aren’t really my cup of tea, as these things go.  And then I realized I was idiot, because I had the perfect thing sitting right under my nose the entire time.

In the spring of 2010, my Christian Ethics teacher took some of my classmates and I (about twenty-five of us in total) on a mission trip to Vicente Guerrero, a small city of about 20, 000 people on the peninsula off the west coast of Mexico.  We spent about a week there – ten days in total, including travel – building a house for an impoverished family of four: Gorge and Angelica, and their young son and daughter, who were named after their father and mother, respectively.  We weren’t there for long, but that trip was one of the most eye-opening, astounding, disturbing, wonderful experiences of my life – it was really and truly priceless.

(I have been informed that Mrs. Therese Durston, the teacher who took us on that trip, is taking 55 grade 11 and 12 students to the Dominican Republic this year on a similar venture.  These trips take ages to organize and fundraise for, so good luck to her!)

Credit for the passport picture goes to David Yamasaki on flickr, and it can be found here.  The rest of the photos are mine from the trip.

Murderers!

(I like exclamation marks.  Can you tell?)

I have found that I quite like this gentleman, Marvin Bartel, Ed. D.  I intend to be an Art/English teacher in the future, and he has some very interesting ideas on creative teaching.  His writing on the subject is prolific, but one thing of his that I thought was really instructive was his list of Ten Classroom Creativity Killers.  In the article he expands on each one and tells how to NOT kill creativity in the classroom.  I would encourage all of you to read it, because his ideas are excellent, but for those without the time or inclination, here is the basic list:

I kill creativity in the classroom when…

1. I encourage renting (borrowing) instead of owning ideas.

2. I assign grades without providing informative feedback.

3. I see a lot of cliché symbols instead of original or observed representation of experience.

4. I demonstrate instead of having students practice.

5. I show an example instead of defining a problem.

6. I praise neatness and conformity more than expressive original work.

7. I give freedom without focus.

8. I make suggestions instead of asking open questions.

9. I give an answer instead of teaching problem solving experimentation methods.

10. I allow students to copy other artists rather than learning to read their minds.

Reading through this list, I have to say that I’ve experience all of these problems with my teachers at one time or another – and heck, I’ve probably been guilty of a few of them, even with the limited amount of teaching I’ve done.  Probably numbers 4, 5, 6, and 10 are the areas in which I can most improve.

4. I am training to teach in the subjects I love, which is wonderful and fantastic.  The only problem with it is that when I love something, I want to do it.  I like demonstrating.  Oh, I hate watching demonstrations – but that’s double standards for you.  I know I’ll have to kill my urge to demonstrate all the time.  A lot of students like to do hands-on work, which means that the more time I spend showing, the less time they get to spend doing.

5. Much of the time, I find that I understand a problem in my head, but I don’t know how to vocalize it so that everyone else will understand.  So when I find an example of a similar problem/solution, I’ll use that instead of trying to say what’s in my head.  That doesn’t mean it will be helpful to everyone else, of course.  While an example may fit into the network of puzzle pieces in my brain, it won’t necessarily fit everyone else.  Instead of using examples, then, I should think of ways to explain things simply and effectively in my own words.  I already practice doing this – anytime I encounter a particularly complex idea, I try to distill it down to its most basic forms so that anyone can understand it.

6. I am the sort of person who likes structure, realistic work, and well-executed ideas.  I sometimes have difficulty judging or understanding more experimental, expressive, or abstract work.  As a teacher, however, I need to be able to look beyond my own personal preferences to judge the actual worth of any piece I am given to mark.  Not everyone thinks or creates in the same way, and I believe it is essential for teachers to be open to all forms of creativity in their classrooms.  That is what I aspire to.

Can you see anything on the list that you think is or will be an issue for you, as future teachers?