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Week 9 Reflection

This week’s reading brought about great conversations of the challenges that we all face as educators in the 21st century. When we start talking about the difficulties of teaching our students the way we know they should be taught vs. the way we have to teach in order to meet all the standards and evaluation measures, then it is hard to shut us up. Many of the blogs that I read this weekend touched the same concern about being able to get from the what to the where and how. Teaching in rural Alaska seems to add difficulties. But we all have our little tricks.

In my blog, I shared my own thoughts about contextualizing the content to help connect my students to their learning – and my difficulties. Sara L. sent me some great resources to help me deal with the difficulties of teaching in rural Alaska. It just so happens that one of the resources points to someone on staff at my district office. Leslie shared a blog with me about some great teaching strategies from the past that still work in the now. I am grateful for their help with my challenges.

I also found some great resources from others’ blogs:
Bonnie did a great job of comparing the reading from the book to bloom’s taxonomy. She included a great visual. I also enjoyed the lesson plan by Anne Dawn that Bonnie shared.

Gary shared his ideas about rote memorization and teaching to the test. In my reply, I agreed to the importance of some rote memorization but also stressed the many times things that I have since forgotten because I rarely use them any more. Rote memorization only works if you apply it frequently.

Scott shared some great lesson resources in his blog, which I bookmarked for a deeper review. In response to his blog on not having enough time delve into his lessons, I shared my experience with a district that creates a very strict schedule for teaching the content. I actually see the pros and cons to creating such a schedule, but like Scott think it is more important to participate in content rich activities that allow students the opportunity to connect to the where and how.

I plan to take the next week to dig deeper into game mechanics and collaborate more with my team. I am really excited about the steps to come in developing a concept for a well-rounded serious game.


Contextualized Instruction #etlead

In the text A New Culture of Learning, the authors talk about gamers “hanging out, messing around, and geeking out.”  Although it seems like just play, it actually consists of a higher level of learning that we expect our own students to achieve in our classrooms.  This makes sense to me because I believe that my students will achieve that higher level of learning (geek out) if they collaborate with their peers (hang out) and find a personal connection to the content that they are learning (mess around).

In a blog post about contextualized instruction, EFFTIPS discusses cognitive research that shows rote memorization rarely transfers from one context to another.  Instead, learning will transfer more effectively if our students understand the “big picture,” and the when and how to apply what has been learned.  We only acquire this deeper understanding if we put what we have learned to use through practiced application.

This is always easier said than done for me.  I get that my students will acquire a deeper understanding if they have a personal connection to the learning, but sometimes it is hard for me to help make that connection.  My students simply do not have an understanding of the outside world.  Because we live in our own little community, I have a small vocabulary base to work with.  My students don’t understand a lot of basic concepts, such as driving a car or depositing money in a bank or going to college.  The most difficult part of my content courses throughout my masters program was trying to create community based problems for all of the many different concepts we were discussing.  I felt like I kept creating problems based on the same subjects – basketball, subsistence, and school – because that is all that they know.

I would really like to hear how other teachers from small, rural communities find ways to connect their content to their students every day living.

Week 8 Reflection

I always get amazed by how many different thoughts and ideas come from people who are reading the same information.  As I read through the blogs posted by others, I realize how simple and easy it is to implement all of the ideas I have learned from this class.  As Scott stated in his blog, we are all part of a collective.  I watch my daughter learn how to eat, dress, and potty train from her older brother.  As children, we learn by watching others – or by doing.  I am not technologically savvy; however, my four year old son can manage his ipad quite smoothly.  Scott’s post also made me look at the Yup’ik community where I teach now and how the people of this community teach their young.  It amazes me how much these young people know about surviving in the only world that they know.

Both Scott and Sara L. shared a very interesting Khan video about how humans learn in the collective.  it does a great job of comparing our learning styles to those of chimps.

I also had some great conversations through my own blog with Gary and Megan.  I am contemplating starting a Twitter with the students in my school. Many of them do not have someone to talk with at home.  I think it would be a nice place for them to talk about their day at school and what they learned.  It could also be a place to start some great conversations about their learning.  Both Gary and Megan supported the idea and Megan even suggested a Kids Blog site.  I am definitely going to check it out.  I also plan to talk to my fellow high school teachers to get their thoughts and ideas.

Learning in the Collective #etlead

            Just imagine, just imagine

            Just imagine all the things that we could be

            Imagine all the places we could go and see

            Imagination’s fun for you and me

My daughter loves Barney, so I have heard these lyrics from Just Imagine many times over the past few weeks (Here is a website if you want to listen to the song and read the lyrics:  As I was reading through the chapters this week, this song popped into my head.  The authors in the book states that “our schools suffer from excess structure.”  They also state that “the need for innovation…is widely recognized – and imagination and play re key ingredients for making it happen.”  It talks about how children of the past have grown into adults that stop playing, and how the technologies of the present – and future – are encouraging the children of today to embrace these changes and continue to play well into their adulthood.  I gathered from this that as educators we need to teach our students to be innovative so that they can succeed in the workplaces of today that are also changing.  Many of them are no longer structured and organized.  You grow by learning new things and using your imagination to create innovative ideas.

Learning in the collective is a way for our students to learn from each other.  In our annual district in-service, we have someone from Kagan give presentations on the many different cooperative-learning strategies that they have created.  We want our students to learn from each other.   So, “learning in the collective” makes sense.  It actually makes more sense, because it requires the students to be responsible for their learning.  It is said that students who own the information have a deeper understanding of it.  In a collective, students learn from their environment.  They learn by being around their peers and just conversing.

I like the idea and so I sat here and thought of a way to create that for my students.  I think the best example would be our Twitter sessions that we have every Thursday.  I have to admit that I often forget about them and then go back after the fact and read my Tweet Deck to see what was talked about.  Not a very good way of learning because I am not there participating.  However, the book says that this is also a way of learning in the collective.  For example, people who read blogs may not actually post a comment and start a conversation, but they are learning from the text.  I was thinking that it would be cool to do an after school twitter session with our high school students where we can just go and talk about our day at school.   Not many of our students have parents that ask them about their day and what they are learning.  It would also be a great opportunity for the teachers to get to know the students better – their likes and dislikes.  Remember, Dave Burgess says that this is one of the first steps to “hooking” your students.

I also did some research to find other ways for my students to learn in the collective.  I found a website on the Connected Classroom (  However, the collective classroom is seen as an extension of the physical classroom and the teacher should be one to direct the learning.  Then, I thought about wikis and blogs.  The definitions given on the EdTech Network site ( described them as being more of a learning community.  However, I believe, if you were more lax with the way the students interacted on the wiki/blog, then it could be more of a collective learning experience.  For example, allow the students to post their own thoughts about learning on the blog and make changes to the wiki.

I am curious to read other blogs from this week to see what you all think about learning in the collective.  I really would like more ideas of how this could work in – or out of – today’s classroom.

Week 7 Reflection

My luck with technology this week has not been good. Not only has my Internet connection at home been horrible, but this is the second time I have had to repost my blog. So frustrating. It is hard to embrace the change when my surrounding environment wants to stay in the past.

I was not able to contribute much to others learning this week. In fact, my initial blog focused mostly on readings that have already taken place in the class. However, I enjoyed reading others blogs. I quickly ascertained that many of my fellow educators are also explorers in the gaming world. Which, as one of them stated, is probably why we are taking this class.

Although I did not contribute much, I did enjoy reading others blogs and some of their contributions. Gary posted a great article title Kids Who Play Video Games Do Better As Adults. I also enjoyed the Edutopia blog titled Ten Ideas for Teaching Teachers Technology, which was posted by Sara Hartman. However, I was most upset by not being able to watch Colin’s ASTE video. I could not get it to work at home, so I am hoping to squeeze it into some of my planning time this week at school. I hope that mother nature works with the Gods of the twenty-first century to allow me to better participate this upcoming week ☺

Embracing Change #etlead

Your gamer DNA is: Explorer

The Explorer motto: “No stone unturned!” Explorer Socializers are the glue of the online world. Not only do they like to delve in to find all the cool stuff, but they also enjoy sharing that knowledge with others. Explorer socializers power the wikis, maps, forums and theory craft sites of the gamer world.

Again, I am not a big gamer. So, when taking this quiz I had to imagine my professional attitude. I would say that the results describe me well. A few years ago, I would not have labeled myself as someone who is technologically correct. But, over the last few years, I have definitely gone above and beyond to embrace the twenty-first century classroom and learn as much technology as possible. I know that my students know more than I. In fact, many times I turn to them for tips on how to work this or how to do that with the technologies in my classroom. As an explorer, I am always trying new things to see if they will work for my classroom, and I am always looking for new ways to engage my students.

In the book, A New Culture of Learning, it talks about embracing change. We can all agree that technology is THE change of the twenty-first century. I like the book’s mention of the young adult’s fascination with the Harry Potter series. Many children became absorbed in the story that they could quickly recall many facts about the characters – as if the characters were real. If only our students could get as engaged in our lectures so that they absorbed the information that we are trying to transfer to them. Dave Burgess talks about the many “hooks” that we can use to make these connections with our students. In Teach Like a PIRATE he talks about how he sets the scene, dresses the part and creates a story that “hooks” his students into a new kind of learning. Its just a different way to embrace our changing students.

I would say that I am an Explorer. Over the last couple of years, I have explored many new strategies to teaching this new group of learners. I welcome the changes of the twenty-first century classroom. I only hope that I can keep up with my students.

Week 6 Reflection #etlead

What a great week down memory lane?  It is amazing how much has changed.  I especially enjoyed reading post from those few that are slightly older than myself.  I didn’t even know what some of them were talking about…dot machines??  I thought I had it bad with my story about graphing calculators.  At least they are still used in present times. Ha!

Through my blog I talked mostly about collaboration and technology.  I shared an article on ways to become a better teacher, which dealt mainly with the 21st century classroom.  It seemed to benefit a couple of fellow educators, such as Shauna and Bonnie. Bonnie also shared a lesson with me using group collaboration among students.  The lesson plan was through Edutopia, which is a great site that I was introduced to during a summer course in this program.  It has many great lesson plans, including the one that Bonnie shared.

Through blog replies we all mostly mentioned technology as the biggest change.  I shared some articles on using cell phones in the classroom with Bonnie.  Last Spring, my sister (who is also a teacher) and I took a class on using cell phones through instruction.  We read many articles and a couple of research papers on the subject.  They were really interesting reads and brought up some great arguments for the use of cell phones.  Unfortunately, my school district forbids the use of cell phones in the classroom.  On the other hand, if the opportunity really benefited my students, I know my site administrator would wave the policy.

It was nice to read all of the posts and to learn so much about everyone’s current teaching situations.  It is amazing how much you learn about people when the gates to the past are swung open.