Building Your Dream School
Krissy Venosdale uses technology to inspire her students that inspire her. In her blog, Venspired, she focuses on the tools of technology and ideas of innovation to drive her students. She allows creativity to combine with the always growing resources becoming readily available to provide her students the ability to think, wonder, and discover. In one of her posts, If I Built A School, she dreams what it would be like to create her out place of learning. The curriculum is described as a "loose road map", and the purpose is to dig deeper into the very things we find intriguing. Class rooms are comfortable, bright, and the very inspiration to keep the children wondering. At lunchtime, experts visit to offer the students many available career options that they can apply the things they learn. There is a high sense of whimsical creativity, but also brimming with professionalism. To advance through each grade, students must exhibit the readiness and maturity, and not simply their age. This school would focus on the importance of learning by finding enjoyable and purposeful methods, while creating the bond between teacher and student. This is truly a dream school, and did I mention that she put a treehouse inside the library? How cool would that be?
If I could build a dream school myself, it would vaguely resemble that of which Mrs. Venosdale described. A school that focuses on creativity, and following the mind where it may lead. To explore the growing possibilities technology has provided, while at the same time giving every student a place to find their niche. A school that identifies each student's strengths, but also finding interactive methods of improving any weaknesses. Not a place that the students feel like they are imprisoned for eight hours or so a day, five days a week. My school would have various competitions for the students to take part in amongst each other, and the teachers. A place where we all learn from each other.
When I read the title for this assignment, I was immediately overjoyed at the sight of "virtual choir". I have always enjoyed music, and choir was one of my favorite classes when I was in high school. The power of music has always mesmerized me. There is something for everyone, for any possible mood, whether you are happy, sad, angry, in love, etc.. When I watched Eric Whitacre's creation of this virtual choir, I was stunned. I could not believe that putting together many individual clips from Youtube, could make such a wonderful piece of art. To say that watching this gave me goosebumps would be a complete understatement. I have never been able to find what it is about the power of the voice, but I often find myself getting chills. I am literally typing this, and looking at the chills that are still covering my arms.
Teaching in the 21st Century
In Kevin Robert's presentation, Teaching 21st Century Students, he expresses how important it is to understand that we are literally being surrounded by new technology every day that is changing out lives. He asks what it means to teach in this century, and then continues by showing that if all teachers have to offer is concrete methods and ideals introduced by their teachers, and their teachers' teachers, then our role will be obsolete. If your car were to break down, what would you do? I can promise that most of you most likely thought something along the lines of using your cell phone or laptop to find someone to fix it, or to find out how to fix it yourself. This is the point he is trying to make. Technology is all around us, and sometimes we are so engulfed in it that we do not even realize it's enormity. As educators, we must determine the best possible routes to provide our students to navigate these resources properly. I cannot express how many times a teacher has told me not to trust websites such as Wikipedia, but there must be a way to determine the validity for some of these sources, because they cannot all be hoaxes. We are the future for our students to master the things that we are learning now. This technology age is not going to slow down any time soon, so we might as well take advantage of it now.
Flipping the Classroom
I am very interested in this concept of "Flipping the Classroom". I have always felt that I excelled faster in classes that provide information prior to class time, and even have quizzes about this material prior as well, so that when the class arrives, I know what to expect to be taught that day. In Katie Gimbar's video, Why I Flipped My Classroom, she explains the purpose of this concept, as well as how she went about flipping towards a positive result. Dr. Lodge McCammon also explains his purpose of flipping the classroom in his video for his program FIZZ. I agree with his statements that we cannot continue solely lecturing to our students and then send them off to apply the information by themselves later. From personal experience recently, it is not the most efficient teaching method, as sometimes the applications can be confusing. If the information is provided before it is officially taught, the students can come into the classroom prepared to ask for clarification on any concepts that may have been confusing to them. Ms. Mufano has explained similar ideas in her video, Flipping the Classroom - 4th Grade STEM. The only negative thought about this new method of learning is how some teachers may take this as an easy way out of teaching. This cannot be seen as an alternative to other methods, and requires the educator to be prepared to help the students with the information and assignments provided prior. If you do not enjoy teaching your students every day and this is a technique you want to apply so that your job may be easier, I highly suggest reconsidering your career choice. As a very close friend of mine, and an educator herself, once told me, "Not anyone can be a teacher, you have to be born with the ability to want to teach. It is not a career for the money, it is for the love of improving your students." These words I hold near to my heart, and will always stand firmly by the truth behind them.