ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
I am a second grade teacher at a Dual Immersion School. I was born and raised in Gutemala, but I feel in love with this country in 1989 and decided it to serve it and contribute to help build it's future. One of my passions in life is to help students become bilingual and bi-literate. I am a happy and accomplished teacher when I see students learning, growing, and moving forward. I get frustrated when I see students not performing at their capacity regardless of our hard efforts. Sometimes it feels as if we are stuck in a system that is not helping us move forward. At times it feels like we're doing too much and not accomplishing anything. Too many goals and not enough time to focus on them.
REFLECTION OF MY INNOVATIVE LEARNING PROJECT:
I came to the Innovative Learning program in search of answers to my own questions about student performance. My frustration began when I started to teach the Common Core Standards and realized that instead of making the learning easier for our students it was becoming harder. I realized that my job was becoming harder and that I wasn't prepared to teach 21st. Century Skills. I needed a shift in mentality, but I didn't know how to do it.
Thanks to this program I started to understand what was needed in my practice. I needed to expand my understanding of 21st Century Skills, The readings in Baggio and Clark gave me the understanding I needed about educators building a bridge for our learners. Clark helped me understand the importance of my audience. The TPACK model gave me a more clear understanding on how to teach 21st Century Skills to my students and how to embed everything into my practice. . Students need a solid base in foundational skills in language and in math.
The Common Core Standards are rigorous and require students to have more background than what they are currently coming in with. It almost feels that we should provide two years of kindergarten classes to build that solid foundation in students who need it. Some students don't have that strong background, so when they enter kindergarten they are already being set for failure. It's impossible not to think of my own background and the educational system in my country. Guatemala. It's a third world country, but I agree with their system of having several years of preschool education before children can enter elementary school. Most students enter the first grade at age 7 and 8. Some of my students entering second grade are six years old, and some barely turning seven. I learned answers to some of my questions about our educational system when I read "The World of Education" during the first semester of IL. It opened my eyes to understand our system.
I learned that in my practice I need to partner and collaborate with other professionals. The support of my district, and continuous communication between parents and teachers are key to educate my students and to all seek the common goal of preparing our students for the future and for the 21st century. Each grade is so important. Students, parents and students need to be clear with the expectations, and individual goals of students so we all can work towards those goals for each student. I teach my students remembering Mahatma Ghandy's words: "Live as if you were to die today. Learn as if you were to live forever."
I am glad I revisited the T-Pack model because this time it made more sense than the first time I read it. As hard as some of those readings have been, things are starting to make sense. Technology does change the way we think and teach. I have been teaching 2nd grade for 13 years and feel very comfortable with the pedagogy at that level. I also feel comfortable with CK; however, it's been two years that I knew that something was missing in my teaching. I know understand that 21st. century teaching requires technology integration. We can no longer teach like in the past when the world is using technology for everything.
I still don't have a smart board nor any of the fancy technology in the classroom, but I can manage with integrating some technology with the 1/2 hour or computer lab we have every day. I also have access to four chrome books in the classroom. I was also uncomfortable because I was using old curriculum made to fit the old standards, but now we're piloting new curriculum adapted to CCSS, and it has some technology embedded.
As far as the evolution of T-Pack for me, I have a long way to go with TK. Thanks to these courses I have read the "why" of things and why technology is necessary in everything we do. I am very far from reaching the "Sweet Spot" but I now have a goal to become more acquainted with the resources provided in these courses so I can integrate technology in my teaching practice. It is needed that students learn 21st. century skills. I have that responsibility in front of me and know that I need to start designing lessons and units with integrated technology rather than technology as an enhancement as I have done in the past.
I have been apprehensive about technology not only because of my lack of knowledge, but because I didn't have a clear goal and it wasn't part of the program or pacing calendar in my school I thought.
I don't know exactly how I am going to integrate this technology into my capstone yet. I am barely on the very rough draft of the mind map. I believe the next step is starting to evolve as I add to my mind map. I will need a lot of support and ideas from my cohort peers and professors.
Building a bridge between my practice, action research and what I am learning...Elements of SITE in relation to my audience and me as a learner...
The book that I continue to enjoy is Baggio's The chapters are easy for me to understand and it relates to teaching. To be honest, I didn't quite understand SITE. I read it several times, but it was very difficult for me to understand. In every reading, the author talks about the importance of visuals. I can relate to the title in chapter seven. "If It Doesn't Go In, It Can't come out." (Baggio) I very much felt like that this week. I read the material over and over, and only a few things made sense. One thing I understood is to have our audience in mind. What do we want our learners to know, and what do we want our learners to do? This stuck with me all week. I have gone into the classroom asking myself: "What do I want my students to learn today? " rather than what am I teaching today? It is important to pay attention on intention. As far as visuals, I learned to keep it simple, keep it clear, keep it focused, connect with the learner, and connect with the content. Having a connection with the students is probably one of my favorite things about teaching. It is important to have that connection for the affective filter to go down and for the learning to happen.
Video by Laura Masters:
This presentation was fascinating, intense, and hard for me to understand primarily because of the second language barrier, but also the audio was terrible. Anyhow, it was eye opening and I learned that
Howard Gardner: "Five Minds for the Future"
Discipline Mind, Synthesizing Mind, Creative Mind (These three Cognitive) Respectful Mind, Ethical Mind.
What a challenge for us educators when we learn about these studies and ideas these experts share with us. I feel that I am stuck in the discipline mind. I love teaching and working with children. My heart feels happy when I see happy children learning and enjoying what they're doing, but it not only stops there. As teachers the challenge lies within our practices as educators. We need to teach children to synthesize and process information. Just feeding the information to the children does nothing for them.
It challenges me to activate my ethical mind. The responsibility in front of me as a teacher is big. I know that it isn't impossible because it's something I love to do, but it does make me reflect on my practice. Am I doing the right thing? Am I teaching right? is all that energy spent on preparing lessons really what matters?
John Seely Brown: "The New Culture of Learning in a World of Constant Flux"
The world has never seen change so fast.
We're in a game of constant change.
Learning is creating the new. We're to be creative
How do we afford curiosity in a world of constant flux? if we're not curious we're screwed.
Daniel Pink: "The Puzzle of Motivation"
Intrinsic Motivation has three principles: Autonomy, mastery and purpose. As educators we need to allow the children to become independent learners. (They ask the questions) This will motivate the to master what they want to learn. This will give the learner a purpose for what he/she chose the topic he mastered. Self direction engages children in learning. The challenge is: How do I plan lessons to answer the questions /topics of interest of 25 children in a classroom? How does PBL address this?
My reflection: Inquiry based teaching is what we're becoming better at school. We're constantly allowing the children to ask questions, and allowing them to find the answers on their own. This isn't an easy task. This is the area that has been making me uncomfortable in the classroom. One part of me wants to stay with the old way of teaching: spoon feeding the knowledge, and guiding the students step by step to answer a,b,c. The other side of me is looking at the reality of our present. The Common Core Standards are here, student created questions are necessary and no longer an option. For me to listen to this kind of Philosophy and studies is fascinating and it's making me understand why I have been so uncomfortable in teaching the last two years. As teachers we cannot longer afford to conform to what we know or the curriculum presented to us. We need to allow our creative minds to work in order to meet 21st century skills.