I will admit, I opened this week’s module for my Emerging Tech class in the parking lot of a new yoga studio I was trying. I am pretty certain that my heart stopped beating for a moment when my professor told us that we needed to create a piece of online media. Yikes! I went on with my morning — yoga, a meeting at 3’s school, and back home for lunch with my favorite toddler and our pup, all the while this weighing heavily on me. I feel a lot more confident giving others creative ideas on how to do things; but for whatever reason, when I have to be creative, it seems like my brain ceases to work.
I decided to do a video in the Animoto App. This app is really neat and allows you to create animated slideshows. I enjoyed playing around with it last week and thought that I could really delve in and spend some time on it today. While 3 was napping, I uploaded photos and created a theme: Summer in Review, more or less. I used pictures (but none of my kids’ faces) to display some of our favorite summer highlights. Honestly, I could have posted thousands of pictures from the beach. Living in a beach town allows us to go to the beach nearly every single day and that’s essentially how I spent my time with 3 & 13 while 11 was at camp; alas, I chose to add in some other highlights of our summer.
My Animoto video can be found here if you missed the linking above: https://animoto.com/play/Lx0TsAghV1pNPzXgGgOPPA
In addition to creating my own little slice of digital media, I was tasked with creating a lesson plan that utilizes five video clips and three podcasts. Much like above, this was slightly stressful for me at the onset. I admit to not being tech savvy; I have never worked in a school that had bounds of technology, which likely contributes greatly to this. Further, I’ve never taken a super interest in video/movies. The first school I taught in didn’t have books; my classroom floor buckled and was condemned by the fire marshall, thus sticking my class and me in a conference room that frequently had no tables-chairs-or both. This led me to wait outside of a meeting Michelle Rhee was in: I, then, took her to my classroom and asked for a new floor (it worked). Needless to say, the situation was dire and as I’m sure you can imagine, if schools in the nations capital were unable to provide physically safe spaces then think of the kind of technology that was accessible. Incidentally, this school was the only place that I ever showed a film by checking one of the TV carts: My ninth graders were rockstars and at the end of the year, when we finished Romeo & Juliet, we watched the 1999 version of the movie. They loved reading and having the text to connect to and felt really accomplished being able to discuss the text in our “cafe classroom” those final days.
While I did find success with this relational book-movie, I never really had success finding things that seemed interesting to my students. I always incorporated music into class and had students create digital media when possible but modeling/showing examples has always been such a weakness for me. Thus, I tried to approach this assignment with the most open mind and deep breathing exercises for the stress.
My professor recommended a mash-up for us to watch and read about this week: It was a conversation between Buffy, the Vampire Slayer and Twilight. I thought it was really well put together! It was easy for me to differentiate between the two characters/films despite having not seen either of them. I cannot even begin to imagine how much time and effort it took to put this together, but I love the idea of it and would love to create similar (though much shorter) assignments for students because I think that they could really demonstrate their critical literacy skills through such a task and also, I think they would enjoy it. Full disclosure, I’ve probably watched about a dozen movies from start to finish in my life. I’ve just never had much interest in them, though my husband and kids will sit down and watch them. (I will sit down to watch sports or to read.)
Once I made it to the library (after having a solid 10 hours of thinking to do), I had some ideas on places to look for this task. My first stop, of course, Vivian Vasquez. I took two courses of hers in graduate school at American University and learned so much that I’ve been able to implement in my classroom — critical literacies atop the list. Vasquez introduced me to podcasts back in 2007 and in 2011, I created a class at my school’s summer program for podcasting, which worked out great for my many students with language-based disabilities. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I left the classroom shortly after to pursue other opportunities around curriculum development and that kind of put a stand-still on my tech development. I am eager to plan a lesson for the library classroom that uses Ted Talks, NPR, BBC, TeacherTube (which I’ve used before when I was part of the TrIO program at Chelsea High and Bunker Hill), and whatever other podcasts I stumble upon. I have 13 tabs open on my Internet browser currently of podcasts to investigate. I also think that I need to investigate YouTube more. Sure, I use it; but only to play music that isn’t on the radio (mostly British rock and 90s rap). I’ve always kind of written it off as an educational tool which is perhaps naive or possibly even, dare I say, foolish.
I think that this assignment is pushing me to rethink “MY” way of teaching and really see how far against boundaries I can take my practice. While I both recognize and acknowledge this as a good thing, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t intimidated by it; and when I think further about this — it’s kind of silly: Approximately one hundred years ago, when I was just a year out of college, I worked my way from coordinator to Digital Media Manager and later left that position to be THE marketing department at a start-up. I am starting to question where my insecurities around technology come from, because 15 years ago, I was really quite confident. I suppose this all comes back full circle where I pinpointed at the beginning of this post that acknowledged the lack of tech exposure as a classroom teacher. (Similar to setting an intention at the beginning of yoga, I’m going to set an intention from now until the end-or at least mid-semester to not let me get into my own head about technology being intimidating and just going for the gusto, as they say.)
Updates to come.