Quote: "Most critically, play reveals a structure of learning that is radically different from the one that most schools or other formal learning environments provide, and which is well suited to the notions of a world in constant flux." This really highlighted the disconnect between the state of learning environments and the state of the world at large.
Question: How do we adapt learning to be "in flux?" The concept seems so simple and yet so complex simultaneously.
Connection: In my classroom, I have been surprised to find that having high school seniors share their writing via blog posts is a way of learning that is viewed as "radically different." Any new technology tools that we want to introduce (like blogging, building infographs, etc.) have to be approved by the district technically before they are allowed to be used.
Epiphany: I keep coming back to the use of the word radically in this quote. I don't view this structure of play as too radical of a shift in education. However, my "aha!" is more of a "doh!" in the sense that, the teachers are ready to embrace a new culture of learning for the most part, but the structure of the district seems to be the major factor in holding it back.
Quote: "Geeking out asks the question: How can I utilize the available resources, both social and technological, for deep exploration?" This is the big gap in my students' understanding of their resources. They have the access, but they don't have the knowledge or need to explore how they can use these resources on a deeper level.
Question: Do I have time to teach content AND teach students how they can learn using their technological resources?
Connection: In this program, we take this course specifically to learn all of the technology tools, how to use them, and how to apply them in our classroom. In my classroom as a teacher, I barely have time to get through the content I'm supposed to, let alone teach my students how to use them. How do we get them started like this course has gotten us started?
Epiphany: Hey, look! This is where our badge names come from!
Quote: "When people stop learning in a game, they lose interest and quit. When understood properly, therefore, games may in fact be one of the best models for learning and knowing in the twenty-first century. Why? Because if a game is good, you never play it the same way twice." The book ends with a huge emphasis on the link between gaming and learning. I was a bit disappointed that it never offered any actual, tangible ways to make this link a reality in the new culture of learning.
Question: This book used the gaming analogy the entire way through. To some extent, I felt a little out of the loop, since I am not a gamer. The examples did a good job of showing how individuals were learning through gaming. But what if students aren't "gamers"? Is this model still the best for learning and knowing?
Connection: Imagination is certainly a strong link to learning, and one that has been sadly left behind in much of the traditional pedagogy. In our tech classes, we've learned strategies that can help bring imagination back to learning. I like the idea of tools like Animodo, WeVideo, LucidCharts, etc. to foster this, but worry again about being blocked the opportunity to use them because of district disapproval.
Epiphany: The new culture of learning is on the brink of catching fire in the educational realm, but there are still some major hurdles keeping it from taking off. I look forward to being a part of the launch of this journey!
Quote: "In communities, people learn in order to belong. In a collective, people belong in order to learn. Communities derive their strength from creating a sense of belonging, while collectives derive theirs from participation." I had never made this distinction before, so this quote was very helpful in separating the two.
Question: How can I foster an attitude of learning as a collective in my students?
Connection: Our community of teacher candidates is, in fact, a collective. We are all participating, and we are here to learn with and from each other.
Epiphany: A school and its students are primed to function as a collective. All it will take is a shift in where the emphasis on learning is placed and it could happen.
Quote: "The collective is, in the most basic sense, a group constantly playing with and reimagining its own identity."
Question: How do I measure the work and learning of my students if they are operating in the spirit of a collective, where there is constant change and reimagining?
Connection: I think that the idea of a collective would be very helpful for English learners and students with special needs.
Epiphany: I belong to many collectives that I never stopped and realized I did. As a student, as a teacher, as a mom...
Quote: "Students learn best when they are able to follow their passion and operate within the constraints of a bounded environment." I love the sounds of this, but wonder about how to truly implement it.
Question: If we differentiate to this extent, where ever student is learning according their own individual passions, how can I as a teacher match this level of differentiation with the "constraints of a bounded environment?"
Connection: As I mentioned above, to me this is Tomlinson's theory of differentiation in it's most idyllic form.
Epiphany: I'm an indweller!
A New Culture of Learning by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown was an interesting read. The thread that wove this book together was centered around the idea of play in learning. I'll share my reflections about this idea as it breaks down in each chapter in the series of posts that follows:
Quote: "The bridge between them [the two stories] - and what makes the concept of the new culture of learning so potent - is how the imagination was cultivated to harness the power of almost unlimited informational resources and create something personally meaningful." This was an excellent introduction to the ideas brought forth in this chapter, and in the book as a whole. The idea that it's not about what students know, but what they can do with what they know.
Question: My big question after reading this chapter is simple: how do these stories and these concepts find a place in my classroom?
Connection: This idea of learning as a fluid, changing, growing process resonates with me and represents with just about everything we've been taught in this program so far. One of the first things we learned was about the educators favorite "F" word: FLEXIBLE!
Epiphany: I don't think I experienced a full blown epiphany here yet. But I did have some "hmmns" going on as I read about the gaming connection to learning. I am not a gamer, so I've never really understood the allure. But I am curious to learn more as an educator about how the skills used in gaming can be applied in school.
Quote: "A second difference is that the teaching-based approach focuses on teaching us about the world, while the new culture of learning focuses on learning through engagement within the world." For me, this shift in how we educate is the most important, which is why this quote was my big takeaway from Chapter 2.
Question: I'm not sure how to articulate the question bouncing around in my mind for this chapter. The chapter addresses culture, but only the cultures of learning as a whole. So my question revolves around this idea of culture: how do these learning cultures make sure to include all of the different cultural experiences of our students?
Connection: My connection ties to my question and quote. If I want to be the teacher that engages my students to learn within the world, I need to use the teaching strategies and technology tools that we have been introduced to in this program and, specifically, in this class, to reach the different cultural perspectives and experiences of my students.
Epiphany: My epiphany is more like a "whoa." Learning is a series of questions, and an inspired learner never really reaches "the end" of the series of questioning. So, whoa.
Quote: "In a world of near-constant flux, play becomes a strategy for embracing change, rather than a way for growing out of it." I like this idea. I consider myself a more creative-minded person, and I have an easier time connecting to ideas and information when I can manipulate this in a creative, non-traditional way. I never thought of it as "playing" before, and never identified it as a learning strategy until now.
Question: Is this possible? Sure, the idea of letting kids "play" to learn is very enticing and in theory it makes perfect sense. But when a principle walks into my classroom and asks how my students are learning, is "through play" really a realistic explanation? Especially at the secondary level?
Connection: We've learned a great deal about this idea of student-centered and activity-based learning to maximize engagement. The type of learning described in this book takes these ideas to a whole new level for sure.
Epiphany: I need more imagination and play in my life! I've been doing it all along, but have definitely "grown out of it" quite a lot as I've transitioned into being an adult. If I'm not learning in this way, how can I expect my students to?
Thomas, Douglas, and John Seely Brown. A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change. Lexington, KY: CreateSpace?, 2011. Print.