After reading many educational books and articles since August 2016, I found a renewed passion in the book, A New Culture of Learning (Thomas and Brown, 2011).  Had the book not been assigned to me, and since I’ve had my plate full for several years, I would have not read this fabulous book.  Maybe the timing was right, but I can attest that this book has given me a new outlook on learning and teaching like I’ve never experienced.

I finally found validation in knowing that there are many cultures of learning and that students and teachers will have a more enjoyable experience with learning through this type of learning environment.  Not only will the students master the required outcomes and objectives, but they will also achieve success through fun,  play, and creativity.  My ultimate goal is to meet the needs of all of my students by creating exciting and fun electronic projects.  Next, I will share my learning environment with my co-workers and influence others to at least try a new, successful, and creative culture of learning.  Finally, at the end of the day, I will learn something new from my students.

With the advancement of technology, I’m finding it overwhelming to keep up with the latest and greatest apps and programs.  It amazes me how my students can navigate through social media, excel at gaming, edit pictures on their phones, but still have difficulty with starting and completing a project that has specific objectives and desired results.  One of the most fulfilling rewards for me throughout these online courses is recognizing that failure can be a positive outcome.  Learning to face a fear of failure brings a new perspective to any learning situation.  I feel that I need to teach my students how to overcome that fear through collaboration, revisions, and focused outcomes while feeling successful (then spread the joy of learning).

My innovation plan is a prime example of revisions.  Like any well-oiled machine, my plan will need to be revised and updated throughout the projected target date.  I feel that I need to shift my focus more towards professional development with our staff, but I also understand that I need to have concrete lessons with examples to share in order to influence others to adopt the blended learning model in the classroom.  Furthermore, as the rapid change of pace in technology increases, there will be a need to integrate updated technology within my innovation plan.

After reading A New Culture of Learning (Thomas and Brown, 2011), I was excited to incorporate gaming in my classroom as a way of creating meaningful learning through fun.  Instead of trying gaming at this point in the school year, I decided to use Scratch (https://scratch.mit.edu) for another version of animation, imagination, and programming with my students.  Currently, I’m completing week one with a Scratch project for my students, but I feel that I have already incorporated a blended learning environment with this assignment.  By following the model of my talented and creative professors, I introduced the project, provided YouTube video links for students to watch independently, duplicated some Quizlet sets that provided the necessary pre-assessment information that I need, and provided the framework for a project where the students can have voice and ownership to provide successful outcomes.  I’m looking forward to the collaboration portion of the project because I feel that the students can really express their ideas and levels of understanding if they are just “showing” other students how to create fun and creative programs.

Creativity: Involve Me and I Will Understand – GeekMom

From Flipped Classroom, a Flipboard topic

“Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I will remember. Involve me and I will understand. Step back and I will act.” ~Chinese Proverb

Read it on Flipboard

Read it on geekdad.com

I find the following excerpt fascinating from A New Culture of Learning (Thomas and Brown, 2011).

“But by reversing the question and the answer, as inquiry does, something that started as a liability — the radical differences among students and their dispositions–becomes an advantage.  When the idea is to ask questions, diversity is a good thing.  Moreover, students are both willing and capable of learning from one another in deep and profound ways.  They turn diversity into strength and build their own networked communities based on interest and shared passion and perspective.  In essence, they create and participate in their own collective.”

The fundamental idea that I will incorporate into my learning environment is to reverse the question and answer methodology by encouraging the students to learn from one another and share constructive criticism and praise.  I fully understand that my comfort zone with traditional methods of teaching will be pushed to the limit by structuring the timing for questions, collaboration, and feedback.  This may take a few weeks or months to master, but it is a challenge that I’m excited to begin.  Starting with the end in mind will cultivate deeper learning for my students as well as myself.

One main challenge that I see moving my plan forward is adapting the lessons to meet ALL of the student’s needs.  I teach a variety of students, as many teachers understand, some thrive on structure, others love freedom and creativity, and some just want to do enough to pass the class.  Although the creative students exist, some are more focused on getting everything correct and making a perfect score.  Then I have the shy students who won’t be as courageous as others to showcase their work for fear of being ridiculed or fear of failure.  But, I’m sure the mixture of students will foster the collaboration process as it unfolds and will assist students with a radical adjustment in the new learning environment.  Fortunately, I have a program on my computer that allows me to take control of the student’s computers and provide private feedback.  I plan to preview the projects and offer one-on-one chat support with the students who need a gentle push or a strong pull!

I plan to share my success, struggles, and failures with my co-workers.  I will start with a focus group and send out a survey asking for participation and feedback (yes, during the last 9 weeks of school).  Based on the level of interest, I will then share my lessons electronically and ask for other co-workers to come observe for a few minutes and allow for feedback.  It only takes a few influencers to get the ball rolling in the right direction.  I’m also going to assign a few of my students the responsibility of documenting the process with the classroom GoPro and cameras.   Fortunately, I have a young administrator who is fascinated with technology and he’s always willing to drop in and offer suggestions.

Honestly, thinking holistically or broadly is challenging to me.  I believe in teaching and learning something useful that can be used throughout life in general.  My main goal is to send students out into the “real world” with a toolbox full of information and a method of learning something new.  Our workforce is lacking the basic common skills such as reading and following instructions, problem-solving, and the willingness to see another’s point of view.  I teach in a somewhat small community, but I have a strong belief in helping those in need.  I strive daily to show the “other point of view” to my students hoping they will embrace a culture of helping others just for the good of humankind.  I’m an animal lover at heart, but don’t have any animals to care for because I don’t have the time that is necessary for the animal to have a great quality of life.  Fortunately, my community is small enough where one small act of kindness can spread like wildfire and ignite a passion in another person, family, or neighborhood.

My prospective is broad enough to influence my actions.  By starting small, failing forward, and learning from my mistakes, I aim to lay a solid foundation that can be molded into a fun and rewarding method of learning for everyone.  As I’ve said many times, change is the only constant.  As long as I can move forward with the changes in education, technology, schedules, assessments, and generations of students, I believe that everyone can benefit from a new culture of learning.

References

Thomas, D. &  Brown, J. S., (2011). A new culture of learning:  Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change 1st Edition. Chapter 6 we know more than we can say, collective indwelling [eTextbook Kindle Oasis version]. Available from http://www.amazon.com