Isn’t it amazing what kids can do when we let them? When children have the freedom to explore, create, investigate, dream, they can create some amazing things. This is extremely evident in Gever Tulley’s TED Talk on his “Tinkering School”. Inspired by the lack of freedom given to children, Tulley created a school where students were equipped with all the tools and materials they could possibly need to create something they hadn’t even thought of yet. Similar to Caine in the video Caine’s Arcade, the children at his Tinkering School built some amazing things, including a real working roller coaster! It amazes me that there is so much research, so much evidence that children can tackle great feats, create such beautiful works of art, and yet the public school system is still often ran in a way where students are forced to conform to the needs and wants of the teacher. I understand that there needs to be some form of consistency and common assessment amongst students in order to ensure understanding of the content, but to me there still seems to be a lack of student choice and student freedom. This idea could virtually work in any classroom, too. History class? Provide them with a topic and tell them to take it wherever they want. Build and design a project that they want to do. Sure, some students might need more direction and assistance, as they prefer a more strict set of expectations, but allow students who want to soar, soar.
Quite honestly, I feel that if I assigned a similar assignment to that in my 11th grade US History course, I would be met with confusion and have students look at me like I was crazy. The fact that I can preemptively tell that my students will demand more direction than that is only further proof that they have been stifled for so long they do not know what to do with the freedom, and to me, that is sad. I hope to encourage more creative options for projects, and allow my students to do things that interest them. Afterall, isn’t that how they develop their passion for learning?
Tulley, G. (2009, July 1). Gever Tulley teaches life lessons through tinkering. Retrieved October 5, 2015.
Facebook has been dead for quite some time, I feel. Nowadays, when I use it, it is mostly to pass time, view people’s new photos (which are mostly babies, by the way) or watch those cool “Tasty” videos to get some new recipes. There is not much content or breadth to my Facebook sessions - they are usually pretty bare and nothing more than a bad habit. Amongst the younger generation, it is truly a corpse. It was Snapchat, in the kitchen, with a “story feature”. Apparently, this new young generation likes to “live in the moment”, at least according to the video. Thinking about it now though, I suppose it is part of their whole “YOLO” movement. Well, Snapchat delivers to their needs. Their 10 second long photos, (which, by the way, something that was not mentioned was that neither the videos, or photos sent on Snapchat can be chosen from a photo library, they MUST be taken in real time, thereby authenticating the “in the moment” idea) and story features allows users to share with their friends what they ate for breakfast, lunch AND dinner, rather than share 3 photos on Instagram. While Snapchat is all the rage, I cannot think of any practical uses for it in the classroom where they physically USE the app. Now, I can think of a few lesson ideas where the “idea” is used, but not the app itself. Because of this, I struggle to see the value in Snapchat in the classroom. There are other social media applications that I feel are better suited for the classroom, and I intend to use those, but Snapchat may just be one app I let casually drift by until it is overrun by something new. At that point, I’ll reevaluate and judge the classroom usefulness of whoever murders Snapchat...
Niestat, Casey. (2014, October 2). Snapchat Murders Facebook. Retrieved from: https://youtu.be/kKSr6h5-fCU
For the longest time, I questioned my younger sister’s addiction to Instagram: “It’s just a picture with some words, why is it so cool?”, “Are you seriously on Instagram AGAIN?” and my personal favorite, “Okay, I get you love this app and you really want to have a bunch of followers, but you CANNOT LET RANDOM OLDER MEN FOLLOW YOU”. Instagram is a deeply embedded social networking application that is all the rage amongst pre-teens, teenagers, young adults, celebrities, and more. Casey Neistat produced a quick, short and sweet, to the point video about the appeal of Instagram and the proper way to Instagram. (Cue me asking “there are rules to instagram”, “there is a wrong way to use it??) Well, apparently there is and now I am fully informed. Don’t get me wrong, I have an instagram, and have had one for some time now, but it was never my primary social media account. I hardly ever used it, until more recently. And now, I have a better understanding of why students are using it, and why it is so addicting that many students cannot sit through a two hour class without trying to sneakily check it. I can see many benefits to using the application in the classroom, and I hope to one day do so. Appealing to students interests and tailoring lessons to things they want to do is a great way to keep them engaged.
My only lasting concern with using an application of sorts in my classroom is of course making sure my students are being mature, good, digital citizens. I understand the more followers you have, the more “popular” you are in the Instagram world, but I fear too many students will blindly let anyone follow them, which could be dangerous. Nevertheless, guidelines could be required (like having them set their school profile to private), it could be used as a good learning opportunity to teach my students about digital citizenship and being safe online.
Niestat, Casey. (2012, October 12). Instagram i love you.
Retrieved from https://youtu.be/GacoqdKjVyE?list=PLbRLdW37G3oMquOaC-HeUIt6CWk-FzaGp
Caine’s Arcade has to be one of the most inspiring videos I have seen involving education. In brief, as a 9 year old boy, Caine created working arcade games out of cardboard boxes, created “fun passes”, and even had working ticket dispensers and prizes. He created this arcade entirely on his on over a summer at his dad’s shop. This video shows just how far kids of all ages can go if you give them the space and ability to be creative and use their imagination. While watching the video, I couldn’t help but think of my high schoolers and wonder when was the last time they were able to freely exercise their imagination and truly do something simply because they wanted to? I have always been a fan on project based learning, but this video re-inspired me to create projects that truly allow students the space to drive their learning and create something they want. I feel that often times in high school, it is seen as a jumping board to college, which while that makes total sense, it could also be used to rationalize the lack of creativity in classrooms. However, it is important to remember that high schoolers are still kids and they need to have the ability to utilize their imagination and creativity freely in order to encourage a passion for learning. In my methods course, my professor showed to us an assignment he uses that allows students to choose from a variety of options for a project - creating a powerpoint, writing a play, creating a meme, or even writing a song! The assignment gives students the ability to take the project in any direction they choose, but still have it be rooted to the content. I hope to foster creativity and imagination in my classroom, and encourage my students to chase after their ideas, no matter what they are.
Mullick, Nirvan. (2012, April 9). Caine's Arcade. Retrieved from: https://youtu.be/faIFNkdq96U