Sometimes learning comes easily, sometimes it is much harder. The larger question when I think about my learning this week is where does my comfort zone for learning lie, and how can I push myself to expand it. Let me explain. This week I started an Ed x course through The Smithsonian Institute titled The Rise of Superheroes and their Impact on Pop Culture.
The course offers students three options for their study of this topic. The history track, the creative track, and the combination track. The choice of which option to pursue is up to the individual learner. Within the history track students will study a historical era and the superheroes of that era with a final task of discussing how a particular superhero of the student's choice evolved from myth and through time. Within the creative track, the student will create a new superhero and over the weeks develop a villain, a setting, story, and finally design and illustrate a scene. The combination track has the student do both assignments each week.
My difficulty came in choosing which track I would pursue. If I chose the history track I would be working in an area that I was very comfortable with, using methods of inquiry and writing that I had done before. If I chose the creative track, I would be exploring a side of myself that I use, but not in the context that I would be asked to work. Particularly the ability to draw characters. Despite the fact that I could use a character generator, draw stick figures, or use images from the internet, I was very uneasy about pursuing this learning. It was well outside my comfort zone, and it would push me academically in ways that I had not been before.
Ultimately, I chose to audit the history track and pursue the creative track, despite my nervousness about this type of study and stretch myself to learn new skills, despite my misgivings about my success because this is the type of learning I want my students to pursue as they go through not only school but life.
In the course of my studies this week I was able to learn that most superheros are based on ancient myths, that among my classmates Batman (my favorite) was their favorite superhero, that their favorite villain was the Joker (mine is Lex Luther), that if my classmates could have any super power it would be teleportation (mine would be the ability to fly because I am afraid of it and I don't).
For my first assignment I searched for Gods and Goddesses that focused on learning or wisdom as I wanted to design a character that would inspire others to learn and grow. My research uncovered two gods and one goddess that I was intrigued by: Coeus a Greek wisdom god, Snotra a Norse wisdom goddess, and Thoth the Egyptian author of the Book of the Dead who is the god that is the master of time, mathematics, astronomy, reading, writing, and arithmetic. The choice came down to the fact that this god had a picture, while the others did not.
Unfortunately, I did not learn what UCT time was until after I tried to turn in my superhero slide only to learn that 23:00 UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) which was 7:00 PM Eastern time. Thus, there seem to be even simpler lessons to be learned in the midst of my broader learning experience.
Things I learned visiting classes this week:
- Stages originally were set on a slope or hill that tilted downward towards the audience. Thus the term moving downstage, related to going downhill or towards the audience. Upstage referring to moving up the hill or away from the audience.
- You can use Google to convert currencies. I realize this might seem obvious, but I had been using xe.com which was my primary source for this information when I taught Econ.
- Language acquisition takes 5-7 years in total. Social language develops faster than academic language second and takes longer.
Things I learned from students this week:
- Junior year is hard.
- Psychology the whole Chapter 1
- Adhesive tape uses moisture to stick.
- In English class we read a poem about the Native Americans and how they had their land stolen.
- We watched an inspiring story about an wrestler who had MS and lost every match, but persevered and finally won.
What I read this week that taught me something new:
- Converse gym shoes originally made entirely from rubber to keep the wearers feet dry and sand free on the beach. The article From Converse to Kanye: See the Rise of Sneaker Culture from 1917 to Now in Fast Company gives a brief history of sneakers, including my daughters favorite-Chuck Taylors.
- Edutopia features classrooms designed by teachers on a budget in their article Tips for Creating Wow-Worthy Learning Spaces gives teachers 6 simple areas of design (flexibility, belonging, interaction, attention, neat, and concentration) to consider as they think of reworking their learning space including videos of teacher rooms.
- Ed Bates, writing in SmartBlog on Education, gave out Classroom Management Tips and Tricks for the start of the school year. His focus on establishing consistent procedures and expectations for students helps to create a classroom that encourages learners to learn.
One last thing I learned, how to tie a bow tie, but you will have to wait until tomorrow morning to see that :).