Saturday, April 9, 2016

Peer Learning

On your blog, reflect on this process and on the peer-learning we’ve been doing together all semester already. In what ways does it support your learning? How does it connect to your interests and your small moves in being more openly networked? What about production and shared purpose have been important in learning from peers? And what are the implications for connected learning and equity for the learners you serve?

This week has been challenging. I've been trying to narrow my focus for our Final Makes so bear with me while I try to 'unpack' this weeks blog post. I would say that I have learned the most from this class, but it has not been easy and at times it has been scary and exhausting. Through opening up in this class, along with being a part of ITAG, I can certainly say that I am seeing where I can go once I graduate, which was eluding me for the longest time. Its through the TAG Philly group that I was able to discover my final make, something that was stressing me out for quite some time. I had ideas of things I could do, but I wanted to seriously look at what was needed in an area that means a lot to me, and the community I serve. Through speaking with teachers, many being elementary, I learned that the resources many of them have if they desire to step away from the textbook for black history were scant. I am taking much of what I am learning, and reading at TAG Philly and directly applying it to what I am working on. It helps because I am also getting real time updates and feedback on what can be done to improve my idea. Iv'e also gotten great feedback and help from some of you on this week that will certainly only help to make my site better. And for me this is what its all about, making each other better, our learning experiences better, so we can then go and share these tools with the next generation.

In terms of connecting my interest, In this learning format I drive which way the 'lesson' will go. This is both good and bad. This works because I am able to allow my interest to 'run free' until Iv'e exhausted a topic. This makes the idea of 'learning' fun, engaging and multidisciplinary (at least thats how it feels for me!). But....if the guidance is lost then it can be very frustrating and much time can be wasted. I have found firsthand that I had had to 'correct' where my learning was going. This form of education and connection is tying in more with what I would like to do. I am very interested in retelling black history, Philadelphian history, jewelry and working with elementary students. It wasn't until this course and TAG that I could possibly see a way of making all these seemingly different segments of my life make sense together. Through conversations with a few of you, and friends from other classes I think I am really beginning to flesh out a way of it all working together in various ways while still supporting others. I've started working on a website that will attempt to be a one-stop-shop for all things black history philly. From people, to events, to sites. I would like for philly students to be able to contribute to the site in some way. Through peer learning I am getting honest and realistic advise and ways in which this, and my website idea can work. I am also able to connect to students, through the classrooms of the teachers I am befriending and sharing ideas with. It is students I have in mind, so why not get their input. The purpose of this site is to tell the stories of those on the outside.How can we have pride in our city if we have no idea of its past, specifically the past of non-white Philadelphians? Students will also have a voice on this site to share their thoughts, ideas, and discussions around the information I hope to share soon. This further helps develop the discussion we should be having in our classrooms about the issues affecting communities urban communities and communities of color around the nation and world.

This week we were asked to find some sources that connect to youth to peer to peer learning. Here is what I found;

1. I hope someone else didn't mention this site yet, but hey. This site allows youth to post  videos, stories, pretty much anything related to the world that they are doing in their communities. I read one story in particular about young people taking knowledge they learned about Ebola from an international convention back to their small isolated villages to educate the community, and to get additional youth support and help.
2. This exchange brings youth organizers from across the country together to share ideas, build and strategize for ways to build stronger coalitions to fight for youth driven issues. Unfortunately there is not a PA chapter, but its still really cool to see.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Unpacking Interest

This week I thought about what school would have been like for me as a student had it been interest driven. It would have been amazing for me, and just about every other student there. Imagine being able to explore different forms of writing through comics, open mics, and the like. Using manipulatives and mindcraft for math and science , I would have been there bright and early. Every child loves to learn through play, and to a large degree thats what student driven learning would be. Just like the Edutopia article , if a student can do his homework on Frank Lyod wright through the lens of minecraft, who wouldn't feel like its play, if thats what you're into? The idea of knowledge and education not only as play, but as an agent of change is epic. For a student to then take their learned knowledge about Frank Llyod Garrison, architecture and then look at the dilapidated homes in their community could certainly change the game. Its interesting how the readings and blog post is so effortlessly related to my social justice curricula class. In thinking about the implications of interest driven learning and culturally competent classrooms one walks aways with the same outcomes. In both all students are engaged in meaningful learning activities. In both we are championing students learning in meaningful ways for their own growth. They also both help students learn the skills needed to challenge and be successful in society. Lastly as educators under both ideals you are always open to learning and exploring different modalities for your learning and your students.
When I first began teaching I knew that there was no way my personal politics would not enter the room. This is because I knew I would be working with students from backgrounds similar to my own, in schools that are very similar to the ones I attended as a child. So I am all to familiar to the challenges many of my students and schools face. My students deserve better; better prepared teachers, better opportunities for growth, better supplies, ect. They know and I know they are being shortchanged both in and out of school, so how can I help them identify, address and change their environments? How can I help them see that this lives and stories matter, and that school can be a stepping stone to affect the change they want to see?