Looking BackThis summer the MSU-Wipro Teaching Fellowship Program has taught me incredible lessons about myself as a learner and as a teacher. During most professional development workshops and continued education courses, I usually have problems focusing, paying attention and am not very motivated to do the required projects. In contrast, while participating in the fellowship, I was a completely active and engaged learner. I found the flow of instruction to be fast-paced, challenging and thought-provoking. This is exactly what I needed as a learner!
The Quickfire challenges were my favorite activities. I found that the small dose of time-limit anxiety coupled with the intriguing tasks generated a large amount of motivation to complete the challenge collaboratively with my group. Each group member brought their unique talents to the task to help get each challenge done. It was extremely satisfying when we were able to successfully complete a Quickfire and the Spicy Challenge.
Utilizing Twitter and Facebook as a way to document and follow learning as it happens was a brand new experience for me as a learner. Following learning on social media was not distracting to me, as I had expected, but rather served to enhance and focus my attention on new learnings. I really enjoyed sharing and viewing Quickfire challenges and other tasks via social media. Seeing other groups’ ideas, interpretations and products added to my learning in ways I had not anticipated.
Walking the streets of Loyola’s downtown campus, looking for alphabetic letters hidden in the architecture of a building or the angles of a road sign, I began to see the world in a new way. Based on a Twitter recommendation, I began reading On Looking: A Walker’s Guide to the Art of Observation by Alexandra Horowitz. I am now captivated by the idea of how the focus of a walk can be modified by what lens you are looking through in the moment. Walking through the Museum of Science and Industry and looking through the lens of images related to my big idea was a liberating experience that stimulated my interests and, to my surprise, inspired me and opened my mind to new ideas for my ImagineIT project.
The experience with Second City improv reawakened my love for improvisation. I have taken improv and acting classes as an outside interest and realize that I can incorporate more of that into teaching specific content in science. I have used drama and improv in teaching reading in the past and came to the realization that science is and can be a creative, artistic expression.
The fellowship has also been transformative to me as a teacher. When I met with other 6th grade Earth science teachers to “hack the curriculum”, I was re-energized and revitalized as a teacher. We were able to give each other ideas for how to get students to understand concepts that are difficult to grasp. Working with a powerhouse think tank about problems in my science curriculum is something I rarely have the opportunity to do during the school year. I look forward to being connected with other fellows throughout the year to help each other troubleshoot obstacles that arise during implementation of our projects.
Participating in the Amazing STEM demo lesson activity was a great experience. It’s not often that as a teacher we get see teachers of different content and grade levels share a successful lesson. The non-evaluative process was comfortable and powerful. Coming up with ideas to make the lesson even stronger allowed us the opportunity to try to incorporate technology and real world applications that could completely transform the amazing lesson even further.
The design of the fellowship curriculum and the thoughtful process that went into the teaching of this class was apparent. I realize that the same thoughtful design is something I aspire to this year during the implementation of my ImagineIT project. I want to be able to give my students an experience like I had this summer. I would like to incorporate Quickfire challenges into my teaching repertoire and am excited to use meme generators, rewriting song lyrics and stop time videos. The issue is not what am I going to use from this class, but making sure not to get overwhelmed by all of the new ideas!
According to Shulman, “learning is least useful when it is private and hidden; it is most powerful when it becomes public and communal.” Making my learning public was the part of the fellowship program that I was most apprehensive about and I am finding that it is the exact component that makes learning so engaging. I have gotten very accustomed to working in my 6th grade earth science bubble, privately and in hiding. It has been energizing to work with and interact with like-minded individuals. I see this summer’s experience influencing me by nudging me out of hiding and encouraging my students to do the same.
Teaching for Aesthetic Understanding by Girod really reshaped my way of thinking about the art of science and was a huge influence for my ImagineIT project. Girod writes about how students “see the world differently through the eyes of particular metaphors used to describe scientific ideas”. The idea of changing students’ perceptions by focusing on aesthetic understandings of natural processes appeals to me as a scientist. I'm looking forward to taking students on walks and exploring the world through scientists’ eyes.
The TPACK the Musical game really illustrated the key points from the article Too cool for school? No way! It was interesting to see how adding a technology component can transform an ordinary topic into an interactive, collaborative project. In his work Shulman, talked about Pedagogical and Content Knowledge, whereas Mishra and Koehler added Technology Knowledge. I literally saw that technology brings a whole new dimension to any lesson. I am interested in working on finding the sweet spot where pedagogy, content and technology come together for deep student understanding.
So far the MSU-Wipro Teaching Fellowship Program has been rewarding and rigorous, exhausting and exhilarating, tough at times and transforming. I am so happy that I am able to be a part of this experience. I am looking forward to how my ImagineIT project will help energize and invigorate my teaching and in turn the learning of my students. I am excited to bring all of these new ideas into my classroom and to see how my ImagineIT project unfolds this school year.
Girod: Teaching for Aesthetic understanding
Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2009, May). Too Cool for School? No Way! Learning & Leading with Technology, (36)7. 14-18. [PDF download].
Shulman, L.S. (1999, edited by instructors). What is learning and what does it look like when it doesn’t go well? Change, (31)4, 10-17