This FOKI-Post is for ECI 521, a graduate class at North Carolina State University.
Although I didn’t climb every mountain or ford every stream, I feel a similar sense of satisfaction and good tiredness at all I have accomplished through ECI 521. After 15 or 16 weeks of practice, I feel finally relaxed when participating in Second Life (although my avatar looks as sulky as ever, and her feet show through the soles of her boots); I can create videos complete with voiceover, background music, and special effects (i.e. transitions); I’m used to blogging and tweeting on a regular basis; and I’m dragging a boatload of tools and ideas for engaging students in the study of literature.
Let’s visit my original course goals (in black font) as a final assessment of what I’ve learned. My evaluative comments are in blue.
The Professional Self
One aspect I’m especially interested in learning through my formal training is each of the theories identified in the outcomes for the Professional Self, along with their accompanying terminology. I want to consider what developmental theorists and experienced educators have discovered about teaching and learning.
The Literature Review Lite was my favorite aspect of this course, since I got to research a subject that really interests me while gleaning from the insights of other educational professionals. I also very much enjoyed reading the newspaper articles regarding the importance of having rationales for the books we teach. Because we have often used and referred to literacy theories, I am much better acquainted with them than I was at the beginning of the course. It was also helpful to practice using ERIC and other academic databases; now I know where to go to seek the insights of developmental theorists and experienced educators.
The Literate Self
I realize that young adult literature can provide the perspective necessary for students to step out of the snarls of daily drama to consider alternate points of view; stories can be the most piercing way to transmit concepts.
The Literate Self outcome in which I’m weakest is definitely the “new literacies and media” method of response. While I want to use technology because it’s so engaging, I’m not adept at involvement on its cutting edge.
Smile, by Raina Telgemeier, was the most helpful book I read in this class because it introduced me to the existence and benefits of graphic novels as a way to engage reluctant readers and train students to see pictures in their minds while they’re reading. Sugar Changed the World, by Marc Aronson, changed my perspective on nonfiction and gave me a plethora of ideas regarding how I can weave nonfiction into my language arts classes.
The other “new literacies and media” that instigated a paradigm shift in my life was the idea of a bookcast: I’m excited about familiarizing students with this interesting format for transcending merely regurgitating the plot of a story to express a personal response to what they read or studied.
The Virtual Self
The Virtual Self is undeniably the area in which I am weakest . . . I still etch notes on stone tablets and deliver messages through carrier pigeons, for Pete’s sake! . . . I’m excited about exploring how to develop a virtual presence online for the purpose of learning new ways to communicate more effectively.
Sometimes being thrown in headfirst is the best way to guarantee immersion in a subject, and this class was no exception! Every project required interaction with various forms of media, and for that I am grateful. Getting used to Second Life was my biggest hurdle, but now I feel comfortable jerkily propelling through the Bookhenge. I am also comfortable audio blogging, video blogging, and searching for images and music that are in the public domain.
I really like the idea of using blogging as a way for students to become comfortable writing often without the high-stakes pressure of formal writing. While I want to establish journaling/blogging as a regular part of my classes, I also want to concentrate on various common sentence errors and give students so much practice correctly using conventional English that they easily select the correct words and punctuation not only for informal writing (e.g. Facebook statuses), but also for formal writing (e.g. scholarship essays or job cover letters).
Professional, Literate, and Virtual Goals
Through ECI 521, I want to familiarize myself with various ways to establish an online presence which I can use to further my goals of setting academics in social, historical contexts, showing the interconnectedness of academic disciplines and “real life”, and presenting academics in understandable forms to students who are at varying levels of emotional intelligence and who come from a variety of educational backgrounds.
In addition, I want to appeal to various learning styles by using many forms of media, presentation, collaboration, and communication. I want to learn how to use young adult literature to appeal to students and to expose them to worlds and concepts which they otherwise might never experience.
Twitter no longer seems intimidating, I am used to blogging, and I like creating videos; I’m satisfied with the online presence I’ve established through this course. I’m impressed by the amount of relevant literature stuffed with ideas for engaging modern teenagers in the study of language, and I’m excited about exploring academic journals in my free time (I really do research in depth when I’m interested in a subject, and now I have ideas regarding where to look). Graphic novels, nonfiction, the Printz and Eva Perry book recommendations, and bookcasts have given me many suggestions for diversifying the study of literature. It’s stunning to realize that I’ve met all of my original goals for this course!
While that first step off a cliff is dizzying and my heart is in my throat, once I find my wings and start to glide, the panoramic landscape is exhilarating–the adrenaline rush is invigorating–the accomplishments are rewarding. Any time I have embarked on an adventure that seems nearly impossible in its complexity, it’s such an addicting rush when I realize at the end of my journey that I actually DID what at one time seemed overwhelming.
What a lot I have learned! VoiceThreads, Twitter, WordPress, Second Life, bookcasts, graphic novels, and interesting nonfiction are now as familiar to me as my home sweet home. I’m grateful for the encouragement and support of my cheering teammates, and I’m so glad I pushed through!
I’ve already stocked up on nonfiction library books and am plowing my way through them. My next conquest is to create a wiki for the study of American Literature (my favorite subject to teach)–maybe even organized by themes, instead of by my default literary periods–I want to imitate the Bookhenge course wiki, with its syllabus, assignment explanations, rubrics, helpful links, and exemplars in anticipation of a future class. I plan to integrate U.S. History, American Government, and English composition into this interdisciplinary study. (Don’t worry; I’ll tweak the projects based on my class.)
Meanwhile, I’m breathing deeply the fresh air at the summit and relishing the view.