“So that is how to create a single story: show a people as one thing, as only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become” (Adichie, 2009). This is not something I have ever contemplated as being present in education, but by watching Chimamanda Adichie’s Ted Talk, I know it happens. Only hearing one story about a person or place skews your view without you knowing that it has happened. In education, a small example of how this occurs is from year to year for students with information cards. Each year at my site, teachers fill out information cards about their students to help class placements for the following year. I will read the cards of my incoming class and take note of what is said, but after reading it, I set it aside. I will make my own observations and conclusions about my students. Reading one person’s thoughts on my students’ behaviors, abilities, struggles, triumphs is worth reading, but it is not everything. It is only one story. Students grow and change from year to year. To assume anything before they enter my class is disrespectful.
I never would have known that moving students towards a new culture of learning was a possibility, because I’d only ever heard one story about education. It is possible for students to focus on the process of learning instead of acquiring knowledge in school? Why did this never occur to me? Because I’d only ever heard a single story about teachers in education. Teachers are meant to transfer knowledge to their students, I was taught. Our job is to help them understand how to read, add, multiply, explain and more. Now that I have heard another story about education and how students can learn, I am in awe. Adichie explains,“The single story creates stereotypes and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story” (2009). Now that I have been exposed to a new and different way students can learn in the classroom, I can make an informed decision about what kind of teacher I would like to be. I can also seek out other stories about education to further my understanding. I will no longer blindly teach my students the way I’ve been told is the best way (through traditional schooling involving transferring of knowledge from teacher to student). I can now teach my students the way that I believe is best based on the options I know are available.
It is important to document my own story as an educator too because it will help spread the ideas about a different way of learning in education, or a different story. I have discovered so many different stories about education through my readings, blogs, twitter, instagram and videos. This has opened my eyes to the multitude of ways students can learn in the classroom. Now that I have been exposed to multiple stories about how students learn, I can share these ideas with others to move them away from their own single story. Sharing your story provides a wealth of viewpoints on a single topic that helps avoid further miscommunication when people only hear a single story. I can take the information I have learned, share it with others and lead the way towards a new kind of teaching. Adichie states, “When we reject the single story, when we realize that there is never a single story, about any place, we regain a kind of paradise” (2009). Perfectly said. Now that I know there is more than one story about how learning occurs in the classroom, I can reject the idea that traditional teaching is the only way. I can now teach my students in a way that makes sense for them and will help support them. This, in turn, will create a classroom that is a wonderful learning environment, which, to a teacher, is like paradise.
Adichie, Chimamanda. "The Danger of a Single Story." YouTube. TED Talks, 7 Oct. 2009. Web.
24 July 2015.
My online presence has basically been zero before starting this master’s program. I had Facebook and a faux-Instagram account. I say “faux-Instagram account” because I had an account, but I used it simply to view what others were posting. I did not post anything of my own. The reason why? The same reason my Facebook profile is set to private: I didn’t want strangers knowing anything about me. Austin Kleon, in his book Show Your Work (2014), encourages everyone to share their work. After being exposed to Twitter and being expected to tweet and interact with others in the education community about my ideas, I’ve come to understand the benefits of letting others know things about me. Kleon states "In this day and age, if your work isn't online, it doesn't exist" (Kleon, 2014, p.23). This further encouraged me to share my ideas and work online through blogs, Twitter and Instagram. As a teacher, I share my work all the time with my colleagues at my school. I know there are many benefits to sharing my work such as receiving feedback, having people build on top of my ideas and it brings teachers closer together and more willing to share their own work. Kleon (2014) supports my idea by stating that sharing doesn't mean competition, which I think many teachers are prone to with testing the way it is. "Teaching doesn't subtract value from what you do, it actually adds to it" (Kleon, 2014, p. 119). Therefore, I need to take my sharing from just my school to the online community. I have learned so many different ideas on how to integrate technology into my teaching and how to move my students towards a new culture of learning that involves collaborating with others to make sense of problems. If I had no idea how to complete certain tasks on Google documents, I now have about 100 educators I can ask on Twitter. This is a wonderful resource and vitally important to improving my teaching.
After watching Casey Neistat’s YouTube video Instagram i love you, I believe it is important to maintain an online presence as an educator. Right now I have a Twitter and Instagram account that I will be using professionally as an educator. I’ve been using Twitter regularly but now I need to start utilizing Instagram to see what it can offer. Obviously pictures are more interesting to look at than text, but can it help educators connect as well as text? It’s my job as a leader to seek out this information and make contributions of my own. Neistat (2012) points out that “Instagram is not about the pictures, it’s about the sharing.” Instagram allows you to see into the lives of really interesting people. Neistat recommends that users find a theme and document it. This is identical to Kleon's idea as well. He even states "Become a documentarian of what you do" (Kleon, 2014, p.41). The theme that I am the most comfortable with and the one I’m the most interested in is education. I am hoping I can share and connect with others about education. Learning from others will provide me opportunities to share ideas I’ve learned online to my school site and take a leadership role.
George Couros’ article Snapchat and Education (2014) outlines how it is important to maintain an online presence as an educator, but that there can still be limits. He started the article by trying to provide examples of how you can use Snapchat in the classroom. He had tweeted this question and got many answers, but one answer that stood out to him was that students think of Snapchat as an adult-free platform so it should stay out of the classroom. This is true to some extent. I think students know that adults use Snapchat because I have used it on field trips to send pictures and video to my colleagues who weren’t there. My students thought it was cool, but did not act really surprised that I had Snapchat. I do think they would think it was strange to use it in the classroom. This is where I think the limits of maintaining an online presence may be. I can have an online presence, but not have all my students or parents following me on Twitter or Instagram. Couros (2014) states “I also don’t think we need to invade every space that kids are on.” I agree. Some platforms are okay to be used only for social interactions such as Snapchat. However, I do think it’s a good idea to figure out why students enjoy these apps so much. Allowing students to connect to each other is probably one of the most meaningful ways they can learn. Therefore, allowing them to connect about class or during class would be great. I plan on setting up a Google+ community for my classes once school begins and allow them to share and post things about school to form a collective learning network amongst themselves. This will allow them to maintain an online presence, but also limit their sharing to the topics that are relevant to share about. I do not want students posting personal pictures to the community. Sharing is important and can lead to wonderful learning and leading opportunities, but limiting sharing is also valuable to maintain boundaries between students and teachers.
Couros, George. "Snapchat and Education." The Principal of Change. 27 Oct. 2014. Web.
15 July 2015. <http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/4866>
Kleon, Austin. Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Discovered. New York,
NY: Workman, 2014. Print.
Neistat, C. (2012, October 2). Instagram i love you. [Video file] Retrieved from
Chapter 7 - Knowing, Making and Playing
Quote: “In the twenty-first century, however, knowledge is becoming less a question of ‘What is the information?’ and more of a ‘Where is the information?’” (Thomas, 2011, p.91). I chose this quote for this chapter because it sums up the way learning occurs in the twenty-first century. In a National Geographic Survey, only 63% of 18 to 24 year olds could find Iraq on a map, but when asked to find Iraq using technology, 100% of 18 to 24 year olds could find it. The emphasis in education needs to shift from content-based knowledge, to process-based knowledge - where is the information, instead of what is the information.
Question: How do we shift towards this type of learning when testing is still highly content-based knowledge?
Connection: This chapter really resonated with me because I have seen a significant shift in my own life and society as a whole from relying on content-based knowledge to process-based knowledge. When chatting with friends about a certain topic and a question comes up, what do we do? We look it up online. Most of us have a smartphone and we are able to find the answer within minutes of searching. If this is what learning looks like in the real world, why are we still expecting our students to memorize content that can easily be found by searching online?
Epiphany/Aha: The very first sentence of this chapter is “The truism, ‘you live, you learn,’ lies at the heart of the new culture of learning” (Thomas, 2011, p.90) was an epiphany for me. I am completing my 20Time project on coding right now and I have a much better understanding of it now that I’ve tried it myself. If I had just researched and read about it I would have only a fraction of the learning that I do from completing it myself. Students need to have the same experience. You learn so much better by doing than by reading about doing.
Chapter 8 - Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out
Quote: “Digital networked environments do not provide only an extension of real-world interaction; they also provide an enhanced environment for sharing information and engaging in meaningful social interaction” (Thomas, 2011, p.101). I chose this quote because I think it explains the concept behind the three levels of the progression of digital networking. First, you use digital networks to socialize and develop a social identity online (hanging out). Then, you begin to explore what digital networks are interesting to you personally to learn more about topics of interest (messing around). Lastly, you combine your online social identity with your interests and you deeply explore the networks for self-promoted learning (geeking out). Digital environments provide an “enhanced environment” for learning (Thomas, 2011).
Question: What does this look like in a classroom and how would you implement the steps to get there? I would love for my students to be self motivated to deeply immerse themselves into self-promoted learning, but I don’t know how to begin.
Connection: I feel like this chapter perfectly describes my EDL 680 course: Seminar in Personalized Learning and Leading with Technology. First we had to establish our social identity online by participating on twitter, instagram and blogging. Then we had to begin exploring digital networks that are interesting to us to complete our 20Time projects. Lastly, we will move onto immersing ourselves in digital networks for self-promoted learning to complete our final presentation for our 20Time project that has to have a Ted Talk feel to it. Not to mention, our grades depend on three digital badges that are named after the three levels in the progression. Perfectly named.
Epiphany/Aha: I never thought of digital networking as progressing in levels, but now that it has been outlined by Thomas (2011) it makes sense. I would love to move my students through the different levels throughout the year to immerse them in digital networking to support their learning.
Chapter 9 - The New Culture of Learning for a World of Constant Change
Quote: “Imagine an environment where the participants are building, creating, and participating in a massive network of dozens of databases, hundreds of wikis and websites, and thousands of message forums, literally creating a large-scale knowledge” (Thomas, 2011, p.106). I chose this quote because this chapter outlines how gaming is the best way for students to learn because they work collectively to find solutions to problems, but in the process they unearth more questions. This leads to a continuous learning cycle in which play and imagination are key to solving problems.
Question: Is Thomas suggesting we completely throw out the traditional way of teaching and move students to only learn through gaming? I agree it is a wonderful way to learn, but I’m not sure it completely replaces all forms of learning.
Connection: My students participated in Minecraft day this year where they collaborated to build a city using Minecraft because our school won a free day of coding at our Code to the Future campus. The CFO of Minecraft attended the event and our superintendent talked to me about incorporating Minecraft into teaching. At first I was really confused and didn’t know how Minecraft could be used for teaching. Now I see that they are embracing the new culture of learning and I am thrilled that my district is forward thinking and so technologically inclined.
Epiphany/Aha: Gaming isn’t about winning a game. Gaming is about allowing students to engage in a collaborative learning environment to use their imaginations to come up with creative solutions to problems. Thomas (2011) states “In fact, the ability to play may be the single most important skill to develop for the twenty-first century” (p.114). I didn’t understand this concept until reading this chapter.
Thomas, D., & Brown, J. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a
world of constant change. Lexington, KY: CreateSpace Independent Publishing
Educators came together from all over to discuss professional development through a twitter chat.
Monday, July 6, 2015 @ 5 pm PST.
Casey Neistat (2012) loves Instagram, a picture sharing app, like 300 million other users. Instagram now has more users than Twitter (Constine, 2014). The difference between the two is that Instagram is only pictures, and Twitter is text. Yes, you can embed a picture in a tweet, but Twitter is based on text and Instagram is based on pictures. Neistat explains that Instagram is not simply about posting pictures. Instagram is about sharing a story. This story is told through pictures. This is very similar to Snapchat (a more recent app), but Instagram keeps a permanent record of posted pictures, while Snapchat only keeps posts for up to 24 hours. Instagram is a way to document your life and share it with others. Neistat goes on to give a few pointers on how to use Instagram in his YouTube video Instagram i love you (2012) and advises users to find a theme and use it when posting pictures to share with others.
I’ve never thought of Instagram as a way to to share anything besides normal day-to-day things. And for this reason, I’ve never gotten into it. Do I have an Instagram account? Yes. And I scroll through the posts of the 50 people that I follow (most of whom are celebrities) when I have some time to kill. Now that I think about it, the pictures that are the least interesting are the pictures of celebrities looking perfect. The interesting posts are the ones that have something to share. Political views, memes, posts of what people are doing, and more. These are the things that make Instagram worth browsing. This concept never occurred to me until Neistat said it in his YouTube video. We don’t want to see picture after picture of selfies. We want to see pictures that are worth seeing.
Now that I have a different view of Instagram, I can see how useful it can be. Being asked to actively participate on Twitter has opened my eyes to the value of interacting with others on social media for professional purposes. I’m sure I can have the same experience with Instagram. I’ve never thought to have a “theme” when posting things online. Maybe that’s why it’s been difficult for me to want to share pictures. I’ve never used Twitter before now because I didn’t feel like I had anything to say. However, using Twitter to post about education? I have plenty to say! I could do the same thing for Instagram. This program has opened my eyes to so many different platforms I could be using to get support and interact with other educators. Google+, Twitter, Instagram, and Weebly are all fantastic ways to express myself, receive feedback and interact with others who share the same viewpoints. Instagram is not only about posting selfies. Instagram can be posting about my day as a teacher and seeing what other teachers go through on a day-to-day basis. What a great way to come together to support one another. Instagram here I come!
Constine, J. (2014, December 10). Instagram Hits 300 Million Monthly Users To Surpass
Twitter, Keeps It Real With Verified Badges. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
Neistat, C. (2012, October 2). Instagram i love you. [Video file] Retrieved from
Logan is a 13-year-old who attends the Squaw Valley Institute and considers his education to be something called “hackschooling.” His school bases their education on the study of being happy and healthy. Students learn through collaboratively working with and learning from members in the community by cultivating curiosity and creativity. Logan’s TED Talk was inspirational and very well done considering he’s only 13. When I was 13 I wouldn’t have been able to get up on a stage in front of adults, let alone give a speech about education reform. Logan discussed how most of his learning revolved around skiing which is something he’s passionate about. He worked with professionals who designed skis, redefined skiing by “hacking” skiing, and who designed clothing and hats for skiers. Logan was passionate about it so he was motivated to learn and was learning how to build a happy and healthy life for himself.
Everything that Logan describes in his video is amazing and I wish all my students could be so lucky to have the same learning experience that he does. I also hope my students get a very small dose of this by being in my classroom. I give my students choice when doing certain projects, which allows them to choose things that are best for them and in turn motivates them to learn. Now, allowing my students to choose what they want to base their narrative writing on is not the same experience that Logan has, by any means. However, within our restrictive education system, I think I’m doing as best I can to allow my students to choose what they would like to work on.
I’ve watched many videos, read many articles and books on education reform. I agree that education should move students towards creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, collaborating and learning about what they are interested in. The difficulty I see with all the talk about education reform is that that’s all it is. It’s talk. Teachers have to teach the content standards from the adopted curriculum which is hard enough to get through in a 6-hour day. Would I love for my students to have more time to be creative? Absolutely! But how? I don’t know many teachers who wouldn’t like some form of education reform, but with all the demands that are placed on us, our hands are tied. I think we are heading into a time when education may actually change to keep up with our advancing global society, but I worry that somehow we will still be held back by the restrains of testing or whatever new form of accountability that is adopted. Teachers are doing their jobs. Good teachers teach the material and the students have fun while doing it. Great teachers create an environment where students have a voice about what they want to learn and how they’d like to do it. Additionally, teachers have been told for so long that they have to teach a particular way that you can’t just do an about face and expect them to do perfectly the first time. If we want to take our students from knowing how to complete a multiple-choice test well to solving complex problems that require critical thinking skills, we’re going to need a minute to figure out how to help our students and ourselves transition.
I know videos on education reform are not about attacking teachers or implying that we are not doing a good job. For the most part, I want to believe that teachers love what they do and do it to help students grow. Therefore, if students are not able to think critically, there is something that is missing: the curriculum doesn’t allow for it, teachers are not given enough time to deviate from the standards, or the worst scenario - standardized tests don’t require it. Schooling has always been about transference of knowledge from teacher to student. Now that that isn’t a priority anymore teachers need to be given direction on how to transition because it’s not an easy transition to make. My hat goes off to the innovators of the Squaw Valley Institute because I don’t know how I would even begin to establish a school that encompasses all that they do with their students. I love the idea, though, so how do we move in that direction?
Tedx Talks. (2013, February 12). Hackschooling makes me happy. [Video file] Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h11u3vtcpaY&index=1&list=PLbRLdW37G3oMquOaC-HeUIt6CWk-FzaGp
Chapter 4 - Learning in the Collective
Quote: “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and feed him as long as the fish supply holds out. But create a collective, and every man will learn how to feed himself for a lifetime” (Thomas, 2011, p.53). Not only did this quote make me laugh out loud, but it fully explains the concept of a collective that is described in chapter 4. A collective is the process of people working together to collaboratively learn through group participation on a topic. This is a fundamental part of the new culture of learning.
Question: What is the best way to present this type of learning to administrators who still place a large emphasis on standards and objectives? Collective learning environments cannot be directed or defined without ruining innovation (Thomas, 2011).
Connection: A collective learning environment that is described in this chapter is exactly what our Google+ community is doing for my classmates and I in our program. We are all learning independently with support from our professors, but by sharing our learning with each other, we are collectively learning things that are better than the sum of its parts.
Epiphany/Aha: An epiphany for me was another quote that states “Learning from others is neither new nor revolutionary; it has just been ignored by most of our educational institutions” (Thomas, 2011, p.51). This is so true! Teachers are told to allow students to learn from each other, however, certain restrictions apply. We still need to control what they are sharing with each other and monitor this learning to ensure certain objectives are reached. The concept of a collective is that objectives won’t apply because you don’t know where the learning will go, but allowing students to collaboratively learn is a great idea.
Chapter 5 - The Personal with the Collective
Quote: “Because learning with digital media occupies a space that is both personal and collective, people can share experience as well as knowledge. Here, people are not just learning from one another, they are learning with one another” (Thomas, 2011, p.67). I chose this quote because chapter 5 discusses how the media can be viewed as having two separate spheres: the public and the private. However, with the new type of learning that exists with collectives, these two distinctions are not appropriate. Instead, we can describe two domains that are intertwined and overlapping: the personal and the collective. Most online media cannot be divided into public and private, but the personal and the collective are better domain descriptors.
Question: It’s going to be difficult to get parents to see the distinction between the public/private and the personal/collective domains. Many parents don’t participate online like our students can and therefore are still concerned with internet safety. How do we get parents to understand that learning in a collective is beneficial for their children?
Connection: I am currently participating in a collective with my 20Time project. I am creating games using coding on a program called Scratch with others doing the same thing. This is a type of collective because everyone participating is interested in coding and creating games or animations. It is also personal because people are sharing their individual work and commenting on others. Collectives are built and structured around participation (Thomas, 2011) and that is exactly what Scratch does. It’s fascinating to see what other people have created and then I can incorporate small parts of their work into my own. It’s an amazing environment for learning, so I can see its value in the classroom as well.
Epiphany/Aha: An Aha moment for me was when they redefined the domains for online participation from public and private to personal and the collective. Now that I have participated in a collective and seen it’s value I know that you cannot separate online participation into only public and private. The domains are much more fluid and sometimes you can participate without including anything personal, but most times it overlaps.
Chapter 6 - We Know More Than We Can Say
Quote: “But tacit knowledge, which grows through personal experience and experimentation, is not transferrable - you can’t teach it to me, though I can still learn it” (Thomas, 2011, p.77). I chose this quote because chapter 6 focuses on how schooling in the past has focused on teaching knowledge, but the new culture of learning focuses on tacit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is the type of knowledge you gain through personal experiences and interactions. It cannot be transferred from teacher to student, but we can allow students time to practice experimenting and interacting with others to gain more tacit knowledge (Thomas, 2011).
Question: Thomas (2011) mentions that measuring tacit knowledge is difficult. If this is the type of knowledge that we want students to practice and get better at, how will we measure it? Or is it implied that measuring knowledge (tacit or otherwise) is not something that should be emphasized in schooling?
Connection: As I was reading this chapter I began thinking about how I was as a student in school. Thomas (2011) states “The skilled student today learns how to watch the teacher closely and thereby infer what questions will be on the test” (p.78). I never did this in elementary through high school. I did my homework, tried somewhat hard (I was not the “best of the best” type of student), and did fine in school. However, in college it was a totally different story. We had to write papers that required critical analysis. We had to complete research that was important (I was a psych major). And the answers were not “right there” like they always had been. I did so much better in college than I had in any of my high school classes, and I cared too. After reading this chapter I know that I was using my tacit knowledge, which I had never been asked to use before. I would go to class and watch the professors, ask questions and interact with them to figure out the solutions to problems. And let me tell you, my classes in college were much more worthwhile than any of my high school classes.
Epiphany/Aha: It was an aha moment for me when Thomas described tacit knowledge. Who knew this would be a type of knowledge that could be valued? It is not something that can be taught, but I know it’s a valuable tool for students to have, especially when they are asked to think critically. Asking questions, synthesizing information, and inquiry based learning are things that students need more experience with.
Thomas, D., & Brown, J. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a
world of constant change. Lexington, KY: CreateSpace Independent Publishing