Ms Eppele's Blog

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Participatory Culture

on February 13, 2011

I will admit when I first thought about my reflection on this, I had no idea what I was going to say. My brain felt like it was about to burst. I had to take a week to think about how I have implemented change in my own classroom, and where I have not. To be honest after reading through the articles I think my students and myself are heading in the right direction. Of course I am feeling hesitant and a little scared. However, over the past two weeks the students have made me more comfortable with the acknowledgement of new change.

My first job in the class is to create a safe learning environment for all learners. That is, we as a class create an environment where we are safe to express ourselves and to ask questions. A student teacher has been visiting my room over the past week and she said that she loved our class. She observed how the students were open with each other and could not believe how they opened up about their feelings during our class meeting. She said that is why she likes primary, they tend to be more open with their feelings unlike intermediates. I had to suggest that it was something else. If you had come into any of my intermediate classrooms over the years, you would have seen the same thing. It is about creating a culture of learners who feel safe in the environment they have created.

The articles discuss a lot about collaboration and peer involvement, and I believe creating an environment that is safe to wonder needs to be developed before we help engage the students into participatory culture. Watching the students blog, I have seen students not worry about the spelling but have watched them become empowered by their own thoughts, ideas, and questions. I have seen them support each other when they can not log in or find the correct blog. I have read students sooprting (supporting their word!) each other on the blogs.

This participatory culture is not something we create, it is here already. The students already know what to do. How? I have no clue. I have spoken to parents about what technology is being used at home, and many have said that they can not get over how their kids and younger kids are using ipods, ipads, internet, cellphones etc… I have always seen my role as a teacher more as a role as a facilitator. Now more than ever, I see why. I am always concerned about hiding the “bad things” from the internet, I see I need to sit with them and discuss what they already know about avoiding those things. It should not be something I am afraid to talk about, it is there and the kids see it at school, at home, at their friend’s house. The bottom line is that the parents and myself need to teach the students skills around the internet safety.

Going through the list skills in media literacy I have seen I am more comfortable with some more than others.  Here are a few we are using in the class; peer-to-peer learning,play, appropriation (diff. types of media), collective intelligence (our blogging on one topic), collaborative problem solving (the kids are doing this one!). I would love to begin working on judgement and networking very soon. We are beginning to learn about researching and I think those fit perfectly!

How do these mediums impact learning? I have seen the students become more engaged in their learning. I have seen and heard that they are sharing more with their parents, so much that they are even collaborating with their parents on their wonders!  I now have parents wanting to blog with us! The students are also taking on more ownership of their learning. They are excited to come and share what they have found and how they did it. 

How may it impact the way in which I am teaching? Hmmmm….well my brain is exploding! I am excited about this shift in learning but I feel like I am falling behind in this. I know I am ahead in many areas, but I feel like I am falling behind the students. I love when the students come in and share what they have learned with the class and myself. I love it when the students can help me solve a problem with a technical difficulty, but what I mean is I am worried I am falling behind the change and I do not want this to affect the students and their development. 

There is so much to think about, and I know that we can not do it all. By being aware of this shift will empower us to facilitate the change in education on step at a time, supporting one another.

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