Digital Literacy and Teaching: Six Things You Should Know

Featured Image CC-By: Bryan McDonald

Link to Creative Commons License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

I can’t believe this is my last blog post! It is so bittersweet. I have learned many things throughout my time in Literacy in the Digital Age, specifically about digital literacy, teaching, and the collaboration of the two. Here are six major things I learned throughout the semester!

Teaching is not for you, it is for your students.

I can’t stress this point enough. In everything you do as a teacher, you have to make sure that your student’s best interests are going to be met. It also means that you can’t do things that work only for you, it has to work for your kids too. Come up with new and interesting things that work for them!

Kids are already very good at networking and anything related. Let them use Digital Literacy to learn.

Let’s face it, kids are geniuses when it comes to devices, social media, or really anything that deals with digital literacy. So use their knowledge of the digital world to help them learn through digital literacy. It not only will help them become even better at digital literacy which is a necessity in today’s world, but will also make learning relatable to what they know and enjoy. Refer back to point one if you need a refresher.

Digital Literacy can connect you and your classroom to others around the world.

By using various devices and creating personal learning networks, we can connect with other classrooms and students from all over the world, which means our students are connected to new ideas. This can impact their learning so much. Don’t let the opportunity for your students to gain a new experience pass- let digital literacy show your kids the world!

Don’t let the cons of technology shy you away from using it in your classroom.

We all know that technology can be used for things that don’t enhance student learning or growth, but we can’t let that keep us from using technology in the classroom. It is just one of the risks you have to take. Use your classroom management skills to prevent students from using it for the wrong things. You won’t succeed every time, but that doesn’t mean you should stop trying. In relation to not always being able to succeed…

New and innovative methods, assignments, and other materials you find and try might not always work well for your class. But don’t give up on trying something new just yet.

The way I like to think of this is like that awesome looking recipe you found on Pinterest. You think it’s going to turn out fantastic, but once you take the first bite you realize you messed up. Do you give up and never try another new recipe again? No, you keep on experimenting and you find some awesome ones along the way. The same goes for trying new things in your classroom!

Finally, you need to learn a lot about digital literacy.

You can’t do a lot of what I mentioned above if you’re not at least somewhat decent at networking and using various devices. It’s hard to do a lot of things in today’s world if you’re not proficient in this area. It’s okay if you still don’t know a lot right now (trust me, I have a lot of learning left to do, too) just start taking the steps to learn more. That kind of knowledge will allow you to be a better teacher for your students someday!

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Wrapping it up…

 

My individual learning project is by far one of my all time favorite things that I have ever done in school. I got to spend time doing what I love to do and learned so many things about myself in the process. One thing that I learned is that I am somewhat creative, even though I have to spend quite a bit of time to come up with original things. I also learned that I can persevere and complete a big task; it’s taken me so long to get to the point that I am at, but I haven’t given up and don’t plan to anytime soon. I know now I can do anything if I set my mind to it work hard. Finally, I learned I still have a lot to learn and do before I’m able to be published, but having the opportunity to write through my ILP has allowed me to get closer.

Motivating myself to work on my project was a little strange. Sometimes I would find it very hard to start working on it, but then towards the end of the two hours I would have to make myself stop. Other times, I would want to work on it all week long when I needed to work on other things first.

The best thing about the project for me was just getting to do something I love that also allowed me to learn. Furthermore, it was so much easier to be invested in this homework because it was meant to be on something we enjoyed. Thus, being invested in it made it so much more beneficial.

Independent learning is definitely going to be a part of my classroom someday, whether it be in the form of the school-wide passion projects my tablemates and I presented on earlier in the semester, or through allowing students to choose an assignment from ds106 to complete when they have time. Furthermore, I believe it is so important that as teachers we take the time to find out what our students’ passions are so that we can try to incorporate them into different lessons we create. Of course, not everyone’s passion is going to be involved in every lesson, but if we can incorporate them as much as we can I think it can make such a difference in a child’s learning.

I am so grateful that I got the opportunity to do an ILP, and the things I learned are kind of represented in the featured image on the blog. I hope everyone else had as much fun on their ILP as I did, and that we can all continue to pursue what we like to do!

The Bucket List

For my second to last ds106 assignment, I decided I would do the Bucket List; you put together a collage of the items on your bucket list and tell everyone a little bit about it. Now, I know a bucket list typically has awesome adventures and endeavors on it, but mine is fairly simple. If these are the only things I ever get to do in life I will be content; I feel like I will have been successful.

The first item on my bucket list is to graduate college and become a teacher. This is something I want so bad; I believe that when I become a teacher is when I am really going to start to be able to make a difference in the world. Helping kids chase their dreams and become successful adults is an absolute dream. Also included in that item is graduating college with a masters degree in school administration. I don’t want to just be able to change things in my own classroom, I want to be able to change an entire school for the better, and becoming a principal will enable me to do that, of course with the help of my fellow teachers and staff.

The second item on my bucket list is to publish my novel. I don’t know if that will ever happen or not, but it is definitely a big dream of mine. I get excited just thinking about it. Of course, I have a long road before this could ever happen, but I can dream about it and pray like crazy that it will!

The third part of my bucket list is to marry my best friend/ boyfriend of four years. This won’t happen until we’re both done with school and are settled into careers, but it is definitely one of the things I am most excited about in my future. Life just wouldn’t be the same if I don’t get to spend it by his side!

The last item on my bucket list is my favorite one: I can’t wait to become a mom. I know God will throw me so many challenges during the journey of becoming a mom, but I will tackle those challenges head on because I know that what God has in store for me after those challenges is something amazing. I can’t wait to watch my babies grow up, do fun things with them, and watch them chase their own dreams. If being a mom is the only amazing thing I ever do, I will be so happy.

So there it is, my simple but perfect for me bucket list!

The Long Road…

Image CC-By: Marwa Morgan

Link to License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode

I hit another milestone on my ILP!

I finished going through my paper manuscript and noting any revisions I thought it needed. Which means that I am that much closer to having a second draft. I did realize that the second half of my book’s pacing is not right; it is too slow at first and then speeds up too much at the end for readers to be able to keep up. I think I have a general idea of how to fix it, but I’ll just have to see what I can do when I actually go into my document and make the revisions.

I also have to sit down and think about what scenes I want to add in. My end goal word count is about 90,000, and right now I’m at about 65,000. There is going to be a lot of things I get rid of while I edit, so I’d like to add in more to increase the size of my novel. I also think it needs more action to pick up the pace in some spots and give my plot a little bit of higher stakes. I haven’t exactly finalized what scenes I want added in, but I do have an idea.

I’ve also become very excited at the idea of letting people read my draft. Although it will be hard to hear criticism, it will be so good for me to hear what I can do to make my novel better based on the views of readers. I really believe that is when the best editing is going to take place. It will also give me an idea of how readers will react to my writing.

I haven’t really set a timeline of when I want to be able to send submissions in to literary agents; you can’t really time things exactly how you want to. But, being ready by the end of this summer would be ideal. We’ll see if that actually happens or not. Although I love writing, doing good in school and working hard to become the best teacher I can be comes first..

I have a long road ahead of me before I become a real published author. But Digital Literacy has given be a great opportunity to start the journey, and for that I am forever grateful.

Introducing…

My seventh ds106 project fits perfectly for what I am doing for my ILP of writing a novel, and thus I was so excited when I found it. This assignment is called ‘Create a Character’. So, I thought I would introduce you all to one of my favorite main characters from my novel, and provide a little bit of a sneak peak into my dystopian world!

Name: Minna Gregor

Gender: Female

Age: 18

Home: New Germany (The Order)

Height: 5’8

Eye Color: Blue

Hair Color: Blonde

Other Physical Descriptors: She is very slender, and her hair falls just below her shoulders. She also appears to be almost a little tom boyish in how she carries herself.

Personality Description: Minna is cold at first, but definitely warms up as you get to know her. She is very sarcastic which makes her very funny at times. She is very protective of the people she loves, especially after losing her parents. It should also be noted that she is only concerned with the one she loves, no one else matters to her. Her life situation has made her tough as nails, and a little brooding at times. She is not someone that anyone would mess with.

Family: Parents (deceased)

Sister Lottie Gregor (21)

Backstory: Minna and her sister were orphaned at a young age after their parents were killed in an accident, and rather than putting them in an orphanage the government sent them to work for the nation. As young children working for the government they endured many horrible things, which has had an effect on their mental and physical health. As a result Minna does not trust New Germany at all and has become a bit of a fighter. Although she does not say it out loud, you are usually able to tell she is unhappy. However, she did find a family while working that she holds onto very tightly and that keeps her going.

I would add in a little bit more to her backstory, but I definitely don’t want to give too much away so that it’s not a surprise if my book ever does somehow become published. I had so much fun doing this, and I felt like I got a better idea of who my character is! I hope you all enjoyed finding out a little bit more! I also hope that you are all also enjoying doing your own Ds106 assignments!

Dear Diary…

Image CC-By: Fitzcharming

Link to License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode

For my next ds106 assignment, I chose to do the ‘Dear Diary’ assignment, where I get to write a diary entry from the point of view from a Disney villain. One of my favorite Disney movies is “Frozen”, and I thought it would be so fun to write from the point of view of Hans!

Dear Diary,

My plan to become prince of Arendelle was foiled; I was so close, Anna was going to be taken care of with no issues. No one would have suspected a thing, Elsa would be put to death, and I would have lived a life of luxury with no big brothers to beat me up! But then the stupid little snowman that follows her everywhere messed everything up. Not to mention her freaky sister, smelly friend, and the reindeer- I for the life of me could not figure out why he had a reindeer, such strange people.

Now they’re sending me back to deal with my brothers. Who knows what they’re going to do to me. I wish they would go back to ignoring me like they used to.

Maybe I could run away, find another ignorant princess who needs a handsome, charming man to help her run a country. Surely there has to be another! This time I’ll make sure she doesn’t have a sister. Then I’ll be able to live my life of luxury as a king! Just the way it should be.

Anyways, this ship they’re sending me back on is terrible. It smells and they’re not even feeding me decent meals? Don’t they know I’m royalty? Don’t they know I have requirements? Ridiculous. They also haven’t provided me with any ice to put on my nose where Anna hit me, don’t they know I don’t want to bruise? They are going to hear it when I get back home!

Update a few days after returning home:

They’re making me work! I’ve been in the stables, me, Hans who is royalty- dealing with horses? How deplorable! I had to scrub the floors with a toothbrush, wash walls, everything a man of my merit should not have to do. My dumb brothers even made me sleep in the dungeons! Can you believe how ridiculous that is?

I have to find another poor princess to sweep off her feet, and soon. I can’t put up with this horrible treatment for much longer.

I am dreaming of a kingdom of my own. I just can’t wait to be king!

-Hans

Caribbean Vacation!

This is one of the assignments I was most excited about for when it comes to ds106: ‘Create Your Dream Vacation on Pinterest’. First and foremost, I have a Pinterest addiction, and second of all, I love to travel (especially to tropical places), so this assignment was a perfect combination of the two. My dream vacation is to an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica, and I am hoping that this will be my future honeymoon trip. You pay one price based on your level and room, and it includes all drinks and food for free, as well as a variety of other activities on the resort. I’ve done a lot of research, and the resort I am looking at is Sandal’s Montego Bay: it has the longest private beach in the country, and I am all about a big and great beach. I also really like that it is only ten minutes from the airport; I would rather deal with a little noise from airplanes than have to travel a few hours to get to a resort. I’ll still be able to go on excursions outside the resort to see the real Jamaica without having to be in a car for so long. The resort also offers a wide array of restaurants to choose from for meals based on your mood and craving.

My dream room on the resort is Beachfront Honeymoon Suits on the club level (which includes 24 hour room service and free Wi-Fi). It is right on the beach, which I love, and is also a ways away from most of the main bars and restaurants which means it will be more quiet. Furthermore, if we wanted to do something a little different, we could travel to two other Sandal’s resorts on the bay to eat or check out their beaches. The Royal Caribbean has a private island that I really wanted to see, and the small Carlyle lets you see more of the real Jamaica.

I think this dream vacation can definitely happen. The total cost for this would be $5, 276.71, which includes airfare, but not the excursions they offer. My boyfriend and I went on a Segway tour in Florida this last May and loved it, so I thought doing the $138 per person Segway Jamaica tour would be perfect for us. I also really want to go see Dunn’s falls and other scenic areas in remote Jamaica. One night I’d also really like to pay to do a romantic dinner for two on the beach (I know I know, I’m a hopeless romantic).

I really hope that this trip will be possible someday, and I think it definitely could be if we work hard on saving up and pay it off slowly. If you want you can look at my Caribbean vacation board!

Pinterest Board

The way it should’ve been…

Photo CC-By: Bernhard Hanakam

Link to License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

For my next assignment under ds106, I chose to do the Fanfic assignment ‘The Way it Should’ve Been’. You just have to take a piece of your favorite book, movie, or T.V. show and write what you wish would have happened different in it.

SPOILER ALERT WARNING: IF YOU HAVE NOT WATCHED OR READ THE FINAL PART OF MOCKINGJAY, READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Thus, in honor of the final installment of The Hunger Games series coming out this weekend, I decided to write about the one thing I wish Suzanne Collins would have changed (not that I love the books any less, they’re still my favorite): I wish Finnick Odair wouldn’t have died. Annie was pregnant and was left all alone to raise their son.

I cried. Don’t judge.

Anyways, that whole deal in the sewers was a mess for everyone. Just for reference, Messalla, Leeg 1, Jackson, Homes, Castor, and Finnick all perished by various horrors: A meat grinder, some sort of skin melting beam, and mutant lizard type creatures.

Rather than dying in that mess, it would have been fantastic if Finnick had made it out with the other five. I do think Finnick’s death was the final piece in Katniss breaking down and blaming herself for every death (I mean she watched one of her best friends die), but I still think the loss of the others would have still been heavy on Katniss’s heart (especially with sweet Pollux grieving for his brother); I really don’t think his survival would have thrown the book in a totally different direction.

Furthermore, had Finnick made it out, I don’t believe that he would have stayed behind with Cressida, Pollux, and Peeta at Tigris’s shop; he would have wanted to get in on the action and make sure that Katniss made it out alive. I really do believe that was one of his main goals throughout his presence in the series, it was all about keeping her alive to keep the Revolution going, and because she was his good friend.

After all was said and done, Finnick probably would have been a major supporter of Katniss after Prim was killed (also terrible, but I think it needed to happen, I think like an author in that sense). Also, like Annie said at the vote for another Hunger Games, Finnick would have definitely voted no, and probably would have gone to visit Katniss after she assassinated Coin and made some smart remarks in true Finnick fashion.

When everyone was finally allowed to go home, Finnick and Annie defintiley would have returned to District Four to raise their son by the ocean, just as they grew up. With of course, occasional trips to visit the Mellark family.

I know, I know very wishful thinking. As a writer myself, I know every character’s death plays a significant role in the story, but Finnick was my favorite character, and his death to me was the worst.

If only I could change the story….

Ds106 and ‘Dog it Out’

I love anything that is totally fun, out there, and sparks creativity. Ds106, also known as a course on digital storytelling, is the perfect place to go for this. It’s all about forging your own identity on the internet through different activities or assignments (that are totally awesome if I do say so myself). All you need is 20 minutes (or less), a computer, and a way to share your projects to get your creative juices flowing and have a little fun. The ‘assignments’ vary greatly, which means there is something for everyone. Being the bookworm I am, the Fanfic assignments are my favorite. There is an assignment where you get to write the way something should have been in a novel or movie, and for any Hunger Games fans out there, lets just say I have some things I want to fix when it comes to Finnick Odair. I also really like the writing assignments tab- writing through the eyes of a Disney villain (personally I’m thinking Hans from Frozen) is gonna be so much fun.

A second thing that is great about ds106 doesn’t have to be just something for everyday creativity, but it can also be used in the classroom. There are so many different assignments that can be integrated into lesson planning; I have already seen so many different assignments I want to bring into my history classroom that will help make the content I will be teaching fun for the students. I’ve also noticed that a lot of the assignments under the Writing tab have a lot of great prompts that could be used in English classrooms as quick writing assignments students can share with the world. Furthermore, by sharing these assignments, the students will be able to share their work with people from all over the place, and maybe learn more by looking at the projects that other people have done. I really believe that ds106 could really be revolutionary when it comes to how we teach in our classrooms. It gives us the opportunity to find fun activities to use when we can’t come up with them on our own and provides a network to share that experience through.

In closing, I figured it a great way to show what ds106 is all about was to provide my first assignment! The assignment is Dog it Out, and basically you just had to edit a photo of your pet in a fun way that makes people smile. It was a simple but fun project to get me started on my digital storytelling!

Here is Hank, participating in one of his favorite pastimes:

hank

The Editing Process (dun, dun, duuunnn)

Featured Image CC-By: Laura Ritchie

Link to License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

Man, is the editing process a whole new ballpark.

One second I feel proud of the work I’ve done and get really excited about my draft, then the next second I am not happy with it all and convince myself that it is beyond repair.

My draft can be repaired (although I have to remind myself of that), and I’ve narrowed done what I will focus on as I continue the editing process. One of the biggest things I’ve noticed is that when I’m writing and I get excited or when there is a lot going on, the story line and dialogue gets kind of jumbled together and is hard to follow. As I’ve been reading, I’ve been really focusing on whether or not I’m able to follow along comfortably as a reader and that I’m not overwhelmed with too many details.

A second focus of my editing is making sure that my dialogue sounds real and isn’t cheesy (Good Lord, do I have a habit of having my characters say things that a real human being never would). I’ve been doing a lot of research recently through blogs of other authors to try to learn more about creating realistic and good dialogue, and I feel like I have improved a lot just by doing that.

The third focus I have while editing is making sure there are no holes in my plot. I know when I reach good parts in my plot, I get a little excited and tend to forget to put in details that are needed for things to make sense (again, the excitement causes problems). I’ve been watching closely for things that are not logical based on what I’ve given the reader. Sometimes the holes in the plot are needed to make a good story, but other times it leaves readers way too confused.

The final focus of editing is making my characters deeper and more complex. I wrote down everything I want my readers to know personality wise about each of the main characters. I keep those details with me while I edit to make sure I incorporate the personality traits into my writing. I’ve always admired Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight for the complexity of the characters; she pulled off writing in different character POV beautifully by letting the reader see the differences in personalities through what the characters were thinking and doing.

Anyways, I hope everyone is having a great time with their ILP! Happy learning!