July 8, 2012

Where Do I Start?

That is the question, isn't it?  While recently exploring the National Writing Project's Digital Is site, I came across an interesting way to consider it. Kim Jaxon, an assistant professor of English at CSU, Chico and member of the Northern California Writing Project offers this:

"I’d like to take a small step towards exploring the question “where do I start?” when thinking about new technologies. But instead of leading with something that may cause varying degrees of anxiety, I’d like you to consider something more positive first: Think about something you’ve learned to do well. Perhaps you are a proficient baker, mechanic, soccer coach, bargain shopper, or musician?

I’ll give you a moment.

Now ask: How did I learn to do that or become that person? What resources and material conditions mattered as I developed an identity around this activity? What spaces mattered? What mentoring did I receive? How did I learn to be a part of the discourse community that surrounds that activity?

Another moment.

When I ask students to answer these questions, it is because I want them to think about learning, particularly the social nature of learning. I also want them to remember that learning to be a certain kind of person—a person who plays the guitar or a person who writes—is made up of a complex ecology of mentors, activities, spaces, tools, and language. Even as we become mentors ourselves in areas of interest, we often realize that we’re never really done learning how to be this person, never really done thinking, improving, or innovating.

My hope would be that you could take this feeling of competence in some task--combined with an understanding that learning to do something you feel good about is complicated--and apply that to your approach to learning about digital spaces and tools. What resources might you need? What spaces matter? Who could function as a mentor? Where could you start?"

Please respond to any or all of the questions from Jaxon's take on starting.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

I like the way this advice makes me feel more relaxed about technology. There is something so unknown and new about technology that makes me feel like it is different than learning other skills. It isn't really. Start doing it like you would start doing any new skill or activity, but start already!

Vanessa said...

Diving into something new can be very overwhelming, so I suggest picking one small thing and focus on that for awahile. When you're feeling comfortable with that...dip your toe in a little farther and test some new waters.

Mrs. Madecky said...

The things I'm best at are the result of PRACTICE. Just doing something I like often is a form of practice. I'd like to practice modeling practice, so I can become a better teacher. It's so easy to do what I know - the challenge is teaching that to others.

Anonymous said...

I find it's great to enter new territory at my own pace but with support from a pal - both at the novice level and at the mentor level.

Andrea said...

I feel very comfortable with technology and use it a lot with my students. I am actually working now to refine the use of many of the tools I have and am looking forward to a computer lab as my classroom next year. I have become a resource for others in my building. If you need a place to start talking to people in your building that know technology is a great idea. We are willing to help!

Keleen said...

I love the idea of talking to kids about their learning styles based on what they already know and are good at, and how they LEARNED or became good at that thing! I think that all too often, kids (and teachers) see learning as something that happens in schools or the classroom on curriculum, not other things like activities, spaces, tools, and language. If we start helping kids be more aware that there is a learning curve that it took them to become proficient at each of these things, they might be more eager to think of themselves as learners, and really understand how and what helps them learn.

Anonymous said...

I learned the fundamentals of how to draw in High School art class. I dutifully followed exercises and practices until I was proficient. I went to college and followed that same idea...perfecting technique. It was through art history classes that I realized that art had meaning, an expression, a purpose, an emotion. All the technique I had so carefully learned became a way for me to tell my story. The confidence to be an artist came from my foundations. The love of being an artist came from my ability to express what I couldn't say.

Anonymous said...

Start small. In the book Bird by Bird, Anne Lamotte recounts her dad's advice to her when she was young about writing a report on birds. He told her to do it bird by bird, not all the birds at once. You can do this with anything, just take that first step. Often that's the hardest one.

Anonymous said...

You Tube is a great resource for learning something new. If you are not sure how to do something, someone else probably is in your same shoes. Learn from someone confident in that area with step by step directions in an online video! What a great way for visual learning!

Anonymous said...

How do start if my administration team is made up of technological dinosaurs?? I still have a chalk board in my classroom! I'd like to start presenting lessons on Power Point, but it requires signing out and then moving the computer and projector into the classroom and then hoping that it all works that day :(

Foto Bella said...

This is great way to introduce the topic-- through an analogy. People can instantly feel succesful, and in my mind, avoid the overhwhelming sense. I also think it assists in making things more managable for the novice.

T. Geraty said...

I need to start with learning more about technology myself. I need to learn the programs. I've not gotten into excel; I not very versed in powerpoint. I feel like I should take a class where I could learn more about some of these beginning ideas.
Teaching at Cardinal Stritch has forced my hand a bit to use technology... smart boards, internet access and the use of blogs.
Maybe that's the best way to learn these things; being 'thrown' into them and having to either sink or swim. I ask questions, have students lead me through at times and ultimately...panic. But, it works out and I walk away having learned something useful.

jeff anderson said...

Well, I have a question.... With technology changing at faster rates each generation; how does a teacher know to jump onto one type of technology?

In terms of writing grants - do you pick the newest of the new, what the kids are comfortable with now, or ...?

I embrace technology in the district with some concerns since our direction changes each time an administrator coughs!

Thoughts?

Jodi Hanson said...

At the start of last school year, I didn't have a lot of experience using technology in the classrooms, but I was starting a new placement where the school had 1:1 technology. Therefore, I learned very quickly how to use Google docs, blogs, prezis, animoto, et al. I spent a lot of time asking for help from our technology leader, my coworkers, and my students. I was amazed at how fast I was able to grow as a technology user simply by being unafraid to play around with it and ask questions whenever I needed to.

Anonymous said...

I am adding more and more technology usage within my classroom each year. I do find that my student's abilities to use technoloy far exceed mine. Most of my students are far more engaged in the learning process when technology is used.

Wilson said...

I would love to get my voice out there into the ethernet and contribute to the general pool of helping knowledge, but I don't want it to sound like I'm describing my breakfast. My biggest obstacle is knowing who my audience is...and that they care about what I have to say.

Anonymous said...

Determination is what you need in order to learn something you want to know. If you want something badly enough you go for it and remember to keep your goal in mind.

Anonymous said...

I agree with all the comments. I found when I wanted to use ipads in my class of first graders, I was very nervous because I had just begun using one myself. I just took the plunge and introduced them, and almost all my students figured out (or already knew) how to use them expertly!

Anonymous said...

My challenge is that I don't feel proficient at anything. "Jack of of all trades, master of none" has been a theme throughout my life. I'm interested in many things but I don't feel like I have become particularly proficient in one thing. I greatly desire to become a proficient teacher and the learning process as described through all these questions resound greatly. So, my proficiency is a work in progress and I must say I am a bit anxious as I strive for a higher and higher standard of my performance!

Becky Anderson said...

"Learning to be a certain kind of person....is made up of a complex ecology of mentors, activities, spaces, tools, and language." What I like about this quote is the idea that 'it takes a village'. Not everyone, parents included, seem to truly understand that learning 'to be' is more than a set of comprehension questions or a letter on a report card.

Deborah Monasterio said...

This is the third time I've tried to comment and now I'm really frustrated!! I want to learn how to avoid this situation so I can better help my students.