Although this was a bizarre and challenging experience, in the end, it was an incredibly rewarding one. Not only did we discuss project-based learning and learn different approaches to evoking independent thinking, we lived it.
There were times I struggled with the amount of new technology features (a language onto itself), but realize these were tools being thrown in our direction to help. Sometimes it was too much and I did not have enough room to catch everything that was coming in my direction, especially as I was caught up thinking about the big picture of the project. I felt I had moments of “I won’t learn from you” and had to turn off the input button in my brain in order to keep my level of sanity and anxiety at a functional level. With the speed of the class and the daunting task of creating the iBook, I realized that I would have to pick up just enough to complete a given task. One step at a time. Within our small groups, there were experts in technology that coached me through seemingly easy tasks of tech navigation. Along the way, I became more comfortable with the basics and will look to pick up tech savvy skills that I can include in my classroom. I am living in the future after all.
There were also very knowledgeable team members of our region of study. As I read of Yup’ik concepts, I could ask Jimmy who is Yup’ik, “is this true?” He would either confirm with a “yes” and elaborate or offer a “I haven’t heard of that.” Sometimes a word would be from another language in the region and he would have his own line of inquiry to follow. Later as I wrote, the weight of these dialogues added an authority to my voice that I would not have if I had just paraphrased a passage in a book. As a group, we could challenge and enlighten each other. We debated over word choices in a respectful manner. Slowly the Alaska Studies aspect of Alaska Studies was seeping in and we were truly learning about Alaska. Before this project, I had slightly above average background knowledge of Alaska. Now, I feel have a personal connection to my understanding of Alaska and especially the West Coast region.
There was a method to the madness after all, and in the end I believe as class we created a pretty impressive product that will be a great jumping off point for other educators. The experience itself was not perfect, nothing is, but I believe this work in progress approach is important. I saw teaching theories put to practice, and recognize the value of awakening our own critical thinking. As they say, “Practice what you preach”.
“Old School” meets “New School”
One thought on “Alaska Studies Reflection”
I felt a little “old school meets new school” and a moment or two of ” I won’t learn from you”, but in the end I’m right there with you in having developed a personal connection to my learning and a heightened understanding of Alaska, its people, and their history.
Thank you for sharing