If I were asked to mentor a new teacher I would try to share with them the value of the connectivist approach, and hand the teacher a copy of Church’s “Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy“. The latter would help a teacher prepare for tomorrow’s lessons and the former would help make the new teacher an important cog in the school landscape.
As a teacher in the 21st century, the theory of “connectivisim” and the Church’s “Blooms Digital Taxonomy’ are two powerful tools for being a valuable member of a school (or really, any business). In connectivism my value is based on the heft of my network. Three of the characteristics of connectivisim are, one, there is more to know than we currently understand. Two, my ability to see connections is a very important skill, and finally, I need to be able to evaluate the information that I encounter. The more connections I have with other learners, the more brain power we all have to identify connections and the more valuable I become to my students and fellow teachers. One of the first ideas in this reading to really grab me was, “chaos states that the meaning exists” (page 3), and it is up to us to see those patterns. We are explorers searching for meaning, and the more we work together, the more we come to understand.
The recent article about black holes and the gravitational waves they produce seems like an example of networked thinking and work. Einstein speculated that black holes have gravitational forces and recently scientists were able to validate that concept. (I am on thin ice here. I am a teacher of Minnesota history, and I don’t really know squat about science…Apologies to all members of the physical sciences here.)
In a more practical sense I can see that the better I am connected to specialized information about some aspect of teaching, the more valuable I am to my colleagues. Even if I am just keeping up with some of the new tools to be used in English, science, or history — that is a huge help to my team.
In a similar vein, Church’s article about the digital taxonomy is an excellent mix of skills and tools that we as teachers can use to help our students be more complete learners. The taxonomy is great to visit for two reasons. First, it was a great reminder to look at what I am doing and see if I am spending all my time at the LOTS end (Lower Order Thinking Skills) or do I have enough HOTS (Higher Order Thinking Skills – page 4) to help challenge my students as we seek to learn about Minnesota history. The second great part of Church’s article are all the great tools he lists to explore. I found myself bouncing my palm off the old forehead when it came to basics like “Advanced Searches” on Google (pp. 23-28). How could I have forgotten to go back over that before our recent research project. I am also intrigued by Mindmeister (pp. 21-22) and I want to explore what kind of spread sheets of data we can generate, and what we will learn from looking at information from that angle.
I also read the Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project section about “Messing Around”. This particular stage, while important, doesn’t grab me as much. The first step, or friendship/social stage impressed me because I can see students needing to find their place in the world, and in this day and age, technology plays a huge part in that. I can also see how the “Geeking Out” phase is critical because that is where kids are building expertise in an area that interests them. What a great combination, and a great way to add value to your own tool box. The “Messing Around” stage is that middle ground where students are exploring lots of areas and searching for the one that attracts them the most.