When I first read the directions for this assignment, I felt a bit overwhelmed. There are so many things I would love to research and learn. I began by jotting down keywords that popped into my head. Then, realizing it was a sort of haphazard approach, I decided to make a mind map using bubble.us. I am currently taking LLED 462 and had just used it to help myself brainstorm my essential question that would guide me through the course. It was my first time using the program, and I really enjoyed it, so I figured I might as well use it again for this project. One of my goals is to get a better understanding of different technological tools to use in my teaching, so I figured why not start right away? I started off using the initial question as my prompt: “What issues, interests, or opportunities do you anticipate arising in your teaching in the near future?” My brainstorm flowed from the three areas (issues, interests, and opportunities) with the hope that I would see a pattern forming.
To provide some context, I have been teaching in my district for nine years. Yet, I still get laid off and recalled every year. I never really know what I will be teaching, just that it will be at the elementary level. Fortunately, most of my teaching has been at the early primary level. Because of the nature of my district’s layoff/recall practices, I need to be flexible in my teaching. Thus, when I started to brainstorm ideas about what I wanted to research, I wanted to think more widely in the sense of what can I apply to whatever situation I end up being in each year and/or what area could I improve upon the most?
Below is the mind map I created when brainstorming my keywords.
Looking at my mind map, I can see that one of my issues, clearly, is that I never know what I will be teaching. This year, I am in Grade One (three days a week) and in a K-7 library. Ideally, I would like my research to apply to the library and to students at all levels, with a larger focus on the intermediate grades, as I have taught early primary (Grade One and Kindergarten) most of my teaching career, so I find it to be my “comfort zone.”
When I first think about the library, then, my mind immediately gravitates towards my interests, such as inquiry-based learning, new technologies, and meeting the individual needs of 21st century learners. I would love to be able to refine my ability in these areas and apply them in the library, hopefully in collaboration with classroom teachers. I think it would be purposeful and something I could use immediately in my teaching. Furthermore, it would be easy to apply digital technologies to these areas.
In an increasingly digital world, I also see the need for teaching online safety and ethical behaviour. We are entering an era where being online is the norm. I remember when I was a kid, I did not even have “dial-up” internet until I was in high school (and that was a novelty!). Nowadays, kids are plugged in almost from birth (yes, my baby daughter beelines it for the laptop if she sees it open, not that we allow her any TV/computer time). As a result, it would be a disservice not to show them the ropes of online etiquette and safety.
Yet, my true passion lies in literacy and in motivating students (which are terms I repeated throughout my mind map). I am extremely interested in developing a better understanding of all the various types of literacy (digital literacy, critical literacy, transliteracy, media literacy, information literacy, etc.) and figuring out how to better teach them to my users. Growing up, I loved books. I was a bookworm and would spend endless hours reading (I even wrote my first “novel” in elementary school and sent it to publishers. Nothing ever became of it, but it was a passion from an early age.). When teaching Kindergarten and Grade One, I see this passion in the kids every single day. They love books. Teaching in the library, however, I slowly see this spark, or fire, diminish as the kids get older. Yes, there are many kids who, like me, are bookworms. It is the kids who drag their feet coming into the library, who would rather be anywhere else, that stick out to me. As a result, I want to see how technology can reignite this spark. How can we use Web 2.0 and other computer programs to motivate our students to embrace literacy and reading? Can we use these tools to improve our students’ ability, interest, and motivation? My goal is to discover how to use technology to improve and motivate students’ literacy skills. This would be something that I not only could immediately apply to my current role as a teacher-librarian, but that I could also continue to use in the classroom, regardless of what grade level I end up with in the future. Furthermore, it could be something that I could potentially share with the staff and school as a way to help meet our school goal on literacy and improving students’ reading levels.
Thus ends my pondering and brainstorm. At this point, I can definitely see where my mind has taken me. Perhaps it will change and my research will lead me in a new direction. Regardless, I am eager to see where this course takes me!