Innovation & Unlearning


Photo CC – by Boegh

To innovate means to introduce changes into what has been established. Generally the innovation is seen as an improvement. Innovation in education is a topic that has been explored through this semester, and my hope is that I have introduced something new and positive into who I am as a student, future teacher, and as a person.

To be an innovator, I need to be willing to change. I need to look beyond my own opinion of how I believe thing work most efficiently. I need to keep my eyes open to possibilities and combine what I see with a little creativity.


I spent some time looking at two articles this week about growing as a learner and as an educator. The first was The Mindset of an Innovator, by George Couros. This article was his personal reflection about who he is as an educator. He began and ended his reflection with one statement that resonated with me,

“I am an innovative educator and I will continue to ask “what is best for learners”.  With this empathetic approach, I will create and design learning experiences with that question as a starting point.”

This is what I want to be as an educator. I desire to lead my classroom in such a way that my decisions in lesson planning and presenting instruction meet the needs of my students.

This is where innovation steps in. I must be continually seeking fresh ways to address the needs of my students. I must be aware of what other educators are doing to utilize technology in their classrooms. I should continue to read the books and blogs of educators who are helping students make great strides in their learning. I can research what teachers are doing to continue their own education.

I believe that I must do both of the above things: focus on the needs of students, and continue to learn. Keeping the needs of my students in mind while learning about what others do in their classroom allows me to be reflecting on how I could incorporate new practices or ideas into my teaching.


Learn Unlearn Relearn

Photo CC – by Giulia Forsythe

The second article I read was by Will Richardson, The Steep Unlearning Curve. The premise of his article was that we have perceptions in education that are no longer accurate. The internet has changed how we view information and learning. It has changed how we interact with others.

The statement that struck me the most while reading Richardson’s article was, “We need to unlearn the idea that every student needs to learn the same content when really what they need to learn is how to self-direct their own learning.”

This statement made an impact because I both agree and disagree with it. Maybe he is thinking about older students, but as a future elementary teacher, I see the need for a solid foundation to be laid in the core subjects.  All my students will need to know how to write, read, have a functioning knowledge of mathematics, and the natural and social sciences.

I do agree with the premise that students need to direct their own learning, after they have a foundation to build on.  Each student needs to learn what their strengths are.  They need to learn how to utilize technology so they can seek out information.  Students need to be taught metacognitive strategies so that they can process information that they are taking in.  They need to learn how to self-direct their own learning.

I think that this is where innovation meets unlearning for me as a teacher.  I will need to lay that foundation while teaching students how to direct their learning.  I see this as an exciting challenge.


This semester I have taken in a great deal of information about digital literacy.  I have used technology in new ways, I have found new programs that I enjoy using, and I have been challenged to think about how the field of education functions as a launching point for student interest and growth.

What do I still need to unlearn or learn?  Honestly, I don’t know.  I do know that experience will teach me what I still need to learn, and this semester I have learned where to go and how to find the information that will fill the gaps that will become apparent in the classroom.


Photo CC – by Missy Schmidt

. . .

Both of these articles are about learning to see possibilities, and the ability to change our mindset. I have seen that I need to continually evaluate myself as a learner and teacher so that I can be a better teacher.

Because this is the key to innovation. It is not change for the sake of change. It is change for sake of improvement.


A Digital Story About Teaching

Teaching is like cultivating a garden.

Maybe this is more of a simile than a metaphor, but the goal of the two is the same.

I wish I could tell you exactly how I see myself fit into what is expressed in my digital story, but I don’t know yet.

I have yet to lead my own classroom, but this is what I have learned from my year of being a special education paraprofessional and the years I spent substitute teaching.  Sprinkle in the time I spent in education classes, and this is what teaching is to me.

I believe I know what style of teacher I would like to be, but that has not been tested with experience.  I do know that my desire is to know each of my students and appreciate them for what makes each one an individual.  I hope that is conveyed when you see the digital story.


The Independent Learning Project Wrap-Up

Over the course of the semester I have learned that anything can be dehydrated. Anything. I have learned that one semester can give people a solid foundation in learning a foreign language. I watched as crafts and cooking brought families closer together. I was able to see young women grow physically stronger, and overcome obstacles in the process.

I was able to have a peek into the lives of my classmates. They have each chosen unique independent learning projects, and I have been able to follow along as they have delved into a variety of different subjects and activities. It has given me an appreciation of things I have never done before.

During my Independent Learning Project I revealed the bookworm side of myself to my classmates.

Read II

Photo CC – by Daniel Go

What I have learned

At the beginning of this project I had shared that I wanted to read books that made me think. I wanted to be stretched and encouraged. I wanted to read literature that would allow me to see the world differently.

In the past months I was able to do just those things. I read literature from France, England, Scotland, Canada, and the United States. All allowed me to see human nature through different time periods and cultures, and I was able to learn a few things in the process.

Human nature is the same everywhere, at all times.

I think that we often romanticize history. We make life seem simpler or harsher in the past than it is for us in the present. We reason that our lives are nothing like what other people have suffered. In some ways that is true because technology or forms of government are different, but for the majority of life, it is the same. Human nature does not change. People have always had within them the ability to exhibit great strength of character. Brutality has existed in every society through time. People who laugh together or cry together share a bond that ties them, even if they never share another moment like that again.

I learned that even when the values of a society are different, human character remains the same.

There is a dark side to human nature.

One reoccurring theme in my reading was slavery in the United States. I am not from the South, and my family immigrated to the Midwest from Europe after the Civil War. I have no ties to slavery that I am aware of. To be honest, the issues surrounding slavery in the United States was far removed from my thoughts, and seemed like something remote that happened long ago.

From reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin last summer, and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl during the project, I saw a new side of the darker past of this country’s history. In Mark Twain’s works slavery is just a fact of life. I was impacted by the events in To Kill a Mockingbird and I have thought about the inequality present in the system that was built on the premise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all men. It was hard to see this side of reality.

There is always laughter to be found in life.

Even though there is hardship in life, there is joy to be found. There are good people who see the brighter side of life. Those who survive difficulties. People who see the funny side of circumstances and the joy of working hard.  These stories communicate the lighter side of life.

Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book. ~AuthorUnknown

Photo CC – by Nick Kenrick

I have lived vicariously through characters who exist as words on a page.

I have enjoyed it immensely. Having a project that I looked forward to working on each week was one of the highlights of this semester.

Using Independent Learning in the classroom

I will be using this type of self-directed learning in my classroom. I have learned so much about the characteristics of my classmates through watching them choose projects that reflected their interests and passions. I will be able to gain the same understanding of my students through this type of project.  This will help me know how to create lessons and learning activities that will reflect my students’ interests and ability level.

I have also experienced for myself how passion based learning helps me to pursue topics I otherwise would leave alone. I think that through a personal learning project my students would also learn in ways that are new and challenging to them. They would grow beyond the bounds that would otherwise hold them – and they will be choosing how that growth will take place!

. . .

Independent learning, be it a project for personal growth or to develop a new skill, is one way to get students to think deeper, try new things, and develop interest in the world. It will help students become who they are meant to be.

The Daily Create, Part VI

Day 26

Make a photograph of yourself as a famous pop artist.


So… this was a little weird. I have never taken a selfie, and I had to for this project. Then I had to edit it. I just felt strange spending time on my own picture.

Day 27

Learn a sentence in a language you have no experience in, then record yourself saying it.

I butchered the language of my ancestors in 5 seconds. I said “Hello, my name is Sarah. Good bye,” in Swedish.

Day 28

Sketch an image of something that scares you. Here is the twist… make it a bit less intimidating in some way.

I’m afraid of tornados, but I made sure that this one had directions so it does not wander my direction.


Day 29

Create a stick figure drawing that is unique and specific to you as a person.

I made my husband and me, holding little stick figure hands. He just got home from a business trip. After being gone for weeks I am so glad to have him home!


Day 30

Take a picture of an animal doing something crazy. If you can’t find a crazy animal, edit a picture and make a crazy animal!

We don’t have an animal to take a picture of, so my son and I made a grumpy cat meme about the end of DS106.

 crazygrumpy cat

30 days of Creativity (or something like it) is complete!

The Daily Create, Part V

Day 21

Windows let you see in and see out. Create a window collage with the things you want to hide or show to the world.

I made a collage of the windows I have hanging up in my home. I love to decorate with old windows and doors…


Day 22

Find or make a noir cat image in your food. Take a picture.

I used a Noir Cat icon from Google images and made it transparent. Next I took a picture of a slice of blueberry pie from flicker (Photo CC – by Digi Di) and placed the cat over it.


Day 23

Take or make a picture that shows “spring” where you live.

This is my neighbor’s tree, and I get to look at it when I look out my kitchen window. I would love to have a tree like this in my yard!


Day 24

Write a poem about the Daily Create without using the letter “e”.

30 tasks in 30 days

All of various sorts

To impart an important skill

So I will know as much as most

     Audio, visual,

     Draw and with words

     For making and forming

     What is stunning to absurd

I try, I may fail

To supply a good thing

For all ds106 tasks

I do craft for this spring

Day 25

It’s time to elect a DS106 class president – make a poster for your favorite candidate.


Creating Online

This week I used Canva to create a little something for my independent learning project.

Read a Classic

This semester I have chosen to read classic literature for my independent learning project. Why? I love to read. Literature makes me happy. I want to be smarter. (And classic literature makes you smarter! True story.)

It’s nice to get school credit for something I am going to do anyway. Now instead of feeling guilty for opening a classic in the middle of the semester, I can smile and think, “It’s homework. I am required to do this.”

About my creation

On the poster I included the subject of my project, my favorite quote by Italo Cavino from his work Why Read the Classics, and the list of books I have read during this semester. A couple of the books on the list I did not post about on the blog, and the last, The Grapes of Wrath, I have yet to read. I have high hopes of making it next week’s book. The information on the poster is what, why, and which books. It sums up my project.


I discovered Canva through reading the article Tech Review: Online Creation Tools Piktochart and Canva by Karen Jenson.  She has some great posters that she has made using both sites in her article. In her article she writes about what she likes about both Piktochart and Canva, as well as what she does not like. She also includes tutorials on how to use each site. Jenson stated that Canva is a little more user friendly, so I chose to use that site for this week’s assignment.

Canva is a simple program that yield good results. If one is familiar with any Microsoft programs, Canva is intuitive. One begins with choosing what type of product they want (business card, poster, collage, etc.). Next, a sidebar appears on the left side of the screen and walks the user through choosing a template, text style, images, and backgrounds. Colors and transparency can be altered for any image on the product. The site also auto-saves after every change, so there is no chance of losing work if the computer shuts down or the internet connection is lost.  I need to mention that some things on Canva cost money.  However, there is a lot that is free and one can upload their own images and use those for free.

I really liked this program. I think that Canva will simplify making digital designs. I have used Photoshop in the past and I am becoming familiar with Gimp, but the platform I utilize most often is Microsoft Publisher. Many times I find myself switching between Gimp and Publisher to make an artifact for a class, DS106, or for fun. However, there are things that are difficult or time consuming to do using two programs at the same time. This is where a site like Canva will be a great tool.

In the classroom

I think that Canva, or a program like it, will be a fun way for students to create a product that demonstrates what they have learned or what they can do. Students can use this as partners or individually. The only limitation there would be with this program is the imagination of the kids who are using it.

I think that I may use it to “pretty-up” classroom communications to parents or on the class website. I could also use it to make signs, a teacher’s notebook, labels… Really, the possibilities are endless for a perfectionist!

The Daily Create, Part IV

Day 16

Minimalist paper posters today! Wonderful ‘Papeles de Cine’ (Cinema Papers) … make your own poster.


Mine is of Sherlock Holmes.

Day 17

Look for flaws in your landscape, take a beautiful photo.


Day 18

Today’s create involved video, and my husband has the ipod with him today. So, I dug out the old digital camera, vintage 2008, to do a photo create from the archives…

Rooms are filled with so many colors. Go around your room (any room) and find objects for each color of the rainbow. Make a collage.


Day 19

Create your own interpretation of a famous work of art. Using a famous work as your inspiration, create your own work.

This is based on The Great Wave of Kanagawa.


Day 20

In celebration of National Poetry Month, the National Archives Foundation invites you to find the poetry in our share history by “redacting all but a few words in digital versions of Archives records.

So I chose a document about preventing the “affection” of Spanish Influenza in Boston. I think the person who wrote the document meant infection. It just kind of made me laugh and so I tried to create a poem about forbidden affection.  Sorry in advance for the bad poetry.


Yep, sorry.