A Day in the Life

SOME BACKGROUND

I was a full-time social studies teacher for fourteen years. For the last five years of that time, my wife, also a social studies teacher, stayed at home to raise our four children. In 2009, my wife wanted to get back into full-time teaching. I thought that it was now my turn to give since my wife has always given so much of herself. I told my wife that if she landed a full-time teaching job that was more than an hour away from where I was teaching that we would move for her job. I would give up my teaching job and be able to find a full-time job in teaching, business, or industry if I had to. After all, I have marketable skills and a Masters degree and I had never been without employment since the time I was twelve years old.

Needless to say, 2009 was the wrong time to leave a job of any kind, especially that of a social studies teacher. We have struggled for the past three-plus years and I have broadened my teaching job search to include ALL English speaking countries. Unfortunately, there appears to be a dearth of social studies teachers world wide. No one needs social studies teachers. The market is flooded!

My wife teaches at a private, Catholic, classical academy and because we are sending our children to the other Catholic school in town for middle school on, my wife will be asked to leave her current position at the end of next school year.

After spending some time over the past three years as a contract writer, copy writer, editor, and substitute teacher, we desperately needed full-time employment for me. I have been working as a credentialing coordinator through a job agency for the past year and I long to be back in the classroom.

family picture

TYPICAL DAY

I usually get up around 5:00 am and I am at my desk by 7:00 am. I basically do data entry, staring at a computer screen until lunch at 11:30am. At 12:30 pm I return back to my desk and computer and stare at the screen manipulating data until 4:30 pm.

From 5:00 pm until 5:30 pm I have supper with my family. After supper, I generally watch one television show for a half hour to an hour. I do this in order to prepare for my attention to shift to my laptop for the rest of the evening. If I’m not working on tasks for an online course, then I am doing research on social media websites for educational technology topics. If I’m not engaged in one of those activities I am looking for and applying for teaching jobs anywhere in the world, except the places my wife refuses to move to (Afghanistan, Pakistan, pretty much the entire Middle East, and China).

This process lasts until somewhere between 10:00 pm and 12:30 am. And then I try to get some sleep. The weekends are a little different in that I usually only work four hours on Saturday (we need the overtime to make ends meet). We occasionally will do something as a family like go out for coffee or visit the local Barnes and Noble store or visit my parents or my wife’s parents. Sunday includes, church and maybe a family game late in the afternoon. Other than those brief distractions it’s research, class, or networking and job searching.

That’s it! That’s a day in my life. A former colleague of mine recently asked me if I was happy. As a person, I am happy for all that God has given me. As a teacher I am frustrated in having to continually look for a job. The pressure is really on to find something permanent and full-time with benefits because next year my wife will be out of her full-time teaching job which we literally sacrificed for.

I hope and pray every day that I will find full-time with benefits employment soon. I hope that God still wants me to teach but He has not opened any doors in that direction which confuses me to no end. At the end of the day I can be happy in the knowledge that I have put in a full day and that I am trying my hardest to find out where God would like me to be 😎

Stories – Using a New Technology to Tell My Story

The past couple weeks #etMOOC has been focusing on storytelling. While that was going on, I was focusing on my instructional design for eLearning course that I am taking from UW-Stout toward earning a graduate certificate. I highly doubt that the certificate will help me get a job but the course is haiku deckkeeping me occupied. I have spent the past week trying to get the other students and the instructor to understand connectivism and rhizomatic learning. The e-learning course tries to be student centered but it really is not. It centers around a textbook, other readings selected by the instructor, there is a syllabus and an outcome map. Kind of the antithesis of what we are trying to accomplish in relation to 21st Century learning.

In the spirit of the #etMOOC, I humbly submit my story via Haiku Deck.
http://www.haikudeck.com/p/FLY7rPrR5F/filled-with-disappointment

Uncertainty of Abundance and Choice

It has been one of those wild and crazy weeks. Work has been stressful and now I am taking two courses, one on e-learning instructional design for credit and toward a certificate, and the etMOOC. I thought for sure that my blogging would take a hit this week, as I also need Crazy Week Cat Memeto plan a presentation on teachers using twitter in the classroom.

Using twitter and other social media networks has become an intricate part of my every day life. If I’m not sharing then I’m learning, if I’m not sharing or learning, then I’m either reading off-line, spending time with my family, watching old episodes of Boy Meets World (trying to get teaching pointers from Mr. Feeny), or at work. Whew!

The main ideas that have dominated my thinking this past week has been the idea of learning styles and the idea of personalized learning. For some reason Sue Waters has been on my mind as well as how the main presenters for etMOOC have been either Canadian or Australian. I looked up the education rankings by country online and found that the U.K., Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand (English speaking countries) are all ahead of the U.S.

LEARNING STYLES

The controversy over learning styles continues. I have come to the personal conclusion that there are not different learning styles. ‘What this means for instructors, Mr. Pashler says, is that they should not waste any time or energy trying to determine the composition of learning styles in their classrooms. (Are 50 percent of my students visual learners? Are 20 percent of them kinesthetic learners?)

Instead, teachers should worry about matching their instruction to the content they are teaching. Some concepts are best taught through hands-on work, some are best taught through lectures, and some are best taught through group discussions.” See article here. Deb Peterson wrote a nice piece for About.com on the controversy over learning styles. You can read her article here.

I do know that we learn through our senses and that a web based digital world changes the way that we think and learn. Involve more senses in real situations and learning is more apt to take place. Restak, a researcher in the UK has the following to say on the topic, “What does seem to be important is that learning activities should stimulate several parts of the brain simultaneously since this promotes the increased neural interconnectedness associated with the development of increased cognitive capacity. Repetition and practice also seem to be important since they bequeath thickening of the myelin insulation on the axons of the neurons and this favors future thinking speed and accuracy.” See article here.

Now it may seem like splitting hairs but all of the “multiple intelligences” that are quoted by Howard Gardner can be found with varying degrees within every individual. To me, I think that as teachers we should focus on making sure that we include as many senses as possible when teaching and assessing students and teach using various modalities.

PERSONALIZED LEARNING

I have become a very vocal advocate for personalized learning. Whether it is self-learning by reading books, blogs, and papers or watching YouTube videos I learn something. Dave Comier gave a presentation on rhizomatic learning that gave me pause to think deeply, I know, it did hurt. Dave states in his most recent blog post, “Our challenge was in learning how to choose, how to deal with the uncertainty of abundance and choice presented by the Internet. In translating this experience to the classroom, I try to see the open web and the connections we create between people and ideas as the curriculum for learning. In a sense, participating in the community is the Rhizomatic Learningcurriculum.”

Just by participating in the form of reading, blogging, watching, listening, curating, thinking, I am learning. What bothers me about rhizomatic learning is how to measure that learning, how to quantify that learning, how to have learning evaluated? I guess that this can be a personal choice also.

There are people willing to help others achieve their goals of personalized learning. One example is Peer 2 Peer University where courses are taught, badges can be earned, and learning credentialed or validated by peers. Wikiversity is another way to learn collaboratively using Open Education Resources (OERs) and Wikipedia. I do not know enough about this form to tell if it has true value or not. Another source of personalized learning is WikiQuals. This is true democratic personalized learning. Using affinity partners that can range from family members to peers, learning can go in any direction and validated through peer review and openness.

What can I say about Sue Waters? She is Australian, blogs a lot, and teaches teachers how to use blogging in the classroom. She is also pretty good with technology and its educational uses. You can follow Sue’s blogging exploits at http://suewaters.com/ trust me, you will want to follow this educational leader.

Cat Meme by http://tainith.dailykos.com/

Rhizomatic Learning via Flickr by giulia.forsythe

Hey, Over Here!! Connected Learning and PLNs

Connected LearningIn my view, connected learning and PLNs are the best things since personal computers and blogs. My PLN looks like a major league baseball all-star team. I know that many of the people like NASCAR versus baseball, but I will stand by my metaphor. I think Steve Anderson will maybe forgive me.

I follow some of the biggest names in education and educational technology and some of them even follow me back! I often times feel like a really little fish in comparison. I mean the people in my PLN are located all over the world, have presented at numerous conferences (many of them keynote speakers), and some have won awards such as teacher of the year, best blogger, or top innovator in education.

I share my PLN by being totally open on the web. I make sure that my digital footprint stays on a mostly professional level, my Facebook page does include some people that I went to high school with and I do not share a lot about my family. I also will be sharing my PLN with people at a conference I will be presenting at next month. I haven’t presented at a conference in about ten years, but I feel so strongly about the power of PLN and twitter that I feel obligated to go out there and share.

I also want to share how I use my PLN as I begin studying for a self-directed EdD in the open and how the educational theories of heutagogy, connectivism, and peeragogy help to form me and hopefully inform my PLN. I am also trying to get a presentation spot at the TIC Technology Integration Conference in Dubuque, Iowa in June. I am hoping to meet one of the people in my PLN face 2 face. Vicki Davis, one of the co-creators of the flat classroom project will be the keynote speaker!

Every classroom should be able to support collaborative connected learning. I truly believe in the ideas supported in the flat classroom project, especially the idea that we can knock down the walls of the classroom by involving students in real life, real time, global education. It doesn’t matter if there are just a couple of computers in the classroom or if you have a total 1:1 program at your school. Global educational experiences are at your fingertips.

Connected learning should be a part of every curriculum. Whether it is part of standards, the core curriculum, or not at all, every teacher has a responsibility to lead their students to becoming connected learners.

Photo courtesy of By carlaarena at http://www.flickr.com

I’m Feeling Tired

I feel like I have been left in the wilderness to wander. I know, I know, Moses did it for forty years and I have only been doing it for four. I enjoy #etMOOC and all of the interactions with people who I feel are superstars in education. People like Alec Couros, Dean Shareski, Dave Comier, Cathy Anderson, Sue Watters, Alison Seaman, Doug Belshaw, Patrick Larkin and the list goes on. The downside is that everyonComputer2e I am interacting with is teaching in some way shape or form. I sat at a computer terminal for nine hours today with two fifteen minute breaks and a half hour for lunch. I use that one hour of time at work to peer into the lives of those who are living the dream via social media.

Everyone is so engaged and working on projects and sharing things and gearing up to present at conferences and I think to myself, where did everything go wrong. Instead of listening to kids engage in creative projects and problem solving or skype-ing with other classrooms around the world. I get to over hear one person talk about her divorce and another talk about money. My only relief is to retreat into my set of earphones and listen to podcasts, audiobooks, or music.

In my line of work creativity is discouraged. Everything is laid out and pretty straight forward. Oh, I have problems that I encounter, Puerto Rico is a tough island to get paperwork from, but it’s just not the same as working with students and teachers who are energized and willing to take on the problems of the day.

There is really something special about the field of education. Something about watching learners uncover an interesting nugget or even discover a gold mine. Talking with kids about the big game on Friday night, how the fishing tournament went over the weekend, how the new Hobbit movie is compared to the book. I have found out how much I miss the students, my colleagues, the drama, the suspense, the little interactions in the hall at passing time, that wise cracker that has a witty come back for just about any occasion.

The funny thing is that the kids I miss the most are the ones that gave me a hard time, who challenged me, who were labeled “difficult.” People wouldn’t label them as difficult and complain about them if they realized how boring their lives would be without them. Hey, you could be stuck staring at a computer screen for nine hours a day and the only impact you make is that you get to collect a pay check at the end of the week. That’s about the only positive thing I can find about what I do for a living, I get to collect a check at the end of the week.

I want to do more than merely collect a check. I want to make a difference in the lives of kids every day. I want to look forward to the challenges of the day without knowing what might transpire. I want to be surprised and inspired by kids craving to let their creativity out. I want a messy working classroom full of life and joy.

Photo: Wwalczyszynhttp://wwalczyszyn.deviantart.com/

By Tim Scholze Posted in etMOOC

What? Squirrel! What did he say? Who’s that? Why’s that so Funny?

I have to say that after my first encounter with a MOOC, am I the only one this slow on the uptake? I felt like my head was spinning for the whole hour. Links whipped by so fast in the chat portion of the screen that it seemed pointless to try and keep up. When the MOOC director left a screen up for more than a few minutes, it got so plastered with comments that it eventually became un readable. It was disorganization on a massive scale.

Obviously, I am a new comer to MOOCs. However, I have been studying teaching, learning, and technology for fifteen years. This hootenanny that transpired last night was filled with “inside jokes,” people who knew each other rather well, and antics that quite honestly an “outsider” like me just didn’t get. I am beginning to wonder if free and massive equates to let’s just have a good time, roll with it, and hopefully you pick something meaningful up along the way.

I know that many of you think I’m just being a stick in the mud, an old fuddy duddy, or someone who takes life too seriously. Most of you taking this course are teaching in various capacities. Many of you know each other by name, reputation, or f2f. And, many of you have been blogging, presenting at conferences, and tweeting 24/7 for some time now.

So sorry to be raining on your parade. I would love to be at your level but the truth is, I’m not. I only know some of you from seeing your tweets and blogs for the past couple of months. I used to present at conferences years ago, I’ve just started blogging  and tweeting, and I haven’t been inside a classroom for over three years now.

I look to you as the leaders in educational technology. Many of you whom I follow on twitter are like the educational equivalent of the dream team. I want to learn from you.

I’m going to try and cool my jets now and give it a second chance tonight. We’re supposed to keep an open mind, so I’m going to try. I may even try the Serenity Prayer before we begin.

#etMOOCs Official

I’m Tim Scholze and this is my very first MOOC. I have been involved in social media on a regular basis for about three months now. I have, however, taken online courses from the University of Wisconsin – Stout. I have a graduate certificate in instructional design and I begin the third in a five course sequence for a graduate certificate in eLearning in a couple weeks.

I taught eighth grade U.S. history for fourteen years with some seventh grade introduction to the social sciences, freshman U.S. history, sophomore world studies, and junior/senior psychology thrown in for good measure. I left my secure education career three years ago for three reasons; 1) My wife had taken time off to raise our children and now wanted to get back in to education and I felt it was my obligation to move wherever she got hired (after all, I have a Masters degree in education I can get a job doing anything, right)? 2) My mother was diagnosed with uterine cancer. I wanted to be closer and be able to help. Turns out that my mom and dad really don’t care how close or how far away I am from them they tend to depend on themselves and each other. 3) Administrative hidden agendas. I do not want to say much more than I was not fully informed.

I am married and have four wonderfully precocious children aged 13, 9, 7, and 5 (all verbal linguistic). My primary interest is education, but I also enjoy traveling, attending conferences, and geocaching. I am beginning a journey toward an EdD in Educational Technology. I am particularly interested in emergent learning, peeragogy, connectivism, teacher professional development, flat classroom, badges, and Open Educational Resources.

I love technology. I love education. I love research. Yes, I am a geek.

MOOCs A Comming – #etMOOC

This week begins the official start of my EdD program. I just completed a poll on twitter about what issues teachers feel need more research concerning educational technology and student learning. Today begins my first MOOC. I am excited to be involved with so many great people!

#jiscwebinar What Is A MOOC? @dkernohan @mweller @jonathan_worth @loumcgill @daveowhite [visual Notes]

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/gforsythe/7549370822/”>giulia.forsythe</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;