Friday, October 14, 2011

How my new Neo, Star Wars light saber, PEZ induced Avatar connects to Project Based Learning

Is my new avatar not amazing? It contains elements that represent me in my current state of mind. The bald head(beautiful bald head :)), Neo outfit, and the two essential symbols in each hand. How does this fit with project based learning? Let me try to explain.

Bald head - if you look at the Lego head you will notice the open hole on top. The more I look at this I see this as my brain being filled with so many great new ideas, strategies, and thoughts. My brain has continued to spin around and around from the trip. I thought it would slow down, but so far my brain cells are buzzing around like bees in a hive. Perhaps it is the coffee, but more likely my excitement to move education in the direction that finally meets my teaching style.

The opening also allows me to release the bad thoughts, the negative vibes, and allow me to view all other viewpoints and thoughts as valid arguments. Nothing is perfect and for once I am looking at everything at face value. I will not get defensive, but listen and read about other perspectives and try to take something positive from these perspectives.

The Matrix type outfit i.e. Neo

Neo: I thought it wasn't real
Morpheus: Your mind makes it real
Neo: If you're killed in the matrix, you die here?
Morpheus: The body cannot live without the mind 

Morpheus: I'm trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You're the one that has to walk through it. 

These are some quotes from The Matrix. Why did I choose them? Because they fit with my thoughts on project based learning and where we are going. This system of teaching is going to allow students to really push the envelope on their path to learning. They will be invested. They will develop skills necessary to succeed in the real world. No longer will they have to just rote memorize one word answers for a multiple choice test, waste time coloring a map, creating a product where they just vomit the same facts found in their textbook or Google. They will have to think.....on their own....without an answer floating in cyberspace.

Morpheus: Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself. 

You have to see project based learning to really grasp the power of the method. 

Morpheus: The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you're inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it. 
[Neo's eyes suddenly wander towards a woman in a red dress
Morpheus: Were you listening to me, Neo? Or were you looking at the woman in the red dress? 
Neo: I was... 
Morpheus: [gestures with one hand] Look again. 
[the woman in the red dress is now Agent Smith, pointing a gun at Neo's head; Neo ducks
Morpheus: Freeze it. 
[Everybody and everything besides Neo and Morpheus freezes in time
Neo: This... this isn't the Matrix? 
Morpheus: No. It is another training program designed to teach you one thing: if you are not one of us, you are one of them. 

This one deals with teachers and administrators. We are our own worst enemy. Many of us are not happy with how education looks. Yet, we are not willing to do anything to change. We are quick to point the finger at the upper admins or political figures. I read somewhere on a blog the other day that we teachers are the agents of change. If we see the need for change, then we need to be the force that makes it happen. There are enough of us that our voices together will be heard. Project based learning is the first step in making the necessary changes. I know some teachers are not quite on board, but the question I ask is what are you doing to make change? Maybe stop complaining and try something. I always tell my own kids when they throw a fit and cry, "Is that getting you what you want?" They always answer NO! Why do we continue to whine and complain? It gets us nowhere. We do it because it is easy and makes it seem like we care. If we cared enough, then we would do something. I am going to be an agent of change. I am investing in Project Based Learning to start a new way of thinking and learning.

Mini Mr. Maurer PEZ dispenser

This is a replica of my former self. My passion has intensified. My ideas are growing. I am keeping my old self in my hand as a reminder of the good things I have done as a teacher. I don't have to throw everything to the wayside. I have kept the good, tossed the bad, and will keep this little PEZ as a reminder of how I continue to evolve as a teacher to stay current with new and future generation of students.


The green light saber is seen as a symbol for focus. I am focused on the task at hand. I am excited. The light saber is my symbol for my focus to realizing that we need change. I am keeping one thought in mind - What is best for students? - and not what is best for teachers or the easiest approach. It is time to bring students back to the forefront. Teachers need to step out of the spotlight. Less focus on learning targets posted in the classrooms(however, agenda and goals of class are important) and inserting lesson plans into a system that will not help as projects should change yearly to keep things fresh. I will wield my light saber as my tool to transform who I am into a Jedi teacher who will work on making myself better to help make learning relevant and important to students. It is time to be one with the force. Mind over matter.

At the end of the day I stop and reflect on this thought and this thought alone cements my need to help push our building into change and project based learning.

My Thought: What will be most beneficial for my own children as they go through the progression of public school? What needs to be done to make learning exciting, relevant, and purposeful to during these 13 years that are designed to make them productive citizens?

Worksheets, coloring maps, rote memorization of spelling, and sitting in desks for long periods of time listening to a teacher are not the answers.

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