cc licensed flickr photo by Radhika Bhagwat:
cc licensed flickr photo by Radhika Bhagwat:

“Small steps, Ellie, small steps….”

Ted Arroway, Contact

During my week off, I have been trying to reflect on the Media 21 project implementation.    Throughout the course of this project, I’m trying to follow the wisdom of Henry David Thoreau:  “I have learned, that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”  However, my confidence wavered earlier this week as I looked back at the last six weeks.  I have been questioning if I have taken the best route in approaching my learning goals and learning activities with the students; this is natural for any teacher, but it tends to happen more when you are piloting a new unit for the first time.   I can already think of some things I will do differently next time, but I’m also trying to glean wisdom from these reflections as we enter the next phase of the project (which I will blog about more later today), which will have the students actually applying a good bit of what we have explored so far to literature circles study and an accompanying research projects.   While I’m incredibly excited about lies ahead, I worry if my plan and design is working and think about tweaks I want to make to create truly memorable and meaningful learning experiences for my Media 21 students.

Last night, I spent time reading student reflections and reflecting on what their feedback meant for them as well as us, their teachers.   I felt much  more encouraged after reading their feedback that they ARE getting something out of the unit, but I am even more determined that the upcoming literature circle/research project (which I can’t wait to tell you about later today) be a positive experience that will truly make a difference for them as students.

In checking my work email this morning, I was a little astonished to find an email sent last night from Lindy, one of my M21 students; after all, it IS our week of vacation!  While most students would be enjoying the time off, Lindy has been thinking a lot about the floods at Clarkdale Elementary, her alma mater.  Lindy, whose grandparents’ basement was flooded, has been helping her family clean up and has seen the flood damage firsthand.  In her email, she wrote to tell me she is keeping an eye out for any blogathons that may be happening to help the school.   Tears came to my eyes as she recalled how our class participated in the blogathon for the flooded Louisville Free Public Library back on August 31 as part of our exploration of “Social Media for Social Good”.  She could have been thinking about a million other things, but Lindy was thinking of how people could help the students and teachers of Clarkdale—and she recalled the blogathon experience.

Many groups around Atlanta are organizing collections for donations and supplies for the students and teachers who are now being displaced to two other schools since the school will not be rebuilt anytime soon (it is too damaged to reopen), but if the students are interested, I am going to help them organize a possible blogathon if officials with the Cobb County School District still see a need for supplies; if not, perhaps a blogathon for the new Clarkdale Elementary library might be in order.

I am a person who likes to dream big and take bold steps; consequently, I sometimes feel change is not happening as fast as I’d like to see.  I constantly have to work on patience, which may be surprising to those of you who know me.    However, Lindy’s email has shown me that the Media 21 project IS making a positive impression and that small steps will get us to the end goal of creating students who not only are information literate and connected learners, but also students who can see how to take what they are learning in school and apply it to the “real world”.   THIS is why school libraries matter—we DO organize, design, and create learning experiences that make a difference in the lives of our students, and hopefully, beyond our community.

I don’t think they have a standardized test that can measure that.