Graduation announcements are here! Another opportunity to practice my calligraphy for an authentic audience! Better review the "practicing with precision" tutorial the Flourish Forum just posted after my last barrage of mishaps.
As the year winds down I'm finding it more and more difficult to tap into my motivation. I have also made some interesting observations about motivation, both in my classroom and in my own brain.
Let's start with my classroom. You may or may not know that I am conduction action research on the effect of choice on high school chemistry students. You can read more about that here. One lens through which I am viewing my research is that of motivation. Will students be more motivated if they have choice? The short answer is yes, but only to a degree. What I have observed is students getting excited about topics they choose and motivated to find answers to their own fierce wonderings. However, this motivation for a project takes a back seat if grades or other deadlines are in the picture. Case in point, my students had a work day for their project on the same day they had a rote memorization test in one class (gross) and a project due in another. Instead of working on their chemistry projects (which they were so initially excited about) they were scrambling to finish the immediate tasks at hand. In this case, it appears that extrinsic motivation (points and deadlines) won out over intrinsic motivation.
I've observed the same attitude in myself. The 20% project has been a struggle for me. The demands on my time are high between teaching my own classes, the stress of the multi-week application/interview process for my dream job, conducting action research, and trying to fit in workouts/yoga for my own sanity. As a result the 20% project, something that should be enjoyable for me, gets pushed to the back burner in favor of these other things with looming deadlines and consequences for failure to complete.
Is this how we live our lives? Pushing aside those things that we want in favor of the demands of others?
It was a sad revelation for me and makes me wonder, as long as other teachers are enforcing strict grades and consequences and administering useless tests will I ever be able to implement the type of student centered learning I want to? Or will the extrinsic motivators used by others trump the intrinsic motivation I hope to foster?
As you may remember, I had switched my choice book to ROLE Reversal by Mark Barnes. ROLE stands for Results Only Learning Environment and Barnes adapted the concept from Best Buy's Results Only Work Environment and essentially boils down to shifting the focus to student learning. Barnes frequently references the work of Alfie Kohn when describing the philosophy behind the ROLE classroom.It attempts to tap into key ideas in educational psychology including intrinsic motivation, dynamics of control (student vs. teacher), and the detrimental effects of grades and worksheets.
In essence, the ROLE classroom is one that combines project based learning, student centered learning, collaboration, and 21st century skills.
Here is a summary of how to transition into a ROLE classroom.
For our collaborative digital pedagogy project on Twitter for Educators, I have been assigned hashtags, link shorteners, and tweeting/retweeting. I have made infographics and some screencasts for these topics (below). I am not feeling so eloquent in the screencasts haha. To make both videos I played around with the YouTube video editor, spliced together separate clips and mostly trimmed out the part where a bunch of students came knocking on my door in the middle of recording.
For this first video I used Doceri. Doceri is an iPad app which allows you to create hand drawn presentations and voice record over them, like the intro page in the video. It also allows you to control your computer desktop through your iPad and annotate directly on your desktop, which is
For the second video I did a simple Quicktime screencast. I also played around with music and title slides in the second video in the YouTube video editor.
For our digital pedagogy project of teaching teachers how to use twitter I have been tasked with explaining tweets, retweets, URL shorteners, and #hashtags. As a supplement to my screencast on tweets, I created this guide to education hashtags:
I'm realizing that although I have shared my calligraphy journey, I never really elaborated on the process by which I started learning calligraphy.
It started with Michael's and an iPhone. In general shopping is a miserably long process for me because I HAVE to compare each choice and weigh my options factoring in price, value, and what I personally like. Now that I have an iPhone this process is even longer because I have to read reviews for every single option before I make a decision. So a few months ago I found myself sitting on the floor of Michael's with 5 different calligraphy pens spread out around me reading reviews for each on my iPhone until I made a decision.
Shortly after I checked out #calligraphy on instagram and found several people learning calligraphy. I followed them and looked to their posts as stylistic inspiration.
Then I started looking for places to learn calligraphy. This was pretty quick because I stumbled upon the Flourish Forum which has a comprehensive collection of youtube lessons for each individual letter. The most common lettering style is called Copperplate which is what I started off learning, but I eventually plan on learning Modern Calligraphy (the type most people use to address wedding invitations).
From the Flourish Forum I have been printing off worksheets and following the youtube lessons, mostly learning technique through trial and error. I didn't have a really good technical foundation as I mentioned in my last post, so I recently went back to youtube and the internet to learn more about technique when using dip pens.
The result of my searches are captured in the Pinterest board below. Pinterest was the natural choice for a curation tool because it's where all of the middle aged crafty women live. My board is different from most of the calligraphy on Pinterest however. I noticed most pins are just things that people thought were pretty. Mine is actually a collection of how to's for calligraphy from around the interwebs with descriptions on how to use each page. Also fun fact: you can now pin youtube videos!
So last night I ended up sticking around after class with Sean, Eric, and the other Alyssa. Professor Jeff was "strongly encouraging" us to do a large collaborative digital pedagogy project on Twitter chats which morphed into Twitter for Educators as a whole. The plan is to have a whole lot of screencasts on using Twitter, from setting up an account to hashtags to twitter edchats. I think the ulterior motive is so he can use it for future classes. But I guess that would make it a project for an authentic audience?
Anyways, I'm becoming obsessed with infographics which I think could be used to enhance this digital pedagogy project, like this one here. Thoughts?
Now that my life is calmed down (aka I got my action research on track and I have a job!) I sat down for a long overdue calligraphy practice. I've pretty solidly mastered miniscules (in layman's terms: lowercase) letterforms and it was time to make the jump to Majuscules (capitals). I logged into the Flourish Forum and downloaded all of the existing lessons on Majuscules. The lessons started with learning the basic strokes used for capital letters:
My attempts at the first stoke (the one that looks like a 6) were AWFUL. I was so confident in my calligraphy until that point, then everything came crashing down. Not only was I struggling to make the shape but my ink was blotchy and my paper was just turning into a calligraphic mess. What was going wrong? Why was my pen rebelling on me?
It was time to go back to basics. I started searching for REALLY beginning calligraphy lessons, like how to dip your pen. The revelations were shocking.
1. I had been assembling my pen wrong the whole time.
See the one that says INCORRECT in big red letters? That's how I had been assembling my pen. This made it so that the nib (the little metal part that you dip in the ink) would become loose and difficult to control.
2. I was dipping my pen wrong
This entire time I had been dipping the ENTIRE nib into the inkwell. Apparently you're not supposed to do that. You're only supposed to dip it in a little so the ink doesn't get... everywhere.
3. I was using a more difficult nib
The nib I was using was extremely flexible. This led to all of my ink being used up in one stroke and ink blots everywhere. I switched to a stiffer nib which allows for more controlled ink flow and less blotting.