It started out as panic. Brain powering through so many questions. So many ideas. A small jolt of stress coursed through my body.
The theory making #2 assignment was the light that led me to the question which was used to place me in a workshop group. My workshop group got busy brainstorming – along with the professor. We came to realize our questions led to a central theme. We focused on social-emotional learning, centralizing on project based learning as our drive in the workshop discussion. During the second class working on the workshops, my group was able to wrap up what information we wanted to have. Once we finished the proposal, we knew that we were very well on track. The proposal was the document that assured me my workshop group was well prepared for the unconference.
The night of the unconference rolled around. My workshop group knew how we were going to begin our workshop, we knew the questions we had to keep the discussion going, but we agreed to wing it. By winging it, we meant that we would be going along as the discussion took its course. Twenty minutes was not long at all. We presented our opening questioning: What classroom lesson from grade school do you remember well? That sparked memories to share. After a few minutes of sharing, the workshop crew made the connection to the central topic; the lessons that were shared had the students involved – physically and/or personally. The discussion went off about how social learning is an essential part of school. Academics are important, but so is the social aspect. It was even argued that social interaction is more important than academics.
The conversation that happened was on the topic of social development, but it was a different spin than the one which I had started with. My brain was going towards making the lessons in the classroom more hands on. Incorporating as much project based learning with the lessons that Common Core requires of teachers and students to cover throughout the year. Yet, what was mostly being talked about was the social aspect of school. Having time to talk with friends, having the time to teach general manners, and make sure that students learn how to control their emotions. We touched upon the pressure students are under these days. The rate of suicides in young adults and children are sky rocketing because the government is pushing academics and testing over and over again. Teachers are forced to concentrate in materials that will make the students achieve a high grade on the tests, leaving no room for essential life skills.
Life skills are important. An observation of the rude behavior that is progressing throughout the new generations and starting at younger and younger age groups was mentioned. We came to the conclusion that students are spending more time in a classroom than at home with parents. Logically, it would be stated that teachers are then responsible to teach the ways of society – politeness, respect for elders, peers and your self – but how can this be asked of teachers when they have no room to do so?
Research has proven that children need to socialize in order to learn how to interact with one another. It is a major part of how they will learn in the classroom as well. Children are energetic and they need to take that energy out somehow.
Unfortunately, I did not get the chance to sit in on a full workshop, but as I went around floor to floor, I stood outside the door and heard bits of the discussions and/or presentations taking place. I was impressed by the various topics being presented. The workshop Let the Game Begin was focusing on video games and the violence that many have. They were semi-targeting the idea that the violent video games are made for certain ages, typically adults, yet many parents were letting children play them. All of a sudden it was brought to light the fact that there are educational games made for young children such as Leap Frog. We can’t forget about those, and I agree with the fact that these are the games that should be emphasized in social media and classrooms instead of the violent games.
This uncoference was a great experience. The workshops that were explored all had a story to tell. Each presenter had an idea they wanted to share and it was actively done through the discussions that were allowed to take place. By having these presentations we were able to create an educational community to share what we found important when it came to teaching. I must point out that this unconference led the whole class to be encouraging and supportive of one another.