Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Gift Giving

The holiday season is a time for gift giving so this year I want to seriously consider the reasons behind the act. Is gift giving a perfunctory act, a must do, or a genuine exchange of meaning? According to dictionary.com,  the word gift is described as "something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone, honor an occasion, or make a gesture of assistance. " As I reflect upon this, I feel that gift giving goes beyond a voluntary act. It is a gesture of joy, a willingness to provide an interactive moment between gift giver and receiver. With this in mind, I ponder the gift of learning.

Recently, I attended the NYS Network Team Institute (curriculum conference) where a gift of learning was offered to participants. (A recent post I wrote highlights some of my thinking.) During the session titled, Fieldwork and Experts, offered by Expeditionary Learning professional developers, educators were allowed to experience the act of learning in a unique way. Deviating from the traditional professional development model, we donned the role of researchers involved in fieldwork and viewed the new exhibit, The Shakers,  at the NYS Museum in the Cultural Education Center in Albany. With an observer's eye, we closely examined the various rooms of the new exhibit, appreciating the simplicity of the exhibit that illustrated the lifestyle of the Shakers. White space, signage, and a brilliant pop of blue allowed insight into Shaker Community life in 19th Century New York. 

Appreciating the intake of knowledge in a different way, I walked away with the following takeaways:

  • Engaging learners in simulated real world experiences piques curiosity; stimulates thinking; builds knowledge
  • Through active learning experiences, students notice, wonder, discover, and become stewards of their own learning
The gift of learning is a precious one, an interchange, a burst of ideas

Learning alongside colleagues across the state has been a collaborative, professional encounter that pushes my thinking to create new opportunities - 
a gift of professional learning. 

Reflecting on the whys of gift giving and the feeling of joy involved with the act is a thoughtful process. I can associate this act with the the daily interactions educators provide for learners. They open doors of knowledge as a gift from their passionate hearts and growth mindsets. They engage in interactive exchanges that gently push learning forward (a poem written on this subject can be found here).

In order to provide rich experience for learners, educators should be given the gift of ongoing professional learning to become "deep dive thinkers" themselves. Through these experiences, literacy tools can be added to their educator toolkit. In turn, educators will offer the gift of learning to their students by opening doors to knowledge.  By providing choice, and fostering collaborative conversations, teachers are no longer sages upon the stage. They are guides on the side gently pushing students' thinking forward 

Because technology is a tool for me to create messages and new learnings, I designed the following Animoto presentation as a visual gift to all. Bringing a message of joy in learning is easily accessible now through the power of technology.   

Lead, Facilitate, Guide Learners

This post is offered to both the Slice of Life and DigiLit communities. 
Join other slicers at Two Writing Teachers to read their Slice of Life posts.


Then, stroll over to the DigiLit Sunday site hosted by Margaret Simon 
to read about the bright holiday poppers that Margaret is showing. 

DigiLit Sunday

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