Open up to Innovation

No one likes to admit their downfalls out loud, especially on the internet, but the biggest thing I learned about myself this summer is I am close minded. I understand how technology, new innovations and hack schooling all can help educators reach out to students and unlock oodles and oodles of potential, but part of me would rather see a locker filled with textbooks as the main source of information. Why do I think this way? Perhaps I still have a lot of unlearning to do. Maybe I am intimidated by the network of possibilities. But the most likely reason of all, is I am scared of change.

I do not like not knowing what is going on or what is currently happening; I am a bit of a control freak. Let’s just say, throwing me a surprise party would never well. After completing this class and reading all my classmates’ blogs, which convey nothing but excitement for new education, I have challenged myself to unlearn my habitual ways. Innovation is the future, and innovation does not follow a planner, a routine or a firm set of rules.

“…we need to unlearn the idea that student writing and projects are simply ways to assess what they know.” ~Richardson, The Steep “Unlearning Curve”

From here, my goal is to become more open to ideas of change and extincting them instead of just learning about them. I want to unlearn how to map out learning by page numbers and completed tasks.

At the same time, I do not want to forget the lessons I learned in traditional learning. I want to learn from the mistakes and defaults of traditional education and use those understandings to better my personal innovation. Everyone learns differently and maybe old-school ways are best for some people, but I need to remember that is not the case for everyone.

To me, innovation is using resources to reach past memorizing and repeating to lead learners on a vague trail with the skills to blaze their own. We need to give learners the tools and knowledge to find their way through the forest of learning on their own, but still be there with the supplies, first aid kit and complete understanding of the area. With an open mind and determination, anyone can make their way.


Now I need to go weed my tracks and clear some branches to open up my views and let the sun shine through so I can lead others through the forest someday, too.


“Yeah, my favorite’s Gouda!”

Like most any other twenty year old American, I highly enjoy food, namely carbs, and teenage romances created in the 2000s. I unconsciously combined these likes with this project and came up with what I am sure is a one-of-a-kind metaphor. I chose to compare students to cheese. I know what you’re thinking, that may be a stretch, and you’re right, but I’m not one to turn down a challenge, especially against myself.

Cheese is cultivated, distributed and utilized and so is knowledge. This was my outlining thought as I created my digital story. The most challenging part was finding a site/tool to create with. Once I did, putting the story together was the most difficult part due to my incredible ability to become easily frustrated by technology. Now, with hard drive filled with even more images of cheese saved to it than before, I invite you all to watch my digital story!



All public images were taken from CC


Creating my ILP

I was excited for the chance to show my ILP in a medium other than writing and photographs I take on my phone. My Individual Learning Project is to explore the places I either have never been to or have not been to in a long time in the Black Hills. I chose to create a poster encouraging others to get out and check out the places they go home as well. I used the program Piktochart which was mighty simpler than I expected. I am usually not very good at technological tasks but Pikochart is pretty user friendly.

I selected the poster format because I was not use how else to capture my ILP. There is no method or system to my project so a chart of any kind was out of the question. I have learned so much and had a blast with my project so I thought, “Why not let everyone else know how much they can benefit from exploring their own hometowns?” I too k this opportunity to do so!


This site is free and easy which is music to any teachers’ ears. Complete with their simple, clean-cut designs, teachers could use these templates to make charts and posters for just about anything. Multimedia images are helpful at the beginning of units, to explain more intricate lessons, to explain classroom rules or send newsletters home. Learning how to explore these programs will defiantly benefit us in the long run.

Logged In & Checked Out

This week was not the first time I have paid attention to my own lack of attention. Up until about a year ago, I had a phone that still slid back and forth complete with a physical keyboard and no front camera. Not being connected to the whole world at my fingertips often left me alone in a room full of people. Eating with my friends in the caf turned into me watching them watch their phones and when we watched movies, I was the only one really watching. So on that glorious day last August when I walked out of Verizon with the dumbest of smart phones, I promised myself I would not become void in just to exist in some virtual world.


photo by David Vespoli CC

As I began to keep my ‘attention journal’, I learned I spend time on my phone mostly at night before bed. This is both good and bad. Good because that means I am not blocking anyone out to scroll through posed pictures and cliche captions, but so many studies say this is horrible for almost every aspect of our health, so that’s not too good. My ‘physical space’ is a twin sized bed that acts as the bottom half of a bunk bed and my device is my Samsung phone. I usually spend about a half hour catching up on social medias for the day and reading articles I found interesting. Often times I would pick up a book after I put my phone down, so, to me, it was just another piece of bedtime literature. I didn’t really see any working or not working, I think I just become more conscious of the time I was spending online (while my books looked at me with pleading eyes).

Like everything we’ve learned in this class, we have to take our lessons and pass them down to our students. This one may be a bit more challenging than others because it may not be directly applied in today’s classrooms. As education evolves with technology, teachers will be able to instruct students technological manners. This may be the most important lesson I learned from this assignment.

Create Daily, Create for Life

If I’m being honest, when I first read our assignment of doing daily creates twenty days in a row, I probably rolled my eyes. I mean, who wants to do the same assignment twenty days in a row!? No one, that’s who. As I began opening the right links to discover what our tasks actually were, I started thinking, “hey, this might not be so bad.” Less than ten minutes later, I was scrolling through lists of possible daily creates and getting excited!

Next I opened up a new sticky note on my desktop to keep track of which creates I did when. I typed out a list of the next twenty days and was all set! Throughout the assignment, I had two favorites. The first was “Name that Movie”. I am a big fan of word play and movies so this one was right up my alley. My other favorite was “Fake Holiday” for which I chose National Junie B. Jones Day because (if you’ve read the books) its kinda crazy how she hasn’t already claimed this a holiday herself.

The biggest takeaway I’ve gotten from the daily creates is just how differently we all think. Yes, we all grew up hearing the snowflake metaphor and how we are all different and special, but I truly saw it here. We are all given the same one sentence explanation and in return, posted a myriad of various responses. This shows us how differently we all think and how, if all these thoughts are combined, we would have the understanding and capabilities to help teach learners of every kind. We all look at tasks through separate lenses and daily creates provide a way of combining those lenses into one super-telescope.

I have learned new things about my classmates’ hometowns and which ones of us enlist family and friends for help and fun. I have also learned how to stay dedicated to details – sometimes I didn’t get mine done till the last few hours of the day, but they still got done! I think daily creates are a great idea and I plan on checking them out every now and then after this class ends to keep my mind open!


A Ride Through Time

Today I continued my ILP and it was probably one of my favorite excursions yet! I was born and raised in Rapid City, SD and this summer I am exploring the places I have never been before or haven’t been in a very long time. This morning I took a ride on the City View Trolley and walked around downtown Rapid City. To be honest I walk around town quite often, but this morning I did so with the mindset of a vacationer and a head brimming with knowledge from the trolley narration.


The trolley from my bench

At eleven o’clock this morning, I paid my fare and hopped on the City View trolley. The interior was wooden and air conditioned which made me smile as I found a seat. As we pulled away from the bus depot, a recording came over the speakers which continued the for an hour as I rode around town, learning about the buildings and parks I have always just passed without a second thought. I found my self pulling a pen out of my purse to take notes along the way because I was so fascinated by the history behind all these locations. I learned the railroad had a mega impact on the settlement of the town when the Chicago Railroad came through. Business was booming well before; gold was discovered in the 1870s bringing many to the hills and in 1889 the local mill was established. I was interested to learn it once ran by water power supplied by Rapid Creek, is the oldest business in Rapid City and at one time was one of the top four mills in America. These are just a few of the things I learned today.

Later I was thinking about how I saw these places and took in this information in comparison to tourists who have never seen them before and probably never will. Like, I never knew the street I take every day to get from my house to practically anywhere else was originally a railroad that transported people from town to fishing holes and gold mines. I also never knew I lived in what the Lakota refer to as the heart of the Earth or an area nicknamed “God’s Country”. To a random person from anywhere else, these are just facts to learn til the attraction they really want to go to is open. For me, they gave a foundation to the places I grew up on.

building tops

After I arrived back at the depot, my mind was swimming in all the history I had just learned so I decided to walk downtown with more than just ice cream or movies on my mind (my usual purpose in being there). Today I truly looked at the buildings and the way other people acted downtown as they took in their experiences. Here are some pictures from my adventure which I felt obligated to take as I played tourist!

Disclaimer: I tried, I really did, to take a selfie with a president but my Rapid City pride was just too strong, that was one thing I could not do ūüôā


Tourists taking pictures in Art Alley


Garage doors to the 1915 firehouse (now a restaurant)


Maybe a town of history, but these folks prove we can keep up with the times as they hunt some Pokemon

My Virtual Picketsign

Everything we’ve covered so far – digital citizenship, cultivating a personal, online environment, using creativity in the virtual world- can help students become active members of digital activism. As students learning to become educators we spend so much time talking about how valuable student input is in modern education. Showing them how to effectively participate in digital activism is giving them the tools to hack their society and change it for the better. This article¬†helped me to understand digital activism in the simplest ways.


Unlike many things in the modern world, digital activism is free and (most of the times) allows participants to remain anonymous. Why do you think it was always easier to tell your crush you thought they were “hott” in middle school by shoving a note through their locker vents instead of saying it to their faces? Why is it so much fun to leave sarcastic comments and punny responses on YikYak posts when we don’t even like stating our opinions in class? Because our identity is unknown. This factor is both a positive and a negative in the world of digital activism.

Positive-> more people will step forward and join

Negative-> who are they!?


Like almost everything we’ve studied so far, I compared digital activism to activism of the past. As college age students fifty to sixty years ago, if we were to protest against something the government what up to we found unjust, or advocate for a worthy cause, multiple bodies and a booming presence would be our best bet. Now in 2016 we still need as many people as we need on our side to make ourselves know, but we are no longer marching up and down streets with homemade signs displaying our thoughts in wet paint or sitting at soda shop counters waiting for our friends to be allowed to join. Now we can be found on our phones and at our laptops typing up slogans, sharing articles and updating our profiles to spread around meaningful propaganda. Beginning as¬†peer-to-peer communication, our voices can echo across multitudes of digital platforms. Think about how the internet practically became one large rainbow last June when gay marriage was legalized. How about the {useful} political memes and charts circulating now regarding the upcoming presidential election? Or all those gender role-crushing articles? These are just a couple ways we are using our digital activists rights.


Me, Myself and all the other Mary Annes

I have an uncommonly common name. I have only ever met one other Mary Anne who wasn’t at least forty years old than me but that’s what you get when you have two names that were extremely popular from about the 1920s thru the 60s. Throw in a last name like Johnson and you got yourself a ton of common names in an unlikely combination. I didn’t really know what to expect when I googled myself.

The first thing I did was clicked ‘Images’ to see what would be under there. Unsurprisingly, there were a ton of pictures of ¬†40-60 era teenagers and old photographs of women in cat-eye glasses and blouses. There were also images of smiling business women, straight-faced prairie wives, ¬†Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island and even a couple of me! One of my pictures is the profile picture from my professional twitter account and the other from my CSC Merit page (which to be honest I totally forgot existed).

photo by

Under the web search section there were links leading to other people’s sites and on about the second page there was a link to my professional Twitter which can be reached by anyone, if they log in first. There was a portal to Facebook pages, but mine¬†only has limited information to people who are not friends with me.¬†I also found¬†articles about myself from schools I have attended announcing the honor roll. I also discovered I am still listed on the SDHSAA (South Dakota High School Activities Association) page for marching at a football tournament with my high school’s marching band and am in some pictures cheerleading at state basketball and wrestling tournaments.

photo by

I added “Chadron, NE” behind my name and hit ‘enter’ to see if anything else would come up. The roster for the Chadron State cheer team and CSC’s academic honors page were the only new pages to appear. ‘Images’ only brought up my individual headshot from cheering for CSC this past fall.

I am glad that as much as the internet can expose us, we are also capable of setting up accounts that block out unwanted vistiors. We need to teach our students how to keep themselves safe online and publish only what can be seen by all lines.

Say what you wanna say


photo by  mkhmarketing

We learned how to use silverware at the dinner table because it’s polite. We were taught to hold the door at the grocery store for the young couple behind us struggling with their toddler; it’s just the right thing to do. At stop signs when more than one person has arrived at the same time, we wave them on. Why? because it’s the Midwest no one’s really ever in too much of a hurry. And best of all none of us can walk across campus without receiving a greeting, smile or a wave. We do all these things because they are how the culture we grew up in functions. Today kids are growing up completely surrounded by technology with little idea of how to be a polite, smiley citizen in this society. Present generations get to pioneer the concept of digital citizenship, so let’s do this right!

Digital citizenship is the way anyone represents themselves online and in the digital world. Previous eras have experienced situations like this; how many authors have we studied with pseudonyms to hide a personal trait or politicians who were known by colored nicknames painted by their views or actions? The digital world is our new frontier and space to create yet another persona. One article comparing the learning habits/outcomes of two different technological experiences, linked¬†here, mentioned teaching students to post “as if an adult is in the room”. With a mind set like this, students can stay true to themselves and still thrive as a digital citizen.

In the spirit of staying true to one’s self, let me talk about language for a minute. Those of us who endured Grammar & Linguistics ¬†know all too well how a child’s environment will have endless impacts on their language and dialect. Teachers must remember a child’s (in)ability to use Standard Written English DOES NOT make them stupid/hopeless/dumb. Another article I read talked about this topic and I found it incredibly fascinating. If a student types the way he or she speaks, does that make them a poor digital citizen? I don’t think students should have to alter their learned language to be a part of the digital world. Here¬†is the article from a national journal analyzing this topic. I believe every student should be given the tools they need to say what they have to say and teach the world how they see us all, no matter how they are gonna say it.


***These links may require you to log into CSClibrary resources

Not a BAD day at all


Badlands National Park from my point of view

This week for my ILP I convinced my family to drive an hour or so out of town to go play around in some mud and to a glorified pharmacy with me. I know what you’re thinking, “Dang, her family must really love her.” Now to the everyday, average American family these attractions are better known as Badlands National Park and Wall Drug Store. Before yesterday I hadn’t been to the Badlands since a field trip in eighth grade which was more social than anything else and hadn’t been to Wall Drug since I was about six. It is safe to say it was time for me to return to these places and see what all the hype was about.

The Badlands were incredible. We walked along boardwalked path till we arrived at what I can only describe as a field of mud-made canyons crafted by God. I think one day He decided to play with clay and half-heartily molded the Badlands, but left it halfway done. Like other pieces of art, it is more stunning in progress than it would be completed. The point of interest here is called The Door and there are numbered markers to lead explorers across the landscape with the least amount of trouble. My family took them into consideration the same way I take cookie dough packaging into consideration; we smiled at the idea and then did our own thing. I jumped, climbed and tumbled into miniature canyons of layered clay, listening to our laughter echo off of the plateaus of cracked dirt. Eventually we made it to The Door which is just a particularity door-like formation of lands.

After we left the Badlands, the landscape turned to prairie as we headed to Wall, South Dakota. Back in the pioneer days there was a local drug store that advertised free ice water and business boomed from there. Now in 2016 consists of a string of gift shops, what I believe to be a ‘gold mine’, restaurants, historical artifacts and a courtyard of picture-ready props. (The free ice water is also out there!) My favorite part was how the walls were covered¬†with articles, photographs and advertisements from the homesteading days. My dad I read and pointed out fun facts from these while the rest of my family shopped around. For those of you who don’t already know, I have always always loved learning about the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder ever since I read her books as a kid. The picture at then end has my face-wide smile, but not the jump I did when I first spotted a covered wagon I could sit in! This was just one of the props open for pictures in the courtyard.

In the end, I had a great time learning more about my home and experiencing it all with my family!


Wall, SD