Sunday, October 16, 2011

Hanging Out, Messing Around, Geeking Out

I was on the elliptical this morning, innocently putting in my daily non-negotiable hour of exercise while doing what makes that hour tolerable, even fun--- reading my edtech listservs, following my edtech heroes on Twitter, reading Education and Technology briefs on Zine (do you notice a pattern?) when I ran across this little gem:

Digital library aims to expand kids' media literacy
"Hanging Out," "Messing Around," and "Geeking Out" at YOU Media Center

Looked innocent enough.  I clicked on it and my mind has been racing ever since ('tis now 8 hours later).

Here's the gist of the article:

Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago turned a storage room into the YOU Media Center, a high-tech media room, designed to let teens experiment with media and technology. It's proven wildly popular. Teens from all over Chicago have been streaming in, moving through what Mizuko Ito, cultural anthropologist, calls the three stages of media consumption and creation. She explains that teens begin by "Hanging out" (texting, face booking) followed by "Messing around" (recording videos, blogging, posting photos) and finally "Geeking Out" when they begin making quality multimedia products, mixing genres and seeking out the tech skills to do so.

And here's where where my mind has gone since reading that article:
  • It all began with my "Aha!" moment: The three stages of technology growth---"hanging out," "messing around," "geeing out"---OF COURSE, that explains, in part, why this is so difficult to manage in a classroom. With the pre-tests, post-tests,  multi-leveled lesson plans, conscious use of Bloom's taxonomy verbs (yes administrators actually listening for our use of specific verbs in the classroom), "I Can" statements---in 4 different preps, 5 different classes, 44 minutes each, and increasing numbers of students in each - clearly, our structure does not allow for "Hanging out" and "Messing Around" - necessary precursors to "Geeking Out," the ultimate leveraging of 21st century skills in an authentic, student-centered context. 
  • This made me revisit another article I read recently, reminded me that there is a better way: Arlington High Reaches Middle Age.
  • Which made me wonder about what the remedy might be: longer class periods, less class periods, more time for students to hang out, mess around, and ultimately geek out.
  • Which made me wonder: could we go to an A/B schedule, allowing longer durations of time?
  • Which made me wonder: could I team teach a humanities class (English & History) providing rich cross-curricular content to feed media creation? Could we run it in a block, allowing for mini lectures on history, independent reading and group discussions on related literature (primary documents, non-fiction foundational US History pieces, and historical novels), and best of all, time to mess around and geek out, using technology to creating authentic project-based products demonstrating understanding and relevance in their world? Could it happen? If so, how? Could we get the resources? the time? the support? How would it all work? 
  • Which lead to a 30-minute powwow with hubby - occupational dreaming...
  • Which lead to a 40-minute phone call with a history colleague - dreaming, but now a little more grounded...
  • Which has lead to circles and cycles of consideration about limitations of the current system and wondering where we're going and where I'm going, and if indeed we'll meet the kids somewhere along the road. 
One thing's for sure: I need to go to the YOU Media Center (btw love the name YOU Media Center - truly student-centered). I need to talk to the librarian at Harold Wilson Public Library. I need to continue trying to figure out how we can get there, what my role will be in this, and keep the pedagogical faith---no small task these days.