“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”
Jim Jarmusch

This provocative statement about art illustrates how my blog as a Personal Learning Network (PLN), based on the concept of David Warlick, will work. Gathering and filtering information from various sources will be the focal point to provide an anchor point for History and English teachers in High School. This filter of information is even more important considering the facts and figures. In 2011 there were more than 2,1 billion internet users, over 555 million websites and as many as 70 million blogs on WordPress (Source).

Personal experience and preferences will shape the content of this blog. I am studying History and English to become a teacher for Gymnasium since I am from Germany spending a semester abroad in the States. Therefore, the content of this blog will partly deal with the German educational scholarship and system comparing it to the American schooling. Furthermore, I have a weakness for movies – easy to recognize if you are familiar with one of the most famous independent directors of the 90s, Jim Jarmusch- which will have a certain influence on the posts of my blog. However, learning and sharing new content about the subjects History and English will be the red line for the content of this blog.

2014: Two years have passed since this blog was created for my “Educational Technology” class in the United States. As the class ended I also stopped to work on this blog. However, I realized that all the papers, lessons, presentations etc. created during my studies can be useful for other teachers as well. In fact, the teaching community is in the progress to grasp the importance of sharing material, PLN’s and blogging in general. The reasons have been inquired by many other blogging educators here, there and yonderThus, I want to take a step in the right direction and jump on the bandwagon.

Many things changed during the last two years. I have not only taken a third subject (German as Foreign Language), but also started another semester abroad in Vilnius, Lithuania. Also my objective switched a little from becoming a teacher at a Gymnasium towards a more intercultural perspective. I want to teach German and English in foreign countries, thus also my blog will focus in second language learning. Furthermore, I want to specialize in literature/theater/film use in language teaching – ironically my first blog post was about film making in school.


Recent Posts

Technology vs. Intelligence?

“I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.”                     – Albert Einstein

Jason Lodge takes a critical stand against technology in education in his recent article “Education in the information age: is technology making us stupid?” on The ConversationHe underlines his thesis with the argument that modern education cannot keep up with the information overflow induced by the internet. Furthermore, he uses the theory of Daniel Kahneman about two process thinking to explain that education has to change in order to meet the new demands of the 21st century.

The two process thinking model is a complex theory, which can be simplified for educational purposes. There are two different ways thinking or rather to solve a problem. The first thinking process is fast, efficient and instinctive. “System one” as it is called is responsible for detecting patterns and uses automatism to solve problems. On the other hand, “System two” is slow, thoughtful and cognitively resource-intensive, but is responsible for the complex thinking.

 Illustration by David Plunkert. Retrieved from New York Times, 25 Nov. 2011.

In the following video, Daniel Kahneman explains his theory very understandable and only in four minutes:

Lodge explains that technology in providing easy access to information supports “system one” thinking hence the claim that technology is making us stupid. While this statement is very debatable, it is for certain that teachers in the 21st century have to cope with the changes of technology and to this extent the theory of Kahneman is helpful. Educators have to take into consideration how to foster “system two” thinking instead of “system one” in order to teach their students how to solve complex problems.

The New England Complex Systems Institute suggest to shift from “convergent” to “divergent” teaching. These sophisticated terms just denote teacher-centered and student-centered learning: A common and reasonable trend in education. However, student-based teaching environments are still not common sense and many teachers fear the risk to hand over the reigns. Usually teachers are satisfied with implementing group work in their lessons once in a while to check off student-based learning and calm their conscience of following the newest trend in education.

Most of the instructions on the web are informative and display the advantages of student-based learning, however, they remain too generic (like this example). However, there are recent researches examining specific methods on specific content such as the study by Jo Barraket. He impressively displays the adjustments he made to his lessons in order to have a student-based learning experience. For example, in the Ethic lesson, Barraket changed the discussion into a 4-way case study, in which the students are split up to take different opinions and have to defend them in class. This approach is not revolutionary, but it shows how small tweaks in your lesson plan can support student engagement.

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