Aggie-Reflection-Week-1

Select any number of the most meaningful questions from the list below and spend 1 hour writing and reflecting on your experiences, thoughts and feelings.

NAME Aghigh Ebrahimi Bazaz
Date July 5,2009

Teaching & Personal Development
If someone asks what media literacy is, what do you tell them?
Media literacy is the ability to think critically about media messages, to be aware that all media messages are constructed, that they serve a particular purpose, and that oftentimes, those purposes serve certain economic or political interests. Media literacy, is in short, a means through which we learn to be actively engaged with and in control of the media that invade our lives rather than becoming unwittingly influenced or changed by them.

Why is media literacy education important?
Media literacy education is incredibly important because media messages surround us. In everything we do, every place we go, we confront media messages and these messages oftentimes will shape how we perceive one another, how we perceive ourselves, and how we perceive our environment, and consequently, how we treat others and selves and environment. Thus, if we wish to create a more just, more compassionate world in which more and more people have the opportunity to fulfill their fullest potential, we can start by producing media that represents that world in a kinder, less reductive way. And we can also start by being aware that media messages are constructed and are not necessarily reflecting reality but actively shaping it in a way.

How can media literacy enhance student communication skills?
Media literacy can enhance communication skills because through becoming media literate, students are learning to actively engage with the media, to reflect upon it, ask questions of it, make arguments about it. And to make arguments and to reflect require communication skills, require knowing how to formulate a thought clearly so that one's audience understands the thought. It means being aware that one has an audience. It means learning that an argument requires solid evidence and learning to seek out that evidence to buttress one's claims.
Furthermore, a media literacy education couples critical thinking and consumption with creation and production. That is, in order to become media literate, students must create media themselves. In creating media, students learn to target their messages to an audience, learn how to follow certain codes and conventions of mediated communication, learn to convey their messages according to the purpose of their communication (inform, persuade or entertain) and in so doing, they practice the art of communication.

What do you believe are three characteristics of good media literacy teaching?
Good media literacy teaching requires that teachers allow students to arrive at answers/conclusions on their own rather than having the teacher pedantically impose answers and ideas upon students.
Good media literacy teaching must also provide fun and creative means through which students can use their imaginations and produce products of their own that help them to understand how media is made and what choices have to be made in that process. Thus, good media lit teaching also requires modeling (first teacher models for students and then students model the media-creation process by creating media themselves)
And good media literacy teaching is meta-cognitive - it allows space for students to reflect upon their process and their learning and to learn from one another's processes.

Expectations of Self and Others
What are you looking forward to next week? What are you worried about?
Looking forward to exciting moments in the classroom, looking forward to seeing the students having fun learning, and looking forward to having the students come to realizations that they may never have had before. I am worried that my lessons will not be strong enough, that I won't have the right answers and that I will end up confusing them more than I am teaching them. And as always before I enter the classroom, I worry that I am not prepared enough and not organized enough and that my lessons will fall apart and will be a big waste of time.

What are your strengths as a teacher? What are your weaknesses?
My strengths as a teacher are that I am inclusive - I honor every person's voice and always try to incorporate students' comments into the classroom discussion or into the lesson. I am also able to be creative with lessons and also think on my toes in the classroom. I am also able to make connections among ideas and lessons that may not be apparent. I am compassionate and a great listener and I care about my students deeply. I am funny, entertaining, dynamic, and come alive in the classroom so that it is hard for students to get bored. I also try very hard to plan activities based on my students' interests and passions.
My weaknesses are that I am not always as organized as I should be and that I can get very overwhelmed in teaching a new topic. I can get so overwhelmed by all that needs to be taught that I try to teach it all at once and then end up confusing students and not really teaching them. I get so excited about exposing them to a thousand different concepts that I sometimes forget the learning objectives and overwhelm the students themselves with all that I introduce. That is - I might end up introducing a lot of ideas without exploring anything in depth.
Finally, I am not always grand at classroom management because it is hard for me to walk the line between cool teach and authority figure.

Students & Lessons
Visualize one of the lessons you have planned. Imagine you are conducting this lesson in class. Write in detail how everything will go, including student comments, questions, and feedback.
Monday's Lesson, July 6 -
At first, we will introduce the camp and what we're here to do. I will ask them, "Why are we here/ What are we here to learn?" And they will respond, "to become powerful communicators!" or maybe they won't respond at all and then I will say, "What mantra did we learn?" and we will talk about using our voices and learnign to communicate well. Then I will ask, "what does it mean to communicate? why do we need to communicate well" and we will discuss these ideas for a little while. Then, I will tell them that we are going to play a little game in which we have to decide what does or does not communicate. And we go around the room to various items and the children have to decide, does this item communicate or does it not. Items will include a coloring book, a teddy bear, an apple, a cell phone, an ipod, a book light (and the box the book light comes in), a pen, and an image of a pen cut out from a magazine. The students will write down whether they think these communicate or not. And then when all the students are finished, we will talk about their answers. Why did they choose what they did and why did they not choose the others. I will explain that that media is anything that communicates a message and that those messages can be of three types, messages that inform, persuade or entertain. then we will look at the items again and go over whether one thing communicates or not. Questions that might come up is that there might be a lot of confusion about what communicates - waht is the difference between a device that sends a message and a device that is a message? Meaning, is an ipod both media and a technological tool that conveys media? These questions won't come up necessarily but they are questions that I have and so b/c I am a little unclear on these definitions, the students might walk away confused as well w/out a clear idea of what media is...Their feedback might be that the lesson was scatterd and a little boring!

If your students walk away with one important set of knowledge, competencies or skills at the end of the month's end, what would it be and why?
I believe that my students will walk away with an understanding of representation and the power held in their ability to represent themselves, and a sense of responsibility to represent others in a respectful and thoughtful manner. They will have this knowledge because many of our lessons will come back to this idea, to the practice of self-representation, to teaching them that in much of what they do and wear and buy, they are communicating a message about themselves and so they perhaps will learn to think about their choices. We will also be discussing how other are represented and what kinds of representations are most effective, most considerate and will lead to a more just and peaceful world. We will for example have a representation activity, create and "I am" poem and also learn a little about Philly history, stories they may not have learned in history classes, stories that show them how we represent the world really affects how we think about that world and about our roles in it (that is, if all they learn of the Civil Rights Movement is that Dr. King and Rosa Parks started all these protests, they won't feel empowered. But if the CRM is represented differently, if they learn that what led to the victory in Birmingham which led to the March on Washington and the Civil Rights Act was actually young students like themselves walking out of their classrooms and into the streets, then they might actually feel empowered to make change in their communities).

Meaningful Moments
Select an episode or moment from the week that was noteworthy to you. Describe what happened and reflect on the experience. What makes this episode or moment meaningful to you?
I actually journaled about this in my own personal journal earlier in the week, but I was really moved and empowered by that afternoon that we all stayed until 5 or 6 pm to move computers around. That was a really important moment for me for several reasons. First of all, while we were in the lab working on the Flip cameras, I felt kind of useless b/c I knew how to use the software and wasn't really focusing on creating a great Flip movie to learn the lesson of how to upload, though others were havig a lot of fun planning shots and pulling together a cute movie. I just kind of wanted to get more familiar with the software and move on to the next task, especially as I had a lot on my mind with regards to my own work outside of PVK. And then I started to see that people were being assigned to various tasks, like Nuala and Rachel to putting the upgraded software onto different computers. And I started to feel useless again, like not part of the team, a kind of vestigial member [so are lots of ppl going to be reading these reflections?! If so pls don't judge me for a weak psychological moment :)]. Anyway, I started to wonder what I could to help b/c everyone seemed so capable and like everything was being handled and Renee was busy doing a thousand different things so I didn't want to bug her to ask her to give me a task when I could find one on my own. I heard that John was gonna be moving computers into and out of rooms and I ruled that out as a possibility b/c I figured I wouldn't know how to wire them to talk to one another. So I just kind of walked out into the hall to see what I could do and saw John at the end of the hall by himself and went up to him to ask if he needed help and he said he definitely did. So even though I was not wearing the right shoes and felt completely incapable, I forgot all that when I realized that a team member needed help and I was a body that could help. So I said i would help but as soon as I saw the wires, I started to get intimidated again and thought I would mess things up so I waited for him to unplug some computers and then LaShon and I moved a set into my classroom. Those desks were INCREDIBLY heavy!!! I am so surprised we did not drop every monitor. Anyway, so John is renegotiating wiring outside and LaShon and I are moving a computer inside. Then LaShon is called away and it is me and John alone and we start moving another set. And Nuala runs up at this point and sees us struggling with a really heavy desk and she helps out and the three of us move these into a classroom and John starts hooking up. And I kind of follow his lead and start plugging things in and realize it is incredibly easy to do this! It was not hard at all. Just plug in the power strip and plug the ethernet cable into the wall's port. Nothing to it. And from that point on, the three of us so efficiently began unplugging computers, moving them around and then plugging them back in and turning them on to test their connectivity. And John was amazing - if we had a question, he would answer it patiently and teach us through the moment so that by the end of having moved all the computers, we each were capable of moving them and setting them up. It was really empowering for me b/c I started out thinking there was no way it would get done and no way I could do it and by the end, it was so simple!
And another beautiful thing about our collaboration was that each of us was fully invested in completing this task successfully. We had a lot of fun, of course, but we were also really devoted to it. No one person was pulling more weight than another and nobody complained. We just did the job and believed in it and I think it is a very rare thing to be a part of a group that is so steadfastly committed to the task at hand and so hardworking while completing the task. And then afterwards, we met up with everyone downstairs and it was a really great moment to have seen us all working together as a team throughout the school, staying after several hours to make sure things were completed and done well.

Teamwork and Collaboration
What are you learning about yourself as a member of the team?
I am learning that I really enjoy being a part of a team and that teambuilding exercises - even things as simple as going to lunch - are really important to make us feel as part of a single unit. And I am learning that I don't have to be the only one doing work and that if I step back and let people, they will take on responsibility for themselves and do an even better job than I would have done had I been doing it alone! I am learning to rely on my team members and not be too shy to admit that I need help or that there are things I don't know.