Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Earth Day!


Earth Day is a great time to learn a little bit more about our amazing planet. While there are tons of resources that are out there, I would like to highlight just a few.

1. Live Google+ Hangout Today: In lieu of Earth Day, National Geographic is hosting a Live Google+ Hangout at 12:00 p.m. about chasing deadly storms, studying life on the Great Barrier Reef, and monitoring Earth from the sky. It will focus on how technology allows explorers to go to new extremes and discover more about our world.

What do you want to ask them? Post your questions below using #OurEarth or upload them to YouTube. You may even be invited to ask your questions live.

Find out more about the #OurEarth Hangout series: http://on.natgeo.com/116wNSN

Official website: http://on.natgeo.com/12FcJvG

2. Google Earth Resources and Tutorials. Check out one of the latest blog post, What on (Google) Earth? on The Digital Learning Series to find out how to use Google Earth as a powerful learning tool in many different subject areas.

3. NASA Earth As Art: This is a beautiful collection of satellite images taken from NASA to show just how Earth can be represented as art. You can also download the free app or download the PDF eBook.

Have fun exploring and investigating our home that we call Earth!


Saturday, April 6, 2013

My Landscape of Learning

Looking down at Machu Picchu, reflecting on my experience
I often get a lot of questions regarding the title of my blog, "The Landscape of Learning".  Most people are pretty quick to figure out that it is a play on words with my last name, "Lands", but its symbolism actually goes a lot deeper than that.  This blog post is my attempt to explain the meaning of my blog and to reflect on my monumental learning experience in Peru.

I was inspired to create my blog after my volunteer teaching experience in Cusco, Peru.  When I decided to embark on this journey I knew it was going to be a very difficult, yet rewarding experience.  I was entering a school system that had no technology, had little to no funding, and had the bare minimum of resources. I was responsible for teaching secondary boys and girls English with a chalkboard and old wooden desks and chairs.  This was an exciting challenge for me because I had to focus on best practice teaching strategies, rather than focusing on technology tools to enhance student learning.

This is when I was reminded that the fundamental art of teaching is really about three things:
  1. getting students excited and motivated to learn, 
  2. empowering them to explore and investigate their inquiries, and 
  3. providing them with appropriate resources and support throughout the learning process 

I was reminded that humans learn best by the natural process of the scientific method which is basically trial and error.  I was reminded that humans have been doing this for as long as we have been a species. Visiting the astonishing world wonder, Machu Picchu, helped me to find clarity in my pedagogy.

After climbing the trail to get to the top of the mountain, I was finally able to get my first glimpse of the magnificent remains of what was once an Incan empire. As I peered over the ledge I was able to catch a breath-taking view of Machu Picchu.  At that moment, I thought to myself, "How on Earth were these people able to build such an intricate, earthquake-proof village on top of an extremely steep mountain with very few resources?" I was completely perplexed, yet fascinated at the same time.  I guess this is why Machu Picchu still remains one of the top "world wonders" today.

My view of this landscape, Machu Picchu,will forever remind me that we as humans are natural learners.  We learn by trial and error.  We naturally seek challenges, and we collaborate and communicate with each other to help us with our challenges.  And that together, we can achieve the impossible.  This is the foundation that supports my educational philosophy and I will always have this mental image in my mind when I think about learning.

To help with the metaphor that I am using for my blog, I decided to look up the definition for the word landscape.

Dictionary.com defines the word, landscape, as the following:

  1. an extensive area of land regarded as being visually distinct
  2. a painting, drawing, photograph, etc, depicting natural scenery
  3. the distinctive features of a given area of intellectual activity

Thus, as my blog description reads, "As educators, we need to challenge ourselves to see the big picture and expand our educational horizon to prepare our students for their future! The Landscape of Learning is a blog dedicated to sharing my educational beliefs, values, and pedagogy as well as providing technology resources and best practice teaching strategies for teachers."

This is my view of education.  This is my landscape of learning.


For your consideration

What is your view of education?  What is your landscape of learning?