Experience Counts #diglitclass

Upon researching various approaches to learning, I found myself intrigued by all six approaches.  One in particular, experiential learning, captured my full attention.  Experiential learning is an educational approach that emphasizes classroom learning  practiced in real world situations.  I like this method because it allows for the “transfer of education.”  In that journal entry Furman and Sibthorp (2013) do an excellent job explaining how implementing experiential education allows for classroom learning to become meaningful. I am also in favor of this learning approach because it can overlap with many other effective approaches, and it allows an outside global connection.

A classroom can be transformed when this approach is implemented.  It side-steps standard lecture based instruction, and involves students in a creative medium.  Since I desire to be a language arts teacher, I can see the method playing out this way.  Students could take on a “pen name” and write a biography for that said person.  The students could then write, creatively, about a chosen topic under that pseudonym.  The results could be shared in order to see a model of how writers can approach the same topic from different creative angles.  It would give the students a writing voice of their own.  This “pen named” person could be drawn upon at different intervals in the semester to check-in on the advancement of student writing.  The classroom would sound like a publishing company with various voices drawing on issues through the figurative and the literal.  There are many blogs on implementing experiential learning in a classroom.  This may seem distant from real world problems, but one thing that is missing in many publication is the fluidity of figurative language.  This could help expand students literary capabilities in the area of connotation, thereby contributing to this void found in printings, such as local newspapers.   I found this blog to be a good start for implementing experiential literature learningAnd this classroom was excellent at implementing the experiential learning method in the area of language arts.

There are many advantages and a few disadvantages to using the experiential method.  The greatest advantage is that students can relay the information that they learn to the real world.  The problems presented to the students tie in directly to professional and personal life.  A clear disadvantage is the cost and time it could take to implement experiential learning.  Many of the learning methods proscribed require a large amount of out-of-classroom work.  Shadowing professionals and working with the community require time and resources that the school might not have.  That is why it is essential to create a learning environment that is a model of real world problems and concerns.  One of the biggest advantages to implementing experiential learning in a language arts classroom is the outcome of human understanding.  By modeling real-world interaction through writing and reading student can better understand and respect their counterparts.

There are many Twitter accounts to follow that stress what I have elaborated upon: Melissa Taylor, Allison McDonald, Steven Anderson.



Fall Fly Fishing

The season of dreams for fly-fisherman has arrived.  The various bugs rise from the riverbeds only to reproduce and then die no more than a day later.  The hatches occur at different times and the trout rivers turn into troughs for the local residents, meaning the fish and the fisherman.  The leaves are changing color and the sun strikes at a different angle, leaving a fresh, yet decaying perspective on life and fishing.  The end of fall can be seen in the same moment it began.  No enduring summer or endless winter days here.  The end can be seen clearly.  Fall will eat itself from both ends and the fly fisherman knows this.  Maybe the only thing he definitively knows.


This week I was able to go to the river for an afternoon of fun.  The bugs never hatch heavy on the small stream I fish on, but the trout are noticeably eating more flies.  The audible effect of slurping can be heard if you sneak up on a hole in the river.  I’m beginning to know where the fish are in the stream, and am starting to develop a first name basis with a few of them.  I’ve taken some of the flies that I have learned to tie to the stream with me as well.  These could be the wrong flies (and they probably are) but as a beginner I’m really just working on my casting technique and letting the current take me.  I’ve certainly found that the fly doesn’t matter as much as the cast does.  I’ve caught a few fish on flies that looked terrible because I had a good presentation, as fly-fisherman like to call it.

I think it is important to note that the stream I fly fish on isn’t a true fly-fishing stream.  In fact if the scenery wasn’t pretty and the trout were half the size they are, I wouldn’t consider fishing the stream a couple of times a month like I do.  But the elements are the contrary so I can put up with surrendering five flies a trip to the cottonwood trees.  I’ve been catching some more brook trout the last two trips to the valley as opposed to thebrowns that I usually catch.  I’m not sure why this is but the brook just seem to be much more active.  Other than being baffled about this, I am learning a good amount about the skill.  Where the fish are in a pool, how to cast from various angles, how to land a fish without injuring it, and how to leave the upper end of the valley with proper lighting so that I am not shaking hands with cattle in the pitch black on the walk back.

In two weeks I will be heading to the big water in Wyoming with my Grandpa in cousins to fly fish a trophy stream.  I’m sure my practice in the last two months will help me along in some areas, but I’m also sure that I have developed bad habits that will be exposed on a large river.  Nevertheless, if I can keep pulling in pretty brookies like this ten-inch one on my home water, I’ll be content with not catching a twenty inch rainbow in two weeks.

(caught and released)



Education and PLN’S

I hadn’t the slightest idea of what a PLN was until this week.  Needless to say I was quite impressed of the various resources someone can accumulate through Twitter and Feedly.  I think my biggest takeaway from PLN’s is their simple message of sharing.  The ability for the online world to share so many resources, topics, and thoughts is special.  On top of that the ability to gather all of your favorite resources into one compact viewing area adds to the success of PLN’s.

In building my PLN I already had a good idea of the blogs I wanted to follow.  My independent learning project is about fly-fishing so I was able to easily locate the world’s top fly fishing blogs and follow them.  Since it is the height of the fly fishing season here in the states, I look forward to reviewing the stories of fisherman.  I also located six or seven of the top education blogs to follow on my Feedly account.  I expanded my PLN on Twitter by choosing a great number of people to follow in the the areas of literature, education, and fly fishing.  It will be interesting to see in the coming weeks who I will continue to keep on my feed, and who I will exchange for someone else.

The greater message of PLN’s is that in order to become your best educated self you must be resourceful.  Every person has an intellectual ceiling if they don’t interact with others.  Managing a PLN allows your intelligence to aspire to new levels, and you become a well rounded individual.  Plus, it can be very fun to interact with people when you share commonalities.  The article “How to Cultivate Your Personal Learning Network” offered great advice on how to “weed” your network.  As the weeks go by I can already see myself weeding out certain people that I followed because they won’t resonate with me.  I also found it interesting on the insider’s etiquette to interacting on blogs and twitter.  Much of it is common sense but it does appear that there are some unwritten rules.  In order for me to become recognized in my online social format I must follow these rules, and offer useful advice and information to the online learning community.

Since I enjoy reading books this was a tweet that I found to be enjoyable:

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Okay, who else dreams of living in a bookstore? (via <a href=”https://twitter.com/belcastr”>@belcastr</a&gt;) <a href=”https://t.co/MhzMOvKERH”>pic.twitter.com/MhzMOvKERH</a></p>&mdash; goodreads (@goodreads) <a href=”https://twitter.com/goodreads/status/779372337510621185″>September 23, 2016</a></blockquote>


Style in Fly Fishing

Perfection is unattainable in fly-fishing.  As I view videos and tutorials on proper techniques in fly-fishing, I have come to realize that everyone has their own twist on things.  There is no one way to do things, and I like it like that.  Every fisherman has their own canvas to develop their own style, but at the same time every fly-fisherman is connected on some level.  It is almost viewed as a cult by outsiders but I see it differently.  I see it as a release from normality and an outlet to display talent that is hidden otherwise.  Yes, some of the intricacies of fly-fishing are probably unnecessary, but it adds flavor to an already flavorful hobby.

This week in my fly-fishing adventures I was able to tie two new flies that I can add to the fly box this fall.  I found these nymph patterns to be easier to tie than the dry flies I tied last week.  On a side note being able to take things from nature to tie a fly is amazing.  Then this awe is compounded by being able to catch something in nature by something produced from nature.  For example, I tied a pheasant tail nymph this week.  The main materials in this fly are feathers from a rooster pheasant, and peacock feathers from well, a peacock.  I also learned how to tie a hare’s ear nymph.  Which includes hair from a rabbit and feathers from a partridge.  It is the very connectivity of nature that leaves me in shock when these flies work.  I found myself tying the pheasant tail nymph with more ease than the hare’s ear, but here are the finished products.  (Pheasant tail on the right, hare’s ear on the left)


This week I also added to new knots to my repertoire.  They are the duncan loop and the non slip loop.  These knots are advantageous due to their strength and their ability to accurately present a fly to a fish.  The non slip loop is particularly important for streamers, so as to give the fly a natural motion as it is moved through the water.  The knots are shown here. (non-slip loop on the left, duncan loop on the right)


Fly fishing is so much more than just fishing, and I think that is why I love it.  There is so much preparation and practice in trying to catch a good fish with a fly rod, and sometimes I fail.  However, even when I fail I’m still glad that I am on the water.

I’m Interested

Passion-based learning is all a matter of interest.  When you apply yourself to something that interests you it breeds passion.  This passion is fueled by your on-going exploration of that interest.  In truth, passion is an investment in yourself.  For if you only accomplish something for what it’s worth, then your intrinsic self will be unfulfilled.  Passion based learning is an attempt to explore the better qualities that you possess.  Upon reading and viewing 21st Century Educating, Part 1: Passion and My Journey Teaching Through Passion-Based Learning, I have come to see the further importance of being passionate as a person and teacher.

If a teacher is not passionate about what he or she teaches then explanation of subject matter will more than likely fall on deaf ears.  A teacher should be following their passion by teaching, and hold various passions of subject matter within that spectrum.  Once a teaching position is obtained it may be easy to become disenchanted with the process, but the way to battle that is to teach and practice passion.  I refuse to believe that teachers who are jaded can’t find at least a couple of pieces that they are passionate about.  There are some subjects and areas of study that a teacher is going to feel less excited about.  The same thing goes for the student.  A teacher should recognize this and allow students to spend as much time as possible studying what they love.  However, a teacher needs to be able to be passionate about various areas of study, because the students are going to cover a lot of ground with their various passions.  So they key for a teacher is to be adaptable.


The best takeaway from “21st Century Educating, Part 1: Passion” was the message of pushing the limit.  Once you become bored, or disenchanted like I mentioned earlier, it is time to push the boundaries of your own comfort zone.  I like this message the article sends because it deals in adaptability.  Over time the same passionate teaching methods may be dated, so it is necessary to evolve.  As the article would suggest, don’t just continually go through the motions.

What I learned from “My Journey Teaching Through Passion-Based Learning” aligns closely with my own independent learning project that I am completing in this class.  It is helping me to learn about myself, but it is also informative and fun.  Much of the same can be said about the students in the article.  I can definitely see the implementation of this in my classroom.  What better way to understand your students than examining them studying what they are passionate about.  By using passion based learning projects to teach school becomes a place of learning, rather than eight hours of the proverbial “schooling.”


Fly Fishing Troubles

Don’t burn yourself out; plan, coordinate, and circle dates on the calendar.  The enthusiastic fishermen has a desire to hit the water on most any day, regardless of the number of fish he or she might land.  But are the burning of resources worth it on those days when you know the fish aren’t going to bite?  Sometimes just being in nature is enough to balance the scales of catching fish and a hard day, but this wasn’t one of those weeks.  As a fairly amateur fly-fisherman I took the opportunity this week to tie various flies, learn new knots, and to coordinate how I will measure my learning during this independent project of mine.

Tying dry flies has always been difficult for me so I took time this week to become better at tying two distinct patterns; the elk-hair caddis and the red quill.  I found the experience to be quite therapeutic and enjoyable.  I’ve heard these are good patterns to try on trout streams in the fall and I hope they will help me land a brown or rainbow trout in a few weeks.  I tied these flies in practice.

I also took time this week to practice tying two distinct knots; the becker-knot and the eugene-bend knot.  The point in practicing tying knots while not on the stream is so that they are natural to tie when you are on the stream.  These two knots are stronger than the standard improved-clinch knot and are advantageous because of that.  I’ve had little experience in tying these knots and I want to gain a repertoire of knots to use in different situations.  Just a standard piece of nylon rope and a diagram helped me to become proficient with these knots.  I now feel like I can tie these quickly and efficiently while on the stream.

The thing that I loved about these four projects within my project is that it is not theoretical.  There is little contemplation about tying flies and knots.  It is basic trial and error, and only time and experience will make me better at executing them.  Moving forward with this independent learning project I would like to be able to tie ten more different kinds of flies, and ten more different kinds of knots.  I can measure my success on these flies and knots by putting them into practice on the stream.  With this project I would like to be able to catch three different species of trout, and at least one trout over eighteen inches.  I have managed to catch a few around fifteen inches, but the larger trout has alluded me.  I am starting to love my project because it allows me to separate from textual knowledge and pursue, what I feel, is a purely practical trade.

Manufactured Happiness

Upon viewing the TED talk “The Science of Happiness” by Dan Gilbert, I was left in awe at the human brain and how it relates to happiness.  Happiness is viewed as an unconquerable thing when in reality we have the tools to become happy through our own anatomy and physiology.  Human adaptability is an art form, and that art form is lost with the many choices we are forced to make in our lives.

The empirical evidence given by Dan Gilbert is very convincing on the scientific aspects of happiness.  It doesn’t have to be sought after through metaphysical measures, but perhaps only through practical measures by understand our own anatomy and physiology.  I found myself siding with Gilbert on his ability to draw parallels with happiness and number of choices.  It seems our brain(and happiness along with it), can go into lock down if we have too many choices in our life.  If happiness is viewed as this magical formula that can only be obtained through supernatural forces, then it may become impossible to achieve.  The only negative I viewed from the video was the slightly convoluted message about awareness of happiness.  Meaning if we know that our brain is tricking us into thinking that we are happy, then are we really happy?  In this case it is the sheer functionality of our brain that can convince us that we are not happy.  If this is so then our greatest tool, our brain, is working against our goal of happiness.brain-001-1172516-1598x986

The various scenarios that our brain can create is astounding.  Dan Gilbert suggests that if we limit those scenarios then our brain does not have the opportunity to trick us.  It doesn’t have that ability because it doesn’t have to formulate models on where or what will make us happ7.  Streamlining the utility of our brain directly coincides with the choices we have in front of us.  If I can cut out potential scenarios (good or bad) from my mind then it won’t matter on the scenario I chose.  This is because I chose the scenario itself and didn’t give my brain an inordinate amount of time to muddle through the options.  In time, because of this, I will be happy because a choice was made.  In a classroom this can be very useful.  By cutting down on choice within choices it will allow a student to expand in a specific area.  This allows them the opportunity for their brain to function at its highest because there are less distractions.  Happiness seems to thrive on knowing that our brain has made a choice.