Celebrating Those Who Deserve It: A Tribute To My Mom

This video has been circulating on the Internet for the past month and it has really opened my eyes to how wonderful and great moms really are. I rarely involve my own personal affairs in this blog, but this is one exception I HAVE to make. Because without my mom, her unconditional love and support, and her financial generosity, my social media education mission and DVD would have hit a wall within the first few months. And after watching this video, I realized just how much she has done for me over the years and how infrequently I show her how much I appreciate it.

Throughout this long and tedious process, my mother has stood by my side tall and proud, no matter my mistakes or frustration with a certain situation that was wrongly displaced onto her. She is such a strong and beautiful woman and she is the one who has taught me not only how to be confident but also patient and understanding when others need me to simply listen (which I will admit is extremely hard for me to do sometimes).

Moreover, we have a really weird and complicated bond because I am her only child. Growing up, it was only her and me, me and her. We did everything together and to this day tell each other just about everything. We are each other’s best friends. Though she says I never really had a childhood because I was always surrounded by her and her adult friends, whenever I reflect on my childhood, I think of all of the days we spent exploring The Children’s Museum in Indianapolis or hiking at a state park. I fondly remember her and I walking hand in hand, marveling at the animals at the zoo. And I cannot contain my smile when I think of the time we sprayed our entire backyard with food coloring when it was covered in a thick layer of snow and how intrigued I was with the different colors. Without these memories, I would not have the same amount of curiosity about the world or my fervor for learning more and exploring the possibilities of what could be if one simply tries.

In short, without my mother, I would not be the person I am today. I would not be as successful as I am today; I would not be a business owner; I would not be interested in professional networking; I would not understand what is appropriate conduct for the outside world. And without her, I would not have the same love for gardening or bird watching. In addition to all of the lessons she has taught me throughout my short eighteen years under her wing, she enlightened my soul to appreciate life for the great wonders it truly holds and how precious time with family and friends truly is.

I feel as though this post is extremely overdue, but with my leaving home and attending college in the fall, my mother and I have both recently been reflecting on our time together thus far and so this post also couldn’t be better perfectly timed.

If I could put it into words while looking my mother in the eyes without crying so hard that she could not understand what I was saying, I would tell her that I am so grateful for her love, patience, support, faith, and kindness not only for me but for life itself. I would thank her for not killing me when I scratched her new car, for hugging me when words were not enough, and for telling me the hard truth even when I didn’t want to hear it. I would offer her a hug that would last forever so that she would never have to live in an empty nest and apologize for not appreciating her enough.

We don’t know how long we have on this earth. Tomorrow, the woman who carried you for nine months, held you on her hip for years for comfort, and acted as your soundboard, maid, support system, personal bank service, cook, and most importantly your ATM of unconditional love, could suddenly lose her strength to carry her and you both and have to make the choice to put you first one last time. So look your mother in the eyes, pick up the phone, Skype her, do SOMETHING, and tell her how much you appreciate her love for you and always making you her top priority, even if you didn’t feel like she was. Your mother is your greatest role model for so many things. Let her know you finally understand and appreciate it.

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New Year, More Business

This is a brand new year! What is in store for My Social Media Education Mission? More blog posts, more Youtube videos, more tweets, more more more! This is the year to embrace social media! Students, teachers, and a administrators alike will learn and grow together by joining hands in a new social media journey and watching my DVD (of course)! Stay tuned for more information about my plans for the new year as a new semester of Innovations starts on January 6th!

Sugata Mitra’s New Experiments In Self-teaching: What Do They Mean For The Future?

Dr. Sugata Mitra is an educational researcher whose wish is to build a school in the Cloud in which students can learn from and teach each other. His experiments have uncovered the fact that children can learn and teach themselves (as well as others) without the guidance of an adult when personal and peer interest is present. Mitra’s video about self-teaching can be found here.

In conjunction with Mitra’s video, I believe the greatest characteristic of children that educators and political officials fail to realize is this: Children can teach themselves.

Carver 1Source: John Carver

Take for example a class in which students can explore their personal interests and create a project to focus on that will incorporate a variety of new skills and a final product (even if the final product is knowledge learned from failure). This is Innovations.

Not only do students in Innovations foster their creativity by exploring passions and taking risks, but we learn different skills and teach ourselves. We teach ourselves how to fail and fail beautifully. Not all of our ideas are gold and most projects never blossom to full fruition–but that is not the point.

The concept of Innovations is encompassed in the idea of 21st century skills. In Innovations, we are entrepreneurs discovering our personal brand. We are “out-of-the-box” thinkers and we are students learning the true meaning of resilience. In Innovations, we are students teaching ourselves within a safe environment to fail and learn.

Never Learned in HS Source: Education: Things I Never Learned In High School

In school, we do not learn how to solve a 30-60-90 triangle (use sin, cosine, or tangent depending on which side has the variable) or what our typing speed is on the computer (78 words per minutes). We do not learn when the Moors first took over Andalusia (711 A.D.) or what maize is (corn). In contrast, we learn how to market our own brand. We discover how to communicate and collaborate in a professional world. We accept our mistakes and learn from them. And though we have a teacher to guide us and provide a safe environment for risk-taking, we are learning these things on our own.

Relating this assertion to my own project, I have acquired a variety of skills throughout my social media education mission journey. Though my end goal is to film, produce, and distribute a DVD and I will learn how this process unfolds, I have also learned how to talk in front of a camera. I have learned how to voice my opinion. I have learned how to conduct a professional interview. I have learned how to write eloquent and informative blog posts. I have learned how to manage a professional and personal social media account and the difference between the two. And I have learned how to gracefully accept my mistakes, even if during a Youtube video or live interview. (If you are curious on what I mean, please check out the first few videos on my Youtube channel found here. By about my sixth video I finally conquered my quest in fitting my entire head into the frame. Thank goodness.)

I suppose the next question, then, is what is learning? Is learning defined by the classroom setting? Or sitting in a lecture hall with a teacher at the front of the room? Is learning being taught what is appropriate to know? Or is it only knowing what you are taught?

In my opinion, learning is acquiring information you do not yet possess and sharing with others that information. (And I believe a majority of people will agree with me, though will add more to my succinct summary.) I also believe learning information is different than knowledge, which I will discuss at a later time. What is more hotly debated, however, is how and when learning happens. Though the education system is strongly advocated for, educators also define students as unique and acknowledge all learn in different ways. Why, then, do educators push for standardized testing and learning, when students’ learning is unstandardized?

Supposedly, we students are required to have a base foundation of information when transitioning from the high school to collegiate level and beyond–at least that’s what I’m told. Despite this, employees continue to disappoint when asked to perform specific tasks. When I spoke to Sarah Price, manager of community and social media programs for Google Glass, at the Google Headquarters in California, she mentioned her disappointment when employees cannot fulfill the tasks she wishes for the company. Her statement is transparent for many.

Though schools are meant to prepare students for the workforce, they simply teach us information to regurgitate for a standardized test, not knowledge to utilize throughout our careers.

More information about the current education system and my view on it can be found in my post “American Schools and Their Rigor: Should That Be Our Focus For Aiming Towards Success?

The voices of Twitter users

As Evan Williams’ states in his TED talk “The voices of Twitter users,” social media is a digital tool that allows us to feel more connected, despite distance. In real time, we can share our most exciting or unfortunately devastating moments in life with a larger audience than ever before.

I use social media in order to collaborate with a broader influence of individuals than I would be exposed to in my own proximity. Despite my location in a small town in Indiana, I am collaborating with individuals all over the country, from California to New York and many states in between. Without social media, this would be impossible. Without social media and my Innovations class, I would be sitting in a class I probably am not interested in, learning things that I will memorize for a test and forget soon after. A revamped education system that includes social media will not only better equip students for the 21st century workforce they will soon be thrust into, but will individualize the learning for each student, allowing them to explore their personal goals and passions with freedom. Students will learn how to take educated risks in a protected environment. Students will learn how to handle themselves in a respectful manner on social media. Students will given the tools needed to maneuver a technology-based workforce.

As of yet, students have been given zero guidance as to how they should act on social media networking sites. This needs to change. Students will be taught a brand new set of skills much different than older generations in order to conduct a successful career in their future. The education system has already concluded, we no longer need to know how to write in cursive (though I strongly disagree, as I eschew print writing) and there are other things students are taught that no longer apply to them.

Meanwhile, students are not learning the things that will be required of them in the workforce, such as coding and running/navigating a website. You can even apply for colleges online now, so students need to be equipped with the tools to navigate and extract as much as they can from online tools. For a more extensive list on what students should be learning in preparation for future careers, read my post “American Schools and Their Rigor: Should That Be Our Focus For Success?

If you have an opinion on this topic, please comment below, tweet at me on Twitter at @paige_woodard, or email me at paige.a.woodard@gmail.com. I always welcome new ideas and points of view and want to hear from you!

What Not To Do On Twitter: Number One

As my ten-episode series “The Top Ten Things Not To Do On Twitter” ends, I create the new extension to my social media education mission. In this video, not only do I define what constitutes an inappropriate picture and why you shouldn’t post them on social media, but reveal the next step in my process: A new Twitter account. Watch the video to figure out what it is for and follow me on Twitter at @paige_woodard and @DailyMediaTips 😉

What Not To Do On Twitter: Number Two

Social media has been on the menu for nine installments now and this week I am discussing why it is important to avoid serving profanity at dinnertime. We are almost to number one. Can you guess what it is? Tweet at me @paige_woodard #socialmedia with your guess as to what the number one thing not to do on Twitter is and, if you guess correctly, you can Skype me and discuss everything social media and education reform! Or, as I stated in my video, the TV show Reign! 😉