Something very few people know about me, is that I like bridges. I love the aesthetic nature of a bridge. My eyes are drawn to their symmetry, their style, their use, and how they connect from one space into another. I'm not so much interested in how they were made, because I think that is the allure. I'm more interested in the why and the when of a bridge, its history, if you will. Bridges can serve as a literal bridge between the past and the present.
Prior to enrolling in a master's degree program, I rarely gave thought as to the why I enjoyed looking at a bridge. Yes, it's art, and I enjoy art, but what is it about a bridge that I find so ingriguing? While reading Dr. Bobbe Baggio's book, "The Visual Connection" , I have learned ways in which our minds process visual information. When designing, one must think about the aesthetic nature of the design, as well as the informatin being stated. I have learned that many times, less is more. In regards to my favorite bridges, I realize now, that the simpler designed bridges are what attract me. I like the clean, rounded lines of arch-type bridges. And when I look at them from afar, I see them from left to right, as I would read in a book. Which, Baggio, also claims is something you must take into consideration when desiging in western culture.
Being under a bridge allows me to take a step away from the hustle and bustle of what is happening overhead. I find that the true secrets lie under a bridge. This is where the commoner can come to play. It's where art can take place that helps define a person's feelings at that moment in time. It's where physical limits can be stretched, or reached. And it's where nature and technology show the perfect dichotomy to meld into a visual history of the area. Dervin states that, "Typically, information research attempts to predict and explain human use of information and systems based on across-time-space formulations rather than time-space-bound formulations. The individual defines and attempts to bridge discontinuities or gaps." In my role as an educator, I'm always hoping that my students are bridging the gaps between their previous learning and new information.
In reading the book, The Global Achievement Gap by Tony Wagner, I have come to realize that the United States' way of handling achievement gaps, is completely off target. To bridge the gap between where students should be and where they are, we need a more robust educational system that prepares these students for future jobs. We are doing the future of our country a great disservice. As the wealthiest country in the world, with $60.7 trillion dollars (as of 2018) in private wealth, we should be able to bridge that gap. Our students need technology in their hands. And they need to be taught in the ways in which they are currently learning outside of school.
TPACK, or "Technology, Pedagogical, and Content Knowledge" is a framework to round out a students' knowledge base, thus preparing them for their future. It doesn't mimimize the importance of one idea, but sees all three as equally important in the scope of a learner. Sadly, I find that many teachers across the country, and some whom I know personally, often do not spend enough time in the center of that diagram. And part of the solution, is being open to change.
For me, I thrive to know more. I want to read everything, watch everything, and share knowledge with others. I want my students to be "in the now" and "in the know" with new ways to learn and share information. I use all kinds of technology myself, why shouldn't they? Using apps like TikTok are fun and engaging, so I plan on using Flip Grid as a way for my students to mimic TikTok to respond to their content. I will ask students what specifically they are into, so I can better gauge my audience and tailor their lessons to suit their needs.
The world of education is constantly changing. We cannot hide under the bridge and hope that our world above will slow down. It's fast. It's always changing lanes, and WE have to adapt, not the other way around. Let's take off our roller skates, and race past the cars in our rocket ships to meet our learners on the other side of the bridge.
Sarah Magallano teaches 5th grade. She also coaches teachers on integrating art & engineering into their lesson plans.