Like many educators in Massachusetts  , I am aware that next week will mark the date that we moved to online learning.  As a media specialist, I have been involved in online communities of learning prior to the pandemic. However, last year I witnessed a significant change that for me created a call to action.

One of the first things I did was reach out to the community of media specialists and found  great support each day from Renee Hobbs of the University of Rhode Island Media Lab. The Virtual Viral Hangouts allowed connection with like minded professionals who were looking how to empower themselves and their learning community.

It is within this space that I was able to rededicated myself to take another look at an idea that seemed challenging and undoable 4 years ago. In one of the VVH session I led a session that explored the  importance of play in education and realized that I should continue to lean more about this area.

Last summer I attended a few important events: The Serious Play conference where I met Paul Darvasi, Chris Cromwell, Sue Bohle and other people who were very instrumental in providing a path for  seeing the connection between the work I was doing in the classroom and Game Based Learning. In addition, I attended the Game For Change conference where I learned from Coleen Maclin and Tracy Fullerton about important elements I wanted to look at with greater emphasis. Colleen got my attention with her suggestion of looking at systems. Sabrina Culyba got me to deep deeper into the work I was already doing in creating transformation change in real life.

This past summer I also attend the Media Ecology Convention where Maryanne Wolf gave a key note focused on deep reading. It validated for me the work I was already doing and brought me to find new pathways to increase these efforts. This was possible with my participation in the Summer Institute in Digital Literacy run by the MediaLab at URI. This was 6 days of working very hard which provided me the first steps to be able  to create a new engagement opportunity for the students in ways I have no t previously considered.

Last month, at the California School Library Association online conference I shared some of the results of the work I have been able to do at school in the previous year prior to the pandemic and also with efforts I have taken this year with a much greater number of participants. The session looked at the conversance of  intrinsic motivation and career pathway opportunities through media literacy. I gave some details of what the students encountered: Imagine a ‘game’ where students are empowered to navigate through and embark on a career quest, draw on elements of their personal character and illustrate how these elements tie into their future career goals. Through interactive game play, students assemble their story. The game quests and challenges help them determine a career path in which they reflect on how their personality matches their career choice. They get to know better their character strengths and understand how they can shape themselves into who they are, and what they ultimately want to be in this world.

There are so many ways we can create transformational changes in our spaces. In a couple of weeks I will get to share more of the  work I have done in my school community at the Massachusetts School Library Association conference where the theme is School Librarians at the crossroads: Be The Hero f Your Journey.  I think as many educators feel that I have worked harder this year and that is most likely because we all care so much about our learning community.