Making Sense of It All

Fun fact: according to an article published by CBS News in 2006, we as human beings have gone from being exposed to roughly 500 ads per day in the 1970’s, to about 5,000 ads per day today. Upon reading this, my initial thoughts were, “wait, what? How is that even possible? Why is that even possible?” When you think about it, however, it makes complete sense. With all the advancements in technology, companies have been able to reach their audiences like never before. Think about it, humans literally spend hours upon hours listening to the radio, watching T.V., or interacting with others on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, etc. So how does one makes sense of all this information we’re constantly being bombarded with. In my graphic design class I took a while ago, I remember my professor talking about how our minds don’t know any different. In other words, since we’ve been exposed to thousands of ads since birth, our brains have become conditioned to block out the thousands of ads that don’t interest us, and focuses in on the ones that do. How cool is that? (I’m pretty excited about all this, to say the least). In terms of me and how this project is going thus far, on the other hand, I can honestly say that I’m trying to make sense of it all as well! After digging around on the internet, looking through my graphic design textbook, and even going to an encyclopedia (yes, an encyclopedia!) to find out more about my topic, I don’t know where to start, as there’s simply so much information. What I think I’ll do, however, is make a list of the specifics on what I want to learn, such as what graphic design/advertising really is, what the components to a good ad are, and the effects they have on the mind. Moreover, it would be interesting to learn about the effects on a child’s mind and how it processes such information. So here’s to making sense of it all!


Happiness is . . . Tomato Sauce?

“What is the perfect Pepsi?” speaker Malcolm Gladwell asks his audience, quoting a man by the name of Howard Moskowitz. No, this isn’t a reference to Back to the Future, it’s a real question Mr. Moskowitz spent years asking himself. This man, Mr. Moskowitz, is a market researcher and psychophysicist, best known for his work throughout the 1980’s concerning tomato sauce. In short, Mr. Moskowitz was confronted by Pepsi, then (1980’s) wanting to perfect and release a new drink – Diet Pepsi. They gave him all kinds of information, including the intended level of sweetness in which Pepsi wanted to find for their new drink (somewhere between 8 to 12). Taking on the challenge, Mr. Moskowitz did an experiment, essentially polling the American public on which level of sweetness was most desired. Pepsi then released that drink with that certain level of sweetness. Sounds straightforward, right? Mr. Moskowitz was not satisfied, however, and eventually revolutionized what the food industry does to make people happy with a simple statement: “there is no perfect Pepsi, there are only perfect Pepsis. When Campbell’s Soup came to him years later, wanting to improve their falling sales in the tomato sauce industry, he discovered – through experimentation and polling – that 1/3 of Americans liked chunky tomato sauce on their spaghetti. The thing was, however, that back in the 1980’s, there was no such thing as chunky tomato sauce, only the thin, watery kind that ran to the bottom of the bowl. In doing what Mr. Moskowitz said, Campbell’s released a line of chunky tomato sauce. They were onto something. Sales went through the roof. Why? Traditionally, companies in the food industry wanted to find the absolute best product and release that to the public, taking a one-size-fits-all approach. What Mr. Moskowitz had Campbell’s do, however, was introduce variety into their product, in this case: tomato sauce. As the years went by, other companies looked at Campbell’s and followed suit into what Campbell’s was doing. This is where different varieties of every product in the world came into existence. That’s why there’s literally a ton of different varieties of toothpastes, peanut butter, sodas, mustard, etc., etc. In the end, the speaker, Malcolm Gladwell, says, in effect, that in order to be happy, to be truly happy, we must embrace the diversity us as human beings have to offer. What a thought, right? This can easily be translated into the classroom. In order for us as teachers to be happy, and in order for our students to be and feel happy, we must embrace the diversity they as students have to offer. We should take advantage of that. In doing so, in my opinion, will make the classroom a more fun, vibrant and successful place. In the end, however, I don’t feel that my re-telling of this TED talk did it justice, so I strongly suggest to go check it out yourself!


Exploration in Design

While thinking about what I would like to learn for this independent learning project, a lot of things come to mind. I have so many interests -maybe too many – and it’s hard to choose just one. (This is why I had so much trouble picking a major and sticking with it!) I would really like, however, to learn more about graphic design. Like I stated in my bio, before I changed my major, I was a double major, majoring in both k-12 music and art. It was during this time that I took a graphic design course -my first at that – and found it absolutely fascinating. It’s funny, because I didn’t think I would like it at all! Although we essentially just covered the basics in that class, I learned so much. For example, we talked about everything from simple design, to what makes an ad attractive and effective, to typeface (which is an art in itself), to the effects good ads have on us. It may sound boring to some, but to me, like I stated earlier, is fascinating. Taking that class really opened my eyes to a whole other side to art that I didn’t even know existed. While writing this too, advertising plays such a big part in everyone’s lives – including children – and it would be fun, in my opinion, to somehow incorporate it into the classroom. In doing this, students would be able to take a step back from what they’re looking at, whether that be ads in a magazine, billboards on the side of the highway, or commercials on the T.V., and consciously analyze it for what type of product it’s trying to sell, what the intended audience is, and how that company is going about capturing that audience’s attention to try to get them to buy that product. After all, in my opinion, it’s probably in the student’s best interest to learn about things like this. Learning about this would give them the tools to be innovative, critical thinkers in a modern society such as ours.

helvetica posterPhoto CC-By Graham Smith

Hacking Away

My junior year of high school, one of my friends decided to do something, well . . . out of the ordinary: he decided he was going to hack the school’s fire-walled system. He didn’t tell anyone, and after it was all said and done he was in some pretty hot water to say the least – but I’m sure the administrators were more impressed than upset that he was able to do it! That being said, I agree with Bud Hunt’s comments on how the term ‘hacking’ has taken on a negative connotation. After all, it’s all over the news. There is, however, a flip side to the term. Gamers have one, and now education has one as well. According to Logan LaPlante, it’s called ‘hackschooling.’ This consists of the following: following the happy and healthy 8 TLCs, utilizing technology and online resources, taking part in experiential classes and camps, and possessing the creative hacking mindset. Sounds simple, right? Well, in my opinion it is, and extremely interesting as well. This approach to learning takes schooling to a whole new level, in my opinion, and makes it that much more genuine. That’s because, according to Hunt’s article, the learner is 1) making, 2) hacking, and 3) playing. When I think of the term “playing,” I think of Mr. Rogers talking about how play is the most essential activities a child can participate in, and that a child essentially learns more when playing when compared to other activities. This can be translated to the older/adult learner as well. In my eyes, if you’re wanting to play with something, you’re wanting to explore, dig deeper and discover the ‘whys’ behind certain situations. When you’re playing, you’re creating, making, and essentially hacking your education. This sounds more fun than being in a traditional educational setting. That doesn’t mean that that traditional setting is sub-par, however. The traditional classroom can certainly hold its own in terms of educating children. It can be enhanced, however, and that’s what I want to do in my future classroom; I want to enhance it.Mr Rogers                                                             Photo CC-By Neil Fein


It’s the 21st Century, Get With It

We currently live in a world where people from across the globe can communicate almost instantaneously, where data and information can be shared the world over, and learning made so much easier – all thanks to the ever evolving world of technology. With all the new upgrades, innovations, and devices, however, how can one keep up? It’s because of this the world is much faster paced than it used to be – even compared to 5 to 10 years ago – and people need to have a handle on all of this in order to be somewhat successful in their careers. This is where digital literacy comes into play.

According to the U.S. Digital Literacy Website,, digital literacy can be described as, “learning how to use technology’s tools.” In my opinion, this includes learning and becoming comfortable with computers, smart phones, smart boards, tablets, etc. It also would include learning how to successfully navigate and, in practicing digital citizenship, social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, etc. In doing these things, individuals are becoming fluent in the digital world. Once they are fluent, they can then continue to respond and adapt to the constantly changing market. After all, it’s almost guaranteed that today’s technologies will be considered obsolete tomorrow. So get with it!

Life is hard.. sometimes.

To get right to the point, life is hard… sometimes. We all encounter both positive and negative events throughout our lives, and each of these events, whether ongoing or not, have affected us, taught us, and shaped us into who we are today, and I’m no different. While writing this, I’ve been thinking about how I could tell my life story as a learner in just a few points. Well, here they are.

If you want to talk about hard, talk about golf. I’m not talking about just watching golf or talking about golf, I’m talking about actually playing golf. I was introduced to the game at a very early age, and I’ve been playing it ever since. I have, however, struggled tremendously at it -emphasis on tremendously. My best score is 77 (par is 72), I never played a varsity tournament in high school, and the only time I won a medal was in a JV tournament when I placed 2nd with an 87; but I still continue to play it. I can’t quit. As in life, you can’t quit either. You many struggle and struggle, but you keep on living because in the end, you know all that hard work will eventually pay off; key word: eventually. Golf has taught me to, in the words of Jack Nicklaus: “never to quit, never to give up, no matter what the situation.”golf_ball

Aside from golf, another huge part of my life is music. This runs in the family, as almost every family member, literally every family member, either sings or plays an instrument. When it comes to me, however, I don’t sing; I play percussion. There’s a reason for this. When I was in elementary school, I had a music teacher who was old fashioned in style, and therefore relatively harsh. When singing in class, I thought I sounded great (as every person does) but she thought otherwise. I discovered this when I decided to try out for a choral group, Sing Around Nebraska. To make a long story short, my teacher was the judge and when I went into audition, I was told that I couldn’t sing, and that I shouldn’t even try to sing. Awesome, right? Needless to say, I did, however, find my niche when it comes to music, and I’ve poured everything I am into becoming the best I can possibly be. Which leads me into my next point…singing

Like I said, I play percussion. My favorite instrument is the Marimba (yes the really big xylophone), and I owe the majority of my success to my middle school band director, Mr. Koch. By the time I got to middle school, I had very little self-esteem, and was extremely insecure. He took my under his wing, however, and really helped me reach my full potential when it came to music. For example, I was able to make All-State my senior year of high school, much to the surprise of my high school band director. I say this because that specific year, those in charge were only going to choose three mallet players, and I was the only one west of North Platte to make it. The other two players were phenomenal players, far better than me, and were from both Lincoln and Omaha. Needless to say, it was an amazing experience. Back to Mr. Koch, however, he even helped me all throughout high school, and still today remains a strong supporter, which means a lot to me.mallets

Like I said in my bio, I’m majoring in Elementary Education. I never, in the entire course of my lifetime, thought I would be majoring in a field that requires me to constantly be standing in front of a room full of people. You see, I’m terrified of public speaking, and there are numerous reasons/explanations as to why this is so, however, I can trace this fear back to one teacher, who practically humiliated me. This specific teacher was a math teacher, and it was in this class that he called me to the board to work a specific problem. This wouldn’t have been a big deal, however, if I had known how to work the problem in the first place. The problem was, however, was that I didn’t. I just stood at the board, halfway through this problem, trying to figure out what to do next, with those in my class whispering and giggling behind me. The worst part was that this teacher didn’t do anything to stop it, he just quietly sat there, staring at me. I was probably only up there for a couple minutes, but it seemed like eternity. It wasn’t until college, however, that I figured out how to overcome this fear (for the most part), and help me cope with another as well.calculator

My freshman year of college I was a music major. Of course it was because of this that I had to take multiple music theory classes, and it was in these classes that I was required to sing (remember I don’t sing). I had to, however, and I had to do it in front of the entire class. At first I was terrified, but as time went on, I became more comfortable and it became easier. Here I was in front of the entire class singing. Talk about killing two birds with one stone, right? Doing this taught me two things: 1) singing in front of people isn’t so bad, and 2) public speaking isn’t so bad as well!theory_music

So there you have it, five learning experiences that have shaped me into becoming who I am as a learner today! All 5 pictures were taken by me!