A Journey Through Technology

Week 6 Reflection

This week was about shifting the teaching of our content from the “what” to the “where” and the “how”. My research, reading of other blogs, and the Twitter chat this week were very helpful in figuring this out, and actually helped to bring together ideas I’ve learned about through the past five classes I’ve taken in this program. Its nice to see that what I’ve been learning about can help me shift my content to the “where” and “how” for my students.

This week, I mainly contributed to the learning of others though my blog post, the Twitter chat, and my comments on Tristan and Gerald’s blogs. My learning was impacted a lot through my research, the Twitter chat, the reading for this week, and reading both Tristan and Gerald’s blogs. In Tristan’s blog, she talked about how difficult it is for teachers to switch to the method of learning that helps most students with the “where” and “how”, which is “imaginative learning or play”. She mentioned that this is hard for many teachers because it means having less control in the classroom, and I also have trouble with that. I am a bit of a perfectionist, so giving up control is hard for me to do. I know that giving up control will be beneficial for my students, as long as I plan ahead and am prepared for them learning in a different way.

Gerald talked about how hard it can be in math for students to get beyond the “what”. He shared a couple of mathematical modeling problems that are designed to have students use higher level thinking, and I think that is something I could really use in chemistry, too. It actually fits nicely with my gamification plan that I am hoping to start this fall in my chemistry classes. He did say that students tend to struggle with those types of problems, so I know that I will need to have the appropriate scaffolding in place for students when they need it.

Overall I am feeling very good about what we learned this week. I know that this is something I can use in my classes, and I look forward to spending time this summer developing some higher-level thinking problems for my students to try and move from the “what” of chemistry to the “where” and “how”.

Mentoring Journal Update:

I met with my mentee this week and we had a very good session. I helped her figure out some things on her new computer (she just got a Windows 10 computer on Friday) and introduced her to the Google Drive. I helped her download the Google Drive to her computer so she can easily access her drive files from her desktop. While this is not where I projected we would be going into our third week together, she is learning new things and becoming more comfortable with the idea of using them in her classes, so I consider this to be adequate progress. This next week I will be spending some time introducing her to the Google Classroom, and I hope that one of her goals (having daily bell assignments easily accessible for students to make up) will be accomplished by the end of the week.

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Week 6: What are the challenges in shifting content from “what” to “where” and “how”?

This week we are looking at the “what”, “where”, and “how” of education. To understand the challenges in making a shift from the “what” to the “where” and “how”, we need to look at what each of these looks like in terms of education. “A question of what is particularly useful in terms of education because it is easily testable.” (Thomson & Brown, 2011, Kindle location 1241) The “what” is about the facts. Most tests that students take are designed to assess the “what” of content. “While tests give us benchmark data on where students are with knowledge and skill development, they often fall short of helping students develop the higher level thinking skills that 21st century students need for a technological workplace.” (Cochran, n.d.)

The “where” of content deals with the context of the knowledge. Thomson and Brown give an example comparing “what” and “where” in A New Culture of Learning. A survey done in 2006 “found that 63% of Americans ages 18 to 24 could not find Iraq on a map of the Middle East” (Thomson & Brown, 2011, Kindle location 1266) One of the authors tried to recreate the survey a few years later and asked 18 of his students to “Find Iraq” using a computer. All of the students were able to find Iraq, and used the technology to go even more in depth than just finding Iraq. The students took the “what” question of finding Iraq on a map and turned it into a “where” questions by giving context and relevance to the question. (Thomson & Brown, 2011, Kindle locations 1266-1277)

The “how” of content  deals with how we can use our knowledge and context in our lives. According to Thomson and Brown, this is where play comes into learning. (Thomson & Brown, 2011, Kindle location 1349) Students use the “what” and the “where” to help them reach the “how”. So, now that we have defined the “what”, “where”, and “how”, we need a tool to help us in the transition from “what” to “where” and “how”. Bloom’s Taxonomy is the perfect tool for the job.  blooms-taxonomy

(Armstrong, n.d.)

Essentially, Bloom’s Taxonomy was designed as “a framework for determining the extent to which objectives and activities engaged in higher-level thinking.” (Cochran, n.d.) The higher up on the taxonomy, the higher the required thinking level. When comparing “what”, “where”, and “how”, you could say that “what” would fall on the lower end of the taxonomy, “where” would be moving up, and “how” would be at the top. So, the key to shifting content to the “where” and “how” is to shift the objectives and activities toward the upper level of the taxonomy.

One method of doing this is outlined by Dr. Barry Ziff in his article titled Utilizing Bloom’s Taxonomy in Your Classroom. Dr. Ziff suggests preparing activities and questions that use the verbs from each level of the taxonomy, working from the lowest level to the top as you make your way through a unit. He also suggests that student “be involved in creating a variety of products to show their understanding and level of expertise in the content area.”(Ziff, n.d.) If we want to shift content to the “where” and “how”, the final product of the units we teach should not be a test, but instead something that the students create that demonstrates their understanding, the “where” and “how”, of what they have learned.

The challenge in shifting to the “where” and “how” is therefore in changing how we are assessing our students. Teachers give tests. It is something that has been done throughout the history of education. If we are going to shift to a more authentic form of assessment, then teachers will need to stop testing students, and start having them create.

References

Armstrong, P. (n.d.) Center for teaching. Available at: https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/blooms-taxonomy/ (Accessed: 24 February 2017).

Cochran, D. (n.d.) Moving up bloom’s Taxonomy. Available at: http://www.thecreativeeducator.com/v02/articles/The_New_Blooms (Accessed: 24 February 2017).

Thomas, D. & Brown, J. S. (2011). A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change.  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. Kindle Edition.

Ziff, D.B. (n.d.) Utilizing bloom’s Taxonomy in your classroom. Available at: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:bfWja9vGZZcJ:www.calstatela.edu/sites/default/files/centers/spedintern/hints11bloomtaxonomy.pdf+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us (Accessed: 24 February 2017).

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Week 5 Reflection

This week was about “learning in the collective”. I found my research this week to be very intriguing because it showed me that a lot of the learning I’ve done in the courses for my degree have been collective learning. I like the idea of collective learning, though I don’t know if I can completely wrap my mind around all of the aspects of it. The use of blogs as collective learning is something I think I could use in my classes, especially my IB Chemistry class, and I am going to play around with that a bit over the summer.

My learning was impacted by the Twitter session, researching for my blog post, the comments made on my blog, and by reading the blogs of Matthew and Larissa. Gerald, Natalie, and Tristan commented on my blog this week. I feel like those comments led me to a deeper thinking about collective learning on a global scale. Why isn’t there more collective learning going on to solve more world problems? Is it happening and I just don’t know (completely possible and probably likely)? Could it be happening on a larger scale? I feel like the comments this week have given me more questions to think about as we continue moving forward.

In Matthew’s blog, he had a great quote, “it is my responsibility to direct the students towards the learning that is required, but this experience can be enriched by allowing for collective learning to be part of the process.” My comment was about wondering if it would be possible to combine collective learning with required learning so you wouldn’t have to differentiate between the two. I don’t know if all learning in high school could be achieved through collective learning, but I’m sure that it would be possible for significantly more learning to be done through a collective.

In Larissa’s blog, she talked about how “Working in a collective is seamless because those involving themselves in a collective typically want to be.” I think this is crucial for collective learning, because students that want to learn about something are going to be a lot more involved than students that are forced to learn about something. I see examples of this when I compare my forensics and chemistry classes. While both classes are considered electives, chemistry is something that a lot of my students need to graduate. Forensics may satisfy graduation requirements for some students, but most of them are taking it for fun. I think it would be interesting to try using collective learning in both of these classes to see how effective it would be in each one.

I impacted the learning of others through Twitter, sharing my resources for my blog, and in the writing of my blog. I also wrote comments on Matthew and Larissa’s blogs.

This week gave me so much to think about as I continue to explore collective learning.

Mentor Project Journal: This was the first week that I was supposed to start meeting with my mentee for the project. We did not end up meeting this week, but I anticipate spending quite a bit of time together next week to get started on our goals.

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Week 5: What are your thoughts about “learning in the collective”?

To answer this week’s question, I need to think a bit about what “learning in the collective” really means.  “In communities, people learn in order to belong. In a collective, people belong in order to learn.” (Thomas & Brown, 2011, Kindle location 622) In my mind, this means that a community is a group of people with common interests not intended for learning from each other, whereas a collective is a group of people brought together with the intention of learning from each other.

An example that Thomas & Brown discuss in A New Culture of Learning is the use of blogs as collective learning. Throughout this Master’s degree program, a majority of my classes have involved using blogs as a source of learning between the students in the class. The aspect of the blogging isn’t in just writing each week, but instead what is done after students write their posts each week. Blogs being part of a learning collective requires a “combination of the active and passive…forms of participation” (Thomas & Brown, 2013, Kindle location 644). It is the interaction that occurs within our blogs that lead to a learning collective. Another example of blogs as learning collectives comes with Bill Ferriter. He writes about his experiences using blogs as a learning collective to help him with professional growth, both by reading the blogs of other educators and by writing on his own blog. (Ferriter, 2009)

I think it is important for people to be able to easily share knowledge and information with each other and learning collectives allow for this. “Because of how we can communicate and share knowledge, we can tap into a vast information network assembled by millions of humans, living and dead.” (Christian, 2009) But how should “learning in the collective” be organized? Is it just a group of people coming together and sharing information, teaching each other and learner from each other?

Castelijns et. al, (2013) describes six phases of a collective learning cycle: Defining an ambition, Collecting information, Interpretation of the information, Deriving consequences, Acting, and Evaluation of product and process. (Castelijns et. al, 2013, p.378) These could be useful steps to take if trying to organize a new learning collective, however I don’t think that every collective would have to follow these exact stages.

A final thought I have about “learning in the collective” deals with another quote from Thomas & Brown. “Almost every difficult issue we face today is a collective, rather than a personal, problem.” (Thomas & Brown, 2011, Kindle location 719) This makes me wonder that if more collectives were used for solving our problems today, maybe more solutions might be discovered.

References

Castelijns, J., Vermeulen, M. and Kools, Q. (2013) ‘Collective learning in primary schools and teacher education institutes’, Journal of Educational Change, 14(3), pp. 373–402. doi: 10.1007/s10833-013-9209-6.

Christian, D. (2009) Khan academy. Available at: https://www.khanacademy.org/partner-content/big-history-project/early-humans/collective-learning/a/collective-learning-part-1 (Accessed: 17 February 2017).

Ferriter, B. (2009) ‘Learning with Blogs and Wikis’, Educational Leadership, 66(5), pp. 34–38.Available at http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/feb09/vol66/num05/Learning-with-Blogs-and-Wikis.aspx (Accessed: 17 February 2017).

Thomas, D. & Brown, J. S. (2011). A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change.  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. Kindle Edition.

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Week 4 Reflection

This week was about a comparing how we play to how we embrace change. I love to play games, so thinking about how I play was not hard for me. In most games, I find a strategy that I’m comfortable with, and then stick to it forever. Not a lot changes in the way I play or even approach games, so its not surprising that I’m not very quick to embrace change. I like to be comfortable, and that means not changing things around a lot. But, just looking back at my 6 years of teaching experience, I can see that change is everywhere. Education is constantly changing, and I need to be able to move with those changes if I want to be an effective teacher for my students. This week make me uncomfortable thinking about the changes I know I need to make, but I also feel more at ease knowing that pretty much all of us feel the same way. This school year has had me stepping out of my comfort zone more often than ever before. I think the key for me to become better at embracing change is to continue stretching my comfort zone until nothing makes me uncomfortable as an educator.

This week I impacted the learning of others through the Twitter chat, my blog post, and by reading and commenting on Tristan’s and  blogs. My learning was also impacted through Twitter and the comments on my blog, as well as by reading Tristan’s and Andrea’s blogs. Tristan talked about how she played as a child and what the authors of A New Culture of Learning described as play. I also played outside a lot as a child, at least until I started doing too many activities to have time to play outside, so that brought back some nice memories of my childhood. She also talked about the author’s description of play for adults involving learning to use a new electronic device. I found this interesting because I think deep down, to be described as “play”, someone needs to feel a sense of pride in their accomplishment. When I watch my 2 year old daughter play, she builds things with her blocks and is always saying “look at this, mommy”, proud of her creation. I feel the same sense of pride when I learn to use a new device, like when I learned (and am still learning) how to use my iPad. We want to show off when we play with something so we can share our experience with those around us.

Andrea talked about a quote from A New Culture of Learning about children using play to help process the new information around them. I can really see this in my daughter as she explores the world around her. Every object in our house becomes something that she can play with, being creative and using her imagination to help the world make a little more sense to her. Andrea’s blog helped me realize that activities I already use with my students could be considered play in this regard because they allow students to better understand new information. The trick for me is to be able to convince students that they should actually be playing and not just doing an assignment.

It was refreshing this week to see how many people have the same fear of change that I do. I know that I need to be a better risk taker. One hope I has is that by becoming a better risk taker myself, I will be able to help by students be better risk takers and in turn embrace change. It’s time for me to break my mold and welcome the unknown with open arms. If I can start embracing change, I know that I will become a better teacher and be better equipped to help my students become stronger learners.

 

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Week 4: What does the way you play have to do with embracing change and how does this impact you as a professional?

I have never been good at embracing change. When I find a routine that works, I tend to stick to it as long as I can, because as the old saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”. My love of routines easily explains the way I approach most games: methodically. I like to have a method to whatever I play. I guess this could be interpreted as a strategy, depending on  the game. For example, when I play Settlers of Catan (http://www.catan.com), I follow pretty much the same strategy each time I play: build the longest road (at least five roads connected together), then try to build developments and cities to win the game. However, this is not always the correct strategy for me to win. I would say my success-rate with this strategy is probably less than 50%. I don’t change the way I play the game because I am comfortable with that strategy and it doesn’t require me to take any risks or try new things. I would say avoiding risks and not trying new things very accurately sums up the way I play games.

Last semester in my Gamification class, I learned about the four Bartle players types: killer, achiever, explorer, and socializer. (Bartle, 1996) After taking a few online tests to see which player type fit me best, I found that I was an explorer. Below is Bartle’s description of an explorer:

Explorers are interested in having the game surprise them, ie. in INTERACTING with the WORLD. It’s the sense of wonder which the virtual world imbues that they crave for; other players add depth to the game, but they aren’t essential components of it, except perhaps as sources of new areas to visit. Scoring points all the time is a worthless occupation, because it defies the very open-endedness that makes a world live and breathe. Most accomplished explorers could easily rack up sufficient points to reach the top, but such one-dimensional behaviour is the sign of a limited intellect. (Bartle, 1996)

This explanation does not describe every aspect of my play-style, but it does explain a lot of how I play most games. The part about other players not being essential components really stands out to me because I am not a fan of playing multiplayer video games whatsoever. What I find fascinating about reading this today is that even though I’m explorer when it comes to games, I am not so good at trying new things or easily adapting to change.

In the reading this week from A New Culture of Learning, the authors tell us that “change forces us to learn differently.” (Thomas & Brown, 2011, Kindle Location 461) I think this the main reason that I struggle with embracing change. When I was in school, the majority of my learning was similar to how Thomas & Brown describe it at the beginning of chapter 3 as information being transferred from the teacher to the student. When I first started teaching, I always thought to myself “I was able to learn well by doing this, so why would I want to teach differently than this?”

In one of the other readings this week, Barnard et. al. referenced a study that was done on   a group of adults with no real technology background that were given a new touchscreen tablet to learn to use. The main thing that impacted the usability of this group was the avoidance of errors. (Barnard et. al., 2013, p.1719) This suggests that some adults focus on avoiding errors when trying new things, which is exactly why I struggle when trying new things. I hate making mistakes, even though I know that is how we truly learn how to do something correctly.

I found a TEDx talk video on YouTube this week that titled Embracing Change. In this, the speaker, Jason Clarke, shares seven reasons why people are resistant to change. The first reason he gives is that people are “just too full of emotions and fears to think”. I feel like this is the main reason that I have problems embracing change, with an emphasis on the fears.

But what does all of this have to do with me being a teacher? Why is it important for me to be able to adapt to change? In an article by Samantha Cole (2015), the final way that she describes how schools will change by 2020 is that teachers and educational institutions need to adapt to the changing world around us. I think the biggest roadblock that I face in embracing change is the fear of the unknown. I am afraid of not knowing all of the answers, or not knowing what will happen when I try something new in class. If I can overcome this hurdle, I know that I will have no issues embracing change in any part of my life, and that I might be able to reach my full potential as a teacher. Who knows, maybe I will also get better at Catan if I’m willing to take more risks and not be afraid of the unknown.

References

Barnard, Y., Bradley, M.D., Hodgson, F. and Lloyd, A.D. (2013) ‘Learning to use new technologies by older adults: Perceived difficulties, experimentation behaviour and usability’, Computers in Human Behavior, 29(4), pp. 1715–1724. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2013.02.006.

Bartle, R. (1996) Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who Suit MUDs. Available at: http://mud.co.uk/richard/hcds.htm (Accessed: 10 February 2017).

Cole, S. (2015) 5 big ways education will change by 2020. Available at: https://www.fastcompany.com/3043387/sector-forecasting/5-big-ways-education-will-change-by-2020 (Accessed: 11 February 2017).

Clarke, J. (2010) Embracing Change. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPhM8lxibSU (Accessed: 11 February 2017).

Thomas, D. & Brown, J. S. (2011). A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change.  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. Kindle Edition.

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Week 3 Reflection

This week our focus was on the differences between classrooms when we were students to classrooms now as we are teaching. It felt a bit like a trip down memory lane to think about my time as a student and compare it to the classrooms in which current students are learning. One thing I realized this week is that my teaching style now is still very dependent on the ways that I learned in school, and that is something I am really trying to work on changing. It is hard to go through school being taught by “pouring” of knowledge, and then try to teach in a completely different manner. I can honestly say that the majority of my teaching years have been focused on teacher-directed instruction with little opportunity for students to be actively involved in their own learning. The graduate-level classes I’ve taken up to this point have helped me learn how to get my students more actively involved and I hope that someday my students will be able to reflect on their learning and say that they had more of an active-learning experience in my classroom.

This week I impacted the learning of others in a couple of ways. First, I co-hosted the Twitter chat with Larissa this week. I feel that we asked questions that really encouraged the chatters to think and that we had a very engaging conversation. Second, my blog post this week had four commenters, Jule, Larissa, Gerald, and Matthew, and their comments suggested I impacted each of them. One of the main focuses of these comments was that so many teachers have access to new technology in their classrooms, but don’t know how to use it to its full potential.

My learning this week was impacted through the Twitter chat, reading the comments that others made on my blog and also by reading and commenting on Tristan’s and Jim’s blogs.

Tristan talked about technology being the main difference between classrooms for her as a student compared to students now, but also mentioned the ability for technology to be a hindrance as well. I agreed with this, though in a different way than she did. Technology has been an issue for me this year because even though I just got a Chromebook cart for my classroom, I often can’t use it because we have connectivity issues at school. My classroom is based in the cloud for the first time this year, and while the accessibility from any location is nice, internet issues are causing me more of a headache this year than they normally would.

Jim also talked about technology being the biggest difference, though he doesn’t see it as having an impact on what a teacher’s mission actually is. One thing that he said was about a “narrow view” that the authors of A New Culture of Learning have about classroom teachers and what their actual purpose is in the classroom. I think that this “view” is part of the problem with the public perception of teachers right now. Too many people are basing their opinions about teachers on the experiences they had as children, which may have been positive or negative, without actually realizing what teachers and students can accomplish in classrooms today. I agree that the mission for teachers has not changed, but I do think that the way teachers accomplish that mission needs to use more active learning opportunities for students to be more involved in their own learning.

This week was very eye-opening for me to see the variety of opinions within our group. I am looking forward to taking some of the ideas from this week into the classroom and making a serious effort to stop trying to pour so much knowledge into my students, but still make sure they have the necessary supports to learn on their own.

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Week 3: How different is your current classroom from the one in which you learned when you were a student?

This week we are looking at how classrooms have changed since we were the students. I went through my K-12 education in the mid-90’s to mid-00’s, so a lot of the things I use in my classroom were also being used when I was the student. To me, it seems like the biggest change over the years for education is in the technology we have available to use in the classroom. When I was in elementary school, my teachers had to use paper grade books, so there was no knowing what grade you had until report cards came out. I saw many visual aids via overhead projector, and we had chalk boards in my classrooms until at least middle school. I know some classrooms in the high school at which I currently teach still have chalkboards, but almost all classrooms now have smart whiteboards and digital projectors connected to the computer. If students want to know their grade, they just log into their student account and they can see all of their classes and the grades they have. But how long as all of this technology been around? It always seems that schools aren’t always quick to start using new technology, so how long does it take for schools to pick it up?

According to Jeff Dunn (2011), interactive whiteboards were first introduced back in 1999. I think the first time I saw and/or used one was in my fourth year of college. I think these whiteboards are a great addition to the classroom, but many teachers are not properly trained in how to use them to the best of their abilities. I can honestly say that I don’t know all the tricks and possible uses for mine, even though I love using it. I use mine mainly to write notes for my students and then save them to share online, and also for showing videos/movies. I would love to learn how to use it in even more ways to help my students learn.

Another change that occurred while I was a student is the use of computers and the internet. I remember playing Oregon Trail on the old Macintosh computers when I was in the 4th and 5th grades. Now students can play games on their smartphones. Purdue University has “A History of Classroom Technology” posted on its website. According to the article, “In 1990, The World Wide Web was given life when a British researcher developed Hyper Text Markup Language, or HTML, and when the National Science Foundation (NSF) removed restrictions on the commercial use of the Internet in 1993, the world exploded into a frenzy of newfound research and communication methods.” (Purdue, 2015) I have no memory of using the internet in elementary school, but I think we used it more in middle school, and definitely in high school and college. I am amazed at quickly people can find information using a Google search compared to having to look things up in an encyclopedia or card catalog.

One of the biggest changes from when I was in school is the way that students are encouraged to learn. When I was in school, the common practice was for teachers to “pour” knowledge into the students. Students relied on their teachers for the bulk of the learning. “For most of the twentieth century our education system has been built on the assumption that teaching is necessary for learning to occur.” (Thomas & Brown, 2011, Kindle location 321) New educational best practice suggests that teaching is not necessary for learning to occur. Students are now encouraged to develop their own understanding of content, sometimes without direct teacher instruction.

These are definitely not the only changes from my student days, but to me they are the changes that have had the biggest impact on the classroom.

References

Dunn, J. (2011) The evolution of classroom technology. Available at: http://www.edudemic.com/classroom-technology/ (Accessed: 4 February 2017).

Purdue (2015) The evolution of technology in the classroom. Available at: http://online.purdue.edu/ldt/learning-design-technology/resources/evolution-technology-classroom (Accessed: 4 February 2017).

Thomas, D. & Brown, J. S. (2011). A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change.  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. Kindle Edition.

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