Erika Tabor and I are on a Grade 2 team together and decided for our project to work on our Unit of Inquiry (UOI), How We Organize Ourselves (HWOO). The reason we chose to revamp this unit is it was an opportunity we saw to specifically be able to improve upon our student research lessons with the Google Search tricks and tips we learned during this course.
This learning experience (unit plan) was different from and similar to other learning experiences (unit plans) we have designed. Usually, we use technology apps and tools with students to provide different choices for learning and producing products. In addition, technology is still a huge motivator for students to complete their work. Second graders are slow to handwrite their answers so anytime students can use technology to facilitate creating their responses, it is helpful for students to be able to describe their learning. One difference was viewing the planning through the lens of technology. Typically, I focus on the needs of English learners and students with learning support needs. In addition to keeping these students in mind, I tweezed out areas that could be enhanced with technology.
This learning experience (unit plan) relates to what we learned in Course 1. As the Understanding by Design instructs us, we focus the students on what they will learn and be able to do at the end of the unit. Also, we will be able to help students better research on the topics they choose for their final products.
I believe Course One has influenced me the most by bringing the importance of appropriate technology integration in my lesson planning and keeping in mind what students should be able to do by the end of the unit.
One outcome I hope to see when students complete this learning is to be more successful and independent when researching their topics and have a conceptual understanding of human systems, they will see themselves as researchers, inquirers, and thinkers.
I’ve been reflecting on how I use learning theories in my everyday practice to support student learning and I thought of a few examples of Behaviorism, Constructivism, and Connectivism.
First, I had a parent meeting this week about a student I’ve started a reading intervention with. One thing the mom pointed out that works for her daughter is positive reinforcement. I agree with Mom and think it’s really important to remember how effective positive reinforcement is for a lot of students. This student struggles with reading and by telling her how great she’s doing and talking about the positive progress she’s makes helps to keep her motivated.
Next, as a support teacher, I sometimes go into other teachers’ classrooms and teach their class. Our behavior management styles can differ and I was reminded this week how I need to start a lesson by telling the class my particular behavior expectations. Once I start then I consistently let them know when they are in line with or falling off the grid from my expectations. If I have a student who is off task, I point this out to them. As soon as I see them back on task, I point this out to them. Seven-year-olds respond to this type of reinforcement.
Students solving problems to learn is a part of the Constructivism theory. So often, students will ask for others to solve their problems for them. For example, I give my students wait time to think about how to read a word-I don’t tell them right away what the word is when they’re reading. If a student asks me how to spell a word, I ask them how they spell it. I don’t take their learning away from them by giving up the answer too soon. They need time to think about it and try to solve it on their own so they’ll learn that word.
Connectivism was a bit more difficult for me to think of examples of how I use it in my everyday practice. Siemens (2005) reiterated when he explained Connectivism is the digital age’s theory for learning. He explained the theory of Conneectivism takes into account how we work and learn today with technology whereas other learning theories such as behaviorism did not take this into account. I do recognize how when my grade 2 team is planning units we bounce ideas off each other and create better learning opportunities for our students. As Aristotle told us, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” With the vast use of the internet, we no longer have to work and learn in isolation. We can synergize for the best learning outcomes.
Part of our reading from this week came from Living with New Technology. I had a couple of takeaways. Teachers, parents, and other adults should take into account kids today can’t be treated like our parents raised us. On one hand, we’re interfering with our kids when we take away their access to the internet. This keeps them away from their peers-their common culture. On the other hand, educators are not communicating with the teens and adult leaders in the gaming and creative production worlds. We have to take people in those areas seriously because our kids are. The authors suggested to “build bridges” of communication in order to gain awareness. We need to stay in the know and ask our kids what they’re messing around with online.
What exactly does “tech-rich learning” mean? Is there a Likert scale for the richness of the tech we use in our teaching? Does it mean there is a little or a lot of tech in our lessons? Without a clear understanding of this question, I first sought a definition. IGI Global defined technology-rich learning as, “The purposeful integration of appropriate technology into student learning to enhance motivation and active engagement in learning processes.” This makes sense to me. In our reading, we’re thinking about how to appropriately use technology with our students by first thinking of the learning objectives and what we want our students to learn. In the past, I have explored new technology with my students by trying them out. It was more of a technology for technology’s sake. Now I try to use technology so it will improve the learning outcomes. For example, I have a student diagnosed on the Autism spectrum who I’m working with on improving how he treats others. In addition to reading a book on manners with him, he is also creating a digital copy of the story with iMovie. He is taking pictures of the book and narrating it. By using this technology, it will help him be actively engaged with the ideas in the book and it is highly motivating to him. Once he completes the digital story, he will be able to save a copy in his Google Drive and access it for future episodes when he is not being kind or respectful to others.
Another topic I am considering this week is the possibility of having to teach from a distance. With all the hoopla about teaching and learning online, things are getting a bit confusing to me. It seems now any teacher is going to be qualified to teach online and this is concerning to me. Penelope Adams Moon, the Director of Online Learning Strategy at the University of Washington tweeted about my concern on March 4th. She said it clearly and concisely-the emergency situation of schools closing and teachers needing to provide instruction online is only a stop-gap measure to deliver their instruction and it is not the same as online teaching. In response to her tweet, D. Christopher Brooks, Ph.D. proposed the idea this could be an opportunity for teachers effected to be more open to online learning in the future and lead to long term change. I find myself considering the silver lining in this stressful time we are experiencing.
This week, the focus of our reading from Living with New Media was Geeking Out. The authors defined it as, “an intense commitment to or engagement with media or technology, often one particular media property, genre, or type of technology. Geeking out involves learning to navigate esoteric domains of knowledge and practice and participating in communities that traffic in these forms of expertise. It is a mode of learning that is peer-driven, but focused on gaining deep knowledge and expertise in specific areas of interest.” (p. 28) I reflect on my students’ practices and I can’t think of an example of how they show Geeking Out. Possibly this is an engagement that will soon make its debut among the second graders.
The authors go one to explain how Geeking Out can be social, “Just as in the case of messing around, geeking out requires the time, space, and resources to experiment and follow interests in a self-directed way. Furthermore, it requires access to specialized communities of expertise. Contrary to popular images of the socially isolated geek, almost all geeking out practices we observed are highly social and engaged, although not necessarily expressed as friendship-driven social practices. ” (p.28)
Reading about Geeking Out and the support people reach out for when in that type of situation reminds me of learning to play World of Warcraft (WOW). My support started with my children. They tutored me on downloading the game, basic key commands, and such. Once I was away from them and I had more complicated questions about the game, I started searching for answers online-the game help page, Youtube, and Reddit. I discovered Youtube videos of expert players completing the tasks I was struggling with. When I mentioned this to my kids, they responded with answers like “of course.” To them, Youtube was an obvious place to find answers whereas I’m behind in this learning curve and I was surprised and delighted to find such a great resource.
In the section about Feedback and Learning, a teenager doing writing for said, “It’s something I can do in my spare time, be creative and write and not have to be graded,” because, “you know how in school you’re creative, but you’re doing it for a grade so it doesn’t really count?”This makes me wonder about the transfer of learning in school to her hobby of writing for the online role-playing. I constantly struggle to get my 7-year-old students to recognize they should remember to take what I’m teaching them about writing in our small-group back to the classroom and use in their every day writing assignments in class.
As an aside, the article mentions Myspace several times so I decided to do a little research to find out if people are really using it. I found out Myspace is still a thing! It seems music is now the main topic. I signed up and searched for my old account and found it’s still there. Unfortunately, I couldn’t log into my old account. I’m not sure how Myspace fits into my social media scrolling but maybe there are a few minutes I can find to check out the latest pop culture.
Last night I attended a Toastmasters meeting and as usual, we had our Table Topics session. In this session, you’re given a question to discuss impromptu in front of the group. One of the lesser know rules about this session is if you don’t understand or maybe don’t like the question, you can give a random answer on any topic of your choosing. Which brings me to this week’s blog post assignment. I’m having a heck-of-a-time coming up with a new skill or concept to learn. I’ve tried to brainstorm by taking advantage of my network-I’ve sent emails, I’ve messaged my COETAIL group for ideas, I’ve talked to colleagues to brainstorm ideas. After all this, I’ve still not come up with an idea, and now I’ve let myself get behind in the course. I believe I have enough I’m already learning and I am not motivated to learn something new. Taking a page out of the Table Topics rule book, I’m going to twist this blog post task to meet my needs.
First, I am currently learning Russian. I’ve been studying Russian for almost five years but I can barely comprehend or speak. I need to do something more so I have come up with the following action plan for the month of March.
Duolingo Russian app daily goal (currently 50XP)
Send at least one text (sentence) in Russian to a Russian speaker daily
Add Russian language teachers on Twitter and read their posts
Add Russian language blogs on Feedly and read them
Add Russian captions to my English Instagram posts when possible
Second, I am currently learning to play the viola. I’ve been going to strings practice with my colleagues since the beginning of the 2018 school year. We meet once a week when school is in session. Recently I’ve decided to try and do more. I found a tutor and I’m attempting to practice more. We have a little concert on March 20th we are preparing for. I will play the three songs to the best of my ability. Here’s my plan:
Practice daily for 30 minutes
Attend weekly strings practice on Thursdays 4:30-5:15
Meet with my tutor on Mondays 12:15-12:45
Meet with my tutor on Saturdays 11:00-12:00
Watch videos of experts playing the songs I’m learning
Listen to the songs I’m learning on iTunes
Video myself playing the songs and ask for feedback from my tutors
Learning new skills is a lot on the front end and once you’re at the top of the learning curve, it’s a long row to hoe.
The 10K hour rule was based on people at the tipy-top of competitive professions.
The learning curve is the graph showing how incompetent people are when they start to learn a new skill. The early improvement happens fast then the growth slows or tapers off.
The speaker says with 20 hours of focused, deliberate practice into your new skill you will become decent at it.
First, decompose what it is you want to be able to do to discover the little skills, then practice those.
Next, learn enough to practice and self-correct. Find three to five resources to help you-books, videos, etc. Get better at noticing you’re making a mistake so you can do something different.
Third, remove the barriers keeping you from your practice-social media, etc.
Finally, practice 20 hours.
Kaufman makes the point you don’t have to learn the 100s of details, you really just need to learn the major important parts to get decent. The major barrier is to get over is feeling stupid (emotional).
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS FROM THE DIGITAL YOUTH PROJECT.
“…new media empower youth to challenge the social norms and educational agendas of their elders in unique ways.”
“What is generally lacking in the research literature overall, and in the United States in particular, is an understanding of how new media practices are embedded in a broader social and cultural ecology.”
“We aimed to transcribe and translate the ways youth understand their own use of new media and, at times, the barriers they encounter in their desires to use them.”
“An ethnographic approach means that we work to understand how media and technology are meaningful to people in their everyday lives.”