Showing posts from March, 2016

Cultural Competence and Inclusive Classrooms

In a forum I have been participating in this week, a point came up that peaked my interest. The topic is building positive learning environments, and one of my discussion mates stated that to build a positive learning environment, classrooms should be inclusive. I thought about this and have taken it a step further. 
In language teaching, creating a positive, inclusive and culturally aware environment is critical for building an atmosphere that is conducive to learning. To do this effectively, classroom behaviours and expectations need to be set clearly on the first day of class.
An article on Tomorrow’s Professor mentioned an important point supporting the construction of positive learning environments through inclusion and cultural competence, which is: Do not talk down to students. Teachers can do this by: Avoiding judging behaviors, which cause students to feel inadequate. Avoiding stereotyping. Do not target examples and questions towards certain groups in your class Increasing c…

Classroom Management: Like a Champion

I have noticed that my classroom management skills are tested in situations when I set up new tasks, which means there is a drop in attention, or when policy reminders and follow up needs to take place. So to help with this, here are a few strategies I have modified for my own classroom.
Classroom Commands On the first day of class, I set up a list of classroom commands. The commands are designed for regular tasks like distributing handoutsthink-pair-sharewriting answers on the boardhomework
I train the students on what the command is and the time they have to perform it. Like a drill. To show them how it will benefit us, on the first day of class I have them time how long each task takes us normally. Then on the next day, I turn it into a drill. We calculate how much time was saved and multiply that to the term. They are always surprised by it and this helps get them on board. Sample commands: “BOARD” – students know they have 3 minutes to race to the board and write down as many answers …

Reflecting on What's in Your Closet

“Students who reflect of their learning are better learners than those who do not” (Barkley, p. 30). Reflection, in my opinion, inspires change. To make change, you have to identify what needs to be changed. We don’t just wake up and decide to change. This is a process that comes from seeing, doing, or learning something new, which is what I can the spark that ignites change.
Cross, 1993, p 30-31 compares the process of integrating new knowledge into existing knowledge to clothes in a closet. He says that it is rather easy to hang clothes in a well-organized closet and retrieve them ready-to-wear. The point he makes here is that this process is easy when you understand and implement the principles of organization for the closet. For example, shoes go on the floor, knits are folded on shelves, suits have special hangers, etc. He also says that if, on the other hand, you just throw things into the closet and close the door, it will be a challenge to find the shirt you are looking for or…

Assessment and Feedback

Chapter 4 ofStudent Engagement Techniques by Elizabeth Barkley talks about assessment and feedback. Her point is that learners need to know how they are doing, and how they can improve. 
Essentially, this is why they are taking classes. Teaching is not just about providing information (through textbooks, videos, handouts, etc.) Teacher value comes from observing, analyzing and providing feedback that enables learners to improve and know how to improve (pg. 28-29).
The two main types of assessment are:

Summative Formative Evaluations for grades Assessments for progress and to enhance learning Occurs at critical points in the learning process (e.g. mid-term; final exam) Considered a part of the course instruction and is done through participatory tasks Evaluated with a score Evaluated by providing feedback Once an evaluation is complete, it is added to the students record; typically no opportunity for change Activities tend to add to the learning process (i.e. tasks link together …

Engagement and Active Learning

It is said that teaching and learning usually go together. It is also widely known by all of us who teach, that student's do not always learn. As I read the chapters of Student Engagement Techniques by Elizabeth Barkley, I find myself thinking about the relationship between these two words. 
In my first class in this program, my instructor Karen Brooke asked me this exact question in my exit interview. I fumbled my answer. What is the relationship between teaching and learning? It was not until now that I have gained a bit of clarity. 
Teachers tend to bank on the notion that because they are teaching, learning is taking place. We use words like engagement and active learning to define our roles in the classroom. I ask though, are our students engaged? Are they learning actively?
Active learning, as defined in chapter 3, is an umbrella term that includes: CooperationCollaborationDiscoveryExperienceProblem-solvingInquiry
It is also thought that because we get students up, moving around,…

Instructional Strategies

Our next stop on this educational journey is a course on instructional strategies. I will be looking at the value of various instructional strategies from Elizabeth Barkley's Student Engagement Techniques. 
I will continue to update this blog and discuss the benefits and limitations of using blogs and forums as forms of instruction and assessment. I will analyze my own blog and highlight the findings of a forum I will facilitate over the next few months on creative thinking. 
The last component of this course will be a digital instructional strategies project.  Possible strategies, at first glance of the textbook, I am considering for this project are: Team Jeopardy (p. 174)Analytic Teams (p. 207)Team Concept Maps (p. 218) and Class Books (p. 243) Learning Log (p. 324)Resource Scavenger Hunt (p. 345)