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Showing posts from May, 2016

One Simple Sentence

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Learning how to learn is now becoming a bigger part of course design and planning used with the revised blooms taxonomy to challenge students with more complex learning which leads to higher order thinking.
I think that Dee Fink  would say that every course requires you to teach the students how to learn, as Bloom, Krathwohl, Simpson, et al. would say that every lesson needs to use Action Verbs for Objectives. The challenge we face as program, course and lesson designers is how do we fit it all in? 
To start, here is a summary of Fink's more holistic approach to learning with some examples of task students can do from BYU Idaho's post about outcomes and assessment.
DeeFink's Taxonomy of Significant Learning Foundational Knowledge - Understanding and remembering information and ideas. - Students will recognize and understand legal terminology. - Acquire in-depth knowledge of key concepts of virology.
Application: Skills; critical, creative, and practical thinking; managing …

Podcast Pros

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To comment on Jose Bowen's suggestions, here are the benefits he mentions and his explanation of why podcasts are better than lecture capture or video on his website http://teachingnaked.com/

He says that "most of us teach to the mean, so if most students can understand a problem after two examples, we do two examples. We would hesitate to help just a few struggling students with more examples in class when the majority of students seem ready to move on. The best podcasts, when played in iTunes, have chapters that allow students to move about easily and allow you to include parallel or redundant material."
Additional benefitsSkipping ahead The advanced student can fast forward and skip the easy examples. Podcasts, when built with chapter titles and multiple examples or pedagogies, are powerful tools for student engagement and control.
Customization and further resources Archive lectures from visitors or reference videos of the topic by other professors. Add a more comple…

Hidden Curriculum a Student Experience

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Hidden curriculum refers to "the unwritten, unofficial, and often unintended lessons, values, and perspectives that students learn in school. While the “formal” curriculum consists of the courses, lessons, and learning activities students participate in, as well as the knowledge and skills educators intentionally teach to students, the hidden curriculum consists of the unspoken or implicit academic, social, and cultural messages that are communicated to students while they are in school" (Education Reform)

I'd like to explore this topic from two different perspectives: the student experience and technology.

The student experience, for the purposes of this post will look at moments of truth. I work for an institution that prides itself on customer service training for all staff and teachers. As educations, we often cringe at the thought of viewing our students as customers, but the truth of the matter is that they are and we are providing them with a service.
I have learn…

The Whiteboard: Underdog of the Classroom

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Have you ever been in a classroom without a whiteboard (or a blackboard)? As a teacher in the digital age, we can teach without projectors, without speakers, without TVs, and without the internet, even though sometimes we think we cannot.


Inspired by a chat I've been having with fellow teachers, we think that sometimes we take for granted the most essential technological tool in the classroom - the whiteboard. There are many advantages to using a whiteboard in the classroom often forgotten by our race to keep up with the times.

To highlight one from the article listed below, whiteboards are participatory. They allow for not only the teacher to write the agenda/outcomes, keywords, formulas, or facts that need emphasis, but also the students in class. Students can use it to draw diagrams, graphs, or any other visual to explain concepts and situations. Whiteboards are also essential brainstorming, mind-mapping, and team note-taking.

There are quite a few fun educational activities th…

Take Note

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To continue on from my previous post, one of the areas for learning how to learn  is Ways of Studying Information. As I am currently designing career college courses, I am constantly thinking about strategies I can share with instructors to help them in the classroom.
According to Terry Doyle, there are nine main ways of studying information which are:
Daily review/rehearsal/practiceOrganize the informationPractice tests / Test reviewsSummarizingWritingSaying aloudPeer questioningProper time of dayProper location

Daily review and writing go hand-in-hand when taking notes in an academic class.  This article  states that taking notes in class and reviewing them has a positive impact on learning. However, students' notes are often inaccurate. Students are taking better notes and review material more effectively if faculty provide a scaffold in a form of outline or overview for students to use while taking notes. Highlighting, as I have told students many times, shows them where info…

Learning How to Learn

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This was the concept that planted the seed for this blog. I asked myself what does this mean?  I am sure it means something different to everyone.
I have participated in discussion forums and listened to teachers ask Have you ever wondered why some students are much quicker to understand and apply concepts from class with success, while others seem to struggle?
If you have found yourself wondering this, why not teach students the skill "how to learn"? 
According to Terry Doyle, a professor and educational consultant at Ferris State University, learning how to learn   includes all of the following areas:
1. Ways of organizing information
2. Ways of comprehending information/ finding what's important 3. Ways of studying information
4. Ways of recalling information
5. Ways of finding information
6. Ways of thinking about information
When designing lessons, a simple strategy for a teacher could be to transform these areas into a set of questions to ask. Questions like: ho…

Info about Infographics

I created my first infographic just a month ago in a class I took on Instructional Strategies. It is entitled Creative Thinking Class Road Trip (see it below). It was a great experience for me because I am a crafter at heart. In doing this, I realized what a great assessment tool they can be.
I currently teach TESOL  and design curriculum and instructional tools for a language school and a career college. One of the projects I am working on is a menu of learning activities/assessments for an EAP class and a college class. I can’t wait to use infographics as part of this menu.
Using an Infographic as an assessment tool: Encourages students to find appropriate sources and make choices about what to include and what not to include because it is such a small space.Uses summarizing skills because infographics require the students to condense ideas/opinions into a small space.Develops some of the soft skills related to media production that they might need as part of courses, or at the workp…

Flip to Own

I have been participating in an interesting discussion this week and here is some insight into  Flipped Classrooms
1.     What does that mean to an educator?
Teachers will hopefully be able to move away from lecture which is, as mentioned in Teaching Naked, used primarily for “first exposure” and is usually “poor at delivering content, creating high-level questions, encouraging deep learning, and getting students to re-examine their assumptions (Bowen, 2012, 111-112).
The advantage to a flipped classroom is being able to spend your time as a teacher on what matters most. Students are engaged and motivated by problem-solving, interaction, relevance, and feedback. By flipping classes teachers are able to improve the student experience by focusing on what matters to them.
2.     Does an educator role changes once a flipped classroom is in play?
Typically teachers take the role of expert resource where they take the stage and present their material through explanation. Sure, there are ot…

Openly Licensed Textbooks

What do you think about open textbooks? Would you ever use them or contribute to them?

Check out the BC Open Textbook Project whose goal is to make higher education more accessible to all by reducing costs through the use of openly licensed textbooks. The BC Campus OpenEd project has created a collection of open textbooks aligned with the top 40 subject areas with the highest enrollments.

They are not the only project of this kind. California's community colleges have begun to shift to making their courses, research, and other work paid for by institution available free to all users under creative commons licenses.

In doing this, they believe they are on the right path for improving student success, allowing people to get the most for their money, and creating a collaborative working environment. Open textbooks are way to:

Make higher education more accessibleReduce student textbook costsGive instructors the flexibility to reformat and customize course materialEncourage collabor…

Games, Gamification, Game-Based Learning, oh my

I can see how "fun educational activities" aka games can appear to be treating adults like children. If executed well, and if a clear learning outcome is evident to learners, then I think the risk of offending is reduced.

Adults will still take part in game-like activities, especially when they see a point to them or when there are problems to be solved. So why not use “fun educational activities” in the classroom?

To explore this topic further, here is my list of the
Top 5 Infographics about Gamification
benefits of gamification
playing to learn
games vs game based learning vs gamification
using prizes boost learning
gamification and instructional design

I came across this article contrasting traditional learning, hands-on learning and game-based learning. Here is a summary of a portion of the article I think is crucial when using games, or “fun educational activities” in the classroom.

Game Based Learning: Why it Works Characterizing Good Game-based Learning Environments
Subset Pri…

My Post about Post-its

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The best non-projected media I have worked with, in more ways that I can count, is the Post-it. I am the type of teacher who likes to be as efficient as possible with my planning and preparation time. 
To do this, I created student-centered leaning experiences as much as possible and I use Post-its. My lesson plans are the size of a Post-it stuck in each page of my course book. I teach a TESOL program and teach students to plan a lesson plan on a Post-it. I tell them that this is how I reduce my planning time, which is a question I get asked every time I teach the class.
Lesson Plans I write my end goal (aka Activate by Jeremy Harmer, 2007) at the bottom, and I write out my steps backwards to the top. Whatever does not get me to the end goal will not fit on the Post-it. This helps keep my lessons focused on getting me there, no matter how fun all the other things might be. Now I simply choose the best option of all the fun things.

As for class activities, I have used Post-its for:
Ans…

Who Are Your Students?

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The Staged Self-Directed Learning Model: A Summary Concept from Gerald O.Grow Matching the learners’ stage of self-direction and prepare students to progress to higher stages should be a teachers main goal.
Stage 1: The “I Don’t Know” Student Dependent learners need an authority-figure to explicitly give direction, and instruction. For these students, learning is teacher-centered. They either treat teachers as experts who know what the student needs to do, or they passively slide through the educational system responding mainly to teachers who "make" them learn. They will also test their teacher’s expertise and authority. How to Teach the Stage 1 Learner: AuthorityClearly-organize objectives and lessonsPrescribe straightforward techniques for achieving themDiscipline studentsGive directionDecide in advance how you will answer challenges to your authorityKeep students busy learning specific, identifiable skillsSet standards beyond what students think they can doDo whatever is …

Teacher as Investigator

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Teachers have many roles in the classroom. These roles greatly impact our lessons and our students' experiences in the classroom.

But how much time do you spend actively thinking about hat role you are performing?

Jeremy Harmer (2007), in How to Teach English, names and describes some of the various roles, which include:

Controller = there is no doubt who is in charge of the class.Prompter = encouraging participation and helping only when necessary.Expert Resource = provider of language in communicative tasks.Assessor = evaluate performance, and conduct feedback/correction.Organizer = knowing exactly what they are to do next.Tutor = coach when students are involved in project work or self-study. Why do you think it is important for teachers to rationalize what role they are in, when, and why?
Nola A., Senior English Instructor at Eton Institute, provides a useful insight into the roles relevant to the 21st-century by asking us to think about the type of lesson you normally teach: W…

Digital Storytelling and EAP?

Digital storytelling, a great topic posed in one of the discussion forums I have been participating in lately, is the practice of using computer-based tools to tell stories. It focuses on a specific topic with a particular point of view. For example, a digital story may be about:
Personal talesHistorical eventsExploring life in one’s community Unlike traditional storytelling, digital stories mix storytelling with a combination of multimedia, such as:
Graphics – pictures, drawings, textAudio – music, recorded audio narrationVideo – video clipsOther web publishing software Daniel Meadows, a pioneer in the field of digital storytelling defines it as “multimedia sonnets from the people” in which “photographs discover the talkies, and the stories told assemble in the ether as pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, a gaggle of invisible histories which, when viewed together, tell the bigger story of our time, the story that defines who we are.”

What is it and what isn't it? To find out more, visit t…