Challenge Based Resource

Writing Tutorial #3

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As I begin to develop my curriculum and materials for the upcoming school year I ran across a great website on challenge based learning. This site provides resources and examples that really demonstrate how to develop and implement this type of learning environment. It is an excellent resource to help teachers begin to develop their own lessons. Not only am I excited about giving this a try in the upcoming school year I believe it to be a great resource for other teachers to use.

Check it out at http://ali.apple.com/cbl/

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Make the Ordinary seem Extrodinary

I was watching Helen Papagiannis on TEDxYorkU this past week and was struck by her supposition, ” make the ordinary seem extraordinary”.   This really is the key, I believe in education today. Students are bombarded with technology and are constantly entertained. If their is no element of entertainment in our classrooms we will inevitably lose the attention of many students. Like it or not this is a conditioned response of the current generation. Educators need to acknowledge this fundamental component of their clientele and address it in their classrooms.   I am not saying to become full fledged entertainer and I do realize that students need to learn how to interact in a traditional educational setting. However educators must acknowledge they need to make the ordinary seem extraordinary to create a true learning environment.

If you have not seen Helen Papagiannis’s “How Does Wonderment Guide the Creative Process” check it out below.

Keeping “I GET IT!” & “WHAT?” Students Engaged

A special education teacher assists one of her...

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Every teacher knows that students learn at different rates.  We know that students need their own time to process the content that they are presented. The problem is that in many cases they are required to move at specific times to keep up with the scope and sequence of the class. This causes problems for some students.  While some are ready to move on early and are stuck waiting for the class others are just not grasping certain concepts and need more time.  Both scenarios cause students to be disengaged with school. This dilemma really seemed to be a problem with my students this year.

Sound familiar? We all have those years where we have two kinds of students the “I get it!” kids and the “What?” kids.  So it has caused me to rethink my delivery method and class organization.  Through some experimenting I came across a method this week that does show some promise. I call it pod learning.

My room is broken up into three groups. I have them color coded by rugs on the floor, red, black and green. At the beginning of each unit I give a pretest to see where my students are at. Depending on how they score on that test they are placed into each of the pods. The black groups is for kids who are struggling with the concept. Green students have a basic knowledge of the content and red who seem to have a good understanding of the concept. Once they are placed in their groups each pod has scaffolded instruction to their specific needs. Black will receive a lot of my attention and I will move them along slowly while green and red can move more at their own pace. My scope and sequence has not changed I have just added some enrichment activities to the green and red groups.  In some cases my red students get into their own course of study on the subject. This process really seemed to work well over the past couple of weeks and has led me to begin looking at refining this system even more.  While this is not true differentiating instruction it is allowing students to move at their own pace and has not created an excessive burden as far as planning my lessons. I am optimistic about this concept and wish to hear your thoughts on this little experiment. Drop me a line and let me know what you think.

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Don’t just teach them, teach them how they learn

Dominant learning style of target audience
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This week as I was teaching my class different reading strategies they could apply to their textbooks.  I  brought up how everyone has a different learning style.  To my surprise many of them did not understand what I was talking about.  This concerned me.  I realized that not only do I need to teach these kids my subject specific content but I also need to help them understand how they learn.  It is very important that students gain an understanding of how they learn.  This provides them insight on how they should study and approach their learning.  With out this knowledge they are at a real disadvantage in their education.  So like a good teacher, I scraped my next days lesson and began looking at how I could help my students understand how they learn.

So the next day we discussed what the different styles of learning were and I had the students take an assessment that helped them find out what learning style best fits them.  In this process I found 10 great sites that contain great learning style assessments.  So if you find your self in a similar position as me in your class use these sites to help your students learn how they learn.

  1. Multiple Intelligences (Find your Strengths)
  2. What is your learning style?
  3. The VARK Questionnaire
  4. Free learning styles inventory, including graphical results
  5. Index of Learning Styles Questionnaire
  6. What are my Learning Strengths?
  7. Learning Styles Explained
  8. Multiple Intelligences
  9. Multiple Intelligences Inventory
  10. Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence theories model
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Augmented Reality Post Five: Review of “Manifest Destiny” Game

Yesterday, I finally got to try out my Augmented Reality game, “Manifest Destiny“.  I was excited to give this a try and see how this new type of learning environment might work  with my students.  In the past I have run some short trial games to see how the software worked and all of the those tests the students seemed to really enjoy.  This was the first complete game with a specific learning target in mind that students had to completely discover on their own.  Students had no prior knowledge of the topic of “Manifest Destiny”.

GAME SETUP

The learning target for this game was: Students will be able to describe and define Manifest Destiny?

Students were given four questions to answer as they progressed through the game.

  1. What is Manifest Destiny?
  2. What are the three political factors influence the development of Manifest Destiny?
  3. What are the three social factors influence the development of Manifest Destiny?
  4. What are the three economic factors influence the development of Manifest Destiny?

Students were placed into groups of three and each student was a different character in the game. At each location each member of the team met a different historical figure.  The historical figure presented each student with some information. After the students listened to their historical character the students must then discuss what they have heard in their groups to get a complete answer.  Each member of the group received vital information that must be incorporated into the answer to each question.  Once they have answered their question the group then moves on to the next location.

Student Reaction

Students seemed to be very engaged in this type of learning environment.  They quickly learned how to use the device and how to use the interface of the program.  Both of these were concerns for me at the beginning of this exercise. Students really seemed to be enjoying themselves and all said that they would like to do this type of thing again.  Some of the complaints were that the questions were to hard.  They stated that they would like to just receive the answer and not have to try to figure it out at each location. Some said that they would like more interaction at each location.  they did not just want to be presented information at each place but rather interact with the device.

Assessment

In grading the assignment that went along with this activity all groups received a 70% or higher on the questions.  I felt as though the main learning target had been met by a majority of the class.  Something that might have worked out better was to not have the questions on the device but on a separate sheet of paper.  I did find that student engagement and motivation was very high for this activity.  However, the fact that this was a new activity with new technology might have a big part in the motivation.  All in all I thought that this type of learning environment showed a lot of promise.  I will be looking at doing another game shortly based off of what I learned from this game.

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Student Centered = Student Engagement

Well due to state testing I had to post pone my Augmented reality game until today.  But something happened yesterday that got me thinking and I wanted to share.  During lunch on Mondays a group of teachers meet in our building to watch and discuss a video on an educational topic.  We call it Motivation Mondays.  The purpose of this is to find new and inovative ways to teach.

Yesterday, we watched a video on TED called ” Dan Meyer: Math class needs a makeover.”  Not being a math teacher I contemplated not going to this meeting but I am glad I did.  This talk which you can see below was not just about math but rather about teaching.  He brought up some profound points about having students getting involved in their learning.  Not just by participating but by helping to create the learning process.  This can be done in any subject and creates engagement and a link for students, so that they see the relevance of their learning.  Teachers must get away from the canned approach to learning that has become so previlant in our educational system.  This canned approach often cause student boredom and creates a disconnect with what they are learning.  If students do not see the relevance and purpose for what they are learning they will have a hard time being engaged.  This was a great video. I recommend it at any faculty meeting.  It will bring up some great discussion.   Check it out below.

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Don’t Forget Learning is Work

Learning is work. So often I see society trying to take the work out of learning.  Teachers develop techniques that require little active engagement and focus on absorption of information.  School districts equate learning with seat time; the longer they are in class the more they learn. Learning is an experience where the student should take ownership. Anyone in the learning process must work to change either a behavior, thinking process or increase knowledge. We derive pleasure out of success in any of these areas. Without the learner actively engaged (working) in an area, there will not be change or learning taking place.

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