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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School Year Resources Part Two: Cartoon Creators and Avatars

ToonDooEX

ToonDooEX (Photo credit: The Daring Librarian)

This is the second post in a series on resources for the upcoming school year.  As I collected these resources to get my own classroom ready for the school year I thought I would share that information with others to ask for advice and see if there are any great resources that I missed.  So, if you know of any other great links or have any helpful information about these please let me know.

Cartoon Creators and Avatars

Over the past couple of years as I have moved into a project based classroom.  I have had many students create some excellent projects using Cartoons and Avatars.  Some were animated cartoons and others were just regular print cartoons.  They have also used Avatars to present what they have learned in the class.  The key to these types of projects for me is the level of engagement that the students had through out the project.  The technology really kept them engaged and excited about learning and my students really enjoyed creating projects using these resources.  Many of these links were found by my students who then brought them to my attention and asked if they could use them for their projects.

Avatar Creators (Create Talking Avatars)

  1. Voki
  2. Blabberize
  3. Evolver
  4. Avatara
  5. Avatar.pho
  6. Doppelme
  7. SouthPark Avatar
  8. Portrait Maker
  9. Marvel Comic Avatar
  10. Face Your Manga
  11. Digimi
  12. Meez
  13. Go Animate
  14. Mixamo
  15. Animeeple
  16. Picasion
  17. LooGix

Cartoon Animators (Create Comic Strips)

  1. Toonlet
  2. ToonDoo
  3. Pixton
  4. Chogger
  5. Comic Creator
  6. Comic Lab
  7. Make Beliefs Comix
  8. Strip Creator
  9. Strip Generator

Video Animation Creators (Create animate video cartoons)

  1. XtraNormal
  2. Memoov
  3. Go! Animate
  4. Dvolver
  5. Digital Films
  6. Aniboom
  7. Fluxtime
  8. Animasher
  9. ZimmerTwins
  10. Scratch
  11. DoInk
  12. MovieStrom
  13. Creaza
  14. Fuzzwick
  15. Staged
  16. Moove Online

Past Posts on this Topic

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Want Gauge Your Students Quickly? Try Urtak

Often times we as teachers are want to receive input from students to assess their learning.  There are many different ways to accomplish this task, tests, quizzes, projects and presentations to name just a few.  However, sometimes I just want to know the opinion of my students on a particular topic or just to a quick comprehension check and do not want to have to create a test or quiz to gauge the classes progress.  There are many quiz makers and assessment tools that can be found on the web but one that I found to be simple to use in many different applications was “Urtak“.  This site allows you to create quickly and easily simple yes or no questions.  It then provides you some simple code that you can cut and paste on any website.  I have found that these can be very helpful in assessing student progress and engagement.  It can also provide teachers with some simple data to make future decisions for their classes.  Since the quizzes are only yes or no questions students are not as intimidated to answer them.  These types of questions allows for a good assessment of how the students felt about a topic or lesson at that particular moment.  You can find this resource at  http://urtak.com

Click the link below to see an example poll.

Would you use this?

Here are a couple of other links to great polling and survey websites and services.

  1. PollDaddy http://polldaddy.com/
  2. Survey Monkey http://www.surveymonkey.com/
  3. Zoomerang http://www.zoomerang.com/
  4. Survey Gizmo http://www.surveygizmo.com/
  5. Survey Pro http://www.esurveyspro.com/
  6. Mr. Poll http://www.misterpoll.com/
  7. Poll Code  http://pollcode.com/
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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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3 Critical Components for Online Learning

When we consider successful qualities of online education, we find that they are not all that different to the traditional classroom. Like all classroom activities they must be well designed and challenging, so they engage the learner. I believe that there are three critical areas in any successful online learning environment: clear communication, engaging content, and time.

In order for students to be successful in any learning environment, they must have timely feedback. This not only promotes learning but encourages students, giving them a sense of ownership in their learning.

Like the traditional classroom, concepts must be clear and organized and students must be engaged in their learning. In fact, the online environment requires more organization and clarity. Easy navigation and consistent organization are critical to assist students in remaining engaged and motivated. Once a student is lost or confused, the attitude of the learner changes and the learning stops. Thought provoking questions and links to consider or review in answering these questions can promote excellent learning opportunities, as well as providing students with various points of view on topics.

Students must be provided appropriate time to complete their work and work with other students. Students must be allowed to pace themselves to best meet their individual needs. Self-paced learning with good communication from the teacher to keep students focused is what can make online learning so successful. Communication with other students in an online environment must also be timely and easy. This will facilitate learning between all members and for the individual learner.

To create any successful learning environment I believe you must have clear and timely communication, engaging activities that are clear and organized, and time for the learner to complete activities that best suit their needs.

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