Tag Archives: Learning Strategies

Learning Environments

10 Oct

 

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Ma whero ma pango ka oti ai te mahi

With red and black the work will be complete

Being innovative with curriculum is more than just moving desks. Or is it?

Like many other schools we are looking at learning spaces and how to use them. At the same time, we are doing some work on integrated or collaborative learning projects. It has got me thinking about What if teachers from different learning areas worked in the same office space?

Schools houses staff from the same learning areas in faculty or department offices. Within these areas each has head who has their own office. There is no doubt these spaces are a buzz of activity in which much is accomplished within a specific learning area. These are how schools have always been. These remind me of cells in religious houses of centuries past. Crude but effective

In our innovative curriculum experiment I have observed by teachers working in cross curricula teams something special has occurred. I wonder if they worked in an open plan together all the time something similar would occur. Teachers in a community represent a cross-section of learning areas from across the curriculum. When you put a group of people into an enclosed space they are going to interact. Reality television flourishes on this fact.

I have observed this term that when you place several staff from different learning areas in the same space, conversation and collegiality is created. Conversations quickly turn from uniform, bell times and the length of time the principal speaks at assembly to pedagogical views, our own learning and use of inquiry. OK there were still some conversations around lateness to class by students but there has been a shift.

I have observed this also:

  • more meaningful meetings however some meaningful meetings have gone by the wayside
  • we are no longer working in silos
  • that students benefit because teachers are exposed to different views and perspectives
  • the sharing and conversations about teaching and learning
  • the conversations around the challenging of the traditional way
  • everybody is exploring different approaches to teaching and learning rather than just the early adaptors. As a results colleagues really sharing best practice

If we are wanting our tamariki to be confident, connected and life-long learners we need to model it ourselves. How better than in this environment?

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Professional Development for all

26 Aug

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When I lead PLD I often begin with the question describe your most memorable learning experience. How many of us, as educators, have been asked to ponder this? After a group discussion about memorable learning experiences I then ask staff to consider the implications for our own classrooms. What elements can be replicated in our classroom? What makes lifelong learning? Why do we remember one learning experience over others? And why are so many other learning opportunities forgotten?

Often the best experience has nothing to do with school. Why is that the most memorable learning experience has nothing to do with a teacher or a classroom, a textbook, or an assessment? And, why should we pay attention to what the answer to that question means for our classrooms? What is it about informal learning that leaves such a lasting impression? How can we integrate informal learning into our curriculum while still meeting benchmarks?

By taking staff/students out of the physical confines of the classroom with just a few tweaks to your curriculum through integrated learning and can inspire your students through informal learning.

Reading paintings, objects, and photographs can engage staff/students with new content or deepen understanding across disciplines. Paintings, objects, and photographs tell stories and getting to those stories takes a lot of critical thinking. It encourages students to build connections, examine perspectives, and build empathy. Museums are making it easier than ever to access collections online and even sort and curate your own collections for use in the classroom later.

When I use paintings, objects, and photographs I start with observation. Ask learner to point out what they notice. It’s pretty challenging to only focus on observation. They want to jump immediately to inference. We move to inference only after deep observation and then on to questioning and reflection.

I love visiting Puke Ariki our local museum with my daughter. Museums excel at interactivity. Make your classroom interactive. I am not talking about using collaboration or technology tools. Find areas in your classroom for students to open a drawer and learn, lift a flap to find out more, or slide and see. It doesn’t have to be high tech to be effective.

Few people know that museums will let teachers forego the typical school tour and use their space as a classroom outside of school. Museums are not stuffy. They are dynamic learning environments. You know best what your students need and how you want a museum visit to connect to your content so why not use museum collections to your advantage and teach in the museum space? It takes a bit of planning and a visit ahead of time, but it is well worth the effort.

By the way what was your most memorable learning experience?

More LwDT

22 Jul

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Last week I left my phone at home and the day at school was difficult. A little, like this.

Think about this. When was the last time that you left your cell phone at home? If you left it at home, did you go back home to get it? My students are bringing their devices to school everyday, so there is not a question of whether or not to have BYOD, Bring Your Own Device.  Our school is a BYOD school because parents have equipped their children with devices. I have seen different ways that we have embraced BYOD. It reminds me of the SAMR model.

  1.  Negative Embracement

For fear that students will use their devices for inappropriate purposes, teachers ban them altogether.  They institute fine systems for pulling them out in class; therefore, students learn to use personal devices in a very secretive way. The result of this form of embracement is negative in every way: time wasted correcting students and negative student perceptions of school.  Even worse, there is a negative impact on learning because students will find a way to use their device regardless of punitive tools at your disposal.

  1. Dispassionate Embracement

Because school staff know that devices are everywhere, and they can’t eliminate them, they choose to put policies in place that tolerate cell phones. Students are allowed to use them at times where learning does not occur such as during class change, during lunch or during “free-time” at the end of class. In this system students are conditioned to believe that devices carry no real potential to enhance learning. They are explicitly taught that personal devices are for personal business and nothing more. The result of this form of BYOD is negligible.  Time isn’t wasted, but it isn’t really maximized either.  Learning isn’t really enhanced either.  The status quo keeps pretty much everything stagnant. This form of embracement puts learning in neutral.

  1. Constructive Embracement

Since the potential found in devices is limitless, schools are finding unique and innovative ways to incorporate technology into every aspect of their system. Schools are eliminating announcements in place of using social media to communicate with kids. Research is being conducted on screens instead of in books. Technology is being leveraged.  Positive effects are abounding because with proper procedures and training for staff, students are more engaged, more connected and more focused. Their learning becomes more relevant, more purposeful and more productive. The more successful the integration, the more positive rewards students will reap from their learning.  Positive embracement of technology occurs only when technology is infused into areas where learning is expected to take place.

Take time to quietly reflect how is your school approaching this? Which category do you really sit in?

 

 

Blended Learning

20 Mar

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I am immersed in a blended learning environment at present in my classroom. Blended Learning doesn’t leave any kind of learner out—whether you prefer the familiar traditional classroom or would rather do things online or both—everyone has a chance to benefit from this all-encompassing style. Not only that, but Blended Learning utilizes so many methodologies that the content can be customized to the learner and optimized for the subject matter.

Blended Learning is an interactive experience in every sense of the word, which makes it fun. Learners engage with the offline lessons by practicing online through a variety of different content media, each geared to suit a certain learning style. Learners can choose which type of content they wish to interact with, practice what they learn and communicate with instructors and other learners anytime and on any device. The community experience keeps learners engaged and informs teachers as to their progress and areas needing more attention.

This week I brainstormed what my classes looked like pedagogically.

Face-to-Face Teaching: Traditional instructor-led learning sessions, supplemented with technology to allow learners to control their own learning pace. Benefits are role-play, mentoring, hands-on practice, collaborative group work and feedback.

Moving it Around: Students go from learning activity to learning activity, either in a structured learning session directed by a teacher, or online in a self-directed manner. Examples include learning stations, labs, and the flipped classroom where learners practice the lesson before attending the face-to-face training.

The Lab: This blended learning model is entirely digital, with little or no instructor interaction. It takes place either before, during or after a lesson. Learners can access content on mobile phones (this is known as mLearning), laptops or tablets.

Flip the classroom: This blended learning model is entirely self-directed and takes place in a digital environment. Learners can engage with an instructor through chat, email or message board. It provides a flexible schedule and personalized learning, but lacks the face-to-face interaction of other types of blended learning. This great for conferencing assessment both formative and summative.

How are you dealing with this digital environment?

 

Learning and Teaching

12 Jan

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Teaching is a specific skill. It is in our country undervalued. The instructional core values of the role of the teacher in the ever-changing educational space is complex. There is a need to focus on good teaching, and in this comes from reflective practice. In New Zealand, Our Teaching Standards are working to make teachings standards actually living documents and focus points for lifting the esteem and productivity of the profession. The most important work of the standards, as I see it , is their advocacy for building learning communities; teachers as learners.

I have been thinking deeply about the core teaching business. Like all educators I have had good lessons, great lessons and some unsuccessful ones too. Good and not so good inquiry. Indeed some real failures. I mentioned earlier the idea that we want to unpack as Leaders of Learning this year is  the concept of the instructional core, in preparation for classroom observation.

Teaching of content clearly leads to learning but we can look at this framework as the core business, where good teachers affect learning by building relationships with their learners and a deep passion for the content. It is the teacher who makes these connections sparkle.

I agree that PBL/ Inquiry is key to ‘education’, the joy in learning the specifics of our world and the ideas of fellow people are awesome and certainly, an understanding of such siloed concepts is taken higher when students are guided in inquiry and cross curricular discovery. When students have agency it goes through the roof.

I suppose as I conclude two things are central to my thinking:

What is Learning?

How do I know it is successful? (It must be more than about formal assessment also)

What are your thoughts?

Being the Worst Leader

2 Jun

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I try hard to be the best member of the SLT team I can be everyday as a leader in my school. I admit it can be really tough. Especially during winter and when everybody has a cold and the students are fed up.  To perk myself up this week I thought I would share some errors to avoid if you are a leader. Be in touch if you have good suggestions.

  • Tell your team how important their ideas are to you and how much you want to talk more about it, then never get back to them.
  • Check your emails and answer calls when you are in the middle of a meeting with staff.
  • When your team member tells you a great idea, tell them about your great idea.

Reading

1 Mar

https://mountain2surf.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/youngmanreadingbycandlelight1600-1650bymathiasstohom.jpg

This week I have come across some great pieces of research that is worth sharing. The first is Competent Learners @ 20.

The Competent Children Competent Learners study has tracked around 500 children in the Wellington region from just before they started school, to age 20. It has looked at the impact of early childhood education and then later educational experiences and time use out of school on children’s development. It has monitored the development of skills such as reading and writing, and also attitudes such as perseverance and curiosity. When they returned to the participants at age 20, the researchers looked at how the young people had got on with NCEA. They looked at the impact of earlier school performance, engagement in school and their experiences of learning.

Some key findings included:

  • More than half those with low performance at age 8 went on to gain NCEA Level 2 or Level 3. That means that children’s support from teachers and parents, the learning opportunities they had in and out of school and their interactions with teachers, parents and peers, enabled them to make real progress.
  • Those who gained NCEA Level 2 did not necessarily have higher levels of mathematics, reading, writing or logical problem solving at age 14 than those whose highest qualification was NCEA Level 1, or who did not gain any qualification. But they did have higher levels of perseverance, communication, social skills, curiosity and self-management.
  • The period from age 10 to age 14 appears to be a time when it is particularly important for teachers and parents to watch for signs that children are turning away from school and learning. This applies as much to high performers at school as low performers. It was clear how deeply memories of school at this time can colour later attitudes to learning.

Another area I have been reading about this week is Thinking Strategies and the following article Provide Models, Examples and Non-examples.

It suggests similar to expert craftsmen teaching their trades to apprentices, teachers can model thinking and problem-solving skills to their students.

Modeling can take several forms in your classroom:

  • Thinking aloud regarding your cognitive processing of text (e.g., sharing with students how you make connections between what you know and something that you’ve read in the text or how you figured out what the author was inferring)
  • Demonstrating or showing your students explicitly how you would complete an assignment (e.g., writing a summary of an article, taking notes, constructing a graphic organizer, or giving a speech)
  • Showing first-rate complete examples of a work product (e.g., a summary paragraph or graphic organizer) as well as substandard non examples that help students differentiate between a good one and an unacceptable one
  • Acting out, role-playing or developing simulations.
  • Explaining, telling, and giving directions are essential teaching moves, but unless they are accompanied by various types of modelling, the likelihood of struggling readers achieving success is small. Never assume that because students have spent year in school, they have been explicitly taught or have somehow figured out on their own how to do what you want them to do.

These ideas and further concepts can be sourced from adlit.org

As teachers we always want to continue to sharpen the saw. Make ourselves more competent. A good teacher has to be open to learning. The following are some general strategies.

Teach like a Champion Technique Eight: Post It – Be sure your students know your objective for the day by posting it on the board

What Does a Great Lesson Look Like on the Outside? – Here’s What Your Students and Evaluators Should See in Your Classroom.

And finally a blog that really inspired me this week: http://cogdogblog.com/2013/01/26/pointless-incessant-barking/

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