Saturday, September 28, 2013

Blog Assignment #6

What do we need to know about asking questions to be an effective teacher?

Learning continues to take place far beyond the classroom walls, and teaching students to ask questions helps prepare them for life in the real world. Questions engage students, encourage participation and make them think for themselves. Asking questions helps develop cognitive skills, and prepares students for a lifetime of learning.

The right question is usually more important than the right answer

Strategies for Asking Questions

  • Prepare Questions in Advance
  • When planning for a lesson, prepare specific questions that you will ask your students as well as questions they might ask you. While planning, be sure to keep the standard or goal of the lesson in mind. This will help keep the lesson on track.

  • Timing is Everything
  • Another tip for planning is to mark specific points in the lecture when you'll pause for questions. This makes the lesson more engaging. Students are not as likely to ask questions when they know the lesson is coming to an end.

  • Start Simple
  • Begin with clear, simple questions. These short questions will slowly build onto each other and develop multiple layers and complexities. Starting a lecture with a deep and complicated question can be overwhelming for students.

  • Avoid Common Mistakes
  • Make students think. Avoid 'leading questions', in which the answer is implied. When asking a yes or no question, follow up with a more complicated question. Ask the student why they answered yes or no. Be careful not to ask more than one question at a time. Students are less likely to answer if they are not sure what the question is.

  • Review and Revise Questions
  • After teaching a lesson, refine it by reviewing the questions you asked and evaluating their effectiveness. Make notes so you can improve next time.

    Question mark made out of grass

    Different Kinds of Questions

    Asking different types of questions ensures the students understand and retain the information. Before you decide how to frame your question, consider the desired answer.

  • Closed questions
  • Closed questions have a limited number of answers. They are designed to test if the students are comprehending and remembering information. The most common closed questions result in a yes/no response.

  • Managerial Questions
  • Managerial questions ensure students understand directions and have necessary materials.

  • Open Questions
  • Open questions result in multiple, possibly conflicting, correct answers. Open questions are best for engaging the class and encouraging students to think critically. Open questions are used to assess learning and spark discussion in classroom.

    Asking questions makes students think and helps them learn. Questions are not only valuable in the classroom, but also throughout life. Claude Levi-Strauss said it best: "The wise man doesn't give the right answers, he poses the right questions."

    Thursday, September 19, 2013

    Blog Assignment #5

    Using iCurio and Discovery Education Effectively

    iCurio and Discovery Ed are great resources for the 21st century classroom. These sites offer a vast amount of information, activities and resources for instructors and students to explore. They also allow teachers to tailor lessons to fit individual student needs. To use these sites effectively, it's important to take some time to become familiar with each site.

    Sunday, September 15, 2013

    Blog Assignment #4

    Why Podcasts?

    Technology is constantly changing and there is always something new to learn. That's why it's important, as teachers, we prepare students by teaching them the skills they will need to stay up to date and change with it.

    chimpanzee wearing head phones

    Introducing technology, specifically podcasts, to children at a young age is a great teaching method. Children are exposed to media on a regular basis, so it's important to show them how to use and navigate it constructively. Podcasts are a great tool because most kids are already well-acquainted with technology, so they find it interesting and relevant. Learning with podcasts is hands-on so it's also a good way to promote innovation, engagement and enhance creativity.

    Ways to Use Podcasts in the Classroom:

  • One way to use podcasting in the classroom is recording lectures or reviews. Students can then download and listen to the material on iTunes. This is a great way to keep an absent student in the loop.

  • Recording and editing a podcast is great for language learners. A student is able to hear his or her mistakes first hand, then correct them. This helps with mechanics, pronunciation and emphasis. Whether a student is learning a foreign language or struggling with reading, using a podcast is a great teaching method.

  • Posting the podcasts on the class blog or school website allows the parents to hear what their children are doing at school.

  • Podcasts provide conveniences for students learning long distance.

  • Podcasts are great for project based learning because they encourage students to think critically, collaborate, engage and comprehend the lesson.

    To gain perspective on this assignment, Dr. Strange recommended we listen to a few podcasts. In the past I have never considered using podcasts in the classroom, but after reviewing the material I understand how valuable they can be. The Flat Stanley Podcast was composed by a class of first-graders. As I listened, I could tell how excited and engaged the students were by this project. They were having fun and letting their imaginations run wild; all while learning.

    Imagine that!
  • Project #3 Presentation

    Wednesday, September 11, 2013

    C4T #1

    Comments for Teachers

    Dr. Strange assigned EDM 310 students each a teacher's blog, then suggested we post our thoughts and summarize the content on our blogs. I was assigned Principle Julie A. Vincentsen of Helen Keller Elementary School in Franklin, MA. I found her blog to be insightful and informative; I enjoyed reading posts written from the perspective of a principle.

    Hippo reads a book

    Capturing Struggling Readers
    Principle Vincentsen used this post to explore the possibilities of audio books as a learning tool for struggling readers. This is the first time I have been introduced to this technique, and I found it really interesting.

    Audiobooks are now being used in the classroom to aid struggling readers. I love this idea for several different reasons. MP3 players and earphones are so small these days, they are perfect for students who are concerned about being judged or stigmatized in front of their peers. A child or adult who otherwise might miss out on a lifetime love of books can now gently be ushered into reading using audio books. Incorporating this technology into the classroom or at home means the student doesn't have to fall behind or miss out, whether the reading problem is due to disability or just slow learning.

    These kinds of technologies are such a valuable tool for teachers and students. With all the audio book subscriptions and options out there, there is no reason a student has to fall behind.

    Elephant reading a book

    Report Cards: Praising Effort & Setting Goals
    Principle Vincentsen touched on student anxiety relating to report cards, and posted a letter sent out to parents regarding the same. She reminds parents of the immense amount of pressure some students feel when it comes to showing their parents or guardian their report card.

    What does she suggest? Vincentsen reminds parents that it's important to focus on what the student did well, not dwell on the negatives. Hang the card on the fridge and remind him or her you are proud. Vincentsen suggests parents praise and celebrate the students for the good marks they made, then a few days later have a calm and constructive conversation about areas that could use improvement.

    She also suggests asking specific questions like 'what are your goals to improve in this area? How can I help you reach that goal?'. She reminds parents that these are conversations teachers have with students in school regularly. It's important for teachers and parents to work together to help students succeed.

    As Vincentsen's parents' mantra puts it, "It is not the grade that counts as long as you try your best!".

    Sunday, September 8, 2013

    Blog Assignment #3

    Peer Editing

    Smiling Pencil Cartoon

    Peer editing can be very constructive. The video, What Is Peer Editing?, offers a few helpful tips on how to effectively edit a classmate's work. The key is to stay positive and be specific about the corrections you're suggesting. Reviewing a classmate's work can make some students uncomfortable, but receiving feedback from a peer provides a fresh perspective and can be a valuable resource.

    Keys to Quality Peer Editing:

    1. Compliments
    Pick out things you like about the piece and be specific.

    2. Make Suggestions
    What specific things could they do to make it better? (Content, topic, organization)

    3. Give Corrections
    Point out grammar, punctuation, capitalization and spelling errors.

    photo of sandwich styled to look like dog
    Peer review is most effective if given in a positive light. When I give constructive criticism, I like to 'sandwich' the critique between two compliments. This way, I begin and end on a positive note, also ensuring my positive comments will always outweigh the negative.

    Tone is a very important factor in peer editing. It can be easy to misinterpret meaning of text comments, so it's key to be mindful of the way comments come across. Staying positive and aware of how your remarks could be interpreted is really important. Comments should always come from a positive place!

    Generally, the method I would use to suggest revisions to peers would vary depending on the correction and the situation. If I knew that someone was particularly shy or had low confidence about his or her writing, I would make my suggestions privately. While I would never want to embarrass anyone, I also don't think I would be doing this person any favors by never critiquing him or her publicly. I think it's important to use judgement and find a balance.

    While in EDM 310, my comments on fellow group member's blogs will mostly be public. We're adults in a learning environment and I think its helpful to other students to be able to look through the blogs and read reviews from classmates.

    Sunday, September 1, 2013

    Blog Assignment #2

    Mr. Dancealot
    (Kayla Christie, Anna Kern and Chelsea Hadley)

    This video made us think. What good is it to teach anything, especially dance, when the students are not required to honestly learn?

    To learn is defined as knowledge or a skill you acquire by instruction or study, but it is really much more than that. We truly learn after we are truly taught, but what does that mean? "Mr. Dancealot" demonstrates the importance of hands-on learning. The instructor in the video is trying to teach the students (unsuccessfully) how to dance by lecturing using a power point. He then expects them to dance as their final exam. Many teachers use this method of lecturing and reciting facts to their students, and then expect them to be able apply and retain the information. The problem with this method is it does not engage the students. A better way would be to give the student the opportunity to learn hands-on, and make some mistakes along the way.

    Well, unlike Mr. “undancealot”, as educators, we must get away from the basic PowerPoint presentation, and get our students involved! Let’s get those students dancing! Honestly, an open book and note test after just lectures? That is not teaching. To me, teachers make this common mistake all the time. We always wonder why students lack the motivation to do work, but we are not giving them much incentive when the only think we are teaching them is that they do not have to try.

    Dancing in Sunset Art

    This video brings out how to be a true “anti-teacher”, and I think that is great reason for Dr. Strange to show it to us. It reminds me of the quote we shared in class, “Never Tell, Always Ask.” We must break away from traditional teaching, and get the students involved! Students cannot absorb dancing by showing them on a PowerPoint presentation, behind your desk, or by giving them open book and note tests. STUDENTS CANNOT TRULY LEARN THIS WAY. We have to be proactive as educators and have our students involved in their own learning. We must stop spoon-feeding our students and propel them into active learning by being a part of the activity.

    "The Networked Student" by Wendy Drexler
    (Anna Kern)

    This video is a great representation of the countless learning opportunities available to students through technology. These days, many classrooms are primarily meeting virtually and don't even use text books. These students rely on the limitless possibilities of technology to find opinions and information from all over the world.

    The author of this video, Wendy Drexler, describes herself as a student of connectivism, which is the theory that learning happens as a part of a network of many different technological agents and connections.

    It's amazing how many educational resources the 21st century student has at his or her fingertips. The world's best instructors, limitless data and opinions-- all at the click of a button. Helping sort through this immense amount of material is one reason instructors are still such valuable assets to the 21st century student. Instructors connect students to new technological tools and sites, allowing the students to then make further connections. Skills like proper blogging and social networking etiquette are also best taught by an instructor. Quality 21st century teachers are those that provide motivation and guidance while preparing students for a lifetime of learning and building networks.

    Kids Reading

    Teaching in the 21st Century by Kevin Roberts (John Strange version)
    (Kayla Christie)

    To me, Roberts thinks in order to teach in the 21st century, we must venture away from standardized teaching and learn how to adapt with the technological changes happening around us. As an elementary student, I do not ever remember other kids having cellphones in school, but now, it seems as if every child has one! He sees teaching changing in a way like the world. The world does not stop moving and changing and neither can we as educators. He is saying we must change our forms of teaching according to the new changes in the availability and use of technology. Along with Roberts, I agree we must make our lessons engaging with the technology as well as challenging. Roberts’s point of view tells that we should change our teaching from “why is the sky blue?” to “why is the sky blue? Explain, justify, and evaluate your opinion and research.” We have to change our forms of teaching from objective to subjective, and get the children to think about the answers to the question instead of just finding the answers. I think Roberts’s point of view on 21st century learning and teaching is spot-on, and as an educator, I will have to think more critically about my lessons as much as my students will have to think critically about their answers because of this point of view. As educators, we are constantly learning, and I think acquiring this new skill set of teaching will improve the students’ abilities to learn. I think this, because they are so easily able to look up the answers to the questions that teachers commonly ask. With this new way of teaching, the students cannot just look up any answer. They have to think outside of the box and use their creativity. In conclusion, we must stray away from being just like the economics teacher from Ferris Bueller's Day off, and become teachers of engagement!

    Vicki Davis: Harness Your Students Digital Smarts
    (Chelsea Hadley)

    Vicki has her high school level students really getting involved, interacting and truly learning. If I would have had more teachers who would have taught through technology and student interaction when I was growing up, I might have paid a lot more attention and learned much more information because hands-on is the best way of learning to me. In the video Ms. Davis talks about all the ways the students are learning and mentions how awesome it is to the students when they figure things out together and alone. I agree because when I work really hard and figure stuff out on my own it makes me feel great about myself. It makes you feel like you have accomplished something on your own instead of someone helping you and that is how this EDM310 class makes me feel. Vicki Davis states that "Not all students can learn with just pencil and paper." I so agree with her because I am one of them students. Not only does it make you learn and makes you do it on your own but students are also able to become comfortable with technology. I think making students think it out on their own and solving it on their own is an awesome strategy and other teachers should really try it.

    Flipping the classroom - 4th grade stem
    (Chelsea Hadley)

    Flipping the classroom is a wonderful idea that I wish we had when I was in school. It gives children the opportunity to start their day prepared and ready to learn. Students can watch lectures online before the class so that they can learn and know what they will be learning about before they actually learn and talk about it in class. This opens up many doors for one-on-one learning at school. I think it is a great idea and would save a lot of time in class learning about it unless some students don’t watch the videos before class which means to me that really don’t care. This whole idea seems motivating, exciting and effective and I would love to use this in my classroom one day!