With my recent focus being on student enrolments and getting the first couple of weeks of classes up and running I feel quite excited to be now setting off on my own path of discovery with #mosomelt launching for 2017. Having participated in #mosomelt before I know a little of what is ahead but at the same time am still very much a learner.
Since my last venture into Vine-land I see that it has been renamed Vine camera yet it looks a feels very much the same. I like the idea that you can create 6 seconds of video with no post production editing needed. It takes some thought to decide how you will fill that 6 seconds and could be a very creative tool for students as the user must learn how to cover a lot of ground while being very concise.
So on this return to the App I probably have more ideas of its uses and potential within learning and teaching. What I certainly don’t have is a clear sense of how it works- after capturing my 6 seconds of video. The images and icons presented as instructional guides for editing, saving, posting etc, to me, don’t seem very intuitive and it took several attempts to delete my first very rubbish video but then also to work out how to save a slightly better one. It really was a case of random navigation and a visit to Google search to work out how to save and post to the Google Community and Twitter. I’m interested in others’ experiences as this is a continuing issue for me . Somehow there is a mis-match between the App’s guidance and the way my brain is wired. Luckily there are obviously others like me…enough to warrant kind people creating YouTube clips and Google searchable instructions- that make sense to me! Phew!
A straight path misses many opportunities for learning…
Overall, Mysimpleshow was as easy to use as the website claims it to be, however I felt that it did take longer to edit. I found that I did not like the text options that it offered, and chose to do my own voice over. The site does limit you to 300 words per slide, which may be a good thing for our students to have to practice, being concise and getting their point across fast.
I am feeling that this course module is not that hard of an assignment, and for that reason, I feel that I may be falling off the rails in regards to the assignment. Just like Kara, I feel that I too may be addicted to change, that or I am not afraid to try change in my classroom and for the most part, my student are willing to go along with me on this ride. Or maybe it is just that I am creating while teaching the course and using it immediately, that I am becoming very comfortable with teaching a blended course?
I find that I am a person who struggles with the openness of some assignments – although we were given parameters and guidelines for this week’s blog, I still felt a bit lost with what exactly I wanted to focus on. I think that sometimes as educators, parents, students, etc.. we have so much on the go that it is hard to focus on one thing at a time.
I began to go fishing for ideas this week. Megan wrote about having her students create a social justice poster with one option of being SMORE. That got me thinking…I have done this before, only I had asked my students to use a variety of tools for their student directed study projects. As you can see, this post was from December 2015! Some of the tools that I have had the most success with students using are VideoScribe, emaze and Piktochart. I was not familiar with SMORE so I gave it a try this week and created a flyer that outlines what I would like my students to do with a lab that will take place for the remainder of the semester.
Blended learning just comes naturally to me that sometimes I don’t even think of it as being “blended”, I just show my students that there are many other tools to use rather than the traditional research papers. Just like the blenders shown in the photo, there are many types of tools, which all lead to a desired result. Each tool is just a different route to get to your destination, the route may be fast or it may be slow.
While I love the above mentioned sites and videos, I stumbled upon a video from BrainCraft, which explains what the best way to teach science is. She found that “Edutainment” may be the best way – combining education and entertainment in one. The point of this video that I really like is at 2:50! When I reflect on her journey – I know that I really do not have the time to do stop animation like she does, it is really just not possible right now while I am both a student and a teacher. However, I do agree with Vanessa
“No matter how old you are, you never too old to experiment”
This is not focused only on teaching science, but life! Especially now, we are experimenting wit blended learning!
I stumbled upon this graphic: Blended Learning via Pinterest
I found that what I have been designing my module as is more of a Flex model of learning, and I am okay with this given my current situation (teaching 2 separate classes at the same time, thus the need for modules). Also, in class I feel that we are all at Stage 3 and moving to Stage 4. I researched Flex models of learning deeper, and really like how Clifford Maxwell described blended learning:
In general, a Flex model gives students significant control over their pace and path throughout almost all of a course, which, as VFA points out in its BLU school profile, can be a difficult transition for students who are used to traditional instruction.
Flex programs benefit from a larger, open learning space instead of traditional classroom walls. The value of an oversized classroom space is that it allows for students to flow among multiple formats and for teachers to roam more easily among the students.
Because of the heavy emphasis on student autonomy, the role of a teacher changes in a Flex model. Instead of delivering instruction to whole groups, teachers spend most of their time providing face-to-face tutoring, guidance, and enrichment to supplement online lessons.
I am wondering how you would classify yourself as a blended educator? Why type of an environment would you find you are catering or designing your modules to? If you still unsure, I urge you to skim this article by dreambox learning.
A couple weeks back I happened to hear an op-ed about flexible learning environments delivered on the early show on Newstalk ZB by the stand-in host for the day, Bernadine Oliver-Kirby. I was immediately struck by her ignorance and lack of knowledge. Ignorance of the work of teachers; and lack of knowledge of a subject on which she felt qualified to freely opine. My second thought was the realisation that these foolish comments would appear in the New Zealand Herald as the two media outlets have become ‘NZME’. Indeed, they did appear in press on the 17th Feb 2017.
It’s likely wasted effort to respond to this diatribe—in part why my comments are being made 10 days later. Her implicit teacher bashing aside, the point still needs to be made that those who have the benefit of the media spotlight ought to exercise greater care over their choice of words in relation to anything to do with our children (‘kids’, by the way, Ms. Oliver-Kirby, are baby goats, as I always remind my students). This is so because the parents of those children can be very easily wound up over such topics as education.
For the record, Ms. Oliver-Kirby’s emotive language included: ‘sprawled’; ‘newfangled’; ‘roam free-range’; ‘feral’; ‘erupting numbers’; ‘stepping over bodies’; ‘resembles an airport terminal when the French are on strike’; and ‘these zoos’. This is the kind of language that plays into the hands of other, equally ignorant people, or serves only to confuse and concern those parents who are unfamiliar with changes in school building design. Her use of animal metaphor is troubling, but is one among many ‘cheap shots’ (see Claire Amos on this point).
The argument that ‘open plan learning was tried in the 70s and failed – this will fail too’, is the last refuge of many Jurassic’s one happens to meet along the way. What they, and Ms. Oliver-Kirby, fail to recognise are the significant differences between then and now. These differences include superior building and acoustics standards, the role played by digital technology, the changing nature of teachers and teaching, and especially the radical changes evident in young people.
The chaos of the strike-ridden airport is juxtaposed with the picture of a closed environment that offers “privacy…noise control…[and] optimum learning”. I would suggest that the closed environment of the traditional single-cell also offers a limitation in human resources (one teacher, not several), generally requires the teacher to be stuck to the front in delivery mode (as opposed to allowing multiple forms of teaching and learning), and significantly reduces flexibility (making anything apart from individual and paired work much more challenging to organise).
It would pay Ms. Oliver-Kirby to undertake at least a modicum of research, so that she can address these issues in a more balanced manner. And by ‘balanced’ I do not mean biased in favour of flexible learning environments—critique is to be welcomed. My blog readers need only look at the contents of this site to realise I have engaged critically with some of these ‘newfangled’ ideas. For a recent academic piece, see this article.
I am a people watcher, an observer if you will. But more importantly than that, I am a listener. My students often say to me “how did you hear that”? To which I reply – “Did you forget, I am a mom”? But honestly – I think it is very important to listen to the chatter that happens in school, especially before class begins. It is at this time that I am able to truly find out who my student are and where their interests lie. It is in these conversations that I am consciously observing (sight and sound) what types of learners I have in my room. Some are checking their texts or texting someone, some are reading a book in between classes, some are snapchatting and some are just talking to one another! You see, by observing these individuals, I am able to design meaningful lessons that engage my students in their own learning styles.
Like Logan, I need my class to be kinesthetic, visual and interactive or I get bored…and if I am bored it is guaranteed that my students will be! My classes are guided by Google Slides but embedded within those slides are varying types of media including “games” (Kahoot, mentimeter) for student interaction. I am conscious of the people in my room, and I try to tap into their learning styles during the class.
In this screenshot of one of my googleslides – I have video embedded within text – this hits on my audio learner as well as my visual learner.
I am a science teacher. Some of the concepts that I am teaching about are either too dangerous to expose my students to, too expensive as a field trip, or just too abstract to explain with text alone (think bonding in chemistry – thank you to bozeman science , crash course, Discovery news).
Different media (text, video, picture) all contain a unique experience to the learner. The learner needs to combine the mental integration of the written information along with the type of media that is presented (video, picture) to help enforce the content learned thus creating or building upon a deeper level understanding of the subject knowledge being conveyed. This is especially true when conveying abstract knowledge vs concrete knowledge. Media can relay concrete knowledge in a variety of forms while abstract knowledge is generally relayed through content. But in science, there are very good computer simulations that can help students understand abstract knowledge or knowledge of microscopic processes (bonding of a chemical). The learning of such concepts needs to be structured in such a way that allows for the students to learn and understand the content – depending on the types of learners you have in your classroom, this could be very tightly or loosely arranged.
The power of video helps put a visual to the abstract. The above youtube channels are so well done, why wouldn’t I use them? And honestly, sometimes a good movie trailer is the best hook that I can have to get my students attention. This is how I introduced Environmental Science 20 this semester. They are totally hooked now!
As Bates points out one of the strengths of video is that it is able to “link concrete events and phenomena to abstract principles and vice versa” as well as “demonstrate ways in which abstract principles or concepts developed elsewhere in the course have been applied to real-world problems”.
I completely agree with Andrew, giving students choice in the type of medium the students choose to learn, is giving power in learning to the student. Students have choice in the way they use the media presented to them, they can choose to listen to the screencast (if they learn better being taught in a traditional lecture style) or they can use the notes given and supplemental videos provided.
Not to ignore text, as Ashley points out, audio may be best to learn a language. But as a science teacher, I personally find that video works best for my preferred method of learning. It’s not that I don’t listen to audio, it’s just that some concepts are difficult for me to picture without a visual for reinforcement. BUT, I do have my student listen to snippets of StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson (honestly, how could we not, our class guinea pig is named Tyson, and not after Mike).
As Bates speaks about in his framework for analyzing pedagogical characteristics, I am definitely a connectionist teacher as I try to give as much power to my learners as possible. I also like to have power in how I learn! Therefore, as I reflect on my preferred medium of learning would be video and text as my top two and that is reflective in my own style of teaching. But as Amy notes in her vlog, I really am enjoying having a PLN in an online space via this course and an opportunity to learn from each other.
So to bring this back to my title, don’t be afraid to be a goose in a flock of ducks – do what is best for you and your students. Do you agree?