Research to Practice Lesson

Doing research for my Masters that will lead to exactly how I will teach a class in the spring has be a great experience. Although at the time I am not finished my research I have gathered a bunch a resource that I plan to use to facilitate a class based on computational thinking starting in September. I have organized these resources in one of my favorite tools to use when trying to put multiple ideas on the same content together. Click here to explore this content.

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AP Calc Review

Studying for the AP Calculus exam can be exhausting. Group matching activities where everyone is involved can make them much better. Working hard together to figure it out. Sometimes it help to have multiple minds together to finish something that can seem impossible.

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Wicked in Many Ways

Researching, presenting, and evaluating feedback revels the complexity not only solving the problem of innovation in education, but even defining the problem. The definition of wicked is evil or morally bad in principle or practice or our educational definition of being a problem with no solution. While researching the wicked problem of including innovation as a learning ethic in school, I can see how both of these definitions are both legitimate. Students loose their creativity while in school, but when does this happen and why. The video about CORE was a great way not only to explain the problem to our group, but also to explain the problem to the class. This video could have benefited all if it was watched in the beginning so everyone was on board from the beginning. During the conversation after the last presentation, I was able to see how all wicked problems intertwine.

Discouragement from failure, harsh grading, as well as fear of change are just some of the reasons that innovation does not exist in higher levels of school. In order to encourage innovation in schools, many things need to change. As educators, administrators, and others involved need to learn to accept and embrace change in order to prepare our students better for the future. I was never aware of the materials available to help people deal with symptoms that occur when change happens. You can be trained to be able to deal with change. The change that needs to happen is how classes are organized and how grades are calculate. Teachers need to develop lessons that cause students to thing, play, and create something that they feel proud of. The process should be just as important as the product and should be treated as so. This idea should also be applied to grade calculations. The emphasis on test and quizzes should not be as high as effort and improvement. These solutions will not solve the problem, but they take us a step in the right direction. 

wicked quotes

How smart can we be?

While reading the Anti Education Era by see, I was intrigued by his thoughts. Although sometimes it may feel negative, he does not sugarcoat the problems that many of us ignore. After reading the whole book, the following quote struck me as a wicked problem  in education..

“For some young people, lack of meaningful learning in school can be ameliorated via learning out of school. For all children there are twenty-first-century skills that are, at least today, more often developed out of school that in it. These are skills like the following: ability to engage in collaborative work and collective intelligence where the group is smarter than the smallest person in it; creativity and innovation; ability to deal with complexity and to think abut and solve problems with respect to complex systems; ability to find and marshal evidence and to revise arguments in the face of evidence; the ability to produce with digital media and other technologies and not just consume their content; and the ability to avoid being a victim of social forces and institutions that are creating a more competitive, stressful, and unequal world (Gee, 2013, p. 202).

The skills mentioned are needed essential for our children to be prepared for the future. The world is constantly changing and how it will be in 10 years is a complete mystery. If we do not provided them with the skills for today, they will not be able to use the tools of tomorrow.  

What limitations prevent us from solving big complex problems smartly?

Not understanding how the human brain works is the biggest limitation that we have. The way we teach does not take in to consideration what the brain can and cannot do. Our brains are not programmed to memorize and regurgitate information, so why is this what we expect from our students to do exactly this. Brains are good at relating their thinking and problem solving, they are not good at thinking outside of specific contexts in terms of pure generalities and bare abstractions” (Gee, 2013, p. 40).  We are faced with complex problems every day, but we do not expose our students to complex problems. By gaining more experience, students will not be better at memorization, but will develop skills that matter such as being better problem solvers and critical thinkers.

How can an awareness of these limitations help us to behave more intelligently in the face of overwhelming complexity?

Knowledge of how the brain operates will allow us to no longer see the above as limitations, but more of a way to better structure our teaching and learning. There is no need for people to be experts of individual subjects. With such a global and interconnected world, we need to develop global minds in order to deal with the complex problems we face.

 How can we solve complex problems smartly?

“We have seen that humans can be smart for practical ends when they use the circuit of reflective action (Gee, 2013, p. 159).  By getting help from mentors and becoming a mentor to others, this reflexive circuit can function. As mentioned in the quote above, when in groups, the intelligence of group is better then all members, because it contains information and resources from all of them. People also need to see that our brains and tools only work to their greatest ability when we learn how to use them effectively and create what Gee calls a “synchronized intelligence” (Gee, 2013, p. 171). 

How do these idea connect to Wicked Problems and problems of practice?

We are not computers who can store facts accurately; therefore, we need to focus more on the thought of our students and not their ability to memorize. Our mind can help us make sense of the world through connections but only if we are able to explore and create. “The sorts of physical spaces that lead to creativity tend to be ones where chance encounters can take place, often from people from different unexpected backgrounds (Gee, 2013, p. 193)“ The space could be referred to as a MakerSpace, where people come together as a community to tinker and play. Learning together can help prevent many of the wicked problems we discussed in class such as lack of innovation and failure due to the way some classes and schools are structured.

We know why our schooling system can sometimes fail. Now we need to use what we know and change it. 

Gee, J.P. (2013). The anti-education era: Creating smarter students through digital learning. New York: Palgrave MacMillan

Combining Minds

Powered by emaze Click this link for full presentation.

 

Articles can get their ideas across the first time you read them, but when you try to explain them, nothing comes out. It takes multiple reads to dive deeper into the mindset of authors. The authors of the two articles had very complex thoughts and made me feel they were confused themselves. It took many slow readings, note taking, and mind mapping to compare not only the similarities, but also the differences. A common theme that caught my attention was Rucker’s faking intelligence idea and Kosslyn’s idea of how the internet and technology has become an extension of themselves. We both decided that we wanted to extend on these ideas. The view points of these authors can be interpreted in different ways. My perspective was positive and exciting. I have so many ideas right at my fingertips at all time. I no longer need to wonder, I just Google. Joy’s perspective seemed more negative regarding how technology is effecting us. We no longer feel the need to memorize information and she thought that we should. After trying to compromise on what side they intended, we decided that we could both express our views. The video we played was a great way to not only tie both of these perspectives together but also to express both of our view points.

When starting our presentation, we wanted to be able to use tools that were not already used. Being second to last, this was a difficult task. We chose Emaze from a Google search and were excited to learn how to use it. It was frustrating at times because neither one of us knew the answers when we would encounter problems. I found it interesting that Google Forms was not used in any of the previous presentations. The multiple possibilities with add ons like Flubaroo and the fact that it is so user friendly made it seemed like a great option. I learned about AnswerGarden at the Great 14 conference and decided to introduce it to those in the class that did not attend that session. We used this tool to express how people felt when asked to stand up and use non-dominant hand to write. The results from this survey was extremely interesting to me when I compared their responses to how I feel when I do not have my phone. This proved to me that technology, especially my phone, has become an extension to my life.

answergarden

Rucker, R. (2011). Search and emergence. In J. Brockman (Ed.), Is the Internet changing the way you think? Retrieved from http://edge.org/response-detail/11415

Kosslyn, S. (2011). A small price to pay. In J. Brockman (Ed.), Is the Internet changing the way you think? Retrieved from http://edge.org/response-detail/10844

Number Gaming

A lot of students lack basic skills as high schools students; the challenge is making them engaged in practicing these skills.  The intention of this lesson is to “create an experience that is comfortable, creative, and fun,” which is explained by Martinez and Stager “What’s in a MakerSpace.” Students will play with  the basics of coding needed to create webpages, games, and various other forms of technology that students use everyday as well as review basic math skills.Many of my students spend hours after school playing video games. Using coding to create gaming will be engaging because it is something students are passionate about already.  During this process the students would be able to “create their own learning from beginning to end (Long, 2012).” They will need to construct their game from scratch after exploring and thinking of their possibilities. While playing each other’s games they will need to ask themselves questions about what is happening as well as provide feedback for their peers. They will then present their games to elementary students who are studying this curriculum at the time in order to give them an authentic audience.


 

The steps of the lesson and suggested resources are included in the video below. If you have any questions on what you see, feel free to contact me.

 


 

Materials needed:

Scratch Coding Software

MakeyMakey (optional)

Conductive Material (optional)

Time needed: 4 class periods

1st Day(50 mins)

Explore Tutorials and How To’s (20 mins), Pick a Topic (5 mins), Work on Creating Game (20 mins), Discussion (5 mins)

2nd day (50 mins)

Work on Creating Game (35 mins), Play and Take Notes on Each Other’s Games (15 mins),

3rd Day (50 mins)

Share Feedback with Peers (15 mins), Fix and Finish Games (35 mins)

4th Day (50 mins)

Prepare to Share Game with Elementary Students (10 mins), Deliver and Instruct Elementary Students to Play Game (40 mins)


 

Students will practice the skills they need in disguise while developing skills of interest.  Gaming has the possibility of addressing various topics that could be beneficial. Variations could include creating their own controllers, various game creating software, and multiple representations of their final project.

As a teacher, something to consider when working with this lesson would be knowing  to stay on the sideline and let students work problems out for themselves. Doing this would help them improve communication with peers and other problem solving strategies. Following this lesson, students could also reflect  and evaluate the methods they used.

Final Game

Long, C. (2012) Teach Your Students to Fail Better with Design Thinking, Learning and Leading with Technology, February 2012.

Martinez, S. L., & Stager, G. S. (n.d.). Whats in a MakerSpace – WeAreTeachers. Retrieved July 22, 2014, from http://www.weareteachers.com/hot-topics/special-reports/how-the-maker-movement-is-transforming-education/what-s-in-a-makerspace

Who knew Bláth could be so awesome?

Residing in Galway during the Arts Festival has being a pleasure. Everywhere you turn there are creations in all shapes, sizes, and forms. Although I enjoyed all the art I was able to see, talking with the people behind the scenes and then seeing Bláth made me think about how important art is in education. As in the United States, the economic difficulties across the nation have caused schools to stop funding for the arts, leaving it to the parents to give their children the experience the school used to give. The fact that low income families often do not have the time or the money to be able to provide their children with this enriching experience stands out to me the most. Branar, the director, talked about how important it is for teachers to appreciate art and the issue now has the attention of  the Department of Education in Ireland. Ireland has implanted teacher-artist partnerships to help teachers who are not artist be able to include art in their contents. “Being able to creatively move across multiple disciplines to cross pollinates ideas between domains” (Mishra, Koehler & Henriksen, 20011, p. 24) is an important skill not only for our teachers but also for our students.

The production as well as the performance of Bláth reinforced many of the teaching practices we discussed throughout the year. Children who discuss this play after viewing are able to take ownership of their learning.  Bláth contains minimal language so it does not tell its viewer what is happening, they need to use their imagination. There are just enough lines to tell them what they need to know, but not what they need to think or feel; therefore, each child has the opportunity to see the play from a different view point based on their prior experiences.

The development of Bláth mirrors how we should develop our classroom and how we want our students to develop in our classroom. Their design needs to always be flexible because many times it needs to be changed for each venue. As teachers we are forced many times to tweak our plans to purpose our students and the intentions. If they make a mistake it becomes part of the art. “Errors can be a learning opportunities” (King-Sears, 2009, p. 200) for all just as the errors as teachers and the errors of our students can be used to learn together. They see how it works and play around to make it better. This reminds me of the maker movement and the idea of exploring until we succeed.

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Teaching has many difficult moments especially if you are trying to be successful in what you do. I share the mentality of the director, If it’s hard then it’s right and we should do it.

King-Sears, M. (2009). Universal design for learning: Technology and pedagogy. Learning Disability Quarterly, 32(4), 199-201. KingSears-2009-UDL&Tech.pdf

Mishra, P., Koehler, M., & Henriksen, D. (2011). The Seven Trans-Disciplinary Habits of Mind: Extending TPACK Framework Towards 21st Century Learning. Educational TechnologyMarch-April, 22-28. Retrieved July 21, 2014, from http://punya.educ.msu.edu/publications/mishra-koehler-henriksen2011.pdf
 

Looking at the Past, Thinking about the Future

I was impacted by the Computer and Communication Museum in regards to the history of how fast technology has come in such a short time. I never thought a computer that I used in during my schooling would be featured in a museum about historic technology as something that is obsolete. Technology is rapidly changing and we never know what lies ahead. Devices that were featured on The Jetsons were thought to be impossible, but have lead to many inventions that have been made a reality. Technology has lead to so many opportunities, and will lead to many opportunities that will exist in the future. I will complain less about the copier at my school breaking down now that I see what was once used to make copies in education.

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Technology is a work of art and you can see this how this view existed by the signature that are carved in the inside of one of the first apple computers. It is an art when you are involved in a process of designing and creating wonderful things that we never thought were possible. Many of our students are interested in technology and would then be interested in technology as an art in their classrooms. Being able to use technology efficiently in the classroom will keep the students engages and insure that they are getting many valuable lessons out of their education.

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Being able to create art in the classroom using technology is also a great example of how we can teach our students the 21st century skills that they need. Advances in technology are hard to keep up with when there are so many other things going on in life, but our adolescents always seem to know the next hottest gadget. We need to create lessons that appeal to our students the same way apple creates products that appeal to their customers. Just as Brendan Smith is creating an interactive museum, we should create interactive classrooms that inspire and engage.  Allowing students to create, design, and play with new technology is one way to make innovation happen in the classroom. The change in technology has caused for a change in skills that are need. “When innovative people play with things, or concepts, or processes, they may open doors to new ways of thinking via unexpected breakthroughs”  (Mishra, Koehler & Henriksen, 20011, p. 26). Thinking about how this museum could be better designed, I was amazed at some of the new technology at museums. Museum of Science and Technology of Islam in Saudi Arabia, Exploratorium, and Imaginosity as well as many others amazed me. This again proves the point that we do not know where we are going to be in the future or what technology is going to exist when we get there. This is why we need to train our students with 21st century skill. Who knows? One day they could join the list of people who became very successful in their 20’s by developing a major breakthrough in technology.

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Mishra, P., Koehler, M., & Henriksen, D. (2011). The Seven Trans-Disciplinary Habits of Mind: Extending TPACK Framework Towards 21st Century Learning. Educational TechnologyMarch-April, 22-28. Retrieved July 21, 2014, from http://punya.educ.msu.edu/publications/mishra-koehler-henriksen2011.pdf

Schools are Starting to Flip!

Using video in the classroom could be beneficial to all if not most students in different ways including but not limited to students learning from videos produced by the teacher and students creating video themselves for a project or activity. Technology is everywhere in schools including in every students hand, pocket, or book bag. Videos could be used to increase their knowledge of the devices they use every day with more beneficial material. I believe that students would be more likely to enjoy and complete school work if it involved a device they barely ever put down. As Mishra and Koehler (2009) stated in Too Cool for School? No Way!, “creative repurposing is important because most technologies that teachers use typically have not been designed for educational purposes.” There are various ways that teachers could use videos to be beneficial to their students which would not take much time to produce. With a little creativity, teachers can transform their classrooms. 

Teachers could create videos to benefit students in different ways. For example, teachers could create videos for their students to watch at home. The idea of the flipped classroom would work perfectly in my math classroom because it would allow me to give more face to face support while the students were in front of me. Some or most of their instruction would be done at home the night before giving them more time to practice, collaborate, and ask questions on material they did not understand while they attend class the next day. This would allow students to work at their own learning pace. Less time would be spent answering questions about homework and not being able to cover material meaning there would be more meaningful work time. In the article Flipping the Script in K12, Finkel (2012) stated that using flipped classrooms “didn’t affect test scores either way but did enable teachers to cover an additional two weeks of material on average.” Being able to cover more material means that students will be moving on to the next level more prepared for what is to come. Another way that students could use videos would be to provide additional resources to help students who were struggling without the need for extra time in school. Another benefit to these videos that is that “Students—including special education students—having difficulty with concepts can pause and rewind the videos to give them extra time.”(Finkel, 2012) Students who are struggling will be able to watch the videos as many times as they want until they feel they have mastered the material. Finally, videos could be given to substitutes to use when you are unable to be in the classroom. Many teachers look at days that the substitutes are in as wasted days of instruction. Teachers could record their instruction for the substitute to play; therefore, the students will not lose instructional time. Teachers could use any of these methods, or some of them, in order to benefit their students.

Videos could also be used and created by students for activity and projects. Being able to produce and edit videos is an important tool for students to use and know how to use properly. Assigning projects for them to present using video and also to create portfolios using video would allow them to learn a new tool that they could use in the future. Just hitting play on a screen in front of their peers might be easier than getting in front of the class and talking to their peers. Many students do not realize that they have the software to be able to create and edit videos containing the memories they capture using the devices they have with they every day. Allowing students to see the potential of their devices for more than just social media and texting will help in the long run.

Below is a video I created for my students to watch on their own about taking notes. I was never an effective note taker until forced in college. I wish someone before this time would have giving me tips and advice on the best way to do it. I created this video to help by students to become better note takers not only in my class, but in any class that requires them to take notes. This could also help them for their future schooling or job that requires then to right down key points. I can refer back to this video when students do not know why they need to take notes or do not know what they need to study for the test. 

Finkel, E. (2012). Flipping the script in K-12. District Administration. Retrieved from http://www.districtadministration.com/article/flipping-script-k12

Koehler, M.J., & Mishra, P. (2009). Too cool for school? No way! Learning and leading with technology.

Everyone can teach?

While reading and discussing the difference between experts in content and being able to successfully deliver content to students, I was able to relate to my informal professional career.  Mathematics was always a concept that I expressed passion and interest. I excelled past my peers quickly; consequently, I became their tutor when they were struggling. That job continues today with a friend that is taking college mathematics. As a teacher, it is not enough to know what you are teaching; it is also just as important to know how to teach that subject matter. This requires you to be an expert in contents as well as pedagogical skills. As a Mathematics Education major, not only did I take many upper lever math courses, but I also took courses in education to learn how to effectively teach mathematics.

Before leaving for Ireland, my friend asked me what she could do to help herself while I was gone. She could not understand why she understood me and not her professor. I explained that her professor was not taught how to teach. Mathematics professors are many times experts in the field of mathematics which does not guarantee that they are capable of helping others to learn it.  When professors are asked a question, many times they quickly complete the problem without explanation. Simply completing a problem does not give students the understanding they need to be able to do it on their own. I explained to her that her professor is an expert in math and I have no doubt he would be able to effectively complete any mathematical problem given to him, but that does not mean he is able to relate these ideas to those who are not experts.  As the writers of How People Learn expressed, “Experts have not only acquired knowledge, but are also good at retrieving the knowledge that is relevant to a particular task.” (2000, p. 43) Having no pedagogical skills, these experts are unable to transfer the content to make it accessible to students. (Koehler & Mishra, 2009, p. 15) According to the authors of “How People Learn,” experts do not possess knowledge on “typical difficulties that students encounter as they attempt to learn about a set of topics; typical paths students must traverse in order to achieve understanding, and sets of potential strategies for helping students overcome the difficulties that they encounter” (2000, p. 45).

So what does it take to be an effective teacher?  Is it true that everyone can teach effectively? In my opinion, the answer to the second question is no. As stated in “Too Cool for School? No Way!” by the authors, “Teachers have specialized knowledge that sets them apart from other professions.”  (Koehler & Mishra, 2009, p. 15) The key to being effective is to connect this specialized knowledge with content knowledge. Pedagogical content knowledge is essential.  I agree that it is easy to get in from of a classroom, read out of a book, and give tests. “In the absence of pedagogical content knowledge, teachers often rely on textbook publishers for decisions about how to best organize subjects for students” (Bransford, Brown, Cocking, Donovan, & Pellegrino, 2000, p.45) .Teaching requires a lot of research, effort, and revising in order to be successful and remembered in the classroom. Think back you, you remember who was your favorite teacher and who you dreaded? We have all had effective teachers, and we have all had teachers that were not as effective. Not every teacher has the qualities to be a terrific teacher. Knowledge about content and pedagogy combined with the love to teach creates amazing teachers. So many people I have meet so far in the MAET program can list the ups and down of teaching, but still choose to teach because it is their passion. An effective teacher needs to be able to think outside the box and also force their students to do the same. Teachers need to be creative and adaptive in their lessons. Experts are only able to deliver the facts, they are unable to adapt to the needs of their students.

Bransford, J., Brown, A.L. & Cocking, R. R. (Eds.), How people learn: Brain, mind, experience and school (pp. 1-78). Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Retrieved from http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309070368

Koehler, M.J., & Mishra, P. (2009). Too cool for school? No way! Learning and leading with technology. Retrieved from http://punya.educ.msu.edu/publications/mishra-koehler-l&l-2009.pdf