Friday, May 24, 2013

10 Expectations from Students

As I was watching/ listening to the clip, I was, at the same time reflecting on our current practices; but more on what we set off to achieve in the school. 10 "expectations" were highlighted by the author:
1. Relationships 2. Relevance 3. Time 4. Timing 5. Play 6. Practice 7. Choice 8. Authenticity 9. Challenge 10. Application

They sound very familiar to us, especially in those that hook themselves very nicely with the notion of applied learning!

Here are my thoughts:

1. Relationships - This is the most fundamental link that needs to be established between the teacher and the students - of course, at varying degree. It's the relationship when the teacher gets to know the students better, sometimes to address to their emotional needs, learning needs (especially when they face challenges in the way they understand/ receive information), or to recognise and stretch their potential beyond what's planned for in the classroom. It's also through knowing the students that we sharpen our practices and customise the programme for the students so that they can get the most out of it.

2. Relevance - That's what makes learning meaningful. It's not as easy as we thought of. Often, we 'simplify' the "complexity" so much in our attempt to make the connection between what's to be taught to the real world application. It's a good attempt to make students see the relevance of what they learn to them - to address to the question on "why learn this?", "Learn for what?", "Learn for the sake of exam?". Therefore, I think, while we make the attempt to connect, we need to be mindful, and also to inform our students of the complexity that we have 'removed' when presenting the scenario; of course, if possible, stretch their thinking a bit further to see the connection between the intended concept/ content (to be taught) to others that could be currently beyond their syllabus.

3. Time & 4. Timing - It goes back to 'structures'. It's typical that teachers following the scheme of work to manage the pace the class learns. To cater to the individual needs, especially those who progress at a quicker pace, there should be mechanisms in place to allow these kids to "fly". That's where differentiated learning comes in... Definitely not into the route of doing "more of the same"... I suppose... How to challenge these kids deeper, perhaps; yet keeping their interest and enthusiasm there... so that they don't 'drag' their 'feet' into something that make they get bored... The mechanism has to keep in mind on how to keep their fire of passion continues!

5. Play - This goes back to the 'climate' that's created (or developed over time) for the class - a safe and conducive environment that encourages experimentation? that gives the space to make (some) 'silly' mistakes? It addresses to the psycho-social aspect...

6. Practice - It goes back to... practice makes perfect? Hm... not necessary to the extent of perfection (ok, depends on how we define 'perfection'). I think of mastery... hm... actually, at the more 'preliminary' stage is really about consolidation of learning. How often we actually "rushed" through the topics and expect the students to do "more" practice on their own? Hm... If time is not the "limit"/ constraint, it's through practice - when we observe how they pen down their working and the amount of time they take to pen it down on paper that tells us how well and how much they have understood or learnt. Of course, it calls for 'retention' of knowledge and skills at the end of the day.

7. Choice - How often we give students a choice on how they learn the content/ skills? Customisation? Differentiated Learning? Differentiated strategies for individuals... hm... Food for Thought. How skilful are we, as teachers in doing this? How often can we do this? It's no doubt a tall order if we were to do it for every single lesson. So, how do we balance it? Of course, we should try, as far as possible. In fact, through embracing choice, it helps to broaden students' learning - creating opportunity for them to learn from different perspectives, and widen their repertoire of strategies sometimes.

8. Authenticity  - ties back to #2 Relevance!

9. Challenge - Apart from setting tasks to challenge students beyond what's prescribed in the syllabus, I think, it's about attitude. The mindset that the learners need to have; or turn it the other way round, how do we, as educators, inculcate this mindset in the learners to be self-driven and highly motivated, and find/ create opportunities to challenge themselves to go beyond! of course, as educators, we need to have the firm belief that our students can be stretched.

10. Application - It's about applied learning; it's about making connections, seeing relevance and application in authentic context...

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Tech Forum - Insight & Innovation for Technology Leaders @ Chicago

Chanced upon this forum online (from one of those online subscription) with some sessions that are available via LiveStream (Interesting - for those who aren't able to attend 'physically' but still 'participate' online, at least, to 'attend' some of the pre-identified popular sessions.

Here's one of them, on "Collaboration and the Common Core", which is a 'showcase' of how technology is incorporated into the Common Core curriculum delivery 

techlearning on Broadcast Live Free

The first speaker talked about "Infusing the Arts in Common Core with Creativity" by Carol Broos.
Several pieces of students' work were showcased, e.g. the "Whip Your Hair" project, "Wedding" and "Switch 2". These were original students' work which are pretty interesting; unfortunately, because the rationale/ intended curriculum objective of the activity was not shared clearly, then it came as just an "activity" (that's fun for the kids).
Key takeaways come from the last 2 slides on the advice on "Resources" - the emphasis is on creation. Basically, it's about getting children to create their own stuff, of course, that's where the sense of satisfaction comes; I guess, more importantly, it addresses another concern that many educators - Copyright. These are the pointers:
  • Take your own pictures
  • Compose your own music
  • Create your own movie
  • Draw your own logo
The 2nd presentation focused on projects carried out in a 1-to-1 iPad classroom - Language Arts, presented by a teacher and librarian. Though some of these project ideas seemed familiar, but some interesting ideas generated on how these projects were 'showcased' to a larger audience (i.e. student community). I think a couple of these could be interesting for us to try in our classrooms, too!

I like the part where students write and read their own stories to share. Indeed, this is something which I thought of for the MRL programme, where students can pen down reviews of stories they write and share. That would be interesting and more importantly, a good exercise for the students - to be able to summarise their reading succinctly, which requires them to put in practice their writing skills. The 'additional' idea I gathered from this sharing would be the audio part, which would be pretty nice - allowing one to "Listen on the Move".  Cool, isn't it?

The third team started off with the TPACK framework which is the background for the presentation, and served as a guide on how the projects (shared) are designed and executed.
  • The first one basically tapped on web information, although the presenter highlighted that "QR Code" is the technology used. Hm... I don't quite agree that it's the technology, it's not something that refrain from getting students reading "pages of text" that the presenter shared, but it's just a "productivity tool" that allows one to just scan and be brought to the website directly (without having the need to the key in the URL). Hm... it's more like a sharing on how "QR Code" is being used to save time. 
  • A interdisciplinary project - marrying Spanish & Music
  • Technology enriched lesson with language - handling Informational text - in terms of technology used - A mash of GoogleApps to support online collaboration; and activity is designed such that students take the lead in the creation and how to go about demonstrating their ability to bring in a range of tools (appropriate application) in the course of accomplishing the work. Hm... Hazy in terms of the work carried out in the classroom; but I think it's possible. It's "hazy" probably because the presenter has not quite talk about the "how to".

YouTube has displaced TV: Google’s Schmidt (Today, 20130504)


Lifted from the article:

“I thought that YouTube was like TV, but it isn’t. I was wrong,” said Mr Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s global head of content. “TV is one-way. YouTube talks back.”

Well, I think the key is WHO is using it, and next, whether the WHO knows HOW to HARNESS the features to bring out its POTENTIAL. I think the last part is the most challenging part, yet, it's where the breakthrough comes into the picture.

Well, I'm not talking about the "creation" aspect. If we were to move into "creation", then definitely "Youtube" will come with so much more features and potential that the TV can't provide.

For one who uses it to substitute a "TV", it's no other than a "TV".
However, for those who have been consciously looking at  features that it comes with, e.g. the feedback channel - there are 2 types now, at least, text and voice! I guess there are more to come. Then it's a matter of whether we have make good use of such features, even in our day-in-day-out activities. 

Back to the fundamental rule of operation - things around us behave in the way we "want" (or "make") them behave. So, it goes back to us... what's our MINDSET and OPENNESS, having the courage to take the 'road that's less travelled'.