Archive for the “Best Practice” Category
March 22, 2013
Some describe four ”Cs” of essential skills for this 21st century – traits such as: Critical thinking, Collaboration, Communication, and Creativity.
Some list five or six ”Cs.” Five: Creativity, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Communication, and Character. Six: the list above plus cultural competency.
Other people and organizations talk about seven ”Cs.” Here is one version of seven “Cs”:
- Continual Learning
All of those C-words are great. Definitely essential.
And I believe there is an underlying “C” that provides the necessary foundation for student learners to develop all of the above C traits.
Control in the sense of ownership, investment and engagement, degree of agency and autonomy. Control to exercise choice. Control to pursue curiosity.
For student learners to develop deep degrees of communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, cross-cultural competency, computational capacity, etc., don’t we need to facilitate them having more control over their learning?
Less sitting and getting. More choosing and doing.
Don’t we know at least that much about motivation, relevancy, cognitive commitment, heartfelt conviction, grit, and perseverence?
If adults migrated their traditional varieties of control (content, curricular, lesson plans, demonstration, delivery, etc.) to reflect more coaching, then space and time and opportunity could be created for student learners to be more in control.
I am reminded of sports and arts. When student learners play a sport, they are more in control over what they do on the court, on the field, in the water, or on the course. When musicians and visual artists engage in their activities, there is also much doing – high degrees of control. Coaches and directors orchestrate and advise. But the athletes and players are much more in control than is the case with our stereotypical classrooms and curricula.
I am more and more convinced that a single “C” – CONTROL – may prove the bedrock for the development of all those other “Cs.” For in the giving of control, I believe we provide student learners with more opportunities to practice the skills organically and authentically than if we assign them work organized into the seven “Cs.” Through the autonomy of control – motivated by the control of choice – we naturally invest ourselves in those seven “Cs.” When we feel in control, we learn to take control, and we develop our capacities to maintain good control.
What does offering more control to student learners look like? Below I provide some examples – patches to a quilt of sorts. My examples are by no means exhaustive. But I think seeing examples helps.
I could continue this list indefinitely. There are virtually countless examples. What examples would you add?
But are there many schools – whole schools – where a core tenet of the school’s purpose, operations, and daily practices allow the students to be the primary controllers of their learning?
This morning, I asked my eight-year old son, “PJ, what are you looking forward to in school today?”
His first reply: “I don’t know dad. The teachers are in control and decide what we’re going to do and learn today. I won’t know until I get there.”
What if school taught students how to learn from a position of personal and interpersonal control? What if school remodeled and renovated based on this premise of student “locus of control?”
What if we controlled kids less and let kids control more of their learning?
My hypothesis: those children would develop all of those “Cs” more quickly, deeply, and meaningfully.
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With the new school year beginning in Australia, many teachers will be introducing blogging into their classrooms.
Some teachers will be continuing an established blogging program with a new cohort of students, while others will be introducing blogging for the first time.
If you’re totally new to blogging you may like to check out Five Steps to Starting Your Class Blog. If you’re in a Victorian DEECD or CEO school, check out Getting Started with Global2.
Here are some tips based on my own experience of how to successfully integrate blogging into your classroom:
- Start small: don’t expect to know everything at once and avoid comparing your blog to more established classroom blogs. Begin with simple posts that include text and images. As you build your skills and confidence, you might begin embedding web 2.0 tools.
- Integrate: don’t make blogging an add-on. Integrate mathematics, literacy and other subjects into blog posts and comments. Make blogging part of your literacy block or homework schedule. Find more advice on integrating blogging into your classroom curriculumhere.
- Be regular: a haphazard blogging program isn’t going to provide as many benefits as a predictably regular one. Set yourself goals (such as publishing one new post every week) and routines (like spending the first 10 minutes of each day reading the students’ blog comments).
- Start local before global: I recommend building teacher and student skills through a class blog before you begin to collaborate globally with other blogging classes. The students will get more out of global collaboration if they have established the basic skills around commenting, internet safety, etiquette etc.
- Begin with a class blog: If you plan to use student blogs in your class, whether students will be earning blogs or simply assigned a blog, I strongly recommend starting with a class blog. This allows the children to build those essential blogging skills that they can transfer to their own blog.
- Teach quality commenting: I always start the year by teaching the students about quality commenting. Initially, I write all the posts and the students’ role is to comment. I have found explicit teaching + high expectations + regular feedback + authentic motivation = high quality writing. In my class, our blogging program has a strong literacy focus.
- Integrate internet safety: Once you have established your blogging guidelines and made sure all parents and students are aware of them, use blogging as an authentic way to teach about internet safety. Blogging is an excellent way for students to learn about being responsible members of an online community.
- Collaborate: find a buddy to learn with, either someone at your school or another educator online. Don’t be afraid to learn with your students; you don’t have to be the expert. You might even set up a joint blog with your whole grade level, or with another class. Sharing the workload can make blogging easier and more enjoyable.
- Get parents involved: Parent involvement cannot be left to chance. At the start of the year, focus on educating the parents about blogging via a parent night, family blogging afternoon,handouts, emails etc. Continue to educate and encourage parents to become part of your classroom blogging community throughout the year.
- Keep going: it is easy to set up a blog but maintaining it requires work. Keep focussing on your goals and persevere. You will soon see your students enjoying many benefits from your blogging program!
What other tips could you offer?
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Annotating tools are a must have for every teacher. I personally can’t imagine myself surfing online with no web tools to help me annotate, highlight, clip, and share parts or segments of the web content I find interesting. Most of the browsers nowadays particularly Chrome and Firefox have specific extensions for this purpose. All you need to do is install one of them and there you go, with one click you can master the information you read.
Advantages of the use of annotation tools in education
Educause (2009) describes the following advantages of using annotation tools in education:
1.The activity of adding reflections move students from being passive consumers of information to active readers engaged in scholarly discussions.
2.Collaborative annotation tools offer new ways for students to work collaboratively to find and evaluate information, share ideas, and create knowledge.
3.Collaborative annotation tools facilitate the incremental growth of information as users review others’ thoughts on a resource before adding their own. By providing the ability to designate who is allowed access to collections of resources, these tools reinforce the character of a cohesive group.
4.Because they are web-based, collaborative annotation applications can be made available to a global community, inviting experts in academic disciplines to provide valuable insight on students’ efforts.
5.As students collectively annotate, organize, and add value to existing resources, they learn how to sift, evaluate, and contribute. When instructors use these tools over time, student efforts might constitute an archive or library of remarks so that subsequent classes can benefit from the observations of their predecessors.
Educational uses of Annotating Tools
Collaborative annotation tools are a social starting place for immersing students in the scholarly practice of research and annotation, while encouraging them to share information and build on the work of others in a dynamic community of thought. With tools like Diigo,students might have the opportunity to collaborate on the interpretation of resources in ways not possible inside a classroom or with printed materials that should not be written in, such as library books. In addition, while scholars have found in the web an unparalleled information resource, using it effectively depends on tools that help organize the data and simplify the process of locating resources when they are needed. These tools empower users, giving them the capability of commentary and reflection rather than restricting it to authors and website creators. Finally, academics across disciplines and institutions value these tools and the accumulated observations of instructors, experts, and peers that they facilitate (Educause 2009
This my favorite tool. I use it both to annotate , collect, and highlight content I find online. It also has apps for both Android and iOS. I highly recommend this web tool .
Webnotes allows you to highlight and add notes to both web pages and PDFs. You can also use it to organize your bookmarks and share them with others.
3- Awesome Screenshot
This is an extension I use on Chrome to capture screenshots and annotate them bu adding arrows and text boxes.
This is a great research tool . You can use it to save your bookmarks and just like the previous tools, it lets you annotate and add notes to your web pages.
This is a cool web tool that lets you take a snapshot of any webpage and add note to it before sharing it with others.
Mark.up lets you draw on any webpage with a variety of tools to express your thoughts, make a point or to just simply edit.
7- Screen Draw
This is an extension for Firefox users. Screen Draw lets you draw or type text over the top of any page in any colour or size and then save it to png or jpeg.
8- Draw Here
Use the Draw Here bookmarklet to draw on top of web pages while you are browsing the web. If you save your drawings, other Draw Here users will then be able to see your drawings when they go to the same page.
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blog post by PJ Caposey, author of Building a Culture of Support: Strategies for School Leaders, publishing in November 2012
In leadership circles, we often talk about the desire to work toward consensus within our organizations. The concept of working together as a group to reach a decision that everybody can support sounds like Leadership 101—but is it? Is it possible that some of what has stalled progress for many schools is commitment to consensus above all else? Could the compulsion to reach common ground actually be halting educational progress?
Imagine this scenario—there are five teachers in a departmental meeting discussing curriculum alignment and modifications. Teacher A wants to teach eight units and Teacher B wants to teach six. The other teachers do not voice an opinion either way. Within 20 minutes the group decides to teach seven units, and they move forward. Consensus was reached, and everybody left the meeting with high spirits and relationships intact.
If the end in mind was for the department to agree upon what would be taught—the meeting accomplished its goal. If the end in mind was to work collaboratively together to ensure that the best possible product was put in place for student consumption—this meeting may well have been a failure.
“So, are you saying as a leader you should not seek consensus?”
No—but before being content with consensus, a leader must work to accomplish several things first:
Promote Student-Centered Conversation
Seeking consensus can often become an adult-centered proposition. In many cases, meetings that involve adults working toward consensus are dictated by the adult desire to preserve what they value. That may be a particular unit of study, job consistency, relationships with their colleagues, or any other of a myriad of reasons. Whatever the reason—if it is not strictly what is best for students and what supports the mission and vision of the school, it is simply not the right reason. In contrast, providing focus as to the global purpose and the ‘why’ for each meeting promotes student-centered conversation.
As much as the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are promoting argumentative literacy—so should you as a leader. Collaboration is a learned skill—many educators need a refresher course in order to master it. A collaborative culture exudes trust, willingness to engage or participate, and the willingness to listen to ideas counter to yours without taking them personally. This is extraordinarily difficult, since teaching is so personal. In order to promote a collaborative culture and to keep interactions professional, it is often necessary to create meeting norms.
Create Meeting Norms
Norms are designed to influence behavior and allow for greater results. It is important, however, that the list of norms does not become so exhaustive that it stifles creativity. It is also of the utmost importance that if norms are established, they are monitored and observed. Norms for effective meetings need not be a long, cumbersome list. Below is a list of norms to support student-centered, collaborative meetings that will lead to a valuable consensus:
- Begin and end on time.
- State the purpose of the meeting and stick to that purpose.
- Every member present must participate at some point in each meeting.
- All commentary and suggestions are vetted by asking, “Is this a student-centered manner of moving forward?”
- Disagreements are professional, not personal, and are to remain that way.
- If the meeting results in an action item, it is to be collaboratively agreed to (via consensus) and supported with fidelity.
If Necessary, Mold Consensus
Leadership must remain adaptive. As the world around us (along with the educational context) changes, it may become necessary for the leader to not only facilitate a collaborative and supportive culture that will lead to positive decisions being made, but also have many conversations, provide contextual background, and occasionally teach team members before entering into a consensus-seeking conversation.
As a school leader, it is not enough to seek consensus—you must build a culture that welcomes collaboration and remains student-centered. Occasionally, you also must mold consensus. Moving forward with collective support of the school’s vision allows for far greater and more impactful school improvement efforts. Thus, gaining consensus is extremely important for a school leader—but only when that consensus was formed after true collaboration and with a focus on students first.
Copyright © 2012 Education World
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In a personalized learning environment, teacher and student roles change and technology plays a major role in supporting a personalized approach to learning.
“Personalized learning, by whatever name, is a central design principle for a transformed education system
.” – Bordeaux, J.
The term “Personalized Learning” is a buzz word educators use as an alternative to “one size fits all” instruction. This message is confusing, because it is used in conjunction with differentiation and individualization. The U.S. Department of Education defined the terms; personalization, differentiation, and individualization in the 2010 Education Technology Plan
which are abbreviated here:
- Individualization refers to instruction that is paced to the learning needs of different learners.
- Differentiation refers to instruction that is tailored to the learning preferences of different learners.
- Personalization refers to instruction that is paced to learning needs, tailored to learning preferences, and tailored to the specific interests of different learners.
The definitions the plan described focused only on instruction — not on learning. These definitions motivated me to lead you to a chart created by that explains Personalization vs Differentiation vs Individualization and compares these terms in detail as it relates to the teachers’ and learners’ roles.
Personalized learning starts with the learner because each student is unique and learns in different ways. Learning needs to be personalized to ensure all students meet their fullest potential. Personalized learning means learners…
● know how they learn best.
● are co-designers of the curriculum and the learning environment.
● have flexible learning anytime and anywhere.
● have a voice in and choice about their learning.
● have quality teachers who guide their learning.
● use a competency-based model to demonstrate mastery.
● self-direct their learning.
● design their own learning path.
● are more motivated and engaged in the learning process.
Personalizing learning with technology means anyone can be a learner. How about changing the label of “student” to “learner?” A student is someone in a classroom. A learner implies anyone learning anytime and anywhere. Technology plays a different role around these three terms. In the section below from the chart, learners support their learning using technology in different capacities.
How do learners support their learning?
learner selects appropriate technology and resources to support their learning
technology and resources are selected to support the learning needs of groups of learner
technology and resources are selected to support the learning needs of an individual learner
learners build a network of peers, experts, teachers, and paraprofessionals to guide and support their learning
learners are reliant on the guidance of teachers to support their learning
learners are dependent on individual teachers or para-professionals to support their learning
In an individualized learning environment
, technology tools and resources are selected by the teacher and are sometimes recommended by an evaluator, special education professional or consultant. The technology tools could include specialized software and/or hardware that supports the specific IEP goals agreed to by the IEP Team. In the best cases, teachers learn how to use theses specialized tools so that they can instruct students in the use of these tools to support their learning. If these tools are used consistently, the learner then adopts them as part of their toolkit.
In an differentiated learning environment, the teacher would select the technologies and resources for the groups of learners based upon the activities or products that are included in the lesson.
In a personalized learning environment, learners would have access to a set of technologies including apps that would support their learning. In addition, they would have the skills with these technologies so that they could self select them to support any learning task, whether at a school or home. ICT (Information and Communication Technology) literacy would be an essential skill in a personalized learning environment.
So what does teaching and learning look like when you personalize learning?
In a personalized learning environment, learners understand how they learn best. To do this effectively, an adapted version of the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Class Learner Profile tool
is used to help them share with their teachers how they like to acquire information, express what they know and what ways they like to engage with the content.
Technology is a crucial part of a universally designed environment where all learners achieve their fullest potential. It creates opportunities for learners to use, adapt, and contribute to content. It also gives them a voice in what they are learning and a choice in how they demonstrate evidence of their learning.
In this type of environment, teachers are valued, prepared, and supported to meet the needs of all learners. Roles change for teachers and learners. Learners own and drive their learning based on their passions and aspirations. Teachers as personal learning guides use technology to support each learner. Technology is ubiquitous, transparent, and mobile. Learning happens anywhere at anytime.
How do we change our learning environments?
This is the time to transform our educational system so we can compete and contribute to the global economy and workforce. Innovations in technology are driving this change, yet, technology cannot replace teachers. Technology is changing teaching and learning now, but a personalized learning environment starts with the learner and how they learn best. Just imagine any learner achieving to their best of their abilities and following their passions and aspirations. Teachers as learning guides will be more important than ever as learners venture along their personal learning journey.
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My daughter has been taking French in school since Grade 6. She is now 23, lives in Paris and struggles daily with a deep embarrassment of her French language skill. Her teachers were exceptional throughout and her effort strong. Maybe if she had a “hook” that got her practicing everyday …. and one that she could take with her.
This blog gets readers from around the the world. A lot of them are teachers of ESL/EFL/ELL and teach or know foreign languages. This posting is dedicated to those teachers of foreign languages, as I hope these sites will be of some benefit to them.
- Duolingo - An interesting site that allows users to translate text from the web. Sentences are given to users at their own learning pace and Duolingo supplies words with images to reinforce learning.
- Imendi - A nice site to learn eight foreign languages through 12 lessons using flash card style games.
- Instreami - An innovative site for learning a language through the use of digital video.
- Learn a Language - A great site for learning a variety of languages through the use of online games, activities, and more.
- Lingt Classroom - A great site with educational portal that allows teachers to create voice-based assignments.
- Lyrics Gap - Fun site for learning a language by filling in the missing words of a song. Users can even create their own exercises by selecting what word to be omitted and then sharing a link.
- Memrise - A good site for learning a variety of subjects, including foreign languages, through an innovative flash card system.
- Nabber - A collaborative site that allows user to search for a word or term and find translations and suggestions left by others.
- Nulu Languages - An excellent site for learning a foreign language through online translations of current events and use of flashcards. Has an educational portal for student tracking.
- Word Steps - A great way to learn foreign language words by creating words list with images and audio. Words Steps also has a mobile app, ideal for learning on the go.
cross-posted at http://cyber-kap.blogspot.com
*This list is in alphabetical order.
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“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important.” ~ Bill Gates
I have been integrating technology with students since 1997. I remember some of the first technologies I used with students were a TV/VCR, cassette recorders, cameras, polaroids, large video cameras, large desktop computers, microscopes, telescopes, the Internet, a transparency projector, and a video projector. Now I use iPads, mobile phones, iPods, digital cameras, and still the Internet. I was fortunate to start off my official teacher training at a hands-on science and history museum. We had access to some pretty cool tools like a green screen studio (kids could report the weather and be recorded like a professional), state of the art telescopes, and video microscopes. Lessons were taught in and around the museum so it was also one of the best learning environments. I remember being so new to teaching and still in college. My classes ranged from 10 to 50 depending on if it was a camp-in or summer long museum program. We had to develop the curriculum for those 3 months of classes each year and had the kids 8 hours a day. My director always reminded us to make it hands-on and related to the real world. The idea was to get students to see that history and science surrounded them. I still use a lot of this training now when I integrate technology. I believe the students should be moving around as much as possible and using the technology to discover the world around them. I also believe they should produce, create, problem-solve, and think critically with technology. I like to get them working in pairs or groups and also collaborating with their peers worldwide. Mostly, we also have fun! My motto has always been that if students leave my classroom thinking learning is fun then I have given them the desire to be continuous learners. In my opinion, too many schools make learning boring, tedious, and difficult for learners.
Maybe you’re new to integrating technology or just need a few pointers. I know that most teachers were not blessed with the technology training I received. I am posting a few tips to help you out this year that I found while reading posts from my Personal/Passionate Learning Network (PLN). I hope these tips help inspire you! And one of the best things I can recommend to help you successfully integrate technology, is to get connected. Begin to develop your own PLN by interacting with educators on Social Media.
More Tips & 20+ Resources
Beyond the first tip of connecting online and learning from other educators, I offer the following tips from my PLN, which are in no particular order:
Tip: Assess if you need to use the technology. This flow chart created by Sue Lyon Jones will be very helpful.
Tip: Have a back-up plan in case the Internet doesn’t work. In this post, Naomi, a teacher from Israel shares 10 ways she uses a computer with no Internet connection.
Tip: Get ideas from other teachers. Usually a teacher who submits a lesson plan or idea online has already went through the mistakes and evaluated if the lesson worked. You can find several lesson plans for various technology tools at Ideas to Inspire. Just click on the tool and you will be led to various presentations! Below this are Tom Barrett’s famous Interesting Ways to Use presentations that have various ideas on how to use a tool submitted by teachers worldwide.
Tom Barrett’s Interesting Ways
Tip: Make sure the technology supports higher order thinking skills and learning objectives. Kelly Tenkely and others have created their versions of Digital Blooms Taxonomy to help you see which free tools are out there that support various tasks.
Kelly’s Peacock Digital Blooms
Tip: Determine which is the best technology that will support that lesson. In this post, TJ Houston tells us how to use EdShelf to choose the right Edtech tool!
Tip: Familiarize yourself with the skills and pedagogy behind teaching with technology.
Robin Good’s fantastic post, Teaching Skills: What 21st Century Educators Need To Learn To Survive
New Pedagogies for the Digital Age is a presentation by Steve Wheeler that walks you through effectively technology integration. It covers pedagogy, what students should be doing with the technology, and highlights how the classroom environment should reflect this learning.
Tip: Prepare, get the knowledge, and reflect! In this post, Nicky Hockly shares 8 key questions to ask yourself when integrating technology. Below that is a presentation created by various teachers providing 25 Techy Tips for Not so Techy Teachers.
25 Techy Tips for Not so Techy Teachers
Tip: Avoid the pitfalls! In this post, Jerry Swiatek shares 10 mistakes teachers make when integrating technology.
Tip: Prepare the lesson plan with the technology you are going to use. Clif Mims shares several lesson plan templates to use when integrating technology
Tip: Have fun with it! Create your own holiday greetings or send your creations to family members. This way you learn the tool and get to have fun as well! The Nerdy Teacher has several fun technology integration posts in a series called, “Everything I Learned About Technology Integration, I Learned From..” and he includes StarWars, 80′s Movies and more!
Tip: Involve the community in your technology integration. If parents are using various technology to get information about the school then it may become more normalized. It’s a good way to ease parents and students into using technology. Below is an excellent example of how Burlington High School uses various social media to communicate with parents and the community.
Tip: Have your students discover how to use a tool, then teach the class or school. This idea comes from Jerry Swiatek who had his students do this in an event he hosts at his school called StudentCon. Below is a video of the event. Please begin at 17min 45 seconds so you can see the student presentation.Sorry for any pop-ups from Ustream.
Video streaming by Ustream
Video streaming by Ustream
Tip: If you like a certain tool, then get to know that tool. There are many sites that will help you use various tools and give you tutorials. I have listed some more resources below.
- My Prezi on Effective Technology Integration
- My Pearl Tree Bookmarks for Integrating Technology Effectively covers webtools training, getting parents on board, pedagogy, problem-solving technology hiccups and so much more!
- In the Teacher Reboot Camp Effective Technology Integration category you will find 100+ posts with tons of resources and tips!
- View my SlideShare Presentations that provide various tips, ideas, and more for using various technologies.
- Every Friday I give a free webinar! Over 100 are archived and free to use and share with your staff.
- The Horizon K-12 Report- This is a free ebook of various technology trends and examples of how they are employed in schools worldwide. I was happy to be one of the collaborators of this project!
- 21 Things for 21st Century Teachers- walks you through virtual sessions and covers everything you need to know to integrate technology effectively. You will learn about teaching digital citizenship, AUPs, various web tools, and so much more!
- Terry Freedman has created a free collaborative ebook of teacher projects, The Amazing Web 2.0 Projects Book
- The 23 Things Wiki- walks you through using various webtools and how to use them.
- The EdOrigami Wiki provides various pdf starter sheets to walk you through lessons with various webtools.
- Sheldon’s Workshop Wiki has various tutorials and lesson ideas for webtools.
- Teacher Training Videos by Russell Stannard
- Learn it in 5! Learn a tool by watching a 5min how to video! by Mark Barnes
- Under 10 Minutes- how to video tutorials
- Woopid- Another video tutorial site for learning webtools!
- Classroom Tools has various generators, ideas, tutorials and more. These were programmed and created by a great educator, Russel Tarr!
- Technology Tidbits- David Kapular has various presentations, ebooks, and posts about various Web 2.0 tools! Be sure to check the sidebar!
- Larry Ferlazzo has over 900 best lists he has posted that highlight the best webtools for students and teachers to do various things.
- Free Tech 4 Teachers- Richard Byrnes reviews various sites daily, shares free ebooks, presentations and more!
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A few teachers in West Hartford have been dabbling in the flipped classroom, all finding different levels of success and challenges. The biggest challenge to date is finding a vehicle for the “flip”. Someplace secure, that can hold large videos and allow quizzes and comments. A blog, a Google site…. some are having issues with the size of their video uploads. Here is an article that will help level the playing the field for those who are not “in the know”.
For nearly 20 years, high school chemistry teacher Jonathan Bergmann would teach a lesson in class, help students after school and give them standard homework assignments. He was good enough to win a teacher award. But seven years ago, he and Aaron Sams, another teacher at Woodland Park High School in Colorado, decided to do something different.The initial impetus was reducing the time kids spend with teachers after school. The result has been a total rethinking of how classrooms operate, all based on a question every teacher should be asking: “What is the best use of our face-to-face class time?” The answer for Bergmann: turning his class upside down.
Today, the 48-year-old helps teachers around the world “flip” their classrooms. Last week, he was at Harvard Law School talking about the virtues of flipping. A book he and Sams wrote, “Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day,” is coming out in June, and Bergmann is planning the fifth annual conference on Flipped Learning this summer. He and Sams also are launching a nonprofit organization to train teachers in the concept. He is now the lead technology facilitator for the Joseph Sears School in Kenilworth, Ill.
Here are excerpts of conversations I had with Bergmann on the phone and by e-mail:
Q. What exactly is a flipped classroom?
In the simplest form, basically, it’s this: What’s normally done in class, the direct instruction piece, the lecture, is done now at home with videos. And in class, you, the teacher, help students as they do what they would normally do at home.
So it’s homework in school and lesson at home?
When you are stuck in the old model, kids would go home and do one of three things. If they didn’t understand what they were supposed to have learned in school, they gave up, called a friend or cheated. In the flipped classroom, the teacher is there to help with the instruction piece, the learning, while the lecture is done at home.
Tell me about the videos.
Aaron Sams and I decided to start making videos that we could give kids to take home so they wouldn’t have to spend so much time after school getting help. Our assistant superintendent knew we were doing this with the videos — we called them vodcasts — and he told us, “My daughter is at college and loves podcasts. She said, ‘I don’t have to go to class anymore.’ ” So we had an aha moment. What is the value of class time?
The access issue is big. How did you do it?
We had about 160 kids taking chemistry class, and 30 had no [computer] access. We burned DVDs, handed them out and said, “Push play.” We also burned them onto flash drives. A lot of kids had computers but no Internet access.
So what was the next iteration?
The second iteration was the “flipped mastery” model. We realized that the kids had improved on the tests we gave them. The kids were better by one standard deviation, which is a lot. We were like, “Wow.” Then we realized we were still unsatisfied with our interactions with kids. We wanted to make it better.
In the first iteration, every kid watches Video 5 on Tuesday night, and on Wednesday you do the same activities. We kept the kids on the same page. But one thing that is particularly true in chemistry is that if a kid doesn’t know how to do A, then B is hard and C is difficult and E is impossible. Math is very similar that way. Foreign language, too. What we want kids to do is to master the content. So now, at the end of a unit, a student has to score a minimum on a test. At the end of one unit, not all kids are on the same page. They are in different places. This was wildly successful.
What if the kid doesn’t pass the test? Do they retake the same test?
I had to diagnose what the student didn’t understand, and they had to go learn it and take the test again. No, it was a different test.
Then what happened?
We kept asking about the best use of class time. We realized we were giving the same assignments and experiments and homework. And then we asked ourselves, “Are there better ways for kids to learn these things?” We went back and examined everything we did. Two years ago, we began to say the videos shouldn’t be the focus. The video is just a way for them to learn. Is there another way for kids to do that? Yes, there is. Online simulations, for example. In the science world, there is an open source deal called PHET with free online simulations in different subjects. So now the kids can go to learn the content there. They don’t need to watch my video. You just need to learn the material. Students need multiple ways to access content. A kid would say, “Hello, Mr. Bergmann, do I have to watch the video? Can I read the textbook instead?” We said, “You can learn it any way you like.”
How are kids supposed to know where to go to learn the material?
We give them choices. And then we gave them alternative assessments. Kids can make videos, games, projects to show that they have learned the material.
How has this affected standardized test scores?
Students have done better. I don’t know the numbers, but they learn the material. This really works. In my first 19 years as a teacher, I was a good stand-and-deliver lecture guy. I won a presidential award. I had all these credentials. I was good that way. You get to the end of the unit and a kid gets a 62. We move on. All you can do is say, “Wish you had done better, Joey,” but by that time he’s lost and we are in Unit 2. Joey never really learned it. This forces Joey to learn it.
Are there subjects that are good to have a flipped class and subjects that aren’t?
We started it with the hard sciences, physics and math. It works for foreign language. But we’ve got some amazing teachers speaking at our conference who are English teachers. I always thought that would be harder, but they love it. I haven’t seen a whole lot of social studies and history, but there is a movement amongst them. There’s a guy in Dallas who is an economics teacher who flipped his class. One video the kids watched at home was about supply and demand. The next day in class he asked the students what topic they wanted to discuss. Someone said the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavericks had just won the NBA championship. He said, “Fine,” and started asking if there is supply and demand in the NBA.
Isn’t this a blended model of education? Part online, part face-to-face?
Yes, but it’s more than that. The benefits are huge. Kids learn to become independent learners. They figure out how to learn for themselves. In the old model, who would get the teacher’s attention? The kid who raised his hand, the kid who would do well anyway. In this model, everybody gets the teacher’s attention. It humanizes the classroom.
This makes the role of the teacher at least as important as ever. Right?
The flip makes the teacher more important. The teacher is not the disseminator of knowledge but the chief facilitator and the chief learner.
Hmmm, Food for thought?
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The following links below are what you will need to share with your students and let them enjoy the human body through interactive imaging, games, exercises and more. Enjoy.
This is a great website that allows students to build the human body using interactive elements system by system. Each systen has descriptions and provides some facts about diseases. Students will only drag and drop the parts of body such as bones, organs,..ect.
This is a great resource for anatomy. It lets users view the human body in 3D, hide or remove layers, create custom views and many more.
The university of Pennsylvania Health System has a great website offering medical animations, explanations of several medical problems, resources on anatomy, physiology, and the human body.
This is a webite where students can learn about human anatomy and physiology. It provides charts, diagrams, animations, graphics,descriptions and many more.
This is the the substitue of Google Body. After Google decided to shut down Google Lab and with it Google Body, Zygote which is the company that developed it for Google has brought it back under Zygote Body. This website allows users to explore human body in details using 3D images.
Virtual Eye Dissection and Eye Anatomy
As its name suggests, this website lets users view photos from an actual eye dissection, and perform virtual dissection on the eye. It is great for students.
Healthline Body Maps
This is an awesome website where students can learn about the different parts of the human body. Just mouse over any part of the body to get more info about it. You can also peel away layers of the body to look at different levels.
This one here allows you to view the human body in 3D. You can add or subtract different systems, rotate, zoom in and out and many more.
This is an interactive website that helps users learn about the human anatomy. It provides videos, flash games and interactives.
This is a great site from the university of Texas at Austin and that offers interactive skeletal anatomy of human and non-human primates.
Open Heart Surgery Simulation
This is a cool website. You can play the role of a surgeon performing a Coronary Artery Bypass surgery.. The process is very simple and in each step, you are provided instructions to help you work.
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Introducing technology into the curriculum means more than just “making it work.” The principles of adult learning theory can be used in the design of technology-based instruction to make it more effective. Malcolm Knowles’ theory of andragogy allows teacher/facilitators to structure lessons which are part of a relevant learning environment for adults students.
Higher education has given priority to the integration of technology into the curriculum. As this has occurred, institutions are faced with the many issues that surround making the lessons succeed technologically. Faculty must spend time learning how to use the technology and ensuring that adequate institutional support is present to make the technology work. It is, therefore, easy for the instructional design of such curricula to be put on the side while we get technology issues “under control.” Faculty need to focus on learning theory in the design of instructional technology so that they can create lessons that are not only technology-effective but that are meaningful from the learner’s standpoint. Malcolm Knowles’ theory of andragogy outlines effective methodologies for adult learning. When this theory is integrated into the design of technology-based learning environments it is possible to create lessons that not only serve the needs of students to use the latest technology but also focus on their requirements as an adult. Andragogy includes ideas such as an adult’s readiness to learn, the role of the learner’s experiences, the faculty member as a facilitator of learning, an adult’s orientation to learning, and the learner’s self concept.
What is Andragogy?
Andragogy is a set of assumptions about how adults learn. Its roots can be traced back to Alexander Kapp, a German grammar teacher who used it to describe Plato’s educational theory (Knowles, Holton, and Swanson 1998, 59). It appeared again in 1921 when another German, Social Scientist, Eugen Rosenstock claimed that “adult education required special teachers, special methods, and a special philosophy.” (Knowles, Holton, and Swanson 1998, 59) There is evidence that discussion of andragogy continued in Europe until Dusan Savicevic, a Yugoslavian adult educator, first discussed the concept in the United States. Malcolm Knowles heard about the term and in 1968 used it in an article in Adult Leadership. From that point on, Knowles has become known as the principle expert on andragogy although numerous adult educators including Brookfield (1986), Mezirow (1991), Lawler (1991) and Merriam (1999) have addressed the concept and/or discussed how it can be used to facilitate adult learning.
Technology and the Assumptions of Andragogy
Knowles, Holton and Swanson (1998) discuss six assumptions of andragogy. Following are expanded definitions of those assumptions with their implications for technology-based instruction:
- · The Learner’s Need to Know
Adults need to know why they should learn something. Under the more standard pedagogical model it is assumed that the student will simply learn what they are told. Adults, however, are used to understanding what they do in life. They want to know the reason they need to learn something or how it will benefit them. This may be accomplished before students even engage technology, such as if a Spanish class is required to fill a language elective to complete a degree, however, it is wise for the faculty member to help students understand how what they will learn will be of use to them in the future. The required Spanish language lessons will be more affective if the student feels that it will increase her/his ability to understand a bilingual colleague on the job.
One way to help students see the value of the lessons is to ask the student, either online or in an initial face-to-face meeting, to do some reflection on what they expect to learn, how they might use it in the future or how it will help them to meet their goals. Patricia Lawler (1991, 36) suggests that these goals and expectations can be used throughout the program to reinforce the importance of learning activities. The design of technology-based lessons can incorporate not only the students’ original reflections but can solicit feedback about the relevance of the ongoing learning process throughout the course. It is incumbent upon the instructor to review these reflections and to adjust the technology or suggest an individual lesson structure to more effectively meet student needs.
- · The Learner’s Self-concept
Knowles, Holton, and Swanson emphasize that “adults resent and resist situations in which they feel others are imposing their wills on them.” (1998, 65) In spite of their need for autonomy, previous schooling has made them dependent learners. It is the job of the adult educator to move adult students away from their old habits and into new patterns of learning where they become self-directed, taking responsibility for their own learning and the direction it takes. Technology is a perfect path for the facilitation of self-direction. The ultimate ability of initiatives such as web-based learning to be non-linear allows an adult to follow the path that most appropriately reflects their need to learn. It becomes extremely important for those who are designing technology-based adult learning to use all of the capabilities of the technology including branching, the ability to skip sections a student already understands, and multiple forms of presentation of material which can assist people with various learning styles. All of these can be used to permit students to follow a path of learning that most appropriately suits them.
There is, however, one final piece that needs to be added when students are learning with technology. There must be some way to help learners who are still moving into the self-directed mode. Those learners who are new to adult education or who for some reason have not experienced the ability to be self-directed learners in the past need a structure which will help them to grow. Particular attention should be given to students who may not want to spend time outside of a classroom situation; who prefer to be spoon-fed material during a regularly scheduled session. This type of student may exhibit negative opinions of having to use technology as the only means of learning as they will need to take responsibility and direct their own learning. The instructor must find ways to move these learners into self-direction by giving them short, directed, concrete online tasks that provide the most “learning for the experience” to make these adults see the relevancy of online learning.
It is also important that self-directedness not be confused with self-motivation. Although a student may be motivated to take a course, they may not be self-directed enough to feel comfortable choosing instructional modules in an online course or creating their own structured environment to learn in a web-based course.
Encouraging self-directedness may also take the form of additional instructor contact in the beginning stages of the class or could be facilitated by having students do technology-based modules within a traditional class before they move to a complete course based in technology.
- · The Role of the Learner’s Experience
Adults have had a lifetime of experiences. These make adult learners more heterogeneous than younger learners and also provides an additional base of knowledge that can and should be used in the classroom or technology-based learning experience. Adults want to use what they know and want to be acknowledged for having that knowledge. The design of technology-based instruction must include opportunities for learners to use their knowledge and experience. Case studies, reflective activities, group projects that call upon the expertise of group members and lab experiments are examples of the type of learning activities which will facilitate the use of learners’ already acquired expertise.
An important corollary to the experience that adults bring with them is the association of their experiences with who they are. Their self-identity including habits and biases are determined from their experience. It is for this reason that those developing technology-based instruction for adult learners need to create opportunities for what Jack Mezirow calls “reflective learning.” (1991, 6) As Mezirow states, “reflective learning involves assessment or reassessment of assumptions” (1991, 6) and “reflective learning becomes transformative whenever assumptions or premises are found to be distorting, inauthentic or otherwise invalid.” (1991, 6) Reflective learning activities can assist students in examining their biases and habits and move them toward a new understanding of information presented. Using web-based or other technologies to have students reflect on learning activities or to put themselves in a different character in a case study or scenario may cause adults to reevaluate already learned information or patterns.
- · A Student’s Readiness to Learn
Adults become ready to learn something when, as Knowles explained, “they experience a need to learn it in order to cope more satisfyingly with real-life tasks or problems.” (1980, 44) It is important that lessons developed in technology-based opportunities should, where possible, be concrete and relate to students’ needs and future goals. These may be adapted from the goals of the course or learning program but can also grow out to the requests for student expectations that were mentioned earlier. In addition, an instructor can encourage students’ readiness by designing experiences which simulate situations where the student will encounter a need for the knowledge or skill presented. Students in a personnel management course may not see the need for learning about the Family and Medical Leave Act but an interactive role play that puts students in the place of a manager who must deal with an employee’s request for leave due to a child’s illness will help them see how an understanding of the topic will benefit them in the future.
- · The Student’s Orientation to Learning
Adults are life, task or problem-centered in their orientation to learning. They want to see how what they are learning will apply to their life, a task they need to perform, or to solving a problem. Technology-based instruction will be more effective if it uses real-life examples or situations that adult learners may encounter in their life or on the job. Allowing flexibility in the design of a lesson will permit student input on issues that need to be addressed in a class. If students can bring real-life examples of school discipline challenges to a chat session in an online course on behavior management they will be anxious to participate and gain the practical experience which will help them to do better at their job.
- · Students’ Motivation to Learn
While adult learners may respond to external motivators, internal priorities are more important. Incentives such as increased job satisfaction, self-esteem and quality of life are important in giving adults a reason to learn. If any of these can be related as part of technology-based instruction adults will respond more positively. Activities that build students’ self-esteem, or sense of accomplishment through, for example, the completion of goals or modules that can be checked off in a sequence, may help motivate completion of a longer lesson. In addition, student’s input into the development of lessons or in the prioritization of topics covered can help students to take ownership of the learning process.
To facilitate the use of andragogy while teaching with technology we must use technology to its fullest. Arguments for the use of technology many times include statements about its flexibility and the ability of the learner to move through lessons any time, anywhere, and at their own pace. These arguments also include logical explanations of how a learner may adapt the lessons or material to cover what they need to learn and eliminate the material that is not appropriate or that they have already learned. To adapt to the needs of adult students, these definitions of technology-based learning must be utilized to make its design interactive, learner-centered and to facilitate self-direction in learners.
Educators who are using adult education concepts in the development of their lessons must also become facilitators of learning. They must structure student input into their design and create technology-based lessons which can easily be adapted to make the presentation of topics relevant to those they teach.
If these guidelines are followed, the instruction that is developed will be not only technologically workable but also effective from a learner’s perspective.
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