Retreived from gifamerica.com
How to turn Roadblocks into Catalysts for Change?
In all of MET, one of the most important quotes I have learned is by Mishra and Koehler (2006) “merely knowing how to use technology is not the same as knowing how to teach with it” (p.1033). During the course of ETEC 533 I have been very focused on the following components: The importance of students constructing their own knowledge in the classroom and beyond through technology; Collaboration and improved assessment methods; The need for improved teacher professional development and release time to learn and implement technology in the classroom; and the need for easily accessible technological devices and sufficient bandwidth in schools.
When I embarked on my MET journey I had very little understanding of what technology was available for me to use in my classroom. I chose MET because I knew I needed to change what was happening with my students and my teaching. As a grade 5-8 educator for the past 26 years I felt like I was losing my students. Each day I entered my class with the plan to invigorate and “wow” my students, and each day I felt disappointed.
When I first began teaching I remember being proud of myself if my classroom was a silent hub, where students worked quietly on their own finishing the work I had assigned. Of course, this was after I had spent half the lesson nattering at them, dazzling them with my brilliance. Patting myself on the back for creating a room full of disengaged bored students is shameful in retrospect. At the time, I followed what I knew–good teachers had quiet students, good teachers’ students asked few questions because the lesson had been so amazing no questions were necessary, and good teachers did what has always been done.
As my career progressed I realized that silence meant nothing was happening: No noise, but no learning as well. My students had learned to play the game–stay quiet and no one knows that you have no idea what is happening in class. Change came about because my students were flunking test after test. Originally, I chalked that up to them not studying, not that I hadn’t really taught them anything. My students fell into three basic categories. Group 1 were the students who could regurgitate facts, group 2 were those who learned in spite of me, and group 3 were those who had learned nothing and were not motivated to study to do well on a rote paper and pencil test. While I had assumed the check marks and x’s on their assignments and tests were feedback, they were really nothing more than judgments on the student’s ability or willingness to play the assessment game.
It was at this point I really started talking to my students. I started speaking to them during lessons, during seatwork, during group work. I started assessing them during these conversations, really beginning to understand who knew what and how well. The more I spoke to my students the more engaged they became–maybe because I was actually paying attention to them, not trying to keep them quiet. Seatwork evolved into collaboration time. Students started talking more and more with each other. They began to see each other as sources of information and support. The more they relied on each other the more they brought out the best in each other. They wanted to succeed so they drew on each others’ strengths.
As stated by Kozma (2003), “Designers should provide students with environments that restructure the discourse of …classrooms around collaborative knowledge building and the social construction of meaning” (p.9). I was finally starting to design the classroom I had envisioned.
I won’t pretend it was all sunshine and roses, but things started improving. Now I knew when learning was occurring as partner and group talk got heated and excited as they discovered new facts or wanted to prove their theory. It was noisy and it was going well. I found that math and science became learning labs. Kids were not used to talking about math and science, they were just expected to do it.
During the readings, I found this quote by Hattie and Timperly (2007) especially enlightening and a good reminder of what feedback needs to be: “feedback needs to provide information specifically relating to the task or process of learning that fills a gap between what is understood and what is aimed to be understood” (p.82).
As for assessments, my students learned that hiding their struggles from me did no good. At random times, anyone could be expected to come sit with me and show me what they knew. The showing could be talking, drawing, explaining, using manipulatives or props. Students knew I was not there to judge them, rather I really wanted to help them learn. I evolved from a math and science teacher that said “today we will learn this…do it this way, because I said so”, to a teacher who said, “ok you don’t get this, let’s find another way, can anyone else think of a way we could do this?” It was actually really hard work to get my students to accept there is more than one way to solve a math or science problem. For some this is frustrating–they want the quick answer “show me how to do it so I can get it done”, while I want them to explore and understand.
I was happy that a change had occurred in my teaching and classroom but I still knew something was missing. My basic teaching strategy had not changed. I still chalked and talked a lot. I babbled incessantly about concepts and ideas. I had no idea how to change this. Thank goodness for MET courses like ETEC 533. Math and Science are perhaps the hardest subjects to change your teaching methods for. We are so used to following rules and formulas that we forget about understanding what is happening. I have been searching for ways to create a constructivist classroom. My initial steps included introducing a makerspace and allowing students to direct some of their own learning.
This worked well for some units but, in general, students and I as the teacher do not have enough experience to make self-directed learning successful as a full-time learning tool. What I learned was there is a difference between self-directed and constructivist learning. In constructivist learning all students explore the same math or science concept but construct their knowledge as they see fit. Module B was an excellent in-depth introduction for me regarding different constructivist techniques.
Anchored Instructions, SKI and Wise, Lfu and T-Gem all have appealing characteristics about them–whether it be the video modules of Jasper Woodley, the scaffolding used in the WISE module, the Global Information systems used to support Learning for Understanding or the T-GEM format using Chemland as an example. When I first started exploring these TELE’s I thought I would end up choosing one as my favourite and leaving the rest behind. What I learned was they all have valuable facets and they can all be used in different modules. I myself was stuck in the thinking of “What’s best? Let’s throw out the rest”. Perhaps it was just engrained in me that we cannot simultaneously use different constructivist teaching methods in the same year. I am used to the Board administration bringing in a new program and throwing out the rest. I was always frustrated by this approach but found myself doing the same thing. My thinking is changing over to “keep what is good, change what doesn’t work”.
Linn et al. (2003) hit the nail on the head for me in their article Wise design for knowledge integration stating, “we align professional development, knowledge integration, and flexibly adaptive curricula to build on the commitments and talents of teachers as well as the constraints and opportunities of their classroom contexts rather than imposing new practices without concern for past successes” (p. 518). I can see myself using each of these TELE’s in the coming years.
Moving beyond the methodology I was enlightened by the variety of simulations, software and interactive sites we investigated in ETEC 533. Finklestein et al (2005) reported that “results indicate that properly designed simulations used in the right contexts can be more effective educational tools than real laboratory equipment, both in developing student facility with real equipment and at fostering student conceptual understanding” (p. 2). They further state that “in an inquiry-based laboratory, students using the simulations learned more content than did students using real equipment” (p. 6).
As I teach elementary students, some of the information was too advanced for my students but many of the websites we looked at were perfect. I can easily see my students enjoying the scaffolded learning afforded by the WISE program. The simulations provided by the pHet site from the University of Colorado will become a staple in my classroom. I enjoyed looking at the examples provided in the course and wondering how I could expand on them with other technologies. The example of the pHet simulation on geometry and the use of the leap motion technology were the perfect combination of simulation and embodied learning.
As a kinesiologist, I have always known that learning with just our brains is not enough. We need to incorporate movement, rehearsal and building new kinesthetic and neural pathways. The more methods we can use to integrate learning the more easily our students will be able to recall and use the information they have learned in new situations. Rote memorization has a tremendous failure rate for recall, whereas embodied learning and simulations with gestures are much more effective. I noticed this in my classroom when students tried the leap motion app with 3D geometry. “When my students tried the leap motion 3-d geometry app in groups (taking turns to be the hands) I watched as almost all of them, even when observing and guiding others, used their hands or whole bodies (at times my class looked like an introduction to interpretive dance) to try and move in three-dimensional space to understand how to manipulate the blocks” (Sverko, 2017)
Retrieved from Livefromlockdown.com
After synthesizing all of the learning in this course and previous MET courses I feel I am ready to take the next step and begin constructivist lessons in my class using technology. Unfortunately, this is where I encounter the scourge of technology implementation in the classroom. I do not have devices in my classroom that I can use when they are most valuable, rather I must look ahead in my lessons and try to guess when they will be most helpful. When I have identified the time, I have to try and sign out devices to my classroom. Of course, there are never enough devices for each student, not to mention that often the previous class forgot to plug in the individual Chromebook or the entire cart and I have twenty dead batteries.
If I am lucky enough to sign out the Chromebook, at a time that is beneficial, I then must cross my fingers that I will be able to access the simulations I want to demonstrate. Often the bandwidth in our schools prevents us from using all Chromebooks at the same time. (Another frustration with devices in our school board is that we are not allowed to install apps without approval. Even more frustrating is that often our requests for specific apps are denied by the administration.)
Given all of the hurdles teachers must jump to use technology in their classes is it any wonder that the majority avoid using it? Avoidance of using what is provided further leads to an apathy at learning anything new. Most feel they do not want to waste time learning and implementing something that will flop during their lesson. Even if devices and broadband worked well we still would have the difficulty of teacher training on technology and the time to learn how to use the programs effectively. As highlighted in our interviews, many teachers see this as a barrier to proper implementation.
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Teachers who do want to pilot technology in their classroom often become overwhelmed with the time, energy and money it takes to do a good job. Not to mention that many of these lead teachers quickly burn out because they are being asked to help more and more staff members. Although I recognize and have provided a case for how the barriers to the use of technology in the classroom seem to be insurmountable, I am still optimistic there is way to proceed. What is needed is a mandate in each province making technology and the implementation of the ISTE standards a priority in every classroom. We need to look to boards that are leading the way in technology. An example is the Edmonton Catholic District School Board. They have an emergent technology department that leads the way in showing teachers from K-12 how to implement technology successfully. Boards and administration need to be accountable for making the changes and bringing our schools into the 21st Century.
I look forward to being a catalyst for change in education, bringing technology to the forefront and leading by example. As colleagues see what can be done with constructivist techniques and simulations and software, hopefully they will become inspired to try at least one activity. I will continue to provide examples of Boards that are getting technology right to my administration in the hopes that they will move ahead in the right direction.
The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a single step.
Retrieved from picturequotes.com
Upon reflection, I still feel my definition provided earlier in the course holds true:
The ideal pedagogical design of a technology-enhanced learning experience for math and science must first and foremost see students as constructors of their knowledge. Allowing students to use technology to effectively assist in the construction of their knowledge could include, but not be limited to: simulations (often with equipment unavailable in science and math classrooms), collaboration (with peers, mentors and outside experts), design (planning their learning and pathways), coding, exploration of various concepts (perhaps outside of the realm of the current curriculum mandate), testing hypotheses (trying their ideas; seeing what works and what doesn’t). Technology is a tool for students to use in the construction of their knowledge, aided by a supportive, knowledgeable teacher who can help push the boundaries of the students understanding. Students learn with, not are taught by technology (Sverko, 2017).
I now, thankfully, feel that I am better prepared to make this a reality in my classroom.
Retrieved from popkey.co
Finkelstein, N.D., Perkins, K.K., Adams, W., Kohl, P., & Podolefsky, N. (2005). When learning
about the real world is better done virtually: A study of substituting computer
simulations for laboratory equipment. Physics Education Research,1(1), 1-8.
Hattie, H. & Timperly, H. (2007). The power of feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77(1),
Kozma, R., & Robert B Kozma. (10/01/2003). Journal of research on technology in education:
Technology and classroom practices: An international study International Society
forTechnology in Education.
Linn, M., Clark, D., & Slotta, J. (2003). Wise design for knowledge integration. Science Education,
Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework
for teacher knowledge. The Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054
Posted in e-folio on April 3, 2017 by catherine sverko. Leave a comment
There have been many challenges, however, to implementing geospatial technologies in K-12 classrooms. These include technical issues pertaining to the interface design of software, time for classroom teachers to learn to use the software, lack of existing basal curriculum materials that integrate geospatial technologies, and lack of time to develop learning experiences that integrate easily into existing school curricula (Meyer et al., 1999; Baker & Bednarz, 2003; Bednarz, 2003; Kerski, 2003; Patterson et al., 2003). While we acknowledge these barriers, new Web-based geospatial tools such as Google Earth and instructional resources integrated with appropriately designed instructional materials show much potential to be used with diverse learners to promote spatial thinking (Bodzin & Cirucci, in press) (p. 2-3).
In education, I believe there is no dispute that technology has a ton of potential to transform our classrooms. All learners can benefit from using simulations, VR, MR and other software to improve student understanding, improve collaboration and eliminate misconceptions students have but how do we ignore the barriers that everyone seems to recognize. Too little teacher training, technical issues, lack of prepared curriculum materials, and lack of time for teachers to both learn and implement these learning experiences. These mitigating factors will continue to affect technology use in the classroom until they are properly addressed.
MET students, colleagues in schools and professional researchers all recognize these issues but no one has found a way to deal with them. MET students are among the educators that want to use technology but struggle to find a way that doesn’t involve countless personal hours and expense. Teachers in all classrooms may agree with the awesome potential technology has but are still required to prepare their students for outdated standardized assessment. There is not time to do both. Finally, how do even proceed with implementing technology in our classrooms in a meaningful way if we do not have the devices, software or bandwidth to move forward.
As a member of my school boards technology development team I have found these issues continually ignored and pushed to the side. Everyone knows change is needed but our cries fall on the deaf ears of administrators. Frustrating.
Bodzin, A. M., Anastasio, D., & Kulo, V. (2014). Designing Google Earth activities for learning Earth and environmental science. In Teaching science and investigating environmental issues with geospatial technology (pp. 213-232). Springer Netherlands.
All images courtesy of the creative commons.
“feedback needs to provide information specifically relating to the task or process of learning that fills a gap between what is understood and what is aimed to be understood (Hattie and Timperly, 2007., p 82.).”
One of the most under rated forms of communication between teacher and student is that of feedback. Many educators believe that feedback is the mark on an assignment or test, the check marks and ex’s that show a student what they got correct or incorrect. But this is not really feedback at all. Feedback as explained by Hattie and Timperly (2007) is information that specifically relates to the gap in learning between what a student understands (including misconceptions) and what is aimed to be understood.
If I look no further into my students learning than the grade on an assessment I have a very limited view of their understanding. I may be looking at lucky guesses or a lack of understanding in terms of what the question asked. Talking to my students, having them demonstrate their knowledge in multiple ways ( that are comfortable for them) is the only true way I can identify their misconceptions, clearly see where the gaps are in their learning and satisfy myself that I have a clear understanding of what they have learned.
Hattie, H. & Timperly, H. (2007). The power of feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77(1), 81-112
All images courtesy of the creative commons.
Each week as I did my readings for ETEC 533 I found myself highlighting specific sections of text that really spoke to me as an educator. Reviewing them all this week a few really stood out and reminded me of why I found them powerful in the first place.
We align professional development, knowledge integration, and flexibly adaptive curricula to build on the commitments and talents of teachers as well as the constraints and opportunities of their classroom contexts rather than imposing new practices without concern for past successes (Linn, et al., 2003. p. 518)
The above quote from the article “Wise design for knowledge integration” by Linn, Clarke and Slotta (2003) was like a breath of fresh air. Having been an educator in Ontario for the past 26 years my colleagues (in school and in the MET program) often speak of the never ending reinvention of the wheel in education. That for some reason change in education often means throwing away all that you have been doing, the good and the bad, and replacing it with something else. Unfortunatley, it usually comes about that the changes were not all that great.
Linn et al., (2003) seem to understand this phenonmenon and allow for past successes to continue to be used. All administrators in charge of professional development should have this quote as part of their mission statement. It is much more effective than “out with the old and in with the new”. Perhaps it could be shortened to “keep what works, fix/change what doesn’t.”
Linn, M., Clark, D., & Slotta, J. (2003). Wise design for knowledge integration. Science Education, 87(4), 517-538.
The International Society for Technology Education (ISTE) has prepared two documents highlighting basic standards that should be followed in Technology Education. The ISTE standards are simple, easy to follow guidelines that should be common knowledge to all educators currently practising in K-12 education and yet many have never heard of them.
The ISTE Standards for Educators and The ISTE Standards for students are highlighted below.
The standards speak specifically to teachers about their students becoming good digital citizens, as well as preparing and ASSESSING using technology. Assessment continues to be one of the areas that educators lack development in. We must move away from traditional rote paper and pencil assessments and provide students the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in new ways. For more information on assessing in the current educational climate please watch the video below by Eric Mazur a Harvard professor and leader in 21st Century assessment.
In terms of the ISTE standards for Students the language itself is inspiring:
If you look at each of those terms for the most part you see verbs in all of them. Verbs are action words, things students need to be doing! Collaborating, Communicating, Constructing, Designing...
All words that bring us back to one of the most important changes we need to see in Education and that is moving the student from a passive role of sitting, listening and memorizing to constructors of their own knowledge. Allowing them to identify and correct misconceptions, building understanding through collaboration and leading their own learning.
(2013, November 19). Retrieved April 02, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBzn9RAJG6Q&t=730s Assessment the Silent Killer of Learning.
Bucci, T. T., Cherup, S., Cunningham, A., & Petrosino, A. J. (2003). ISTE standards in teacher education: A collection of practical examples. The Teacher Educator, 39(2), 95-114. doi:10.1080/08878730309555333
When I began reviewing Module B and C I literally saw lines connecting in my head between Pedagogical Content Knowledge and Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge. Module B focussed on ways we can help students construct their own knowledge. The various methods such as SKI/WISE, Jasper Woodley, Anchored Instruction, LfU and T-GEM help us see a way out of traditional teaching methods. Academia is so steeped in tradition that change seems impossible. We know that sitting students in rows, throwing facts at them by speaking, reading or a video, having them complete paper pencil tasks (preferably in silence) is ineffective and lacks engagement. Rather our classrooms need to be hubs of activity. Learning done in collaboration with others, by looking at problems, gathering information, testing hypotheses and identifying misconceptions. This is the change we must strive for.
The methods discussed in Module B provide a framework on which new types of lessons can be built. They all have their strengths and each is likely better suited to specific subjects and curriculum than others but using any of them is a step in the right direction. Right now the word constructivism is echoing in my head loud and clear. Construct, construct, Construct.
My infographic from Module B still represents how all facets of the TELE’s are linked in my mind.
I used gears to represent content and methodology as they are parts of a whole machine that must work cohesively if the machine is to function at all.
The funnel leads into the active learning and from there sharing and collaborating. In the end, this machine creates collaborative, critical thinking problem solvers.
Click the link or see below:
Module C provided us with a variety of technological tools to take teaching to the next level. For me, it was where the Technology in Technology Pedogagocial Content Knowledge came to life.
There were so many programs and devices that can elevate and enhance our lessons vs just changing them. I realized the importance of kinesthetic awareness in understanding concepts and manipulating data. The value of virtual reality devices and learning experiences and finally the many programs available to us to enhance our STEM classes. The last activity where we combined what we had learned specifically from Module B and C showed me that combining TPCK using TELE’s and specific programs allows us to create units of study for students that will be rewarding and help them become collaborative, critical thinkers and problem solvers that are able to adapt to an ever-changing job market.
Reflections on Module A: Lesson 3
Interviews / Why educators are frustrated by incorporating technology into their classrooms
One of the overarching themes that emerged from the interviews in Lesson #3 was how frustrated educators are by the lack of training and equipment that are available to them in order to properly implement technology in the classroom.
Most teachers either teach themselves technology because they are interested in it and see it as beneficial to the students in their classrooms or see a teacher using technology and ask for assistance learning it. As was mentioned in the Strawberry Hill School video’s the new teacher had been helped by her teaching partner to implement technology but the new teacher felt she was imposing on the veteran teachers time. It was not the veteran teacher’s job to teach her (the new teacher) technology.
The teacher’s who do implement technology on their own often become overwhelmed by the requests of others to introduce them to new devices and software. This mentorship position while rewarding is often taxing on the mentor as they receive no time or remuneration for the extra job they are performing.
Another easily recognized problem mentioned in a number of the interviews was the lack of devices, the cumbersome problem of signing out and returning tech devices as well as the constant frustration of poor bandwidth issues. Teachers agreed that having technology in their rooms would be very beneficial so that devices can be used for those “teachable moments”. Having to sign out equipment and return it at a specific time does not allow for lessons to flow organically. Many teachers have given up on trying to use technology because of device issues (devices not charged, not working) or the inability to get all students on the network at the same time. Most teachers felt too much time was wasted in trouble shooting technology glitches.
The following are excerpts from the interview posts highlight the views of teachers across Canada:
2. Most uses of technology were used mainly for her teaching. Students had no interaction with the technologies. Second, the differential experience with technology her and her teacher education classmates had regarding Smart Boards. She did not feel that her teacher program prepared her for integrating technology but she also felt that her classmates “definitely felt differential in terms of technology coming out of the program.” Another aspect I found interesting was her limitations regarding integrating technology. From the start, she noted how her teaching partner does not use technology, which seems to have some influence on her as she says that “her teacher partner does not want to use technology with kindergarten students” and therefore she is “not currently using technology” in the classroom. Other limitations she mentions include the unreliability of technology based on its durability and wifi connectivity issues. Furthermore, she goes into detail about the inconvenience of the sharing aspect of technology. She says, “some schools have computer labs, which are shared between all classroom classes and resource classes. There are sometimes iPad cards that hold about 20 iPads, but again, shared between all classes. On top of that, teachers have to physically go somewhere else in the school to sign those out, sometimes finding out that the time they wanted use the iPads is already booked.” Though my interviewee currently does not use technology in teaching the math and sciences, she has shared her perspective about the limitations behind its use.
Posted in A. Interview on January 20, 2017 by Gloria Ma
3. One of the overarching themes that came through in the discussion was the lack of training to integrate technology into the classroom, whether it was for new teachers in teacher’s college or established teachers attempting to use it in the classroom. Both teachers felt that there was a big push for teachers to use different types of technology in the classroom, but that there was no real training to back up the initiative. Any knowledge or skills acquired were usually done on the initiative of the teacher themselves or it was a one-off PD session with no follow-up or time to practice. TM noted that “any pursuit of professional development must be on your own time, you must seek it out on your own” and TC echoed that with “it is not available in the school and we are not given enough time to practice and apply our new knowledge.” I added that any real knowledge or understanding of the technology that I use in my classroom has come from my own initiative, finding courses online, or seeking out courses offered through the Board of Ed or my union. All of us agreed that if there were better training and time given to practice and apply the knowledge, there would be a greater integration of technology into all the subjects at a higher order level than just using them for typing or research. It was also felt that this would give more established teachers a higher comfort level using technology as it does not come naturally to us, it is not our culture so there is a higher learning curve for many of us.
The major hurdle or challenge for these teachers was accessibility, of the devices and of training or assistance. Devices in the school have to be signed out through the library and are often not available when it is an optimum time for them to be used. TM explained that there are no teachable moments when we can just turn and use the technology in a seamless way as they would have needed to be signed out a week in advance, and I don’t have ESP to be able to know exactly when something like that will occur in the class.” It is difficult to know where you will be in your pacing of subjects to be able to determine when it will be the best time to sign them out. It is impossible to use them in the way they should be integrated as they are used in real life applications. TC added that when the devices freeze or crash there is a lot of lost time trying to fix it, or reboot it, and we lose the class’ attention while they wait. Often it is something we can’t fix and it takes days or weeks before someone from the board will take care of it.” , essentially making the technology inaccessible to the classroom while we are waiting for it to be functional.
Posted in A. Interview, Uncategorized on January 21, 2017 by wincherella
4. Highlight #1:The Disconnect Between Teaching Training and Actual Practice
As Teacher K is a recent university graduate, I was interested to see her perspective on the connection or disconnection between the education she received and her own classroom practice. While in her experience the importance of and theory behind technology use was emphasized, even basic examples of programs and apps were not readily offered by instructors. As a result, unguided exploration was the primary option for finding ways to integrate technology into teaching practice. Conversely, her current school division and colleagues offer many resources for tools and implementation options, including time with mentors. As I am Teacher K’s mentor, it has been rewarding to see her growth over time in the area of technology. Despite the theoretical–practical disconnect between her university training and practice, Teacher K has been able to find ways to meaningfully use technology tools in her classroom. “In science, technology allows students to see videos of situations we are unable to see in real life. For example, when studying ecosystems, we are unable to visit a desert. By using technology, students are able to see pictures and videos of the interactions that happen in different biomes all over the world.”
Posted in A. Interview on January 23, 2017 by STEPHANIE IVES.
5. As a distance learning teacher, Teacher L faces some issues of isolation. Throughout the interview there is little indication of collaboration efforts with colleagues or professional development in the area of technology. When asked how she has learned to incorporate referenced types of technology into her learning space, she admits that it is largely “through trial and error” and that “you just need to jump in”. When prodded to share if colleagues have been a useful resource in helping learn new technologies, she seemed unsure and responded with “I guess” and then mentioned that she has “emailed the Zoom people to see how to make things work” when initially setting up a Zoom conference room for her students. Although Teacher L does not seem to have much collaboration with other teachers, she is self motivated to learn new technologies, but feels that her teaching assignment is too broad and is too demanding of her time and energy. She states, “I think there are definitely programs, and like I said these labs and stuff out there, that could enhance it [student learning experience], but this is my own shortcoming that I need to find, or spend time researching and getting those programs, or finding those websites that would do more. When I think of technology enhancing learning, I think of those things that you can send the student to help them in a more practical way. Ultimately that is what I would love to add more of to the courses.” From an earlier portion of the interview she shares some hopes and frustrations: “One thing that I haven’t used, but I would like to use but it’s challenging, and to be honest because I have so many courses I haven’t been able to look into it as much, but there are online labs that are for chemistry and physics, but I haven’t implemented them as much as I would like. I feel like I haven’t implemented a lot.”
Posted in A. Interview on January 24, 2017 by jessica holder.
While these issues seem to be universal what was most interesting to me was that teachers want to use technology. They want to learn to work on new devices and software and help their students become more tech literate. The way this must come about, however, time for in servicing and learning the program, as well as the capital investment of purchasing devices and software so that everyone has an opportunity to have technology in their rooms available whenever needed seem insurmountable. There has to be a creative solution. Hopefully, it happens soon.
Grounding Issues and Finding Patterns in Experience (Case 1)
In all parts of lesson 2, I found Case 1 to be not only the most informative but the most inspiring. Starting in my third MET course I became very interested in makerspaces and classrooms as learning labs. Case 1 of Lesson 2 perfectly embodies what I would like my classroom to look like. The learning lab classroom in the video is inspiring and how I think all children should learn. Inquiry, investigation and construction of knowledge by scaffolding activities, so that the learned information becomes valuable to the students and therefore more easily recalled at a later time. Students are able to see how their problem solving, critical thinking and collaboration skills helped them tackle the problems they were faced with.
Although I have been teaching for 26 years it has only been in the last five, that I have realized that what I have been doing in my classrooms is not creating self-directed, motivated learners who can solve new and novel problems. Classrooms need to evolve from rows of desks and seated children doing paper and pencil work to active learning labs where students are up, moving, discussing and engaged in their learning.
With this change in the way our classrooms look and function, it is equally important that as educators we change how we are assessing our students. We can not assess with the same old written tests that ask students to regurgitate memorized facts, rather we need to be actively assessing and interacting with our students, asking questions, challenging answers and encouraging students to dig deeper.
Case 1 of Lesson 2 demonstrated what a classroom with technology can look like. Several of the other video cases showed classrooms where technology was implemented but the dynamic of the room did not change as much as it did in case 1. For the most part the other video cases represented classes where the same material was taught, but technology was used rather than older methods. In my opinion this is not the best use of technology.
Technology should not be used to do what has always been done with a different tool. Technology should be used to take the learning further. Students interacting and solving problems that allow them to move forward in their learning. This is why I have fallen in love with makerspaces. A makerspace is an interactive learning environment that allows students to construct their own knowledge. Lessons and activities are scaffolded so that students are challenged yet do not become frustrated.
The following is a website I co-created on makerspaces.
As the course draws to a close I have spent a lot of time reflecting on what we learned in each module, the views of the students in the course and how it all has come together for me.
Reflections on Module A: Lesson 1
The posts from Module A Lesson ! that resonated the most with me were related to not only indentifying and hopefully correcting student misconceptions but also misconceoptions the educator may have. During the course of the MET program I have wondered, stated and been frustrated by why change in education is so difficult? Week 1 in ETEC 533 was no different.
In Ontario Elementary teachers are expected to teach all subjects (excluding French). Over the years I have noticed that many of my colleagues are university trained in the Arts, Languages or Social Sciences. Many do not have a background in the sciences, math or technology, yet they are expected to teach these concepts to their students. Truthfully, at least half of my colleagues are scared to death of teaching math and science because they know they do not have a strong background in it themselves.
The following two quotes from Anne and Gloria’s posts highlight this:
In a research paper conducted by Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the relationship between teacher knowledge and student learning was studied, and concluding that student learning is directly related to teacher knowledge. “If teachers hold such misconceptions themselves or simply are unaware that their students have such ideas, their attempts at teaching important concepts may be compromised” (Sadler et al, 2013). These leads me to two questions: How can teachers identify their own misconceptions and how can they better understand and identify misconceptions of their students?
Confrey notes that “children develop ideas about their world, develop meanings for words used in science, and develop strategies to obtain explanations of how and why things behave as they do, and that these naive ideas cannot be easily ignored or replaced” (Confrey, 1990). It is important for teachers to be able to tease out these misconceptions by probing a student’s conceptual framework using direct questioning allowing them to develop effective lessons and activities to provide opportunities for students to discover new information and correct their misconceptions. Previous research on student’s misconceptions shows that student’s have difficulty assimilating and acquiring scientific knowledge if their misconceptions are ignored or not adequately addressed. One way for teachers to address this gap is to consider that an emphasis on identifying and remediating holes in the teacher’s knowledge may be more helpful for the science teacher’s effectiveness in the classroom (Sadler et al).
Posted in A. Conceptual Challenges, Uncategorized on January 10, 2017 by wincherella. 4 Comments
When I was watching the video of Heather, I had this realization that I also have misconceptions in the science and math disciplines as a learner. I recall myself generating logical reasonings to explain scientific phenomenons. Furthermore, as an elementary teacher, I am responsible for delivering accurate knowledge to my students. This lingering thought provoked me to look at teacher misconceptions and how they compare with student misconceptions in science, specifically. I came across an article by Burgoon, Heddle and Duran (2011) that was quite recent and focused on comparing the misconceptions about physical science between elementary teachers and students. Elementary science teachers were assessed on their physical science knowledge. The results showed the elementary science teachers shared similar misconceptions in topics of temperature, gases, magnetism and gravity. Of course, these results cannot be generalized to the entire population of science teachers, but it does indicate some concern as teachers who have misconceptions, can contribute to further misconceptions for their students. For instance, a possible source of student misconception comes from an unreliable source (like a teacher)!
Posted in A. Conceptual Challenges on January 7, 2017 by Gloria Ma. 7 Comments
In addition to not persuing science or math beyond the required courses in highschool many teachers realize that their learning may have been incomplete because concepts were taught only once with limited hands on experience. The following excerpt from Michelle’s post really highlighted this for me.
After watching the video the concepts within it rang true to me. In my experiences in science, many concepts were taught only once and models, simulations and hands-on experience were limited to what resources were available, which were often slim to none. If models were available, the educators usually stood at the front of the class with the model in front of them as they “taught” us the concept. We did not handle or construct the models. One thing I found interesting was how strongly the students held on to their personal scientific theories. It seems that early experiences learning scientific concepts are fraught with misconceptions that may not be challenged and thus taken as the ultimate truth. I wonder if this is because as children we were not taught to question what we saw in books or what we were taught. We implicitly trusted these sources, including our understanding of 3 dimensional phenomenon which was more often than not, represented in 2-D form (in drawings, graphs, etc.).
Posted in A. Conceptual Challenges on January 9, 2017 by Michelle Furlotte. 2 Comments
All of this makes me wonder if elementary teachers should teach their subject specific specialization rather than all subjects. Are we truly offering a well rounded education if a student leaves grade 8 with never having been taught by a science teacher, a Physical Educations Teacher or a History Teacher? I am starting to see this as a disservice to our students and their education. Questions I will continue to ponder: are elementary students too young to benefit from having several specialist teachers? Is there a social emotional reason that elementary students need the same teacher all day?
Over the course of the past week, I spent a lot of time investigating and trying each of the information visualization programs presented and deciding if, or how, I could incorporate them into my classroom lessons. Admittedly, I spent the most amount of time on Phet simulations, the molecular workbench, and Geometer’s Sketchpad but I will return to investigate wiseweb, illuminations applet, and netLogo in further detail. My first impression is that all of the programs seem to be worthwhile and would enhance/extend lessons in math and science.
Information visualization programs enable the student to evolve from a passive learner being fed information and expected to regurgitate it on a paper and pencil assessment to an actively engaged learner who is involved in the construction of their own knowledge. As we discovered in the various program styles introduced in Module B (T-Gem, LfU, anchored instruction, SKI/WISE) students need to identify their misconceptions, find information and test hypotheses as well as modify their thinking- which can only be accomplished if they are questioning, constructing, testing, proving and defending their theories.
Software, simulations and interactive programs are excellent educational tools. Teaching using virtual tools means every child in every class can experiment with the knowledge they have acquired. The old adage seeing is believing can be taken one step further as students do not only see in more than 2 dimensions they can alter parameters and test their hypotheses and solve for solutions. If their hypotheses were correct they have reinforced what they know, if their hypotheses were incorrect they can identify their misconceptions, modify their thinking and run further tests until they are satisfied they correctly understand the concept.
The article by Finkelstein et al (2005) “When learning about the real world is better done virtually: A study of substituting computer simulations for laboratory equipment” demonstrated that learning virtually is often better than regular lab experiments. In regular chemistry classes, students have use coloured Styrofoam balls and connectors to create molecules. As the students can create just about anything they have no idea if the molecules they are creating hold up to the laws of chemistry, a computer simulation would correct any misconceptions the students had. Finklestein et al (2005) reported that “results indicate that properly designed simulations used in the right contexts can be more effective educational tools than real laboratory equipment, both in developing student facility with real equipment and at fostering student conceptual understanding (p. 2).” They further state that in an inquiry-based laboratory, students using the simulations learned more content than did students using real equipment (p. 6).
Steiff and Wilensky (2003) reported that computer-based curriculum provides an opportunity for inquiry-based chemistry lessons. “The modeling environment, connected chemistry, uses a “glass box” approach (Wilensky, 1999a) that not only enables students to visualize the molecular world but also provides them with virtually unlimited opportunities to interact with and to manipulate a simulated molecular world to gain a deeper understanding of core chemistry concepts and phenomena (p. 285)”. They further report that simulations allow students to make predictions about a concept and justify their predictions with observable outcomes (p. 286).
Although I have not used any of the highlighted math or science simulations in my classroom yet I can compare their use to my implementation of programs code.org, tynker and scratch I have used several coding programs. The one I am most successful with is Code.org. What I have learned about using this on line is that it brings coding alive through the use of block coding. Block coding takes difficult abstract concepts and chunks it together in to information the students understand and can work with. The students learning is scaffolded from the most basic coding steps to more advanced. The program provides immediate feedback to the student so they know if they are correct or not. Most also provide the students with a “safety” key so that they do not become too frustrated and quit the program. Students who are shown the answer still must go through the steps of coding the information properly before they are able to move on.
The excellent thing about today’s coding programs is that they are also geared toward the student’s interests. Students can code with princesses, Minecraft or a whole host of other themes. For the more creative student they can create their own characters and storylines to code with.
When I was a student I was taught to code on paper (sorry I tried to code on paper) but because I never understood what I was writing, I never understood how the program would react. I thought I could never understand or write code. I wrote myself off as computer illiterate. Coding programs have helped me evolve from this scared computer person to someone confident enough to teach it to her students. My students love working with these programs (every student even my some of my special needs students are great at it, they see it as a cause-effect relationship they understand). It is vital that we start coding with our students at an early age as it has been said that coding is the language of the future. The language all workers will need to understand.
With regards to Geometer’s Sketchpad and the other math programs we looked at this week I hope to incorporate these more in my classroom lessons. I have discovered the value simulations in math to be immediate feedback to the student. In previous years when I have had students work with paper and pencil or manipulatives they often assume they are correct and consistently make the same errors, in essence reinforcing an incorrect concept. With computer simulations students are immediately shown if they are correct or not. If they are not correct they must fix their errors before they are allowed to move on. Many of the newer software companies are installing subprograms that identify specific concepts students struggle with and provide more reinforcement with those concepts.
Srinivasan et al (2006) explain the importance of a simulation being in the students current range of development and understanding. “The task must present an optimal learning challenge (Deci and Ryan, 1985). When this type of task is presented, students will perceive themselves as competent enough to be successful and enticed enough by the learning task to sustain their attention. By using appropriate assessments, we can determine reasonably successfully the ‘optimal level’ of instruction (p. 139).” What was especially interesting to note in this study was that students (the example provided was a cockpit simulator) believed simulators to be a less valuable learning experience than being in an actual cockpit, while the expert pilots found the simulator to be a valuable learning experience (p. 140). One must wonder if the basis of the student’s beliefs lie in their kinesthetic awareness of a real cockpit that an expert pilot would already have?
The articles I read on mathematics included Edens and Potter (2008), Sinclair and Bruce (2015) and Sinclair and Jackiw (2010) pertaining to Geometer’s Sketchpad, primary geometry and graphic representations in solving word problems.
To begin with the article by Sinclair and Bruce (2015) “New opportunities in geometry education at the primary school” reinforced my thinking that geometry is integral to so much of our learning they state that “geometry should be of the highest priority because it too—as a vehicle for developing spatial reasoning (p. 321)”. Yet, it is often the most overlooked and under taught mathematical unit in our classrooms. Most of my colleagues believe geometry is the unit you squeeze in in a few lessons so you can report on it. Students are often provided with basic manipulatives to “flip, slide or turn” and then draw a picture of the result.
Research by Sinclair and Bruce (2015) has shown how “new digital technologies that promote visual and kinetic interactions can help support the teaching and learning of geometry and that new technologies are already challenging assumptions about what geometry can be learned at the early primary school level (p. 324).”
I have used Geometer’s Sketchpad with my students in the past and have found it to be quite successful. Through manipulation of data points students can see how their actions influence the polygon or three-dimensional object on the screen. As stated by Sinclair and Jackiw (2010) in their chapter Modeling Practices with The Geometer’s Sketchpad the software “distinguishes between (relatively) concrete and (relatively) abstract mathematical ideas (p. 533).” I will continue to work with and investigate Geometer’s Sketchpad with my students.
Finally, the article by Edens, K., & Potter, E. (2008) “How students “unpack” the structure of a word problem: Graphic representations and problem-solving” made me stop and really investigate the way my students use visuals to explain their thinking in every subject.
“Students who used schematic visual representations were more successful problem solvers than those pictorially representing problem elements. The more “schematic-like” the visual representation, the more successful students were at problem solution (p184).”
I realize that it would likely be beneficial for me to introduce to my students the concept of schematic visuals vs pictoral visuals. Are my students drawing a picture and not really saying anything or are they using schematics to demonstrate interactions and important concepts? This idea really made me stop and think about how I have taught using visuals and that I have work to do in this area with my students.
Edens, K., & Potter, E. (2008). How students “unpack” the structure of a word problem: Graphic representations and problem-solving. School Science and Mathematics, 108(5), 184-196
Finkelstein, N.D., Perkins, K.K., Adams, W., Kohl, P., & Podolefsky, N. (2005). When learning about the real world is better done virtually: A study of substituting computer simulations for laboratory equipment. Physics Education Research,1(1), 1-8.
Sinclair, N., & Bruce, C. D. (2015). New opportunities in geometry education at the primary school. ZDM, 47(3), 319-329.
Sinclair, N., & Jackiw, N. (2010). Modeling Practices with The Geometer’s Sketchpad. In Modeling Students' Mathematical Modeling Competencies (pp. 541-554). Springer US
Srinivasan, S., Perez, L. C., Palmer, R., Brooks, D., Wilson, K., & Fowler. D. (2006). Reality versus simulation. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 15(2), 137-141
Stieff, M., & Wilensky, U. (2003). Connected chemistry – Incorporating interactive simulations into the chemistry classroom. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 12(3),