Tag Archives: learning

Learning with LEGO

Lego

I’ve always known that LEGO blocks were a great learning tool and a great toy, but I never really connected the pieces (pun intended) until I read this article about the seemingly endless ways they can be used in learning situations, especially for young learners or those with learning difficulties. This article lists over 70 ways to use LEGO to aid learning and I’m sure we can come up with many more. It just goes to show that a wonderful learning tool might be sitting right in front of you and you don’t even realise it.

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Filed under Maths, Phonics, Reading, Technology, Young Learners

Reflective Practice

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Too often in schools we have very little time to reflect on what we have just done. Whether it’s as a student learning, as a teacher teaching, or as the principal managing the school, we rarely take the time to look at what we have just done and take the time to do some self-analysis.

Whenever we attempt something at school, we always have plenty of people trying to give us their feedback on the attempt. We get our work marked and graded, someone observes our teaching and gives feedback, and so on. School is constantly filled with people being judged by others, graded and moved on to the next level.

When we do have some time for self-reflection, it is rarely the deeper, critical reflection of self-analysis. The problem is that “We have little time to reflect – when we do it’s often just a concrete narration of what happened…” (Pappas, 2014)

Pappas follows a version of Bloom’s taxonomy that he has adapted to show the progress of reflective thinking in individuals.
This is a little different from other reflective thinking practitioners, such as Schon. in his 1983 paper, he suggests that there are only two types of reflection – reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action. He describes the former as being more of a subconscious reflection and adaptation of previously learnt skills whilst the latter is similar to final papers on design, where complex skills and results analysis is the focus.

How do we apply this to our learning spaces? By encouraging our children, our students, to attempt new things and to make mistakes. The courses I am studying this semester are doing just that for me. But where do I fit? Do I follow Pappas’ version of Bloom’s taxonomy, moving from step to step? Or do I fit within the framework suggested by Schon?

Personally, I feel that I work through the reflection-in-action model. I constantly change and modify things as I go along. Just look at any one of my assignments I have done for my university courses. The final copy handed in bears little resemblance to anything that was there at the beginning. As I work I see pathways opening up ahead of me, some with potential, some with dead-ends. As I progress, I make choices. I modify. I adapt my previous learning to what I need to accomplish now. I work out ways to do what needs to be done. By experimentation. Not trial and error, that’s too simple. I predict outcomes before they occur by applying prior knowledge.

Where do our students fit in this? We must provide greater space for reflection and analysis of tasks after completion to enable our students to become better learners.

It seems as though this is quite a life lesson as well.

References:

Pappas, P. (2010) A Taxonomy of Reflection: Critical Thinking For Students, Teachers, and Principals., Source: http://www.peterpappas.com/2010/01/taxonomy-reflection-critical-thinking-students-teachers-principals-.html

Schön, D. A. (1987). Teaching artistry through reflection-in-action. In Educating the reflective practitioner (pp. 22-40). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

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My Self-Directed Learning Journey

sdl-students

Being self-directed is something I don’t think I have ever consciously thought about. I think I have usually tended to be a ‘go with the flow’ kind of personality, until I started doing this 4th year upgrade course.

Previously I had always been ‘directed’ or ‘guided’ into appropriate subjects at school. The one time I ever remember objecting and wanting to do my own choice I was told quite matter-of-factly that “Boys don’t do Home Economics in Queensland schools”. So much for my idea of becoming a chef!

Even the courses in this online platform don’t allow for choice. We have to do 8 units and there are 8 units available online. Hmmmmm!

Of course, I’m a little bolder now than I was in 1980. I’m trying to break the 8 unit mould and do 2 units on campus in Summer School in Brisbane after completing this unit. It’s a bit of a waiting game at the moment, but if I do get in, it means no Summer holiday break between semesters, but I will be finished by June. I don’t know how Pam can do 4 subjects at once, which I though about attempting. I’m struggling to keep up with 2 subjects.

One thing I have found with the subjects I have done as part of the 4th year upgrade, they tend to assume that you are teaching in a class and that you have access to technology. There seems to be a universal assumption that we are all starting from ‘the same square’. But it is good to see that some lecturers actively work to see us as individuals on our own learning continuums! Also, I have spent an extraordinary amount of money on technology (apps from iTunes and various programmes for my Mac, and now a new iPad) that I really can’t afford, but I need them to complete my work.

But, for the first time, I feel that I am doing something that I want to do because I want to do it.

It has meant sacrifice. It has meant losing a lot. But it also means that I will be able to teach again while at present I cannot (except in NSW – where no-one will employ you because you are over 40 anyway)

This course is a means to an end. I have become much more calendar conscious and much more aware of deadlines. I know my body can’t pull all-nighters and keep going the next day. I’m more conscious of study techniques and funnily enough, after all these years, I know what I’m like!

I avoid triggers of procrastination (impossible to avoid them all though). I set mini goals. I reward myself for accomplishments. I post things on Facebook when I achieve them (so I can get a like or two!). I take pride in my work and no longer see it as a chore. I now feel as if I really am learning something. I get excited about assignments (yes, I dread them) and look forward to applying what I have learnt to them. I have self-discipline. I never had that before when it came to study, ever!

I don’t fear failing, as I know I’m giving my work everything I can to succeed.

Like Justine, I do feel that “life can get in the way” at times, and that has been amply demonstrated this week with assignment work piling up and a pet family dog on the operating table for a freak leg injury. I’m at home alone, having to take care of everything and still keep up my work. I’ll get there. I might cut a few corners, but I will manage everything.

What I think I’m saying is that with age comes not just experience and knowledge, but also resilience. We know how to roll with things, we pick ourselves up to shake the dust off, and we get right back in there. How much more self-directed can we be than that?

 

Image source:

http://ictconnection.edumail.sg

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Pens Vs iPads

ipad-box

This article was emailed to me a few days ago. I respectfully acknowledge the author, Julia Calixto as I do not know the original source of the document.

As computer-based learning in classrooms continues to grow, handwriting is used less and less. The trend has some questioning if the writing’s on the wall for the age old practice.
By Julia Calixto
29 AUG 2014 – 5:11 PM

At St Andrew’s Cathedral School in Sydney, students are learning Shakespeare.

Some, like year 9 student Anthony Segaert, are using tablets and computers as well as pens and paper to study the centuries old text.

“We watch videos in class, we do lots of typing, we use mind maps, it’s really easy for us to interact with our teachers more, like when didn’t have iPads in the classroom,” he said.

Richard Ford has been teaching for 15 years and said in that time he’s witnessed a digital revolution in schools.

“I’ve seen a huge amount of change with technology in classrooms from when I started, when there was very little, to now, where every student’s carrying a device,” Mr Ford said.

Students at St Andrew’s are encouraged to bring and use the technology of their choice. It’s a policy that’s been adopted by many schools across the country.

Dr Phil Lambert from the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) believes schools are in a transitional phase.

“I visit schools a lot and some I see virtually all digital work occurring, yet in other schools I see books with pens out, pencils out,” he said.

“I think it varies and overtime once again, I think we’ll see is a transition of far more digital.”

ACARA’s head of assessment and reporting, Dr Stanley Rabinowitz, said handwritten assessments will also be phased out in the future.

“Online assessments research shows, including research we’ve done at ACARA, is more engaging for students,” he said.

“I think once we work out the logistic issues, once we have enough devices, people will get very excited about it to see their students engaged.”

While schools have no plans to drop writing as a fundamental skill, more students are opting to type rather than write.

Some education research suggests there are strong links between writing and broader educational development.

Author and design teacher Zoe Sadokierski said while using computers may be more efficient but hand writing enables people to explore ideas and thoughts.

“On a computer it’s always letter by letter, word by word, sentence by sentence and it’s very linear,” she said.

“We don’t think in a linear way. It’s very rare that an idea comes to you fully formed and sequential.”

“Usually what happens is it comes in fits and bursts and you have to figure out on paper where you’re going.”

Benefits to writing are emphasised at the Sydney School of Languages, where ancient writing systems are still taught.

Japanese Calligraphy teacher, Toshiko Jackson, said students must be focused and calm when writing calligraphy.

“It’s much more meaning than a printed letters. Calligraphy is one of the highest forms in expressing thoughts and sometimes conviction,” Toshiko Jackson said.

But whether it’s elegant script, or tapping on a tablet, teachers have no plans yet to say “pens down” for good.

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