Reflection on my Documented Learning Journey

When learning something new the first thing I do, just like my students, is “Google it”.  Anything can be posted on the internet so I am cautious of which websites I view.  I realized quickly that I want to know the specifics, the facts.  I often spend twice as long completing activities trying to ensure they are as perfect as possible.  I am a borderline perfectionist.  Pacing out measurements wasn’t “accurate” enough for me, I had to physically measure it.  I teach Math and Science so having facts hasn’t been an issue. I guess that’s why I enjoy this job.

I remember things more when I do them.  I try to give students time in class to complete activities because I know from being an adult learner that life is busy at home.

I get distracted or side tracked when researching.  I often clicked on links or continued to read topics that were completely unrelated.  I spent more time discussing recipes than vegetable storage.   I don’t think this is a bad thing.  This is how my learning journey will never come to an end, Right?.  I have two more projects on my to do list.  This project made me realize that it is ok if we spend some time in class talking “off-topic”.  We often learn something else by doing this (like my recipes).

I prefer to have reasons “why”.  I try to give reasons “why” students should know each skill.   I also want to be prepared for when someone asks it.  I even have reasons why Plumbers should know trigonometry.

I have made a promise to myself to not be “irritated” when questions are asked over and over…this doesn’t mean they didn’t hear it, perhaps they just want to be sure.  I must have read the assignment page 10 times to make sure I was getting it as correct as I can.

So here I go back to being the Instructor (but always learning) less annoyed by repetitive questions and more compassionate for the real life stuff that gets in the way of homework (trying to not dwell on the fact that this is more than 300 words).

Webquests

A Webquest is a pre-determined assignment where the students are responsible to watch or view a number of resources and complete a list of questions or activities on them.  This is to be completed outside of the classroom. I am not yet convinced that Webquests would  be effective for all my classes but I could definitely use them in both my Science and Math Courses.

I have circumstances where students do not have internet access when they leave school.  However I can  ensure the library or a Computer lab is accessible for these students.  I also have some students that are not too experienced with Computers so I would probably wait until Level 2 Apprenticeship Trades to introduce this type of assignment.  The students complete Computer related training in Level 1.

Using webquests for my regular College classes especially for Science Theories could be implemented easily.  Most of these students have smartphones and they have a Learn site that I could use.  Using one for Math may be a bit more challenging however I am aware that Khan Academy has some great Math videos.

One Webquest topic I found that would work for me is the Gas Law’s.  I found three Webquest’s easily for reference.  Webquest 1, 2, 3.  I’m sure almost all of my Science laws could easily be found already created.  I often use short videos to explain topics so I have multiple resources already.  Many PowerPoints on theories are also readily available.  If I were to create a webquest on Gas Laws I could use the following videos Boyle’s Law and Charles’ Law as well as Ideal Gas Law.

I really like the idea of having more time in class to discuss different theories with the students with them already viewing some information ahead of time.  I believe a large amount could be discussed/learned especially for Science topics with the students talking about the videos and work they complete.  This method would allow more time in class to practice calculations and apply the theories.

Flipping the Classroom

I recently read some articles on Flipping the Classroom (The Benefits of Flipping your Classroom, “I Don’t Like This One Little Bit.” Tales from a Flipped Classroom and Understanding the Flipped Classroom: Part 1 and Part 2) .

Until I read these I really thought this would work perfectly for me and maybe I was already doing this a bit, now I’m pretty sure I’m not.  Certainly not if it always involves homework.  I rarely assign homework. I allow for time in class for students to work on problems after instruction through lecture, demonstration/simulation or video.  Students often present how they completed them to the class.

This method would be easier in my College courses compared to Apprenticeship. Sometimes my students do not have Internet access or Smartphones.  I guess I can give students time at the library to view the resource.  I can post the resource on the Learn site but I would have to request Learn sites for Apprenticeship courses.

This method would be more effective in my Science courses compared to Math courses. Often short videos are used to explain concepts.  With this method I can spend the time discussing them.  Many of the trade specific problems completed in Math may not be in videos or audio files so I would have to create them.  I’m not a fan of being on video but I could use the PowerPoint slides that I have and record the audio (Thank-you Intro to Technology).  I do think that some of the content is available created for an Online Learning Course which I could inquire about using.  I am teaching a new higher level Apprenticeship course that I may try this out in.  This won’t work for all my lessons though I have some Math problems that take much longer than 10 minutes to explain.

Student Centered Learning Article

I read an article titled “10 Ways to Get Student Centered Learning Right” by Leah Levy.  I am aware of methods for student centered learning and I use them especially on Friday afternoon’s when we are all watching the clock for the weekend to start so I was very interested in doing it correctly.

Levy writes that student centered learning is “an educational experience that is driven by its students.”  What could go wrong with letting our students drive the class?  According to the article we don’t really have to nor should we give up control of the classroom to the students.  I agree with the suggestions below and am fortunate to have the opportunity to pursue this type of learning environment for students to meet the end goals.  Some suggestions were modified to be applicable to my career at a College.

  1. Don’t lead, facilitate or coach students allow everyone to have a chance to participate (not just the extroverts).  Guide them to think deeper.  Ask “why”.  Ensure students don’t lose track of the end goal.
  2. Push students to apply knowledge in new settings but allow them a choice in how they do this. Use group projects, choose from topics.
  3. Ensure teachers have adequate training in techniques and resources so personalized learning environments can be created. (iPads)
  4. Set clear rules for work so everyone is clear of what is expected.  Ensure everyone participates.
  5. Give a variety of feedback; for discussions, skills, written tests etc.
  6. Ensure students have support after school to complete work.
  7. Give the student an experience to learn from.  Take a tour, work placements.
  8. Measure success in other ways then test marks. (Projects)
  9. Realize that this doesn’t work for all topics.  It’s great for critical thinking skills.
  10. Management must ensure that adequate resources and supplies are available to complete activities.

What topics would be best suited to deliver using a student centered learning approach?