Monthly Archives: January 2017

Image of 3 beakers and an atom to indicate science.

Here Comes Science

I learned a long time ago that I’m a Constructivist. Constructivism is essentially the concept that each learner builds (constructs) his/her own learning (this is, of course, a broad generalization of a deep and complex topic, but will serve here). In teaching in the classroom and in watching students in other teacher’s classrooms, constructivism has been apparent to me. I’ve seen enough “light bulb” moments to be rooted in constructivism. So, the concept of finding that one right strategy to teach all students has always frustrated me. Learning is messy. Learning can be ugly. Learning is non-linear. Learning doesn’t happen on the same day for all learners. Learning doesn’t happen in the same way for all learners.

One of the recent trends that we seen is the identification and public sharing of Content and Language Objectives. First of all, let me say that I don’t believe that there is anything wrong with Content and Language Objectives. These are wonderful things for teachers to know, actively identify and work with on a real level. There are instances where it is wonderfully useful for students to know and identify Content and Language Objectives as well. However, if every class starts with the students choral reading the Content and Language Objectives, well, I’m going to doubt that meaningful learning will happen in all classes.

See, I believe that learning frequently resides in a mystery. Learning lives in a story. Learning lives in discovery. Learning can be different for each student on each day.

Now, here comes Science. The new NGSS guidelines focus on students doing discovery learning. YES! YES! YES! Students doing the work. Students NOT being told what they will learn, but being guided so that they will learn what they need. This is how I believe that more learning should happen. Teachers guiding the students along the path of enlightenment, not being told that at the end of the hour they will be able to….

 

*Image: The original image has been released into the public domain by its author, AllyUnion, at the English Wikipedia project.

Studying

As a principal, I used to meet with students and parents regularly. Frequently, those meetings were held because a student wasn’t doing as well as was possible. The subject of studying would inevitably be discussed. Generally, the student would study by reading and then reading some more. While this may work for some students, much more is generally needed.

Research shows us that students need to do much more to study. There are some really nice posters that communicate this over at The Learning Scientists Poster page.

These posters specify six different strategies:

These are strategies that all students should know and have be able to use. Not all of these strategies will be used all of the time, but students should know them and know how to use them.

I’ve shared this with others. One of my wonderful Tech Coaches, did a write up on how he used Moodle while in the classroom to provide students with retrieval practice. He is an excellent teacher. His write up is titled “Practice is Best”. Do yourself a favor and go read it.

He discusses how Moodle can provide teachers with a wonderful way to help guide students and provide them retrieval practice.

My experiment produced extremely favorable results. Test averages jumped. Anxiety levels on the day of the test seemed to plunge. And the two probably had an effect on each other.

Sometimes, it is necessary to review what we do as teachers. It’s also important to look at how we do. Take a look at the studying strategies. Maybe you’ll want to invest a bit in yourself and learn how Moodle can help your students study more effectively.

  • Bonus hint: what if students created the quizzes (along with why an answer was wrong)?

Medium is losing money, start your own blog

Medium “cuts” 50 jobs

According to Endgadget, Medium is cutting 50 jobs (er, that would be laying off 50 people) because they are spending money faster than it is coming in. Medium was quite the darling not too long ago. Several bloggers had moved their blogging over to get the additional exposure that Medium provided. Medium does have some really, really good content.

However, for me this exemplifies a choice. Either establish your own site, where you have full control and full responsibility, or continually follow the fads and fashions of the web. Following the fads and fashions can lead to easier publicity, fewer responsibilities and less “worrying”. However, it can also put you at the whim of someone else.

This is a choice that we users and content creators of the Internet should be making thoughtfully. There really isn’t a single correct answer. For some, following the fads and fashions is perfectly appropriate. For others, having control and creating what you want is important.

Whichever, you choose, choose thoughtfully.

Times Change

I found this picture in my ramblings about the Internet.

 

This is a picture of a 5 MB drive for IBM in 1956.  I’m not sure how much it costs, but you could lease access to it for $3,200 a month (roughly $28,000 a month factoring in inflation) .

Here’s another picture:

This one is being taken off a plane.

Here is an image of a 4 GB drive that I was given for free:

Image of a pen with a 4 GB flash drive in the cap.

The free 4GB drive is about 4096 MB’s (or about 819 times larger than the 5MB drive above).

Just a thought on how things have changed.