In Year 3 of MAET we have been reading Sparks of Genius. Today’s reading assignment was about “patterning”. There are just some tidbits from today’s conversation and activities with colleagues and professors that leave me wondering and thinking about what’s happening in our schools and how I can promote patterning in my own life and my students’ lives:
Patterns can be recognized as a sequence or a relationship. Patterns are biased by culture, based on our prior knowledge. Simple ideas we get from patterning can lead to more complex ideas. Pattern recognition can be accidental or purposeful. Patterns come in three forms: semantic, visual and schematic. When we break patterns, we become able to think more creatively. Holes in patterns allow us to create new insights….a new pattern to discover, maybe. Patterns allow us to connect to our world in a deeper way, with a more fine-tuned understanding of our reality.
Why aren’t schools teaching more patterning? Why aren’t we drawing on patterns’ relationships throughout subject areas?
How do I create a patterning practice in my content area? And how can I create activities that guide my students to form patterns?
These are big, daunting questions. We tried to create an activity for our students to create patterns (semantic patterns) based on a grammar concept that they struggle applying. Here is our example of a Language Arts activity for ELL students, flexible depending on age, usable on an interactive white board, especially elementary student-friendly. What do you think? How could my group improve it in patterning design? How could we have altered it to reflect more the need of students patterning?
Today we were able to meet with Dave McCollom of TechSmith. He introduced our class to Snagit and googleaday. Snagit is a tool that is available with free or paid versions, on PCs or Macs. Googleaday is an online activity used to practice searching skills through Google. We used the Chrome version of Snagit which is free, a good option for teachers with students with devices in class. After running us through the infrastructure of Snagit’s recording and storage capabilities, we began our research on googleaday.
We were challenged to solve the answer posed by Google under a certain amount of time. As we researched, we recorded our search through Snagit. Once we shared our search’s evidence, we traded our video clips with a partner. Dave asked us to keep in mind our partner’s searching techniques and to note if there were any techniques that we learned from watching. Once I watched my partnter’s search, I realized that I had completely forgotten to use the Google Power Search techniques we learned last year! (I’m thinking that doing a few of these a week would really be great reminders in how to keep my searching skills honed!)
Snagit definitely seems like a great tool to use in class with students. An affordance of Snagit is it’s collaboration with Google Chrome. Saving, sharing and viewing the video files was easy. However, at the same time, Google provides a constraint, as the infrastructure of it’s set up through Google can be a bit confusing. If used effectively though, screencasts could be used to create interactive feedback between teachers and students, students and students, and can give a clear picture of what is happening inside students’ minds. What’s more, Snagit could even help us personalize online learning activities for students, if we choose to elaborate on existing videos created by educators and learners.
TED-Ed Flipped Learning
Today we practiced using TED Ed for flipping our classrooms with videos. TED Ed makes it very simple to find helpful videos and set up thinking, questions and discussion topics. This tool is a wonderful addition for my class, as it could provide quick and intriguing homework and it could help further learning if there are teacher or student absences. Due to time constraints, I chose to focus on writing a friendly letter, as it is something that we visit a lot in 5th grade and appears on my students KET test in the spring.
It’s important that as educators, we take leadership roles in our school communities and challenge products and ideas that cross our school’s doorway. We must be informed, critical consumers of research. According to Willingham’s book When Can you Trust the Experts?…we should follow these steps in analyzing and deciding on products or ideas that seem like good (and massive) school adoptions within our peripheral sense:
1. Strip it and Flip it
2. Trace it
3. Analyze it
Our group used Willingham’s steps and researched BrainGym. We found that the website was aimed at our emotional connections and played to our peripheral knowledge of how beneficial movement is in learning. The site makes big claims without any statistical backing or reference to supportive research. However, the founder Paul Dennison, has no medical training and the research mentioned online is misleading. Unfortunately, this BrainGym curriculum has been adopted around the world without educators questioning the adoption.
Today we held two different formats of discussion about Willingham’s Ch. 4 and Ch. 5.
First, we discussed Ch. 4 face-to-face. I noticed that not everyone participated. I didn’t participate much, as I heard a lot of comments that were repeated and thought my ideas were thrown out to the class. Secondly, we had an “online class” discussion using edmodo.com. While I was able to participate more on edmodo, my thought processes were scrambled up and it was difficult to follow conversation threads. Here are some shots from today’s conversations online.
Today we were asked to create a type of media mash-up video illustrating a key concept from Willingham’s Ch. 3 for our Book Club time. We were given little time, a lot of resources and needed to produce a video with or without a partner. Many of our products were not finished or not finished well. The feeling of not meeting the challenge or feeling high stress at the lesson’s end stuck with many of us. We are to keep in mind what we are asking our students to think about–the technology or the actual content of our lesson? Are we planning activities that are appropriately challenging for our students?
To reinforce our important details about factual knowledge from Ch. 2 of Willingham’s book, we were presented with the challenge of locating apps for learning, look at them with a critical eye, and to write a professional review on the app in the App Store. In theory, if we know how to select apps with a critical eye, we, as educators, then are more able to create a deeper level of knowledge, in helping our students build up their factual knowledge bank–given they can use those apps.
My Language Arts group decided to review some grammar apps, as our students need to build more factual knowledge in grammar structures we agreed. One app that I looked closely at was Grammar Express: Parts of Speech. Some affordances of this app are that: students can change the time allowed to complete grammar quiz questions, the quiz feature offers instant feedback to the students, and lastly, there is some help offered to play the app correctly. The constraints include that the app is directed to native English speakers, and advanced ones at that–the students would need context knowledge to complete such difficult questions.
This rubric helped us to choose apps with our teachery eyes.
To kick off Ch. 1 of Willingham’s book, Why Don’t Students like School?, we started the conversation with an exploration of concept maps. We were asked to identify key concepts of Ch. 1 using a concept mapping tool that was given to us. The tool I was given was Mind42. While the tool itself looked appealing and organized text and images in a pleasant way, it was extremely difficult to navigate the tools within the site. My partner and I spent more time trying to get the text bubbles to appear and organize than actual time spent on reviewing the content of Ch. 1.
Our conversations that followed became extremely important regarding our experience. We were reminded that concept mapping helps free up working memory, it recycles our thinking and reinforces/creates schemas. In our experience, we were also reminded to build activities for our students that are achievable challenges–to make the activities rewarding when it comes to problem solving. Such activities are also useful because they may be UDL appropriate and open-ended for different learners in our classrooms.
While I didn’t enjoy using Mind42, (because the problem solving wasn’t an appropriate challenge for me) I left the activity wanting to check out Mindomo and Mindmeister.
For our first quickfire back at school, we were given the task to take a photo from around our new campus that defines us. After, we were to upload it to a shared Picasa web album.
I found a beautiful tree, on a river bank. The sun was shining and I was reminded of my home in Portland, Oregon. I long to be there and dream of the day that I can return, permanently. It was the perfect definition of where I come from and where I want to be–immersed in trees, rivers, mountains, and lush, green parks–something I miss dearly while living overseas in a concrete jungle! Lastly, I added the lenses of my glasses over my camera’s view. I’m blind in one eye and far-sighted in the other. This was to represent the balance I try to maintain in my life to work slowly, double-check, be thoughtful and considerate. No matter where I go, I am reminded of my disability (and others’ disabilities) and how it affects/affected my learning and socializing.
We are officially enrolled again in the MAET adventure in Ireland! It’s definitely great to be back, exploring and collaborating with old and new friends alike. These posts now mark the beginning of MAET Year 2!