PIDP 3250 – My Reflections – what did I learn?

This post marks the end of my PIDP 3250 Instructional Strategies course. The amount of learning that took place in this course is remarkable.
I will empower students to become more actively involved in their own learning, promote higher order thinking and have the students make meaning of what they are learning. I will experiment with a variety of instructional strategies that cater to a variety of learning styles among my students. I will gauge motivation in class by observing attentiveness in class, quality of work on assignments and quality of contributions in class to assess whether the activities are working.
Although I have continued to reflect on content from the discussion forum on my blog throughout the course, I have chosen to put pen to paper and summarize what I have learnt from the discussion forums as my last posting. My continual growth in my lifelong learning is very exciting. I will use instructional strategies along my journey as I continue my teaching career.

Self-directed Learning and the Adult Learner
I learnt that the self-directed learner is one who takes initiative to pursue a learning experience, and the responsibility for completing their learning. The learner is driving the total learning experience, beginning with recognizing a need to learn. To foster a self-directed learning environment, the instructor should create a safe, positive environment that includes encouragement and quality, timely feedback. Motivation is a unique and critical issue in teaching adults to be self-directed. It is unique in that the teacher must motivate students to take on the task of managing their own activities, and must then teach the students to motivate themselves. I learnt that helping students learn to be organized, prioritize tasks and manage their time may increase confidence, which in turn leads to an increase in self-direction. I learnt that teachers play an important role in supporting learners engaging in self-directed learning and developing autonomy. There are a number of key skills which learners are able to employ if they successfully assume full control of the learning process.

Learning styles
Each person prefers different learning styles. We do not process incoming information in the same way. Neither do we store it, organize it or retrieve it in the same way. Learning styles group common ways that people learn. I learnt that everyone has a mix of learning styles. Some people may find that they have a dominant style of learning. Students and teachers have varying learning styles, and no single teaching style can fulfill all students’ needs. By recognizing and understanding the students learning styles, we can use techniques better suited to them. This improves the speed and quality of their learning. If students become aware of their preferred learning styles they will then be more able to recognize their strengths and weaknesses. I discovered that learning styles have more influence than I realized. Our preferred styles guide the way we learn. Mismatches that exist between the learning styles of most students in a class and the teaching style of the teacher, may result in students becoming bored and inattentive in class, doing poorly on tests, and getting discouraged about the course. To overcome these problems, teachers should strive for a balance of instructional methods (as opposed to trying to teach each student exclusively according to his or her preferences.) If the balance is achieved, all students will be taught partly in a manner they prefer, which leads to an increased comfort level and willingness to learn.

Positive Learning Environments
I learnt that creating a positive learning environment will allow students to feel comfortable, safe and engaged. A number of factors contribute to a positive learning environment for students. I discovered that ambience is an extremely important part of creating a positive learning environment. Our classrooms should be a dynamic and engaging place to be for our students. Another aspect of ambience is the physical environment and class layout. Desks arranged in rows does not allow for a very communal atmosphere. In addition, I learnt that establishing expectations for student behavior early and consistency can assist in avoiding many classroom management issues. We should develop and reinforce classroom rules and norms that clearly support safe and respectful behavior and help create a predictable, safe learning environment for students. Empathy and respect are very important to create a supportive and trusting environment, especially with the student diversity present in our classrooms today. Promoting positive peer relationships where students support and are kind to one another creates an environment where students will thrive. An additional key element learnt is that humor can be an effective tool in teaching, and can contribute to a positive environment for learning.

The Flipped Classroom
I learnt that many educators are experimenting with the idea of a flipped classroom. A flipped class is one that inverts the typical cycle of content acquisition and application so that students gain necessary knowledge before class, and instructors guide students to actively and interactively clarify and apply that knowledge during class. The flipped classroom essentially reverses traditional teaching. Instead of lectures occurring in the classroom and assignments being done at home, the opposite occurs. I learnt that the flipped model puts more of the responsibility for learning on the shoulders of students while giving them greater impetus to experiment. In terms of Bloom’s taxonomy, when using the Flipped classroom, the students are doing the lower levels of cognitive work (gaining knowledge and comprehension) outside of class, and focusing on the higher forms of cognitive work (application, analysis, synthesis, and/or evaluation) in class, where they have the support of their peers and instructor. The flipped classroom model brings together advances in education and technology to provide a personalized, engaging learning experience for every student — whatever their learning style, pace, or ability. I discovered a benefit of the flipped classroom is that students learn more deeply and are more active participants in learning.

Questioning Techniques
I learnt that the art of questioning can engage and enhance a students learning. Facilitating student discussion through questioning can be one of the most challenging aspects of teaching. I realize, following the forum discussion, that it is not only important to ask questions, but to ask the RIGHT questions that will promote students higher level thinking skills. I discovered that the purpose of questions in the classroom include: to develop interest and motivate students to become actively involved in lessons, to evaluate students’ preparation, to develop critical thinking skills and inquiring attitudes, to review and summarize previous lessons, to nurture insights, to assess achievement of instructional goals and objectives, to stimulate students to pursue knowledge on their own. In addition, I learnt that good questions take: planning, should be based on the learning outcomes, build on prior learning, build on blooms taxonomy, and should make students question their own learning. A key element learnt is that I should wait for students to think and formulate responses. I should also resist the temptation to interrupt the student’s answers.

Motivation
Motivating students is one of the greatest challenges we face. We have a great deal to do with student motivation level in class. Instructors who understand student motivation can greatly enhance the classroom experience and student performance. I learnt that motivation arises from outside (extrinsic) or inside (intrinsic) the student. There is no single magical formula for motivating students. Some ways to help and encourage students in the classroom through motivation are to:
*Give frequent, positive feedback that supports student’s beliefs that they can do well.
*Ensure opportunities for students’ success by assigning tasks that are appropriate for their level
of learning.
*Assist students to find personal meaning and value in the material.
*Create an atmosphere that is open and positive.
*Some techniques to motivate students are to:
*Provide High Expectation – students may be motivated if the teacher establishes high realistic
standards in the classroom.
*Be enthusiastic in your classroom – a teacher’s enthusiasm is a critical factor in motivating
students.
*Tell students what they need to do – provide a rubric key that students can see the steps they
must take to succeed.
*Students must set their own goals – this can be helpful if the student can see areas what areas of
study they need to elevate in order to excel.
*Establish positive environment – the teacher can provide encouragement by reinforcing student
success by positive comments and feedback.

Classroom management
Classroom management is a critical ingredient of effective teaching. Classroom management has the largest effect on student achievement. Classroom management refers to all of the things that a teacher does to organize students, space, time and materials so that instruction in content and student learning can take place. From the forum postings I appreciate the need to keep students involved in their work, have students understand what is expected of them, maximize time on task, prevent confusion, and run a work simulated classroom. I know that an important role for me as an instructor is classroom manager to improve student engagement and build a positive climate for learning.

Visible learning
Visible learning is an enhanced role for teachers as they become evaluators of their own teaching. Teachers must know when learning is correct or incorrect; learn when to experiment; learn to monitor, seek and give feedback; and know how to try alternative learning strategies. But most importantly is that teaching is visible to the student, and learning is visible to the teacher. I need to optimize my feedback, ensure I am giving students powerful feedback they can use, and heighten students’ awareness of the benefits of effective feedback.

Metacognition
This intimidating word refers to higher order thinking which involves active control over the cognitive processes engaged in learning. We engage in metacognitive activities every day. Metacognition enables us to be successful learners. “Metacognition” is often simply defined as “thinking about thinking.” Metacognition is a critically important, yet often overlooked component of learning. Metacognition is essential for effective learning in complex situations. Teaching metacognition results in improved learning. Effective learning involves planning, monitoring one’s progress and adapting as needed. These skills tap into metacognition. There are three critical steps to teaching metacognition:
1. Teaching students that their ability to learn is mutable
2. Teaching planning and goal-setting
3. Giving students ample opportunities to practice monitoring their learning and adapting as necessary

PIDP 3250 – Blogs as a Reflective Learning Tool

As the PIDP 3250 course draws to an end, I thought it would be fitting to reflect on Blogs as a reflective learning tool. To be a critical reflector is important across many professions. Persuading students to reflect purposefully and critically is an arduous and challenging task and students often resist opportunities to reflect. I learnt that reflection serves as a bridge between experiences and learning, and increased learning can occur from reflecting on an experience or situation. Reflection can promote deep learning and can be used as a strategy for students who embrace lifelong learning. A blog for reflective journal writings was used as an integral component in the PIDP 3250 course. I regard the education blog as a powerful and effective technology tool for students and teachers alike. I think blogging is educationally sound for teaching students because it provides a space for students to share opinions and learning and thus allows for students and teachers to learn from each other. Blogs also provide the opportunity for collaborative learning, giving students the opportunity to read their classmates blogs. This would not be possible in a regular classroom setting. Blogging, therefore, engages students in conversation and learning. Blogging was a great way for me to demonstrate engagement and interest in the ongoing forum discussions. Even though I was new to the blog environment, I found it easy to write and post entries using the blog environment. Due to the user friendliness and the interactive nature of the blog environment, I liked using it. As an educational tool, blogs may be integrated in a multi-faceted manner to accommodate all learners. I hope to integrate the use of blogs in my classroom as an opportunity for students to reflect on their learning, and as a powerful tool to enable scaffolded learning.

An article I recently read highlights the educational benefits of blogs. In addition to providing teachers with an excellent tool for communicating with students, other educational benefits of blogs are: (Crie, 2006)
•Highly motivating to students, especially those who otherwise might not become participants in classrooms.
•Excellent opportunities for students to read and write.
•Effective forums for collaboration and discussion.
•Powerful tools to enable scaffolded learning or mentoring to occur.

Reference:
Crie, M. (2006). Using Blogs to Integrate Technology in the Classroom, Education Up Close, Teaching Today, Glencoe Online. Using Blogs to Integrate Technology in the Classroom, Education Up Close, Teaching Today, Glencoe Online. Retrieved June 21, 2014, from http://www.glencoe.com/sec/teachingtoday/educationupclose.phtml/47

sucessful-blog1

PIDP 3250 – IDEAL

Acronyms are handy ways to remember ideas. Looking back at the forum postings I was reminded of the acronym IDEAL. The IDEAL strategy is used in problem solving. The IDEAL way to solve problems has five steps.
I-Identify the problem
D-Define and represent the problem
E-Explore possible strategies or solutions
A-Act on a selected strategy or solution
L-Look back and evaluate
Problems involve reorganizing how you think about things, and what you do about them. When working through problems, some students are unsure of themselves. This lack of confidence may hamper their learning. Students need to develop the ability to apply problem-solving skills. It is my impression that students are overly dependent upon teachers in the classroom. Many students are keen to let someone else do the thinking for them in order to solve problems or students lack the confidence in their abilities to solve problems on their own. In an era of advancing technology in medical radiography, the ability to problem solve is essential to improve the quality of clinical service. Problem solving is one of those skills I aspire to have my students develop. I believe problem-solving should be a very real part of the curriculum. It implies that students can take on some of the responsibility for their own learning and can take personal action to solve problems, resolve conflicts, discuss alternatives, and focus on thinking as a vital element of the curriculum. Problem-solving skills provide students with opportunities to use their newly acquired knowledge in meaningful, real-life activities and assists them in working at higher levels of thinking. How do we convince students that improving their problem-solving skills is important? I think an important goal of education should be to teach students problem-solving skills. We should teach student’s problem-solving strategies and encourage students to reflect on the problem-solving strategies that they use. I look forward to introducing the IDEAL problem-solving strategy into my class to help students approach and resolve problems. It is a great tool to utilize in undertaking metacognition.

PIDP 3250 – ” I don’t know.”

The topic of saying, “I don’t know” to students came up in the forum discussion. Some peers felt it a relief to admit to their students that they don’t know everything. I find it a challenge and to say, “I don’t know” and embarrassing to acknowledge lack of knowledge about subject matter. Unfortunately, there is a negative stigma attached to a teacher saying they don’t know. Ultimately, are we, the teacher, not supposed to be all-knowing? I am afraid to admit to a lack of knowledge because students might take this as an admission of inadequacy.
I repeatedly assure my students that there are no stupid questions. I understand and accept that my students do not have all the answers. But what does it mean when I do not have all the answers? In my own experience as a teacher, I found that even after teaching the same course many times, there were still questions from students that I could not adequately answer. I have learnt that instead of delaying responses to students with the excuse that the answer will be taught soon, admitting that I do not always know opens up numerous possibilities in the classroom. This led me to question if I can use my lack of knowledge to facilitate student learning. I can use embrace this opportunity and ask students in the class if they have an answer or a possible suggestion. I realize that an admission of “I don’t know” can lead to a positive outcome. It assists in developing a trusting relationship between students and myself, and it stimulates student participation, providing an opportunity for learning through meaningful student interaction. By admitting that I do not know shows students that they too can be less afraid or ashamed to admit their own ignorance and uncertainties.
i-dont-know

PIDP 3250 – The Power of Words

This video posted by my peer on the forum, struck a chord with me, and sends an incredible message. It made me realize the power words have in our daily lives. Our use of words can increase student engagement, build a positive classroom community, and more effectively manage behavior by helping students develop confidence, competence, and self-control. By using positive words we can energize our students. This video highlighted the importance of words for me. Words are a powerful teaching tool. We cannot teach a lesson without words. Our words can lift our students up to their highest potential or tear them down. Words can help build positive relationships or encourage discord and distrust. Our words shape how students think, act and learn. Bearing in mind what a difference the right words can make, I can appreciate that it is a good idea for me to take the time to choose my words wisely as words have enormous power.

PIDP 3250 – ARCS Motivation Model

What makes a learner eager and willing to sit through a class? How do you keep the learner interested? I am certain we all know the challenge of stimulating and sustaining learner motivation and the difficulty of finding reliable and valid methods for motivating learners. One approach that we may use to meet this challenge is using the ARCS Model of Motivational Design. So what is it? Keller’s ARCS Model of Motivational Design provides strategies to make instruction more appealing. According to John Keller’s ARCS model of motivational design, there are four steps for promoting and sustaining motivation in the learning process. These four categories represent sets of conditions that are necessary for a person to be fully motivated,
A- Attention
R- Relevance
C- Confidence
S- Satisfaction

Keller (2006) writes, ‘motivational design is concerned with connecting instruction to the goals of learners, providing stimulation and appropriate levels of challenge, and influencing how the learners will feel following successful goal accomplishment, or even following failure.”

A is for Attention – You need to grab a student’s attention. You can use tactics such as active participation and humor. It is essential that the strategies and tactics used support the instructional goals. Another tactic that can be used is variation. I learnt that I should not present the content the same way every time. I should mix it up with a little video, a little animation, a little text to keep the students interest and hold their attention.

R is for Relevance – Establish relevance in order to increase a student’s motivation. Motivation is lost if the content has no apparent value to the learner. Reflecting on this I realize I should be asking myself, “How is this content relevant to my learners and their goals? What’s in it for them?” It is important to use case studies or examples that the student can connect to. One way to do this is to relate instructional content to the learners’ future job. I appreciate that when content is relevant to the learner’s needs, they’ll be motivated to complete the activities.

C is more Confidence. It is my duty to help students understand their chances for success. Often students have low confidence because they have very little understanding of what is expected of them. By making the objectives clear and providing examples of acceptable achievements, it is easier to build confidence. If they feel they cannot meet the course objective their motivation will decrease. I understand that in order for the students to have confidence they need to know what is expected of them.

S is for satisfaction. In order to sustain motivation, the fourth condition of motivation required is -satisfaction Learning must be rewarding and satisfying, and students should walk away with a sense of accomplishment. It means that students receive recognition and evidence of success that support their intrinsic feelings of satisfaction

I think this is a great theory to motivate students. I think Keller (2006) touches on key points on how grabbing a student’s attention is the critical start to this theory, as it is only when a student pays attention that they can become engaged. Without engagement, true motivation cannot exist. I have seen firsthand in my own class how (as Keller describes) creating curiosity, challenging student’s thinking and mixing up the delivery methods are successful to a student’s learning and motivation.
I agree with his theory and think the acronym ARCS is very effective. I like that the model contains strategies that connect to instructional goals, which can help an instructor stimulate or maintain each motivational element, generating interest and motivation. By attending to the attention, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction of the students, that influence motivation, I can create a lesson that is aligned to a learner’s needs and keeps them focused and engaged.

Reference:

John Keller’s ARCS Model of Motivational Design. (2010). Instructional or Learning Design. Retrieved June 16, 2014, from http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/learning/id/arcs_model.html

Keller, J. M. (2006). What is motivational design. Retrieved from
http://arcsmodel.com/Mot%20dsgn%20Mot%20dsgn.htm

PIDP 3250 Visible Learning

I was introduced to John Hattie and the interesting concept of visible learning through the forum postings of my peers. So what does visible learning mean? Visible learning is an enhanced role for teachers as they become evaluators of their own teaching. According to John Hattie, visible learning and teaching occurs when teachers see learning through the eyes of students, and help them become their own teachers. It is critical that teaching and learning are visible. Hattie highlights that teachers should know how they impact student learning. He argues that successful classrooms have visible teaching and learning, where there is great passion displayed by the teacher and learner, and where there is a variety and depth of skill and knowledge by both teacher and student. Teachers must know when learning is correct or incorrect; learn when to experiment; learn to monitor, seek and give feedback; and know how to try alternative learning strategies. But most importantly is that teaching is visible to the student, and learning is visible to the teacher. The more the student becomes the teacher and the more the teacher becomes the learner, the more successful are the outcomes. Hattie argues that teachers need to seek feedback on their practice from both students and colleagues. They also need to help students become their own teachers. Through more visible teaching and learning, there is a greater likelihood of students reaching higher levels of achievement. Hattie shows us how to determine the impact we have right now with our own students. John Hattie’s words: “Know Thy Impact” strikes a chord with me. My takeaway from this is to start with the end in mind. What can, should, or would I want to see as evidence of learning in my students and then what approaches and strategies should I use to ‘achieve’ those outcomes. I shouldn’t be asking: what works but instead ask: what works best? I should modify feedback within my classroom. As a teacher I give a great deal of feedback, and not all of it is good. I need to optimize my feedback, ensure I am giving students powerful feedback they can use, and heighten students’ awareness of the benefits of effective feedback. Hattie’s visible learning approach has provided insight into what I should stop doing and what I should be doing better. In addition, the feedback that students offer to me, whether it relates to what works or what they don’t find engaging, all has a positive effect on the learning that takes place in my classroom.

Reference:
Visible learning: what’s good for the goose…. (2010, April 1). Retrieved June 15, 2014, from https://www.eduweb.vic.gov.au/edulibrary/public/publ/research/publ/Researcharticle_visible_learning.pdf