What did you learn about understanding student understanding?
Great posts, Edie! Glad to hear that you made it through that rough week and that more peaceful times are near. Your take on classroom applications of Norman's arguments is compelling, as is the Weebly illustration. I also liked your emphasis on "small changes" in M2.3, keeping existing constraints in mind to make adjustments realistic.
After learning about misconceptions last week, it is now my turn to see how I can use this knowledge to improve my own teaching. This week in CEP 800, I was in charge of creating a podcast showcasing an interview with one of my students. It was interesting to hear what he had to say about light energy. I was happy to see that he understood the major concepts, such as light being able to reflect and create shadows, as well as the fact that light has the ability to create heat. He was also able to generalize that light energy from the sun was necessary for plants and animals, but he was not able to elaborate much for either. This is not surprising since we did not discuss producers and consumers in the context of this unit, but in the future, it may something to consider. One misconception I noticed was that the student stated that light will reflect off of a window. While this is correct sometimes, for example when the sun is rising or setting or when you are taking a picture, it is not always the case. This student could probably benefit from some clarification on how light interacts with transparent objects, that is, it travels through the material. All in all, I felt that the recorded interview went well and it has offered me some new insight into my lesson.
The actual recording went pretty smoothly. I had a hard time with my student's audio, however, because he is soft spoken to begin with, he was very nervous, and he sometimes mumbles. I ended up taking out most of my original audio and rerecording it so that I could raise the volume of his voice without deafening listeners with my own. There is also some noise in his track, which I minimized some, but I couldn't remove it all without losing his voice. This was my first time using Audacity to do more than a simple recording, so there was a bit of learning on my part (such as not being able to edit while paused - you must hit stop) but all in all it was not too bad.
"Nice job on the audio production assignment, Edie! Content and Organization (Interview, Narration): Your interview is very nicely set up and contextualized. It helps the listener to know what the recent lesson on light energy contained to focus their listening on the very gaps and misconceptions that are of interest here. Your questions are well thought out and non-redundant, and you carry out the interview skillfully without steamrolling the reticent respondent (which is a risk if you put a teaching personality and a quiet student together in the same podcast). Your conclusion is very, summarizing and reflecting upon what we heard in a very thoughtful and insightful manner. Production values (Continuity, Pace, Editing): As you already stated, the audio is a bit problematic when it comes to your soft-spoken student. The measures you took (boosting his portions only so your own portions would not “deafen” the listener ;-) – did help, although of course the ambient noise increases with this boost as well. But this is really just a minor issue, it is nice to see one of the quieter kids getting the spotlight (although he was probably not too keen on it!). There is a cough at 2:42 and a pause right before that could be edited out Sound effects fit the “sciency” topic and assist the listener in shifting gears (from direct interview context to “stepping back and reflecting on the responses”). Overall, the project is edited well, and your audio moves seamlessly from section to section. The pace and well-chosen length capture and maintain your audience’s attention. Ideas are communicated with enthusiasm, proper voice projection, appropriate language, and clear delivery. All elements are addressed in complete and compelling fashion. Again, nice job!"
In this week's reading assignment from The Anti-Education Era: Creating Smarter Students Through Digital Learning by James Paul Gee, we explored the idea of why people are stupid and what prevents humans from solving problems in a smart way. Gee is emphatic that in order to think smartly, people need to effectively use the cycle of reflective action when trying something for the first time. This means that a person must have a knowledgeable mentor, prior experience, clear goals, an emotional stake, and the chance to act. If any of these requisites are not met, the person in question will not effectively learn from the experience, making the whole thing moot. If we are not able to learn from experiences and apply what is learned, humans will not be able to solve complex problems.
Gee also argues that formal schooling is not set up to support learning through the cycle of reflective action. Schools limit us because they are formatted so that the learner gains information by reading or listening to language. They are not experiencing the things they learn; instead they are being told about them. If students are not able to plan, experience, and reflect on an idea, they will not internalize it. Schools also have goal setting all wrong. Typically a student’s goal (mine included) is to get good grades and earn a diploma or degree. This type of goal setting does not prepare a student for meaningful learning and often results in rote memorization of facts and short-term recall. When students lack a clear, subject-relevant goal, they are unable to learn the information in a way that will allow them to internalize it and use it in making decisions in regards to future actions or problems. In order to solve the big problems, humans must be able to apply previous experiences to predict, plan, and reflect on the actions that they take, experiences that they are unable to gain in the traditional classroom.
Finally, there is the idea of memory. Gee points out in chapter 3 that memory is not all it is cracked up to be. It is not infallible and not to be trusted as containing the truth. The human mind changes memories in order to make sense of the world around it rather than just storing random details for recall. In order to make our memories useful and valuable in regards to problem solving, we need to be able to link ideas, patterns, and connections in a way that makes recall more accurate and beneficial while also aligning with our goals. Formal schooling does not view the human mind this way; instead schools “demand that humans use their memories the way computers do, rather than the way humans do.” We as educators should not be teaching and testing students based on their memorization of random information; we should be creating meaning for them through goal setting, exploration, experience, and reflection.
It sounds like we are doing everything wrong in education, which honestly probably is not that far-fetched. After being made aware of Gee’s ideas of what fosters stupidity in people, however, I think that there are things that we can do as educators to prepare our students to problem solve smartly. First, we need to make sure that students have an adequate background in the topic. If they do not, then as educators we must prepare them for what they will be learning. We need to be informed about the subject matter we are teaching so we can be effective mentors. The students should have a clear goal, which should be subject relevant and ideally student created. Having students create their goals, in my opinion, allows for ownership in the experience and an emotional stake in learning the information. Getting a good grade on the unit test is not an adequate goal. Finally we need to give the students a chance to act and take part in what they are learning. If educators can strive to provide students with experiences rather than facts, then there is a chance we can stop being so stupid!
The "Private Universe" video was very interesting, but not surprising I think that teachers assume a lot about what our students come to us already knowing, especially with the students in higher grades, but also at the elementary level as well. Some of the topics discussed, such as the seasons, are taught in elementary school, so it seems obvious that high school students would already understand the basic principles. I think science was an especially good topic to chose as a subject to discuss the idea of student understanding. When you think about it, a science teacher and/or curriculum is responsible for teaching a student about everything in the universe, plants, animals, anatomy, life, physics, motion, sound, rocks, astronomy, chemicals, etc... That is a heavy task to undertake, so it is not surprising that there are gaps in which the students insert their own ideas.
As teachers, we all know that students are curious and often "make up" their own ideas of how things work, at least this has been my experience. It really should not be shocking to see that these students made up their own ideas to explain these scientific theories, but it kind of is. I was shocked that the Harvard graduates couldn't answer the simple question of the seasons. (I was also feeling quite smart because I knew the correct explanation - thank you Mr. Pratt and 7th grade science!) It also left me thinking, if Harvard graduates struggle to overcome common misconceptions, how can I help my students overcome theirs?
As an elementary teacher myself, I often find that I make assumptions about what my students know or are capable of doing. For example, after 5 years of teaching, I still struggle with the idea that there are third graders that come to me that cannot write complete sentences (in the most basic sense - a subject, predicate, capitalized first word, and end punctuation). In third grade, we focus on forming paragraphs, writing complex sentences, and using more difficult punctuation. It baffles me each time when I have to reteach the idea that a sentence needs to have a noun and verb to be complete before being able to move onto to what I deem more age appropriate material.
Teaching and student learning should be driven by the idea that students need to have a deep understanding of the material, meaning we must sometimes correct misconceptions and build foundations before beginning our primary lesson. In addition to assessing student understanding before beginning, we as teachers also need to appeal to the ways that students learn. We need to make the learning hands on, as mentioned both in the video when the teacher discusses the girl using the objects to model the principle of lunar phases, and also in the reading when the author discusses examples of lessons used by teachers to illicit understanding in their students. Too often, students are not left to explore the content, they are simply expected to absorb whatever it is that the teacher feels is important. Teachers spend too much time "perfecting" their lecture and not enough time considering how to make students work through the content. I love the quote from the reading, "Teaching is less about what the teacher does than about what the teacher gets the students to do."(Perkins 1993) I think that at many times, teachers feel that if they aren't exhausted at the end of the day, then they aren't doing their job. I think the opposite is true and agree wholeheartedly with Perkins in this respect. I feel that as teachers, we need to be sure the students are the ones doing the vast majority of work, not the other way around. We should be a facilitator of learning, not a dictator.
Hi! I'm Edith (Edie) Erickson and I am a 3rd (soon to be 4th) grade teacher at St. Francis de Sales School in Manistique, MI in the *finally* snow-free UP. I currently teach all subjects, but will be partnering up with another teacher so I will only be teaching ELA and science in the fall. I started the MAET program this past January and CEP 800 is a required course. When I'm done with MAET, I hope to be able to teach online and/or act as a technology consultant over the summers. In my spare time, I like to work of my house (my husband and I bought our first home last April), work in the garden, read, sculpt, ride my bike, camp, travel, and go for rides in the wood. We have some big renovations to do this summer because we're also expecting a baby this November!
The big issue that I noticed is that educators, parents, psychiatrists, really adults in general are looking for the "right" way of doing something. The child in the video was creating an amazing and creative piece of work, yet the narrow idea of what was right caused the adults in his life to overlook the grand work he was creating. The part where the student's desk is empty was especially meaningful to me. It seems to be a metaphor for the way our culture (and many others) deal with people who don't go along with the social norms and expectations set before them. Instead of nurturing and allowing for understanding and different ways of thinking, we try to remove and eliminate the "problem" rather than taking the time to fully understand what is going on. As teachers, we test, prod, and refer students to the point where they give up and conform to what is "right" or give up and "fail", possibly losing the creativity and thinking skills that make them unique.
I watched this video several times and experienced several different emotions. On my first watch, it made me sad, sad because as an educator I know that stifling creative is, and has been, a huge problem in education, yet I don't know how to solve it within the confines of the current education system. I also felt guilty that I am a part of this educational system that is crushing the creativity of many children and I haven't done more to foster a trait that I feel is so important to my own personal happiness and success. After watching the video again, I actually felt kind of hopeful. I have a high respect for all educators, and I feel that if educators around the world are discussing this issue, it gives me hope that we can figure this out in a way that benefits our students and the world they will create as adults.
The major message to educators should be that patience and flexible thinking on our part can allow a child to think and create in ways that we wouldn't have imagined. As hard (and risky at times) as it is, we need to look past the test scores and examine our students for what they can do. In a world where test scores can determine whether or not you keep a job, it is a risky endevor to focus on nurturing what a child is passionate about, especially when that passion is not language or math. For me, this video is a call to action for both parents and teachers. We as adults need to stop thinking about what is "right" and think more about the thought that goes into the choices and decisions our children make. We need to be there to guide, nourish, and inspire creativity in all of our students, not crush it out of them in hopes of higher test scores.
I have been interested in the idea of cultivating curiosity and creativity in my students pretty much since I stared work on my undergrad and into my career as a teacher, but even more so now that I am expecting a child of my own. I've done a bit of reading on the subject, and find the topic to be very intriguing. I don't know how many of you have watched any TED talks, but if you haven't, you need to! The Japanese video presented this week actually reminded me of a TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson (it is excellent, you can watch it here: http://bit.ly/10biu1R). In his talk, Robinson discusses the same idea addressed in the Japanese video, which is how the current educational system doesn't allow for deviation from what society deems as correct. It really is a great video to further inspire educators to value and nurture creativity in our children.
"Greetings to the UP, and congratulations on the growing family! Very insightful and thought-provoking posts, both in terms of your initial- and response posts. You highlighted key aspects and found compelling illustrations from your own practice. The Ken Robinson video is a great resource to add!"
I am so enjoying the MAET program thus far and am happy to get started on my next course, CEP 812, Applying Educational Technology to Practice. I'm not a huge fan of educational theory, so getting to learn about practical tools to use in my classroom is right up my alley! For week 1, we have been learning about the complexity of problems in education, ranging from well-structured to unsolvable (wicked) problems. For my first project, I chose to select a complex problem, which is midway between well-structured and unsolvable. I thought expository writing would be a fun problem to solve using technology. It is also a problem that I deal with for much of the year, so adding new approaches will make the learning more meaningful and lasting for the students. Below is the screencast further explaining the complex problem of expository writing.
"Great idea to liven up expository writing. I do like that you have still had them include writing throughout the glogster. This lesson will engage the students and allow their creativity to shine. Most likely they will write more since they did not just have to write in Word. Great looking Prezi too. Other ideas might be to have the students comment on each other's glogsters and to showcase them on your school website."
I'm Edie - wife, mom, teacher, instructional designer, home renovator,
and lover of nature, travel, technology, and vintage campers!