- How are you doing this week? Did the first module go okay?
It has been an INSANE week! Between 2 MAET courses, a field trip, rainy days (indoor recess), report cards, and planning for the last week of school, I kind of felt like my head was going to explode! It wasn't all bad though, I think I felt my baby kick for the first time which is just amazing. I had no problem with the first module, but I did have some trouble tracking down a student for this week's podcast. I was able to get a hold of one of the teachers I work with and borrowed her son for a few minutes this afternoon (he's also in my class) so it all worked out, but not without some stress (and tears). Summer vacation can't get here quick enough so I can get ahead!
- What are your thoughts about the Norman (2002) article?
I thought it was an interesting read. I really made a connection with the author in that I also value the beauty in objects, not just the functionality (I also have a thing for teapots). That said, I also don't see the value in objects that are solely beautiful, i.e. lacking in purpose and function. When I buy something for my home, I want it to be visually appealing as well as functional. I'm not going to buy a bookshelf with bad reviews just because it looks neat, nor am I going to buy the most functional bookcase in the world if I don't like how it looks. I like having it all I guess!
I think we can apply some of Norman's ideas into our classes by providing students the opportunity to share their learning with us in ways that allow for them to create something of beauty. Instead of giving a test, have the students create a play showcasing their understanding. Instead of an essay, let them create a Glog and include pictures and videos.
- More generally, what do you think about technology's potential for creating powerful learning experiences? One criticism of this view, for example, is that "bells and whistles" distract from core content, wasting money on technological fads rather than investing in human resources. What is your opinion?
Technology, like everything else, needs to be used effectively in order to make powerful learning experiences. It is easy to get caught up in the "bells and whistles" and overshadow and distract from the content, but it doesn't have to be this way. The key, in my opinion, is to find simple tools that are novel enough to get the kids excited while not being overwhelming and distracting. Depending on the tool, technology can motivate kids to do more than required, simply because elements are presented for them.
For example, my students have been learning about immigration and where people came from before coming to Michigan. For their final projects, my students (third graders) created simple websites using Weebly. Weebly is simple to operate and after a 5 minute mini lesson on how to use it and about 3 minutes of experimenting, the students were able to use the tools and move on to the task of utilizing and presenting the content. In addition to the required content, several students noticed that in addition to embedding pictures, there was also an option to embed video. This led several groups to include videos in their final projects, something they would not have done if I had opted to assign an essay or the like.
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.