One Size Doesn’t Fit All

I do enjoy re-reading Bloom’s taxonomy, learning about digital taxonomy for the first time and also discovering other new material as well. Yet despite this new reading, I have my own theory about learning theories….in that one size doesn’t fit all. I agree with A Churches when he says that “this is the choice of the individual”. And so it is the choice of the teacher which combination of learning theories they use to support student learning in real life scenarios.

I found the bit on reflection in Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy rang a bell with me “Reflection is crucial to improving the process and learning from the process and content of the conference.” In fact, I think that the most important part of any learning process is the ability to evaluate effectively. Through reflection, our students, and we the teaching collective, learn not just content related information, but about ourselves as individuals. By knowing ourselves better, we can play up to our strengths and address our weaknesses. Furthermore, if we are aware of this vital cog in the learning process, then we are more likely to pass this on to our students.

Practice Until it is Habitual 

The challenge for me is to create not just opportunities for students to reflect but the environments as well – FYI – today I am experimenting with different styles of music to listen to whilst I work on this blog (https://brain.fm/) and using the Pomodoro Technique by Frances Rocirillo. I also found the words of George Siemens resonated with me, when he quoted Viall… learning must be a way of being”. I couldn’t agree more! The term life long learners is thrown around more than pizza dough at Dominos, but if you can apply it genuinely, then you are onto a winner.

Sometimes I use old school graphic organisers – which I tried after listening to a podcast on Graphic Organizers; thanks to my Hall of Fame podcaster Jennifer Gonzalez. The way I used graphic organizers was in different parts of a lesson, to help students reflect on what they have just learned or break down a skill into different steps. For example; when I was teaching variables in Python, I asked the students to break down the different steps they need to create a variable using the fishbone variable. They then used the graphic organizer to help them with a quick Kahoot knowledge quiz at the end of the lesson.

Doing Things Differently

I normally have allergic reactions when I read words that have the suffix ism at the end. I have built up the habit – pun intended – of thinking that such words are often accompanied by hard to understand long-winded definitions written by college professors. Therefore I shun learning them – until now; partially because it is in this weeks assignment. But here’s the thing… After carrying out a little too much (no skimming here) research on connectivism, it appears that I have clumsily stumbled into this area of my teaching practice.

For example, earlier this week I was teaching part of an Individuals & Societies lesson, in which the G6 students were required to interview someone about religion. My job was to teach them the technical skills needed to carry this out, such as;

 

What equipment did they need: Audio, visual, tripods etc

Why location was important: To reduce background noise

The importance of good natural light

Using a medium close up for the interview: In order to capture the emotion of the interviewee

 

Planning: I set out by recording an interview with a G12 student using the skills I wanted to teach – see above. I then edited the recording so that I could cut out any information that wasn’t needed.

Teaching: I showed the students both the edited (35 seconds) and raw footage (1m 14 seconds) versions of the video to highlight the importance of editing; they got the same amount of information from the shorter edited version than the longer raw footage version. Then I took them down to where I filmed the interview, together with the equipment I used. After arriving at teh location, the students were visibly engaged (perhaps down to the change of room), as instead of imaging what they had to do – they were in the environment. We then reflected on the video, drawing out the good points and bad e.g. background noise and a shakey table! After all of that, the students started to record their own interviews.

How did all of this link to connectivism – well according to the principles set out in the A Learning Theory for the Digital Age I had watched various interviews to see what technique worked best for the topic (Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions.). I made sure that what I was teaching was done on technology that the students had access to and is current, including editing techniques; Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities.)

It’s Google, It’s Google Time…

So now I am really interested in the theory of Connectivism, having cast aside my previous bad habit associated with isms.

I watched a video on connectism by a fellow called Simon Bailey, and I loved his take on using this theory in a Geography lesson. So much so it made me think about how I will modify my Volleyball coaching lessons for next week; are they lessons or sessions? So far I have introduced a Padlet page for the students, in which they had to write what their target for the season was – this could also have been done using a simple Google Doc; which would allow me to comment on each student’s goal. To modify this further I intend to add links to YouTube tutorials showing different volleyball skills, or perhaps even links to articles (Google Scholar?) on the sports psychology – some students wrote down maintaining a positive attitude! So now the students have their own SLN (student learning network) to go to for ideas. They could upload their own Youtube videos on volleyball skills, articles on team building and personal sports blog posts. This provides them with a platform to delve even deeper into the subject – giving their own “perspective into the topic”; which for me is the most important part.

Finding the Path

Which brings me to Constructivism and the question which Piaget set out to address “How do we acquire knowledge?”*. I think this is different for every single person, and it is our job as teachers to provide as many different open learning opportunities for our students to help them find their own path; with a few along the way.

*For me I acquire knowledge the most when I am in an environment where I feel safe and unjudged.

Images

One size doesn’t fit all – Cindy Shebley – flixr.com

Good Habits – Denise Jones – flixr.com

Smartphone Tripod – fixedandfrailing – flixr.com

Signposts – Jens Johnsson – Pexels.com

 

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