Final Reflection

I can’t quite believe my first Masters course has gone by so fast. I haven’t even minded doing 6 hour Saturdays. I fell much more confident and capable in my knowledge and skills.

Let me address my goals for this course.

How to use my BLOG in different ways in my classroom for student learning and to make it fun and engaging for the kids.

My Blog over the last year has really been the main tool in my classroom. It is where I put notes, resources, videos, homework, calender my events etc. I could not function effectively any more without it. However, my Blog has mostly been a one-way communication; from me to my students and parents. Since I have started doing more flipped classroom stuff, I am getting students to explore things online and post comments on the blog for each other to feed off in order to further their understanding. Student posts needing to be approved is still a little restrictive when I want them to be constantly feeding off each other. I need to be online much of the time to approve comments as they come in. Even though I still use my blog in the same way, I have started incorporating podcasts and screencasts more as a tool. My pechakucha I will make into a screencast for parents to view on my homepage.

Before I used the school blog, I used a wiki to keep my materials on. I really like the idea of the collaboration between students and teachers. It is much more of a two-way affair. I would love to be able to have my students being more of a contributor to our class resources and I feel a wiki is a more effective way of doing this.

The advantage of a blog is the time and date stamp for classwork and homework, which allows students to find missing work when they are absent.

So at the moment, I am still contemplating the most effective, least confusing way for students to make our classroom more collaborative….still one of my ongoing goals.

How to make more professional use of Twitter.

I have made a few interesting contacts since learning about the #tag and how it works. I tweeted for some project ideas for one of my classes and received some useful feedback. I am also getting useful information on “Doing the Flip”through #flipclass.
How to keep the world of the internet manageable for my needs.

Diigo has been a real help for keeping all my useful websites quickly available from any computer, something I hadn’t done on a personal level before. Two years before I set up a Delicious account for the math department as a collective collaborative place to put resources. I have found the organization of Diigo somewhat easier to use.

Netvibes has been useful to keep up to date on comments on blogs for our course. RSS is still something I have not delved into very far. There are some websites that I do want to get updates for, so setiing this up is still something I want to do.
What is  podcast and how can I use this to engage students in their learning?

Carey, Patrick and I had a blast doing our podcast of the “Monty Hall Problem” It was fun learning how to use Garage Band. As an IB Math teacher, I still struggle to see where this would be a useful tool in learning. Any ideas anyone has….I’d love to hear them!

Screencastomatic is a much more useful communication tool for mathematics. I have switched from using Active inspire video software to Screencastomatic. It is so quick and simple to use. I now wish we had more tablets, ipads or wacom tablets so students can play more of a part in creating resources for their class and classes in the future. I hope someone is out there listening to that request!!!!!
To feel less overwhelmed by the amount of resources out their, how to refine my search, storing and updating skills.

As I mentioned before Diigo and netvibes have really aided my organization of the common resources I use.

As Carly mentioned before about the right tool for the job; I feel I have more of a handle on some of these ideas. I can see the distinct advantages between a Blog versus a Wiki. I fell I have my IT organization under more control and don’t feel I waste as much time as I used to accessing sites and resources from the internet.

My next goal would be to start to work collaboratively with teachers and students outside of school. I might use Twitter to throw that idea out and see what I get….just another fun thing to look forward to. My desire to learn is greater than ever, and I suppose that IT integration really is life long learning. As tools change, so will how we use IT in the classroom. I would like to be able to pick one new idea and integrate it into the classroom each year. And I suppose this will be a never ending goal….that’s OK by me 🙂

I just want to thank all my classmates for making it such a fun environment to come into each week, and a BIG thanks to Steve.

Steve, I think you designed a great course, aimed it at precisely where we are and need to be. I cannot think of anything else I would want to know at this time. Now, it’s all about exploring with these ideas and growing as an educator….so thank you so much for this opportunity.

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Math Geeks – Are we doing it Wrong?

Why do kids hate math so much? Why do they find it so difficult? Students are frustrated, teachers are frustrated….so whats going on?

According to Adewuyi(2001) noted that the style of teaching employed by teacher is
a potent factor in motivating learners to learn.

According to him:  Mathematics is a subject, which is very easy to make difficult and very difficult to make easy.

The perennial methods of teaching mathematics through listening, looking and learning have not been successful. If anything, it has resulted in making students dislike
mathematics (Akinsola, 2002).

Coudron (1997) as stated in Akinsola, (2002) offers the following suggestions to
teacher for targeting instructions to individuals.
• Focus on outcomes rather than technique.
• Make learning experiential
• Give students control over their own learning
• Respect learners ability to engage in parallel thinking

After an interesting session on the use of Gaming in the learning process, I was interested in how to use this theory at the higher end of mathematics.

In a traditional classroom, a mathematics lesson may look like this:

  • teacher introduces abstract symbols and processes
  • students practice using abstract symbols and processes
  • students THEN apply these abstract processes to a practical situation.

This is where they come unstuck; that leap from abstraction to practical. But if mathematics is a tool for solving real life problem, then why do we introduce abstraction so early on??? Should it not be the other way around? Simulation, exploration, modelling then taking these concepts and introducing symbolic notation.

I think most modern day mathematical learning environments understand the importance of mathematical investigation and mathematical modelling. This is where the depth of understanding is developed. This is where students really learn to apply mathematics in a meaningful way. Through mathematical investigation, students will feel a sense of ownership over their work and a sense of accomplishment.

According to Stanford University News (Feb 18 2010), Online gaming before textbook study is the key to math education, Stanford’s Keith Devlin says.

Beyond middle school “Gaming” can become difficult, but the idea of practical simulation of real-life problems can involve students in an online, practical way of looking at complex problems.

This TED Talk really delves into what we are doing in the mathematics classroom and why we are doing it. He addresses the idea of:

Start Teaching Mathematics, Stop teaching Calculation!

It really rips apart today’s views of the mathematics classroom, and that our whole philosophy is in the wrong place; that we are too focused on the abstract representation of mathematics and not on the real uses. Our world if full of tools for calculation….why do we need to focus on the perfection of these processes, when we should be using technology to do the processes, while we apply them to solve mathematical problems.

In the next decade or so, I expect there could be a massive change in how mathematics is experienced by 21st century learners. Mathematical simulations and tools will be the focus rather than abstract process.

Here are a few sites with some interesting ideas and sample of mathematical simulations and tools for the classroom. Let the exploration begin.

Wolfram Demonstations

Tech Trekers

Learning and Teaching Mathematics Through Simulations

Kill Math  A Blog showing some interesting new mathematical simulations APPS for the IPAD.Here is a video by Bret Victor from Kill Math demonstrating one of his APPS.

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Screen Cast

Here is a  video to help you learn about our class BLOG and the navigation tools available.

Here is a video showing IB students how to use the Matrix menu on their GDC

Here is a video of Questions 5 and 6 for the last IB Probability Quiz. We are using videos more often to go over the solutions of assessments.

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Doing The Flip

After 7 years in Tanzania where regular electricity was a special treat….our use of technology was greatly restricted. I only just received a projector in my room the year I was leaving. I remember speaking to Wendy Gifford  when I accepted the job at ISM….her advice to me was “Get teched up!”……So I tried to get teched up!

After LOTS of years teaching I found inspiration at EARCOS my first year here when one of the key note speakers Alan November talked about “The Flipped Classroom”, among other things. The idea is very simple, but the impact on student involvement has been significant.

Here is a video by Aaron Sam who along with Jonathan Bergmann where the first to really use the flipped classroom approach.

The premise that the classwork and homework are switched. So classwork (learning experience) is done as homework, and the more challenging application(which is usually homework) is the main focus of class time. As a consequence the teacher is more of a coach and adviser while the students are applying their learning in class.

There are many reasons why The Flip is a great way to go. Firstly, the application or problem solving is the more challenging part of the learning, and with the flip, the student has the support of their peers and teacher during this process.

Secondly, the students we work with today, the digital natives, will often be more tuned in to work that may be watching a video or listening to a podcast. So the motivation for them to do their homework is stronger.

I am a total convert. I have found that less motivated students will become more involved. The fact that they can watch a video several times is also a great help.

The Flipped Classroom Network ning that is a great place to go for educators who are discovering the power of the flip.

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The 21st Century Learner

This video by Professor Stephen Heppell on the need to focus on learning in the 21st century. I love listening to this guy as he has a great way of getting his ideas across in everyday language. I particularly like his analogy to American football and the 21st century learner.

He discusses the focus of learning in the 21st century. Today students are Global citizens and learn in a global classroom. . Not only do they need to learn collaboration, communication and reflection skills, but these skills are at the core of their learning experience.

Students we face today are the generation of entitlement where they expect a broader range of learning experiences. They are learning, connecting and communicating continually throughout their day; they expect this in their learning environment. As educators, we need to provide them with this.

We cannot expect students that experience life in a very different way to be taught by teachers who are not a part of that world. We need to work with them to enable our kids to navigate this complex global learning environment.

I like this analogy of the Professors.

If American football was our classroom, and the ball are 21st century tools, then our students have the ball and are running fast down the field. Our job as educators is to run ahead of them and knock down any barriers in their way.

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Does web 2.0 change teaching and learning? If so, How?

I remember the days of teaching when we would browse textbooks and then cut and paste and make a photocopied handout. How the world has changed. The class was run by the teacher out the front with their student followers. Now the teacher has become the student and the student has become the teacher. The world has become the audience and the web has become the textbook. The classroom no longer has 4 walls that contain three, 70 minute blocks per week.

Students can be learning in their own time at their own pace. They can help each other out. Their peers are a part of their learning community. Teachers are a part of a learning team that facilitate student learning rather that dictate and direct it. Students can feel more control over their learning as their is a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week support network online.

As a teacher, I feel as if I have a completely different job than what I had 22 years ago when I thought I was cool, cranking out handwritten stencils….And I am so glad for that! 🙂

I love my job even more today and love the idea of being able to change and develop and grow and learn more about how to make the most of the unlimited supply of resources out there.

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What are my aims for this course?

My IT growth has grown hugely since moving to ISM. The more I learn the more I find I want to know. It took me a while to understand the idea of a BLOG and blogging and how we can use this in our classrooms….Now, 2 years later, I don’t  know what I would do without by class BLOG.

  • How to use my BLOG in different ways in my classroom for student learning and to make it fun and engaging for the kids.
  • How to make more professional use of Twitter
  • How to keep the world of the internet manageable for my needs.
  • What is  podcast and how can I use this to engage students in their learning.
  • To feel less overwhelmed by the amount of resources out their, how to refine my search, storing and updating skills.

One more thing that Carly just reminded me about (courtesy of Kim Cofino) is an emphasis on finding the right tools for the job. The more I learn, I feel the more confused as to which tool would be the most suitable to use.

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