Archive for October 2011
I often start my blogs with a rationale for how and why I teach the way I do. Here are a few related to the activity I describe in this post.
- Classroom activities should be authentic, engaging, and student-centric. Students can learn the theory on their own time using the textbook and media (PPTs, Slidehares, Videos). Face-to-face class time should be spent on having students experience the concepts.
- Classroom activities can and should be continually tweaked to reflect the current out-of-class environments, culture, and society-at-large. Currently, I am asking myself, “How can I integrate the mobile devices that my young college students are using in their own lives into our learning activities?”
- Along with my goal of continuous improvement of learning activities comes the desire and need for continuous reflection. I view it as an informal type of action-research which includes my observations and student written reactions to and reflections about the class activities.
The Activity: Using Mobile Devices to Create a Personalized Feeling Chart
Students were introduced to the feelings cards by selecting the cards that matched their feelings at that moment . . .
In small groups, students selected 10-15 feelings cards and set up scenarios that represented each of feelings selected. They used their own mobile device to take photos of these images . . .
The photos were directly upload to Flickr via an email. The full process is described by Lisa Nielson in Using Flickr to Collect Images Captured on Cell Phones.
As you can see the uploaded images created a personalized feelings poster. Students were provided with scenarios and asked to locate on the Interactive White Board which of these displayed images that they created best represented how they would feel in that situation.
- This class meets once a week from 6 to 9:40 PM. Most of the students are within the 18-20 age group. Because it is an evening course and many of the students work, they are tired when they come to class. As I stated above, I do not use our time together to lecture. The first half of this night’s class was used doing some self-assessments and large group discussion. Student interest faded in and out with some students being more actively involved in the discussions. The activity described above was introduced about midway through the class. The energy level of the students rose dramatically, all students engaged, all laughing, smiling and enjoying themselves and what they were doing. Was it the small groups? The fun activity? The use of their mobile devices to take photos? Seeing themselves projected on the big screen?
- The second major observation – more of an “aha” was related to the devices the students were using. Most had cells phones, a few had laptops. These students, as a group, are classified as lower income students. None of their devices had the capability to download apps. What this says to me as the educator is that when I am designing activities that use the students own devices in my BYOD classroom, that they cannot include the use of apps. They have camera, email, texting, internet capabilities, but no way to use apps. Interestingly, as I was thinking about this today, a related article was posted on Edutopia Should We Be Concerned About an “App Gap”? by Audrey Watters.
Students post their reactions to class activities each week via our class Facebook Page. Here are some reflections about the emotional intelligence activities:
We picked out about 8 emotions in groups and went around the school to take pictures of ways to describe those emotions. I had a lot of fun with this project. It was fun to work together and be creative while finding ways to explain emotions. After that we got to play a board game which was also a lot of fun. I really enjoyed this class.
We also got to take pictures of different emotions and put them into a slideshow that we later used for a game. I think that we all learned a lot about each other from our photos. I, for one, had an absolute blast making these and getting to hear everybody else’s emotional experiences.
We also got into groups and had to use the emotions card and go around and take a picture of them to display them. I had so much fun doing this. I think that if we all really talked about our emotions, we would know how to control them very well.
This is the companion piece to Facilitating Learner Voice and Presence in the Classroom Using Mobile Devices. The first post described how mobile devices were used during the initial classes of this undergraduate course (mostly 18-20 year old students). This post focuses on the hands-on, experiential activities I used. The introduction is the same, but the activities, obviously, are different.
I work towards a learner-centric classroom based on the following principles:
- Give learners multiple opportunities to be heard and seen through multiple modalities – verbal, written, visual.
- Get to know each learner as an individual – this is in line with my belief of the educator as an ethnographer. Really see every learner in the room.
- Insure that the learners see one another as much as (or better yet more than) the content and the teacher.
- Provide ongoing opportunities to connect with the learners and for them to connect with each other.
- Use strategies, tools, and materials that the learners use outside of the school
- Make sure learners know that they are significant, important, that they matter- see Angela Maiers You Matter.
- Use learning activities that are engaging and authentic with the knowledge that the learners are giving their time (and sometimes money) to be in the learning environment. (I feel an obligation not to “steal” my learners time with activities that are boring, useless – painful for them.)
As such, my first classes are always focused on having the students get to know one another and building a sense of community. The only content-related activity during the first class is going over the syllabus which occurs during hour 3 or 4 of the class – not the first activity.
Group Norm Development – Class Contracts
Students were given the following task . . .
. . . and then asked to create a metaphor or symbol for their group norms.
I Am Poems
Students created poems using the following template:
I gave students the option of using magnetic poetry (collected with several eBay purchases) to complete the assignment.
. . . and here are some students’ poems.
Students created collages of images that represented their physical, intellectual, emotional, and social selves.
Student Reflections About the Class Activities
Students are posting their class reflections via Facebook. Here are some of their comments about the class activities:
In class this week we got into groups to work on class values and what we want to expect from this class. The groups we were put into we were with people we barely knew, it was very exciting. I enjoyed getting to know the 3 girls I was grouped with and I believe I got to know the talents the girls have.
I was unaware of how much we use communication. The way we think about things make all the difference in the world, reminds me of “The glass is half full or half empty”. I loved the fact that we spent most of the class time learning about the others in the class. Learning about others helps us communicate better as well as making the class more comfortable!
Jackie had us create a collage that showed our physical, social, emotional, and intellectual selves, I was unable to finish the collage however because of a health problem I had during class. I learned that the people I attend class with have had hard lives, and are giving their all to change them into better ones. The hands on learning experience that the class offers helped me understand how things from my mind go onto paper.
I was very happy that my group was able to just be open and I was able to see the personalities of people come out. I love making new friends so I was very excited about this.
Language provides meaning to complex concepts, influences our thinking, and even affects how we behave.
Linguistic processes are pervasive in most fundamental domains of thought, unconsciously shaping us from the nuts and bolts of cognition and perception to our loftiest abstract notions and major life decisions. Language is central to our experience of being human, and the languages we speak profoundly shape the way we think, the way we see the world, the way we live our lives (Lera Boroditsky).
Based on evidence that language influences our thoughts, perceptions, and behaviors. it follows that understanding the language related to technology use in our society influences if and how educators and learners use these technologies for their own learning.
The importance of this premise has been noted by the National Council for English Teachers, who proposed what it means to be literate in the 21st Century.
Literacy has always been a collection of cultural and communicative practices shared among members of particular groups. As society and technology change, so does literacy. Because technology has increased the intensity and complexity of literate environments, the twenty-first century demands that a literate person possess a wide range of abilities and competencies, many literacies. These literacies—from reading online newspapers to participating in virtual classrooms—are multiple, dynamic, and malleable. As in the past, they are inextricably linked with particular histories, life possibilities, and social trajectories of individuals and groups (http://www.ncte.org/governance/literacies).
We tend to shy away from those things we do not understand, do not have a language for. The following is my version of a multi-modal, multimedia dictionary of those terms that are being developed and used by educators and learners in this age of learning. The proposition is that with greater understanding and knowledge about how technology is influencing informal learning, workplace training and development, and society-at-large, the more likely educators would be more to explore the integration of these ideas and instructional strategies into their classroom environments.
The ultimate goal is stated eloquently by Cathy Davidson:
Given the ever-increasing rapidity and magnitude of change on a global scale, we all need to master the precious and formidable skill of being able to stop in our tracks, discard the roadmap that has failed us, and try out a different route on the unpredictable journey ahead. (Davidson, 2009).
To do so requires that educators know and understand the trends that affect the world-at-large.
Please feel free to tell me of any additional trends that should be included!
Boroditsky, L. (2010). Lost in Translation. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703467304575383131592767868.html
Davidson, C. (2009). Learning Radical Transformation. HASTAC. Retrieved from http://hastac.org/blogs/cathy-davidson/learning-radical-transformation.
National Council for English Teachers. (2009). The Definition of 21st Century Literacies. Retrieved from http://www.ncte.org/governance/literacies.