Archive for August 2012
Meaning making is one of the of the phases of the Flipped Classroom: The Full Classroom.
During this phase, learners work towards gaining a deep meaning of the content; an understanding that goes beyond the surface knowledge of facts and information that is way too common in these days of standardized tests and curriculum. It is a phase of deep reflection of the content and concepts covered during the unit of study. Learners are asked to develop and use skills for reflective practice through discussing, reviewing, analyzing, evaluating, and synthesizing key learnings.
It becomes a phase of learner accountability. Simply stated, learners are asked to demonstrate what they learned in a way that works for them using resources and references to support their ideas. Educators often ask how they can insure that students watched the flipped classroom videos and/or viewed other online content-rich resources. During this phase of learning, students draw upon the content resources as a necessity to be able to demonstrate their understanding of the content material. In other words, they cannot nor will not be able to able to adequately complete their reflections without the use of the reference materials.
The key to meaning making is offering student choices to demonstrate their understanding of the content. Understanding and comprehension is idiosyncratic. As such, each learner should be given an option to demonstrate personalized learning in a way that is a best fit for him or her.
The options as discussed above also help to insure that the learning environment becomes one based on Universal Design for Learning. A digital environment supports student learning when it provides multiple, flexible methods for student action, expression, and apprenticeship (http://www.cited.org/index.aspx?page_id=147). The second principle of UDL, provide multiple means for expression, is addressed:
The following guidelines related to Provide Multiple Means of Action and Expression are addressed when learners make personalized meaning of the content:
- Use social media and interactive web tools (e.g., discussion forums, chats, web design, annotation tools, storyboards, comic strips, animation presentations)
- Compose in multiple media such as text, speech, drawing, illustration, comics, storyboards, design, film, music, visual art, sculpture, or video
- Use web applications (e.g., wikis, animation, presentation)
- Use story webs, outlining tools, or concept mapping tools
UDL in The Flipped Classroom: The Full Classroom is discussed further in http://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/udl-and-the-flipped-classroom-the-full-picture/.
Here is an example I shared before. It was is video that 18 year-old TJ made using Minecraft to demonstrate the concepts he learned during my interpersonal skills course. He has Autism so the use of this video game, which he loves, provided him with a perfect venue to express his key learnings.
(the “truth” about living in the US – contains some curse words . . . really becomes powerful at 2:10)
The first step to solving a problem is to recognizing there is one.
My “three minutes” on education in the United States . . .
The United States provides free education to every one of its citizens. This is an amazing right. Young people and parents in some third world countries fight for this right. So when did education become more about the test scores than about the learners’ passions? Teachers have become more focused on test preparation than on the preparation of creative, engaging learning activities. Horace Mann, John Dewey, and Maria Montessori are identified as some of this country’s greatest educational philosophers. Why are educators giving them more lip service than providing services and activities in the classroom based on their ideas and principles? Why has the classroom become a place of more frowns and moans than of smiles and laughing? Why are kids running out of their classrooms at the end of the day rather than running into them at the beginning of each school day with excitement of a new day of learning? Why are far too many teachers hurrying to turn off the classroom lights at the end of the school day rather than staying a little longer to figure out how to turn on the lights in children’s minds? When have classrooms become places of discouragement and disillusionment rather places of enlightenment? When are teachers going to remember why they became teachers? When are teachers going to revisit the idea that the legacy they leave will not be how many worksheets and tests they gave, but in how many sparks they helped ignite in their learners?
Historically, teachers teach the way they were taught. I want to change this. I am on a mission to encourage and assist teachers in designing learning experiences they wished they had as students. Seriously, how many would create lecture-based learning settings? It is my belief that since that was the model used from early on, that most got used to it. Some tolerated it, some endured, and some dropped-out (dropping out does not necessarily mean physically, it can mean physically attending school but mentally dropping out). How many teachers, who use lectures as a primary instructional strategy, found them boring and ineffective when they were students?
I believe that a major role and responsibility of the educator is to become an ethnographer in the study of his or her students. Educators should know the background, interests, passions, antagonizers of every student.
So I am going on a personal narrative. I am going to become Jackie’s teacher and design learning experiences for her.
Dear Younger Jackie:
Jackie, I know that your school experiences left you with a life lasting legacy that you are defective. You were told to shut up, sit still, stay on topic, stay in line, raise your hand, don’t disrupt.
I will be an ethnographer in the study of you. I want to be your personal teacher and create learning experiences that invite you to disrupt, to innovate, to create, to imagine, to be you.
I will never make you listen to lectures of more than 15 minutes, memorize information, or take multiple-choice tests. You have told me that not only do you find these tasks boring, you find them painful. I will, instead, ask you to write, create, speak, make, and perform.
I know you find sitting in desks, sitting properly, sitting still to be confining, constricting, and contrived. Playing, moving, and tinkering are such integral parts of how you learn. Our learning environment will look more like a family room than a classroom. Our playground will be an extension of our learning environment not one separated by time and space.
Your need for wanting to know more about topics is inspiring. The Internet is such a gift for you. I will permit you to have your laptop open and search for information when the need arises. I will not ask you to unplug as you know when it is important to do. I will respect your ability to self-regulate. I will also ask you to share with others what you learn. I know you love to share what you find with others.
I will observe you to find what interests you and suggest resources and readings that interest you like that English teacher who saw the types of fiction books you carried around with you, and gave you a massive books of plays. She then suggested that you perform a few of them to the rest of the class. Your performances, with a few of your classmates, of Edward Albee’s The Sandbox and other plays were such joy to her.
I know you “wonder” a lot out loud and ask a lot of questions including, “Why do I need to know this?” I will point you in directions where you can get answers to your questions. I will do my best in engage you in rich discourse or point you in directions where you can get answers to your questions. I promise not to sssh you as so many teachers have. I know that is cuts through you like a knife and shuts down your passion and energy.
Relationships are the essence of all positive learning experiences. I know your family life has been tough, and that you developed a hard exterior to protect that soft, sensitive interior. I will never look at you with disdain. Rather, I will treat you only with kindness, compassion, and love.
I will recognize you are my student and it my job to guide. When you are incorrect, too loud, too abrupt, I will take you to the side, and with love give you some feedback. I will end these little conversations with a smile and a little hug.
And when I do see the hurt in the eyes, your eyes really do tell a story that you words do not. I will touch you gently on the arm, and quietly say, “It’s okay.”
We will, as bell hooks suggests, create a place of possibility, openness, and freedom, where our hearts and minds will transgress all self-imposed boundaries.
Learning is a place where paradise can be created. The classroom with all its limitations remains a location of possibility. In that field of possibility we have the opportunity to labour for freedom, to demand of ourselves and our comrades, an openness of mind and heart that allows us to face reality even as we collectively imagine ways to move beyond boundaries, to transgress. This is education as the practice of freedom. (hooks 1994: 207)