Creating Significant Learning

The classroom is supposed to be the place in which learning takes place, or does it?  After reading, A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change, I realized that learning can take place inside and outside the classroom.  I had so many questions. Am I fostering an environment that allows for optimal learning? If not, what can I do to help my students learn best for tomorrow’s world?

A fundamental idea that I really took away from A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change, is that the process and environment for learning is not that way it was when we were in school.  A major idea is that learning is not just in the classroom.  In the digital age, we have the ability to learn in the classroom and out of the classroom.  Another key idea is that learning takes place through engagement within in the world.  How do I plan to practice the fundamental ideas in my classroom?

By looking at the boundaries that are placed in the standard classroom, I believe I was able to think of an innovation or something new that needed to be change to create a significant learning environment. To practice these keys ideas, we as teachers need to be able to set up a positive learning environment inside and outside of the classroom.  With the shift to student driven learning, learning in the classroom is a obstacle.  I had to ensure that that was being done in my innovation plan ,to implement ePortfolios in the classroom.  Students not only create to learn, they collaborate and reflect on their learning.  In order to help guide this learning, students must have access to it whenever the mood strikes.  To make sure that my integration of ePortfolios into the classroom was successful, I needed to create a new, significant learning environment.

With change comes challenges.  My school has really been trying to improve with their technology integration into the classroom, but they have really been focusing on offering more challenging courses to learn more and more content to be prepared for any assessments.  With the sole focus on learning content, there is a loss in student centered learning and creativity.  When the focus is on learning content, memorization is one of the main ways of learning material.  Does memorization help the student to remember this content in the long-term?  Does memorization help the student make and meaningful connection to the curriculum?  As I mentioned in my innovation plan outline, students would be able to learn new material and it would make a meaningful connection because they are in charge of their own learning.

By adopting this mindset, my organization will continue to grow and meet the needs out our students.   This mindset will impact my organization, by allowing the students to have access to learning at any given point in time.  My organization will also have a hand, so to speak, in forming mature and responsible digital citizens.  Most importantly, my organization will have a hand in creating a new and personal learning environment, for their students.  Instead of looking at the “facts, figures, and data” (Brown & Thomas, 2001), the focus on interests, passions and moments of “play”.  By my school focusing on the students they are able to bridge together the pubic and information based world and the personal and structured world.  Teaching to the student, instead of just focusing the content and numbers will allow the organization to create a significant learning environment.

When thinking about creating a significant learning environment, it can be a bit overwhelming.  I think that with everyone, before approaching a task, they need to see the big picture.  After envisioning the big picture, you need to have an idea or plan.  Then you need to find out what works and what doesn’t.  The best way I can compare this process is to putting together a puzzle. At first it’s overwhelming but after looking at the picture and making a plan it all falls into place, with a little bit a trial and error.

Change is difficult for everyone in the classroom.  I believe that by adapting the mindset, teachers are creating an environment for any student to learn.  By meeting all of the students’ needs, students are able to be successful and display how they learned.  As we try to meet the needs of our students we need to give them students more control.  Teachers can’t just think about their opinions, they need to plan with their students and let them have an active role in their learning.  By giving students an active role to collaborate with each other, they will take ownership of their learning and want to learn.  As Thomas as Brown stated, “It means viewing the future as a set of new possibilities, rather than something that forces us to adjust” (Brown & Thomas, 2011).  Having practiced the growth mindset values, teachers and students should embrace change, want to continue to learn and embrace changes.  Creating a significant learning environment will create change and an entirely new outlook on learning.

Reference:

Brown, J. S. & Thomas, D. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, KY. CreateSpace.

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Photo by pixabay.com .

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I am Change

When I initially started the course, I wondered about the name.  Disruptive innovation in technology?  “Disruptive” doesn’t really have a positive connotation.  So after I learned what it really was about, I was pleasantly surprised.  Disruptive education is basically introducing new ideas or teaching strategies  into the class that deviates from the normal routine of the class.  As teachers, we should be flexible and welcome change.  I feel that’s exactly what I did throughout this course, while formulating my innovation plan.

In order to present my disruptive innovation plan to administration, I developed a proposal , on the use of ePortfolios in the classroom.  The proposal focused on preparing our students for their post-secondary lives, regardless of the path they choose.  Students don’t save their assignments, because they are required to archive them.  Students aren’t always partaking in higher level thinking skills, like reflecting, which helps foster an authentic learning experience.  I proposed that students, in the high school, have ePortfolios to help foster an sense of ownership, self-awareness and ultimately become a life-long learner.   By teaching our students to be life-long learners, this will ensure that they use their ePortfolio after they graduate.  The ePortfolio is a great tool that really helps our students show their learning process in a variety of ways, while showcasing their strengths.  I was able to highlight my beliefs, on the benefit of the implementation of ePortfolios in the classroom, in my innovation plan video .

It was then time to bring my proposal to life.  I stated the general idea of “rolling out” the innovation plan, but it was time to go into detail.  I was able to develop a tentative innovation plan outline .  The plan was originally a year and half.  After submitting and getting feedback, I extended it to a two and a half years and really tried to focus on the “why”.

After I completed my proposal, it was time to find the facts to back it up.  I completed my literature review , to support the belief that the use of ePortfolios in the classroom not only prepares them to be lifelong learners but also prepares the for the future.  I will admit, during this assignment  my “fixed mindset” was becoming more prominent.  I haven’t written a paper in a while, so my patience and confidence was being tested.  After the initial frustration, I was able to channel my inner “growth mindset” and get to work.  This written piece really taught me the “power of yet”.

Even though I have completed extensive research for my literature review, the innovation plan is far from complete.  Aspects of the plan can continue to be improved and I want to ensure that the plan runs as smoothly, as possible.  I will continue to research to find any information to help support my belief, on the effectiveness of ePortfolios in the classroom.  I have already formulated a list of reading materials that I will review, to enhance my implementation plan.

Annotated Bibliography

Cambridge, D. (2010). Eportfolios for lifelong learning and assessment. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

This book introduces the idea of ePortfolios being used as assessments.  It has evidence to support the use of ePortfolios as assessments.  It also offers suggestions for future directions on curriculum, assessment, and technology.

Eynon, B., & Gambino, L. M. (2017). High-impact ePortfolio practice: A catalyst for student, faculty, and institutional learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, LLC.

This book has 20 case studies on the impact of ePortfolios. This book focuses on the use and impact of ePortfolios used in a wide ranges of colleges and universities. The book claims to be a huge resource for those who want to keep up with the demands of the 21st century.

Ittelson, J. C., Chen, H. L., & Light, T. P. (2012). Documenting Learning with ePortfolios: A Guide for College Instructors. John Wiley & Sons.

This book explains ePortfolios and how to use them in the classroom, to have students record and reflect on their learning.  It also outlines critical tasks to implement ePortfolios. The book also give real-life e-portfolio models. It offers guidance, support and suggestion on use ePortfolios as assessments.

Renwick, M. (2017). Digital portfolios in the classroom: Showcasing and assessing student work. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

This book is a guide to help teachers to understand assessments.  It focuses on ePortfolios, the implementation of them, and the results.

Reynolds, C., Patton, J., & Rhodes, T. (2015). Leveraging the ePortfolio for Integrative Learning: A Faculty Guide to Classroom Practices for Transforming Student Learning. Sterling: Stylus Publishing.

This book is for educators and administrators on the use of ePortfolios.  It’s a guide to help them to assist students to make their learning visible to peers, instructors or possible employers.  The authors describe the strategies for faculty to incorporate  ePortfolios in their courses to guide the scaffolding to develop students’ skills and reflect.

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Innovative Tendencies

Before reading the post, “Are You An Innovative Educator? Here’s How to Find Out “, I believed myself to be an innovative educator or have “innovative tendencies”. After reading the post, I realized that I’m not an innovative educator. I try to meaningfully incorporate technology into the classroom. I try to make the math as relevant as possible. But after looking at the chart, I realized that I have some work to do. I hate to harp on it, but I really feel like the demands of state testing really put a damper on the learning process. I feel like the the push is to cover all of the material covered on the tests, rather than trying to deliver meaningful, authentic lessons.

Communication is key! I believe that it needs to be consistent. As teachers, I would believe that everyone would agree with that. Everyone needs to be “in the know”, whether it’s students,administrators, and/or parents. I think that even though it sounds crazy, Kotter’s admonition of using a wide assortment of technology, is sad, but true. This reminds me of the conversation, in the last discussion, about the “$1000 pencil”. I think that some educators get so lost and fixated on incorporating technology, that they overdo it. Trying to incorporate all known technology isn’t the answer. Selecting technology for the class that is efficient and useful is the way to go. Technology needs to be meaningful and beneficial to the students.

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Finding a Balance

After watching the videos, it really confirmed that words do really make a difference. Being a special education/math teacher, I have a variety of students in my classes. Whether it’s the struggling student, the student with a learning disability lacking confidence or a student with an emotional disturbance; words have a huge impact. After writing my proposal and literature review, I’m starting to see how words affect the overall meaning. I struggled with first writing in the “passive voice” and I saw how that impacted my message.

I did agree with the message of words in the video, with BSGuys. I think that the natural reaction to being lectured about what your doing wrong, is to be defensive. If I think back to any of my classes, did I enjoy being lectured? That’s going to be a NO. I don’t believe that anyone enjoys a lecture (if you do, I’m sorry!!). In the video, I don’t think it was cognitive that started the process of changing their reactions. I believe it started with the heart, of what was right and wrong. Then it was followed up with a mixture of effective and cognitive.

For my video, I plan to go with my way of thinking. I believe that one domain isn’t better than the other. I will choose to go with my head and my heart. Along with focusing on both domains, I will try to show perspective by using questions, rather than lecture about what I feel to be true. I want the viewer to feel a certain way about my message because they moved by it, not forced via lecture.

Photo by Pixabay.com .

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Want to Innovate?

Teachers have always been to taught to plan, plan, plan.  I would think that most teachers feel most comfortable being completely organized and having everything laid out in a step-by-step manner.  But if you think about it, is that what’s best for the students?  I know we need to be flexible and adjust plans, as needed, based off of student needs,  But is that enough to encourage the full potential of student learning?  It’s more meaningful if the instruction is student-lead and driven.  So we just have a start point for the lesson and let the students dictate where if goes?  I believe that the answer is yes.  Although it’ll be a little stressful, worrying about time constraints and trusting the students are going to take it seriously, we need to remind ourselves of the main priority and goal of our job teachers.

I would have to say that I’m flexible, in the classroom.  I think that every teacher needs to be able to adjust and meet the needs of their students. About a month ago, I went to a training on a new math program.  I knew that I loved the idea and everything about it, but I was concerned about how I’d incorporate it into my classroom with a month into school.  We saw all these examples of this program being used in every aspect of the class and it seemed pretty overwhelming.  After trying out different scenarios in my head, I was able to decide on a way to phase the program into my classroom.  I’m not using this program everyday in my class, nor do I have to, but I found a way to use it as a student specific remediation tool to address individual student needs week by week.

As for my school, I feel that they are pretty supportive and flexible.  My school offers a variety of hybrid course for students, from core subjects to physical education. My school has also shown support for turning out classrooms into blended classrooms.  My school signed up the math department for this program.  So they are not only encouraging it they are giving us the tools to be able to do so.  Along with that, we have a new online learning platform that our school is rolling out.  They are setting goals or “check points” for us to get to each marking period, to assure that we are using it in our classroom.  They have personnel on hand, to help answer any questions on the program.  They really want this to work and be beneficial to our students.

To meet the needs of my class of digital natives, I’m making a solid effort to incorporate technology into the classroom.  I believe that this year, my colleagues are really working hard to incorporate technology.  My co-workers are growing, in regards to technology and so are the students.  I love technology and feel that I’m pretty current and well versed with it, while others need a little assistance.  It’s nice to see them really make an effort, to help the students.  It’s also great to see students learning to use technology that is educational.  Students tend excel with apps like instagram, snapchat, etc., but get frustated with educational technology.  I see them really trying and making strides.  By consistently introducing new technology in school, it’s exposing them to programs they may see in the future and teaching and enforcing problem-solving skills.  I’m excited to see how this year plays out!

 

Photo by Pixabay.com .

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The World is Changing. Why are we?

When watching the video, “Progressive Education in the 1940’s”, I did notice some similarities to when I was in school and the present. It makes me question why education hasn’t evolved as much as it should have, since that time period. With so many advancements in technology, why are we not changing? I think that there are a few factors. Some schools simply don’t have the resources. I think that some teachers are overwhelmed with the responsibilities that are forced upon them, like standardized tests. While others are just comfortable doing what they’ve been doing. There was one statement that was made at the end of the video that I thought was true then and should be true now. John Dewey stated, “The world is moving at a tremendous rate. No one knows where. We must prepare our children not for the world of the past, not for our world, but for their world, the world of the future.” John Dewey’s statement should be the thought and goal of every teacher.

While reading, ”People Who Like this Stuff…Like this Stuff”, I really thought that the four steps seem to make sense. First it was mentioned to start with the why. I think that anyone needs to know a reason and the relevancy of doing something. If there isn’t a reason or point to it, I know I wouldn’t be interested or invested. To enlist in key influencers is also pretty important. To convey the why, they should be trusted individual. People aren’t going to buy into the “why” from just anyone. Having a strategy is equally as important. Without a clear cut plan, expect chaos.

I don’t believe that “People Who Like this Stuff…Like this Stuff” applies to my school. I feel that each year they try to improve in the “technology integration field”. I feel that this year, my school was able to check all of the boxes with the four steps. We were made part of the “why” conversation last year. My school appointed some “go-to” people and they set a plan with goals. This year we were able to explore and learn ourselves. The cool thing is, we were able to learn from ourselves and from others going through the same process.

 

Photo from Pixabay.com

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