Never turn a page again

This video is only 1 minute 25 seconds and yet, by the end of it I had forgotten what it was meant to be about. Lost in learning! Lost in intrigue. Lost in the wonder of all that was occurring. It’s all physics. It’s a video which makes people want to know and find things out. On top of that, it is funny. It’s a carefully planned, well thought out , high impact lesson. It would have taken brainstorming, discussion, trial runs. There would have been a feedback loop and collaboration. It’s a video which arouses a lot of curiosity and engages the audience. A one minute video can do a lot!

Introduction to Graphic Design

Introduction to Graphic DesignI  have just completed the free Introduction to Graphic Design on Udemy course by Sean Berg. Amongst other things he works on custom templates for WordPress in Brazil. His course was different from the other ones I have done in that it was 100% focused on delivering the content. It was a lesson in methodology as much as anything else. This doesn’t mean the other courses did not concentrate on content. They did , but they did it differently. Sean Berg’s shining moment was the squares. The way he was manipulating the squares to illustrate the points he was talking about was very clever. His command of visual literacy to illustrate his spoken content is expert. As he is talking about graphic design he is showing you. There were no exercises as in the other courses but this course really was about concentrated focus on content. It is an excellent example of how to utilise teaching very effectively. Sometimes you just need to master delivering the message so that you are time efficient. I really enjoyed learning this way because there were no distractions at all. No swamping. Just the things he was trying to teach me. His course was a good practical use of using design elements to ensure learners were in control all of the way.

WYSIATI

I receive email updates from Barry Ritzholz who runs the Masters in Business Podcasts on the  Bloomberg site. I like to listen to podcasts, choose my own and have access to a wealth of  expert input from all over the world. You can find Barry Ritzholz on Twitter @ritholz at and you can find his webpage at The Big Picture. The latest podcast is an interview with Danny Kahneman, a professor of behavioral & cognitive psychology, and winner of the Nobel Prize for economics in 2002. He talks about WYSIATI – what you see is all there is – in the way we operate and how it blinkers us to more and better knowledge. It creates over optimism and over confidence and makes us think that what we know and what is currently available to us is all there is. Business start ups flop because of it but businesses get started because of it. It is a double edged sword. You plan a lesson , the best lesson on the planet, and wonder why your students do not see you as the most marvellous teacher ever. Then again, it might go wonderfully well and then you blinker yourself to change because what you have been doing works. You do not notice the generational, cultural or work place evolution and inevitably you become stuck in a loop which you find hard to break out of. As a student you opt for the easy out, the easy subjects, the easy classes, the easy approaches because why would you want to work hard, right? Then it all becomes too hard because the goal posts move and life requires a lot more than you thought. WYSIATI is a very good concept for us to know and understand because it gives us a way of introducing conversations which will move us forward and allow us to be both more prudent and hungrier for all the information and experience we can have.

Project Based Learning

This video has been made by a teacher. It is good to see teachers give insight into how they manage , initiate and sustain different ways of teaching and learning. He gives a link to his website at the end of the video. Not too many teachers bang on like the teacher at the beginning of this video. Not any more. I have been in a position of privilege where I have been able to go into other teachers’ classrooms and the thing which has always amazed and impressed me is the number of different ways in which teachers interact with students. The sage on the stage noun phrase has done much to damage being there at the front of your class in a good way . It tends to hark back to  what was the chalk and talk and endless copying. That  is how I was taught. The teacher stood out the front and banged on incessantly and then we had copious notes to take , exercises to do and homework on exactly the same thing. I learned a lot. When you are not allowed to say and do then you are in your own headspace and a good teacher would get you thinking and that headspace would create all sorts of connections and ideas because there was nothing to distract you. Much of it was mind numbing, though. Different era. The student faces at the beginning of this video are classic. I have seen that. The blank almost comatose look. I have never taught for more than 10 minutes at a time and that is of value. I am a teacher. I know a lot. In 10 minutes I can clarify, intrigue, contextualise, ideate, stimulate and set the scene for learning. Most teachers do that these days. They create a rationale or narrative and create their lessons around that.

So where does the project based learning fit in? The notion of it can confuse. Is it actually doing a practical project or is it doing a research and analysis project? This article by TeachThought explains it well. Learning projects come down to challenge based, place based or activity based. You could do a challenge based project on finding out about Shakespeare and his plays. You could do a place based project by going to Stratford on Avon and finding out about where he lived and his cultural heritage. You could put on a Shakespearean play and learn about Shakespeare as an activity based project. Virtual reality will give us other options. Technology gives us yet others. It will always be about the students and the sorts of projects which help them learn best. You then have to balance that against time allocation for the subject , personal teaching load and expectations and then ease of access to resources.

The aitsl professional standards also easily enable you to take project based learning into account :

1.1 Select from a flexible and effective repertoire of teaching strategies to suit the physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students.
1.3 Design and implement teaching strategies that are responsive to the learning strengths and needs of students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.
1.4 Design and implement effective teaching strategies that are responsive to the local community and cultural setting, linguistic background and histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
1.5 Develop teaching activities that incorporate differentiated strategies to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities.
1.6 Design and implement teaching activities that support the participation and learning of students with disability and address relevant policy and legislative requirements.
2.2 Exhibit innovative practice in the selection and organisation of content and delivery of learning and teaching programs.
2.4 Provide opportunities for students to develop understanding of and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and languages.
2.5 Apply knowledge and understanding of effective teaching strategies to support students’ literacy and numeracy achievement.
2.6 Use effective teaching strategies to integrate ICT into learning and teaching programs to make selected content relevant and meaningful.
3.1 Develop a culture of high expectations for all students by modelling and setting challenging learning goals.
3.2 Plan and implement well-structured learning and teaching programs or lesson sequences that engage students and promote learning.
3.3 Select and use relevant teaching strategies to develop knowledge, skills, problem solving and critical and creative thinking.
3.4 Select and/or create and use a range of resources, including ICT, to engage students in their learning.

3.3 goes to the heart of project based learning but the other professional standards apply. There are others too which you would meet if you were engaging with colleagues to develop big projects or if you were involving yourself with community organisations and /or parents as part of the project based learning.

Use the design process as you teach

Image: visually
design process
Using the design process can apply to visualising lessons, visualising assignments, visualising topics and for students to have an authentic, current framework to guide the development of their projects , assignments and tasks. The visually site has provided a clear process for using UX in the classroom as well as anywhere else. When you are using technology in the classroom then you can think in terms of micro content and macro content. On the Net micro content generally comes in social media sites – short, sharp and shiny . It can have an enormous impact and reach. Macro content will come on newspaper sites, blogs, academic sites where the content is developed and explored in a deeper, broader way and  usually backed by research. If you are using technology in class the micro content will support your main tasks and assignments. It will enhance the messages and learning focus. It may also be something you want to emphasise in particular before you put that in the context of the broader learning aims. I might teach the future tense so I can then get students to speak or write about their weekend or holiday plans. I might teach food and drinks so we can do a cafe conversation. I might show them a video on Jambon beurre so they get intrigued by French food as we are thinking about and planning our conversations. Relationship building is important because that is how you know your students and then how you can create learning experiences which mean something to them and you can adapt  a task so they enjoy what they are doing . It is then important to get the feedback and find out what everyone can improve next time. If I have ever offered an assignment or used methodology which is new to me I say that to the students and ask them to offer helpful ideas as we go along. The enjoy collaborating and being part of the design process when you are developing ideas which will work in class.That is how I use the design process to develop my own materials. Preparing materials with the user in mind is an integral part of delivering  content via technology.

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