Thursday, 19 June 2014

I have been struggling with the work of maintaining my blog. mostly because of my schedule, but also because I have doubts that what I write might be interesting to anyone else that might read it. Then I came across Edutopia and knew that it was something I had to share with anyone that might be following my blog. 
Within the confines of our Moodle classroom, the students that are in my class are able to share our resources through our discussion forums. That access only lasts as long as the course is on though. What do we do when it's over and we still have things to share or are looking for feedback comments on items in a post? The internet is such a huge sea of information that we can never hope to see all there is that might interest us. By having a blog that is followed and shared by others with similar interests, we are able to increase our span and also enjoy feedback through comments left by those who have read what we have to say.
So for those who might be following my blog,(now that I finally posted where to find it!), please check out Edutopia. I think you'll find it nothing short of amazing!

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

The War of Art: a source of motivation when you have none

I'd like to share a book I found that has given me a profoundly different outlook on my own motivation, or lack thereof. It has given me a way to fight the good fight with myself in those times when I really don't want to put out the effort required or I'd rather just go for ice cream. This quote is from the website of Stephen Pressfield, the author.

What keeps so many of us from doing what we long to do? Why is there a naysayer within? How can we avoid the roadblocks of any creative endeavor—be it starting up a dream business venture, writing a novel, or painting a masterpiece?
The War of Art identifies the enemy that every one of us must face, outlines a battle plan to conquer this internal foe, then pinpoints just how to achieve the greatest success.
The War of Art emphasizes the resolve needed to recognize and overcome the obstacles of ambition and then effectively shows how to reach the highest level of creative discipline. Think of it as tough love . . . for yourself.

As we pursue our paths in all aspects of our lives, and in particular our education, we find times when we lack the focusing element that drives us forward to our goals. What Stephen Pressfield presents is a way for us to identify that lack of focus and label it in a way that we can now conjure a remedy.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014


In our latest round of discussions, the topic of motivation and how to help students be motivated , hit the table.
This Ted Talk presented by Dan Pink was the firestarter for our discussions:

Earlier this year I came across a book by Steven Pressfield titled, The War of Art. In it Mr. Pressfield gives a great lesson on the significance of motivation and how we are responsible for providing our own. He speaks of combatting the outside influences that we allow to take precedence and drag us away from what we know we should be doing. Instead of practicing the lines for the upcoming play so that the audience thinks of the person on stage not the actor playing the part, we instead go for coffee because a friend has dropped by. Instead of staying in to do the reading required for the upcoming exam, or putting pencil to paper to improve our sketching details, we get up and do the house cleaning that we have been putting off.

The key is we allow ourselves to make the necessary excuses to justify doing something other than that which will make us better or more skilled at what we have set as our goals.

If you get a chance, pick up a copy or download it to your Kobo or Kindle reader, and give it a read. Perhaps it will be just what you need to help find your motivation.

Monday, 9 June 2014

More on Visible Learning

In the latest Journal entry for 3250, I looked at visible learning as described  by Geoff Petty in his two books Teaching Today: A Practical Guide and Evidence-Based Teaching: A Practical Approach. Petty has brought the works of Hattie and Marzano, in particular, together in a plain language set of manuals that we can easily adapt as guides in our classrooms. Below is my comment on how I believe I can incorporate this into my teaching.

            Approaching the process of learning with the mindset described by Kolb and applying the strategies of Graham Gibbs (as adapted by Petty, 2009), we must follow the cycle of reflective practice. This involves four steps, review our lesson, learn what worked and what didn’t, apply a change to the methods or strategies used in the lesson based on what we learned, and then do, or carry out, the change as we try to teach the lesson again in the next setting or group of students. Making use of a reflective journal is one very effective way to perform the self-assessment needed to document the feedback needed to ‘see’ whether our students understand the content and have acquired the skills to move on to the next level of challenge in the learning.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Visible Learning

In researching material to support the concept of Visible Learning, it is impossible to miss the works of Dr. John Hattie. In his book Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning, he explains that the 'visible' aspect refers to making learning by the students visible to teachers. By this he says, he is describing the "clear identification of the attributes that make a visible difference to student learning". It also refers to "making teaching visible to the student, such that they learn to become their own teachers". He believes that it is this act of becoming their own teachers,  that the students need in order to become lifelong learners.
His three books:

 An interesting video where Dr. Hattie explains the role of the teacher in the process of Visible Learning. Although not necessarily a fast-paced interview, I encourage you to pay particular attention to how he describes the role of the teacher in terms of knowing their impact on the student's learning. Also if you catch at least the last two minutes, they have listed the eight mindsets described by Dr. Hattie.

Interview with Dr. John Hattie

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Instructional Strategies Video

For the last three weeks I have been struggling with how to bring this project to life.
I had no prior experience with creating even the most common of presentations, the PowerPoint.
The first struggle was trying to wrap my head around the variety of strategies to choose from and then actually pick one that interested me.

Then I found PowToons and stumbled upon one of the tutorials they had on how to make it happen. It turned out to be the missing ingredient I needed. Here's the link to the tutorial:

That being said, my video is based on Problem-Based Learning. The main reference source for me was an article written by Jim Jozwiak in the MPAEA Journal of Adult Education in the Spring 2004 Edition. That along with the books listed at the end of the video, combined with the work of two of my favourite sleuths and there you have a video.

There are many ways to utilize PBL in our classes and being able to glamorize the process by linking it to The Mythbusters just makes it more intriguing for the students. Their first thought, no doubt is "do we get to blow stuff up?".
Sorry guys, no such luck!
So here it is, I hope you find something you can use from it in your class.

Friday, 30 May 2014

In trying to figure out how to complete the video assignment on instructional strategies, I have poured over quite a number of websites, YouTube videos, and software offerings. I wanted to share with everyone the one that has piqued my interest, PowToon. It seems reasonably easy to work with but best of all have been the resources they have produced to support the use of their package.

This video is an absolute must-see for anyone considering developing a video of their own. The directions offered by Ilya Spitalnik, PowToon's Chief Executive Unicorn, were literally the proverbial guiding light!
Check it out.....