Styles and Perspectives

Online classes have started. As a preliminary activity for the first module, we were asked by our instructor to take two short tests in order for us to find out what our teaching perspectives and styles are.

As a teacher, I want my students to have as much enthusiasm for my subject as I do. Whenever I find that kids have a hard time understanding lessons, I take the time to revise my plans and have a lot of activities that will help tem master the concepts and skills they need. This is because I want them to be well-equipped and prepared for when they step out of high school and go out into the world.

I also model work attitudes and remind them about being passionate with whatever they do. I sometimes use personal examples to help students relate better with what I am trying to teach and to help them understand better. I also draw from their own experiences and realities in order for them to be able to make sense of topics and concepts.

According to the Teacher Perspective Inventory, I have a dominantly Apprenticeship perspective which is why I try my best to come up with authentic tasks set in real-life situations. My nurturing perspective influences how I relate to my students and my developmental perspective fuels my desire to see them become skilled and competent.

Ideologies often influence how we see the world. In this case, my perspectives in teaching inspire my teaching styles in the classroom. It is important for us to take a step back from time to time and assess how we our performing and how well our audience – that is, our students – are learning.

As a Science teacher, I encourage my students to think outside the box to find new and better ways in doing things and solving problems. In my classes, I get a mix of students with different learning abilities, intelligences, styles, and needs. Being open to other perspectives and teaching styles is important if I am to address my students’ needs as effectively as I can.

You can take the Teacher Perspective Inventory (TPI) here and Grasha-Reichmann’s Teaching Style Survey here.

 

Looking to the Finish Line

I have been an online student for about 2 years now. It has not been an easy journey as asynchronous discussions have their own pros and cons. This added to the fact that I am also working full-time has proven both challenging and satisfying.

Thankfully (and hopefully), this is the last pit stop towards getting my eligibility to take the Licensure Exams. For the next three months, I will be writing reflections for this, my last course for my Professional Teaching Certificate course, EDS 111 (Principles of Teaching).

The introductory module for the course had us take a few online tests to help us become more aware of our study habits. I am quite proud to say that my test results have indicated that I have good time management skills, am self-regulated, and good study habits. What I think I need though are stress management skills. J

This school year will prove to be challenging as we fully implement the K-12 program in our school. Aside from this, I will be undergoing therapy for a herniated disk in my spinal column. This means I will have to manage my time better as I juggle work, online class, and therapy sessions for the next three months. But this, I pledge, that I will do my best and give my best to make this pit stop the best.

Nearing the Finish Line

For the past three months, I had been posting about reflections regarding my current course in Distance Learning, that of Instructional Media Resources. The term will officially end tonight at midnight and there is relief in knowing that I am very near the finish line.

Truth be told, I had my worries regarding the amount of work that the subject would entail even before term officially opened last May. I once had a colleague who took a similar class on website design and I had seen how complicated his assignments had been. Having little or limited knowledge in working with the different software available now, I had dreaded the subject.

Sure enough, week after week, we had to answer forum questions, submit activities, create eJournal entries, and respond to posts not to mention read through several resources for each module. On top of these requirements, the new school year brought about changes in terms of a modular approach to the subject I teach as part of the K-12 curriculum. This not only meant adjusting to a new load, it also meant paperwork and deadlines.

Saying that I was stressed out would be an understatement. I think the most frustrating part was finding out, at the onset, that the major requirements in class were to be done by group. Being enrolled in an Open University meant that my group mates could be anywhere in the globe and that we won’t be able to set a common time to log on the internet so we could all effectively plan together. I usually map out my week depending on the tasks that I need to work on, both in school and at work. I had dreaded the idea of conducting asynchronous group discussions because it meant the possible disruption of a well-planned personal schedule.

I guess one of the things that I have to learn is to understand that not everyone is wired like me. The one good thing I can say about working in a group though is that of knowing that there are at least five of us who have pending requirements.

In terms of the things that I have learned in the course, I think the one thing that has stuck with me is the way I should design my instructional resources. In the course of my teaching practice, I have come across websites that were developed by teachers specifically for their students. I would also like to make a similar endeavor for my students. The assignment on Multimedia Resource had me seriously considering putting up a website that my students can access offline (as we are discouraged from giving them homework over the internet). Should our policy on internet use change, I hope that I can put up an interactive website for my students which include practice drills and activities that will help stimulate higher order thinking skills.

In the end, I am also hoping that the past three months have also made me a better teacher. I am already applying most of the principles that I have learned in the course when preparing my PowerPoint slides. Now, only time will tell if they are as effective as I hope them to be.

Amalgamation

This week in my Instructional Media Resources class, we learned about multimedia resources.  These resources are an amalgamation of print, audio, and visual resources and hence, provide for a more enriching and interactive learning experience (Lamb, n.d.).

Compared to the other two resources we studied (see Albion and Huang below), the Building Treehouses resource by Lamb (n.d.) was what I found most interesting and most helpful.  For one, it gave a list of the different slides that should make up a slideshow as well as the functional areas that slides have.

Aside from these, it also mentioned different software that can be used to create multimedia resources. One of these was Macromedia Flash Player, which comes as no surprise since most websites incorporate clips in them. It also listed Microsoft PowerPoint which I use to create my visual aids in school.

For a moment, it got me confused because Lamb had also mentioned PowerPoint as a good tool when creating projected visuals (Lamb, 2005).  Then of course, I came to realize that the fact that it is called “multimedia” would mean that it has to be projected somehow in order for it be as interactive as the designer would want it to be.

I have used clips, audio files, and hyperlinks in my PowerPoint presentations before.  Hyperlinks make for nonlinear presentations (that is, they allow users to jump from one topic to another).  However, the way I add hyperlinks in my slides still follow a linear outline (that is, it is part of a sequence).

I guess despite the limitation in interactive-ability, I realized that some of my slides are simple multimedia.  After reading Building Treehouses, I had this idea of creating a website for my students that will connect the slides that I have used in my lectures.  Of course, some of them will have to be revised and improved and some others still need to be designed (especially the interactive slides and student involvement area).

My greatest challenge about putting forth the project together will be to find the time to actually organize them into a cohesive stack (I can go crazy with sorting until I have several subfolders that I again will have to sort!) and the actual construction of a website.  Not to mention that the school has a policy of discouraging teachers from giving assignments through the internet.  Still, it will be a good science fair project that I can ask the students to be involved in.  I think, given their tech-savvy, it will also help them learn more about my subject along the way.

 

References:

Albion, P. (2001). Developing interactive multimedia using a problem-based learning framework. In L. Richardson and J. Lidstone (Eds), Flexible Learning for a Flexible Society, 30-38. Proceedings of ASET-HERDSA 2000 Conference, Toowoomba, Qld. Available at http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.25.7527&rep=rep1&type=pdf

Huang, C. (2005). Designing high-quality interactive multimedia learning modules. In Computerized Medical Imaging and Graphics, 29, 223-233. Available at https://cset.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/files/documents/publications/Huang-Designing%20hih-quality%20interactive%20multimedia%20learning%20modules.pdf

Lamb, A. (2005). Designing and developing resources: Projected materials (Chap 9). In Building treehouses for learning: Technology in today’s classrooms. Available at http://eduscapes.com/treehouses/TL9projected.pdf

Lamb, A. (n.d). Designing and developing resources: multimedia materials (Chap 11). In Building treehouses for learning: Technology in today’s classrooms, 385-438. Available at http://eduscapes.com/treehouses/TN11multimedia.pdf

Discriminating Websites

This week for my Instructional Media Resources class, we focused on internet resources and how they can be effectively used in teaching and learning.  I found the Building Treehouses resource (Lamb, n.d.) interesting and useful as it mentioned web sites that I can use in my classes.  Though I usually frequent the Enchanted Learning website, as well as resources for quizzes listed in the document, there were listed resources that I was unfamiliar with, or have heard of but have never really visited before.  I had checked out the Edheads.org interactive website and found the weather activity challenging.  Now if I could just throw it into my Earth Science classes. 🙂

I have to admit, despite the sheer volume of information that I could lay my hands on using the internet (for my lesson plans and activities), there are times when I sometimes feel dissatisfied with the results displayed on the page.  Other times, I feel lost and overwhelmed with the amount of information available that I don’t even know where to begin.  The latter I feel despite my background in research.  Sorting through all that information takes time.

It was a good thing that Glencoe (2006) had listed five basic criteria to evaluate the appropriateness and credibility of websites.  It also helped me make sense of “web speech” and what those tildes (~) and percent signs (%) on URLs mean (that is, they are usually found in web sites authored by individuals).

Apart from being useful to me as a teacher, I think that these resources will also be invaluable to my students especially since they have investigatory projects that they need to review literature for.  The world wide web is like one big library. But as with any old library, we need the skills in discriminating which reference is good and which is not; which source is relevant and which is not.  We need to teach ourselves how to properly use it. Only then can we teach the “net generation” how to responsibly and critically utilize it, just like how we teach them to use printed, audio, and video resources.

Helping our students to evaluate web resources also helps them develop critical thinking skills.  And isn’t that what we all want our students to develop?

References:

Glencoe. (2006). Evaluating web sites – five basic criteria. Available at http://www.glencoe.com/sec/teachingtoday/educationupclose.phtml/10

Lamb, A. (n.d). Selecting & integrating resources: Teaching and learning with internet (Chap 4). In Building treehouses for learning: Technology in today’s classrooms, 119-158. Available at http://eduscapes.com/treehouses/TG4Internet2.pdf

Sound Bytes: Not Just for Teaching English and Music

This week, it took me a while to read the module on audio resources.  We have just finished working on a major homework (submitted on June 12th) and I found myself busy preparing decorations for my classroom, in time for the opening of classes on the 18th.  Coming in from the summer holidays, the full days spent at school left me tired when I got home.  I was chiding myself for my excuses but for my part, I was trying to squeeze in reading the required resources while I was in school, setting up my classroom and finishing my lesson plans.

Anyway, the module for this week was about audio files.  I have forgotten how audio can be effectively utilized in the classroom.  As a kid, we had Oral Language books where sentences had rising and falling lines.  I remember getting excited whenever my Language teacher would enter the classroom with a cassette player in tow.  That was a signal that for the next period, we would be moving our heads up and down to follow the intonations indicated in our workbooks while we repeated after the person in the audio cassette speaking.

As I grew up, audio use in the classroom was mostly limited to English and Music.  In college, when I enrolled in a class on Radio Broadcasting, our professor used audio files to demonstrate sibilance.  As a teacher, some colleagues (who all taught English) made use of audio files in the classroom.

I guess I was just so used to using video clips in the classroom when teaching Science that I have come to overlook the usefulness of pure audio in lectures, thinking that they are more of an “English thing” than others (remember how I admired Tony Stark’s holograms?).  Reading about digital media (JISC Digital Media, 2013) and audio cassette tapes (Smaldino, Russell, Heinich, and Molenda, 2004), as well as how audio resources can be used in the classroom (Centre for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA), 2015) has made me rethink the media.

It may be a challenge to use audio in my Science lectures but I have thought of a few ways to incorporate them in my classroom activities this year when we try to simulate earthquakes in the classroom. I hope that by using the sound of rumbling earth will help my students perform in the drills better.  Much like the thundering music in a film’s action sequence, I hope that using audio in my classes will also motivate them better and make the class encounters more interesting this year!

References:

Centre for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA). (2015). Using audio (Parts A, B, & C). Available at http://www.carla.umn.edu/LCTL/development/mod3a.html)

JISC Digital Media. (2013). Using audio in teaching and learning. Available at http://www.jiscdigitalmedia.ac.uk/guide/using-audio-in-teaching-and-learning/

Smaldino, S. E., Russell, J.D., Heinich, R., and Molenda, M. (2004). Audio (Chap 11). In Instructional technology and media for learning (8th ed), 264-280. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall. Available at https://navelmangelep.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/instructional-technology-and-media-for-learning-8th-ed.pdf

Creating Visuals: A Work In Progress

Visuals are materials that usually contain words and pictures that are used to support or enhance instruction.  Visuals are of two types: non-projected or projected.  The difference is that projected visuals are those that are displayed using a screen while non-projected visuals include charts, posters, and models that may displayed on walls.  Regardless of whether they are projected or not, visuals should be designed carefully.

Just like print materials,  it is important to know what message you want to convey, to consider the setting and the available resources in preparing them, and to be clear with the purpose of using them (Lamb,  2005).  Of course, you must know your audience’s experiential and intellectual knowledge (Smaldino, et. al., 2004).

I remember this one scene in The Big Bang Theory where the characters played Pictionary.  Sheldon, one of the lead characters who played a physicist in the show, kept on drawing complicated stick figures to depict such words like a chocolate chip cookie and nail polish.  Bottom line? It is all about keeping things simple.

Selecting visuals to put in presentations is just like choosing your words when writing a composition.  No matter how wonderful the words may sound, if your readers do not understand them, then you will not be able to communicate your message effectively.  The same is true when designing visuals.  It is true that a picture paints a thousand words and when we choose visuals haphazardly, students may interpret them the wrong way.  This is why, aside from taking caution and careful planning in designing visual aids, we should also teach our students how to look at images and “read” them.

Design principles in creating visuals focus on simplicity, unity, emphasis, and balance (Smaldino, Russell, Heinich, and Molenda, 2004).  The choice of font type, size, and color as well as use of contrast is important.    Reading through the resources that outlined the importance of alignment, and spaces between letters and lines of text, I felt that I was on the right track, at least where non-projected visuals are concerned.  Whenever I design my bulletin boards and my classrooms, I always try to achieve a unified look.  Using themes are a great help in doing this.

We have LCD projectors and screens in the classrooms and I usually conduct my lessons using PowerPoint presentations.  I do leave plenty of white space in my slides but I still have to make them simpler.  Lamb, in his book Building Treehouses for Learning: Technology in Today’s Classrooms (2005), again emphasized on keeping things simple by using pictures instead of words as a visual guide during lectures.  I find this reminder challenging because I need words as cues while I go around the classroom as I deliver instruction.  The only time that I make use of just pictures in my slides is when I give morning reflections to students which I read off from a piece of paper. I guess you could say that when it comes to projected visuals, I am still a work in progress.

 

References:

Lamb, A. (2005). Designing and developing resources: Projected materials (Chap 9). In Building treehouses for learning: Technology in today’s classrooms. Available at http://eduscapes.com/treehouses/TL9projected.pdf

Smaldino, S. E., Russell, J.D., Heinich, R., and Molenda, M. (2004). Visual principles (Chap 4). In Instructional technology and media for learning (8th ed), 79-105. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall. Available at https://navelmangelep.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/instructional-technology-and-media-for-learning-8th-ed.pdf