Sunday, 4 June 2017

Feedback Strategies Digital Project - Info-graphic

 How cool are info-graphics.! ? I have seen them before but had not idea what they were called or how to create them. For those of you who don't know info-graphics is a visual image used to represent information. More images, less words. Basically let the image do the talking. So far I have looked at and The hardest part I have had is not the information or organization of it, but finding the right picture for the message.

Here is my digital project finally. I had some troubles getting it online and had to convert a pdf to a png file which I had never done before. That is the one thing I do find with these projects I always end up being challenged and finding out something new.

Can't wait to find away to use this tool in one of my courses. I'm sure the students will love it!

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

What student's value in Teachers

I found this chapter very helpful as it allowed me to be very self reflective. This is something I want the students to feel. I want them to feel that I am authentic and that they value my expertise.
 I have referenced this chapter many times in my previous self reflection assignments.
Here are a few quotes and summarized thoughts form The Skillful Teacher (Brookfield, 2015) that stood out for me.

"The elements necessary to being both authority and ally are credibility and authenticity." p.42

students value that the instructor is regarded as an expert.  p.44

How is expertise displayed? This comes by as "being in the flow" - which I mention in previous posts. A behavior that indicates this is the unexpected student question.
I looked back at the courses I have taught and feel for the most part I have been an "expert" for some of them. The courses that I enjoy teaching are the ones I would consider myself to be an expert it. The ones I do not enjoy I am teacher and student at the same time (not as much fun). I have had fellow colleagues say that a teacher can teach any subject. This may be true but doesn't mean it will be taught or received well by the students. I prefer to teach a subject that I am comfortable with and I have seen that this is not always the case in the educational system and has been going on for years. A math teacher teaching a science class etc. I understand why but am wondering how we can make this better?

I found this paragraph to be very informative.

"Students appreciate it not only when the teacher knows the subject back and front but also when she is able to draw on a substantial history of teaching the course. Referring to strategies that did, or did not, work in previous courses, or providing plenty of appropriate examples, metaphor, or analogies that have proved in the past to help students understand complex ideas, are also important indicators to students."  p.46

Being a new program this is something I would call growing pains. What I do find helps though is being current in the work place. This is one thing that I am worried about as I become further and further entrenched in education and away from the hospital. I value going back to the hospital and working and seeing the clinical setting and keeping up to date with my skills. I can't believe how much they have dropped off in 3 years (life long learning). I also find it valuable to go back so I can have more stories (personhood to help with the students learning).

"making explicit to learners one's rationale for teaching decisions." p.47
I have seen this occur first hand in class the frustration students feel when they don't know why they are doing something. Such comments as this is "a waste of my time, unfair, I don't get it" etc.
I have tried to incorporate this and it seems to help with the flow of the class. Explaining what I am doing, having students ask questions and making changes, if necessary based on the feedback of the class makes for a happy class!

" speaking out loud" p. 48
I recently experienced this in class where I broke down how I viewed the projections in class step by step. The response was fantastic! I didn't realize how important this step was to their learning. Multiple students responded on feedback forms that this is one thing that they wanted me to continue to do.

Common Indicators of Authenticity p.49

teachers are considered allies when "they clearly have student's interest at heart and wish to see them succeed." (Cranton, 2006)

being trustworthy, open and honest  - Sometimes I feel this should be a given but every year I have to remind students I am not trying to trick them and that I want them to succeed so obviously somewhere in their previous educational experience they have felt they have been tricked and a teacher has not been trustworthy, open or honest.

Trust is developed by congruence, full disclosure, responsiveness and personhood. I couldn't agree more and I find this comes fairly natural to me and is something I am not trying to push right way. It takes time and consistency.  I am trying to develop the relationship between student and teacher because this is something I value. I enjoy seeing the students succeed and getting to know them!

There is a specific task with a technologists' job that everyone finds scary the first time and that is in the Operating Room. I try to tell them stories (personhood)  that I have had to show them that I made mistakes, got past them and improved. I feel lots of people don't mention their own mistakes because they are embarrassed and don't want to look like failures. I feel by telling my stories it will help the students through this difficult time and hopefully allow them to open up to their fellow classmates so they can lean on each other in the future. It is ok to make mistakes just learn from them. I guess this would be called mentorship as well.

As mentioned above I really enjoyed this chapter as it really helped me think about what I was doing in the classroom and how the students' perceive it.

Brookfield, S. D. (2015). The skillful teacher: on technique, trust, and responsiveness in the    classroom. Jossey-Bass.

Cranston, P. (Ed.) (2006) Authenticity in Teaching. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, No.111, Fall 2006. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

My thoughts on the PIDP courses

PIDP courses 

Overall the PIDP courses have been so valuable and so very practical, which is exactly what I needed. I refer to material every day when teaching, whether it be for activities, feedback, organization, making exams and more. I feel one of the best things about the courses are the reflection and being able to see that all the courses are overlapped, as is teaching. Everything affects everything and this affects the student experience. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, but listen to your students, don't be afraid to make changes as you are learning too, have reasoning behind what you are doing and verbalize it, keep being a student yourself, no tricks, keep things aligned and most importantly for me is value the student-teacher relationship and be yourself when teaching - you will enjoy it more and so will the students!

 Teaching is definitely more work then I could have imagined. I take the work home, and am constantly thinking of ideas and how to improve but it is very rewarding and allows you to be creative which I love. The PIDP courses have allowed me a chance to explore what teaching is , what it means to me, and who I want to become as teacher. It has been an invaluable resource in explaining what is happening in my classroom. Below is a summary of some of the courses.

PIDP 3100: Foundations of Adult Education - taking next and is my last course before the capstone. I originally took this course first but dropped out as I was having difficulty balancing being a new instructor and an online course. I do think it is ironic that I will be taking this course last but I hope it allows me to look at all the other PIDP course information with a wider lens.

PIDP 3210: Curriculum Development - one word Alignment!!! The value of having outcomes, material and assessment aligned. Being organized and having clear explicit outcomes. Learning how to do a needs assessment to help determine what the course should include. Lesson plans are very helpful and allow the instructor to follow a plan, reflect afterward and to have a  copy of what has been done. I now do these for every class, I think it gets me off on the right foot.

PIDP 3220 - Delivery of Instruction

I took this on campus as an Instructional Skills Workshop.  I found the learning environment and feedback to be just what I needed going into my first day of classes. I met with similar liked individuals and learned about resources on campus. The mini lessons where so much fun and I learned that short and simple is the way to go. BOPPS is something I use in my lesson plans every day. I found that the key to my teaching is to have a solid bridge in to grab the students attention and then tie it all together at the end. That was the most fun for me. I also took away that it is ok to be creative and to be a risk taker. If it doesn't work learn from it and make the correct changes. This was the first time that I had feedback on my teaching and realized how important this is to the learning process, immediate feedback.

PIDP 3230: Evaluation of Learning 

This was the first class I took that I  heard the word alignment and realized previous classes I had taught had this issue. I also leaned valuable skills in how to write a test item, (not called a question) and to organize an exam properly. Also learned about informal classroom techniques, such as the memory tool, and muddiest point. We did this exercise out of class and learned what a difference an environment can be on a learning setting.

PIDP 3240: Media Enhanced Learning

I did find this course difficult as I feel I have missed the technological bus. Creating a blog is actually fairly easy and can be very useful as it allows a place to record thoughts and ideas and hopefully get input from others. I looked at it as a great place to store ideas and to reflect. I loved the digital video project and found this very challenging and rewarding.  A very valuable experience for me as this is another way to be creative and to showcase material in the class. I also found the experience valuable because in our program we ask the students to create video projects and this allowed me to trouble shoot and to show students an example of my creativity.

PIDP 3250: Instructional Strategies

I loved this course as I found I could use the information right away in class. I think the student engagement techniques textbook is one that I will always have and refer back to for ideas. I have learned about how my actions affect the students and the value of relationships. Feedback, learning environment, extroverted student vs. introverted student, how to motivate students, and SETS where learned. I enjoyed this class because I would learn something new and then immediately try it in my class the following week. Remembering that each student is different and might require different tools to help with the learning process.

PIDP 3260: Professional Practice

I really enjoyed this textbook as well. In general, I have enjoyed all the classes because I see the overlap of the material and how practical it is. I have appreciated the feedback from instructors and feel that they want me to succeed. Self reflection was a big thing for me for this course. Learning about feedback instruments and the value of having one done midterm and at the end of term. They are only valuable though if you listen to the student and make changes.  I have learned again the value of relationships and the trust and authenticity that must be built to have a positive learning environment. Emphasis was also put on life long learning and I see that having a plan for my career is important.

PIDP 3270 - Capstone Project 

I look forward to making a project and am hoping to do something with Virtual Reality which was one of my discussion topics in Media Enhanced Learning.

Life Long Learning

What does life long learning mean to me?

I think in general it means to always be curious and to try new things. I always say you only live once, and for some reason I have always enjoyed meeting new people, experiencing new things, and asking questions. With this home made recipe comes learning.

As a professional, life long learning means staying relevant with the times. I can't expect to have the same lectures for the next 20 years. Especially in my field, technology is changing so rapidly. Trying and learning about new things will keep the job exciting and enjoyable. Also learning new things will keep me employable! Who knows what will happen as jobs become cut and our way of teaching education changes around us to include more online courses. If I do not learn and adapt I will be left behind.

We learn everyday and I think that is the excitement about living. I get a buzz about learning and a feeling of accomplishment, which makes me feel good. Positive reinforcement!

The world around us is constantly changing and adapting and so must we.

Below is a link to some benefits to life long learning.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

One man's trash is another man's education

Arvind Gupta: Turning trash into toys for learning

I chose this video because I wanted to be inspired and work on being more creative with my lessons and activities. This talk didn't disappoint. His talk related to everyone in the room, was creative and the speaker, Arvind Gupta, was enthusiastic. He used things we throw away to demonstrate everyday science. Throughout the lecture, he mentioned that when the kids create he " sees a gleam in their eye." (Gupta, 2010) I couldn't agree more. I have a few labs and lectures where I ask the students to create, whether it be paper mache stomachs, using a paper clip to demonstrate the curvature of the intestines, or just drawing. I feel it is using art to teach science! I enjoyed another quote from Arvind - "what you use it for is limited only by imagination". (Gupta, 2010)  This is the challenge for instructors in my opinion, being creative and relevant to the students that come in every year.  This video showed that playing with material and creating can benefit learning. To me it doesn't just have to be an expensive model or a textbook. "People want to make things" and they get a thrill of what science is all about."(Gupta, 2010)  I hope I can bring more creative ideas and activities into my lectures for the benefit of my students. I keep on reminding my students that it is ok to have fun while learning, it doesn't just have to be serious. PLAY with the material.

Gupta, Arvind (speaker). (2010) Arvind Gupta: Turning trash into toys for learning. Ted Talk. Video retrieved from 

Ch.6 Lecturing Creatively - 12 minutes optimal for lecture material. How much for reading a blog?

Again all quotes come from The Skillful Teacher (Brookfield, 2015) unless otherwise stated. This chapter really allowed me to get some feedback on some practices I have been attempting to apply to my courses. I am happy to say that a lot of the recommendations in this chapter I am practicing.

"When we use any teaching approach, we need to be clear exactly what it's intended to achieve. This clarity should be apparent not just to us but also to students." p. 71
This is something I always have to remind myself when I am making up new activities and going over lesson plans. This keeps me focused!

I believe in the following quote 100% . " There's only one thing more contagious than enthusiasm and that's the lack of it."(Bligh, 2000)  p. 72 in the Skillful Teacher .
This is something I try to do every lecture. I have been in lectures where it is boring or the instructor doesn't seem to care and this doesn't make me want  to learn or even pay attention. I am hoping everyone is teaching subjects they are interested in but even I find it hard to be enthusiastic when it is a subject that does not grab your attention. Does anyone have any helpful hints when you are assigned a topic that doesn't peak your interest? 

Race(2001),  Brown and Race, (2002) and  Hepner (2007) talk about characteristics of helpful lectures. Some of the key points are:
" use a variety of teaching and communication processes"
" clearly organized so students can follow the head of the lecture's thought"
"model the learning behaviours expected in the course"   p.73 The Skillful Teacher

Excellent points and this allowed me to analyze what I am doing in the class and I feel that I have these characteristics in each lecture with the additional of student feedback. One of the first things I did when I took over a course was organize. Which helped me see the path better and therefore the student to. I share a map  of the course at the beginning when going over the course outline so there are no surprises. I think this really helps the students visualize the learning path we will be on. I also find organization to be key if you are passing the subject off to another instructor. It is a lot of work but I have found if you put the time in, it makes a big difference, especially for a first time instructor.

I had heard something like this before where students only hear the first 10 minutes and the last 10 minutes of lecture so when you are planning the course 20 minutes of material is all that is needed for an hour class and use the rest of the time for activities. I recently had the opportunity of sitting in on a lecture and this was the first time I had done so since  becoming a teacher. I found my thoughts wandering and this was a great lesson for me to remember because as an instructor I tend to forget how much energy it takes to learn. Bligh (2000) mentions "approximately 12 minutes as the optimum period of time in which students can be expected to listen to uninterrupted talk that focuses one idea or sub theme. "
I sometime get very excited about a subject and I want to pile on more information but I have to remind myself that sometimes less is more and that my job as an instructor isn't necessarily to give the students all the information but the key points and direct them to explore and discover on their own. We only have so much time for lecture! I really struggled with this at the beginning.

To piggyback on what Race, Brown and Hepner mentioned about organization. " Two ways to help students follow a lecture are to 1) provide handouts that provide the scaffolding for the lecture and 2) offer plenty of verbal signals when new points, changes in direction , or important caveats are being said." p. 78
When I read this it made me happy because this is something that I try to do in my courses as well. I have even made a symbol to put on my slides to grab the student's attention that this is a key point. Its' like finding Waldo in my Power points.

There is a paragraph (p.81) mentioning introducing alternative perspectives and I have had the opportunity of having another instructor sit in on my classes for most of the term. This person was assisting in the labs and I found this to be very helpful. There would be times throughout the lecture where she would provide a different perspective than me and provide examples for the students. I feel this really benefited the learning environment and highly recommend it. The key though is not to compete or feel threatened by someone else's perspective. Having a solid relationship with the instructor before hand built on trust really helped make this work.

Bligh, D.A. (2000). What's the Use of Lectures? San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Brookfield, S. D. (2015). The skillful teacher: on technique, trust, and responsiveness in the    classroom. Jossey-Bass.

Brown, S., and Race, P. (2002) Lecturing: A Practical Guide. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Hefner, F. (2007). Teaching the Large College Class: A Guidebook for Instructors with Multitudes. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Race, P. (2001). The Lecturer's Toolkit: A Practical Guide to Learning, Teaching and Assessment. London:Kogan Page.

Group Projects - which student are you?

Successful tips for Group Projects

I am having difficulty getting motivated for a group project and I feel bad. I wish I would have set up something different this time as I seem to fall into the same routine with online group projects.

Check out the 5 students you meet in group projects. I am definitely the procrastinator.

Time to get to work!