March 20th- TEAM s o c i a b l e s!

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I would like to use my second journal this week to reflect on today’s educative experience. Today, we got to first hand experience the meaning of “interdependence” and also got to discuss its significance. During the scavenger hunt, we were searching for clues as a team. Most of the clues required a lot of thinking and problem solving skills. It demanded us to communicate together in order to be able to come up with an answer. In addition, it was interesting to see how each person brought unique qualities and skills to contribute to the team. I think it was a good experience for all because even those people who were shy were comfortable in our group settings. Through the activities that demanded “interdependence” we got to know each other more and have a bond as a team. In the class discussion, we got to reflect on our experience as a group and got to reflect deeper on the theme of interdependence. One of the things mentioned that stood out to me was that “not one person is perfect and could have figured it out on their own, instead we had to collaborate as a team to figure out the next clue”. This nicely summed up how important interdependence was in our experience. When we needed help, we turned to others for help. The people we usually turn to for help first are our peers, and if we still need help we ask the leader (ie. The teacher in classrooms). Thus, the concept of community neatly ties in to this educative experience. As social beings, we rely on each other in our interactions; we can accomplish support and scaffolding through these interactions. Furthermore, I felt that the “laugh yoga” tied in with the concept of community. The experience gave us an experience to as a class to come together and let loose and just be “silly”. This is something that is usually not common due to the structure of most classrooms. It was an experience that drove us to step out of our comfort zones as a community. I think the most comforting feeling about laugh yoga was that the instructor made us aware we are all going to look silly. An experience such as this one, allowed us to bond as a class by interacting with as many people as you could. This in turn, led me to talk and laugh with other classmates I had not spoken to before. At the same time, even though it was a group activity I experienced the individual benefits of laughing yoga. Overall, it was a unique experience that led me to reflect on important topics such as “interdependence”, “community”, and “laughter”. Good job Team Sociables!

March 19th- Student-centered!!

https://historytech.wordpress.com/2015/02/24/dont-be-that-guy-you-know-that-guy-the-trivia-crack-guy/

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As I continue to find research for my i-search project I found an article that is central to my topic of student-centered classrooms. Today, I found an interesting journal entry written by a history teacher. The teacher admits to have been one of many teachers who lectured their students with historical information without any or little engagement on behalf of his students. He claims that he started to question his “perfectly crafted outline” because he found that his students appeared disengaged in the content. With the help of mentors and a book he read he came to learn that “Kids don’t hate history. They hate the way we teach it”. I think this is an extremely insightful quote, as I can relate to such meaning. As a student, I find that the majority of classes, especially history, are just lectures wherein the teacher gives information to the students and you get tested on how well you know such information. There is little opportunity to think critically or to engage in the content of history. However, as teachers we should ask ourselves the question “What important information should they learn?” and “why should they learn it?”

I agree with the author of the blog, Glenn, history is a subject that can be taught authentically; such that is appealing to its students. Glenn mentions that small groups and engaging in discussion is a more approachable way to incorporate its students.

Above all, what stood out to me the most when I read Glenn’s post was that he recognizes that students have an inner drive to read and write. Although it might not be towards school subjects, it is towards their personal interests. Instead of expecting students to read numerous chapters overnight for class we should incorporate other resources that is appealing to students so that they may learn. However, this does not mean we should stop enforcing textbooks and readings. Instead, I mean branching out to different and more approachable methods for students to learn! For example, 10-minute video clips, or telling the history as a story. The options are limitless.

Overall, there are a number of ways teachers can step out of the traditional forms of teaching and precede to not “instruct” but engage students to learn material and to think critically about the material. Lastly, it is important to not conform students to think and learn the same way, but promote originality and quality in student thinking.

March 12th- Thinking outside of the b o x !

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My i-search research is based on classrooms teaching techniques that go beyond the traditional “one size fits all” classroom techniques. One aspect that is central to this is encouraging creative thinking. To continue my i-search I came across a TED talk that discusses the importance of Creative Thinking, which is also referred to as “thinking outside the box”.

Giovanni Corassa is a professor at the University of Telematica International who teaches the applications of creative thinking. A notable point Giovanni makes is that we conform to think like others because we do not want to risk our reputation. However, this leads us to be bounded by our environment to think the thoughts other people have thought before us. Our educational settings are telling us that there is only one correct way to think, and that it is the only answer. This is can be thought of as dangerous because we are thought to think a certain way. Throughout the TED talk, Giovanni mentions how we have to learn how to think outside the box. I consider a quality teacher as one who encourages and values creative thinking. I think we are so accustomed to the traditional classroom structure that there is little room to encourage creative thinking, or even have activities that promote creativity. As a future teacher, I think it is important to promote creativity through creative activities. For example, it could be incorporating arts or technology into classrooms.

Another important component to incorporate into classrooms is the idea that there are “correct” answers. In order to get student’s to think creatively, we should set the standard that their answers will not be shamed if they are wrong. If students feel that their environment is a safe one, and one wherein their opinions will be respected they will be more likely to share their ideas. Establishing open-mindedness in classrooms can thus get student’s to get in the habit of sharing their own opinions without the fear of judgment. This can promote students to get in touch with their own authentic thoughts that can generate creative thinking.

March 12th- Reflecting on the work of others :)

For this week’s journal I would like to take the time to reflect on other classmates journals’ regarding the educative experiences we have had. I have gained valuable insights from my classmates’ personal experiences.

The Yogi Bear’s educative experience
Since my group and I led the educative experience, I was deeply interested in learning what my other classmates had experienced during our educative experience. A journal entry that stood out to me was Deena’s because she emphasized the importance of “trying new things”. I can easily relate to Deena’s feelings regarding the uncomfortable sensations that come with trying something new. Even though she had a previous experience with yoga and did not like it, she mentioned that she overcame it and found a new side to yoga she had not experienced before. What I like about this journal reflection is that Deena wrote about how she did not let one negative experience keep her from doing it again. Although it is challenging to change your mind on first impressions, we can learn and grow more when we have an open mind! Overall, I think this is relevant to education because students are often discouraged by their weaknesses and it seems easier to give up and accept failure than to give it another chance. I think it is extremely important to encourage the concept of an “open-mind” in the classroom. It is a skill that will be both useful inside and outside the classroom. Lastly, I think Deena’s quote at the end of her journal entry reflected a huge component of our educative experience, and will share again. “Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game”.

Furthermore, one of our priorities as a group was to establish mindfulness and push comfort zones. After talking to other classmates in small groups I got to learn that this was a commonly shared experience and that people came out of their comfort zone and experienced mindfulness.

Team Diversity’s educative experience
Last class we got to discuss this educative experience in small groups thoroughly. I got to learn what other people’s experiences were like, and discovered that everyone shared a similar experience yet had different insights to contribute. Personally, I think the group did an excellent job in revealing the prejudices and assumptions we hold towards specific groups of people. It was interesting to read what other classmates experienced in this educative experience, and a notable one was Philip’s. Philip’s reflection focuses on the judgments that are made in social situations. Such as being friends with people who are attractive, have a nice car, or are thought to be popular. Although these opinions and thoughts can be subconscious they often occur. This reminds me of Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talk video “The danger of a single story”. It is so easy to get caught up and form assumptions about certain groups of people and decide whether or not we want to interact with them. However, it is dangerous and constricting of individuals. It creates labels and imposes limits on groups of people.

When we were discussing the second activity (the one where the line was formed) a group member pointed out that in order to take step or stay still people had to base it on their own assumptions to their given role. Overall, I think these activities brought awareness to the class about the judgments that occur on a day-to-day basis. It is important that we break from these prejudices and become accepting of the diversities amongst us.

March 5th- meaningful feedBACK

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lBhMSaFNhYScreen Shot 2015-03-05 at 8.09.30 PM

For my second journal entry, I want to reflect on the video “A Brief History of Assessment”. The video made me realize that learning and teaching has evolved throughout time to improve the lives of people. The video reveals that learning and teaching adapted to the current university system when future careers were predictable. However, this current method is outdated. With the current expansion of technology and modernization in classrooms today, there is a desire to shift and evolve into a more suitable method for learning and teaching.

To thrive in the current system, we must go beyond factual information. This involves making innovative changes that will improve the education system. Promoting critical thinking, creativity, problem solving skills, authentic tests and new methods of communication can shift toward change.

Above all, what is most important is DETAILED FEEDBACK! A student’s learning benefits the most through feedback. When students are assessed and directly told their strengths and weaknesses we will be encouraging learning. If we want to motivate our student’s to improve, the best we can do is to provide feedback that points them into the right direction. If we want our student’s to succeed we should set them up for success and be specific with how they can improve.

In addition, I liked that the video says to provide “personalized, engaging, and useful feedback”. It is easy for a teacher to write “your first paragraph needs work” or “good job”. Would it not be much more helpful for a student to read “this sentence needs work because it does not fit in this context” or “explain in further detail to provide stronger support”. As a student, if I read a comment that was personalized to me and engaging I would be much more motivated and directed to improve. As teachers, we cannot expect good work without good guidance or support.

Overall, the educational system focuses too much on standardized testing that does not reflect on the learning of all students. As a fast-changing society what is most beneficial is teachers who support their students with feedback!

March 5th- STANDARDIZED TESTS

https://mrmck.wordpress.com/2015/02/24/standardized-testing-is-not-teaching-video-331/

It is shocking to learn how many hours elementary school students are spending on standardized testing. There is a great emphasis for standardized testing in schools even though there is no preparation for these tests. It appears as though the educational system relies on testing for security. However, the amount of testing that is imposed on students is so time consuming that students are actually spending more time writing tests than they are learning. Another issue with standardized testing is not indicative of a student’s learning or their thinking strategies. Instead, it molds students to think and learn in one certain way. This form of standardized testing confines students to limit their abilities to the only ones a test measures.

Further, standardized testing results are given many months after the exams were taken. Since there is long period between the exams were taken to the time the scores are given to students and their parents, the scores will not be as meaningful for the students. It is most beneficial for students to receive feedback and results shortly after an exam.

The narrator of the video, Chris Tienken, mentions “these tests are meant to monitor not educate” (1:14 seconds). This stood out to me because students are forced to write these exams without being prepared or set up to succeed in the exams. In addition, students are not given feedback on their exams. They are not told which questions they got right or wrong, and sometimes have little or no access to the exam answers.

Personally, I have experienced the stress that comes with standardized testing. I have witnessed other student’s cry during examinations. It begs the question whether all the pressure and stress that is imposed on students makes up for the monitoring that occurs when students write these exams. Are student’s learning from these standardized tests? Are they being educated?

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February 26th- Living in the PRESENT

For my second journal entry this week I would like to reflect on last week’s educative experience. Last week was my group’s turn to present our educative experience. Even though our group had prepared and outlined what we would experience, I did not expect to learn so much or be moved as much by our “educative experience”. The reason for this is we had prior preparation for our educative experience, so I thought I would have learned everything before our educative experience.

My educative experience for this project began long before the presentation time. Through research and discussions, I got to learn about the benefits and methods of meditation and yoga. As a group, we got to get reflect on what “meditation” is an how it is useful in classroom settings. Overall, I thought that during our presentation I would be helping other people get their educative experience since I had experienced mine already.

However, it was surprising to me that I continued to learn, and from the thoughts of other people who were new to the idea of meditation. It was definitely refreshing to learn and join the discussion groups. In my discussion group, we distinguished meditation apart from reflection. This really stood out to me because I thought they were interchangeable terms. It became clear to me that meditation is more about visualizing your thoughts and being in the present. Further, the build up on “meditation” to the hot yoga studio, prepared me mentally. So, my experience in the hot yoga studio was different than my past experiences. Through the hot yoga, and specially at the end I experienced mindfulness.

In conclusion, I find that meditation is a word that carries a lot of stereotypes and emotions that discourages people from exploring what it has to offer. There are many different ways to meditate as were discussed and it motivated me to make more time for “me”. We spent so much of our times focusing on the future, but live in the past. It is important to have a moment to just let your mind be free and feel.