As I reflect upon the changes that have occurred during my teaching tenure since 2000 and the theme of remixing I think of the parallels of how culture can and does recycle itself in two general patterns. One is based on chronology and the other is along racial and ethnic lines. As an international teacher I am fully exposed to both of these avenues and having the opportunity to live and work as both unfold around me is a unique experience in itself.
I am constantly looking at similarities of music, art, television, movies and other aspects of culture as they unfold around me. What I marvel at is what determines what sticks and what changes. For example in Korea, the K-pop phenomena is well established, teenagers are obsessed with the manufactured stars of this era. Where did this begin? As an off-shoot of American Boy-Band pop? The Beatles (the first boy-band, although their artistic growth and maturation is one of the great wonders of artistic achievement in history) or an amalgam of a 80’s pop? What is it? Not that it matters, but as I get older, whenever any student doesn’t know Led Zeppelin, Guns n Roses or U2 I am floored. I guess I get older more quickly as the years pass.
As a social studies teacher I am constantly dealing with Remix culture. How is Mesopotamia represented in our own culture? What similarities, what differences? How can I connect the two? Is it work trying or should I focus on what Mesopotamia created and sustained in their zenith?
What I have found works well is creating scenarios in which students have to take something from the past and apply it to today and as the theme goes, remix it. What they often realize is that these civilizations count. What could improve life today as much as the wheel did back in the day? What technologies could benefit us today? Simplistic on the surface, yet the essence of the human spirit. The artistic experience is probably the best example of the remix culture teaching point. Lots of potential to tap there.
As this world changes, patterns do emerge and they are the crux of the human experience. The goal is for students to realize these patterns and apply them and understand that cultures do exist and they are intertwined.
Keeping up with the Joneses...
Reading this week’s post about how technology has infiltrated and changed pedagogy was probably the reason many of us are in the Coetail program. I mean, we all want to use technology, but the question is to what level? More specifically, are we using technology to its fullest potential. Most of us probably feel that there answer is no, myself included. I use technology, but do I allow it to transform my classroom. Not exactly, but I’m trying. When thinking of this I envision the old adding machines. This is technology, but is it transformative? Not really, but it does have value in that it speeds the process up. While we can all agree that technology has speeded things up so that we can do more in the classroom, the real question is to what level of Blooms Taxonomy are we reaching. More low level thinking is not the answer to successful implementation, connection is though. Using the SAMR model I mostly stay with augmentation while dipping into the modification waters ever so often. Of course the ultimate goal is redefinition, something that creates the ideals of a 21st century learner. I will keep pushing, learning and trying to develop a more holistic approach.
Gamification is such an interesting concept for education. The question of whether students should be playing games to learn academic material and is this a viable use of time, energy and space is a great question for our day and age. For some the answer may be invariably a resounding “No”, but for many this frontier is a very viable alternative to traditional approaches that have not evolved well as technology has infiltrated our world and classrooms.
I for one, love the concept but often struggle finding the perfect fit for the curriculum that I am teaching. Part of it is my lack of knowledge of whats out there for me to incorporate. When I do find “gaming” scenarios that work well with my curriculum I try to incorporate not as the focus of the lesson, but rather as a supplementary addition, a flipped approach if you will. I am comfortable with this approach, but I realize I could go much farther.
For now, I will continue to investigate how to better incorporate gamification into my classroom instructional strategies. I believe it is going to be increasingly relevant and a viable option for the future.
This week’s topics of flipped classroom and reverse instruction could not have come at a more suitable time for me and my classroom. I teach at a 1-1 macbook integration school and on Monday we are implementing a “technology free” day. Hmm.. makes me wonder, but none the less I am interested to see how this works out. No doubt it will make for interesting discussion as kids look around and wonder where they are. It kind of reminds of the old Twilight Zone episodes when the actors ended up in some twisted situation that seems vaguely familiar but strange and disconcerting.
On this week’s subjects I am on one hand bemused that this concept seems to be stretched out to the lengths that it is. However, on the other hand I see this concept as necessary as it has arisen in our society. By this I mean, our society has lost to some degree that face to face interaction skills and abilities to listen, communicate and collaborate in real time. I blame this on the digital age, we have many more connections but they are much shallower than previous generations. This blog will not attempt to prove or disprove this theory, but it is my opinion. Take it or leave.
Now, where reverse instruction or flipped classroom instruction has its most value is that it allows for COLLABORATION. As I mentioned earlier this face to face time with peers in the classroom is invaluable for many students. They need this. Particularly for students, such as my school, in which English is the second language. They need this time, in my presence, to explore ideas and to code switch these ideas. This is the great benefit of flipping the class, although, I have to tailor my homework reversed instruction suitably or else some of these students will invariably become frustrated as they struggle with understanding and comprehension.
I really feel that reverse instruction and flipped classrooms are the logical extension of technological advancements in education. No more, no less.
A life imagined...
This weeks post reflects on the future of education as we can predict in the next 5, 10, 15 years. I really stagger at the possibilities as I think of the implications for the traditional teacher. I recently read that in 15 years that over 50% of United States universities will be bankrupt. Wow. Can this be true? Seems a bit dooms dayish, but upon further reflection is this number too low? How will this phenomenon impact the international school systems? Will the decrease in American universities prove to be a detriment to international parents sending their children to western style international teaching establishments? While these Macro level questions are a bit puzzling and potentially disturbing for current educators who may be in the game 15 years from now the micro-level questions are more perplexing.
What will be the role of the teacher? Most experts point to MOOC style changes. Why pay when you can learn for free. How about Hack-an-Education? Coursera for adolescents and teenagers? Why not? Seems very impersonal to us old-schoolers but there seems to be no denying its march on the educational landscape. For most teachers, the tide on traditional platforms is sweeping out. To stay onshore and in the game, an anchor must be found.
I guess that is what we are all searching for as current educators, that anchor that will allow us to grow and stay relevant and employed as a professional educator. Only time will tell as to what changes occur but clearly the time is now for teachers to adapt or move on to another profession.
This weeks subject about Problem based learning is in a way a lesson in semantics. I have heard the saying that every opportunity starts as a problem more than a few times in my life and it has played out many times so I tend to believe it.
So for this weeks post I will reflect on an activity that I have used from time to time in the classroom, usually at the beginning of the year, that gives students an opportunity (no pun intended) to use what I call Opportunity Based Learning.
This project is a tried and true idea that many teachers have used before, I call it the “Dream Vacation”. Student are responsible for planning a global vacation to any spot they choose, within a budget, using online resources to choose flights, accommodations and presenting a google presentation highlighting their trip. Its a great introduction assignment in Ancient Civilizations 6th grade. It allows me to access students in a non pressurized setting, both for technology research skills, a little personal observation and also by getting students up in front of their classmates, which works on confidence, ELL skills and a sort of “breaking the ice”.
Of course its a real world scenario for the students, one that as an international teacher I am very familiar with. Questions such as with online travel company, where to stay, what to do and most importantly “how much does it cost?” While this assignment may not be a problem per se, it is a challenge, its fun and also realistic. All the components of a worthy assignment are present and it gives the students at my boarding school, a little bit of control over their choices.
Technology has made this a truly authentic experience for the students. They can step right in to a real world activity and ponder their choices and decisions. I tried this years before without the internet and it really fell flat for the students. Now they enjoy it greatly and learn a little bit about the world outside their own country. I must say that this activity really got the year off to a good start.
A New Twist on Old Inventions
Photo Credit: x-ray delta one via Compfight cc
As Unit 4 comes to a close I have been thinking about how to use my new ideas. While I am not 100% sure what I would do at this point in time, I did come up with some ideas.
As my subject that I currently teach is 6th grade Ancient Civilizations, trying to use new technology serves my best purpose when I can bring together the past with the present and future. A good unit for this would be our just completed ancient civilization unit, Mesopotamia.
The focus for this unit was the great and lasting inventions from this civilization. To add flavor to this unit I would strive to bridge past inventions with current and future inventions. This could be accomplished with research, PLN, use of presentation software, blog posts and any number of creative online devices and applications. Of course I would want to create a classroom environment of deeper inquiry into the future of technology and the changes that are predicted to occur. Thinking about the future and technology are generally safe bets to inspire student interest. Giving them license to actively find and use a PLN would create an opportunity to start creating meaningful social network connections outside Facebook and other mostly platonic sites.
The next question is how do they evaluate, contribute and ultimately engage in a meaningful PLN experience. This would need to be modeled by me in an authentic manner. (For the record, I would probably focus on advances in Sports Medicine and its impact on athletes and non-athletes in the years to come, a fascinating subject that I am constantly researching and reading into).
At some point I would have the students present their findings, observations and predictions for the future. As a 2nd language school, this step is especially important to developing their academic language, confidence and abilities. How they present would probably be a traditional manner, such as a powerpoint (focus on Zen presentation of course) and oral presentations.
I would also encourage the students to think of how they are beginning to brand themselves on the internet, which sites they are active, blogs they post, PLN they frequent and contribute to.
While I can’t say I am moving the needle forward that much, I can say that as 6th graders the knowledge and applications of PLN at this point is limited, hence, my decision to emphasis this. Since this would be my first time with this unit, many tweeks and additions would be factored in as we moved along. Hopefully, by the 2nd or 3rd through this this unit I would have a fairly good grasp of all nuances that would maximize student engagement and motivation.
Thats about it for now. Hope you have a great restructured unit yourself.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.