Month: January 2016

The Flipped Classroom Model

I think that the flipped lesson plan is a really interesting concept and an extremely useful tool in the classroom. The flipped classroom model involves the teacher providing the students with a recorded lecture introducing or reviewing a concept or idea. The students watch this at home as homework. Then in the classroom the teacher helps the students complete projects, worksheets, discussions, and other activities that would normally be relegated as homework. This means that students can ask the teacher questions and receive help form their peers. It also gives the teacher a chance to interact and connect with their students, assessing their learning and their understanding in the moment, rather than after the fact.

The model can be applied to any subject at any level, but I think it is best applied on an individual and personal basis. The teacher should have a firm grasp on their student’s abilities and follow-through skills. If the students cannot or choose not to watch the video at home, the teacher loses valuable class time explaining the concept during class when they should be working on the activity. If the teacher underestimates the student’s ability to learn on their own or introduces too many concepts or ones that are too complicated, the teacher may end up revising, cutting, or explaining the lesson in class.

All that said, the flipped classroom can be extremely useful. It’s great because it means that students get to learn, practice, and evaluate in the classroom. They get immediate feedback on their work and their understanding of the topic. The model also allows the teacher to experiment with the types of lessons they create. By lecturing out of class, the teacher can save class time for big, expansive, complicated, or long projects in the classroom that they would otherwise not have time for. This is great because the teacher and the students can interact with each other and work together. Collaboration is almost always conducive to better, more thorough understanding.

Overall I think that there are a lot of good things to say about the flipped classroom. It must be approached with caution, good thought, and a thorough understanding of their students and their capabilities. However, a good flipped classroom lesson allows teachers to tap into new ideas and ways of learning that were unavailable to them before, and helps teachers to interact with, connect with, and evaluate their students in the moment.

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Thoughts on Webquests

In my 12+ years of education i have completed many webquests designed around a variety of content areas, skill sets, and topics. However this was my first time creating one. First i want to note that a lot more effort goes into creating a webquest than i think most students realize. It involves a lot of research on the teacher’s part to find the right websites and tools for students to use to reach the educational goal.

I also never appreciated the vast range of skills that a webquest forces a student to use. Most webquests involve research, analyzing, and some creative component by default. But webquests can be tailored to literally any content, topic, or purpose. This means that you can use a webquest to teach students pretty much anything or any skill that they might need. You can use webquests to learn about characters, authors, scientific processes, mathematical skills, grammar, vocabulary, research and paper writing, music theory, history, and pretty much anything else you can think of.

Webquests are also great because they often involve the students getting creative, either during their research or with their final product. Students can take on roles and pretend to be a historical figure, or a reporter, geographer, author, economist, etc. and use that lens to learn about different opinions and sides of a particular argument or event.

I think that a webquest is a great tool for almost any classroom given that the teacher has prepared a thoughtful lesson. I think that webquests provide students with a lot of opportunities to be creative, independent, research, and collaborate with other students.

Blogging about Blogs

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The internet is filled with millions of blogs. It is possible to find a blog on almost any topic and curated by a diverse range of people from across the globe. Some blogs offer advice or tips on everything from fashion to cooking to home diy. Others find nifty products or curate lists of themed items. Blogs can also be used to tell stories, share humor, or open a window into a new or different way of life. Some blogs are like novels, imageless, and choc full of information. Others are like magazines, sprinkling images and other content like video, or online stores. Some blogs are mostly image, leaving the reader alone with their thoughts and perhaps a thoughtful line or two. A blog is accessible by anyone with an internet connection and satisfies our desire for new content. Many bloggers update their blogs everyday, while some might upload a few days a week. All the blogs I’ve chosen share a desire to spread a passion, whether that be humor, knowledge, or a desire to share experience with each other. The following blogs differ wildly in content, format, and authorial technique, but all will open a window into a new way of experiencing the world.

The Chriselle Factor – The Chriselle Factor is a fashion blog for those who wish to elevate their sense of style and knowledge of fashion. Every page of the blog oozes a cool, effortless, elegance, a quality Chriselle seems to leek out of her every pore. Women and girls everywhere look to Chriselle on Youtube, Instagram, and her blog for fashion advice, inspiration, styling tips, and Chriselle’s endearing personality. Chriselle’s writing is filled with personal anecdotes and a conversational style that makes the reader feel as though they are talking to a friend, albeit a friend who travels to Paris for Couture week and hangs out with famous designers and models.

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Garfield Minus Garfield – Garfield Minus Garfield is one of those weird, fascinating wonders of the internet. For no good reason someone has dedicated their time and energy to removing the character Garfield from the Garfield comic strips, leaving the cat’s counterpart, Mr. Jon Arbuckle to perform on his own. The result is hilarious, random, and sometimes dark. Garfield Minus Garfield is essentially a comic strip, intended for incite laughter in any who might stumble upon it. There are no comments or notes on the page apart from the comic strip itself and a message at the top that reads “Garfield Minus Garfield is a site dedicated to removing Garfield from the Garfield comic strips in order to reveal the existential angst of a certain young Mr. Jon Arbuckle. It is a journey deep into the mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet American suburb.”

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The Doc Is In – Dr. Prezz uses his blog to showcase his lesson tips, teaching style, beliefs, and funny thoughts. The result is a blog that is useful, thought-provoking, and entertaining. Dr. Prezz writes to teachers, asking them for their advice and thoughts on his teaching style and ideas. He describes his lessons clearly so that the reader could replicate the lesson if they wished, or incorporate some of the ideas into their own classroom. Dr. Prezz reminds me of the cool social studies teacher we all had in middle school. A 30-40 year old guy, full of humor, information, and a desire to share his passions and knowledge with the his students. Dr. Prezz’s last post reads “The copier that breaks down with regularity has been granted a moniker. I have named it “Bob Marley” because it’s always jamming.”

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As a blogger it is interesting to consider my audience’s needs. If you’re into that sort of thing you can manufacture your blog to appeal to a very specific demographic of people, playing the strings of pop-culture and society so that people find their way to your content and not someone else’s. Personally I have been trying to move away from manufacturing myself, or things that I create, to appease a certain kind of person or to target a certain group. I have been trying to be authentically me in my life and in my creations and by trying to play to an audience I think that I lose an important part of that authenticity. My few acknowledgements to “selling” my blog to an audience are editing my writing for grammar, spelling, and fluidity. I could say that as a writer in the field of Education, that I would approach my topics carefully, paying attention to what might incite anger or fear in those who read my words as Education is a touchy topic and a controversial one, but I prefer to state my argument to it’s full extent and power. I do not take my intellectual contributions to the public, either on my blog or in real life, lightly and I strive to include all perspectives, benefits, and negatives in my arguments and am always open to criticism and evolving my viewpoint and argument. As a blogger and a writer on Education I will state my views, arguments, and ideas in their natural, authentic form, unadulterated by censorship, pandering, or unintentional bias.

Just Some Study That I Used To Know

As a student it can be hard to see why you have to learn certain things.  As a teacher it can be frustrating to see students uninterested in topics,  that although they may not be vitally important to survival in the  21st century, are none the less important or interesting to learn about.  Learning about new topics even if the specific item isn’t used later in life,  can teach the brain how to access information in new and different ways as well as opening the mind to new ideas and areas of study.

Although I may not personally have a use for the Pythagoreum theorem in my daily life,  it teaches me to approach problems in a new manner and to apply logic in the face of an issue.  If you do not enjoy the topic you are studying,  at least enjoy the experience of learning.  Opening up your mind to new ideas and new pathways can only help you grow as a learner and as a person.

Defining Writing Moments in my Life

1) The Matrix Research Essay
     This is a piece of writing that had stuck with me for many years.  In seventh grade I wrote a research easy on the movie The Matrix and the work/process that went into creating the movie. I have kept the essay all these years because it reminds me of my technical capability (even at a younger age) and of the enjoyment I get from communicating through writing,  whether that be through fact or fiction. I wrote this essay for my seventh grade English class.  I vaguely remember dictating the essay to my mother because I couldn’t type day enough on a computer, but the content and word choice was all mine. 
2) Les Chimeras Analysis Essay
     This was an essay that I wrote for my senior year IB English class. It is an analysis of a collection of poems.  The teacher was a notorious hard grader and I got an excellent grade on the essay.  It was a defining moment because I could see a new level of achievement in my writing style and technique.  It also show my ability to analyze and explore different forms of literature.
3) Creative Poetry Collection
     I took a creative writing class when I was twenty.  The class pushed me to test my creative writing skills and although I think I did ok with my short story,  my collection of poems defined my writing in a truer way.  The poems expressed a variety of styles and themes as well as displaying intense imagery and emotion.  These poems show me that I can be creative and explore self-expression.
4) Collection of Moments
    I have a hard time writing full stories.  The complicated nature of good story telling often escapes be.  But I discovered that if I write moments (snapshot images or intriguing moments) I get to flex and explore my creative writing without the frustration and pressure of creating a whole story.  I began writing these when I was twenty and continue today. I write these for my own enjoyment and to share with my friends and family.  They are theoretically all a part of a larger universe and a larger story,  but I have yet to unweave the tapestry in my mind so that I can tell the story.