Learning styles – Are they real?

I have a bit of downtime at the end of prac, because in Victoria senior school exams have began. It seems the trend now is to start Semester 2 in the last two weeks of term 2, just before the students go for school holidays. None of this makes any sense to me, but alas, it seems to be how it is done now.

Whilst on this downtime, I’ve been working on my assignments and doing some general education research. Now, my girls go to an I.B. primary school, and my intention is to do my masters in IB at some point. Learner styles make sense to me, and generally I’ve seen that concept work pretty well in the classroom. Not everyone learns the same way, and each learner learns differently depending on the context of the lesson as well. And the day of the week. And the weather. And their mood.

But this ted talks doesn’t really agree with that at all. Which is a provocative concept to me! What do you think? Do learner styles exist? Are we overthinking it?

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What the TPACK?

The TPACK image

Could this subject have anymore acronyms?

So as part of assignment 3, I’m working on what TPACK is and how I need to use it in the classroom. Rebecca has a fab blog post about this, if you’re not familiar with it. But basically it is the way teachers are able to match up the content they are teaching with the tools that they have available AND with the teaching strategy. Assignment 3 includes lesson plans that specifically ask us to think about matching our lessons with teaching strategies and offering examples as to where in the lesson they are used. Whilst every mentor I’ve had tells me in no uncertain terms that this type of planning is unrealistic and not feasible in the real world of teaching, I do see the value in trying to make a habit of it. (Is one set of 5 lessons creating habits though? Probs not).

The ones I’ve been using most at Bloom’s, Productive Pedagogies and Habits of Mind (HOM has a fantastic website!). I’ve been doing this in a very basic way, using the headings and brief examples from my lessons as to how they support my students learning.

Verdict: TPACK is Good, but possibly overdoing it. At the end of the day no teacher can teach using all the strategies all the time. Best practise changes year to year. We just have to do the best we can for the students we have!

THE ROBOT

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Capture Video? Yes please Mr Swivvel.

My fantastic mentor purchased this very cool little tool last year, and was super excited that it fit into my prac so well. We had to use ICT in our lessons, and given the school only has 2 class sets of laptops and 2 small computer labs, doing it in a way that was not just powerpoint or youtube on a projector was quite difficult!

The way we used the robot was to have one student have the remote control in their pocket, and then the Swivvel would follow their motion as they moved around. The performance was recorded on the ipad, and students would then have a chance to review, self-reflect and evaluate their work before their final performance.

This fits very nicely into Bloom’s Taxonomy higher order thinking heading of “Evaluation” don’t you think! #handy

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EDC3100 – Literacy

A fellow EDC3100 student Leesa, posted this to her blog, and it really got me thinking. My intention is to create my web artifact for assignment one with an English context, and so the idea of Literacy came up. I know when my daughter first started the iPad program at her primary school in 2014, even I had some concerns. Was there enough focus on traditional literacy skills. Even just simple ones like handwriting, looking up works in the dictionary, self editing. Things we take for granted so many years past our own schooling. It’s not surprising Parents would be concerned that by embedding lots of ICT in classrooms, some of those skills would be lost. And truly some of them are still vital even in our tech-heavy society.

The aim for teachers is to provide a balance between using these new tools to foster a love for technology, an understanding of technological literacy and enhance traditional literacy skills as well.

The link Leesa provided does a pretty good job of all of that. It’s a list of 21 Literacy based Resources for ICT in the classroom. There are a few that are a particular stand out for me. I’ve talked about my middle daughter before, and our ongoing struggles with her phonic awareness. We think there is a deeper processing issue (dyslexia or similar) and so there is ongoing testing happening, but at the core we are really just after ways to support and encourage her learning so that she doesn’t fall so far behind that she loses faith. Here are two resources from the list that I think will be fab for her!

Word Hippo

Word Hippo
http://www.wordhippo.com/

Charlotte really struggles with sounds, and decoding sounds in words. So being able to type in a word she isn’t sure of the letter combination, and find other words that sounds the same (even if they aren’t spelt the same) will hopefully improve her knowledge of blending and sounds!

Missing Letters

Missing Letter
http://www.vocabulary.co.il/unscramble-the-words/play-missing-letter-game/

This game works for me because it has a voice over that says the word, and requires her decode which letter will blend with the others around it to make the correct sound. And it has a lot of rounds (32) so lots of practice!

TrackStar

Okay, this one isn’t strictly for Charlotte, but certainly I could use it for her. This website allows you to create a set of online tasks from different websites, and assign that set to each student. The student then works through the websites, like a learning path, and TrackStar tracks their progress and results. This looks like a great tool for setting homework tasks with differentiation options!! Looking forward to having a play.

You can find it at; http://trackstar.4teachers.org/trackstar/

Happy Thursday!

Wxo