Category Archives: #ExperientialLearning

Let’s Google It?

Photo Credit: I created this Meme using Meme Generator

baby agree or disagree

Let’s Google it?!?  I was struggling with how to start this post, but this photograph on Meme Generator inspired me with my direction! Actually when I first read the debate topic I believe this is what my face probably looked like.  I had to first understand the wording of the topic for the debate before I could begin to choose a side.  I could relate to Ellen because I also found this one a little bit tricky.  Ellen raised an excellent point about if she was a History or a High School Social teacher that she “might not need to teach specific dates in History anymore, since these can easily be Googled” and that she “should, however, focus on questions about the events impact today.”  I would not have students learn about dates either.  I can remember teachers wanting my classmates and myself to memorize small specific details when we were in middle years and high school.  I created little verses, songs, or sayings from using the beginning letters of events, names, or dates to help me remember everything when I wrote a test.  As soon as the test was over I tossed it from my short term memory and I do not know if I would  have been able to recall the information a few days later.  For me personally I enjoyed when we were provided the time for class discussions and when we did hands on learning.

I believe it is important for students to be able to take part in experiential learning. The University of Texas describes what experiential learning looks like.  In one of the points is stated that “throughout the experiential learning process, the learner is actively engaged in posing questions, investigating, experimenting, being curious, solving problems, assuming responsibility, being creative, and constructing meaning, and is challenged to take initiative, make decisions and be accountable for results.”  Many of the points listed in the article reminded me of the Principles of Early Learning on page 5 in the Saskatchewan Play and Exploration guide.  As teachers we need to look at our curriculum and see what kinds of learning opportunities we can provide to our students. In science it is a lot easier to find experiments for labs and hands on learning activities, but there are learning opportunities in other subject curriculum documents as well.  The University of Waterloo also had a great explanation of experiential learning and good diagrams, such as the Kolb’s cycle-“Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience.”

kolbs learning cycle

Photo Credit: Source

In my second year of teaching I taught at the elementary school and I  also taught grade seven and eight arts education at Gordon F. Kells for the last period of the day.  My principal Tyler taught Social Studies and History at Gordon F. Kells at the time.  I can remember the students in his History class being so excited after class one day when he set up a learning experience outside for them.  They were learning about World War One and he wanted to teach them about the rolling barrage.  He could have gave them hand outs explaining what a rolling barrage was, have students do research, or they could have watched a video, but instead Tyler created a hands on learning experience using water balloons.  The experience was how he introduced rolling barrage to them!  If you teach History I encourage you to talk to Tyler about his lesson.  (I do not want to explain the lesson wrong.)  If was able to learn about History by doing interactive lessons I know I would have not tossed out so much of the knowledge I learned from my short term memory as I described earlier in my post.

Luke, Ashley, and Andrew gave us very interesting resources  to learn about the agree side of the debate.  I really enjoyed watching Rasmey Musallam’s TedTalk- 3 Rules to Spark Learning.  He caught my attention when he talked about the importance of teachers evoking real questions.   Musallam explains that those questions helps inform the methods of blended instruction and he stated that, “Students questions are the seeds to real learning!”  I believe that questions do ignite the learning journey and makes the learning more meaningful for the students.  If they are asking the questions then they will want to find out the answers.  In the video Musallum explains how he has 3 rules that he follows when creating a lesson.  They are:

  • #1 Curiosity comes first
  • #2 Embrace the mess
  • #3 Practice reflection
boy being curious

Photo Credit: stlcparks via Compfight cc

The way The University of Texas describes experiential learning and the principals of early learning in the Saskatchewan Play and Learning guide connects very well to what Musallum’s beliefs are.  I think often in schools teachers want to get to the content part of the lessons because there are so much to cover in just one year.  I think this leads to not providing  time or enough time for students to be curious and wonder about the topic.  I know personally next year I want to provide more time to my students to reflect about their learning and make connections before we move onto another unit.  A lot of learning can be discovered during the reflection process.  If students just went to Google to find the answers all of the time are they truly understanding and retaining the knowledge they are discovering?  Do students know other ways to find resources and information other than using Google? It is convenient that students can turn to Google to find the answers to questions, but is that the best learning experience for students?  Do students know how to tell if the information they found is authentic or from reputable source?  Now in the world of the Internet people are able to create and curate.  It is possible for people to upload documents on the Internet that may not be accurate.  Students need to learn and understand how to decide whether information they’re reading is accurate and creditable.

brain

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I was surprised like Chalyn when I read How the Internet is Changing Your Brain.  I had no idea that “the average number of Google searches per day has grown from 9,800 in 1998 to over 4.7 trillion today.”  It was very eye opening to me! In the article is also talked about a study and how “college students remembered less information when they knew they could easily access it later on the computer.”  This is problematic as “Our brains use information stored in the long-term memory to facilitate critical thinking. We need these unique memories to understand and interact with the world around us.”  What information are we not keeping in our long term memory because we know we can access it easily through technology?

I read another article provided by the agree side called  How Google Impacts The Way Students Think  written by Terry Heick.  I think Heick raised a very good point when he stated that, “if users can Google answers to the questions they’re given, they’re likely terrible questions.”  We need to model good questioning skills to our students and help them grow as learners, just as Tyler’s cooperating teacher did as it was described in Tyler’s blog post.  We want our students to be curious and learn how to ask great questions independently.  In the article Heick lists a few reasons in how Google is impacting the way students think.  One of those ways was how “Google naturally suggests “answers” as stopping points.”  I do not want my students to stop their learning once they think they have “found” the answers.  I want my student to continue on their learning journey!  When exploring a topic there is so much to learn about and the learning should not stop after finding the answer.  Students need to understand the materials and reflect after there assignment or lesson is over.

debate 2 twitter pic

Screen shot from Twitter

encyclodia twitter

Screen shot from Twitter

On Twitter Alec posted the debate question and some of the response caught my eye.  I thought it was very interesting when Marc stated “should we teach info in encyclopedias?”  I think that is a very interesting point.  Yes often we can access information, but as I talked about earlier in my post students are not retaining the information because they know they can access it again.  Lots of the information whether they can access the answers online or from another resources still needs to be explored by the students and taught.  Marc also talked about memorization which was discussed during the debate as well.  Amy Singh and Heidi provided us with information on why we should disagree with the debate topic and a lot of the resources they shared with us talked about memorization and automaticity.  I enjoyed reading Kelsie’s thoughts from Tuesday’s debate.  She brought up excellent points about Google and how everything is “Googleable.”  I agree with Kelsie that  ‘some amount of memorization is important.”  In the beginning of her post she explores Math Makes Sense and Mad Minutes.  I think it is important for students to know their math facts and to provide them time to critically think in math through problem solving and explaining how they reach their answer.  I think for the deeper understanding to occur that students do need a level of automaticity for their math facts.  Louise Spear-Swerling discusses in an article that “Automatic recall of basic math facts, sometimes termed math fluency, is generally considered to be a key foundation for higher-level math skills.”

 

In my classroom I have my students practice their math facts through playing games that I have created or other dice and cards games that I have learned from other educators.  The only way you can become more fluent in a skill is through practice and students can “build conceptual understanding and fluency through games“.  I really like all of the strategies that students learn now in math.  I think I would have learned my facts faster if I was taught about doubles, doubles plus one/minus one, think ten, etc.  Students also need a level of automaticity in reading as well.  Tim Rasinski talks about three components of fluency and one is automaticity in word recognition.  He discusses “Readers not only are accurate in word recognition, they are effortless or automatic in recognizing the words they encounter. The significance of achieving automaticity is that readers can devote their limited cognitive resources to the important task of comprehending the text.”  Memorization is not always a dirty word…by being able to recall math facts and words helps students focus on a math problem and understanding the text. 

Ainsley wrote an excellent post about another debate and the end of that post caught my eye.  She shared a link to an article that has a teacher describing what a classroom might possibly with look like and how it could be organized in the future.   It made me reflect on when I was talking about the goals of education, but I could not remember the details.  I was excited that Katia knew what I was talking about and shared the Goals of Education for Saskatchewan with the rest of the class.  This document has not been updated since 1985 (I was not even born yet).  It is time that we take a look at this document and update the goals with the vision of 21st century learners. In a previous post I reflected about my vision in what I want to do in my classroom after I took EC&I832.

What is your philosophy of education?  What should our education goals be??

 

I think it is important to know yourself as an educator.  I completed two inventories (Teaching Perspectives Inventory (TPI) & Philosophy of Adult Education Inventory (PAEI)) in my EC&I804 Curriculum Development class and then we had to reflect on our teaching beliefs.  I completed the inventories again and for the first inventory I ranked the highest in nurturing.  In the second inventory I ranked the highest in progressive and humanistic.  The PAEI inventory has a chart on the second page that breaks out the five philosophies into different categories: purpose(s), learner(s), teacher role, concepts & key words, methods, and people & programs.  The chart makes sense to me because in EC&I804 from over two years ago I described in an assignment that I felt most philosophically aligned with Dewey because my philosophy is strongly progressivism. 

After two years I still believe that my grade two students learn better through cooperative and experiential learning.  My job is to guide my students while posing questions to deepen their understanding.  Social process is an important part of education because students learn better through interacting with others. If a student can explain or demonstrate what they have learned that validates a deeper understanding. Students are also more engaged in the learning if they are interested in the curriculum and when their needs are being met.  I think it is important for teachers to take inventories because it was a good reminder that I need to include the other philosophies in my classroom.  Every student is an individual and learns in their own unique way!

“Learning is experience. Everything else is just information”. – Albert Einstein