Category Archives: Education

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Basic Education – DeLorean Style

m Basic Education – DeLorean Style

Basic Education – DeLorean Style


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On the ledge

on-a-ledge On the ledge

Overcoming our fears - on the ledge


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Making The Grade- It’s Crunch Time!

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Making The Grade- It's Crunch Time!

Anyone who has spent much time at all in education might understand the termDeath Bed Repentance.  I had another teacher spell that  statement out for me this week  as we were trying to motivate our one shared student to get his work done.  Death bed repentance, or simply stated:

  • - those last minute adjustments to assignments
  • -picking up on any  late work
  • -actually showing up to class instead of just leaving your recorder there
  • -cramming information into our brains for quick purging

Loans and scholarships are all on the line now, and for a fraction of  time, all life stops in the fast lane.  It’s death bed repentance time – we are making the  grade baby!  

Making the  grade baby!  

I’m just as guilty as the next student, at least in my undergrad days I was; not so much through my masters.  Taking  our bodies and minds to the level of non-functioning, just  for a little alphabetic character on a piece of paper - it's insanity. 

a Making The Grade- It's Crunch Time!What makes us do that to ourselves?   Unconsciously or consciously  we fought sleep - up until  2:00 a.m. or later - if  we slept at all.  We then drug our unhappy selves to class at the butt crack of dawn.  We lived for that college life-  Right?

We lived for college life!

I’m a distracted learner through and through.  I can sit in  the middle of a room with nothing to do, and I will still be able to distract myself.   I don’t need any outside help to do that either.   If I have assignments in front of me, I will toss and turn any number of  concepts around in my mind, making great strides – at least until I see something shiny on the floor.   Focus? What focus? For a few moment's I am in mental bliss, at least until  I return to the task at hand - namely homework.

Something shiny on the floor

I am in the mindset of believing that maybe I am normal after all.  I watch my 9th and 10th- grade students struggling with the same issues I had (and still do).  Sitting in a hard chair with nothing in front of you but a cold table is really not anyone’s idea of a  warm and fuzzy experience.  I am the one with the soft chair, not them.  My experience is different of course. 

The best advice I could give to any teacher new or old -  is to build in distractions.  Don’t wait for your students to find distractive measures themselves, build those key distractive breaks into your curriculum.   Twenty minutes of study equals 5 to 10 minutes of light to mild distraction.  It could still be a learning distraction – just something different, or on a related topic.     

Some would ask how I would assess this distractive learning paradigm.  I look at this way.  If students who do not normally turn in assignments or have at least a passing GPA- all of a sudden start looking like the average student - guess what?  You get to go to the front of the class!  

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAWPAAAAJGI0NDgwZTJmLWRlNDgtNDFkMS04MTI1LTU4NzNmNzA5OTk1ZQ Making The Grade- It's Crunch Time!Then comes the question, what about those students who can’t refocus?  Or those students who are already self-lead learners and like peace and quiet.  What I have done with my students is to switch out the quiet time with bird sounds, ocean and/or anything peaceful found in nature.  I have obtained good reaction from both pairs of students.   Any group is going to be dynamically different.  You just have to find the right built-in distractions without losing the motivational aspects of learning.  

Sounds are a good distraction, but so are those upbeat  pieces of information that help students readjust, recenter, and perform better.  Types of distractive information might include: 

  • -Word of the Day
  • -Piecewise brain twister
  • -Notice of an upcoming celebration on how well they have performed
  • -Or just something fun that is about them, and something they take to heart.

The human mind can learn more than one thing at a time.  If you allow your brain short breaks from the tedious routines of study, it tends to reflect better on items it has just learned.  Use pre-designed breaks as a scaffolding tool for learning.   This following statement is a no brainer statement – I understand.   But, you retain more when you aren’t stressing out  over a problem. 

AAEAAQAAAAAAAATzAAAAJDNmODUxMTM2LTMyZTMtNDQ3Yy1iOWFiLTVjOGYzNTE0ODc2Yg Making The Grade- It's Crunch Time!

Experiment with this distractive styles of learning.  If you are already in a quagmire wondering how to motivate your students – this might be a helpful resource.  Back away from the idea that you have to stain and look like a zombie to be successful in your studies.  Look at something shiny on the floor, and then come back to your primary focus.  Come back gently.   The problem isn’t going to go away, but if you allow your brain a short power break, you might find you come back with a solution.   Solutions are always much better than problems anyways.

Good luck.  I wish all  educators success as they venture into the “new”.

Making the Grade Baby! 


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Mad and Weird Science

scott Mad and Weird Science

The Way Forward Starts Here - What Went Right

 

Let's face it, unless you add some type of entertainment into your science lesson, students are going to wane on you. Dr. Fly's Reviews offers some unique science related games and sims .   You can find more on Edtechteacher .  They have a great list of programs and informative content to keep the busiest of students motivated and engaged.

Adults too.

Trying to stay on top of the latest trends in science and mathematics is never ending.   MIT  has a great listing of courses to help keep the old brain frisky to learn.  There are other free online science courses being offered at a lot of different universities across the country.  I was surprised to see my own stomping grounds  Utah State University,  on the list. Go Aggies!   

Terminology  - say what? 

I was split-teaching between  the high school  and the middle school science departments last week.   I am not a science major by no means - but I like science.  So filling in for that department is always fun for me.  Just picking up the books and observing the surroundings is fascinating.  I probably couldn't give you an on the spot review of meiosis vs. mitosis, but I get the concepts.   If you can get your students to understand the concepts, you are halfway there.  By the end of the week, I had the terms down to a science (pun intended). 

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAPfAAAAJGI2Y2RkODAxLTA0NzAtNDI4YS1hZWYyLTAyYmM0MGNlZTNlOQ-1-214x300 Mad and Weird ScienceSurprisingly there are still a lot of people who envision Science as some stale environment where everyone is wearing white lab coats, donning four inch thick rimmed glasses, while gawking into microscopes, and filling petri-dishes.   Nothing could be farther from the truth.   Believe it or not, learning about the elements can be an adventure all by itself.  Terminology must be taught.  In order to effectively teach science requires a teacher who can get into the hands-on-teaching aspects, and inspire students to pull up their sleeves and get their hands dirty!  

Science 101!  

The lesson we were involved with at the high school  had to deal with agriculture science, and the nutrients in domestic animal feed.  Yep, we were learning about all things "Cow". That included elements going into the cow, chewing the cud, and the final excrement process.  I can assure you those students will never forget the lesson on "Cows".  Nor shall I!  Luckily, for this lesson there were no hands on contact with any part of the "Cow".  AAEAAQAAAAAAAATDAAAAJDgxNWFhNGMzLTQ4ZjAtNDEzOS1iYWQxLTZjMTVhMTA3YmIwNA-300x225 Mad and Weird Science

Cleaning the guinea cage and feeding Mom.

 Somewhere between "Cow" intestines, and gut, there were other classroom duties that needed tending to.  In the back of the classroom  were three furry little guinea pigs.  Butter who is the fat one, and two others who were not hurting in the fat department.  Sorry I'm not  discriminating due to Butter's size, she was just the most lovable.  There was also an oversize fish tank with one slightly older goldfish named "Mom".  One of my duties for the week were to feed and tend the living quarters  of these highly sensitive and not so rare creatures.  

I quickly delegated the task of guinea pig cage cleaner to one particular student.  He promptly re-delegated the guinea pig cage clean up duties to two other students, who expressed their concern with him dealing with the animals.  He was forthright in his duties of feeding Mom.  However, it did require that we strain the excess goldfish flakes  from the tank.  He dumped a 1/4 of the bottle into the tank.  We moved on from there.  

When in doubt stick in a movie!  

The Lecture

While I don't mind ditto sheets for teaching, there is a lot to be said for leaving the answers for one to be able to teach on the topic.  With a 47 question and answer session in front of me, I spent the better part of three hours researching and preparing for a life science  lecture to help student with an introductory chapter.  Mind you, I'm no science major, so they only got what I was able to research.  There was another science teacher in the room adjacent to me, so I was able to get some of the simpler concepts out of the way, thanks to her help.  

Yes I opted for the movie option.  But not completely.  I only did a 12 minute movie, and then I took the challenge - I taught science.  Students who didn't have a clue about science, nor were they willing to sit still in class for 10 minutes,  were writing for me!  They were writing and taking notes, they were asking questions.  The kid who over fed Mom, was my main bright and shining star!   His grade just hit a D- I am sure.  He was proud to turn in the 47 questionnaire with all the answers. He exclaimed, I know what "CHONS" stands for!

  Together, I took those students  on a science journey - one that gave them a glimpse of what real MAD COW science really looks like.  It was WEIRD.  They liked WEIRD.  But they learnt that science has value, and that their thoughts matter, no matter how MAD or WEIRD those thoughts may be.

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If you don't remember  the elements of CHONS from your science years, go look them up.  It's a challenge!  Better yet, create your own puzzle and give it out to your staff  or students to solve.  CHONS has  to do with "Cow", and the nutrients "Cow's" need. 

 

 Middle School

If you can image 25 to 30 students all between the ages of 12 and 13, each  given a laptop, and told to write about an animal of their choice; hope to God that the choice is not a "Cow". 

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAQcAAAAJGVkZWYxMTdlLTJjYmUtNGJjMS04ZDM1LWIxZDdjMTk1YjJlMg-300x195 Mad and Weird ScienceThere are animals I didn't know existed.  But these kids found them.  Just to keep it interesting here is a list of 22 strange animals you probably didn't know existed.   One student chose an animal that was akin to a jack rabbit, because it was her real life name.  For the life of me I can't remember the students name, so I just call her jack rabbit and she laughs.   What parent names their child after a rabbit?  Hers! 

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAj6AAAAJGMwMDk3NTdlLTAwYWMtNGUwOC05NmM2LTk5MmYwMzNkMTEwNw-300x200 Mad and Weird ScienceComputer technology has come a long ways in the halls of education.  These 7th grade students were easily navigating online power point  programming, and linking web addresses for citings and other research materials.  Embedding images in my day weren't taught until I was in college!  Students today are so digitally savvy it is almost bionically creepy.  WEIRD MAD science. 

Pre-test - whose the real scientists in the group?

I did give a pretest quiz to the 7th graders.  It was one of those quizzes where you had to look up the answers in the book.  That was a sleeper assignment.  I decided to make it a winner take all event, and hand out treats to those who could answer the questions verbally.  But first they had to do the following:

1.  Research the topic

2. They had to spell the word to the class

3. Read the definition to the class

Since it was all open book, it allowed those students who weren't hard core academic's to get involved!  They were!   Students after my own heart. I will do anything for chocolate.  Well, almost anything within reason. 

Science technology has grown over the years.   So have students, in how they learn and acquire science knowledge.  They aren't going to just answer  ditto sheets  and have that  become the building blocks of knowledge.  Who teaches that way anymore?    Actually I would personally like to burn all ditto sheets as a rebellious protest!  Let them learn "Cow".   Hands on! 

 

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What’s on your mind? Getting organized.

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What's on your mind? Getting organized.


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Down the Rabbit Hole

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Down the Rabbit Hole

As teens, we all needed validation for our actions. Especially those actions  that lead to some form of academic success.  The truth, if fully known, was that as a teenager, that path was often riveted with rabbit holes. Many times in the process of learning, our foot would slip and down we would go.  The best thing we could  hope for was  a caring/forgiving teacher  waiting for us at the end of that hole, to help us get back up on our feet again. We also hoped our parents would be there to support us as we tried again to master the tasks we were being asked to do.

 The real teaching starts at the bottom of the hole.  It begins when you have a student or group of students who have given up.  Given up on education; the system that is supposed to be there for them.  They have given up on attempting to better their place in society.  Some have even given up on their families because the home environment is so toxic.  That is where the real teaching begins.  I want to put this out there:   validation – kids you are worth it.

 Validation – kids you are worth it

You cannot plan for a student to fail - not unless you are a monster.  There is so much going on in a students  world that helps contribute to the process of failing, flunking out, acting out, and not caring about how their behavior affects others.   Sometimes their behavior is off the charts – but a good teacher will not react.  A good teacher knows that you have to slowly bring your student(s) back up the rabbit hole.  It is okay if you  spend a little extra of your time to help them dig out – those kids need your time.  That is what they are missing “time”.

 That is what they are missing “ time”.

 With time comes consistency.  With consistency comes knowledge.  Each student will have a different perspective when it comes to learning.  As with discovery learning which  utilizes the techniques of a variety of instructional methods.  For example: just using the basic terminology of Problem Based Learning (PBL), Discovery  Learning (DL), and Inquiry Learning (IL) you have to have some type of a knowledge base for your student(s) to  start from.  

 Direct instruction or step-by-step learning is good in many cases, but if the students already have a solid knowledge base, then a constructive learning environment with some scaffolding tools can become an effective learning environment.  You have to meet your students where they are. Some are stuck in a rabbit hole, and they keep digging deeper.  It is your job to help them turn back up the hole. 

 Not all learners will be same.  A good instructor and/or designer should be open to the differences and adjust methods accordingly.  You need a good knowledge base within a constructive learning environment for  your students.  A beginner  student, can and will run into cognitive overload very quickly if  they don't have a good knowledge base. That overload is subject to  increase exponentially when the student has already experienced education in a negative way.  

re Down the Rabbit Hole

Students who have experienced  overload, can and will form a pack – a disruptive pack if left to their own devices.  Students  will act out alone and/or together, and you will find your classroom out of control because of it.  

So what can you do to help  as a teacher,  to stop your student from  running down a rabbit hole?  The first thing is to admit that you might have something to do with the problem.  Once you can admit that - then you can start looking for what went right.  That is  the answer - what went right.  When we start to examine the things that went right, no matter how small, that gives us a starting point. What went right  is your strength. 

I am not a collaborative learner by nature.  A lot of students I know aren't either.  I prefer to work from my own little sphere; minimal collaboration is best for me. But, at the same time I have learned to work with others and collaborate very well.  It took time, and  I didn’t change overnight,  I wouldn’t expect my students to change overnight either. 

Cognitive overload is such a real concern for me - but if left alone I discover what needs taken care of - and I do it.  Sometimes we need to give our students time to figure out the problem(s) too.  Time – it’s what it takes.

 The scaffolding techniques that I use are of course - are the computer and the internet.  Everything is online. I need to have access to terminology and quick reference definitions. I have to understand what I'm reading.  Take for instance the three basic constructive learning models.  Problem-Based Learning (PBL), Inquiry Learning and Discovery Learning.  One could take a cursory look at these and assume they are the same, but they are not.   Our  students cannot tell the difference  either,  yet many instructors attempt to make them do so right off the bat.   Our student, are all uniquely  different.  They can fall within any  combination of all the learning models listed above. The can also fall down a rabbit hole. 

 Problem-based learning attempts to provide the learner with self-directedflexible knowledge,  and fundamental incentives.  The outcome of PBL is to have students learn the process and content together.   Whereas, Inquiry Learning, which includes PBL, is often a facilitated approach to the investigation of problems or questions dealing with research or projects.  Discovery learning utilizes the techniques of a variety of instructional methods.    The learner already has a knowledge base from which to pull from, and they use that base in more of an experimental capacity to explore and manipulate data or objects.  

They use that base in more of an experimental capacity to explore and manipulate data or objects   

Not all environments need to be highly controlled.   Minimal guidance learning environments can be just as effective, especially if given the right scaffolding tools  with the student learned knowledge base.

While all the models proclaim to do basically the same thing – some models contain more built-in guidance, than the other.    Direct instruction is not always best over PBL, IL or DL.  Scaffolding can make tasks easier, reduce the learners cognitive load, and helps to point out complexity.  A lot still depends on being able to examine the context and students whom you are working with.  Each will have a different perspective.  

 As we begin to help our student climb back out of the rabbit hole – we need to make sure we are back-filling  that hole with a strong knowledge base.  Sometimes back-filling means we have to try a different approach and give it time, while examining what went right - and keep doing it. 


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Paying It Forward – Students Helping One Another

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAbTAAAAJDVmZjBkYjY4LTY4ODctNDdiYy1hZjBkLTgwNDk5N2E3NjNhNw Paying It Forward - Students Helping One Another

I was sitting at home tonight when I received a call from a student at the local university.  She was frustrated that no one was available to help her with an English 1010 questions. She was doing a research paper using APA formatting and she seemed very upset that no one was around to direct her. She was referred to me.  

She was referred to me  

How she came across my number is a mystery. However, over the past couple year's I have become accustomed to receiving calls, Facebook messages and occasional emails.  I do not mind helping students.   Helping someone else succeed does not require that you have a title behind your name. Nor does it require that you affiliate with an educational institution.  It just requires that you care.

It just requires that you care

Finding the right online resources to help you in your studies - is always an issue with distance education.  Some colleges have those helpful links more visible than others. Unless you are familiar with your institutional system, it can be burdensome to a new student.  I used to spend a large amount of time each semester helping direct students to proper resources, online and off.  Bottom line, I cared about the students, and I still do.  I learned about APA from another student when I went to college.  He was paying it forward. I was grateful.

I am no English teacher, but I do not have to be in order to pass along the following web links.  Hopefully, they will be helpful for some. 

Helping your students take advantage of their writing labs is also something that advisors and campus staff should be aware of.  Teachers should place this information in their syllabuses when appropriate.  

I wished this student all the luck in the world.  She stated  that she was on the Purdue website and moving forward.   I just paid it forward. 

 


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Alternate Paradigm of Learning

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAN-AAAAJGUxNzI4YzE2LTE3ZjUtNDI3ZS1iZmMxLWRjOGU4MTQ3N2FkYQ Alternate Paradigm of Learning

Alternate Paradigm of Learning

This article is long, and has some boring points. So if you don't like long and boring, this probably isn't the read for you.  The articles is on an analogy of a moderately stable learning experience versus an alternate paradigm of learning. .____________________________________________________

As  someone who has studied in the field of education I take a special interest in the logic that people will use to convey messages to me, and to others. There are many ways to say something, but not all ways are beneficial.  We all want to do the best job we can when educating  others. We want others to understand what we are saying and gain from that communication.  

I did a study a while back in an distance education setting, where  I was able to observe how a particular instructor reacted to certain environmental cues as well as individual   student behaviors, both live  in the classroom and over the interactive video conferencing system.  I wrote about the events that I observed, and then proceeded to write an alternate paradigm.* Those observations and the alternate paradigm are below. 

 Observation

The classroom is a modern interactive video conference (IVC) classroom .  The instructor sits at the front of the class at her desk.  For convenience she has two monitors on her desk; one that allows her to see all her classes that are located throughout the state, and the other screen has her power points and internet links that she will use to guide the nights discussion.  Behind her on the wall is an 80 inch plasma screen that projects her teaching materials to those who are sitting in the classroom in front of her.  The back wall has a 70 inch plasma screen with four large images showing all the distant education sites she will teach this evening.  You can see the students at these distant sites collaborating with each other, preparing for their presentation, and adjusting their seating.  Most appear to be happy and engaged with each other before the class begins.

In the back corner of the main instructors classroom sits a site facilitator named Sylvan, who monitors and controls the broadcasting equipment from a desktop touch screen.  He also has dual monitors on his desk that reflect exactly what the instructor sees on her screens as well as what is projected on the wall mounted plasmas.

89 Alternate Paradigm of LearningThe instructor, Bobbie Evers, is a Professional looking woman with short light brown hair.  She will be teaching  a 3000 level Social Work Policy course this evening.  She is new to IVC, but has been able to adapt to the interactive teaching station with ease. Tonight she has planned a four-way broadcasting event where students will debate and discuss a number of social policy related questions.   She begins by taking roll, and each of the distant sites one–by-one proclaims who is present.  At one site, a gentleman chimes in that he is present and announces for his team that “we have brought our A game”.  

We have brought our A game

The topic of debate for this evening is Child Welfare Reform.  Students from the different sites have been split up into teams to represent both the pro  and con sides.   The debate begins and is immediately  lively.   Each participant brings to the debate a number of key points that seem to resonate on both sides.  Some of those issues included: abuse, taking children from the home, permanency, children aging out,  family relationships, providers, school and mental health.  

The plasma on the back wall showing the four different sites is voice activated.  When someone speaks at a distant site, the broadcast is automatically switch to that location.  However, for some reason this evening the screens all remained the same size.  One of the sites had only one individual at it, and the camera must of only been about 12 inches away from her face.  For a portion of the evening the movement of this individual was so distracting I found myself laughing at her a couple times.  I admire that the instructor and the other students, didn’t seem to mind.  But then again, I am not sure what the distant receive sites were seeing, since each site can adjust their views.   It was hard to miss her drinking her coffee, eating a corn dog,  and fidgeting obsessively.  It wasn’t until she finally cued the microphone, and had something to say that she settled down.  Yet, when she did speak it was with a lot of redundant words, particularly the use of the word “LIKE”; and then she would flay her hands in the air.  

For most of the debate there were a number of individuals who seemed to be quite confident in their delivery.  Although shaky at first, their voices and delivery became much more stable once the debate was well underway.   In particular, the confidence level of the debaters rose when the issue of whether or not the state and local governments should keep families together.  This topic drew some of the strongest comments, with one student even raising her voice.  Another student also chimed in with the comment that all abusers should be outfitted with “shock collars”.  The students were generally engaged and appeared to be knowledgeable about the topics they discussed.    Most sat still in their seats and watched the debate with interest. The groups who debated against the majority of the issues tended to have won the debate as far as I could tell. They were more prepared, more engaged, and confident in their delivery.

As the debate wound down, the instructor opened the floor for discussion. Through these discussions I learned that most of the students were employees from a range of different social agencies.  So many already had a background in social welfare.  The students were very open and willing to discuss personal information as well. They expressed their thoughts openly, and were able to elaborate on the processes of knowing and/or understanding the plight of others.   The instructor throughout the debate and the discussion was fully engaged with the distant site students.  She would nod her head in agreement to much of what was being said, and was deliberate in her note taking.  She was able to step in whenever the topic shifted or began to slow.  She brought substance into the debate with strategically noted phases and kept the debate lively.  She was able to speak on relevant current issues, and was patient with student concerns and questioning.  

Paradigms of Leaning

The teacher was very much engaged with her students, and leaned more toward a cognitive learning view , which leans toward moral statements that express beliefs and is suitable to measure truth and falsity.   She was able to effectively lead her students into open discussion, and kept it flowing.  She did not attempt to interrupt, but rather was open and objective only when the discussion would slow. She allowed for open expression and creativity. She allowed students to work through any misunderstanding or mistakes as a team and to problem solve in order gain a deeper understanding.  

PRO: The teams that debated in favor of the status quo did so with a more behaviorist approach. They were not willing to sway from the policy standards already set and maybe accept that not all things are as they seem.  The mantra I heard from them was always “It’s the parents fault”.   

CON: Those who tended to disagree with the status quo came from more of a cognitivist point of view. Their concern was more about children growing up without a home and permanency, or children aging out of the system with no skills.  They were open to positive input and had a number of very good ideas.    

During the debate the instructor challenged the group by interjecting  the socioculturalism aspects of social policy.  This paradigm was evident  in the debate, when the  topic turned to Native Americans and ideas of the whole child approach.  As the discussion moved forward, the role of foster care and Native Americans was also  introduced; and it became apparent that there are many dynamics that a community of social workers has to deal with.  In any particular role, the paradigms could easily be interchangeable, especially in social work.  The teacher was able to formulate direct questions that inspired more debate, in all these areas.  It was a very fascinating debate to watch especially for a layperson such as myself.

Now for the alternate paradigm of learning.

Alternate Paradigm of Learning

The teacher was very behavioristic, and would often stop students mid-sentence to correct their ideas and elaborate on what changes the students needed to make. Her mantra was “do not interject personal sentiment into the policy process”.   She was stern with a set of pre-defined objectives, and did not allow for much self-expression or choice.    Students were not actively engaged in the discussion following the debates, and were not prompted by the teacher to do else wise.  Students followed a prescribed course of action the entire evening.  Repetitive information was sited at the beginning of each new topic. Points for discussion were listed by the instructor, and only simple responses were accepted.  Those students who closely followed the pre-defined objectives were rewarded with additional points.

Alternative Observation

The classroom is a modern interactive video conference classroom (IVC).  The instructor sits at the front of the class at her desk.  For convenience she has two monitors, one that allows her to see all her classes that are located throughout the state, and the another screen has her power points and internet links that she will use to guide the nights discussion.  This instructor prefers to not use the monitors nor any other digital technology.   Behind her on the wall is an 80 inch plasma screen, that for tonight will remain off, since she feels certain technology is distracting.    The wall in front of the instructor has a 70 inch plasma screen with four  large images of all the distant education sites she will teach tonight.  She allows this screen to remain on.  You can see the students at these distant sites slowly starting to  funnel into the classroom.   In the back corner of the broadcast classroom sits a site facilitator named Sylvan,  who monitors and  controls the broadcasting  equipment from a desktop touch screen.  He also has dual monitors on his desk that reflect exactly what the instructor sees on her screens as well as what is projected on the wall mounted plasmas.

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAIHAAAAJDRmZGQ3NmJkLTgwMzgtNGVhZS1hYWYwLTZhMzZmNTU1ZjI4NQ Alternate Paradigm of LearningThe instructor, a dark haired woman in her early 40’s, Bobbie Nevers, teaches a 3000 level  Social Work Policy course.  She is new to IVC, and has not been able to adapt to the interactive teaching station very well.  Tonight she has planned a four way event where students will debate and discuss a number of social policy related questions.   She begins by taking roll, and each of the distant sites one–by-one declares who is present.   Before the debate she instructs the class on a set of pre-designed formats that they should follow.   The debate is to be very formal and the subject matter will be condensed to allow for repetitive justification of each opening and closing statement.

The topic of debate for this evening is Child Welfare Reform.  Students from the different sites have been split up into teams to represent both the pro’s and con’s of the matter.     Social issues that will be addressed include: abuse, taking children from the home, permanency, family relationships, providers, school and mental health.  Students are asked to reframe from interjecting personal sentiment into the debate.

The plasma on the back wall showing the four different sites, is voice activated.  When someone speaks at a distant site, the broadcast is automatically switched to that location.  However, for some reason this evening the screens all remained the same size.  One site had only one individual in it, and the camera that was on this individual must have only been about 12 inches away from her face.  For most of the evening the movement of this one individual is none existent, she is almost like a statue. I was amazed when she finally moved and asked a question.  The other students were also very unresponsive in their demeanor.

For most of the debate students took turns reading from paper, their responses.  There were no highs and no lows within the two groups. It was very formal. The issue of whether or not the state and local governments should keep families together drew only one comment from the teacher, who reminded the student that without laws there would be no social workers.   The students were not generally engaged and appeared to be only semi knowledgeable about the topics they discussed.   Most of the debate was read from paper, and many items were redundantly recurrent.   During the debate, most of the students seemed to be reading other materials at their desks, and generally disinterested.

CON: The groups who debated against the majority of the issues tended to have lost the debate as far as I could tell. They were more prepared, more engaged, and confident in their delivery, but did not follow the exact protocol the teacher wanted them to.  She felt the students were not properly conditioned and make way too many mistakes.

PRO: The teams that debated in favor of the status quo did so with a more behaviorist approach. They were not willing to sway from the policy standards already set and maybe accept that not all things are as they seem.  The mantra I heard from them was always “It’s the parents fault”.   

CON: Those who tended to disagree with the status quo came from more of a cognitivist point of view. Their concern was more about children growing up without a home and permanency, or children aging out of the system with no skills.  They were open to positive input and had a number of very good ideas.    

During the debate the instructor challenged the group by interjecting  the socioculturalism aspects of social policy.  This paradigm was evident  in the debate, when the  topic turned to Native Americans and ideas of the whole child approach.  As the discussion moved forward, the role of foster care and Native Americans was also  introduced; and it became apparent that there are many dynamics that a community of social workers has to deal with.  In any particular role, the paradigms could easily be interchangeable, especially in social work.  The teacher was able to formulate direct questions that inspired more debate, in all these areas.  It was a very fascinating debate to watch especially for a layperson such as myself.

Now for the alternate paradigm of learning.

Alternate Paradigm of Learning

The teacher was very behavioristic, and would often stop students mid-sentence to correct their ideas and elaborate on what changes the students needed to make. Her mantra was “do not interject personal sentiment into the policy process”.   She was stern with a set of pre-defined objectives, and did not allow for much self-expression or choice.    Students were not actively engaged in the discussion following the debates, and were not prompted by the teacher to do else wise.  Students followed a prescribed course of action the entire evening.  Repetitive information was sited at the beginning of each new topic. Points for discussion were listed by the instructor, and only simple responses were accepted.  Those students who closely followed the pre-defined objectives were rewarded with additional points.

Alternative Observation

The classroom is a modern interactive video conference classroom (IVC).  The instructor sits at the front of the class at her desk.  For convenience she has two monitors, one that allows her to see all her classes that are located throughout the state, and the another screen has her power points and internet links that she will use to guide the nights discussion.  This instructor prefers to not use the monitors nor any other digital technology.   Behind her on the wall is an 80 inch plasma screen, that for tonight will remain off, since she feels certain technology is distracting.    The wall in front of the instructor has a 70 inch plasma screen with four  large images of all the distant education sites she will teach tonight.  She allows this screen to remain on.  You can see the students at these distant sites slowly starting to  funnel into the classroom.   In the back corner of the broadcast classroom sits a site facilitator named Sylvan,  who monitors and  controls the broadcasting  equipment from a desktop touch screen.  He also has dual monitors on his desk that reflect exactly what the instructor sees on her screens as well as what is projected on the wall mounted plasmas.

The instructor, a dark haired woman in her early 40’s, Bobbie Nevers, teaches a 3000 level  Social Work Policy course.  She is new to IVC, and has not been AAEAAQAAAAAAAAIHAAAAJDRmZGQ3NmJkLTgwMzgtNGVhZS1hYWYwLTZhMzZmNTU1ZjI4NQ Alternate Paradigm of Learningable to adapt to the interactive teaching station very well.  Tonight she has planned a four way event where students will debate and discuss a number of social policy related questions.   She begins by taking roll, and each of the distant sites one–by-one declares who is present.   Before the debate she instructs the class on a set of pre-designed formats that they should follow.   The debate is to be very formal and the subject matter will be condensed to allow for repetitive justification of each opening and closing statement.

The topic of debate for this evening is Child Welfare Reform.  Students from the different sites have been split up into teams to represent both the pro’s and con’s of the matter.     Social issues that will be addressed include: abuse, taking children from the home, permanency, family relationships, providers, school and mental health.  Students are asked to reframe from interjecting personal sentiment into the debate.

The plasma on the back wall showing the four different sites, is voice activated.  When someone speaks at a distant site, the broadcast is automatically switched to that location.  However, for some reason this evening the screens all remained the same size.  One site had only one individual in it, and the camera that was on this individual must have only been about 12 inches away from her face.  For most of the evening the movement of this one individual is none existent, she is almost like a statue. I was amazed when she finally moved and asked a question.  The other students were also very unresponsive in their demeanor.

For most of the debate students took turns reading from paper, their responses.  There were no highs and no lows within the two groups. It was very formal. The issue of whether or not the state and local governments should keep families together drew only one comment from the teacher, who reminded the student that without laws there would be no social workers.   The students were not generally engaged and appeared to be only semi-knowledgeable about the topics they discussed.   Most of the debate was read from paper, and many items were redundantly recurrent.   During the debate, most of the students seemed to be reading other materials at their desks, and generally disinterested.

CON: The groups who debated against the majority of the issues tended to have lost the debate as far as I could tell. They were more prepared, more engaged, and confident in their delivery, but did not follow the exact protocol the teacher wanted them to.  She felt the students were not properly conditioned and make way too many mistakes.

PRO:  Those debating in favor of the social policy issue didn’t necessarily win, they did however stick to the pre-described debate platform that the instructor laid out at the beginning of the class.

The instructor was not fully engaged with the distant sites; rather she spent more time addressing those students who were live in front of her.  She would nod her head in disagreement to much of what was being debated.  She informed the  class  that they would need to go over certain materials again to make sure they properly understood it.  She noted a significant amount of errors in the debates.  Whenever the topic shifted away from the pre-defined format, she was quick to stifle any response. As the debate wound up, the instructor asked if there were any questions.  There were none.

__________________________________________________

When you look at your own educational styling and training methods, alternate paradigms can help you to visualize what your students are actually seeing and hearing.  Something to think about before planning your next lesson plan.

 

*Note:  The instructor in my study was a model instructor. 


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UPSTART Early Learners Online

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAIxAAAAJGNkZWVkYTE1LWQ1OTUtNGViNC1hM2NhLTFjMDYzY2YzOGVhYw-1 UPSTART Early Learners Online

UPSTART Early Learners Online

I will be honest, when Rhiana Medina from the Multi-Cultural Center appeared in my office at the university, and started telling me about a new learning program for preschool to kindergarten learners, I was skeptical. Like any parent or educator, I had seen a host of programs and watched early learners become quickly bored and abandon the current endeavor for the next best thing.  Marketing to early learners is big business, so finding a program that will stick can be a struggle for parents and educators. 

Rhiana had originally come to me and asked me to implement the program into the community, but due to my own academic constraints I didn't get the chance to offer to help.  I did however suggest to my own family that they look into the program; and they did.  That program was the UPSTART Program, a  FREE learning program designed by the Waterford Institute.

Within the program, students’ progress through levels, mastering each level before continuing on to the next.   There are games, music, and activities to keep them engaged and motivated to want to learn.  It is all self-lead learning, with minimal if any guidance.  Your students basically teach themselves.  The computer program has the ability to test where a student’s level is,  and places them in the appropriate sections for that ability.   

After months of use, I can confirm that the program has made a wonderful impact on one preschooler named Sienna.  Sienna started out on the Waterford Upstart Program, spending just 15 minutes a day self navigating through the various games and activities.  She  now spends more time on the program,  and that time is very well spent.  She is laughing, and clapping, and reciting words and singing; it’s wonderful to watch her learn to read and enjoy it.

 When I noticed that Sienna was learning her ABC's in three different languages I was astonished.  To her learning is  fun, and she is absorbing the information at a much more rapid pace than I first thought.

If you have been looking for a reading program, this one opens the door to that learning. I would highly recommend this program to parents and educators everywhere.   Kids love to learn, and learning should be fun. The Waterford Institute has taken that to heart in designing this program with kids in mind. 

If your child is entering kindergarten in 2016 or a  later date you can  pre-register your child on line at http://www.waterfordupstart.org  A toll free number is also available at 1-800-669-4533 to pre-register.

______________________________________________________

The Waterford Upstart Program, was created and designed by the Waterford Institute with early learners in mind.  A free online educational program, it is sure to make an impact on your child’s learning.


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Back Stage Dance Competitions

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAN1AAAAJDFmNjJmZmFjLTRkMjMtNDI5My1iMGQ0LTA5NjA4OWYxYTkzNg Back Stage Dance Competitions

Back Stage Dance Competitions

Dance competitions - letting down after it is all said and done, it is harder than you think. As adults we know what it feels like to live under pressure.  We have to train our children to learn to deal with certain pressures too, like stress, defeat, and success.  Even success can be stressful.  What happens when the competition is over?   Some kids hit the wall so to speak.  They have to learn to stop competing and relax.  

yu Back Stage Dance CompetitionsBackstage at a dance competition is a remarkable world of  high pace energy, organizational challenges and it is easy to burn out.  Learning about the world of dance competitions is more complicated than many know. 

Procrastinator

“where are the pins”?  “Oh my gosh - hairspray - I know I packed it”.   “shoes - I have two left feet”!  What a bunch of poopie.  If your organization skills for competition sound like the above comments above, you probably are a procrastinator.   I hate to admit it, but I’m a procrastinator too.  I’ll pack the day before the event, and/or scramble  the day of to get everything in the car.   I didn’t realize how much of the organization went into getting ready for competition until I had kids of my own.  I think there is a progression that parents go through in working with their dancers.  They  come in as newbies,  and gradually progress to diva managers.   If you fall into the procrastinator category, you are far from alone.  Even the best diva managers fail sometimes. 

I think there is a progression that parents go through in working with their dancers.  They  come in as newbies,  and gradually progress to diva managers.

Gofer

At competitions, many times we have found our dressing rooms halfway across the school or auditorium.   Your parents who are often caught in the middle in the stands often are clueless where to put  the dance bags.  There aren’t any signs in front of the buildings that point to where you need to go, that is where you need gofers or scouts to be in the facility before your team starts to arrive - just to locate all the doors, corridors and stair ways.  They can wait at the gates when your team arrives and help them to get to their dressing and stage areas.  Parents are fine to use as gofers, but a couple older teens who don’t have youngsters to prepare for the stage, work better.   You have to realize that your director and many instructors may not be there right when you get there.  In some cases it is because they are at the director meetings getting the 911 on the competition proceedings.   Make sure your gofer or scouts are trustworthy and that their cell phones are on for you to contact them.  They shouldn't be text queens chatting with their friends and neglecting their  duties. 

Assistant Instructors

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAJXAAAAJGM5NDUxOTY3LTVmODktNGE1OC04ZWY5LTA0ZTY2ZDczZDQzYw Back Stage Dance CompetitionsIf you have to be in a meeting before completion, make sure you have an assistant teacher to warm up your students and to check their costumes.  It’s okay to delegate to your assistants who have worked with you and your team.  Uninformed people in the dressing rooms are a studio nightmare.  They will and can give out a lot of false information.  Maybe not knowingly give out bad information, but false none-the-less.  Tempers can flare at the drop of a hat back stage.  I always find that the student is generally more calm than the parent,  9 times out of 10. 

Parents, your kids need the input from their instructors right before going on.  They know the dance best, they understand the choreography, and their students trust them.  You should too. 

Some common sense no - no's:

1. Don’t be in the dressing rooms in front of your dancers talking drama right before  a competition. 

2. Don’t attempt to make minor changes for an instructor, that includes costumes changes.  You can discuss changes afterward before the next competition.   That is acceptable to ask - 100%  It also allows your instructors / director the opportunity to state why something is the way it is. 

3. If you constantly are wishy washy at competitions,  or whining about  everything, especially in the dressing rooms - it stresses everyone out.  We call  these types “dressing room trolls”.  You are allowed to be one at least once in your dancers career.  

...whining about  everything, especially in the dressing rooms - it stresses everyone out

Warm Ups

The little bitty dancers may need a parent or two around if Instructors don’t have assistants.  The little ones need to be watched and a system developed to help them get from point A to point B  as easy  as possible.  Have them hold hands when they enter the warm up room.  Once they are in there, make sure you get them to a huddle as fast as you can.  Warm up rooms are confusing to little ones.  There are generally many other teams in the warm up rooms that take up a lot of spacing.  Your little ones might not understand why they have to bunch their lines together to practice.  Talk to them about warm up rooms before they get to competitions. 

Older dancer DO NOT need their parents in the room, unless that parent was asked to be there.  The most important thing for dancers to be doing is to stretch out, be looking over their lines, and nailing those turns and combo sections. 

Parents your dancers need to be looking at the instructor before going on.  AAEAAQAAAAAAAALkAAAAJDZhMDI5MWFmLTZlNzctNDcyNS1iZGMwLWVjMGMyZjA4YzAzYQ Back Stage Dance CompetitionsDon’t become a “warm up troll”.   Find your seat and make sure that your cheering voice can  be heard when they perform. Remember, warm ups for older students should be a closed session.  There is already enough  distractions in the room to keep them busy for a long time.   Besides, some students don’t react well to other parents in the room.  Parents, this is your curtain call “all parents to the stands”.   

Parents, this is your curtain call “all parents to the stands”

Music

UGH!..  I can’t stress enough that you need to have at least 4 copies of all your music.  Why?  One to give to your assistant in case you don’t make it,  two for your travel bag, and one to give to your top gofer.  I actually helped another team one year cut their music at a  competition.  I happened to have purchased the song they were using the year before and it was still on my computer. As well, I had the music programs  already installed on my computer to cut and edit it for them.  They won!  They weren't a competing team against us, so it was fair game.   Nowadays a cell phone or an IPad work great for putting your music on too.

Don’t let your students over run your common sense when it comes to music. 

  1. It’s not a team decision - it’s more about what is appropriate.
  2. Also, can it be cut and edited to fit your teams needs.    
  3. Just because a song is popular doesn’t mean it is the right song for your team or solo performer.

Truthfully, if the song is too popular you may be in for a shock when you get to competition.   There are lists of the most overly used songs on the internet atwww.dancenet.com .    Not all songs have that over use attachment, but it doesn’t hurt  to be careful on your selections. 

Awards

I was fortunate enough to  have a daughter who worked behind the screens during  a lot of award ceremonies.  She  set up everything for awards including all the trophies, did lane running, ran score sheets to the tally room,  sweep floors for acts, to crowning the dance champions.  

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAICAAAAJGY0MzA4NTRkLWNlOGItNGRiMS05YWVhLTNhYTVlYjU1ZWQxYg Back Stage Dance CompetitionsIf you are a dance champion and are asked to help with awards, be sure you understand that it could be very late before you are allowed to go home.  It isn't uncommon for awards to end at midnight.   Timing for awards isn’t an exact science.    You should have your team there early for awards, and they should sit together either in the stands , stage, or gym floor.  Just because they say awards at 7:00 p.m., that doesn’t mean they won’t start them earlier.   If all the scores are tallied, and the competition staff is ready, they can call the awards early.  

It is nice to get away from competition to go somewhere to eat, but you need to make sure you are in contact with your instructor/director in case the event planners call an early awards ceremony.   Don’t drive 30 miles away for food either.  Pack some healthy food in the car; come prepared. 

I understand that little girls get tired, and that a late awards ceremony is often hard on them.   But this is what you have spent your hard earned dollars on.  All the sweat and tears are for that moment.  Your team needs you there.  You are a team all the way from dancing on the floor to the awards ceremony. 

The day after

It is important to have down time with your dancer, and to help him or her to let go of competition.  Let the activities of the events wash over them - win or lose. Everyone needs down time to recoup, relax, and not have to be on task.  Hopefully you have something planned that is fun for your dancer and family members who also attend the competitions.  A motel with a pool is a great way for the family to let down.  Those who have to travel all day and night may not have that luxury - but hopefully you will plan down time once you get home.  Spend time with your dancer doing things that aren’t dance related.  Even if it is just a movie and popcorn. 

Even dancers who win can have a low period after a competition.   They have been working at a high pace with their performances, and now all of a sudden  it's over.  I’ve seen solo winners not return to competition because they didn’t adjust to the low time well.  They weren’t able to come back up to the level of performance that helped them win. 

 Losing doesn’t have to be bad either.  The best perspective is one that helps a dancer learn to compete against themselves.  What others are doing really isn’t of their concern,  as much as knowing that they have made progressed in their own studies.    So winning isn’t everything, sometimes it is the end for some dancers. 

AAEAAQAAAAAAAALpAAAAJDQ0OTE1OTUzLWJmNDEtNDkxOC05OGEzLWNhYzk1OTdlNzY5NQ Back Stage Dance Competitions
Well rounded dancers need other outlets to focus on.  If all they do is focus on dance day in and day out,  they might not be maturing emotionally and socially as they need too.  They can carry those negative traits into adulthood.   As kids get older and adjust to different stresses, they will pick the activities that they desire to be in.   Having 2 or 3 activities outside of dance is normal.  Play ball, piano, swim, run - whatever. 

Enjoy your time in the spotlight “Be a Star”!