Learning Project (2) Update #1: How to Uke

Good day to you all, and thanks for joining.  Today I am going to show you my very early progress in learning how to play the Ukulele.  I want to give a big shout out to Justin Guitar without whom I would not have had such great instruction.  Here’s a link to is YouTube page, and here’s the first video that I used to begin learning.

I hope you enjoy:

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Spirals and Statistics and Math! Oh my…

Have you every thought about learning, just for the sake of learning?  It’s a pretty cool idea: that knowledge has worth in and of itself.  Though I love the idea of it, that was not what I was planning on doing today when I began.

So, here I am, looking through some of my ECMP 455 colleagues blogs, and I happen upon Sarah’s blog, specifically reading her blog post about Khan Academy.  Now, I don’t know if you’ve heard about Khan Academy before, but it originated as a guy tutoring his cousin which has since then grown into a massive organization with the goal of providing content for students, parents and teachers alike.  It’s pretty cool.  Anyways, through reading Sarah’s blog I started thinking that I should check this place out too.  I had previously seen a couple videos and had heard about it many times through many people, so I thought it worth taking a look.

khan-academy-subject-page

So I get there, and I’m looking through the subjects available.  I noticed the different categories in Science and Engineering… I saw the lack of information under Arts and Humanities which is sad, but I understand that it was originally meant for Mathematics help.  I think look to the left to see what subjects are offered… I’m scrolling down… wait, does that say… Yes!  I’ve found it!  At the very bottom is a subject titled Math for fun and glory.  Yes please.  So I click the link, and this is what I see:

khan-academy-fun-math

As I scroll down, I see various topics pop up, so I click the first one on Doodling in Math and more.  And from there the first group is on Spirals, Fibonacci, and being a plant.  Pretty cool, so I keep going, and am delighted to find that these are in fact videos.  I’ll let you watch them to find out what’s inside (if the title wasn’t enough for you).  Needless to say, I enjoyed them and learned a lot more about Fibonacci sequences and the real world.  Again, really cool.

Overall, I thought that the way in which I was able to delve into these topics and videos was very easy, and from there I could go back and look at further unknown things that are cool to learn about (like the Problem of Points, perhaps).  The one thing that I was not totally sure about was that as I continued to watch videos the website informed me that I had won certain numbers of points, and that to keep them I needed to sign up.  From just accessing the website, I was not sure what signing up entails or even what the purpose of the points are, so it was more of a bother than anything else.  Besides that, I would recommend that you go to Khan Academy to find hitherto untold secrets that are not actually secrets, you just don’t know them yet.  It’s also great to get brief and uncomplicated explanations of various mathematical topics, too.

Well, that’s that.  Thanks for reading!

 

Using OneNote in the classroom

Hey everyone, this past week in our ECMP 455 online meeting we discussed Learning Management Systems (LMS), which are systems that allows for teachers to give notes, assignments, tests, etc. online via these systems.

In my Internship, I was in the Regina Catholic School Division (RCSD) which uses an LMS called HomeLogic for the purposes of giving assignments, but mainly for keeping students and parents up-to-date on the grades of the students’. This was interesting, as I had only seen a system like this once before, in my Pre-Internship, and so was still very unfamiliar with it, as I had not used anything of the sort to see my grades when I was in school.  Overall it was really interesting, and I found it a good tool, but that it definitely added a lot more responsibility on the teachers to be more timely in sharing their students’ marks.

Another tool that we (my cooperating teacher and I) had the opportunity to use was Microsoft OneNote, a cloud-based application.  As stated before, I had the unique opportunity to be paired with one of the few Connected Educators in the RCSD, and so had a class set of computers to use every day  This allowed me to use, or at least begin to learn how to use OneNote. A teacher can use OneNote by first creating a Classroom Notebook for each of their classes, so that whatever resources or assignments they put into OneNote would be specific to the class that said resources and assignments are for. Within this Classroom Notebook, there are a few main sections where the teacher places resources; the Content Library, the Student Notebooks, and the Collaboration Space. There are other sections, such as the Teacher Only section, but they function similarly to the ones listed.

The Content Library serves like a giant filing cabinet that can be accessed by everyone within the Class Notebook but can only be edited by the Admin (Teacher). This is a great place to put resources and assignments that students can find. The Teacher Only functions like this but with only the Teacher being able to access it.

The Student Notebooks are where OneNote begins to differ from just a website or wiki. There, the teacher can place items for students and a student can only access his/her individual notebook, but can also edit the items within. This is a great place for digital assignments as students can work freely on assignments within their notebooks and only the Teacher can observe their progress. I personally used this a lot in my own teaching because instead of handing out notes every other day I would send the students notes through OneNote, saving a lot of paper if nothing else. Another perk of OneNote is that students would then be able to access these Notebooks wherever there was an internet connection, getting rid of the excuse that they forgot their notes at home or school, because they could access them wherever.

Lastly there was the Collaboration Space, a section wherein all participants can see and all participants can edit. Ideally, this is a great place for group projects that everyone can then see, but personally I had issues with OneNote being unable to support 30-some devices at a time, making the app useless, so I used this section significantly less than others.

Overall, I found that OneNote was a very useful application to have in the classroom, though I would also say that it can only successfully work if there is ratio of 1:1 for students:devices, which is not always an option within the classroom. It worked well in my classroom because the RCSD was already using Office 365, which gave each student the account and each teacher the ability to add students to the Classroom Notebooks. If you have the opportunity to use it I would say that you should try it, as there is a lot that can be done with it in a classroom.

The Learning Project (LP) Part Two

Hello my friends, how are you? I’m great by the way (thanks for asking).

Why am I so great? I’ll tell you! As a significant portion of my ECMP 455 class at the University of Regina, I have been assigned to learn something using the availability of online resources, and I can learn anything I want! Pretty exciting, I know. If you will join me in remembering back to the Fall of 2013, you will recall that I had a similar (in fact identical) project in my ECMP 355 class, and I attempted to learn how to contact juggle, with limited results, and if you can’t remember then feel free to look under the ECMP 355 page of my blog and you can find it there.

Anyways, the question then becomes, what to learn? Aha! I’ll learn how to play the Ukulele! I got one for Christmas last year that I have yet to learn and I even had my friend restring it so it fits my awkward left-handed tendencies, perfect!

So, that’s that. I am going to learn how to play the Ukulele. Hoorah!

If you have any comments or ideas of songs that I should try to learn first, let me know, and if you find a good resource please pass that on as well. Have a great day folks!

Who Am I… Now?

Ah, the smell of a new semester is upon us… actually it has gotten a bit stale.

Hello everyone who has decided to use some of their valuable time in the reading of my blog post.  First and foremost, thanks, I feel #blessed for the attention. Secondly, me.

My name is James Lamb, and I am currently a fourth year, post-internship (man am I glad to be able to say that) student in the Secondary Education program at the University of Regina with a major is in math, and a minor is in social studies. I am very glad to be back at university, if only because this is my last semester before finishing my degree.

post-ottawa-game

Look at that handsome guy

As for taking ECMP 455, I think that there is a lot more that I am now able to learn, having taught classes full time during my Internship and better able to place the new information in a context that I actually understand. This is particularly true in my case because I was fortunate enough to be in a classroom where not only my cooperating teacher @vendi55 was for the use of technology in his classroom, but additionally we had a class set of computers to use in our class. So I would say that one goal that I have would be to learn about more applications and way that I might use technology in my future classrooms now that I have a good idea of what that could be like.

Another goal for this class is to genuinely enjoy it. Often times when I have taken classes it has been for the purpose of getting the degree, and so many of them are a lot less useful to me in the future because I was not very interested in the course and thus retained little of the information given me. So, I want to commit to choosing to enjoy this class, which is made all the easier because of the passion that @courosa has for the subject matter, and the genuine care that he has for his students.

Finally, my ultimate goal for this course is to pass it and be able to complete my degree requirements and move on to the next stage of my life.

Thanks for reading, I hope that it helped you see into my mind a little bit (isn’t that a scary thought). Have a great day!

 

Demonstration of Learning

After taking this course, ECS 410, my thoughts on assessment and evaluation have changed drastically through both the learning in this course as well as actual experience within my Pre-Internship.  One of the biggest things that I have learned is that any and all assessment or evaluation must be of how the students are meeting the Outcomes.  Giving students a test that more evaluates a student’s ability to find an answer using a specific method is wrong if the outcome states only that students need to be able to find the answer to the given question.  Yes, it is good to see which methods a student might prefer, but because he/she likes to use one over the other they should not be penalized for it.  Our job as teachers is to see where students are at, see where the outcomes expect them to be, and find a way to bridge the gap between those two things, and so any assessment and evaluation needs to be to the benefit of both the teachers and the students to see if they have met those outcomes or what they need to do to show that they have met them.

In my own field experience I worked with two cooperating teachers.  My one cooperating teacher already had a system in place in which students showed their learning via completing workbooks, quizzes, assignments, tests, and projects that we were required to work within, and so my evaluative strategies were more limited in that classroom, and my formative assessment strategies tended to be more along the lines of showing students examples of questions and then helping them as they needed in their workbooks.  I had more room in my other teacher’s classroom, and so used things like entrance slips/quizzes, review of the day before, textbook work, assignments, and tests to see whether or not students understood.  In that classroom the teacher stated that everything had to be worth at least some marks, otherwise students would not do the work, so completed textbook assignments and quizzes were graded.  In both experiences, the only time students were really involved in learning from their mistakes was if they completed one of the assignments early in the class of the first coop, after which it would be marked and they would have an opportunity to fix their mistakes, though oddly not many chose to do so, even if they did finish early.  Overall it was good to see how other teachers were assessing, including my one coop’s more upbuilding way of assessment, but it left me with a lot to think about in terms of how students actually show that they have met the outcomes.  In the future, I would like to be much more explicit in telling students what the outcomes are and which one(s) are going to be tackled in each unit.

In terms of mixing practices in the field and philosophy, I would say that my philosophy did not fully develop until the last couple weeks after Pre-Internship, in which I had the opportunity to not only think about what was taught in class, but also how the assessment practices talked about in class would actually work within a classroom.  Not only that, it really allowed me to think about who I am and who I want to be as a teacher.  So saying, I would say that anything that I had wanted to do on a more ideological standpoint came second to merely trying to find my own place in the classroom, and so assessment practices would have matched much more to those that I had experienced rather than those I wanted to integrate.  Overall the barriers that prevented me from possibly assessing students a different way were my own inexperience, as well as a lack of thorough thought and planning as to how I would assess students differently.  A way in which I might overcome these barriers are to put in the effort and time to plan out each outcome that I hope to cover in the class, as well as plan out what my own classroom expectations are so that when the school year does start I can inform the students of my expectations and give them a tentative schedule, thus encouraging me to stick with my plan.

Based upon what I have learned through ECS 410 and my own Pre-Internship experiences, there are some key learnings that I will take with me as I move into my Internship:

1. Assessment should always be directly related to the outcomes.

2. Education is about the students, not the teachers.

3. There are many ways in which a student can show that they have met an outcome.

These are important because they will really encourage me to go the extra mile when assessing students.  If a student finds another, but equally adequate, way of showing that they have met an outcome, that is great.  Mathematical understandings can be shown in more than just tests and assignments, and so I should encourage students to find how they understand the math that I intend to teach them.  That is why these are important, because they place the focus off of my teaching, and instead upon the students’ learning and meeting the outcomes.

To Test or not to Test

For those of you that were unaware, I just completed my Pre-Internship, or to be more specific, I just finished being in a school for three and a half weeks observing, learning, and teaching.  That is a whole other conversation on its own, but I stated this to help give you guys a context.

So, as I said I finished my Pre-Internship last week, and so this week have been getting back into the groove of classes.  For the most part we have just been talking about and reflecting on our experiences within the school and particularly in the classroom.  When discussing common teacher practices for the purpose of assessment, one common element (especially when talking to a bunch of other math majors) of our experience is the use of tests as the summitave basis for assigning marks to students.  This intrigued me.  One member of our discussion group brought up the opinion that tests should instead be things by which we can truly see what students know so we know what to teach them next.  If a student only gets 40% on a test, would allowing that to be the be-all-end-all for that section of the course be the right thing to do?  That is the question.  I think that there is indeed value in using various forms of formative assessment to show the teacher what the students have yet to learn, and yet there still needs to be that summative form of assessment, as we as teachers are expected to put something in the student’s report cards to say how they did.

So, I think that one thing a teacher might do is to teach, give a test, evaluate the common elements the students are struggling with, teach more thoroughly those elements, and give another test.  The thing is, though, is that there needs to be that final assessment, and from what I have experienced, there are always going to be students that do not put the work in and so that no matter how many checks a teacher tries to put in place, students will still fail.  Until we get to the point where students are motivated to take hold of their own learning, there will still be students who fail from a lack of effort.  Overall, though, the more teacher is able to place checks to help students succeed, the better for students who are willing to put the effort in.

What do you think?  How should tests be used in the curriculum?  What other forms of summative assessment might be used in a subject like mathematics?  What checks do you think can be put in place to best help students to succeed?  And is there any set of procedures that might be done that will help every student?