Curriculum: The Traditionalists // The Tyler Rationale

I am in my third year of the Education program at the University of Regina and during these three years I have started developing my own teaching philosophy, and in my philosophy, I have my opinion on what curriculum is and its impact on education. Recently I have learned about an educator, Ralph w. Tyler, who has had a huge impact on curriculum and current education practices. In school, many of the lessons and units were taught to me using his rationale and approach. My teacher would have looked at the objectives my classmates and I were to master, and then organized those objectives in the order they were to be taught. The goal and product was the same for all of us and little of the curriculum was modified or adapted.

In my opinion there are a few problems with using this approach, For one, the student is held completely accountable for being able to form to this teaching model. All students are taught the same which we know is not beneficial or realistic. The other problem with this is that there is no room for teachers to “venture” from the laid out plan. In many cases a lesson or unit has the potential to explore and expand many ideas; however, with this approach the objectives are laid out in a very industrial order that takes away from teachers ability to educate and instead turns them into technicians that produce one specific and generic product (the student).

One could say that one benefit of this is that it makes teaching efficient. A teacher can use this approach to easily put together their units and create their lessons. It also creates a very easy way of measuring the students’ “success”. However, I do not think that a students success can be measured with this approach because Tyler’s rationale does not benefit all students and therefore would not help all students succeed.

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The Problem With Common Sense and Education

I recently read the introduction from the book Against Common Sense by Kevin Kumashiro. In this introduction Kumashiro reflects on his time teaching in Nepal, and how different the education system is in Nepal compared to the United States’ (and similarly Canada’s). Before reflecting on Kumashiro’s definition of common sense I wanted to think about what the word meant to me. My own definition of common sense would be something that the majority of society knows. I never stopped to consider that common sense in Canada would be very different than what could be considered common sense in Greece, Zambia, or Peru. Kumashiro explains common sense as the ritualistic, well-practiced, and often unquestioned way of doing things in each society, and in education he says that common sense not only suggests what could be done but in fact implies what should be done and that anything against the common is unacceptable. When teaching in Nepal, he realized that learning by lecture and practice and assessing by exams was the only sensical way of schooling there. In Canada, it is common sense that school will begin in the Fall and end at the beginning of Summer, and that in school you will learn specific subjects that every other student across Canada will also be learning. The problem with these widely accepted ideas is that they can sometimes create an oppressive environment for some students; for example, those students who cannot learn early in the morning or cannot function for six hours straight. This is where there is an issue with “common sense”. If we are not constantly questioning why and how we as teachers do things then our practices will never evolve, and we will keep creating an environment that not every student can thrive in. Like Kumashiro said, changes are happening but to keep the ball rolling and to keep creating inclusive and successful classrooms we as teachers need to keep innovating our classrooms and keep questioning the norm.

A Complete Pythagoras Theorem Unit

I am done creating my unit! In case you missed it you can see what I have done so far here. This is definitely one of the more challenging projects I have done in university and it really pushed me to step outside of my comfort zone. I learned many new things throughout this experience the main one being the importance of planning for online lessons. I was also in ECS 300 this semester and a lot of that course was based around lesson planning, but for some reason I did not carry over the knowledge I learned in that class to my online unit for ECMP 455. I found that a lot of the time when I would go to create assignments or lessons for this unit I would just be searching for content on Google. I would then be frustrated when Google did not have exactly what I was looking for. I think that this is a common assumptions that teachers make when they are online. They assume that all of the content they need is already created, and although a lot of it might be, they could still be the creators themselves! Part of my reason for trying to find the content on Google was because I was nervous about creating my own lesson. When I finally took the leap I started with creating a lesson on EduCreations and it failed miserably. Below are some screenshots from the final video but I would never post it as an actual lecture that I expect my students to learn from. One of the things about EduCreations that I enjoyed was the simplicity of it and it is also free to make an account. It was very easy to use and the directions were easy to follow however, because it only had drawing and recording tools the triangles I drew and my writing were quite messy.

Screenshot of EduCreations video

Screenshot of EduCreations video

Because of the poor quality of these videos I decided to try Explain Everything to see if I could make a better quality video. Explain Everything is not free; however the app allows gives users a free 30-day trial and you can export the videos you create so the trial worked fine for the purpose of my online unit. This is the video:

As you can see my writing is still messy, but I liked the fact that I had the actual shape of the right-angle as opposed to drawing my own triangle. If I were to redo this unit online I would do a few things differently. First of all I would write a script for every lecture that I created myself. I did not use a script for this video and when I re-watch it I see that some parts could have gone smoother had I been more prepared with what I wanted to say. I would also make sure I had a very good idea of the curriculum. Although I did look at the curriculum for this unit and read all of the outcomes and indicators I do not think I had a true understanding of how to help students meet those indicators. This will hopefully come with time and more experience working hands on with curriculum. Lastly, I would take more time to practice with tools I want to use in my unit. I should have spent a couple of hours on Explain Everything watching the tutorials and playing around with the different tools, but instead I just jumped right into it and started creating my online unit. I also could have spent more time learning more about all of the functions that Google Classroom offers. I used Google Classroom to post the assignments for students but my use of it did not go further than that. (I also did not have real students utilizing it so that is part of the reason).

Screenshot of my Google Class “Upload Assignment” window

Screenshot of my Google Class Stream

Altogether I am happy that I chose to create an online unit for my major class. The skills I learned while doing this are transferable to everything in education and not strictly for technology. I look forward to trying out more new things in the future and also improving my video taking/editing skills for higher quality lessons. I look forward to having my real students to learn from and learn with as the world and technology evolves even more.

ECMP 455 is Over // Summary of Learning

Last week my classmate, Mackenzie Thompson, and I created our summary of learning for the course ECMP 455. Before creating it we talked about what we wanted to include in the summary and what we felt were important aspects of this course. Because we have both taken ECMP 355, we wanted to show that our knowledge of EdTech has grown and that we are more confident venturing into the world of technology in education. The video below is our summary of learning. We used Powtoon to create this video, and in the video we discuss our blogs, Twitter, EdTech tools like Google Classroom and Youtube, and we also discuss digital citizenship. Comparing some of my blog posts from ECMP 355 to my blog posts from this semester I can definitely see growth. I also notice that when I go onto Twitter I am a lot more comfortable tweeting, using hashtags, and joining conversations. One of my favorite classes this semester was when Alec facilitated a Twitter Chat for our class and Katia Hildebrandt‘s ECMP 355 class. The ECMP classes have been two of the more meaningful education classes for my growth as a pre-service teacher. Although I am happy to be moving forward in my education it is bittersweet that I am now done ECMP 455.

Thanks for following my growth this semester and enjoy this short summary of what we have learned!

Teaching in a Google World

In ECMP 455 class we discussed different topics surrounding technology and education. We were asked to reflect on one of the topics and I decided to write about Google and the classroom. When I was going through school I was constantly using Google to get quick answers and my habit of turning to Google first has only gotten worse. Now that almost every answer to any question can be Googled, we have to ask: Should we be teaching our students concepts that can be answered on Google?

In an article by Zhai Yun Tan the topic about the effect of Google is discussed, and arguments that Google make us dumber and smarter are both brought up. One thought is that having information at our disposal makes room for more info because we do not need to remember so much information. An example of this that the article mentions is our friends birthdays. Facebook users do not need to remember or even think about their friends birthdays until the day of when Facebook will remind. This is much like how when I see a movie with an actor I recognize, I immediately Google the movie to find out what I recognize them from. This seems arbitrary which it totally is, but I am happy that I don’t waste too much brain power trying to memorize every Ryan Gosling movie.

As teachers it might seem frustrating that students automatically turn to Google to answer the questions we post, but we can use Google to help students become critical thinkers. One thing I often is hear is that we need to teach our students to think critically, and I believe Google goes hand-in-hand with this. Like I mentioned before, there is seemingly infinite information on the internet which means we can always be analyzing and critiquing. I myself am still learning to critique the information that comes across my screen, so how am I going to teach my students to do this? One video we watched in ECMP is by John Spencer and is all about how to tell real from fake news apart:

Showing students videos like this one and giving them checklists is a good way to help them critique information they find online. Another way to match your teaching to the Google world is to choose indicators out of the curriculum that call for deeper and personal understanding. Asking students to connect on a personal or relative level means that the answers can’t be Googled because the answers should come from their own experience and voice. For example, in the Grade 9 English Language Arts curriculum in SK this is one of the outcomes:

 

One of the indicators is to “paraphrase a text’s content, purpose, and point of view.” Student’s could easily Google all of that information and not think twice about meaning or connection to themselves. An indicator that leads to deeper understanding is to “identify and explain connections between what is viewed, heard, and read and personal ideas and beliefs.” This indicator calls for students to relate the readings to their personal lives, and not simply Google a plot and it’s themes.

Altogether, I think that Google like any EdTech tool, can be as useful as you want it to be and can be as big an inhibitor as you allow it to be. By requiring students to think critically and make connections to the instinct to get answers off of a Google will be lessened.

I would love to hear reader’s thoughts in the comments below!

 

All About @misstayloryqr

In ECMP455 we focus a lot on Twitter and all of its wonderful uses for teachers. This past week we did a twitter chat between our ECMP455 class as well as an ECMP355 class. For those of you that don’t know what a twitter chat is, LifeWire describes it as “a pre-arranged chat that happens on Twitter through the use of tweets that include a predefined hashtag to link those tweets together in a virtual conversation.” The hashtag we used to link all of the tweets from our chat was #ECMPChat.

Screenshot of a few of the tweets from our #ECMPchat

This Twitter chat got me thinking about how I plan on using Twitter as an educator.

My experience with Twitter had always been for personal use, and it was not before I took ECMP last year that I learned how meaningful it could be to educators. One of the great things about Twitter is that it gives you the opportunity to collaborate on a global scale. I myself, already saw the connections Twitter can facilitate when my professor Alec Couros tagged me in one of his tweets. Instantly I had other educators following me, replying to my tweets, and commenting on my blog posts. That is when I realized how many people I can reach out to for resources and also that I can be a resource for others. I hope to as an educator (as I become more Twitter-savvy) be able to use Twitter frequently for this connection. Whether that means posting questions I have on Twitter for anyone to answer or help me, answering other educators’ questions, or engaging in conversation via Twitter I really hope to stay connected. One thing I still have to check off my “Education Bucketlist” is to join the #SaskEdChat. It is a Twitter chat ran Thursday evenings that focuses on different topics surrounding education. Unfortunately, I have a night class this semester but as of April 11, I am free to join the Thursday chat so I hope to do that soon. I have also been debating how to use Twitter as a resource for my students. My students could follow me and then be able to use Twitter as a way to connect with me outside of school. Using Twitter could also be a way to introduce digital citizenship and social justice. Students should learn how to think critically about all of the content on the internet and Twitter is a good place to start because of the diverse content it has. Twitter also gives students a platform to share articles and research in a much less intimidating setting as an essay or presentation.

I think this comic hilariously represents an #edtech classroom

Altogether I look forward to growing my Twitter expertise as I move forward as an educator and maybe even reach “Twitter Champ” status one day

P.S. Follow @misstayloryqr on Twitter

 

An Intro to Pythagorean Theorem

As I am beginning to create my online unit I am already learning a lot about different great tools. Firstly, I have to share my appreciation for Google. Before this class, I never really utilized all of its great features, like Google Drive, Google Docs, Chrome extensions, Google Classroom, and Google+ Communities. All of these applications have helped me progress in ECMP, but also in my other university classes as well

For my online unit, I am going to use the Grade 8 Math curriculum, specifically the outcome based on learning the Pythagorean Theorem. I chose this topic because there are so many different applications of this theorem so it will give me a chance to try out a lot of different tools, like Screencasting, Khan Academy, Youtube, and EduCreations which I heard about through a blog post by Amy, one of my classmates.

Screenshot of the outcome and it's indicators from the SK Curriculum

Screenshot of the outcome I will be teaching online and its indicators (Retrieved from the SK Curriculum)

So far, I  have created my first assignment in Google Classroom. The assignment is to watch an intro. video to the Pythagorean Theorem, and then to complete a short comprehension worksheet to ensure the students watched the video. A few things I learned while creating this assignment was that Google Docs has an option to insert equations into your document; it will convert all of your variables, equation signs, and exponents into proper form! I am not sure if this is news to you readers but WOW was I ever amazed. As a Math major who is constantly googling different equations for help on assignments, I have gotten very used to using “^2” to represent a number being squared so actually being able to convert it to exponent form was very exciting. I have also learned about “making a copy” so all of my students can make a copy of the Google Doc assignments they receive and then simply reshare them with me to be marked. At first, I was worried how each student would separately edit their assignment until my co-op from my ECS 300 field experience showed me how he uses Google Docs for assignments with his students.

I have also created a Google+ community for the pretend parents of my pretend students. I think that when doing a unit completely online, especially with elementary students, it is important to include the parents. The parents can use their own Google account and access the community from any device with internet. I will use the community to post reminders about assignments, as well to communicate with the “parent” after any assignments or grades have been posted.

Screenshot of my view of Google+ Community

Screenshot of my view of Google+ Community

My next plan is to use EduCreations to create a lesson on actually applying the equation, a^2+b^2=c^2 (no “insert equation” option here). For the assessment after the lesson, I am going to research online tools for assessment. Although I could rave about Google Docs forever, I would still like know what other tools are out there for online assessment, especially for Math units.

Lastly, if you would like to join my Google+ Community or classroom to follow my progress please click here for the community, and you can join my classroom by logging into Google Classroom and entering the class code: pte2zq. Don’t feel obligated to join by any means just an option to those interested!