A full moon to end the year. Full of light to bring in the new year.
This is a reflective post as it relates to my Learning Styles class. We are using the Strenght, Improvement, Insight model. (Beyerlein & Apple, 2005)
Strength – Describe the strongest learning experience(s) you had thus far and why it/they were important to you.
I have very much appreciated creating and participating in the blogs in this course. The interaction is much less formal and allows for a more true representation of thoughts and feelings on particular topics. It allows for informal conversation and reflection on topics of interest.
Improvement – Reflect on how you could improve your learning in the future.
As I went through the Learning Styles course, I found out much about myself in terms of how I learn and some different applications to help me develop the skills to improve my learning process in the future. As indicated by my Memletics learning styles scores, I can use my strengths in logical, kinesthetic, visual and interpersonal learning preference to bolster my comprehension of the topics. I can also work on weaknesses by combining a weakness with a strength. For example, I might use my visual strength to enhance my linguistic weakness by using tools such as Wordle.net or Inspiration.
Insight – What new discoveries/understanding did you get in the learning process? How will you apply it to what you are doing in your daily professional or personal life?
Sean Peck’s blog, “My Thoughts on Adult Learning,” really sparked an element in terms of how I can review my preparations for workshops I do in the future. His statement, “we provide a service and we should strive to have people want our service,” made me think about how I could organize and “advertise” my workshops differently and force myself to think about using a balance of learning styles throughout the day. Not every learning opportunity or topic lends itself well to all learning styles but having a mix and balance would engage more students in the learning process.
The other discovery I had while blogging with other students was that to really learn, I feel you need to put yourself out there and be willing to make mistakes. It is too easy to try and “mediate” a blog post to make it just perfect when really you just want an honest conversation. I believe this, too, needs a balance in terms of being able to effectively disagree with or have a debate and still have a sense of professionalism and still honor the other individual’s accomplishments and views. I believe this is a skill every good teacher/facilitator needs in terms of questioning views and opinions and still having a trusting learning environment for the students.
Gordon’s choir concert grand finale was absolutely breathtaking! I decided to post an MP3 I recorded from my phone. The recording doesn’t do the performance justice but wanted to share none-the-less.
After reading Learning Styles theory at controversy? by Victor Hugo Rojas, I was surprised that there is such debate on Learning Styles. Even to the point where some are calling it racism. I believe education is going to change radically in terms of teaching to the individual and not mass producing industrial age, standardized workers. Not only will learning styles be at the forefront of this movement, it may, dare I say, be the tool that helps us individualize information for learning. The only other concept I can foresee being more relevant would be physiological and psychological brain research that is happening in terms of education and how we learn. And really, these go hand-in-hand. We need to teach to the whole person and we are all unique. Diversifying our instruction goes a long way in communicating with and educating our students.
To begin, let’s take a look at the environment which you have created to help your learners learn.* Discuss the following (please provide specific details, so that others may borrow or adapt your ideas for their environment):
- How have you helped develop/create an environment that promotes trust amongst your learners?
- How do you encourage learners to take risks in your learning environment? And how do you support them so they don’t fear failure in the public eye of their fellow learners?
- How do you gain a better perspective of your learners’ learning styles?
- What do you do to expose your learners to the other learning styles?
For any of these, if you answered “you don’t currently engage in such practices,” explain what you feel you could do differently.
Assignment 3.2 – AEDU 321
In developing an environment of trust, I do several things with my students. The workshops I hold most are one-day on-site workshops at our ESU. I start by sending out an email to all participants letting them know what they can expect when they arrive to the workshop. I also provide a list of items they may need to have beforehand. I encourage them to contact me with any questions, comments or concerns they may have. I believe this first level contact establishes a communication point where they may feel a little more relaxed in knowing what to expect and a little more about me.
When they arrive I personally greet each person and try to strike up a conversation. This is usually from a professional perspective although I am not apposed to getting into personal conversations either. I try very hard to keep things lighthearted and like to joke with my students. When we have two facilitators, we have fun bantering back and forth and this just sets an easy-going atmosphere. I also have music playing the background. It may be seasonal or just some easy pop or jazz to lighten things up a bit. On the overhead I’ll have the day’s agenda and I usually have a whiteboard with a place for students to put information they want to learn that day. If they are not familiar with our labs or have never been to a workshop at our ESU, I help them log in to the systems and show them where they can check their email and that sort of thing.
Once everyone has arrived and we are ready to start the workshop, we do introductions. I have them do some sort of fun (at least I think they’re fun!) opening activity to introduce themselves. I also try giving them opportunities to have small successes at the beginning of the workshop and building on those throughout the day. All of this, I feel, builds trust so they are more likely to take risks and try new ideas as I push them past their comfort zone.
Participants are more likely to take risks and go outside of their comfort zone if they feel they are supported throughout the process. This requires much encouragement from me and help and patience as they make mistakes. It also helps if their peers are also embarking on a new endeavor together or if they have peers in the workshops that have already been successful in a particular task. I encourage these participants to share their experiences.
In most workshops, I don’t actively pursue knowledge of their learning styles. Rather, I try to incorporate many styles throughout the day. For example, I give them all learning objectives at the beginning of the day with an outline of resources they can refer to during the day or after the workshop. I will introduce topics and give them an opportunity to have hands-on experience with the material in each section. I provide graphical examples as I am talking and also give them an opportunity to sketch their projects with paper and, yes, crayons! Although sometimes hard to do in most computer workshops, I do like to get them up and moving. I do try to break often so they can stretch and get their eyes away from the screen. If it is nice outside, I’ll encourage them to go outside with a partner and may give them assignment to discuss as they walk around the building. Not all but most of these happen throughout the day. It is for their sake/sanity as much as mine!
I believe in the future I may try to find a way to pre-assess learning styles so they are more aware of their own and how to be successful during the day. This might entail a creative opener that highlights these somehow. Then encourage them to delve into their learning style as we progress and let them share their results a couple of times during the day. This could be quite fun! For example, have someone explain their website plan by drawing it on the board. For someone else, they might have us walk through a topic by having us do something hands on. For yet someone else, they might have us break up into groups and share what we have learned. And yet another person might show us some resources they found to support a topic. This could truly be a two way street in terms of teaching and assessing where they are in the learning process.
This is a series of articles on how and which technologies you might use to support the eight individual intelligences as defined in Dr. Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Here is a sequential outline of the articles:
• Word Smart (linguistic intelligence)
• Number Smart (logical-mathematical intelligence)
• Picture Smart (spatial intelligence)
• Body Smart (kinesthetic intelligence)
• Music Smart (musical intelligence)
• People Smart (interpersonal intelligence)
• Self Smart (intrapersonal intelligence)
• Nature Smart (naturalistic intelligence)
Your comments, thoughts and ideas are encouraged! Thank you – Jason
Dr. Joel Merenstein, M.D. wrote a piece titled “Does Adult Learning Theory Apply to Children“.
My summation of his article is that we need to focus on two primary goals when working with our students: Learning comes from 1) teaching others and/or 2) practice by doing.
As I think about this, this may very well work for those with learning styles that support these two applications but what about the interpersonal student. The one who likes to read and think – process the information. I believe these two applications are good in terms more of assessment than learning. These are good ways to find out if the student knows what they have learned as it give us a window into their world. Now granted, in his profession of teaching medical students, this is probably more important than, for example, a literature student. I just don’t want to lose site that every student is unique and will learn and show their learning differently.
What is nature smart?
This intelligence has to do with relating to one’s natural surroundings.
What are some personality qualities of nature smart people?
Naturalists may be good at growing things, have an instinctive ability with animals, know the outdoors and what it takes to survive in the elements and may also have an acute understanding of weather and weather patterns.
What are some activities and technologies that would help nature smart people in a learning environment?
iLife – Give the nature smart person a laptop with the iLife Suite and they will take your project or lesson to the next level with the ability to express themselves outdoors with pictures (iPhoto), movies (iMovie), podcasts (GarageBand), or blogging (iWeb). Give them a cause to fight for and let them design a project that incorporates the teachings. Nature smart people are usually very passionate about their beliefs and will go the extra mile given the tools.
Is there a cause you support that you could incorporate into your lessons? Can you work outside or have your students do extra projects where they can engage with nature? Share your ideas….
What is self smart?
This intelligence focuses on the individual and their ability to be self-reflective.
Permission to use for educational purposes. © 1999 Fablevision
What are some personality qualities of self smart people?
Intrapersonal people are usually independent, deep thinkers and are skillful at being able to detect ones own feelings and predict reactions to those.
What are some activities and technologies that would help self smart people in a learning environment?
Web Resources – Providing web resources gives people with this intelligence the opportunity to discover and learn on their own. You might provide these resources by providing links using a social bookmarking site like Diigo or by building a website using Google Sites or another website builder. To get them started, you may want to give them skills in Information Literacy and how to find resources effectively. You may also use tools such as Google Custom Search Engine to refine their results to websites you know are valuable to the instruction.
Databases – Databases such as Nettreker can provide self smart individuals a great tool to research and find information on their own. There are also free directories that are similar but don’t necessarily have the education component. You might look at Google Directory, Thinkfinity, Yahoo Directory or even Wikipedia.
Blogging/Podcasting – Giving students the tools to think about topics and express themselves in this manner provides them a way to communicate with the instructor and others in the learning environment. Tools such as Blogger or Edublogs are a good way to get started with blogging. You may also use Garageband or Audacity to get started in podcasting.
It is sometimes difficult to know where a self smart person is at in instruction. They are sometimes quite and introverted. What do you do to assess whether or not a self smart individual is “getting it” or not? Share your ideas…