Muddling through the blogosphere

October 15, 2008
by blogwalker

ILC Session 1 – Learning in a Digital Age: The Differentiators

I first heard Cheryl Lemke, from the Metiri Group, three years ago at a CUE conference. Every conference since, I’ve looked for her name in the program. So here I am at the ILC conference in San Jose, waiting for Cheryl to start her session – already knowing I’ll be leaving the kinds of research gems I can use for future grant writing ventures, such as her recently released paper on multimodal writing.

Her opening question: what are the 2st Century tools that serve 21st century learning? The research shows that it’s not enough to just focus on the cognitive – we have to focus on the social/emotional perspective of learning. Fact: adolescents are now learning 24/7 via mass collaborations. But are we preparing our students to come into venues: peers, home, distributed resources – to work effectively and ethically. It’s all about “learning with understanding.” We now know that it’s not just having the information, but how students take the information and tie it into a schema – which requires out being on board with them.

  • Sustained Discussion (Fred Newman) – Like the ball of yarn. Blog example = Meyer’s AP Government – Our Daily Show. How do we jump from just posting to sustained conversations. Having one’s name referenced (via a find) reveals threads = sustained conversation. But how do you get kids to go back and add substantive comments?
    • IES Practice Guide – Sustained discussion increases adolescent literacy, but not much in way of sustained discussions happening in typical classrooms.
  • Authenticity
    • Deep Learning (higher order thinking) – Example 1 – ASCEND, Oakland CA, in collaboration with George Lucas Foundation. Uses “expeditionary” learning. Students identify area of inquiry. Teachers tapping into student interests.
      Example 2 – Actionable Algebra (Oklahoma high school teacher)- Teacher poses question that students investigate: for example, what kind of cell phone plan would be best for your family? Students investigate and then turn findings into algebraic formulas. She has podcasts available for students, such as quadratic equations.
      Example 3 – WISE – out of Berkeley. Inquiry science – free! Check out TELS Project or Deformed Frogs (allows teams of students to sign in and saves their work).
    • Student construction of knowledge
    • Relevance beyond the classroom
  • Setting up for authentic learning units:
    • Determine what’s the topic (ie Ancient Greece)
    • Who cares about the topic? (travel agents)
    • Potential projects – Kids create historic tours of Greece
  • Make preconceptions visible – ie, What keeps a COKE cold? tinfoil or sweater? if you don’t deal with those, they’ll always serve as barriers. Software: Read 180 software: scaffolds prior knowledge, uses video to lay a foundation, and then builds reading, writing, and spelling off that.

Engagement matters! Even the US Dept of Ed realizes this fact.

Measuring levels of engagement – 5 levels:

  1. instrinsically motivated – kids tend to have learning goals
  2. tactical kids – also learn, but have extrinsic goals ($, get into Harvard)
  3. compliant
  4. withdrawn
  5. defient

Ways to engage kids:

  • link content to their interests
  • give them choice
  • enable collaborationBlogWalker › Edit — WordPress
  • ensure intellectual safety
  • differentiate
  • clearly outline expectations
  • assign relevant work
  • focus on effort, not intelligence
  • facilitate presentations

Visual learning:

Democratization of digital content – David Bolinsky via TED – cell biology and animation at Harvard.

Research behind visual learning: Mayer (UCSB) – Great graph on working memory. Shows that we need to worry about motivation in order to get information into students’ working memories. “Just to use text and sound is not to fully tap into learning.”

Great session! I’ll be back for Cheryl’s afternoon session.

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