Instructional Scaffolding, anyone?

Opening an email from De La Salle had been a habit lately. Waiting for some announcements such as suspension of classes, new schedules of courses and dates of online enrollment, friendly reminders to return overdue books borrowed from The Learning Commons, and of course, LOTS of invitations to attend lectures, workshops and seminars.

Last week is no different. We were invited to attend a seminar-workshop by Dr. Josefina Goodwin, a Science Teacher at the MCS and a Science Instructional Coach at Shelby County Schools, Memphis, Tennessee. The invitation reads:

Do you find that you waive scaffolding a lesson because it seems like a lot of work to do? As teachers, we already have a lot on our plates, so scaffolding may not be at the top of our list. But if you don’t scaffold a lesson, then it’s like teaching a child to ride his bike without the training wheels on. It’s important that we teachers don’t just say “I would like you to study chapters 1 and 2.” We have to give our students the tools to know what to do and how to do it.

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In this session, you will be able to:

  • Describe scaffolding and how it is used in instruction .
  • Look at the different scaffolding strategies and what they look like in science.
  • Visit the Gradual Release of Responsibility Model and define its components.
  • Plan for instruction within the framework of the Gradual Release of Responsibility Model
  • Look at several examples of C-E-R (Claim, Evidence, and Reasoning)  as applied in different areas of science.
  • Utilize new tools and strategies for instruction

This kind of invitation makes you really want to listen to the lecture and learn as much as you can. Dr. Goodwin explained well the two types of scaffolding strategies, GRR and CER, and even gave numerous activities demonstrating how to use the said strategies. Though the discussion focused more on its applications to science, teachers from all subject areas may adopt scaffolding technique to actively engage students to think critically, work independently, and reason out in a very logical manner.

In this age where learners are dependent on the internet (hello Google!) to supply a quick information when it is needed, scaffolding as a strategy would train students to look for evidences and give valid arguments whenever a conclusion or claim will be arrived at. As teachers’ roles are shifting from being mere authorities to facilitators in the classrooms, it would be best to use scaffolding in a wide repertoire of methods where we expect students to take responsibility for their own learning.

How I wish I could share everything that were learned from the seminar but hey, the net offers a lot of articles dealing with this pedagogy. We are free to search activities, materials, sample plans, discussions and forums about instructional scaffolding. Happy surfing!

Here are our pictures during and after the workshop.

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Preparations for a successful Technology Integration Seminar

This week is all about preparing ourselves to conduct a free seminar here at De La Salle University next month. It is a one-day activity to showcase and share some of the inputs learned from the class. NOW, what’s there to reflect on?

I’ve been thinking about three most important indicators towards successfully conducting a seminar. First things first is PLANNING. The basic elements like logistics, date, venue, participants and committees have to be agreed upon and established from the very beginning. Enter Sir Mike and Madam Evelyn. Some individuals from the group should stand up and act as leaders.  And they accepted the challenge in good faith. All aspects of the event were covered from registration to food to evaluation. Who will be the master of ceremonies? Who will be facilitators? Thus, chairpersons and members of some working committees were distributed, some were assigned, while the “experts” on technology-related topics were the lecturers. In other words, the HUMAN aspect, the manpower, of conducting a seminar has to be taken into consideration before anything else.

Next stop is PRIORITY. What should be on top of the list? What is of urgent concern that needs immediate attention? Everyone agrees that letters of approval, communication letters, permits, invitation letters and the like have to be written and prepared carefully before the “plane takes off”. This is a task delegated to those who are gifted with words. Yes, there are lots of them in the class. One really should be grateful that every one in an organization has its role to play and talent to contribute. And it’s also about willingness to accept a job the leader assigned a member to do. Nevertheless, if there is a need to say NO, then do so in a polite and apologetic manner.  Respect begets respect. Fortunately, the class understands each other so well.

Lastly is PARTICIPATION. Volunteer, cooperate and be visible all throughout each stage of the activity. Initial plans have to be shared, future constraints have to deliberated upon, and helpful ideas have to be voiced out to ensure success in any endeavor. Just like the ants who help each other build a nest and bring in food for the colony, the group would succeed if each one offers a helping hand and be there in every step of the way. The class as ONE was resolved to do the best it can to conduct this challenging endeavor.

Feeling very positive, we expect to have a successful seminar to offer to our colleagues in the basic education department.18893328_1765506610143629_7946789660343532892_n.jpg

-=YouTube videos=- and more…

After a 10-hour trip back home from study, who wouldn’t want to take a nap, eat, relax and enjoy a movie? As a movie buff myself, there are plenty of titles to choose from. From the 20 VCDs I had way back in ’99 to a hundred DVD collections which started in 2001 and 3,000+ high-definition videos stored in terabytes of hard disks, one might ask: “What else is there for you to see?” The answer: MAKE inspirational and INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEOS!

Before a brain-wrecking quiz in Complex Analysis yesterday, this week is a show-off on some of the class outputs ranging from video clips, MTV-like videos, school AVPs and advertisements. As neophytes with no formal training on script writing, music scoring and directing, the outcomes border on acceptable to likeable ones. Just the experience of coming up with some ideas on how to CREATE rather than just adopt what are available on the net IS the ACTUAL challenge and motivation before the actual tasks of shooting, editing and mixing sounds. The rewards do not compare, however, to the efforts put into it when fellow educators in the class appreciate what you have done and even give constructive recommendations for the improvement of the output.

The YouTube site is a great avenue to post the finish products. The website, which was activated on February 14, 2005, offers free uploading of clips. Specifically designed as a “general” video-sharing platform where any user can share and view its contents, the site is now widely used by teachers to explain particular lessons in history, science, math or in any subject. Smart TVs connected to the site can stream tons of animated shows for kindergarten kids exposing them to rhymes, songs and TV shows, while for children and teens, educational videos abound to help them with their assignments and clarify some concepts taught in school. Adults watch do-it-yourself YouTube clips to help them with some projects at home or in the office. Everything that is done through this site is based on its adherence to four values, namely: freedom of expression, freedom of information, freedom of opportunity and freedom to belong (https://www.youtube.com/yt/about/). In short, the decision, whether to share or simply watch, depends on the user. And with the guidance and positive nudge coming from the teachers, students will be able to maximize the use of the tube.

Without much further ado then, here are two of the videos presented in the class plus another one I made for the school two years ago. Links to the other videos will be posted as soon as they are available. Give your comments and enjoy watching!

MTV – Focus on MATH with the Math Chorale group

AVP – Bulacan State U courtesy of Sir Paul Malang

PLUS, another AVP of PNU North Luzon with help from Abcede…

Are you a KNOWLEDGE CHANNEL kid?

My answer would be NO but SORT of. I said “sort of since I also grew up watching cartoons (Batibot, Sesame Street, Super Friends and Scooby Doo, anyone?) and live action black-and-white shows such as Spider Man and Incredible Hulk. Back then, there are few educational shows and only a handful of TVs in the neighborhood. IN contrast, my kids would say, “We are YouTube kids!” and we’re using a smart TV or an android phone and a slow-to-moderate connection to the internet.  See how times have changed for this new generation?

Going back, aside from looking into the 21st century skills, 4Cs and all, one particular study shared to us was on the effect of Knowledge Channel (KC) videos on the achievement of students. From Luzon and Mindanao, students were grouped into three learning environments: passive, active and lecture. (Let us not use the word TRADITIONAL, okay?) The passive groups were shown KC videos with no intervention, active classes were shown the same videos with teachers facilitating and processing, while students in the lecture groups were given the same lessons on the videos but did not watch any KC videos. As expected, students in the active groups with a very large effect became significantly better in performance than those in the other groups.

Reflecting on the data and findings shown, one might wonder about how mentors in this century are teaching the millenials. In a week, do we allow our students to watch clips then process what were shown? Or are we guilty of letting our students JUST watch videos, clips or films BY THEMSELVES only if we are in a meeting or have to be away from our class?

Studies have shown (e.g. Harwood & McMahon, Seels et al., and Zhang, Zhou, Briggs & Nunamaker) that videos were effective to support, rather than to replace, the classroom teacher. Interest, motivation, attitudes can be improved with the help of educational shows. Interactivity of the said shows is a key factor. Are the students made to either just passively watch or are they given time to answer, reflect and discuss? If some reinforcements (such as feedback and activities) can be done right away, then the greater is the chance for better comprehension and retention of what were learned.

But then again, there are problems faced daily by a teacher wishing to integrate videos in his/her strategies, especially for non-KC-supported schools. One is the availability of TELEVISION or projector. Who will buy the needed basic gadget: the teacher, the school, or the parents? Another would be the availability of educational videos suited to the topics. Although a lot would argue that the net offers a lot of downloadable clips; just have the patience and technical know-how to save, edit and play these clips. Techie teachers can even record their own videos. But aside from the needed resources, the bulk of EXTRA works on the shoulder of many educators hinders them to have the much needed TIME to do such things. Juggling a teacher’s time with family, church or community duties, school responsibilities and personal space requires some MAGIC and careful planning. But the key word always is PRIORITIZE. What should be done first, then next and next and next, until the last task can be done. Teachers, nevertheless, have to always bear in mind that the education of a child largely depends on what kind of learning environment we expose them to.

“Or are we guilty of letting our students JUST watch videos, clips or films BY THEMSELVES…”

So the next time that we use videos in our class, reflect on how best to enhance students’ learning by maximizing whatever available materials we have, Knowledge Channel TV or any of its counterparts.

Knowledge Channel Official Site: http://www.konline.ph

Research article link: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283338019_Effects_of_Knowledge_Channel_Videos_on_the_Achievement_of_Students_in_Various_Learning_Environments

easy. easier. easiest… with Ma’am Celine

Who would have thought that giving assignments in mathematics can be done using the internet at the comfort of your home? Or that the popular Microsoft Word can do a lot of things to ease up the travails of a researcher?

These and more were shared by Dr. Celine Sarmiento through her dissertation “Online Homework in Statistics: Strengthening Engagement Towards Improved Performance“. Most of us share the same sentiments that whenever we give assignments, students tend to compare to, or worst blindly copy, the works of their peers. Aside from that, some students do not appreciate the values of doing a take-home task, that is, it is supposed to reinforce the lessons learned in the classroom and to further explore the possibilities of self-learning and increase intrinsic motivation to study more.

Welcome to MyOpenMath.com! This site allows the teacher to post assignments using different types of items (e.g. multiple choice types, open-ended questions, graphing activities, etc.). Each student can log in to their individual accounts and would be given different set of questions, unique from his or her classmates. Also, immediate feedback is given allowing a learner to work through a given item again and again and again until a correct answer can be given during a predetermined number of days. Results are recorded in an online database and the teacher need not worry about missing someone’s homework. Now, that’s how technology makes a mentor’s life EASY! How to do it was elaborated by Ma’am Celine together with the results of her study, mostly, significantly favorable.

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A hands-on training was also done showing us the actual use of STYLES on the Home tab of MS Word (e.g. Heading 1, Heading 2, Normal). It is one thing to use Word in constructing letters or test papers but it is of another level when Word is used purposively to write a disseration or a research article. With this training, the format for all chapters, sub-headings and body will be consistent all throughtout the paper. Also, there is no need to encode the parts of the paper with the page numbers manually when making the table of contents. WORD will do it for YOU!

“…technology, when utilized to its maximum potential, can make an educator’s or a researcher’s job EASIER…”

There’s more… When citations are to be used while encoding a research paper, insert right away the proper author/s, book or article title, year of publication and other needed info. Word will list all the references you used in APA, MLA, Chicago or IEEE formats! Again, there’s no need to manually type the references and there will be no worry that a certain author was not included in the list. With just a few clicks, WORD will generate the reference list for YOU!

Learning all of these in class made me reflect about how technology, when utilized to its maximum potential, can make an educator’s or a researcher’s job EASIER… and with lots of practice, tasks can be done in the EASIEST way.

Thanks Ma’am Celine and may your tribe increase!

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JUST the way you ARE…

Coming from a wedding in Bacolod City this week, I am inspired by a Bruno Mars‘ hit to continue loving someone, friends, parents, kids or spouse, just the way he/she is. Many romantics would agree that this is what we expect from our partners: to be loved no matter how flawed we might be.

But come to think about it fellow educators in terms of integrating technology. Have we come to a point where we stopped learning and just use the same versions of our teaching aids developed a decade ago? Do we still LOVE using the overhead projector, phased out we’ve forgotten when, rather than adapt to what are current and updated available tools? Do we prefer our students to write their essays in a “formal theme” rather than posting them on blogs, wikis or similar platforms?

If our answer is YES, then the SAMR Model might be the perfect guide for us. For newbies, this model was developed by Dr. Ruben R. Puentedura and follows a transition for technological adoption in education which most educators follow when first introducing technology to their students. S is for SUBSTITUTION  in which technology acts as a direct tool to substitute traditional tools and activities but with no functional change such as writing an essay about patterns in nature using a word processor or presenting the solution of a problem using a presentation software.  A is AUGMENTATION is similar to the previous stage but with a functional improvement such as using the spell- and grammar-check functions of the software to improve the essays and presentations. M, which is MODIFICATION, comes in when technology allows for significant task redesign. For instance, essays can be written using Google docs fostering student collaboration and immediate feedback while slides can contain a combination of audio, video and text for a more powerful presentation. R or REDEFINITION allows technology for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable. Traditional educational tasks and goals are now completely replaced through the incorporation of technology in the classroom. For instance, teachers and students alike can have access to all essays and slides in real time through online learning systems with the ability to give quick response and constructive assessment. Apps, blogs and Web sites can be developed as platforms for this stage.

“… this (SAMR) model … follows a transition for technological adoption in education which most educators follow when first introducing technology to their students.”

To purposefully use the SAMR model, teachers have to see to it that all students are authentically, and actively engaged in the learning process all of the time, including the use of technology. Also, teachers should be actively aware of what all students are doing, and interacting with students as they work; responding to any technical challenge they may face. Also, learning activities are “remixed” and designed in ways that would not be possible to accomplish without technology. Focus is on the creating, evaluating, and analyzing process and products. Finally, as 21st century students, they are expected to work inter-dependently, clearly focused on achieving joint expectations, taking the initiative to innovate on assignment.

To create tasks that move from enhancement (SA) to transformation (MR), teachers should be technologically capacitated to efficiently use the new alternative digital resources, platforms and tools in the teaching-learning process. It would be useful to ask questions such as “What benefits will my students and I gain from using technology?”, “Am I comfortable in using the technological tools?” and “What appropriate pedagogy would best be applied for the students to learn?” With these in mind, remember that students have to be granted also access to technology so that they can analyze and evaluate their own work, and their classmates’, as well as other information and sources online.

At this point, a lot of teachers may be overwhelmed by what the model wants us to do. But the key word here is GRADUALLY. Slowly rewrite lesson plans and curriculum, based around technology’s inclusion and integration in the classroom. Develop new ideas that are applicable one at a time by contextualizing and improvising previously-made activities. Focus on how the students could interact, initiate and actively engaged as classroom tasks are technologically redefined. Getting to the REDEFINITION stage doesn’t have to be very rigorous and overwhelming.

In closing, Dr. Puentedura has this to say: “For teachers just starting out with educational technology, the task at hand can sometimes seem daunting. Even though tools such as the SAMR model can help, the plethora of choices available can prove paralyzing, frequently resulting in ongoing substitutive uses of the technology that block, rather than enable, more ambitious transformative goals.”

References:

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/videos/ruben-puentedura-on-applying-the-samr-model

https://trailblazersoftecheducation.wikispaces.com/Ruben+Puentedura

Also, you may want to watch these YouTube videos:

Embracing Technology in this Digital Age

ADMIT IT. Aside from our wallets or coin purse, we usually go out with our cellphones with us. Seldom in our day that we don’t check our Facebook page or FB messenger for the latest news or updates from our friends and the world around us. This is the digital age! We are living in it, we are part of it; whether we like it or else…

WHAT IF… all teachers carry the technology with them inside their own classrooms? Will it make a difference on how their students learn? Probably yes, probably not. The answer still lies on the “teachers” having to do techie thingies in preparing and delivering their lessons. But with this premise, technology has to be accepted first.

The Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) by Fred Davis had two basic assumptions on this matter: perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use. IF teachers can work more quickly, increase their job performance and productivity, and easily mentor students using technology, then they will adopt the use computers, projectors and gadgets in their classes. But added to this, the technology at their disposal SHOULD be easy to learn, use and remember, easy to become skillful at, controllable, and clear and understandable. However, Davis concludes that there is no absolute measure to assess ease of use or usefulness but user perceptions of any constraints may vary with time and experience for any given application.

“Technology has to be accepted first…”

From my previous post, one reader commented that it has to be “to teach with tech“. Every teacher has to learn how to use computers not just to accomplish tons of paper works like forms and records but to actually use them in their respective classrooms. But then again, as the TAM points out, if technology is too difficult to learn and its benefits are not observable, then others would still refuse it. Anyway, they have survived before…

Embracing technology then is a matter of personal decision. The choice is OURS to make.

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