Last week I was given the task to Learn Something New!! I was really excited about the idea although I do have about a million things going on at the moment in my life, so it was tricky to try and fit something else in. My process for deciding on what I wanted to do was, obviously pick something I was interested in, but also try and make it fit within whats already going on. I am a first time home owner YAY! and I am knee deep in home renos. Since this was my first time doing anything like this and since I really enjoy it, I decided I would document learning how to remove carpet and re-paint the interior of a house.
This was an excellent learning experience and the process of documenting it really got me to slow down and think about what I was doing. I also feel like I was able to really retain what I was learning. I now feel like most times I give my students a challenging project or assignment they probably rush through it, find the easiest solution and not really take any of it in. If I get them to slow down and really think about what they are doing they might retain more. I also think its important to present challenging material to my students in a way that incorporates things they are interested in. There definitely was a point along the way that I wanted to quit…and maybe cry haha, but I didn’t because I wanted to see a conclusion to what I had finished. I was very surprised at how challenging it was and I really have a new respect for people who do that kind of work every day. When our students run into road blocks and experience frustration they might be more inclined to keep going and push through it instead of giving up. Pushing through and completing something that challenges you really is such a huge reward and I want my students to feel a real sense of accomplishment with what they are learning.
When I was researching different WebQuests on Baking and Pastries, I came across a great one on making the perfect pie pastry. I teach a unit on Quick Breads and though using a WebQuest would be a great idea when teaching my students the break down of a perfect Biscuit. Starting off I would tell them about the schools Pastry Bake Off competition coming up. The theme this year is Biscuits. The students are to work individually or in group of 2 to create their own perfect Biscuit to enter in the competition with. Seeing that this is a new unit to the students they will have to do some research and complete a few assignments on identifying the different fats involved in making Biscuits, the relationship between the flour and the liquid in the recipe as well as the function of the chemical leavenors. Understanding your ingredients and the balance of components is the first step in making the perfect Biscuit. There will be 3 assignments to complete before moving into the lab to experiment with our recipes. The information for the assignments will be covered in the Pastry Arts text book, Chapter 4 pages 112-156. Also I have given the students 3 links to use as research information. One talks about the role of the different Fats, the other breaks down the role of Flour and its Gluten property and the last link explains Chemical leavenors, and the roll leavening plays in our end product. I have also given them a video to watch demonstrating how to make Biscuits. Once the students have a good grasp on the process and the ingredients involved they are ready to start applying that knowledge in a hands on environment.
When the students get into the Lab they are to use the same recipe for a basic Biscuit posted in the WebQuest. This way they all have the same footing to go off of. This way the students can narrow down any problems they have to either the procedure and mixing method or possibly a measurement error. With a wide list of options listed in this link, they then can choose whatever flavor of biscuit they would like to create.
I think this WebQuest project would work really great in my class. There is so many tools, ingredients and methods involved with baking it can seem very overwhelming to retain it all. This process gets them to research the information on their own and focus on the most important information. They can take what they have learnt and apply it right away. It also personalizes it because they are in control of whatever type of Biscuit they want to make and there is a bit of added pressure with the incorporation of a light competition element.
As a teacher I am a huge fan of the Khan Academy Videos and was pleasantly surprised when I came across a great Video on Flipping the classroom. This idea seemed very interesting to me, it’s not something I am currently doing and I decided to research further to see what other benefits this method might offer. I came into my teaching position with the material already developed. A lot of it is a lecture following a power point that tends to drag on and I feel like I loose a few of my students. I am desperate for new ways to keep them engaged and still teach all of the required material. One thing that intrigued me in an article I read, was that using this style of learning was inexpensive and didn’t involve heavy technology. I really like that this method takes some of the pressure off of the teacher, freeing up some of their time and allowing more opportunity to actively interact with students. A large portion of my class is spent in the lab learning Pastries in a hands on way. Most of my material has to be lectured in class before the students are able to get into the kitchen and work. I enjoy this method as an option because it frees up my lecture time and allows for more hands on interaction.
Homework is something that has been around since the beginning and will be around forever. This learning style doesn’t get ride of that format it just changes it slightly so that students benefit more from a new style of homework. For example, maybe you put together a video lecture and use your class time to do something a bit more engaging relating to the lecture. For homework, the students are to watch the video lecture after class, at whatever time is most convenient to them, before the next class. We all know that the information we lecture about is important but because people have different learning styles most information can come across as overwhelming and is lost along the way. This way students can watch in a comfortable environment, at their own pace and rewind as much as they need to get all the important information. Now that the teacher doesn’t have to spend an entire class lecturing material, it frees up their time to work along with the students helping develop synthases and explore the application of what they are learning. Students are receiving direct input from the teacher as they go and are able to make sense of a bigger picture. Working along side your students also helps you to identify stumbling blocks and correct them as they go.
Lets stop spending countless unpaid hours building up and breaking down course material, trying to make sense of everything and find its most relevant delivery. Take a step back as a leader, still be organized and have a plan, but let the material and the students explore each other and make new discoveries in a collaborated learning environment.
Based on my readings from article #1 and article #2, when trying to promote student centered approaches in your classroom you really need to think about your classroom set up as well as your role as a teacher and leader.
To start discard that old school classroom of rows on rows with the teacher lecturing in the font. Set your class up in a way that promotes student interaction and discussion. Take a step back as a leader and become a co-learner with your students. You can still guide your students in discussions by presenting questions along the way. Make sure those questions are open ended, this will help promote independent thinking and reflection. Although it may require a bit of research and flexibility it is important to use your students passions and interest to help engage them and promote learning.
Include your students in your assessment process. Sit down with each student individually and go over where they are at. You can even ask them first where they think they are at before you tell them where they really are. If where they think they are at is very far from where they are, it shows you as a teacher that they may not be fully understanding there personal goals or the course goals. By showing them how you are assessing them it gives them a direction to move in.
Get your students to document their personal goals. This way they feel successful as they move along reaching each goal. It also gives you a better understanding on what your outcomes and goals you should be in the class, and how you direct each individual. Its very important that students understand that everyone is different and has different goals. Some students goals might be out of reach for others so setting them up with similar goals automatically sets up a student for failure.