Sunday 16 December 2012

Self Regulated Learning-What is it?

It seems that one of the buzzes around the province these days  is around "self regulated learning".  I have been fascinated listening to the conversations and though I have heard speakers talk about it, and have read some of Shanker's work, I never seem to quite get the whole picture.

This week, I had the opportunity to talk with a professor, (Dr. Nancy Perry from UBC)  whose area of expertise is Self Regulated Learning.  She has a very straight forward approach that I could absolutely understand!  She prepared a handout that is adapted from an article she wrote in The Reading Teacher.  This is her summary:  

Self-regulated learners are:

1.  Metacognitive - they are aware of their strengths and weaknesses as a learner, they are aware of the task demands, and they are aware of strategies that they can use to solve problems and cope with difficult tasks.
2.  Motivated for learning - they engage in learning, they focus on deep understanding and personal progress, they are willing to try new challenges, they persist and they view errors as an opportunity to learn.
3.  Strategic - they have a repertoire of strategies, and they know when to use them.

Wow!  This is great.  Much of this is what we are working on in Through a Different Lens ... without knowing it!  We are looking at helping students become more confident learners... how?  through understanding their strengths, through becoming motivated and engaged, and through thinking about how to apply what they know to different academic and social tasks.  There are many blogs on our Different Lens blog that illustrate teachers using strategies to help kids become more aware.

Dr. Nancy Perry goes on to say that self-regulated learning occurs in classrooms where:

1.  Students have a lot of autonomy - choices, control over challenges, opportunities to collaborate and responsibility for evaluating their own work.  
2.  Teachers provide instrumental support - through establishing routines and consistent participation structures, where they teach and model learning and problem solving, where they guide students thinking and performing, and where they guide student choices, provide information, feedback and encouragement, and where they talk about learning and self regulated learning
3.  Teachers engage in non-threatening evaluation practices - where evaluation is on-going and embedded, where it is a process not just a product, where it focuses on personal progress, and where it encourages learners to participate in the evaluation.  

Again... I see so much of what we are trying to do embedded in her words.  Giving students choice and opportunities to work with others, providing support and modelling learning, and using alternate ways to evaluate progress. 

by Judith King

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Sticky Notes + Peer Assessment = Engagement

As a teacher of writing, I am always looking for ways to encourage students to a) get excited about writing b) develop the skills to self and peer assess.  Luckily, I am quite able to steal other people's ideas and adapt them to make them my own. Recently, I used an approach that I learned from Sheila Graham, a literacy helping teacher (recently retired) from our neighours, SD #23.  In this lesson, students are given a bare-bones paragraph, in this case based on a teacher ripping his pants in class. In small groups, students re-write the paragraph focusing on building on the "idea", adding descriptive details, developing the plot, assigning names and adding to the setting, all to create a more engaging, interesting paragraph.  As much as I might think this idea is madly exciting, this is not always so much the case for the kids. Here is where the sticky notes come in! Students are each given 5 small sticky notes (one for each group). Once the paragraphs are complete,  groups are rotated to another desk grouping, leaving their newly-written paragraph behind. Each group reads the work of each of the other groups as they rotate around the room. On the sticky notes, students are to write some form of positive "I liked the name you chose for the teacher", "Your story was funny!", "You described his pants well."  

What I noticed as students went from station to station is a) they were really engaged in the reading of each other's work  and b) they could not wait to get back to their station to read what their peers had written. 

There was some risk involved in this lesson. What if the students didn't write anything? What if they couldn't find anything positive to say? What if the group wrote something inappropriate?  None of this turned out to be problem, but these questions did cause me pause at the start. 

All in all, a worthwhile activity.  I think next time, now that students know from the start what it looks like, the engagement might be even better! 

This post is courtesy of Andrea Devito. 

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Whiteboards in Spanish (Spanish 10)

Today we worked on using questions in conversation by working in pairs on the whiteboards. Each pair made a simple sentence in Spanish, like "I am going to go to the park. " "Voy a ir al parque." Then students rotated around the class making a new question on each board. Where, at what time, with whom etc. The students were also practicing IR+A+Infinitive to make the future. The students had a hard time switching between you in the question and I in the answer.

After the activity I asked the students if they liked the activity. All of them like the movement in the activity and being able to "think" with a partner. Some of the students said they learned a lot. I noticed that the students were engaged and I could  see where they were having trouble. I had also asked the strong students to help the weaker students and not do all the work themselves. They were good teachers!

Post courtesy of Anita Mosher

Monday 3 December 2012

I want more cell phones (Law 12)

Yep...that's right...I said it...and am writing it.  I love cell phones.  I really love smart phones.

Was trying to teach some basic legal terms - tired of the usual.  Broke the students into groups of 3 making sure each had a phone that could take a photo.  Not hard, as almost everyone had one.

Then, each group randomly got a term from the text - and then had to figure out how to teach it.

Some emailed me photos, one put two videos on u-tube - a few found photos online and sent them to me.

I then put up the photos/videos/links supplied to me onto the projector and each group gave a definition and an example for their term (templated note sheet had gone out before this).

The results weren't perfect - but it was a first - and it worked far faster than I had imagined.  Less than 20 minutes was needed for all of the groups to do their work and when I saw the images from the group working at constructive and direct discrimination I came to the conclusion that computer labs will soon be things of the past.

Don't give me computer labs, give me cell phones.

Post courtesy of Dave Searcy.