The Electric Educator: 5 Things to try in 2010

Thursday, December 31, 2009

5 Things to try in 2010

Each year I make goals for myself and my family. Even my 18 month old daughter has goals (mainly saying please and thank you and picking up her toys!). Here are my teaching goals for 2010:

1. Improve reverse-instructional model.
I am experimenting with reverse-instruction in my Anatomy & Physiology class. It all started when I began putting together video podcasts for some of my labs last year. I heard the term "reverse instruction" for the first time when I read this article in T.H.E. Journal. In a "normal" classroom, teachers give information (usually in the form of a lecture) during face-to-face class time and then assign homework which provides students an opportunity to practice what they learned in class. The problem is that most of the time, students don't catch everything the first time. They go home, try the homework, get frustrated because they can't figure it out and give up or do lousy work. Reverse instruction switches everything around. Face-to-face class time is spent working on problems and applications and homework is devoted to obtaining information (usually through text-book reading, podcast, or recorded lectures).

Video and audio Podcast are really nice, but the take a tremendous amount of time to produce. The development of Google Docs has made reverse instruction even easier as PowerPoint presentations can be quickly uploaded and shared with the world. I simply upload my PowerPoint lectures to Google Docs and embedded the presentations in my schools Wiki. I have also started to embed related YouTube videos into my presentations to add interest and depth to the information in the slides. I provided my students with an outline of the lecture which they complete as they view the slides.

My goal for this semester is to add challenging critical thinking questions to the end of each of my lectures. These questions will be the basis for our classroom discussion the following day.

Interested in learning more about reverse instruction? Here are some helpful resources:
2. Continue to improve the Wii interactive whiteboard for class use.If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I frequently post about my Wii interactive whiteboard. Over the past year and a half I have been improving my setup and converting other teachers at my school. I now have two others using the Wii IWB! I will be presenting on this topic at the 2010 MACUL conference in Grand Rapids.

My primary goals in improving the "wiiboard" are simplifying and standardizing the setup procedures and improving the student use experience. Additionally, I am trying to build a list of classroom activities that work well with this technology. I have been and will continue to test and review commercial products related to the wiiboard and will post my thoughts here in the future.

Interested in setting up your own wiiboard? Here are some additional resources:
3. Improve assessments to require more critical thinking and problem solving.I really meant what I wrote in my previous post on "Google Proof Questioning." I'm convinced more than ever that success in the future will depend not on what information you know, but what creative, innovative, and original things you can do with the information you can obtain. I have started to assign more open ended, critical thinking activities in my classes. I want to continue that trend and begin to refine and perfect these assignments. I'm am trying to distill these critical thinking assignments to their core to better understand their impact and effectiveness.

A few weeks ago I created a
survey for teachers regarding their assessment practices. The surprising trend that has emerged is that only 35% of teachers believe that their assessments require critical thinking of their students. This needs to change. More on the results of my survey in a later post!
Interested in improving your own assessments? Check out these resources
4. Increase the number of assignments that require collaborative and creative work.Part of critical thinking is learning how to work with others to solve complex problems. This is a core corporate philosophy at Google and one of the driving forces behind their products. Some educators assume that collaboration is the new word for group project. Not so! Collaborative efforts can be with someone in the same class, someone at a different school, in a different country, or with a different perspective. Technology has broken down physical barriers and allows much greater collaboration between students everywhere. I'll be honest, I haven't explored this aspect of teaching very much. I have done in class collaboration, but it really didn't amount to much more than a group project. One of my goals for this year is to seek out opportunities for true collaboration for my students. If you're interested, contact me!
Ready to learn more about collaboration? Check out these resources:
5. Encourage and challenge the teaching staff around me by modeling effective uses of technology.
I am one of the youngest teachers on staff at my school. I have a great opportunity to model new and exciting ways of teaching. My administrators are very supportive of my ideas and give me the flexibility that I need to try them out. This year I have been leading monthly tech-training sessions on a variety of tools such as Wikis, Google Docs, and advanced Google search. These sessions have been well received by the staff however I haven't seen a whole lot of classroom implementation occurring yet. I've talked to a few teachers and they have told me that coming up with assignments that utilize wikis, blogs, or Google Docs is challenging. My hope is that I can continue to encourage and challenge them to try new things to push their students toward deeper understanding and mastery.
Ready to lead? Here are my favorite spots for inspiration, advice, and good ideas:
          These are my goals for the year. I'll let you know how it goes!

          1 comment:

          1. On reverse instruction: I've tried a bit of this myself and as in the university study most students don't watch the videos in a timely fashion and simply watch the night before a test. In order to solve this in the future I've decided to create guided notes pages that they fill in or online questions that answer while watching so that I can more easily hold them accountable.

            As a physics teacher, I really like having them watch lecture as homework so we can spend more class time on problem solving strategies and labs.


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