On Sunday: ISTE 2011

Summary of Highlights and Great Events from ISTE 2011 on Sunday

One of the first things I would like to highlight is the keynote by Dr. John Medina. This was by far one of the best keynotes I have been to this year and I can’t wait to see what this man’s research turns up next. Be sure to check out the full keynote on Youtube. Also download his book Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School.

One thing that was not so awesome was my volunteer time. Not because I do not value the contribution I made as a volunteer but because I begrudged the time lost during the networking and connecting activities that were going on down below. Next year I hope to do something a little more engaging like helping with articles for the conference newspaper. Anything that keeps me meeting people.

Blogger's Cafe at ISTEAfter the keynote there was a great opening reception. Unfortunately the security staff directed people away from the students showcase in the Atrium. I snuck around the blockade and had a good half hour to see everything before too many more people arrived. After that I headed back into the melee to see if I could find some Oregonians who were not ISTE staff. Sadly – no one was to be found – at least not that I could get to – in the throngs of people. Next time I need to advocate with NCCE to have a meet-up or at least a booth set up with the other affiliates.


Teaching Myself: 21st Century Skills Collaborate

Teaching Myself: 21st Century Skills Collaborate

This series focuses on myself as an instructor, improving my methodologies and teaching skills. Each self-instruction article starts with a statement of instructional goal and a reference to the text that inspired the self-instruction effort.

Goal: Collaboration: Interact with diverse groups to achieve an objective while displaying flexibility and willingness to understand alternative points of view. Breaking Free from Myths About Teaching and Learning Chapter 5: Designing Tasks to Focus Student Work and Measure Mission-Driven Goals by Allison Zmuda.

Instructional Brain Storm: Students will interact within their own cohort of friends, family, and community but often struggle when it comes to diversifying their interactions. In order to introduce students to the benefits of widening their collaboration base I believe I would need to start slow giving simple goals and eventually build students towards developing broader networks and independent task development and completion. As this grows students would begin to share ideas and respond to other’s views as well as take on a growing shared responsibility. The other component includes the whole group decision-making process. That in its self might require extensive support.

Activity Idea: Designing my current unit, matter, I have incorporated mixed groups for various lab and research activities. To further push the level of collaborative responsibility I plan to teaching the gas and liquid laws as a research jigsaw.

The Activity: Each student group (4-5) is assigned a gas or liquid law/principle. They are required to find, review, and authenticate youtube videos on their law or principle, cross checking the facts with other resources. They then prepare a presentation for the rest of the class using the best youtube video and their own knowledge to clearly teach the rest of the class.

At first glances this seems like a multi-media version of each group reading their own section of the chapter. Digging deeper it shows students at least one other network they can connect to for learning, youtube, helps them understand the verification process, and increases their independence in exploring questions and building their curiosity.

Assessment: While group collaboration might be one facet of the assessment, their success in locating and presenting accurate information to their peers can authenticate students’ success in practicing collaboration.

Teaching Myself: Student Voice in a Science Lab

Image of a person writing in a notebook.This series focuses on myself as an instructor, improving my methodologies and teaching skills. Each self-instruction article starts with a statement of instructional goal and a reference to the text that inspired the self-instruction effort.

Goal: The purpose of classroom dialogue is to facilitate construction of knowledge and continued curiosity. Breaking Free from Myths About Teaching and Learning Chapter 6: Revisiting and Rethinking Teaching and Learning Myths by Allison Zmuda

Instructional Brain Storm: As an instructor hoping to promote this goal I need to look for ways to differentiate student experiences otherwise I still ignore their voice. Providing students an assignment with choice gives them an opportunity for expression and interaction with co-creating peers to better aid the building of knowledge. Sharing with each other, students expose themselves and their curiosity to new ideas.

Activity Idea: My students are currently learning about matter, the states of matter, phase change, etc. This is part of the state-required common curricular goals relating to conservation of matter and energy. At first coming up with a student directed activity stumped me but after consideration I realized a lab activity in which their express purpose was to determine the state of an indeterminate substance using their own resources would provide them the flexibility to explore and ask questions themselves while also targeting the standards. Many instructors have used this activity similarly over the years. Usually retaining greater directorial control than I plan.

The Activity: Students are given a bag of a difficult to identify state of matter substance (Water and Corn Starch mixed with food coloring potentially). They are then asked to determine what state of matter the content are in using their own resources. I might provide my struggling learners a guiding sheet but would really like to see how students do without a guide, relying on their own research in how to determine the state of a substance.

Assessment: Students write out their conclusions and explanation of those conclusions as their turn in. Instead of basing assessment on accuracy I plan to use a rubric that focuses on their scientific thinking.