Posts Tagged 'Focus'

Passion: Use it in Your in Teaching

I knew that I had to revise a course (Critical Thinking) that I was teaching. The course bored me. I realized that I was not excited about the content of the course in the form I had it last year and the students were not excited either. The course did not seem to fit together. I realized that I had nothing to “hang” the course around. So I’ve decided to “hang” it around passages from Don Quixote, my favorite novel. As I look at the novel more, I realize that I can cover all the course standards by using the book. Furthermore, the students will learn more since the ideas are in a context and the book uses humor to teach value thinking skills. Yes, I will still use the textbook but the text will be the jumping off point for reading the ideas in Don Quixote.

I was delighted to find that in Wiske’s Teaching for Understanding with Technology, she has as one aspect of a generative topic that the topic has to be “fascinating and compelling” for the teacher. She gives the example of an elementary teacher who uses bird names for the different parts of the writing process since she enjoys watching birds. Another instructor uses his passion for bridges as the overarching theme for his course.

What is your passion? How do you connect that passion with the course standards? How does your passion make the course more meaningful for the students and allow them to better learn the standards?

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Big Things (Learning) First

As I was packing the car yesterday, I realized that I was following the way my father packed the car  He always packed the big things first and then worked the little things around the big things.

I wonder how often we pack the big ideas, the major concepts in the standard, first with students. Do we lead off the unit with telling them about the standard? Do we instruct them directly on the big ideas?  Do we give them activities that clearly focus on the big ideas? Do we assess them on the big ideas?

I remember watching a teacher who did a half period introductory activity to the unit. The activity was engaging.  However, it did not deal with the big ideas of the unit but with a very minor point.

Do you pack the big ideas first with your students?

Gladly would the teacher help the students to learn

Chaucer wrote “Gladly would he learn and gladly teach.” I would like to change that to “Gladly would he/she learn and gladly help students to learn.” Unfortunately some teachers think of teaching as presenting information and then testing on that info. In the formative assessment process, the focus is on helping the students to learn.

Glick wrote :”It is not what the teacher does but what he gets the students to do that results in learning” Our focus should be not on what the teacher does but on what the teacher helps the students to do. The teacher’s “best” lecture is not good if it does not help students to do something to learn the standard. Teachers should teach less and have students learn and do more in the class. The more students do in the class, the more teachers can observe them, diagnose them, and offer formative feedback to help the students so that the students can improve drastically in their learning.

Do you focus on teaching or learning?

What is your target? Don’t confuse context and content

Unless we are focused, our students will never hit their academic target. We have to identify exactly what they are to learn.  Some sometimes we focus on the context, the learning vehicle, instead of the content, the learning purpose.  An example is an English teacher who focuses on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the context, without considering the real purpose of the content such as analyzing themes which is part of NYS ELA Standard 3 Critical Analysis. Is A Midsummer Night’s Dream the most appropriate context for the learning goal?

Once we do decide on our specific learning goal, then we have to decide how we will help students develop that skill.  Just reading  A Midsummer’s Night Dream will not accomplish the task. We have to develop specific activities to help students grow in analyzing themes.

Do you focus on content or context?

Concept Maps Create Focus

Many of my Composition students have said that they have the most problems in deciding on a topic.  I think that they cannot get a handle on a topic.  I had them use a technique last night that I call “Try it for three minutes.”  We were doing cause and effect writing. I gave them a list of topics and asked them to pick any topic that seemed somewhat interesting to them. Then I asked them to spend three minutes to complete a graphic organizer for either causes or effects. There was a bubble for the topic and then three big rectangles (one for each category) and then three smaller rectangles for each category (for the examples).  If they did not like the results, they could pick another topic. Almost every student had the topic, categories and many of the examples in three minutes.  They could see what they had and what they needed. They could see the connection among their ideas.  They all said that they would write about the topic for which they had just completed the concept map.  Sometimes students think aimlessly; a concept map focuses their thinking.

How do you use concept maps to focus your students’ learning


RSS Education with Technology

  • Tech Integration Teacher, What time is it? August 23, 2016
    When someone asks what time it is, that person wants to know the time, not the history of the clock, not how a clock works, and not what other types of clocks there are. Classroom teachers want to help their students improve their academic learning through technology. Sometimes they need help with technology so they go […]
    hgtuttle
  • Curriculum Focus, Not Technology Focus July 28, 2016
    In my public school career I have been a classroom teacher, a technology integration specialist and a technology administrator. In my technology role, I served under the Assistant Superintendent for Instruction. She had a simple mission: Improve students’ academic learning. My mission was equally simple: Improve students’ academic learning through technology […]
    hgtuttle
  • Students React to Digital Badges: Pros, Cons and Interesting June 22, 2016
      ISTE 2016 By Harry Grover Tuttle, Ed. D. College World Language Students’ Preferences Digital Badges – 52%        Paper Certificates – 48% World Language: Can-Do Digital Badges Digital Badges Pro- – Breaks down proficiency more – Shows all badges at once – Is more attractive – Is more appropriate since we use […]
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  • Digital Badges: Naming the Badge October 29, 2015
    Once teachers have selected what learning and what digital badges (individual or category badges; see previous blog), the teachers encounter another decision. What will they name each badge? Will they use the full name of the Common Core Standard or the national proficiency? For English, under “Speaking and Listening,”will they write out SL.2 “Integrate and […]
    hgtuttle
  • Digital Badges: Better Than Grades? October 19, 2015
    Teachers understand that the grade in a course consists of many different factors such as homework, participation , projects, tests, etc. Blodget observes that sometimes grades reflect attitude, effort, ability and behavior (http://www.academia.edu/9074119/Grading_and_Whether_or_not_Grades_Accurately_Reflect_Student_Achievement). Equally important, a letter […]
    hgtuttle
  • World Language Students Use of Mobile Devices in the Classroom October 5, 2015
    Do world language students use technology n the classroom? Do their  teachers go beyond having their students use technology simply for the drill and practice in vocabulary and grammar? Students can use laptops and mobile devices to hear authentic language, read authentic texts, read tweets about famous performers, see up-to-the-moment culture,  watch video […]
    hgtuttle
  • Digital Badges: Individual or Categorized Learning Badges? September 12, 2015
    The idea of digital badges sounds appealing for the digital children in classes. As teachers start thinking about digital badges, they have to figure out what badges will be awarded. The teachers can award social or academic badges. If teachers decide to use academic badges, then the teachers may base their badges on the Common […]
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  • English +Common Core +Mobile = Success (ISTE2014 Poster -details) June 30, 2014
    Here are the ten examples I showed at my English + Common Core  + Mobile ISTE 2014 Poster Session: Based on CCSS Anchor Statements: L.2 Take a Conventions Mobile Online Quiz  to pick the  incorrect sentence from four choices (capitalization) SL.2  Evaluate audio recording of a  book chapter on mobile and predict for next chapter. […]
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  • Global Cultural Learning Using Mobile Devices (ISTE Mobile MegaShare Presentation) June 28, 2014
    Based on my presentation at ISTE 2014 Mobile Megashare Why teach about other countries? Location: Large view to small on maps. Culture or culture. Find six similarities in a  mobile picture from another culture (“Wars are caused by differences, not similarities.”-Tuttle.) Tell one piece of information from each different Internet visual from a place in that […]
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  • English + Common Core + Mobile = Success in Learning Poster Session at ISTE 2014 June 25, 2014
    In my ISTE Sunday 8-10 am poster session, I demonstrate many diverse mobile activities to help students achieve the English Language Arts Common Core Anchor Statements through mobile devices. The mobile activities focus on free common tool apps that are available on both the Android and the iPad. The students use the apps as a seamless […]
    hgtuttle

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