RSS

Monthly Archives: July 2013

PBL the Debrief and Culminating Assessment


So, you created a project and the students made their presentations, now what? 

Just because the presentations are over, doesn’t mean the project is finished. To the contrary, as with any lesson using an effective cycle of instruction, a time for reflection is critical. All participants need to have a chance to self-reflect and share their reflections on the activity to deepen their learning.

In planning my project, I scheduled reflection time. Each day, students will be provided time to reflect, share, and plan primarily within their teams. After reading about the Critical Friends Tuning Protocol, I realized it would be the perfect format for the team critiques at the end of week two. As part of the final assessment, in addition to having the product and presentations graded, students will do both a self and peer assessment to reflect on their participation. To debrief, the class will also conduct a discussion something akin to a Socratic seminar, with the project taking the place of text. This is the time for the class, both students and teacher alike, to share what they felt worked, didn’t work, why, and what needs tweaked for the next project.

Only when the reflection is complete is the class portion of the project finished.
 

Digital Storytelling

For this assignment, trying to decide whether to create an informational or a narrative piece was the first hurdle to overcome. I decided an informative piece would be the best way to go and was trying to choose between creating something either for my class or professional development. 


Putting my digital story on the back burner, I decided to select the tool I wanted to use. Vuvox was my first choice.  Sadly it did not play nice with my bandwidth, so I scrapped that idea. Animoto is a blast but the narration part would be problematic. I looked at a few more options and settled on VoiceThread. I like VoiceThread for a couple of reasons:

 1) it has all of the positive attributes of PowerPoint,

 2) narration is simple to record and append

 3) it is a great tool for collaborative projects


Once the tool was selected, it was just a matter of deciding what story to tell. Somehow, my project morphed from being something to use in my class or for PD. While the piece is informative, it may not be considered informational by some, and it is definitely not work related. Even so, I still applied the personalization principle in the design. 


My story is written from the first person point of view and chronicles the various dogs rescued by my family in the last three months, while focusing on one in particular.  I thought about using the second person voice to tell the story but decided against it. The story was well suited to a conversational format, which included a few slang terms or colloquialisms while still maintaining an air of politeness.  As for being a “visible author,” my opinion was politely, yet clearly, stated as you will hear. 


Writing the script took more time than I realized. Somewhere along the way, I lost a day. Using VoiceThread for the narration was easy to do and re-do when I made mistakes. Recording the last little bit, however,was rather difficult. It took several attempts to make it through. When I exported the presentation I was shocked at how long it was. I figured when I wrote it that it would only take 2-3 minutes. Something I didn’t expect was having my icon and name at the side of each slide when the narration starts. That is one aspect of using VoiceThread I am not overly thrilled with.


I still want to experiment with Vuvox and some of the other options from the list of resources but it can wait for another project.

Click here for the VoiceThread link or watch the YouTube version.

 

Tags:

PBL – The Role of the Facilitator

One of the greatest challenges for an instructor in a PBL unit is to adapt to the role of facilitator. This week my assignment was to reflect on the following questions:

  • Will my role in the teaching/learning process change? I view my role of teacher as that of a facilitator to act as a guide for the students not some talking know-it-all in the front of the class. Of course there are times when the teacher does need to provide whole group instruction but not all class period everyday! I don’t see my role changing a lot, as this has been my general style of teaching for many years.
  • What are the skills of effective facilitation? Time, team, and classroom management skills are all critical in order to keep everything moving and organized, all while letting the students “manage” their own learning. Good questioning skills are also important; you need to guide the students through a questioning process instead of just telling them what to do next. You also need to be able to gauge where your students are at in the learning process. Do they need you to take a step back or speed things up?
  • Will the students develop the competencies and skills needed to be successful? Yes! While they may not all reach the same level of mastery, they will develop the skills necessary to be successful. The only obstacles to them succeeding are if they don’t come to class or do the work (students cannot learn if they are not present physically or mentally).
  • What changes will you need to make in order to become an effective facilitator in your PBL unit? I will need to do better with time management, have more structured check points, and continue to use formative assessments to guide the pacing.
 

Tags:

PBL – the role of facilitator

One of the greatest challenges for an instructor in a PBL unit is to adapt to the role of facilitator. This week my assignment was to reflect on the following questions:
·         Will my role in the teaching/learning process change? I view my role of teacher as that of a facilitator to act as a guide for the students not some talking know-it-all in the front of the class. Of course there are times when the teacher does need to provide whole group instruction but not all class period everyday! I don’t see my role changing a lot, as this has been my general style of teaching for many years.
·         What are the skills of effective facilitation? Time, team, and classroom management skills are all critical in order to keep everything moving and organized, all while letting the students “manage” their own learning. Good questioning skills are also important; you need to guide the students through a questioning process instead of just telling them what to do next. You also need to be able to gauge where your students are at in the learning process. Do they need you to take a step back or speed things up?
·         Will the students develop the competencies and skills needed to be successful? Yes! While they may not all reach the same level of mastery, they will develop the skills necessary to be successful. The only obstacles  to them succeeding are if they don’t come to class or do the work (students cannot learn if they are not present physically or mentally).
·         What changes will you need to make in order to become an effective facilitator in your PBL unit? I will need to do better with time management, have more structured check points, and continue to use formative assessments to guide the pacing.
 

Coherence Principle

This  This week we were to read Chapter 8 in Clark & Mayer’s E-learning and the Science of Instruction, Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning and answer the following seven questions. Overall, I found that the Coherence Principle really expounded on the previous four principles: Multimedia, Contiguity, Modality, and Redundancy.

  1. What is the Coherence Principle’s most important constraints/criteria? The Coherence Principle states that adding interesting music and sounds to a multimedia presentation  that do not support the instructional goal will hurt students’ learning, especially students with lower abilities or limited knowledge of the subject.  The extraneous sounds, graphics, and information that are often included in multimedia presentations take a mental toll on the learners, reducing their capacity to retain and transfer learning.  One factor to keep in mind is that there is not enough research to determine the effect on long term instruction or for more advanced learners  (Mayer, 1999; Moreno & Mayer, 2000; Clark & Mayer, 2011).
  2. Describe and/or include one example of successful attempts and one example of unsuccessful attempts to apply the Coherence Principle in actual instruction and training that you have experienced, especially as it might be implemented in PowerPoint-based instruction and training.
    The one example of a successful application of the Coherence Principle that I can think of is when I had to deliver a presentation on the effective use of  PowerPoint for the reading program at our school.  It was a success because  I designed the PowerPoint based on effective design principles I learned in one of my other Boise classes, so there was no extraneous information in the presentation.  I can recall one presentation I was involved in that was an epic failure of following the Coherence Principle, specifically because I was limited to the number of slides my portion of the presentation could have yet  still required to cover a substantial amount of  detailed information.  I used too many words on the slide, read the slide to the audience, then to add insult to injury – elaborated even more. Too many words and no sound or images!
  3. Have you ever seen this principle violated or abused? Identify the violations, including citations as needed from your textbook.  
    Over the years I have sat through many department of education presentations that abused all three coherence principles on a regular basis.  However, more specifically Coherence Principle 1 – extraneous audio is violated the most with student presentations, similar to figure 8.2 (Clark & Mayer, 2011,  p. 154) where they use all sorts of sounds that overwhelm the audience  and detract from the presentation with too much noise. Recently, I went through a week long training on the Common Core.  The principles that were  violated were extraneous graphics and words.  The presentations throughout the week were strewn with images that had nothing to do with the presentation, that got rather annoying as the time went on.  As to the extraneous words, had they cut the redundant and anecdotal wording, the presentation would have taken only a few hours, instead of five days.  I often think the designers are paid according to how long they can drag out a topic instead of the quality of information.
  4. Discuss the relationship of the Coherence Principle to other Multimedia Learning Principles examined thus far in your readings.
    Overall, the one thing that comes to mind is that less is more. Students perform better when not overwhelmed by too much detailed information being presented at once and when there are not embedded distractions from the learning.  The coherence principles provides the boundaries  of how much is enough in applying the multimedia and contiguity principles  which identify how to appropriately combine and place audio, graphics, and text. The modality principle, which stresses not overwhelming either the audio or video channel for learners, goes hand-in-hand with the coherence principle which limits the use of extra sounds, graphics, and words.  In turn,  the coherence principle is also  strengthened by the redundancy principle (Clark & Mayer, 2011).  So, as you can see the coherence is sort of the icing on the principle cake: it compliments the other four principles.
  5. Discuss the relationship of the Coherence Principle to fundamental theories of psychology as described by Clark & Mayer in your textbook.
    The Coherence Principle has three extraneous components to avoid :  1 – audio, 2 – graphics, and 3 – words.  People often assume that all the bells and whistles increase interest and generate excitement for the content.  Sadly, what excess audio does is disrupt or overload the cognitive system (p. 156).  The reasoning behind reducing unnecessary graphics is that  they interfere with learning by causing distractions, disruption, or even through seduction (eliciting an inappropriate connection to the images). These effects are the opposite of desired learning outcomes (p. 161).   Extraneous words  can also interfere with the learning process. Evidence shows that adding all of the technical information or jargon reduces transfer (p. 168-170). For all three components,  the cognitive system is disrupted and the learners are distracted from the learning goal when extraneous content is included.
  6. What do you personally like or dislike about this principle? Present a coherent, informed opinion and explain why you hold this opinion.
    I like this principle because it limits the factors that I find most annoying in presentations: sound effects and background music, gratuitous images, and verbose slides.  The coherence principle states that all the extraneous additions impede student learning.  The sound effects and music added to “enhance” the presentation/learning ought to be limited because they disrupt the cognitive system (p. 156).  Extra graphics actually reduces the students’ abilities to solve transfer problems (p. 162).  Additionally, elaborate or realistic/graphic images are not necessary. The evidence supports simplistic over more detailed illustrations to boost student learning (pgs. 164-166).  As for the wordy slides and screens, again less is more. Evidence from studies show that students demonstrate better learning from a more concise version than from a wordy version (pgs. 170-172).
  7. Are there any limitations or qualifications of the principle (caveats) which the authors did not consider and, if so, what are they?
    Yes, there is. First, there was limited or no information on the effect of the Coherence Principle on expert learners such as those taking a refresher course.  Clark and Mayer state several times throughout chapter nine that there is not enough evidence yet to determine the effect of the coherence principle with long term instruction (p. 172) and learners who are not novices (p. 173) . Also, the chapter did not differentiate between synchronous and asynchronous instruction or if the students were in control of the rate of the presentation.


References:
Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2011). E-learning and the science of instruction, proven guidelines for consumers and designers of multimedia learning. (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

Mayer, R. E. (1999). Multimedia aids to problem-solving transfer. International Journal on Educational Research, (31), 611-623. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0883035599000270
Moreno, R., & Mayer, R. E. (2000). a learner-centered approach to multimedia explanations: Deriving instructional design principles from cognitive theory. Interactive Multimedia Electronic Journal of Computer-Enhanced Learning, 2(2). Retrieved from http://imej.wfu.edu/articles/2000/2/05/index.asp

 

Coherence Principle

This This week we were to read Chapter 8 in Clark & Mayer’s E-learning and the Science of Instruction, Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning and answer the following seven questions. Overall, I found that the Coherence Principle really expounded on the previous four principles: Multimedia, Contiguity, Modality, and Redundancy.

  1. What is the Coherence Principle’s most important constraints/criteria? The Coherence Principle states that adding interesting music and sounds to a multimedia presentation that do not support the instructional goal will hurt students’ learning, especially students with lower abilities or limited knowledge of the subject. The extraneous sounds, graphics, and information that are often included in multimedia presentations take a mental toll on the learners, reducing their capacity to retain and transfer learning. One factor to keep in mind is that there is not enough research to determine the effect on long term instruction or for more advanced learners (Mayer, 1999; Moreno & Mayer, 2000; Clark & Mayer, 2011).
  2. Describe and/or include one example of successful attempts and one example of unsuccessful attempts to apply the Coherence Principle in actual instruction and training that you have experienced, especially as it might be implemented in PowerPoint-based instruction and training.  The one example of a successful application of the Coherence Principle that I can think of is when I had to deliver a presentation on the effective use of PowerPoint for the reading program at our school. It was a success because I designed the PowerPoint based on effective design principles I learned in one of my other Boise classes, so there was no extraneous information in the presentation. I can recall one presentation I was involved in that was an epic failure of following the Coherence Principle, specifically because I was limited to the number of slides my portion of the presentation could have yet still required to cover a substantial amount of detailed information. I used too many words on the slide, read the slide to the audience, then to add insult to injury – elaborated even more. Too many words and no sound or images!
  3. Have you ever seen this principle violated or abused? Identify the violations, including citations as needed from your textbook.  Over the years I have sat through many department of education presentations that abused all three coherence principles on a regular basis. However, more specifically Coherence Principle 1 – extraneous audio is violated the most with student presentations, similar to figure 8.2 (Clark & Mayer, 2011, p. 154) where they use all sorts of sounds that overwhelm the audience and detract from the presentation with too much noise. Recently, I went through a week long training on the Common Core. The principles that were violated were extraneous graphics and words. The presentations throughout the week were strewn with images that had nothing to do with the presentation, that got rather annoying as the time went on. As to the extraneous words, had they cut the redundant and anecdotal wording, the presentation would have taken only a few hours, instead of five days. I often think the designers are paid according to how long they can drag out a topic instead of the quality of information.
  4. Discuss the relationship of the Coherence Principle to other Multimedia Learning Principles examined thus far in your readings.  Overall, the one thing that comes to mind is that less is more. Students perform better when not overwhelmed by too much detailed information being presented at once and when there are not embedded distractions from the learning. The coherence principles provides the boundaries of how much is enough in applying the multimedia and contiguity principles which identify how to appropriately combine and place audio, graphics, and text. The modality principle, which stresses not overwhelming either the audio or video channel for learners, goes hand-in-hand with the coherence principle which limits the use of extra sounds, graphics, and words. In turn, the coherence principle is also strengthened by the redundancy principle (Clark & Mayer, 2011). So, as you can see the coherence is sort of the icing on the principle cake: it compliments the other four principles.
  5. Discuss the relationship of the Coherence Principle to fundamental theories of psychology as described by Clark & Mayer in your textbook.  The Coherence Principle has three extraneous components to avoid : 1 – audio, 2 – graphics, and 3 – words. People often assume that all the bells and whistles increase interest and generate excitement for the content. Sadly, what excess audio does is disrupt or overload the cognitive system (p. 156). The reasoning behind reducing unnecessary graphics is that they interfere with learning by causing distractions, disruption, or even through seduction (eliciting an inappropriate connection to the images). These effects are the opposite of desired learning outcomes (p. 161). Extraneous words can also interfere with the learning process. Evidence shows that adding all of the technical information or jargon reduces transfer (p. 168-170). For all three components, the cognitive system is disrupted and the learners are distracted from the learning goal when extraneous content is included.
  6. What do you personally like or dislike about this principle? Present a coherent, informed opinion and explain why you hold this opinion.  I like this principle because it limits the factors that I find most annoying in presentations: sound effects and background music, gratuitous images, and verbose slides. The coherence principle states that all the extraneous additions impede student learning. The sound effects and music added to “enhance” the presentation/learning ought to be limited because they disrupt the cognitive system (p. 156). Extra graphics actually reduces the students’ abilities to solve transfer problems (p. 162). Additionally, elaborate or realistic/graphic images are not necessary. The evidence supports simplistic over more detailed illustrations to boost student learning (pgs. 164-166). As for the wordy slides and screens, again less is more. Evidence from studies show that students demonstrate better learning from a more concise version than from a wordy version (pgs. 170-172).
  7. Are there any limitations or qualifications of the principle (caveats) which the authors did not consider and, if so, what are they?  Yes, there is. First, there was limited or no information on the effect of the Coherence Principle on expert learners such as those taking a refresher course. Clark and Mayer state several times throughout chapter nine that there is not enough evidence yet to determine the effect of the coherence principle with long term instruction (p. 172) and learners who are not novices (p. 173) . Also, the chapter did not differentiate between synchronous and asynchronous instruction or if the students were in control of the rate of the presentation.

References:

Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2011). E-learning and the science of instruction, proven guidelines for consumers and designers of multimedia learning. (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

Mayer, R. E. (1999). Multimedia aids to problem-solving transfer. International Journal on Educational Research, (31), 611-623. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0883035599000270

Moreno, R., & Mayer, R. E. (2000). a learner-centered approach to multimedia explanations: Deriving instructional design principles from cognitive theory. Interactive Multimedia Electronic Journal of Computer-Enhanced Learning, 2(2). Retrieved from http://imej.wfu.edu/articles/2000/2/05/index.asp

 

Tags:

Designing Integrated Curriculum

How refreshing would it be for students to come to school and be immersed in a project that truly spanned the curriculum that was engaging and applied their learning to something they could relate to (not just the teachers). That is just what interdisciplinary project-based learning does. So, how do we get past the turf wars of little academic kingdoms and move to a collaborative integrated system? Have a plan, start small, and market the program. Here is a short list of some of the advantages of moving to an interdisciplinary approach to share with your co-workers:
Sharing the burden! Working with your colleagues to design lessons that integrate academics spreads the burden. No longer are you teaching in isolation. There is a sense of synergy with everyone working towards a common goal.
Face it, some students just don’t get ______ (fill in the blank with whatever subject you want), for some reason it just doesn’t click. By using interdisciplinary projects, they can build on their strengths in the other academic areas to bolster them up in that weaker area.
Relevant and engaging, two things that help keep students coming to school and learning. Imagine the reduction of attendance and behavior issues if students were excited about what they were working on. Interdisciplinary projects provide continuity that keep the students engaged throughout the day, the learning isn’t in unrelated chunks. The students actually experience how the different subjects are intertwined in everyday life.
Integrated projects are a great way to bring rigor to your lessons, while meeting standards – especially with the Common Core roll out!
There are always going to be challenges facing teachers, schools, and administrators regardless of whether or not you use a more thematic approach to education. You will encounter those who want to perpetuate academic islands, who want to just keep teaching how they have always taught (not taking into account effectiveness), and those who just don’t or won’t see the value in project-based learning. Let’s face it time is a precious commodity that you can never get enough of and the front-end planning does take a lot of time and effort. However, these obstacles are not insurmountable!

So how, might you ask, do you go about making interdisciplinary project-based learning a reality in your school? First thing is find a group of teachers who are willing and enthusiastic and start small. There is a lot of power in seeing success and success is a great motivator for those fence riders who aren’t real sure about the process. Choose a project that is going to be of high-interest to the students. Next, provide this team of teachers with the planning time needed to create the project. Once entrenched in the project the team will need additional time in the schedule for common planning to collaborate, while they continue to monitor and adjust – making those tweaks as the project unfolds. Again, the success of the first project will provide the momentum to get more teachers involved and students engaged.

Well, what are you waiting for? Find some willing co-workers and start a grassroots movement and get started, one project at a time!

 

Tags: