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Stikkordarkiv: learning

An effort to make students cooperate when discussing «violence».

Springtime. Sunshine. Exams around the corner. Twenty-something students with mixed feelings about going to their English class. And no «set goal» – just what you could call a «good start». OK, I agree that «violence» can be a disturbing topic. It is not mandatory to talk about it in this particular course. Yet this is what I chose to do this morning. First, we watched an 18 minute TED talk called «The surprising decline in violence» by Steven Pinker. He claims that the world today is much less violent today than it has ever been before, and that we must be doing something right. Expanded «inner circles», empathy with more people, knowledge of others and collaborative systems and rules are among reasons that he mentioned. We have already talked about topics such as globalization, cooperation and technology in class, so I wanted to see if the students could make more links.

This is what I did after we had seen the TED talk:

1. To have my students actually cooperate. I split them up in groups of five and gave them five different texts about the topic. The texts were quite different, though. One explained what linguistics is, another described hunter-gatherers, a third was an interview with Pinker, the fourth was a text about crime in Mexico (!) and the last text was a critique of Pinter’s theories.

2. I asked one of the students in each group to draw a mind map during the discussion.

3. We talked about the texts and the video. What was interesting here, was that when they had their own info, they described it differently from what I have heard before. Also, they talked about the texts with varying clarity and accuracy. Some had problems understanding the texts, but could at least talk about the video.

4. In some groups, I saw signs of cooperation. They started disagreeing, they talked about whether or not they thought humans were born evil, does technology promote more or less peace, and so on.

«WE DRIFTED FROM THE TOPIC», one student exclaimed. «Good», I said. After all, there was no set goal and the students had to form the discussion to whatever they found interesting. Some even saw connections that were new to them. I love it when that happens.

Question is: did they cooperate – or even collaborate? We do not use different words in Norwegian for these two concepts, we usually just say «samarbeid» (co-work).

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Teacher as student

Every teacher should try a course where they are left a little dizzy, perhaps wondering if they are in the right place, stumbling upon weird things, trying to make mindmaps of the kind that she would normally reject from her students as «too little info», «no other ideas you might add there?», or «you haven’t really understood the terms» and so on. I have the following strategies to select from when facing a difficult task:

1. Finding ways to cheat 

2. Finding ways to «cover my incompetence», for instance by applying things to advanced forms or covering it in nice words

3. Leaving the course.

4. Hoping that others will help me (either as parasite, or as catalyst: teaching others is a good way to learn)

5. Accepting that nothing can be learnt in a day and keep trying

6. «Play dead». This was a suggestion from my husband, also a teacher.

Here is my mindmap. It is everything but excellent. Bilde

Again I return to the question of «why» I should learn this. I discover through the forums in this course that different people add different perspectives. Some are caught in details about enzymes, some are religious-like in their approach, others are waiting for more sociology. So far this has opened my eyes to the following:

1. Different fields may add value to each other. Cooperation seems to be natural, we benefit from it and need it. I am waiting for a discussion on how technology adds to or relates to the cultural evolution.

2. Cooperation online is quite challenging, but if you engage in activities, you will learn something. My next goal is to be better at reading other posts and commenting on other stuff.

3. I like videos. They do not have to be very fancy! The content is much more important.

4. Context matters.

 

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Learning to learn?

education

My English class has approximately three lessons (double or triple) available and I have left this competence aim in particular for these lessons: «locate, elaborate on and discuss international educational options and employment options». As I have started working for a new MOOC in «Smart learning» at NTNU, I would like to grab the opportunity to try out new forms and also new aims for our learning. Based on the competence aim, obviously, but with emphasis on education, I will suggest the following mini-project for my students

General questions:

1. Which educational options do you see for yourselves in the English speaking world?

2. Why would young people want to study abroad? What are the advantages, and what are possible disadvantages?

3. Which learning strategies have you developed during your years in high school? How can you develop your strategies further?

4. What is the importance of cultural codes? What are the cultural codes or norms of your group of students?

Each group must form a collaborative forum using Scoop.it to share texts and some other means of communication. They can pick texts from our Text book (Global Paths, Cappelen Damm), chapter 3. They should make sure they understand and are able to use the following terms (in the context of education)

graduation – schedule – newcomer – senior – college – high school – exchange student – age appropriate – detention – objectionalble – suspention – infractions – competitive – reputation – biased – extra curricular activities – applicants – enrollment – grant – admission – attendance – truancy – credentials – score  – obligations – certificates of education – letters of recommendation – rite of passage – annual – assessment – prestigious – aptitude – MOOC – network – literacy …?

Each group must make a 5 minute video of some kind that illustrates or demonstrates one of the above questions. This video must be shareable in class. When I have seen the videos, I hope to have time to talk to each group individually, or with two groups together. Also, I will evaluate your work-in-progress and your scooping practise.

As I see this as a suggestion, I am willing to discuss new paths and learning objectives. I might have some nice entires on my «digitallearning» list on Scoop.it.

Competence aims in English (for the entire course: International English): (UDIR)

Language and language learning

The aims of the studies are to enable pupils to

  • give an account of fundamental features of English usage and linguistic structure
  • give an account of fundamental principles for constructing texts in a variety of genres
  • analyse linguistic tools in different kinds of texts
  • give examples of other varieties of English than those that are used in the Anglo-American core area, and reflect on their distinctive character.

Communication

The aims of the studies are to enable pupils to

  • employ a nuanced, well-developed vocabulary – for both general and specialized use
  • understand, elaborate on and discuss lengthy discourses on general and specialized subjects
  • use language appropriate to the situation in social, professional and intercultural contexts
  • write coherent, well-structured texts on general, specialized and literary subjects
  • present technical material orally, in writing, or in the form of composite texts
  • use and communicate information based on figures and statistics
  • use digital tools in an independent, critical and creative manner in the gathering of information, and in the communication and presentation of his or her own material
  • give an account of and evaluate the use of sources

Culture, society and literature

The aims of the studies are to enable pupils to

  • locate, elaborate on and discuss international educational options and employment options
  • analyse and assess the role of some English-language media in international society
  • elaborate on and discuss various aspects of multicultural societies in the English-speaking world
  • reflect on how cultural differences and dissimilar value systems can affect communication
  • elaborate on and discuss a number of international and global challenges
  • elaborate on and discuss a selection of literature and factual prose from the period 1950 up to the present
  • analyse, elaborate on and discuss at least one lengthy literary work and one film
  • present a major in-depth project on a topic from International English or another subject from his or her own programme area and assess the process.
 

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