Monday, October 27, 2008

Working on the Teenage Clock

Some of my kids work strange times and hours. Just like me! I have been using a new hand-in "bin" on my virtual classroom. It is set up so that students can submit their homework via attachment to a folder, providing me with a self assessment. I comment back, and check it off. With each checked off assignment it is moved to the "done" folder and kids read the feedback. It has made my workload with marking so much more manageable, with no cluttersome papers. But, I wish I didn't get all the assignments at the same time.

So perhaps I should let the kids work and turn in work at their own pace. This would mean I wouldn't get 120 assignments in at the same time. This makes me think of some more advantages too...

I could show the kids the whole curriculum, and tell them when the term ends. Then, I tell them to get to work, and be there to provide support.


What about more self-paced learning. To prevent speedy workers from doing poor work, I need to:

1. Provide samples of different qualities of work (just in my first term of the job, so second, third and fourth term will get the benefits of the examples I get from the first term)

2. Provide a minimal amount of acceptable work to shoot for, and tie the quality and quantity of assignments done to grades in a really easy to follow formula (2 required assignments and 1 extension for every section).

3. Create screencasts of my lessons with something like Jing. This allows students to learn at their own pace.

4. Identify the weak students, or students who cannot keep themselves on pace. Teach them to set their own goals and monitor their own progress.


How can I do this? Perhaps I need to set a goal of one screen cast a day for the next two weeks. That will take me to the end of term 1, and get me ready for term 1.

I have never done a self-paced program before, so let's see what happens.

6 comments:

Rodney said...

I think that is a great idea to incorporate self-paced learning. I wish my children had that option although I think it is critical that periodically that a review and evaluation of the material covered should take place to gauge learning. I feel that through the use of screencasts and other media tools (audioclips, videoclips, etc...) the learning becomes much more dynamic and the student benefits. I would like to see you elaborate more on what you role as teacher will be and what you think the reaction of your school administration may be. How do you get the students to come to school and what kind of schedule will the students follow?

Steve Roos said...

Glad to see James that you are once again pushing beyond the constraints of the traditional classroom. I think there will be some demands on you to set up a self-paced program:the screencasts will take time,there will be bumps for students as they adjust to a new way of learning (some may never have experienced self-paced), and meeting the needs of multiple learning styles may be challenging as well among other things. However there will be benefits and once established you will be able to roam the classroom to assist as you point out. Good luck and I look forward to seeing it in action.

James Gill said...

Thanks to Rodney for your thoughtful comment. Steve Roos is one of the Adminstrators of my school. He has commented on this article. In answer to your question, it would seem that my adminstration is behind me. I have the tools necessary to do self-paced learning. My only fear is that I will make mistakes. I haven't done this before. But, I haven't done this before because I never had the tools to do it. Lots of people have talked about it, but no one I know has tried it before.

To answer your question Rodney, about students coming to school: I am a computer education teacher. My students are at school, and follow a bell schedule, so they attend my class as part of their day. The portion of their work is self paced is how they choose to devote their time when in my class for a 9.5 week term.

Thanks Steve for your support. Let's see if I can make this work.

James Gill said...

Thanks to Rodney for your thoughtful comment. Steve Roos is one of the Adminstrators of my school. He has commented on this article. In answer to your question, it would seem that my adminstration is behind me. I have the tools necessary to do self-paced learning. My only fear is that I will make mistakes. I haven't done this before. But, I haven't done this before because I never had the tools to do it. Lots of people have talked about it, but no one I know has tried it before.

To answer your question Rodney, about students coming to school: I am a computer education teacher. My students are at school, and follow a bell schedule, so they attend my class as part of their day. The portion of their work is self paced is how they choose to devote their time when in my class for a 9.5 week term.

Thanks Steve for your support. Let's see if I can make this work.

Randolph Decker said...

I have to back and read your post again but my first reaction is to the comment about age. I'm 53 and I would rate my digital and Internet awareness A+. I work with students from 15 to 75. It seems to me that a young chronological age has no particular benefit to Internet users.

James Gill said...

@Randolph Decker - thanks for your comment. I was remarking about the teenage clock as teenagers are notorious for working at different hours than adults. I too do not believe that chronological age is something that is necessarily relevant to understanding technology. My grandmother began using email at age 80!

I wasn't the first to coin the phrase "digital native." However in my experience many young people intuitively use technology and gravitate towards it, while many of my co-workers feel apprehensive about new technology. I think the greatest determining factor to making good use of technology is motivation - an ability to see a payoff in the immediate future when you have learned a new skill.