Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Putting Myself Out of a Job

How can I teach my grade 6 and 7 students to teach themselves? Today's lesson is following a GIMP tutorial , but I am not so interested in whether or not they get good photo manipulation skills - I want to see if they can follow a step by step process on video. Grade 8's can.

In block 1 I explained that the task was to follow the youtube video we saw the day before 1 step at a time in order to learn how to teach ourselves skills from youtube.I demonstrated how to find the instructional video, and how to find the program. I then told them to follow the video one step at a time - only about 20% of the students were successful in following the video one step at a time.

In block 2 I explained the importance of being able to teach yourself skills from a YouTube video. I then showed them how to have both YouTube and GIMP open at the same time, and how to open the two photos they were going to photoshop, and how to hit play and pause on the YouTube video. I then let them go on their own, and about 33% were successful in following the steps of the video.

In block 3 and 4 I modelled several steps using a student's photo collection. After 4 steps I asked if the students were clear on how to follow one step at time using a YouTube video. I then asked how many would be able to get to this point. I then had to correct about 5 kids who didn't open their photos correctly in GIMP, but at the end about 80% of the kids were successful.

So, in the end the lesson for me was just how many steps to go through in a multi-step process (at least half) in order for most of the students to be able to follow a step-by-step set of instructions independently. Now to hammer home the information that students are not really learning how to manipulate images, but how to teach themselves.


Chris said...

Love the title! Some teachers fear giving up the "control" of teaching in a classroom... yet there is so much that kids can teach themselves. With the open learning that exists now, kids can come to school with so much more knowledge than before.. we need to tap into this. Well done in doing this!

A great TED talk on the topic: Sugata Mitra shows how kids teach themselves. Showed parts of this at a staff meeting that created some powerful discussions.


Chris (@mrwejr)

Nicholas said...

Mr. Jagill, would you be kind enough to list 5 valuable jobs that require using gimp or photoshop, other than a graphic desingner? Please don't make the excuse that kids don't know how to use computer because honestly the majority of kids do know how to use a computer.I wonder if you can infer the incredibly obvious point I'm making.

James Gill said...


I think you have missed the point. It doesn't matter that teaching my students photo editing using this process. It could be any skill. What I am teaching them is how to recognize and follow a step by step process to learn new and sometimes complex skills. I am trying to teach students to be aware of their own learning when they have done something correctly and when they have made mistakes. I want them to be aware of your own mistakes, and to try and solve problems themselves by reviewing instructions rather than just waiting for the teacher to do it.

I don't teach computer skills in isolation. I teach kids to think for themselves.

Chris said...

Well said James... learning is the process. The end result or the 'thing' is often less important than the process. As an aside, I am actually learning to use GIMP for our business website so that I do not have to pay a designer 80 bucks and hour to photoshop our pictures to have them blend in better on our website. The students at one of the high schools have created some creative art projects using GIMP. On another note, I cannot list 5 valuable jobs as I am cannot say what is valuable to an individual. I would guess that these students were engaged in learning a way to use technology as a tool to further their creativity. I guess you could have stuck them with a pencil and paper and had them practice their long division or something else "valuable".
Yes, kids do know how to use a computer - they know how to use if for gaming, socializing,basic word processing - but I think the skills they lack is in creating. We need to encourage kids to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways - manipulating photos can be a way to show learning in biology (evolution, adaptations, anatomy), art, health (body image, advertising, etc), english (symbols, metaphors, analogies), social studies (historical figures, project work)...
You can teach GIMP or any other application to my students any time.

James Gill said...

Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Chris! I especially liked your idea that it is difficult to judge what skills would be valuable for an individual? Schools try to provide that common body of knowledge that helps to create our culture, but there is more to our schools than just the curriculum.

Thinking about people who might want to work with photos besides a graphic designer, I thought that anyone who wants to make a great slideshow presentation might benefit from visually stunning slides. Small business owners sometimes have to do their own website graphics, logos, or flyers. More and more people who are just trying to make a living in an economic crunch come to value the diverse learner.

I am not a graphic designer, but my bosses are glad I know how to work with pictures. That's a good enough reason for me.

Yvette said...

I think if you made a video yourself with an homework assignment attached. Then give them a similiar assignment based on the video but a different homework assignment they might follow better. Children work better with visual aids and if you find the right tutorials I think children will learn it.

James Gill said...

Thanks for your thoughtful comment Yvette. I think I understand what you mean. I will try this with the next grade 6 and 7 assignment, however If I understand you, correctly, you suggest that I create the homework assignment in the video, and provide this project as a complete as a sample? I will see what happens as a result and blog about it.

Tatiana said...

Hello -
I have stumbled upon your blog and found this post and the responses very interesting. I am an educator and especially interested in how young people operate in the current digital world and what that means for education, as well as for future employment. My experience is that kids pick things up very quickly on the computer and if you just say
"youtube," they're already more alert. I even created my own educational blog just to help my own kid take advantage of what's available to learn on the internet.
Good luck with your digital natives!
Ms. Tatiana