FA13 – W200 Teaching – Self Evaluation

This is my first semester of teaching W200, an undergraduate course. For me, it is not only a challenging mission that I want to accomplish, but also a great opportunity for me to improve my education profession and instructional skills. 
First, let me first evaluate my strengths and weaknesses in teaching this technology integration course. 
After my first time teaching of W200 this week, I reflected myself that classroom time management is my first priority that I need to improve for this class. Some unpredictable things can happen in class some times. Therefore, I need to learn how to solve problems (students’ questions or technical problems) as fast as I can and not delay on my instruction schedule as possible. Most importantly, students should be given enough time to do their hands-on activities and practices to process the knowledge and skills they are learning. Also, giving enough opportunities to ask questions is something I need to do more in my class. I believe that as I teach more, I would know how to keep the class rolling more.

I believe that being a good educator is not an easy job. From my own perspective, a good educator should be knowledgable about the course content with lots of authentic examples for students from different backgrounds and needs. Although I think I can be familiar with the course content, the skill that I also have to improve is to know what students in each subject area need and to give specific examples related to their subject areas or grade levels as useful and helpful feedback. Another instructional skill that I need to improve in my teaching is to ask good and inspiring questions that can trigger students to think deeper about what they are learning and why it is important to them.

Although this is my first experience teaching undergraduates and my teaching knowledge and skills are still developing, I am confident that I have passion and motivation to teach W200. I think I have enough patient with solving problems for my students and trying to use different ways to engage my students in their learning journey in my class. I am looking forward to learn from my mentor, senior instructors as well as my students.

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Entry #3: Best Practice – Teacher-centered vs. Student-centered Instructional Approach (2)


To continue the topic from last week, I am going to provide some examples of teacher-centered versus student-centered instructional approaches.

In The Teaching Professor Blog, the blogger proposed that it is better for teachers to teach and address “the more complex and interesting task” through the combination of teacher-centered and student-centered instructional approach. She stated great points about two approaches: Learner-centered teachers should not leave students to muddle through on their own, but must know when to intervene and what kind of interventions enable students to discover their own way to understanding. Teacher-centered instruction does not get bogged down in a morass of policies and prohibitions that establish the teacher’s authority, but explores how to set boundaries within which students can make choices and move toward autonomy in learning.” Let me examine some tech integration teachers’ practices by looking at their blogs and see how they use teacher-centered and/or student-centered instructional approaches in their classrooms. 


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Teacher-centered classrooms: 





This video shows the traditional teacher-centered classroom. A lot of times we can tell the different instructional approaches by looking at students’ seat arrangement in a classroom. As we can see in this video, the teacher first told students what to do next and then let students complete the task individually. Also, students just did what the teacher told them to do. Students were not allowed to discuss with others about what they are learning. Instead, the teacher  directly gave students the definition of “Weather” and asked them to write down what he said. Obviously, students were not really engaged and motivated in what they were learning. They did not learn actively. Although I do not think it is always bad to have teacher-centered instruction, teachers need to know when they need to step back and change their roles in the classroom and let students actively learn what they need to learn in more engaging and collaborative ways.


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Student-centered classrooms: 



From this teacher’s blog, we can see the teacher encouraged and helped her students to make a video of the advice for new first graders. Although the teacher did not say the video was filmed and edited by her students, I can see the teacher discussed the idea of making the video and then put all the elements focused on students’ thoughts in this video, including students’ drawings with each of their recordings. The reason why I see this teacher’s instructional approach as student-centered is that the teacher engage her students in this project and get students motivated to have their own advice for new first graders. The students experienced how it feels to be a new first grader, so the teacher let them collaborate and share with others about their own experiences. 

Another student-centered instruction example: Kate Seward’s SMART Collaborative Classroom



















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Here is a great blog I really like that shows how a teacher provides student-centered teaching and learning.

Teacher Tom




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** Susan Sample talked about student-centered learning in practice in college:




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In Primary Tech blog by Kathleen Morris, a teacher got 2012 Edublog Awards, showed the shift of her instruction from teacher-centered to student-centered.




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Additional issues I would like to investigate in the future: 

1. Why do some teachers consider themselves using student-centered teaching approach in classrooms, yet what they have done turn out to be identified as teacher-centered approach? I am interested in investigating why this situation would happen. Also, I would like to know whether there are some issues or challenges teachers encountered in practice to shift their instructional approach from teacher-centered to student-centered.


2. From my own perspective, I feel it would be easier to design and develop student-centered teaching and learning in lower grades, but much more difficult in higher grade levels because of school policy (focus more on grades in higher grades), changing learning atmosphere, and learning content, etc. I wonder whether there will be different strategies for teachers in different grade levels to give a balanced teacher-centered and student-centered instruction in order to have best practices. 


Technology Integration: Barriers & Enablers in Mr. Science Opportunity’s Classroom

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Entry #2: Best Practices – Teacher-Centered vs. Student-Centered Instructional Approach

For many years, applying student-centered instructional approach in technology integration classrooms has been promoted by researchers and educators, saying this approach support students’ higher-level knowledge and skills and helps teachers develop effective instruction in many educational domains (Chen, 2008; Ertmer & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2010). Then, which instructional approach is considered as best approach to support best practice in technology integration classrooms? Teacher-centered or student-centered?

The information from the Center for Teaching Excellence tells us that not all learners’ learning styles match student-centered instructional approach and not all subject areas are appropriate to use student-centered approach. I think each instructional approach has its pros and cons and both approaches could be involved in best practices. But like I stated in the first blog entry, I think there’s no one specific technology tool or instructional approach could be applied for best practices in all different kinds of learning content and contexts. So, teacher-centered or student-centered teaching approach for best practices in education? It needs to be decided by teachers based on their learners’ preference, learning content, objectives, and context to keep two approaches be mixed and balanced in lessons to match learners’ needs.

Issue: Do teachers really apply student-centered approach when they say they believe it is a better approach and they have applied it in their classrooms?

This week, I read a blog post from a professor in college, talking about she recognized the advantages of student-centered instruction and she was confident about her implementation of student-centered instructional approach in her classrooms all the time. Surprisingly, she was told by her college who observed in her class that her instruction was totally teacher-centered. After reading this blog post, I also read a paper from a Taiwanese researcher – Why do teachers not practice what they belief regarding technology integration? Suddenly, I then realized perhaps there are not many teachers in practice who design well-structured student-centered curriculum and provide student-centered instruction even though they believe student-centered is a better instructional approach than teacher-centered and they are willing to implement it in classrooms (Chen, 2008). Teachers want to do it, but they do not really make it happen might be because of the limitations in the whole teaching and learning environment, especially in K-12 school settings. Chen (2008) concluded that teachers’ improper or limited knowledge and understanding of best practices with technology integration is one of the factors of inconsistency between teachers’ practice and their beliefs. Noticing this issue emerged, I think it would be interesting to keep investigating whether school teachers have proper understanding of best practices with technology use (what do teacher-centered and student-centered mean?) and how teachers implement what they understand and believe in practice.

Here’s the information about the difference between teacher-centered and student-centered instructional approach:

1. Teacher-Centered, Learner-Centered, or All of the Above
2. University of South Carolina – Center for Teaching Excellence
3. Teacher-centered v.s. Student-centered Paradigms
4. Learner-centered Teaching: Five Key Changed to Practice
5. Which is Best: Teacher-Centered or Student-Centered?

Additional thoughts:

While reading Ertmer’s article, I found researchers associate low-level technology with teacher-centered practice and high level use of technology with student-centered practice (Becker & Riel, 1999, cited in Ertmer, 2005). From my own observation in Taiwanese schools, no matter it is seemed as low or high level of technology use, teachers’ instructional approach would be limited by the current educational environment and policies. For instance, many teachers have been expected by principals and parents to have more teacher-centered classes because they have limited time to teach massive amount of content in order to get good grades in tests and exams under the test-oriented educational system. Even though teachers know student-centered teaching supports students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills, they are not allowed to use student-centered approach because of the time constraint, especially for teachers in higher level grades in K-12 school setting. In this kind of case, is it possible to have a class focused more on teacher-centered but at the same time nurture students’ 21st century knowledge and skills with the help of high-level use of technology?

Reference:

C.H. Chen, C.H. (2008). Why do teachers not practice what they believe regarding technology integration? The Journal of Educational Research, 102 (1), pp. 65–75

Ertmer, P. A. (2005). Teacher pedagogical beliefs: The final frontier in our quest for technology integration. Educational Technology, Research and Development, 53 (4), 25-39.

Ertmer, P. A., & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A. T. (2010). Teacher technology change: how knowledge, beliefs, and culture intersect. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 42(3), 255–284.

Entry #1: Open Education & Teacher Tech. Integration

Open Educational Resources (OER) has great potential to increase and broaden the openness of education as well as decrease the cost (COL, 2013; Wiley & Green, 2012). Many researchers and educators are big fans of OER and utilize a wide variety of online cost-free resources in their teaching and professional learning, however, more and more researchers have some concerns about the growing OER movement, such as the quality and sustainability of OER (Atkins, Brown & Hammond, 2007; Downes, 2007; Hylen, 2006). I think the hardest part is to maintain the high-quality OER materials for all users. Although the awareness of the quality of OERs or open course materials has been raised and some institutions and OER platforms try to ensure their resources in high quality (Atkins, Brown & Hammond, 2007), there are still tons of free educational resources without quality check accessible to educators and learners, such as resources on Pinterest or from others’ blogs. I think OER resources users, especially inservice and preservice teachers, need to have the ability to search for massive online resources through appropriate approaches and channels and to identify what resources can really be adapted as their teaching materials with even higher quality.

Looking at some educational news and trends, it seems like educators in higher education institutions have promoted the concept and the skills of OER adaption in education. In K-12 setting, we can see some teachers have started getting involved in the OER environment by joining some OER communities, such as Curriki Groups and OER Community or searching educational resources on OER platforms for K-12 teachers, such as OER Commons and Creative Commons Search. However, I did not find many studies on K-12 teachers talking about how they adapt OER in their teaching or professional learning and whether they found some barriers or challenges in OER reuse and remix. Previous research studies showed that teachers’ technology and content-related knowledge and skills are critical factors on teachers’ use of technology to support their teaching in schools (Hew & Brush, 2007; Ertmer & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2010). So for my research topic, I am interested in investigating how often science teachers in elementary schools adapt OER materials in their teaching as well as in what ways they reuse, remix, revise, and redistribute their teaching materials. Moreover, it would be interesting to know whether those teachers encountered any difficulties in OER adaption due to the lack of technology knowledge and skills or other challenges.


Additional information: Five Critiques of the Open Educational Resources Movement
                                   Issues with OER

Atkins, D.E., Brown, J.S., & Hammond, A.L. (2007). Review of the open educational resources (OER) movement : Achievements, challenges, and new opportunities. Menlo Park, CA:William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Retrieved June 20, 2013, from http://www.hewlett.org/uploads/files/ReviewoftheOERMovement.pdf
Downes, S. (2007). Models for sustainable open educational resources. Interdisciplinary Journal of Knowledge and Learning Objects, 3, 29-44.
Ertmer, P. A., & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A. T. (2010). Teacher technology change: how knowledge, beliefs, and culture intersect. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 42, 255–284.
Hew, K. F., & Brush, T. (2007). Integrating technology into K–12 teaching and learning: Current knowledge gaps and recommendations for future research. Educational Technology Research and Development, 55, 223–252.
Hylén, J. (2006). Open educational resources: Opportunities and challenges. From the 2006 Open Education Conference. Retrieved June 20, 2013, from http://www.knowledgeall.com/files/Additional_Readings-Consolidated.pdf
Wiley, D., & Green, C. (2012). Why openness in education? In D.G.Oblinger (Ed.) Game Changers : Education and Information Technologies, (pp. 81-90). EduCause Books. Retrieved June 20, 2013, from http://www.educause.edu/library/resources/chapter-6-why-openness-education

[WEEK 9 & 10] REFLECTION ON JOB AID AND MAJOR PROJECT

In week 9 class, I really like the activity of job aids peer review. This was an extremely helpful activity especially for job aid creator. It’s true that sometimes other people can see clearer and find errors than designers or creators themselves. Although I have developed my job aid draft for a long period of time, some missing or unclear steps were found while my group members were reading out loud my instruction and acting out what the instruction said. Moreover, I feel difficult in keeping balanced on the amount of information included in my job aid. I understand that it depends on who your audience is and what your audience needs, but I still have been struggling with having no idea how much prior knowledge my audience has. Lots of time we expect our audience should have known this and that as their basic knowledge and skills, but there are always some learners who are not as what we expect. 
In terms of our major project, we started our website design in week9 and hopefully could complete the website construction before week10 because we need to do the trial run in week 11 in all the w200 course sessions. I think all of my teammates have experienced the fact that a good design takes time thinking and developing. During the process of website designing and developing, I feel so constrained by using design templates and design functions on the Wix website creator. Perhaps there’s a need to learn advanced Dreamweaver skills so that I would be able to thoroughly present the whole instructional design ideas. To conclude, the knowledge and skills are somehow the same important in instructional design field.
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Tagxedo – Week 9&10

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