I am a people watcher, an observer if you will. But more importantly than that, I am a listener. My students often say to me “how did you hear that”? To which I reply – “Did you forget, I am a mom”? But honestly – I think it is very important to listen to the chatter that happens in school, especially before class begins. It is at this time that I am able to truly find out who my student are and where their interests lie. It is in these conversations that I am consciously observing (sight and sound) what types of learners I have in my room. Some are checking their texts or texting someone, some are reading a book in between classes, some are snapchatting and some are just talking to one another! You see, by observing these individuals, I am able to design meaningful lessons that engage my students in their own learning styles.
Like Logan, I need my class to be kinesthetic, visual and interactive or I get bored…and if I am bored it is guaranteed that my students will be! My classes are guided by Google Slides but embedded within those slides are varying types of media including “games” (Kahoot, mentimeter) for student interaction. I am conscious of the people in my room, and I try to tap into their learning styles during the class.
I am a science teacher. Some of the concepts that I am teaching about are either too dangerous to expose my students to, too expensive as a field trip, or just too abstract to explain with text alone (think bonding in chemistry – thank you to bozeman science , crash course, Discovery news).
Different media (text, video, picture) all contain a unique experience to the learner. The learner needs to combine the mental integration of the written information along with the type of media that is presented (video, picture) to help enforce the content learned thus creating or building upon a deeper level understanding of the subject knowledge being conveyed. This is especially true when conveying abstract knowledge vs concrete knowledge. Media can relay concrete knowledge in a variety of forms while abstract knowledge is generally relayed through content. But in science, there are very good computer simulations that can help students understand abstract knowledge or knowledge of microscopic processes (bonding of a chemical). The learning of such concepts needs to be structured in such a way that allows for the students to learn and understand the content – depending on the types of learners you have in your classroom, this could be very tightly or loosely arranged.
The power of video helps put a visual to the abstract. The above youtube channels are so well done, why wouldn’t I use them? And honestly, sometimes a good movie trailer is the best hook that I can have to get my students attention. This is how I introduced Environmental Science 20 this semester. They are totally hooked now!
As Bates points out one of the strengths of video is that it is able to “link concrete events and phenomena to abstract principles and vice versa” as well as “demonstrate ways in which abstract principles or concepts developed elsewhere in the course have been applied to real-world problems”.
I completely agree with Andrew, giving students choice in the type of medium the students choose to learn, is giving power in learning to the student. Students have choice in the way they use the media presented to them, they can choose to listen to the screencast (if they learn better being taught in a traditional lecture style) or they can use the notes given and supplemental videos provided.
Not to ignore text, as Ashley points out, audio may be best to learn a language. But as a science teacher, I personally find that video works best for my preferred method of learning. It’s not that I don’t listen to audio, it’s just that some concepts are difficult for me to picture without a visual for reinforcement. BUT, I do have my student listen to snippets of StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson (honestly, how could we not, our class guinea pig is named Tyson, and not after Mike).
As Bates speaks about in his framework for analyzing pedagogical characteristics, I am definitely a connectionist teacher as I try to give as much power to my learners as possible. I also like to have power in how I learn! Therefore, as I reflect on my preferred medium of learning would be video and text as my top two and that is reflective in my own style of teaching. But as Amy notes in her vlog, I really am enjoying having a PLN in an online space via this course and an opportunity to learn from each other.
So to bring this back to my title, don’t be afraid to be a goose in a flock of ducks – do what is best for you and your students. Do you agree?