Tag Archives: learning

Is Getting to the Finish Line Enough?

Mark Carnes wrote an article where he talked about his learning concept called Reacting to the Past. Carnes description of Reacting to the Past is in alignment with the established descriptions of active learning. However, I have found the term –active learning–lacking clarity. So I have started to refer to [what would be] active learning as lived-learning…with the outcome of lived-knowledge. We are more likely to reach students if we can immerse them in the material. One way to do this is to move the stories we teach closer to their realities and their experiences. Let them touch history. Let them change the outcomes outlined in a lesson with contemporary tools. I purchase this approach.

Now, a slight left turn from active learning. Last semester I wrote a paper asking the question Is education the key to a better quality of life. In particular, I wanted to know if college completion would yield an improvement in the areas of labor and shelter. What I found was a significant difference in the success outcomes and these differences were based on race. After running a few comparisons between racial groups, I found that–even with an increasing rate of college completion–markers of success had not improved for Blacks since 1964.

Carnes is concerned with students completing college, and the anecdotes he provided are great examples of how we can re-engage students. In addition to Carnes’ concern, I am concerned about what happens after college. Keeping students interested and engaged is just one step towards preparing them for success in life. There are other hurdles our students will have to overcome, and we can help them by finding ways to address the aforementioned disparities.

I would love to hear your thoughts about lived-learning and success beyond college.


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Deconstructing the Grading System

In Alfie Kohn’s article , The Case Against Grades, the author deconstructs the traditional grading system. The author opens up a big wound, pours salt in it and offers lukewarm examples as the balm. While I agree that teaching towards the grade is not the best learning strategy, I am also aware that the traditional grading system is subject to larger systems and bigger issues. For example, if the school system, as a whole, does not agree to change how we evaluate learning, then the individual teacher that elects for a “non-grade” learning environment runs the risk of being terminated or they might jeopardize their school’s position. Now, there is a larger way of being and doing that modern society participates in…and that is risk culture.

Risk culture is fueled by fear. Fear of losing one’s job, fear of failing school, fear of disappointing one’s parents, fear of lawsuits, fear of not getting into college. The list of fears is neverending, and risk culture is what drives us closer to quantifying success with a rigid grading system. So if we are going to deconstruct the grading system, we should consciously take steps to deconstruct the larger systems that will eventually undermine any advances taken at the sub-system level.

This article left me wondering what was occurring at the higher levels of society—like the school board and the college systems that review the applications of the students participating in a non-grade environment.

Questions to Ponder: What type colleges were willing to accept narrative summaries instead of grades? Did the non-grade teachers have the support of their leadership?


Filed under GEDIVTS17

“10 Cool Ways Teachers Use Social Media to Enhance Learning” by V. Harris

My task for this week was to find an article related to how teachers are using technology to enhance learning.  The first article I came across was this quick read by Vicki Davis.   She provided 10 examples of how teachers have incorporated tech in their classroom.  One teacher had students create Twitter handles using names of famous Aztecs.  As they walk through the history lessons, students sent tweets that stated how they think a historical event transpired.  I was inspired by several of the examples shared by Vicki, but then I started to think about how these ideas would align with higher education. Based on the provided examples, I assumed that most of them were drawn from K through 12.

I have found the delivery of most professors to be predictable, and this could make learning more of a chore.  However, a select few have made an effort to teach outside of the box.  One professor used a survey app to push questions to us [students] as we moved through the lesson. In fact, the professor projected our collective responses on a screen and we discussed each element of the lesson with great detail.  The professor used this tool a few times throughout the course and I thought it was a great way to spice up an otherwise mundane topic.  More importantly, I noticed that people were fully engaged.  Learning should be fun, and I think his use of tech helped to make that happen.

One challenge for higher ed is that we may sometimes find that our class population is not homogeneous.  Meaning, some students may be technologically challenged, and some students may not have the means to purchase or participate in certain platforms.  If we decided to make technology a centerpiece to our lesson plan, we must keep these type of issues in mind.  With enough creativity and patience, we can bring along those who are not savvy with technology and we can ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to participate.

If any of you have used technology as a centerpiece to learning, I would love to hear about it.

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What’s Your Teaching Style?

There are two major modes of teaching that are discussed in academia. Do you see yourself in either of these descriptions?

Didactic – Passive Learning

1. Teacher-centered: based on the assumption that the teacher is the primary agent in learning.

2. Teacher’s role: to impart the results of experience, personal study, and reflection.

3. Primarily deductive: the usual methods are lecture, story telling, use of analogy, and aphorism.

4. Test of truth: authority and experience.

5. Learning is the reception of ideas.

6. Student’s role: to be passive, open, receptive,
trusting, and unquestioning.

7. Evaluation is factual recall of data–commonly in the form of objective tests–right and wrong answers.

8. Ultimate goal: wisdom viewed as the internalization of truths and beliefs.


Socratic – Active Learning

1. Problem-centered: based on the assumption that the student is the primary agent in learning.

2. Teacher’s role: to uncover the question that the answer hides. To be a co-learner.

3. Primarily inductive: the usual methods discussion, dialogue, and problem-solving.

4. Test of truth: reason and evidence.

5. Learning is a conflict of ideas: a thesis, antithesis, and a synthesis that results in new knowledge (Hegel).

6. Student’s role: to be active, questioning, critical, and discriminating–learning to trust one’s own judgment (independent thinking).

7. Evaluation is application of understanding interpretation of data–commonly in an essay, speech, journal, or a review.

8. Ultimate goal: wisdom viewed as an informed ignorance (knowing what one does not know–the Socratic paradox).

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