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Volume 6, Issue 5
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I recently received a question regarding curriculum and pedagogy:
Dear Dr Manute,
Which do you feel is more important to teaching, curriculum or pedagogy?
Max, Columbus, OH
Dr. Manute writes:
Which was more important, knowledge of subject matter or teaching
methodology? Wow, what a
question! Let me begin by
saying that both are important in my book and one without the other just
won’t get the job done effectively.
There are definitely two independent camps on this subject with
very biased views. Both seem
to want it one way without compromise.
Which was more important, knowledge of subject matter or teaching methodology? Wow, what a question! Let me begin by saying that both are important in my book and one without the other just won’t get the job done effectively. There are definitely two independent camps on this subject with very biased views. Both seem to want it one way without compromise.
We’ve all heard the stories about teachers who know their subject content from A to Z, but have a difficult time transferring that knowledge. I remember teachers I had or have worked with who have struggled in that area.
Let’s look at both issues independently. Knowledge of content seems to me the cornerstone of teaching. How could someone transfer knowledge or information without possessing that knowledge themselves? That doesn’t mean as a professional educator you are required to know or understand everything there is in a specific discipline, that would be impossible. However a solid background is vital. Without it, how would a teacher possess the confidence to face a classroom of students regardless of grade level? Take for example a classroom teacher engaging her students in a discussion about the application of a right triangle. How would she be able to answer questions without a solid knowledge base or how would she progress to higher levels of thinking? Where does one acquire this knowledge? Well, students reach proficiency levels as they progress through their formal schooling from elementary through middle and high school. Education majors acquire a more rigorous content base at the undergraduate level. In many cases teachers choose a discipline that they are really interested in. This interest creates motivation. It is the same principle of classroom teaching.
Another aspect of content mastery is it allows a teacher the freedom and flexibility to design creative and interesting lessons. Teachers are also able to help students draw connections and parallels with important events in their daily lives; that in itself helps in retention. Best of luck in your teaching, remember, those who can, teach, those who can’t go into some less significant line of work.
Do sync all iPods to one computer. You'll really be doing yourself a favor by syncing with one computer. You can add media to one computer's iTunes Library and know that it will sync with all iPods. If you must use more than one computer for syncing, always sync the same group of iPods to the same computers. This will probably involve color-coding the iPods and computers. The one computer you sync with can be Windows or Macintosh. Some people report that Windows computers freeze when syncing more than a few iPods at once. Macs appear to work better at syncing multiple iPods simultaneously.
Do name iPods. The first time you sync an iPod you are prompted to give it a name in iTunes. Start the name with a number so iPods are listed in order under the Devices list. Include a zero in front of number 1-9 so the computers sure to list them correctly. You can always change an iPod's name anytime using iTunes.
Do set iPods for automatic sync of all content. Configure each iPod to sync all audio, video, podcasts, and apps so that everything in the iTunes Library is automatically transferred to the iPod. This way there are no buttons to push or click. Simply plugging in the iPod will ensure that everything in the iTunes Library is synced onto the iPod. Refer to this PDF for directions. Each iPod will have to be configured separately in iTunes. But, once configured, you won't have to touch the settings again.
Do make playlists. Because everything in the computer's iTunes Library will be synced onto the iPods, it's a good idea to organize what you want students to access into playlists. Do this by click the + in the bottom-left of the iTunes windows. Name your playlist and then drag and drop audio, video, podcasts, and audiobooks onto it. You can click and drag to reorder items within a playlist. Upon next sync, the playlist will appear on the iPod.
Do delete content. Since you are mirroring the computer's iTunes Library onto the iPods, deleting items from iTunes will delete them from the iPods. After you no longer have a need for a podcast, video, or audiobook, delete it so it is not taking up room and cluttering up the iPods. Chances are you want to use this content with a future class. If it's something you will use again, drag and drop it into a folder on your desktop. You can drag and drop it back into iTunes for the next time you want it synced to iPods.
Do configure the Music app for easy access to playlists and podcasts. I wish the Music app on iPod touch was named Audio instead because that is where you listen to any audio and access podcasts. Like it's name suggests, the app is set up for listening to songs. With a few changes, you can make it easier for students access educational content on the iPod. First, launch the Music app and tap the More button. Then tap Edit. Drag the Playlists, Podcasts,and iTunes U buttons to the bottom of the screen. If you use audiobooks you can drag that too. You'll need to do this on each iPod touch (or better yet have students do it). Now when the Music app is launched, students have quick one-tap access to whatever buttons you added to the bottom of the screen.
Do label or engrave iPods. It's important for teachers and students to be able to identify iPods. Giving iPods numbers is helpful. Some schools engrave numbers on the iPods' backs. Unfortunately, this number cannot be seen when the iPod is in a protective case. Putting a sticker on the front or writing the number on the case is helpful. Be sure the number matches the number you gave the iPod in iTunes. Additionally, having a variety of colors for cases can make it easier for students to spot their iPods.
Do set up an iTunes account for the classroom computer. Most prefer to keep their personal iTunes account separate from their school account. Now, you do not need an iTunes account to download podcasts and iTunes U collections. You do need an account if you plan to download audiobooks and apps, even if you are will only download free apps. iTunes usually requires a credit card to be on file when you create an account unless you follow these directions. You can sync all of the iPods using that one account. Everything you download with that account will be locked to that account and can only be installed from computers that are authorized with the account's Apple ID and password.
Do know you can authorize more than one account on a computer. If you bought software using a different account from your classroom account, it is possible to also authorize your account in addition to your school account on the classroom syncing computer. Click Authorize Computer from iTunes' Store menu and enter your Apple ID and password. Realize that you can authorize an account on up to five computers. When you de-authorize your account on the computer the apps and audiobooks that are associated with your account will be deleted from the iPods.
Do use a flash drive to transfer apps between computers. When you purchase an app in iTunes it is downloaded and stored on your computer's hard drive. That same app file is then copied to all iPods that sync with your iTunes Library. There might be times you download apps on a computer other than the one you use for syncing. In this case you will need to copy the apps from the original computer's Library onto the new computer for syncing with iPods. The easiest way is to use a flash drive. On the first computer click Applications under Library. Then drag and drop the apps you wish to copy onto the flash drive. They appear as .ipa files with an iTunes icon. Eject and insert the flash drive into the computer used for syncing. Drag the apps from the flash drive into the iTunes Library. If the apps were downloaded or purchased under a different iTunes account than the one on the syncing computer, you may have to authorize your account (see above).
Do get a charging cart, case, or tray if you have the money. Bretford makes the PowerSync Cart for iPod. It's pricey at about $2300. For about half the price they offer the PowerSync Case. TriBeam is another company that makes carts and trays for syncing iPods. An advantage to these solutions is that each iPod has it's own slot. Numbering these slots allows the teacher to quickly see which iPods are missing. If you cannot afford a cart or case, do buy a couple of powered USB hubs so you can sync and charge several iPods at once. If you stagger connecting the iPods, you can sync and charge an entire class set without buying expensive equipment.
Do have procedures for passing out, turning in, and syncing. Will students get their iPod as they enter the classroom? Do you have a helper student who will pick up the iPods? How will you know when all iPods have been turned in? There are lots of ways teachers manage iPods in the classroom. The key is having procedures for everyone to follow.
Do secure iPods when not in use. Have a place to lock up the iPods. It's no fun when an iPod is stolen.
Do have earbuds for each student. Something else that isn't fun is using earbuds that someone else has stuck in their ears. You can get inexpensive earbuds at Walmart and online. Most students probably already have their own earbuds. Earbud wires do tend to get tangled. Those in elementary classrooms may consider putting a hook on a wall for each student. Label the hooks and earbuds so students can drape their earbuds from the hooks when not in use as a way to keep the wires tangle-free.
Do create a web clip icon for your class or school website. A web clip is an icon you can add to your Home screen as a shortcut to a website. With one tap, Safari will open to the web clip's page. To make a web clip, simply open the page in Safari. Tap the Plus sign at the bottom of the screen. Tap Add to Home Screen and edit the title (if you want). Tap Add and, presto, a new icon is added to your Home Screen. This will need to be done on each iPod individually. Adding a web clip to your class website enables you to add a link to your site that students can easily access on their iPods without typing in a web address.
Do use a URL shortener. If you don't have a class website or don't have time to update it, give wen addresses for students to type in using a URL shortening service. Sites like tinyurl.com and bit.ly take longer web addresses and make them shorter. The shorter the URL the easier they are to type on an iPod touch. Read more about shrinking long web addresses.
Do have consequences for misuse. Unfortunately, students will be tempted to use iPods inappropriately. I've found that taking away the iPod is an effective consequence for misuse. Students who have continual problems with misuse should be seated so that the teacher can monitor their activities. Maybe even point a video camera on a tripod at the student's screen so that the student knows the teacher is always "watching."
Do create a usage contract. A contract is an effective way to communicate how and when an iPod can be used. Have students and parents sign the contract to indicate they agree to follow the rules and accept the consequences for breaking the rules. You may want to model your contract after some of these:
Do set up email.. Like it or not, email is the primary way to get some information off the iPod and onto a computer. If students are assigned their own iPods, then it makes sense to set up each iPod with the student's email account. Some schools use Gaggle.net email, which can be configured to work on iPod touch. If students do not have their own email or students share individual iPods, you may want to set up each one with a free Gmail account. The problem with setting up all those accounts is the time involved and the difficulty in monitoring so many accounts. An alternative is to create one Gmail account to be used on all iPods. So that you can tell which iPod an email originated from, type in the number of the iPod or the name of the student in the Email settings Name field. This will need to be set up individually on each iPod. Additionally, be sure the teacher's email address is added to the address book so students can easily send what they create on the iPod touch to the teacher.
Don't give students the iTunes account password. If you give them the password, they can download apps right from the iPod itself. Apps downloaded on one iPod will eventually be synced to all iPods so a single problem could grow larger. Teachers should be in complete control over what is loaded on the devices, so they should keep passwords to themselves.
Don't sync iPods with any other computer than the original. If an iPod is attached to a different computer you will get messages that content on the iPod will have to be erased. You probably don't want that. If you click Cancel, the iPod will charge but won't sync.
Don't feel you need to sync iPods everyday. Chances are you won't need to sync iPods everyday. You only need to sync when there are new podcasts, audio, video, or apps you want to put on the iPods. If you plan ahead, you can make it so syncing is required only weekly and perhaps monthly. Depending on use, however, iPods will probably need to be charged every couple days.
Don't spend too much on iPods. The 8GB iPod touch is the most affordable. Is 8GB enough? For most, yes, 8GB is plenty for dozens of apps, lots of audio, and a few videos. You can see how much of the available memory is taken up by viewing each iPod's capacity gauge. The gauge is found in iTunes under the Summary tab for each iPod.
Don't buy expensive accessories. Apple sells $30 earbuds with microphones, $30 cases, $20 syncing cables, and $30 wall plugs. Monoprice sells $4 earbuds with microphones, $1 cases, $2 syncing cables, and $4 wall plugs.
Don't mistreat batteries. iPods use lithium-ion batteries. These batteries will lose capacity over time. The worst thing you can do is store iPods somewhere hot, like a car in the summertime. It's also not healthy for lithium-ion batteries to be completely discharged. For healthiest batteries, store iPods at about 80% charge over the summer (be sure to completely power down the iPods over the summer as well).
Don't stick with just free apps. Yes, there are lots of free apps out there, but you often get what you pay for. Many terrific apps are less than $5. If you are using an iTunes account without a credit card, you can fill your account balance with iTunes gift cards. Nevada teacher Tina Holland has a little "store" in her room where she sells knickknacks, water, and treats. She uses the revenue to buy iTunes gift cards that are used to purchase apps (if you are a Costco shopper, you can actually buy iTunes cards for less than their iTunes value). Note that an app can be purchased once and then synced to all of your iPods. That's a very good deal!
Don't use liquids to clean the screen. You don't want liquid getting inside. Microfiber clothes clean the screens nicely. If the screen is really gunky, put a small amount of water on a cloth and then clean the device.
Don't put up with a glitchy iPod. iPods can easily be restored to factory settings if something gets out of whack (or if a student decides to lock the iPod and forget the password). Read about restoring.
Don't forget professional development. There's always something new to learn when it comes to teaching and learning with iPods. Consider booking a workshop with me, Tony Vincent, and my workshops can even be attended by students. Don't forget that I offer a podcast for iPod-using educators. Additionally, there are plenty of other great websites out there where educators are sharing their iPod touch activities, ideas, and resources.
I'm hoping to make this list as thorough as possible. I will update this list with your suggestions so leave them in the comments.
Fire drills are probably the most common situations you will
encounter. The best way to handle these is to teach your students what
to do in the event of a drill or an actual evacuation. Yes, you can
teach this to your students. Fire drills are to be surprises only WHEN
they occur, not a surprise in WHAT to do. It is good practice for your
students to know exactly what the procedure to follow is. The most
important part is to be sure YOU fully understand the school's fire
drill procedure and you can confidently teach it to your students.
Be sure to check out our website for the FREE teacher Who-I-Want-To- Be plan and other great Freebies for new teachers. Simply click the following link: http://www.starteaching.com/free.htm
This month I’d like to get into
some practical ideas of how to change the way you do things in school.
What is engaging students today? Who has figured out how to deliver
something the kids want? Two industries have been overwhelmingly
successful, gaming and video. Education needs to find their secret and
begin to use it. Before you turn me off and say I can’t do anything
like that, check out these three YouTube videos on Quest Atlantis.
Go to http://atlantis.crlt.indiana.
Students in today's world are extremely literate. They know and understand far more than most parents and educators give them credit for. Every bit of technology embraced by today's youth becomes an integral part of the way they construct meaning from the world. From television to websites to blogging to texting and messaging, everything the students learn is then shared back with the world through the same kinds of media. The students' world is no longer a static place, as is was much for all previous generations; they fully interact with the information they take in, they make sense of it, and then they pass along their interpretations and
Students in front of a screen are anything BUT couch potatoes. This becomes very difficult for many of us to understand, because our generations were the couch potatoes - we simply looked into the television or the computer screen and shut out everything else. These were little else than a fancy means of reading books, and all else around was blocked off. There were no avenues for sharing information we took in, for sharing discussion, for sharing opinions. But today's students interact with this information. They are fully fluent in the streaming of media, and they CAN share opinions and discuss with others all over the world through this same media.
Kids can't just watch TV, or read books, or look at art; their literacy is in making their own videos, their own shows, their own music, their own digital stories and artwork. They are not passive, they are active in their learning.
Now, I'm not saying students and teachers should abandon the pencils, paper, and novels. But we need to seriously look at the way we expect our students to learn and to demonstrate that they have learned. Our students are far more advanced than simply reading text books and writing down answers on lined paper. Be creative, step out of your comfort zone as teachers, let your students lead for a while. You'll be amazed where they take you. And you'll see they are still learning, probably more and better than they had been before.
The following video is from a series by Stephen Heppell who is challenging the way educators see their students as literate people, incorporating technology to advance their learning. He sees today's students as being very literate, but in needing schools and teachers to provide the avenues for telling those stories, for sharing those thoughts and opinions.
The Montessori method is both a methodology and educational philosophy. It was originally developed in the early 1900s by Dr. Maria Montessori as a way to educate poor children in her native Italy. Many Montessori schools are preschool or elementary school in level, but there are some Montessori programs which have all grade levels up to and including High School.
Criticisms of the Montessori Method:
A wide range of conflicting criticisms have been leveled at the Montessori method. Some parents believe the Montessori environment leaves the children too free while others see the Montessori method as stifling to creativity. Some see Montessori schools as elitist prep schools for preschoolers while others question Montessori teaching priorities, and decry children spending time on such menial tasks as washing tables or arranging flowers. Some parents are put off by what they view to be Montessori teachers' unusual manners: some may appear too subdued, others too stern, none of them necessarily praising or teaching the children in a conventional manner.
The two primary critics of the Montessori Method in education theory are William Heard Kilpatrick and John Dewey. They thought that Montessori was too restrictive, and didn't adequately emphasize social interaction and development. Dewey believed that the Montessori Method stifled creativity.
Another criticism of Montessori schools is that they do not traditionally assign homework. The lessons taught in a Montessori classroom are not generally conducive to home use, and the materials are highly specialized. It would be unlikely that a parent would buy materials for this purpose. Critics allege that a child who transfers to a traditional school and is required to do homework will have trouble adjusting, although research has shown the opposite. Homework in some form has started to find its way into the Montessori curriculum, if in a somewhat forced manner.
For many years Montessori schools in North America did not believe in marking students according to letter grade system, and instead issued report cards that focused entirely on descriptions of the student's behavior and progress in class. Many parents complained that such report cards made it too difficult to get a clear picture on how well or poorly a student was doing in their subjects. As a result, some American Montessori schools now issue letter grades just as non-Montessori classes do.
Within the Montessori professional community, there have been squabbles ranging from minutiae to the core principles of the philosophy. Those from one training background may believe another is too strict or outdated while others are accused of diluting Montessori's scientifically derived vision of ideal environments to support human development.
Internal divisions regarding the classroom materials also exist. Some Montessori associations (such as AMI) are seen as adamantly opposed to the development or inclusion of new types of materials or ideas. A further problem lies in the traditional Montessori requirement that materials used in the classroom should be of natural materials (primarily wood) and of high quality. This creates a rift between well-funded schools who purchase material based on quality, and those schools who purchase cheaper materials (often plastic) in order to stretch their budget.
Dr. Angeline Stoll Lillard's 2005 book Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius (Oxford University Press) presents the first real comprehensive overview of research done on the comparison of Montessori educated children to those educated in a more traditional manner. Lillard cites research indicating that the children do better in later schooling than non-Montessori children in all subjects, and argues that more research is needed in this area.
A 2006 study concluded that Montessori students performed better than their standard public school counterparts:
On several dimensions, children at a public inner city Montessori school had superior outcomes relative to a sample of Montessori applicants who, because of a random lottery, attended other schools. By the end of kindergarten, the Montessori children performed better on standardized tests of reading and math, engaged in more positive interaction on the playground, and showed more advanced social cognition and executive control. They also showed more concern for fairness and justice. At the end of elementary school, Montessori children wrote more creative essays with more complex sentence structures, selected more positive responses to social dilemmas, and reported feeling more of a sense of community at their school.
One such recent example was the president's State of the Union speech. This became an important study in current events, economics, and politics for our social studies class. Subsequently, our
English class was asked to join in an interdisciplinary project by writing an essay response to the speech.
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