Thursday, September 17, 2015

Hey You Forgot to Write this Week!

Hey, you forgot to write this week, Mr. Davis said to me as we spoke in night school.  Yea, I said, my whole week got knocked our of rhythm and it threw everything off, including my writing.  Funny thing routines, when they are working we barely notice them.  All our little rituals, quarks, and superstitions all work together to bring comfort to us, provide us with a sense of security, and bring a rhythm to our life.  But if one thing is off, even something minor like waking up five minutes late, or leaving something at home so that you have to circle the block to go back in, can through your whole day out of wack.  Even planned interruptions, like days off from school/work, can have an adverse effect on our psyche, and our learning.

It is not so much the disruption of the routine that puts our learning in a less than optimal state, it is the way it alters our day and pushes us into times, areas, locations, and methods that do not fit our optimal learning pattern or environment.  Each of us has them, things that we do to help us prepare to learn, places that we learn best, and methodologies that help us to maximize our learning.

For me my best learning occurs in the morning, usually in a coffee shop where I can focus on what I am doing, enjoy a nice pumpkin spice latte, and have just enough activity to take short breaks to people watch.  Additionally, I learn better by reading than watching videos or listening to podcasts.  That might be why my second favorite place to learn, is walking early in the morning with articles pre-loaded on my iPad and along the trails in Winona Lake before they are crowded with bike riders.

Interestingly, while I am very attuned to how, where, and under what style I learn best, I am embarrassed to say that I was not always sure how they learned best, nor was I sure that they knew either.  Sadder still, while wondering about these two questions, I did little to either learn for myself about my learners, and conversely teach them how to learn.  How much do you know about our learners?  More importantly, how much do you want to know?

Things I Learned from Asking Students What They Learned Last Week:
  • The lighter, in color, a crystal is the clearer it is.  Bismuth  is rainbow colored due to oxidation.
  • I learned how to create a 2D game on the computer in my independent study class.
  • 1 of our students is writing a book that is a crossover fan fiction combining Percy Jackson with Star Wars.
  • Explorer 1 has left the heliosphere
  • Denmark has 4 extra letters:  å æ é ø on their keyboard

Things I Learned While Visiting Classrooms:
  • MathXL has a feature called Virtual Nerd that explains how to do problems to students when they are stuck.  I sooooo wish that I had this when I was in HS math.
  • Tu' (the singular you in Spanish) is to be used in informal settings for example with people you know well.  While usted is to be used for you in more formal occasions.
Things I Learned from Reading (Due to it raining when I went walking on Saturday shortly after I started, these articles are actually from the week before-rhythms and routines again):
  • Elvis Presley once flew 2 hours to Denver, CO from Graceland to get a 8,000 calorie sandwich called the Fool's Gold that combines a hollowed out loaf of bread, an entire jar of peanut butter, an entire jar of jelly, and a pound of bacon.
  •  A new pool opened in a London high rise, that spans the two towers of the high rise and is made of glass so that swimmers can see people on the street below them. And people thought having a pool on the second story of a school was crazy.
  • Google Docs now has a voice option that allows students to speak to type from the tools menu in Docs.
  • From the Cybersecurity Division, be ware of ATM skimmers which look like a regular ATM slot, but are designed to steal your information when you go to get cash. Krebs on Security has the story.
  • Ed Week discusses research that perfectionism both helps and hurts students in the learning process and in life. 
  • This long and interesting article from Helen Rosner tells of the 127 Sale which runs for 1 weekend each year and is billed as the world's largest yard sale stretching from Alabama to Southern Michigan along US Route 127.
  • Finally, Edutopia evaluates 3 classroom tools to use for formative assessment.  My favorite-Kahoot.

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