Even the best seating plan within a classroom can prove to be an inconvenience to a great lesson. So why should a teacher spend so long working through a lesson plan and not consider the layout of the classroom? Now the majority of classroom furniture is movable but takes time away from a lesson to be rearranged. That being said the benefit of rearranging classroom furniture is invaluable. It is best to experiment with furniture layouts and discover whats best for you and what is best for the lesson at the time.
The BBC give a great example as far as what is important to have within a classroom, and what to consider when organizing a classroom to fit your needs. They discuss some considerations the teacher may have as well as provide suggestions for effective layouts.
Another article written by teacher magazine discusses the important of classroom layout. The article focuses on a more elementary setting but does take into the perspective of the teachers and the students. Setting up the classroom for success and letting students learn through a discussion and group discovery. It also addresses the importance of assigned seating at different points in a students lives. From assigned seating to elementary, to more freedom in high school. Ultimately it boils down to the same thing about knowing your students and pick the best situation to set them up for success.
An introduction to coding in the classroom. Today I got a tutorial on coding and how to bring in into the classroom by a professor at the university of Victoria Rich Mccue. The very beginning of the lecture started by being directed to his own website where we were given access to a number of tutorials on coding and different coding softwares. I have had limited experience with coding in the past and found it frustrating and difficult to get into. The advantage with the information age is that there are as many tutorials online about how to code as there are people who want to learn coding. There is now simplified coding software that makes coding as easy as dragging pre made blocks into a script and pressing play. This is usually accompanied by a simple graphic style art form that is designed appeal to younger coders and simplify the process. I took a stab at coding again and worked with a program known as Scratch, an app that is similar to the drag and drop block coding. I followed a tutorial online to help me create the game Flappy Bird with a twist. The program and tutorial felt a lot more smooth and easy to learn then attempts that I had made in the past. Although the process of bug fixing was still frustrating and difficult. When I had made a mistake in the code the program didn’t work and it took me several minutes to trouble shooting to figure out what the issue was. This is one of the difficulties with code. Students who feel they have completed the program correctly can get easily frustrated and no longer wish to partake in the lesson. It is important to attempt to have students treat bug fixing similar to puzzles and finding the mistake. Though no matter how it is presented it will be a barrier for some students to get into programming.
Another issue that may cause some tension is the classroom is simply the desire to learn how to code. It is a long and can be complicated process that students may not wish to partake in. However what can be done with code is in essence limitless. As long as it is imaginable there should be a way to code a computer to do it, the only question is complexity and goal of the task in mind. I have included an example of my Flappy Bird esc game, as well as a video of it in action. I also encourage you to explore Rich Mccues website and explore some of the tutorials yourself.
Today I got to experience my first UnConference. For those of you unfamiliar with the term Unconferences are bottom up learning opportunities. Without keynote speakers, or workshops these conferences work by having participants elect on subjects they would like to know more about. Either topics they have some experiences in or want to have more experience with. The participants usually a group of colleagues, peers or the public then get an opportunity to vote on the proposed topics. These topics are spread out throughout the conference and have limited moderation for a group collaboration and discussion.
This format might seem a little bizarre until it is experienced. The opportunity to share knowledge with peers and experts allows for a wide range of conversations to take place and group learning to occur. In the short introduction I received in Ed-Tech we discussed ‘Favourite Teachers’ and the characteristics that made them as such.
We didn’t have a self proclaimed expert on the topic and while the group didn’t have a moderator we quickly fell into a format that I found worked for everyone who was present. Starting as just a pair and share we went around the group and described our favourite teachers and the characteristics that made them as such. About half way through the sharing we stumbled upon the topic of how there were teachers that we did not like and their characteristics. This helped us reinforce our discussion and highlighted those traits we would all like to emulate as teachers. Perfectly summed up by another participant in this Conference “Our common trait across all of them was that they treated us like humans” At the end of the day it was the teachers that respected us as people, were approachable and didn’t write people off that made the best impression. Typically our stories started with how funny our favourite teacher was but this lead to a strong asterisk. Teachers that tried to hard to be any one kind of trait, funny, sympathetic, rules lawyer, usually ended up leaving an unfavourable impression with as we felt they were trying to hard.
This conversation ended with a few brief ideas as what we all aspired to be as future teachers and I think really created a bit of a reality for us as to what we wanted to do with profession and the impression we wanted to leave on future students. Not only do I see the benefit to unconfernces i hope to bring this style of learning into my own classroom to hopefully allow students to take ownership of their subjects and interests. Allowing them to choose the topics they want to learn about.
For more information about Edcamps and unconfernces click here.
Before proceeding with this first blog post, we expect you to consider your privacy preferences carefully and that you have considered the following options:
- Do you want to be online vs. offline?
- Do you want to use your name (or part thereof) vs. a pseudonym (e.g., West Coast Teacher)?
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- Have you considered whether you are posting within or outside of Canada? This blog on opened.ca is hosted within Canada. That said, any public blog posts can have its content aggregated/curated onto social networks outside of Canada.
First tasks you might explore with your new blog:
- Go into its admin panel found by adding /wp-admin at the end of your blog’s URL
- Add new category or tags to organize your blog posts – found under “Posts” (but do not remove the pre-existing “EdTech” category or sub-categories, Free Inquiry and EdTech Inquiry). We have also pre-loaded the Teacher Education competencies as categories should you wish to use them to document your learning. If you would like to add more course categories, please do so (e.g., add EDCI 306A with no space for Music Ed, etc.)
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Do consider creating categories for each course that you take should you wish to document your learning (or from professional learning activities outside of formal courses). Keep note, however, that you may wish to use the course topic as the category as opposed to the course number as those outside of your program would not be familiar with the number (e.g., we use “EdTech” instead of “edci336).
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