Archive for February, 2011

How NOT to motivate students

This video with Daniel Pink made me think a little bit about what teachers do to try and motivate students. I think it is common for teachers to use a ‘points system’ to motivate students. If a student succeeds on a task they will get points or stars and after a certain number of these they can cash them in for a prize. What Pink is saying though, is that these motivational factors don’t work. Studies have been done over and over again and the results continue to be the same…

individuals being offered a large cash prizes for performing a task do worse on the task than individuals offered a much smaller prize. These points systems that are sometimes used with students then, are irrelevant. Offering a student a prize for completing a task isn’t going to ensure that they do any better on it. Don’t you think if students could do something they would? Children don’t want to look incompetent and they don’t want to be wrong. If a student is having trouble performing a task we shouldn’t be trying to motivate them with an extra recess, we should be helping them work through their tangle.

I recently watched this video and I absolutely loved it! Robinson mentions that “we are educating children out of their creative capacities.” Right now in schools there is very little emphasis on the arts, but why? Students are learning the information that was necessary when this country first became industrialized, but that information doesn’t hold the vitality that creativity does in learning. Another video by Ken Robinson called Changing Education Paradigms showed that studies have shown that divergent thinking significantly decreases in children as they progress through school. So instead of encouraging our children to think outside of the box and use creativity we are teaching them there is only one way to think and they all must think the same. Why do we want all of our students to think the same? Did Einstein get as far as he did because he sat in his desk and thought how he was told to think? I’m guessing probably not. Students are afraid of speaking their mind and afraid of being wrong and I see this in college courses as well.

It was recently mentioned in class by my professor that students are afraid of discussion and as far as I can see that is 100% true. Students are coming from high schools where for the most part they sat in a desk and got spoon fed information. When they walk into a college course with a professor that expects them to speak up they are appalled. Why? Because they have never had a discussion. They want to come in, listen to a professor, and take notes because that is what they are a product of.

How then, do we put creativity back into the classroom? Open and networked learning. Creativity grows with interaction and collaboration among peers. Children should NOT be sitting in desks anymore. It is no longer relevant. They need to be encouraged to open up their minds and let their creativity and divergent thinking expand. Allow them to interact and try to solve problems in multiple ways, not just one. Creativity and networked learning is what is going to save education.

Are there any negative consequences of networked learning? Maybe.. something that I hadn’t thought of before was brought up in class last week and that is a machine can not love a child. We don’t want our children staring at a computer screen 8 hours a day just as much as we don’t want them staring at the board 8 hours a day. Computers need to be incorporated in education but technology should not replace the teacher. Children need love and care in order to develop and grow to be loving human beings. Just like children need love and care they also need creativity to become unique and make a valid contribution to society. Teachers might take a bit of a back seat with technology incorporated in the curriculum, but they should and most likely will always remain.

There are countless reasons why we are trying to make a change in the classroom from 19th century learning to 21st century learning. Above all, educators are concerned about the quality of their student’s education. The main thing that will further a student’s education is their involvement and engagement in quality learning. Student’s should be interested in the subject they are learning about. They should get involved and want to learn. But will they?

I found this video on classroom 2.0 which is a perfect example that they can.

These students are not only becoming active members in their learning by doing this project, but they are showing the world that they want to continue to build this online community. Through this project they are building skills that they would never get sitting in a classroom taking notes from the board. They are researching ways to raise money, they are communicating with a teacher across the globe, they are collaborating with one another, and they are showing an incredible amount of compassion. They are reaching out to people who they don’t even know and telling them, this is how we learn and it works so well for us that we want you to have the same opportunity.

EDT 400 thus far..

As a third year student at the University of Maine double majoring in Elementary and Early Childhood Education I decided to take the course EDT 400 (computers in education) because I like computers, but mostly because I needed a class to fill that time slot. I didn’t realize all of the opportunities this class would open up for me. Walking into the first class I felt overwhelmed and confused and I kept thinking “what am I getting myself into..” Once I started playing around with all of these new tools (word press, tweetdeck, netvibes, diigo) I realized that once I started to get the feel of things these tools were super helpful.

EDT 400 thus far as been one of the very few classes I have taken at the University of Maine where I don’t feel invisible. My instructor wants to get to know everyone and he cares about what we have to say. I am interacting with my peers in ways I never imagined possible. This interaction is allowing me to learn more and dig deeper. I find myself reading an article or a peer’s blog and wanting to research and find more information. I am asking myself questions and researching to find the answers. It is so refreshing to go and sit in a class where you know you are part of this community that you really can’t find in any other classes. I often participate in class discussions but would like to see more discussions with the whole class getting involved. I hope that as the semester goes on that this community will become closer knit.

I am learning a tremendous amount about the importance of technology in the classroom. I never would have thought I would blog in my life. Through my peers blogs and other educators blogs though I am finding multiple sources of information on how to implement technology in the classroom. I am being introduced to some individuals with amazing insights into changes we need to make in the education system like George Siemens, Daniel Pink, Heidi Hayes Jacobs, and even some local individuals like Deb White. I am reading articles and watching videos and I am so intrigued by this class and how much I am learning and still have to learn about technology! I have learned to blog with pictures, videos, and links. I would like to try to link and upload more resources into my blogs rather than just pictures. I have subscribed to peers and other educators blogs. I am using tweetdeck which is making me aware of updated blogs, new articles, videos, and tons of other information relevant to EDT400. I am using netvibes to connect me to EDT400 blogs, twitter, facebook, world news, and weather all at the same time. The convenience of these tools is really amazing and they all help me to improve and shape my opinions. When I have trouble coming up with ideas for a blog post I can always go to other resources through twitter or netvibes and find something!

I loved the first video we watched Learning to Change, Changing to Learn! It was a great way to introduce the class and it really opened my eyes to some of the problems we are facing with education. The article on Connectivism- A Learning Theory for the Digital Age as well really got me thinking an inspired me to blog.

I have high hopes for this course and the rest of the semester and I am eager to continue to open up in an online community and engage in my learning!

Today we are living in a country with outdated curriculum and for the  most part a strictly formal learning environment. Students sit behind  desks and zone out as the teacher rambles on about the U.S  constitution and Shakespeare. It is time to start bringing more non-  formal learning into the classroom. Most of the content area taught in  school can be taught even better non formally. Instead of lecturing to the students about the subject in today’s lesson plan give them the subject and have them do some research. That way they are engaged in their learning by reading, watching videos, and picking out information they think is important. Have them write a blog about the subject and comment on one another’s blogs adding important information and discussing the topic. Or have them do the research and them come together in small groups or as a class and discuss their findings.

Should we wipe out formal education completely? No.. in some instances formal education is necessary and it is important we keep pieces of it in the curriculum. When students enter the real world to get jobs though they won’t need to know how to sit behind a desk and listen. They will need to know how to research, discuss, and work in teams to create and improve. The only way for them to learn how to do these things is to implement it in the classroom. I’m not saying non-formal learning is all we need to make it in the 21st century. I’m just saying we need more of it because we aren’t getting enough and in some cases we aren’t getting any. With non-formal learning students are not only learning necessary life building skills but they are retaining more information because they are engaged.

A perfect example of how to implement non-formal learning in the classroom is shown in Wendy Drexler’s video, Networked Student.

It was pointed out to me how much learning can be accomplished with technology when I read the article Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age by George Siemens. New knowledge on subjects is acquired every day, every minute, every second. This is obvious to me when I go to buy a book for a college course and there are 7 different editions that have been written in the past 4 or 5 years. Since it is impossible to update these books every day information is given through the world wide web. Type anything into google and there are copious links filled with articles, blogs, informative websites, books, and definitions on the subject. Technology is fast enough to allow us to be handed more information than is even possible to digest, in the blink of an eye.

I recently had a discussion with my sister who is 14 years old and a freshman in high school and I asked her flat out “what are you learning.” She just shrugged her shoulders.. I then proceeded to ask her what she does in class and this is what I found out..


More than half of her classes are lecture style and group discussions consist of the teacher reading them the material and then talking to them about it. The students however, just sit and listen. When I asked her if they used computers at all she told me they were allowed to type up their homework on them and there was one class where they had to do a powerpoint project. The only class she has with hands on learning is science where they do labs. When I asked her if she was learning anything by listening to the teacher she responded with, “well not really.”

I feel bad for students. The majority of them are just NOT getting the education that they deserve and it is so sad. Instead of allowing students to enjoy learning by engaging them they are daydreaming and pretending to listen. Students who sit and listen to a lecture are hearing one person’s point of view on the material. It could be biased, and it may not contain all of the information that they could be getting if they could use computers and talked to their peers. The fact that my sister took part in NO discussion with her peers throughout the school day is pathetic. This cuts down on a lot of possible knowledge gain.

With technology the student is in charge of his/her learning. They can research a topic, find something else that interests them, and research that topic. There is information from multiple sources so that students can pick out what is bias and keep what is important to know.