Patterning

Patterning is our focus in CEP 818 this unit.  Patterning is the ability to recognize and create repeating themes, ideas or structures within a domain or topic.  Simple patterns are easily found, and most complex patterns are merely multiple simple patterns layered on top of each other.

Within the domain of space science, there are many examples of patterning.  Some of them are obvious like the patterns within the constellations :

Star Chart
Image from jpl.nasa.gov

Or the phases of the moon.

Moon Phases
Image from spaceplace.nasa.gov

Some of them are not so obvious like the patterns of elliptical orbits from the moon to the earth to the sun and beyond.

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All of these patterns make it easier to understand the grand scale of our universe.  When we look at a sky full of stars, it is helpful to pull out those patterns recognized generations ago to identify specific stars or celestial bodies, and pair them up with the mythological stories that were used to help coordinate the patterns.  The patterns found in the phases of the moon guide us to seeing the relationship between the celestial bodies of the sun, earth and moon as they dance through the sky on their interdependent routes.  The elliptical patterns created by gravitational pull illustrate to us how these rules of science are consistent throughout the known universe.  To me, these patterns help me make the universe smaller and more understandable.

I had more difficulty with the idea of pattern creation than I did with pattern identification on this assignment.  As a result, I took one of the pattern ideas from above and reworked it for the assignment.  The 88 modern constellations that most of us see in the sky are not universal in their inspiration. Over the course of history, other cultures have seen other pictures in the night sky.  That is the basis for my pattern creation.  I took an unlabeled sky map and tried to find patterns on my own.  Here is a portion of my sky map:

repattern

My entire repatterned sky map can be found here.

Thinking of how I teach the stars and constellations, I think that this activity of patterning helps me understand better what it would have been like before the night sky was mapped.  It was overwhelming to look at a sky map – even one with the stars already identified – and try to make sense of it.  It is very much like trying to map grains of sand or leaves on a tree.  I also found that once I stopped trying to force patterns into places I wanted to see them and just let my brain go, the activity turned into an enjoyable one – similar to laying on your back and identifying the shapes in the clouds.  It gave me an appreciation for finding the larger, more distinguishable features and using them as anchor points because those would be the features that would always be most readily recognizable.  The patterns in the sky have always fascinated me and been a focal point of my teaching of astronomy.  Now, I understand why.

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Veja Du

We have all experienced deja vu.  It is the unsettling feeling that you have lived through a moment in time previously.  It can be a bit uncomfortable – like an itch inside your brain that you just cannot scratch.

For our first assignment in CEP 818, we are taking the concept of deja vu and turning it on its head with veja du.  We have been given the task of finding a common item and photographing it in such a way that it is unrecognizable.  The following three photos are my veja du.  Do you know what I have photographed?  Guesses can be made in the comments.

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Lesson Plan Reflection

Our final project for CEP 800 was to write, implement and reflect on a lesson plan that embedded technology using Learning Theory as the lens through which we are creating and reflecting.  My original lesson plan can be found here: Dewey Decimal System Lesson Plan.

I taught my lesson this past week using my children as my students.  My reflection on that process can be found here: Arnold_Reflection.  You can also read my reflection below.

Lesson Plan Description

My lesson plan is an introduction to the Dewey Decimal System. The lesson is designed for first quarter third grade students. These students are aware that the library has organizational systems in order to locate books efficiently, but this is their first experience with DDS. I used PearDeck to design a small group activity exploring the 10 categories that make up DDS. Students will examine books representative of each of the categories and in PearDeck write or draw a description of what they believe the overarching theme of that category to be. Those responses will be aggregated and used in a second lesson going deeper into DDS. I changed my original lesson plan based on Unit 6 learning. With students being expected to focus on new content, a new technology tool and the activity itself in an open concept environment, I felt that my initial lesson split student focus. As a result, I will be having students work in stations around the media center using DDS category representative books rather than moving through the stacks. This change will allow students to focus on content and new technology rather than book choice and environment.

Lesson Narrative

As I am out of the classroom for summer, I chose to present this lesson to one group of representative students, my daughter who just completed 3rd grade, and my son who just completed 1st grade, but is academically at a 3rd grade level. I taught in my school media center using Chromebooks from my library lab as the hardware. The lesson went fairly smoothly with the biggest stumbling block being group dynamics – as it would during a regular lesson. My children were able to access the PearDeck easily and work with the interface because it is very user friendly. There were no problems with looking at the books and discussing common features – although it probably helped that their group did have a one-on-one instructor. The biggest problem came in the decision making process for who and how their results would be entered into the program. My son preferred to represent his learning by drawing and my daughter preferred writing a narrative. This is a problem I can see happening within the classroom as well and is something I will have to account for in the lesson directions with a roles and responsibilities piece. I also would probably change the type of hardware used to a tablet because it would allow students to draw more easily and clearly than the track pad on the Chromebook. Overall though, the lesson went well.

Reflection

In my lesson, I felt that my students learned about categories and classification as well as how to use the tool PearDeck. This matches up pretty closely with my learning goals for this lesson as the bigger goals such as understanding the categories of the Dewey Decimal System really cover the entire unit and not just this lesson specifically. The assumptions about learning made in this lesson were that learning occurs best in a social, hands-on constructivist matter where students are able to explore and learn together. The biggest constraint for knowledge being created and represented in this way is that it takes more time than a traditional behavioristic style lesson plan where knowledge is presented to students. This lesson, even in a scaled down format, took much longer than it would take me to present the information using a Smart Notebook document with little student interaction. The students working together and creating their own understanding of the categories was really social constructivism at its core; although I do believe I may have brought some behavioristic aspects in while guiding the students to certain discoveries rather than working beside them to create learning which may develop differently in a full class environment. Students were assumed to know how to work a Chromebook and that the library is divided into categories prior to the lesson, but other than that that, the tech tool is intuitive and no additional demands are placed. The tool I used was chosen because I could create an activity that allowed for differentiation among users to take place – both in how the material was represented to students (visually, orally) and how students were able to express their learning (through drawing, writing – or if necessary orally). PearDeck also allowed me to assess their learning and hold them accountable by aggregating student responses in one location for me to view.

Technology plays a central role in this lesson because it is both the means I use to represent learning for students and the means that they use to express their learning and engage with the topic. In this lesson, technology is very advantageous because it allows the students to engage with a topic that is not particularly engaging and it allows the students to construct their learning together both within their group and across groups. The students were very excited to be using this new technology and they were not surprised to be using a new technology because they are used to me as a parent and an educator using technology to support their learning. They really did not have many questions about the technology other than basic functionality questions. They used it as a tool to help them organize thinking and learning on the topic of DDS. It really served as a scaffold for the knowledge that they were creating together. It allowed them to offload some of the memory requirement for the project and metacognitively they worked together to implement the tool as a strategy for their learning. While this same lesson could be taught without the technology, I believe its inclusion allowed the students to explore the topic more deeply through increased engagement and the use of multiple means of respresentation and expression of the topic.

Learning Theory Digital Storytelling

For CEP 800, my most recent project was to create a digital story around the topic of learning theories.  I needed to find a time where there was a twist in the learning that produced a different outcome than was originally anticipated.  I chose an event from my own experiences as an adult learner at NASA to develop my project around.  My project can be found here.

Learning, Understanding and Podcasts

We have all learned things wrong.  We thought we learned something in third grade science only to discover in ninth grade physics that what we thought we knew was completely off base.  That is why it is so important for teachers to make sure that their students are truly understanding the concepts being taught.

Our first big assignment for CEP 800 is to create a podcast exploring how well our students understand a topic of instruction.  The link to mine is here.

As always, constructive feedback is always welcome.

Facilitating Innovation

In last week’s post, I described the Wicked Problem group project that we were working on for CEP 812.  This week, we got feedback from our classmates and instructors, and created the final draft of our proposal that we shared with the folks at the New Media Consortium – the creators of the Wicked Problems we worked on solving in class.

We made significant changes in our project based on the feedback we received.  Perhaps the most important was streamlining our focus to Genius Hour and removing Makerspaces from our discussion.  It was a difficult choice, but the right one as our proposal solidified and became stronger as a result.  You can see the curated version of our project here and check the video mashup of our problem solving process below.

Passion and Curiosity

Passion and Curiosity

As CEP 812 and my coursework in the MSU Graduate Certificate in Educational Technology comes to an end, I have been asked to reflect on how my Passion Quotient and my Curiosity Quotient (Friedman, 2013) help me instill passion and curiosity in my students.

As a teacher-librarian, my role is a little different than classroom teachers because my role is about passion and curiosity.  Students come to me when they are passionate or curious about a topic.  I feel it is my job to make sure that their experience with research, technology and learning does not turn that passion into frustration.

As a final project, I have created an infographic representing how my own passions and curiosity inform my professional actions and interactions.

As always, feedback is welcome in the comments section.

Friedman, T. L. (2013, January 29). It’s P.Q. and C.Q. as Much as I.Q.. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/30/opinion/friedman-its-pq-and-cq-as-much-as-iq.html