Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Five Things I learned at TMC15: Saturday 7/25/15

1. Vertical non-permanent surfaces (if you want to sound smart) or wall-mounted white boards (if you want to be understood) can increase student engagement and discourse in all the right ways. Peter Liljedahl found that students using non-permanent writing surfaces such as chalk boards or whiteboards tended to start writing faster and were more eager to start, presumably because they could edit their mistakes. Liljedahl also found that vertical surfaces such as chart paper or mounted whiteboards tended to foster participation and mobility, probably because students could more easily see each other’s work.

You can expect to see me taking a trip to home depot to buy some shower board in the next few weeks. Many thanks to Alex Overwijk for the ideas.

2. Visibly random groups can also be good for engagement and discourse. The idea is that students should be in random groups each day, and they should know the groups are random (pull cards out of a hat or something similar). This promotes cross-pollination of ideas, and sends the message that students should be ready to work with anyone. And if it’s a bad grouping, then it’s only for one day. Again, thanks to Peter Liljedahl for the research and Alex Overwijk for the presentation.

UPDATE: As I write this, there is a twitter debate going on about whether purposeful heterogeneous groups can be more useful to distribute students along gender, ethnicity, ability, etc. It seems the consensus is that “balanced” groups can be good sometimes, but prevents similar students from ever working together.

3. Today, Matt Vaudrey introduced the idea of using musical cues to direct student actions. Simply put, the teacher plays a specific song while students are completing a specific action, such as a “getting calculators” song, a “do-now” song, or a “packing up” song. Songs should play for a pre-determined amount of time, and shouldn’t be stopped early or replayed. The songs now serve as a cue for students (instead of teacher nagging) and should hopefully create a sense of internal motivation. It’s such a great idea, and I cannot do it justice with this post. Read about it from Matt here.

4. Are you teaching a math course for the first time, and don’t know the common student misconceptions? Matt Baker has created a google spreadsheet called First Like Third where teachers can note common student misunderstandings as well as what to say and how to correct them. The objective is to make the first year of teaching more like the third year of teaching.

5. Kahoot is a game based learning platform where users answer timed, multiple choice questions against classmates (teacher-made Kahoots) or students from around the world (public Kahoots). At the end of each round, students are shown a leaderboard with the top four players. Students do not need to sign in to play, and any computer or device with internet can be used. I wonder what the pros and cons of Kahoot are over other online quizzing or formative assessment websites and apps. Kahoot looks more like a game, but is there more to it? Thanks to Julie Reulbach for this one.

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