Outline of the Learning Activity

Throughout the duration of this course, we have been asked to create, plan for and expand on a learning activity that would help benefit the children and students that fill our classrooms. The learning activity that I have ideologically built is one that has been on my mind for a while now, but I never took the opportunity to progress it past merely the idea stage.

My vision is to a create a social media style website designed almost exclusively for the benefit of teachers and their students. This website, titled “Helping Teachers Help Students” multi-tasks as an open platform for new information as well as a referendum for teachers and future teachers to look towards for guidance. If it can be agreed upon that a vital step to being a successful teacher is by remaining a step ahead of your students and being able to reach them at a deeper level, this website becomes an intricate tool to best accomplish these tasks.

This social learning network has found success in other situations and has a backbone founded in the Social Learning Theory. “The social learning theory of Bandura (Albert) emphasizes the importance of observing and modeling the behaviors, attitudes and emotional reactions of others” (Culcatta, n.p). To go along with the social learning theory, Huang, etc.. composed a study pointing to the successes of social learning networks. That study is posted here: http://www.ifets.info/journals/13_3/9.pdf.

To clarify the learning activity as a whole, the main functions of “Helping Teachers Help Students” are outlined below:  

Functions of “Helping Teachers Help Students”

  • A platform for teachers around the country to share curricula, as well as their findings in the classroom
  • An opportunity to give away tips and tricks to fellow teachers
  • A social learning environment cultured in the open-mindedness needed to become a better teacher
  • A segmented guide for teachers to refer to when at a loss for new, creative classroom ideas
  • An interactive environment for students to openly express likes/dislikes and what held their attention compared to what bored them to sleep
  • A teaching tool designed to allow teachers to continue learning about how to better their classroom for their students

Different Segmented Sections/Areas/Tabs of the Website

  • Different Courses (Math, Science, English, History, etc)
  • Curriculum Building
  • Tests and Quizzes
  • Projects 
  • Field Trip Ideas
  • Lecture Strategies
  • School Theories for Learning
  • How to Motivate Students

Not only will each of these tabs allows teachers to share their personal successes and failures, but each of these separate web pages will have a section dedicated to student feedback. This will take the shape of individualized formative assessments that allows for student involvement, which is a necessary component to true formative assessments. 

To learn more on Formative Assessments please refer to:

http://www.amle.org/BrowsebyTopic/Assessment/AsDet/TabId/180/ArtMID/780/ArticleID/286/Formative-and-Summative-Assessments-in-the-Classroom.aspx 

While the concept of socially sharing information may not be new and the Twitters and Facebooks of the world are prominent, I wanted to create a unique social learning environment that allows for a true connection as well as more than 140 characters. The idea/model for the website was more fitting of an online cookbook, where teachers/students can not only post their “recipes” for others to try, but can also allow for reviews of these “recipes” to find out which methodologies work best. Allowing for such a vast sharing of information can only help teachers across the country create a more genuine, attention-grabbing, motivating classroom for their students.

Information Supporting the use of Professional Learning Communities:

https://post.blackboard.com/bbcswebdav/pid-1870605-dt-content-rid-19160676_1/courses/EDU520.901238026230/Documents/Relational%20Trust_The%20Glue%20that%20Binds%20a%20Professional%20Learning%20Community.pdf 

 

 

The Evolving Newcomer: Open Education

Image

 

The idea of Open Education is certainly one intertwined in a casting net of pros and cons, entangled in do and don’ts, leaving more questions than answers at the beginning stages of this endeavor. To begin, I shall start by briefly engaging in the definition of what an Open Education enviroment is. In a nutshell, an Open Education setting is one in which the classroom and teachings of the classroom are free for everyone to delve into. It is an expansive arena of information and knowledge that is shared with the masses rather than sequestered into the confines of a finite classroom. To expand a bit on this, Donk (p 163) goes on to say, “OCW (Open CourseWare) offers free, searchable and open access to university resources and course content. For instance, instructors might put up lecture notes, course syllabi, sample tests, media files, course schedules, and other course-related information. However, there typically is no instructor at the site to review or grade student’s work.”

The exciting premonition about Open Education is the availability of educational material to the masses. I agree that it is rather exciting to think of being able to study and learn, on your own, classroom material from universities around the country. To use my major and prior schooling as an example; I was a Communication major at CCSU. Say, for instance, there was a course offered at Northeastern such as “The Art of Powerful Speeches” that really interested me. In normal circumstances, I would have to become a non-matriculated student there to get one course under my belt and then hope it transfer in. With the new rendition of Open Education, optimally, I can search the Northeastern Open Education forum for the class materials and learn on my own. Sure, it may not be for credits, but if my interest is strong enough, the true value of the knowledge attained can’t necessarily be measured in credits. MIT is the originator of the Open Education movement and their thoughts echo the aforementioned ease of gathering information by claiming, “We very much hope Open CourseWare will draw other universities to do the same. We would be delighted if-over time- we have a world wide web of knowledge that raises the quaility of learning-and ultimately, the quality of life-around the globe” (Bonk, 164).

This transitions nicely to the simplistic and humanistic side of the equation. This expansion of knowledge through educational material can only better the lives of the people that have access to it. Being able to learn more allows for a better life and a better understanding of important subject matter and for the users that may not be able to afford the luxuries of college, this is an avenue to help educate themselves. As Bonk (p362) cites, “Bill Gates suggested that education needs to open up to the poorest two to three billion people on this planet.” To summarize his thought, Bonk goes on to describe that the reason behind this is to increase the standards of living for people on a more global level. To fortify the idea of “non-students” using the information provided, Bonk (p164) points to MIT’s database to show that ” Although MIT officials expected students and instructors to be the primary users, more than 50 percent of actual users happen to be corporate self-learners who reach out for information when needed or because it’s personally meaningful.” This goes to show the reach and power that Open Education environments have. Not everyone can afford the cost of going to school or getting into college so free Open Education Learning goes a long way in helping the intrinsically motivated students that either can’t afford these luxuries or the wants to brush up on meaningful information. 

Now as is the case with anything in life, there are always unforeseen consequences that can negatively impact a situation. In the case of the Open Education movement,  there are two cons that may negatively the future expansion of these Open Education environments. These detriments may never come to light, but they are certainly something to consider moving forward. First of all, in a direct counter punch to Bill Gates proclamation of educating the poorest people on the planet, while humanistically, he is correct, fiscally and logistically it may be impossible. “Currently, only one billion of the 6.7 billion people on the planet have Internet access” (Bonk, p362). Unfortunately, the best medium with the easiest access for such an expansive library of educational material is online, but this eliminates 5.7 billion people on the planet from having access and assuming that the poorest people on the planet don’t have access to the internet, it makes it difficult to follow through on that plan.

The other drawback of a potential explosion of the Open Education system would be the watered down effect this would have on degrees and universities. No longer would a degree hold the same merit when all the learned topics and subject matters are given to and studied by the public. Acceptance rates at school would need to drop in order to still operate with the maximum number of students because so many individuals would avoid the costs of college and simply turn to free schooling instead. This trickle down effect would create a shortcoming in the value of a degree and would have turn the hiring process into quite a mess. Hiring managers wouldn’t be able to distinguish true candidates based upon educational background due to the educational material being learned and applied by people that didn’t even attend school. 

With the pros and cons in mind, the learning project that has carried it’s way throughout this course, seemingly fits right into the idea of Open Education. In fact, I could argue that the creation of a website where teachers all post information, tips and tricks for fellow teachers around the country is in of itself a Open Education environment. On the site, teachers will be posting educational information, they will be posting course content and syllabi to help other teachers. These materials are not going to be exclusively for teachers and will have the feel of a social media/networking program with the main goal being to educate educators. Luckily, the definition of educators is rather fluid, allowing for interpretation and most importantly allowing anyone with interest in the subject matter, to acquire and utilize educational information.

Question to Think About:

If Open Learning education became a prominent course of education, do you think the necessity for teachers in the world would increase or decrease?

Additional Resource:

http://www.ted.com/talks/shimon_schocken_the_self_organizing_computer_course 

References:

Bonks, Curtis. (2009) The World is Open: How web technology is revolutionizing education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publications

Discussing Different Learning Environments

ImageBeing an admission’s counselor at Post University, which is an institution that offers all three of the classroom types (Face to Face, Hybrid and Online), I am quite acquainted with the differences and similarities that each classroom settings provides for students. To avoid my ramblings and tangents, I’ll turn to Crawford and Smith (p. 136) for a more concise approach to the definitions of these classroom settings, “The traditional face-to-face learning environment ensures that instructors and learners engage in multiple forms of support and communications occur over a fixed period of time. A “best of both worlds” learning environment model is the web-enhanced, or hybrid, learning environment, in which the predominantly face-to-face model connects the learners in a cooperative, interactive environment that offers online interactive activities. The third learning environment is the implementation of a web-based learning environment also known as distance education or online learning. Engaged entirely online, learners in web-based learning environments lack the traditional support structure inherent within a face-to-face environment.”

As the above definitions anointed, the three learning styles have unique characteristics that certainly appeal differently to different types of students. The traditional, or face to face, learning environment is the most prominent learning environment and I’m sure it’s the one we all have spent the most “classroom” time in. This learning environment still reigns supreme for the high school level and below. This allows instantaneous feedback for young students that may need direct help and need the extrinsic motivation of the rigid classroom to be successful. The online classroom setting is one that we are all partaking in now. It is designed around the idea of flexibility. I’m sure I speak for most of my fellow classmates when I say that attending a physical campus at this point in our lives would be A) nearly impossible due to work or life schedules and B) would extend the length of the completion of the degree program due to campus class scheduling. Having an online degree plan is the only viable option for us. The final classroom environment mentioned is the hybrid course which is a combination of face-to-face and online. The course work, discussions and assignments are completed online whereas the class still meets once a week to go over any nuances or problems that may be encountered during that week’s readings. The hybrid courses, as of now at Post, that are most popular are the more difficult subject matters such as Math and Science and Upper level courses.

With each different classroom environment there are different scopes and techniques to better equip our students to be successful. The website we were asked to study, Merlot Pedagogy, does an excellent job of highlighting different teaching strategies as well as giving helpful excerpts explaining their importance. In terms of finding a strategy that embraces each of the learning environments, let’s start with the face-to-face classroom. In a face-to-face classroom, my ideology has always been ingrained in the idea of active learning. Making students integrally involved rather than idly lecturing upon deaf ears has long by my approach to teaching. Merlot Pedagogy (n.d) supports this by saying, “Research shows that active learning improves students’ understanding and retention of information and can be very effective in developing higher order skills such as problem solving and critical thinking.” Especially in the modern, concrete classroom, students are more apt to zone out or lose concentration when simply bombarded with a lecture and asked to take notes.

With the focus of the pertinent teaching strategies shifting to the hybrid classroom model, I believe the most fitting teaching strategy is the usage of discussion. The hybrid model asks students to read assignments and then come to class to iron out anything that didn’t make sense. Being able to have an open discussion about the topics just learned, allows for a more complete understanding of the subject matter. “Engaging students in discussion deepens their learning and motivation by propelling them to develop their own views  and hear their own voices” (Merlot Pedagogy). Being able to study course work at your leisure online and then allowing students a platform to bring their ideas to the forefront and delve deeper will allow the student to be more well-rounded in the subject matter.

In terms of the online learning environment, I feel as if the most fitting teaching strategy, and it’s the one imposed by every online professor I have had, is the learner-centered teaching strategy. This strategy focuses on allowing the student to be the focus of the learning environment. Merlot Pedagogy goes on to say that it “means the student is at the center of learning. The student assumes the responsibility for learning while the instructor is responsible for facilitating the learning. Thus, the power of the classroom shifts to the student.” I would go on to argue that in order for the learner-centered teaching strategy to be successful, the learner must be intrinsically motivated. Learning in this environment is based on how much effort a student is willing to put in. If a student lacks self-motivation, grades will suffer due to a lack of structure. If a student has an eagerness to learn, being successful in the flexibility of online learning will be a breeze.

There are certainly pros and cons to each learning environment and every student’s preferences are going to be different based on comfort level but as professors we must adjust our teaching to our classroom environment. The same teaching style that works in a concrete classroom will differ greatly from what works in an online setting. “Instructors must be able to design and directly impact the success of learners within their respective learning environments. Traditional instructors strength may not easily shift into a different learning environment. Instructors must become cognizant of different learning components that are integral to the success of the learner” (Crawford and Smith, p 144).

Integrating this into my project:

As a reminder, my final project idea is to create a website that allows teachers to come together and learn from each other in a more distinct social media-esque platform. In terms of the impact this learning has on my project, it touches home in two areas. The first dynamic relating to these learning environments is that the website could loosely be affixed to an online classroom. It certainly doesn’t have a single professor or grading or assignments, but, in essence, it is an online forum for learning. The other dynamic that integrates this is the content in which I will include on the website. There will be designated areas for each of the three learning environments at hand. Seeing as their needs to be distinctively different approaches to each classroom setting, it is fitting to have different tips and techniques to be accommodate the potential teachers that may visit the site.

Question to think about:

In a uninhibited, schedule-free, unbiased opinion which learning environment would you say promotes the highest level of retention and learning?

Additional Resource:

http://www.ted.com/talks/daphne_koller_what_we_re_learning_from_online_education 

References:

Crawford, C. M., Smith, R. A., & Smith, M. S. (2008). Course student satisfaction results: Differentiation between face-to-face, hybrid, and online learning environments  . [Article]. CEDER Yearbook, 135-149.

Merlot Pedagody. (n.d) Teaching Strategies. Retreived from: pedagogy.merlot.org/TeachingStrategies.html

The Power of CoPs and PLCs

Image

Communities of Practice and Professional Learning Communities are both collaboration-based tools of sharing information and knowledge. As described in the lecture for this week, these two principles, aside from a couple linguistic differences, are almost identical in application and usage. The idea behind both the CoPs and the PLCs is for people of common interest and that share a common bond/goal to come together to contribute different perspectives and concepts in the aforementioned area of interest. 

Being as we are in a Program focused on teaching and the higher education classroom, CoPs and PLCs can be highly utilized, highly effective modes of information sharing. With the classrooms we teach in morphing daily, being able to share tricks, lesson plans, extrinsic motivations with fellows teachers that share a common goal can only be beneficial to students and teachers alike. Cranston (60) furthers this by saying, “A professional learning environment, however defined, often has as one of its purposes the development of the kinds of adult relationships that can support individual change in classrooms across a whole school.” This point focuses on being able to come together as one strong, cohesive unit and then individually taking the ideas of others back to the classroom to maintain a systematic, school-wide goal.

In the first M.ed course I took, which is presumably the first class we all took in this program, we were asked to create a new, unique idea for our blogs. Up until this week of this class, I was very proud of the premise I had created, thinking that perhaps my ideology was groundbreaking. My concept, which mind you I never concocted due to my lack of technological know-how, was to create a website where teachers from across the country could share ideas, tips and improvements to help fellow teachers. As you can see, I am thoroughly embarrassed at myself for thinking I had done something new and innovative. Not only am I a decade behind, my lack of computer savvy made it an impossible task to complete. I am, however, slightly pleased to know that my thoughts aren’t completely unfathomable. Huang (p78) talks of blogs and the sharing of information, “Nowadays many researches try to use the trend of Web 2.0 to push forward a new learning model, for example, applying Blogs in learning and conducting knowledge sharing through blogs.” Sighhhhh. That was all the air coming out of my innovative balloon.

As mentioned before, CoPs and PLCs are collaborations of minds coming together for the common good and to help everyone improve individually. To add to this collaboration is the combination of learning, teaching and technology that are all vitally important when focusing on CoPs and PLCs. The basis behind these cooperative learning theories is to help teaching, which in turn helps our students learn. Adams (p28) describes Pioneer School in California and the success they have, ” Pioneer introduced the professional learning community model, in which teachers meet regularly, setting goals and committing to a shared educational vision…Teachers found common ground, sharing ideas and teaching strategies to give their students the best education possible.” When you taek into consideration expansive nature of technology in the classroom, it is easy to see the needed collaboration between teaching, learning and technology. Technology is such a massive tool for a modern classroom that it must be incorporated into any CoP or PLC session, to share ideas in technology that students grasp, enjoy and learn from.

Question to Ponder:

In the spirit of the PLCs, I would love to open forum to hear different strategies or tips that you all as teachers have found to be most promising and successful?

Additional Resource: Bill Gates speaking on different ways to help teachers improve

References:

Adams, C. (2009). The power of collaboration. Instructor, 119(1), 28-31

Cranston, J. (2011). Relational trust: The glue that binds a professional learning community  . [Article]. Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 57(1), 59-72

Huang, J. J. S., Yang, S. J. H., Yueh-Min, H., & Hsiao, I. Y. T. (2010). Social learning networks: Build mobile learning networks based on collaborative services  . [Article]. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 13(3), 78-92

Personal Reflections on Learning About Teaching

ImageUntil this class, an empty classroom, in my mind, stood alone as an isolated entity merely searching for young minds to engage it. An empty classroom was merely just an empty classroom. Throughout the past seven weeks of this course, however, the principle view of an empty classroom has completely transgressed into an amazing wonderment. An empty classroom is no longer a barren, desolate desert but, rather, it is a fertile lea waiting to be watered and nurtured with growth and learning. An empty classroom now evokes hope and promise. It begs to be sowed and tended to by the children and teachers that will soon flood its fertile soil. This mental transformation of the powerful nature of a classroom is based upon my own personal learning experiences about teaching.

Before this class, I assumed teaching was easy. I assumed that teachers were given an outlined syllabus of teaching materials and they had to game plan around it, simply teaching the children a rigid curriculum built by the Department of Ed. Upon further review, my admiration and respect for each and every teacher that i encountered has massively expanded. The intricate details and ideas that teachers must keep in mind when teaching each individual student is impossible to ever fully understand. I think this is evident with the fact that research is continuing and advancing each and every day in teaching as we learn more and more about the best practices of teaching.

Throughout this course, many different features and ideologies have nestled their way into my idea of becoming a well-rounded teacher in the future when the opportunity shall arise. However, there are two distinct teaching/learning fundamentals that really struck a chord and allowed me an “Ah ha” moment of clarity and understanding. These two features of learning/teaching are the overall idea of concepts as well as Perkin’s idea of “making the game worth playing”.

As noted above, the simplicity of teaching was a flawed misunderstanding that I carried throughout my learning career. Concepts and building concepts allowed me to realize the complexity of how important not only every class is, but how important every day in the classroom can be. Being able to build upon a strong foundation is key and complex ideas of learning can only be built through a multitude of strongly founded concepts. “Many concepts are formed by combining simpler concepts, and the meanings of complex concepts are derived in systematic ways from the meanings of their constituents” (Goodman, et. al, 109). This idea of building upon concepts leads me to believe that students that are having trouble understanding certain material, may not need to be hammered with the same material over and over again. It may be better suited to dig deeper and go further back in the learning process to find the weakness in the original concept. To give an example, if a student is struggling with Algebraic equations, the best route may not be to continue to force them into algebraic situations. This will lead to them merely reciting math rather than learning and being able to use math. A better approach may be to find out why the student is struggling with Algebra. Perhaps, they never fully built the concept of multiplication and always just recited multiplication rather than actually learning it. Without learning and being able to utilize multiplication, Algebra becomes that much more difficult to grasp. This exemplifies the importance of building concepts and it is something that every teacher at every level should realize for the individual student. If a teacher in 3rd grade doesn’t fully build a concept, then the student will undoubtedly struggle when applying and furthering its usage in 4th grade.

The other teaching tool that generated a deep feeling of connection in terms of its importance in the classroom is Perkins view of Making the Game Worth Playing. Simply put…Motivation. Throughout college, I would sit in classrooms and see students half awake and not even half paying attention. I always wondered the types of grades those students would get. Would they graduate college? Were they actually retaining information? Well, seeing as I couldn’t run an experiment on all of the students, my conclusions will have to be knowledge based and not data-driven, but my assumptive thinking would be that there are students at the collegiate level that don’t feel motivated and do merely recite information and forget it. This lack of retention leads to wasted time and a wasted education.

As a future educator, my goal will be to motivate students through a merriment of different procedures, forcing them to partake and learn rather than idle and recite. Perkins (55) speaks of a study to shed light on different techniques that can be used to motivate, “The study measured student’s intrinsic and extrinsic motivations separately, revealing that extrinsic motivation remained about the same across grades.” Right before his conclusion on extrinsic motivation, to paraphrase him, he mentioned on intrinsic motivation declines as students get older. This is a telling sign that, we as teachers, cannot rely on a student’s intrinsic motivation to push them into wanting to learn. We must be creative and tactful in our approach to motivation to ensure that extrinsic motivation not only helps a student be successful, but allows for them to retain information and truly learn. An empty classroom may lead to an empty mind, but filling that classroom with the appropriate techniques and strategies to learning allows students to better prepare for their future.

Other Resource:

This clip focuses on motivation and offers different techniques to motivate.

http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pink_on_motivation.html 

References

Perkins, D. N. (2009). Making learning whole: How seven principles of teaching can transform education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

Noah D. Goodman, Joshua B. Tenenbaum, Jacob Feldman,Thomas L. Griffiths (2008). A Rational Analysis of Rule-Based Concept Learning. Cognitive Science, 32. 108–154

An Ode to Attentive Classrooms

Image 

The more and more I delve into the academia world with this program the more I am realizing that the classroom is a vital and important, yet extremely fragile diorama. My undergraduate degree is in communications and marketing so  teaching in a classroom was never  part of my daily learning environment. I had never given too much thought or energy into the creation of an optimal classroom setting. I never realized or comprehended the copious amounts of attention to detail that goes into creating a learning environment that is best suitable for the students at hand. This new found principle of ensuring that every particular step of a classroom is critiqued and planned has given me an admiring perspective of all my professor in the past. This reflection is an ode of praise to all the teachers that have worked scrupulously to maintain a learning culture in which my fellow students and I were allowed and prodded to be successful.

While I had many amazing professors that all enlightened my mind in distinct ways, the one professor that encapsulated all of the teaching devices of the prior two units was Dr. Betty White at Central Connecticut State University. Her classrooms were over flowing with vim and vigor. Her boisterous tactics and booming voice could be heard at the opposite end of the hallway and you know what, I learned the most from her classes and attempted to take as many classes as I could with her even though her grading was nearly impossible to come to terms with.

Her emotion and passion for teaching could be felt by each and every student in each and every one of her classrooms and that in of itself created an attentive atmosphere. Hearing a professor droll through a sludging lecture without any passion, is the quickest way to shut off the minds of the class. Dr. White ensured that this was never the case. Her emotion and character motivated the classroom to want to learn and succeed in her teachings. Her flamboyance and undeniable passion gave the classroom no other choice but to pay attention and learn. As Unit 4 described, “it made the game worth playing”.

To continue my heaping praise of her attentive classroom, Dr. White ensured that monotony and boredom were never an option. This style of loud, almost in your face teaching forced the involvement of everyone in the classroom. Throughout the entire lecture, she would force students into making connections on the spot by randomly calling on people in the class. She would never accept, “I don’t know” as an answer, instead she would openly prod and encourage the student to make connections and build concepts on their own. Doing this allowed students to retain information and truly learn it rather then just memorizing it for a test, reciting it, and then forgetting it once the test was over. In an era where technology rules the day at hand, she somehow found ways to get students to selectively focus and cognitively learn without expunging the learning in technological devices. It was awe-inspiring to see her transfer her motivation and emotions onto the students she taught by grabbing their attention and not letting go for the full length of the class.

In regards to my future as an educator, I have always told myself, even before taking Education classes, to be memorable. I have always hypothesized that being a memorable teacher should be the goal of every professor. I took 40 to 50 college courses and can only remember the names of about 10 professors. The evidence that i have noticed to solidify the claim is that I can still hear their teachings in my head. I can still hear their teachings as I’m debating back and forth on the marketing world with a colleague, reciting lessons that I learned. To be memorable, to be distinct, to have your ideas carry on through your students, you must be able to grab their attention and motivate them. It may be tough, especially in a high school or college setting, to motivate but it is imperative to be unflinchingly rigid in my attempts to grasp their minds and to get them to learn. Dr. White realized that and here I am carrying on her ideas, teachings and thoughts. Emulating her in a classroom would be the final paragraph to this ode of praise dedicated to an attentive classroom.

Related resource showing a different way to get students to pay attention and become involved in the classroom:

http://www.ted.com/talks/ali_carr_chellman_gaming_to_re_engage_boys_in_learning.html 

Cognitive Learning Skills and It’s Classroom Applications

As much as our minds may reflect on the classroom as the chalk-filled dungeon of our youth with a crotchety old teacher reprimandingImage our punctuation mistakes and giving us detention, this idea of the traditional classroom is being cast aside as the classroom is evolving into an up-to-date learning center. With all the research and advancements that have gone into our youth and the way they operate, school systems our doing everything in their power to build curriculum based upon these new research conclusions. The study of cognitive thinking has taking the reins in youth development allowing educators to fully understand the needs of the individual student. It’s safe to admit that the classrooms of yesteryear were filled with professors whose lack of foresight, labeled a student as insufficient if they didn’t retain information in the manner in which it was given. In the modern classroom, cognitive ideas such as concepts, analogies and learning styles allow professors to figure out better ways to get through to individual students.

To this stage in my life, I have not yet had the privilege of attaining a classroom or a class to call my own. My ideas of cognitive thinking is merely an expose into the future and a personal reflection onto the ways in which I feel my students will benefit the most based upon the thoughts and ideologies I have gathered through my studies. The premise of concepts, in regards to our teachings in class, was a relatively new idea to me. Using the premise of concepts and the usage of them to build the incredible structure of actual learning is a key component to any class room . My main focus in my future classroom will be to emphasize the learning in the beginning of the class period. Usually the first few weeks or months (depending on the length of the academic calendar) is used to set the foundation. Setting this foundation is key. I will focus my teachings on ensuring that students can grasp the foundation so that future application and logic will be more easily retained.

In the first few weeks of our class, the things that has made me feel most accomplished or proudest of is the fact that using analogies is an established teaching tool of the teaching world. Analogies are something that I often use in my everyday life. I use them throughout every walk of life, whether it be helping a friend with advice on life or offering a tidbit of help to a coworker. I have always felt that the use of analogies is a more concise way to build concepts in such a way that is easier for the listener to understand. It makes a potentially difficult theory more easily understood and more relatable. I found it inspiring and fulfilling to have the premonition to already be using analogies constantly and then to find out that it is a learned tool by teachers every where.

Establishing concepts and incorporating analogies are distinct cognitive learning skills that are being seen more in classrooms. Teachers are mixing these ideologies, sprinkling in new findings on student’s learning styles, adding a dash of technology and creating a more intimate, personalized curriculum for the student. Rather than having an umbrella-style curriculum that may only benefit a third of the class, teachers are finding ways, through cognitive skills to reach more and more students through different teaching techniques. As a future educators, i can not be happier at the evolution the classroom is undergoing and I am happy to aid in the removal of all those crotchety teachers and dusty classrooms.

Below is a useful supplementary link that you may find interesting. It looks at the way the adolescent brain works and how it compares to the thoughts and decisions of an adult:

http://www.ted.com/talks/sarah_jayne_blakemore_the_mysterious_workings_of_the_adolescent_brain.html