Saturday, March 26, 2016

EDTECH 542- Topic 7 Change Role of the educator

One advantage of this course is it has allowed me to plan something tangible for one of the classes I am currently teaching.  This semester I am teaching Social 30-1 (Grade 12 Social Studies) which inspired the topic of my PBL project on overthrowing governments.  Over the last few weeks I actually implemented this with my students so I am in a good position to comment to this weeks discussion questions. Below you will find my reflections on these questions.

  • Will my role in the teaching/learning process change?
Teachers have many roles in the classroom.  Depending on the day, we can be content experts who lecture, test administrators,  guidance counsellors, group facilitators, classroom managers, idea generators and cheerleaders.  I also believe each teacher has a "default" role that dominates their teaching style.  That is to say, teachers are skilled in many roles but each teacher I work with develops a dominant teaching style and that differs with each individual.  Working in a PBL environment though forces us to abandon some of those traditional roles and nurture the facilitator aspect of our teaching personality.  One needs to guide the student through the process instead of merely telling them what to do

  • What are the skills of effective facilitation?
To be an effective facilitator, you need to first develop relationships with your students.  The student that has a relationship with their teacher can then trust that adult and respect the constructive criticism that is offered.  These relationships make the constant reflection and revision painless and a natural part of the process.

  • Will the students develop the competencies and skills needed to be successful?
I am confident they will.  From what I saw in my short experience with my PBL project, my students developed an ownership in their learning I don't always see.  They were able to manage a large amount of information, work cooperatively, use technology effortlessly and produce something they were proud of.

  • What changes will you need to make in order to become an effective facilitator in your PBL unit?
I still have the tendency to over prescribe activities so I think I need to allow more student choice in how time is spent during the PBL unit.  By grade 12, students are relative experts on how a class should be run so I may have them decide how a mini lesson should be taught for example.  Maybe they want to read an article instead of having me explain it or maybe they want to use a simulation instead of a reading.   I teach teenagers and now that I have a teen of my own in my house I have come to realize something very important.  Adolescence is where you try things on your own from time to time while having an adult close by to help if needed.  We were all given the keys to the family car for the first time at one point in our life and I think we do our students an important service if we allow them to direct their own learning from time to time as well.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

EDTECH 542 Topic 6- Integrating Curriculum

When I began my career I was fortunate enough to have worked in a very progressive middle school where integrating curriculum was both expected and celebrated.  All four core areas would embark on one or two integrated units per year.  These projects all concentrated on our curriculum and served as enrichment activities for our students.  It took a bit a of planning and teamwork on the part of the teachers but when we found the natural "fit" in each of our courses, our enthousiasme took over.

For my project on overthrowing a government I see a natural fit with my social studies curriculum and a novel study that could take part in an english class.  I can think of three english activities that would have a natural "fit" with my project.  First, english students could read the graphic novel V for Vendetta by Alan Moore prior to my entry event.  Second, students could do a novel study of the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins where they focus on the motivation, the methods and obstacles much the same as my students are doing.  This could be followed up by a hypothesis exercise where students discuss which form of government would best fit Panem once the regime of President Snow was overthrown.  Finally the reflection essay could be done in english class as writing a variety of text is part of the Alberta  curriculum.

By focussing on the commonalities in curricula, integration can be done quite easily if there is communication and cooperation among teachers.  The result is a purposeful and engaging learning experience for the students.


Alberta English Language Arts 10-12 . Retrieved from, March 6, 2016