CILP [Collaborative Inquiry and Learning of PADI Online Diving Course]

As I make my way through the 15+ hours of online learning prior to become certified for closed and open water diving with my family (holy time commitment Batman! Sounded like a good idea at the time when we booked our trip…), we find ourselves having an obscure out of body experience of sorts. As we read through and listen to the content, watch the ‘at point of use’ videos, branch off to outside links should our interests take us there, we have collaborative a-ha moments where we realize maybe THIS is what personalized learning is supposed to be???

The PADI online course, but my favourite feature is the short checks for understanding that I get to do after short chunks of new learning. Learning goals are stated right up front for me as I move along to the next set of ideas, and there are guiding questions in the top right hand corner of the screen where the content can be found. I have been called ‘old school’ in my approach to learning, because I still find it necessary to take notes on pencil-paper (my kids don’t do this, and interestingly enough, neither does my husband), but this system works for me.

After I complete each section, the program provides me with a summary of BIG ideas that I then compare to my own notes. The little quizzes help prepare me for the larger end of unit assessment and when I score 100% I feel great. I really like the way the automated-scoring final assessment works too. With each answer, I get more information about why my answer is correct. If I answer it incorrectly, this feedback box tells me why my answer is wrong, provides me with the correct responses AND directs me to the whereabouts in the course I can review to consolidate my learning. Imagine if students could be provided with such timely feedback? Imagine what I could do as an educator, seeing how many times certain students needed to revisit certain concepts? This would be so helpful for guided instruction…

I’m only on module 2 of 5 but I can’t get over how each of my 5 family members is going through the course differently. The boys click on videos whenever they are available, whereas Julia and I are task masters, want to keep a steady efficient pace, and so we avoid the extras but keep notes to be accurate. Gender difference maybe, hmmm?

To date, because of individual extra curricular and work schedules etc…, we have not worked on the online course work simultaneously. I think it’d be interesting if we did because we could experience the benefits of ‘blended’ learning. Due to the number of computers in our house, this would require someone doing it on a mobile device. Wonder what that would be like? If we completely the modules concurrently, I wonder if they will turn to discuss ideas with one another? Will save those thoughts for the next CILP reflection…

Sure has been an interesting snapshot into how we each approach the task differently. PADI has got it right: technology is allowing us to customize the learning experience.

Yours in SCUBA newbie-ness,
Tania

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Expanding our view of student achievement

I engaged in a riveting conversation with a colleague at my new workplace, Pearson Canada-School Division (an awesome place to work, btw !!!) regarding the way we measure and define student achievement. Could it be that all of this focus on grades and achievement is actually interfering with student learning?

Punctuation marks made of puzzle pieces

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This latest a-ha moment reminded me of a fantastic infographic from the CEA website (2011)  that depicts student engagement from grades 5-12. Take a look and compare the level of student engagement at the various grades with your school environment.

  • Do these same ratios ring true where you teach or lead? Why or why not?
  • What sets your setting apart?

The “What did you do at school today?” study provides great insight into the difference between what teachers define as ‘engagement’ and ‘student success’ vs. how students define these qualities.

How can we expand our definition of student achievement to include more than just grades, aka intellectual engagement? How can these ‘other’ things be measured/monitored? Should they?

~Tania

Finding the balance…

Had an interesting experience last week.

Our school leadership team had the opportunity to finalize our school improvement plan and meet with our Superintendent of Schools to discuss next steps.

We had been provided a list of guiding questions that our SO used during a rich 1.5 hour  focused conversation. A number of voices were invited around the table to ensure multiple perspectives were represented, and people spoke very frankly about the progress, challenges, and work that still remains to do to improve student achievement in a few areas as identified from a variety of different data sets. At several points, it did not even feel like a meeting; rather we were discussing educational change very honestly and openly. People listened, opinions were welcomed, colleagues offered support and extended ideas, AND some even disagreed agreeably. Nice!

When it came time for the rubber to hit the road and define our immediate next steps, the need to differentiate teacher professional learning offerings became more apparent than ever. As I am sure is the case on many school staffs, we have people at very different professional learning comfort levels. As the co-facilitator of our weekly TLCP sessions, I have also come to appreciate that there is the work that teachers feel needs to be done based on their perspective, and then there is the work that admin feels is required to move students and teachers along in our critical thinking and mathematics journey. While some might feel they know what the nature of the work is that needs to be done next… teacher buy-in is not a given. The Concerns Based Adoption Model (CBAM) research of Hall and Hord has taught us for decades that unless we value the need for the perceived change, change will take longer to achieve and chances are it will not stick…

The good news is we have SEF days to access. Now we need a professional learning menu that offers choice if we really want to empower teachers to self-direct their job-embedded learning.

There are some excellent online resources available through our district online training and learning repository, PLUS this Fall, the Ontario Ministry of Education came out with some incredible monographs and webcasts DVDs that align directly with our areas of focus. So, the WHAT TO LEARN? syllabus is already there… at our finger tips actually.

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So here is the balance challenge:

I suggested allowing teachers to experience inquiry-based learning by having them sign up for their own professional learning focus and then, based on a set agreed-upon schedule, they would meet with those colleagues interested in the same topic to design their own learning adventure. We could assemble a variety of applicable learning resources from which they could read, discuss, study…

However, members of my leadership team feel this is too open-ended and teachers need more direct instruction and facilitation.  Hmmmm??? At what point do we allow teachers to experience curiosity and inquiry on their own without direct-facilitation from others?

I want to read the recent Natural Curiosity publication from the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study (Natural Curiosity) OISE to find out more about instilling meaningful inquiry and curiosity in play-based early years programs.

Maybe everything we need to know, even about facilitating meaningful job-embedded teacher professional learning, does stem from Kindergarten?

Would love to hear what others have done or think…