Dr. Paul Leslie
Education is a community affair. My Philosophy of Education informs my research on the scholarship of teaching and learning involving the social construction of knowledge. Over the past few years I have published articles on blogging as student activity, discussion boards for assessment, and the use of portfolios for teaching and learning activities. A complete list is provided above.
Research Focus: I am currently exploring two related concepts. Students often struggle to make conceptual connections across courses and units of study. So, as advisor, I am exploring the notion of idea management (http://tinyurl.com/gmh9n9b ) through the use of portfolios and new media to support reflective processes for individual learners and practitioners. I am also exploring the use of rubrics as teaching and learning tools and not just as assessment tools.
I am also working with a number of teaching faculty to explore the use of cloud storage and synchronous editing tools to support academic inquiry within the classroom. Much of my research revolves around the notion of, “Narratives of Learning”. As McLuhan tells us, “the medium is the message”.
I believe that students’ ability to make connections is enhanced through greater clarity in program level and course level outcomes. Current trends in bespoke and tailored programs use electives and cross-listed courses to offer a greater range of opportunities, which may have the effect of clouding outcomes and hence such offerings may pose conceptual issues for all stakeholders, especially students. Hence, I am investigating the use of program level outcomes to provide a more cohesive overview of programs, and on the construction of learning outcomes as tools to formulate and then drive academic inquiry in the classroom.
Ultimately, in keeping with my education philosophy, I believe that greater clarity in purpose and focus will allow more students to be successful in their endeavors.
Research Methodologies: I generally employ a participatory action research model, with an emphasis on ethnographic reviews of constructed knowledge in the form of edited documents from classroom activities, blog and discussion board posts, and teacher constructed artefacts. I have also applied quantitative analyses based on a grounded theory approach to code blog and discussion board entries in order to measure the effects of specific models of interactions. I used a similar grounded theory approach to code interviews and focus groups with students and teachers.
Research and Resources: In order to pursue my research, I have liaised with a variety of stakeholders to ensure proper resources. Required resources have included access to server space and dedicated time from IT specialists to provide technical support. I have also worked with external partners in Nova Scotia to secure funding for various research projects promoted by the program chairs for whom I was a consultant.
Perhaps the greatest resource I have secured was time allotted to local school teachers by the Ministry of Education in Sharjah and directions to spend the time with me. These resources were secured by demonstrating the application of the research to stakeholders, including students.
Reflection and Significance
We want to know that you have reflected upon your work and can see the significance of what you have achieved. This is true for much of your work, but in the case of your research poster, this is your chance to really show us what you did and what you learned.
As noted, all aspects of your research are important, from the location and participants to the research methodology and literature review. However, we are really just waiting to find out what you learned and why it is important.
Pay close attention as well to the bottom element from the board notes. We want to know what you think is the value of your action research. This does not mean your findings, but rather the process of doing the research.
We have asked you to also produce a nice short statement linking the process represented by your visual text with your action research.
Your final report must be submitted through the SharePoint Assignment dropbox. If you have appendices or other evidence that you want to include, you must scan them to pdf, or take photos and put the photos in your report.
The report is due, June 1st, at 4:00 PM.
Mapping your route
Think of this assignment as a mapping activity. Every aspect of it should map to a larger aspect of your work. See the assignment document here.
We should be able to follow, more or less clearly, the link from your daily activity to the weekly plan to the theme to the overall curriculum. In this manner, you can ensure that you are following a clear set of goals and meeting the needs of the various stakeholders.
Preliminary Research Plan
This is you r final assignment. You have already completed much of the work on which you will base your report. Since you have all finished your presentations on your action research, all that is left is for you to write your report based on our feedback to your presentation. If you do not have your feedback and presentation report, let me know.
This image is from our last class in which we discussed the concept of the action cycle in relation to your research and assignment. See the assignment document here.
The 'action' part of action research is your reaction to the results of your activities. You should try out your new idea, note how it works, and in some manner check to see the students reactions to the new activity. Did it give you results? Then you take your results and use them to edit or alter your activity to try and make it better.
You may be comparing something. So then you need to build in cycles where you try one idea and then try the other idea. Then you will have something to compare.
If you are trying a new idea to see if it make something better, you will need to know what results the 'regular' way of doing things has. In this manner, you can show if your new and improved idea is actually helping more than the regular or old way of doing something.
I will not teach you again. I wish you all the best in your new semester.
As we watch portfolio presentations, I am struck by the value of the reflection that I am seeing in your presentations. I have noticed that there is a direct correlation (relationship) between the amount of reflection apparent in your presentation and portfolio, and the quality of the portfolio presentation. We have discussed many times in our classes the value of reflection and I have pointed out to you that the portfolio is a reflective tool.
Relative weighting of competencies
The figure shows what I perceive to be the relative weighting or perhaps more accurately, the relative relationship between the five competencies. I would think the three middle competencies of planning, managing and assessing learning are clearly related. It is your ability to do this well that shows your professionalism. However, you will only improve and mature by reflecting on what you do in the classroom and the actions you take to improve your professional abilities.
Make reflection visible
To excel in your final work, you need to be able to show what you have learned. That will be true for any course and virtually any assessment. You should use your portfolio to make your reflection visible by including artefacts, images and a wide variety of other media to represent your experiences and then try to make sense out them through the various tools you have at your disposal.
We have discussed a range of artefacts and evidence that you can use to address the competencies (see the google doc). You should make a great effort to collect a wide variety of items that represent the efforts you have made in your classrooms. One method that is undeniably effective is to record yourself on video (see the video below). There can be no denying your actions when you see yourself as others see you.
Once you have your evidence, then you need to analyse it. Think of Bloom.
You can recount your work, then you can categorize it and compare results from different approaches to activities. Next, you need to evaluate your results and generate some general conclusions about what you have been doing. From these results, you can think about how you can improve and create from your experiences new activities to improve your practice.
Syllabus Design - Board Notes
We created this set of board notes last week in our discussion of your syllabus design. Don't forget, you also need to create a proper report for this assignment. Have a look at last week's notes just remind yourselves.
I encourage you to put your design skills to good use and try to "map" for me your process of designing the syllabus. The more explicit you can be in your design, the better I will be able to follow it and of course give you a good grade.
Extend and Align
I will remind you of the final two outcomes for this course:
Learning Outcome 3: Analyze the factors that impact on the implementation of a curriculum.
- In your syllabus, you should highlight or indicate anticipated factors and / or provide some discussion of how you try to incorporate external activities and events in your curriculum.
Learning Outcome 4: Evaluate and align assessment strategies within any given syllabus for the purpose of confirming learning.
- As discussed at length during your teaching practice, you should really focus on making the links between your lesson objectives or outcomes to the activities to the assessments.
Poster Due Date: Tuesday May 26th, @ 2:00 PM via SharePoint Dropbox
Presentation Due date: May 31st and June 1st - Schedule
In this assessment, you will design an A1 (594 X841MM or 23.4” X33.1”) poster of your research project and then deliver an oral presentation of the poster and research.
In your presentation, you should:
- Explain the focus of the research
- Describe the educational context
- Analyze the data in combination with insights from the relevant literature
- Discuss the study’s connections to your professional interests
- Reflect on the research process and its impact on your personal and professional growth.
The presentation should be:
- clear and logical
- engaging and enthusiastic
- 15 minutes in length with 15 minute question period.
Your poster should:
- Title, name and introduction
- Brief literature review
- Include discussion of how this research has impacted your professional practice
- References (only for citations used in the poster)
- Be designed in PowerPoint or Publisher.
- You can use other programs as well but are encouraged to use one that is well supported
- If you prefer, you can download a PPT template here: http://www.genigraphics.com/templates/default.asp
- For Publisher templates, look under newsletters.
The presentation should show evidence of effective presentation skills including:
- A clear, logical structure
- An engaging, enthusiastic and appropriate presentation style
- Appropriate use of effective visual aids to your poster
- Fluent and accurate language
Some examples from EDTC (I hope they do not mind!)
From Colin Purrington's web site:
"A large-format poster is a document that can communicate your research at a conference, and is composed of a short title, an introduction to your burning question, an overview of your novel approach, your amazing results in graphical form, some insightful discussion of aforementioned results, a listing of previously published articles that are important to your research, and some brief acknowledgement of the tremendous assistance and financial support conned from others — if all text is kept to a minimum, a person could fully read your poster in under 5 minutes (really)."
Purrington, C.B. Designing conference posters. Retrieved May 29, 2013, from http://colinpurrington.com/tips/academic/posterdesign
(Ironically, as I was copying his notes, I found this post: http://colinpurrington.com/2013/teaching-plagiarism-by-example/)
Please remember the following points:
- Do not leave it until the last minute!
- Make sure any graphs or charts have clear labels
- You can use a template, but don't be constrained by the template. If you need to 'tweak' it feel free to do so. Do not squeeze more important comments to fit less important comments.
- Proofread your work! We hope to save these and place them around the college. Your name will be on it.
- Do not use too many words. It is a poster, not an essay.
Writing Good Questions
Writing good questions is a very difficult task. We don't want to repeat assessment strategies and principles from earlier in your academic career (I assume you have looked as assessment principles). However, we do need to check to make sure that the questions follow some basic rules.
Reliability: This refers to how well does a question or a test produce the same results for similar students under similar conditions. Basically, if a two students of equal ability take the test, they should get the same score. This is quite difficult to ensure, but we can take steps to make sure our assessments are reliable by:
- ensuring they are clearly written and unambiguous
- ensuring they are aligned with course outcomes
- having a few more questions rather than a few less
There are many other aspects that we need to consider when making a test or assessment reliable.
Validity: This quality refers to how closely does the question or test actually test what you think it is testing.
You need to ensure that your questions are clear and actually test the right skills or content. This does overlap somewhat with reliability, but here the difference is that a test can be reliable, but not actually test what you think it is testing.
This is particularly difficult with second language learners. Your test about concepts behind good presentations might actually be a test of vocabulary, not presentation skills.
As far as your quizzes and assessment tasks are concerned in your Moodle sites, we will not worry too much about these concepts, but I do want good assessments. They need to be fair, reasonable and accurate.
- Do not give a test or quiz with 5 true and false questions.
- Do not give a quiz with only three questions.
- Try to make sure there are no spelling errors.
- Take your own test. Did you get all the answers right?
Assignments and Discussions
Click here for a review of rubrics and considerations when creating assignments. When creating your assignments, please consider the following:
Read my article on Discussion boards. How can you have a discussion if you are not discussing?
- If you have an assignment, is there a rubric?
- Do students know how to submit?
- Is there a scope?
- Is there a printable document that can be downloaded and taken home?
- Is there something that can be sent out or read online?
- Discussion boards
- Can they actually answer the question you are asking?
- Is there a word count?
- Is there sufficient timeline for completion?
Apply to Moodle
Finally, you need to be able to realize these strategies in the Moodle site. How can you meet and demonstrate these strategies and requirements in your site?
One issue that we should consider is versatility. According to the Vanderbilt site, versatility applies to the ability of the testing tool to test different levels. Think about discussion boards and how you might extend or differentiate a good discussion board question.
In an EDTC format, we also want to consider how easily the work can be shared. Think about your school and how teachers often try to integrate different subjects. How could your questions be shared across courses or between teachers.
Well, 10 weeks plus a 2 week break have gone by. You are finally back on campus. The next four weeks will be very busy as you try to finish off your work and as we try to keep up with all the presentations and the marking.
There will be a lot of marking for you in the next few weeks and so out of all of your student efforts out of the years, this is the most important time for you. It is not over yet!
What to do
Have a look at this document. It may change over the next few weeks but at least we will keep it updated. You can see your assessment dates
Here are your presentation schedules:
You can see all of your assessment documents in the 'Files' section (see link at top). Here are the most important ones:
Since your portfolio is a multimedia presentation, you need to consider some multimedia principles of design.
The portfolio has several sections as seen here:
An introductory home page
Professional Introduction / Resume (EDU 4603)
- Personal Details (Name, address, phone, email)
- Education (list your degree & expected graduation date)
- Teaching Practice Experience (list, in reverse chronological order)
- Related Experience (summer jobs? any volunteer work?)
- Special Skills (e.g. IT)
- Professional Development Activities (seminars/workshops, given and attended)
Teaching Philosophy (EDU 4603)
Your philosophy should be reflected in your selection of artifacts and throughout your portfolio. Your statement should include relevant academic references and be no more than about 500 words.
- What is the purpose of education? In general? In this place and at this time?
- What is the role of Education in the UAE?
- Why do you teach? What do you want to achieve? Why?
Best Practice examples (EDU 4503 / EDU 4603)
This section demonstrates how you have achieved competency in the different areas by presenting examples of your best work. Critically select from the following suggested artefacts to demonstrate competencies. See what your colleagues are saying about this section and share your ideas with them.
Professionalism and Understanding
Planning for learning
Implementing and Managing Learning
Assessment and Evaluation
Reports and Observations
What have others said about you and your teaching? Select sections, sentences or phrases, explain their background and relevance. Include peer observations.
Commitment to Professional Development (EDU 4503)
Show how you promote and support your own professional development – in the spirit of a professional reflective practitioner. You can include:
- A reflection on some of your professional reading .
- An analysis of some classroom teaching strategies that you implemented or observed
- Samples of teaching materials you developed and examples of student work
- You can also include any conferences you have attended, workshops in school or college.
In this section, you can broaden the range of artifacts beyond the B.Ed degree and give a more complete sense of yourself. Select:
- awards or certificates
- letters of appreciation from teachers? Or students? Or peers?
- include here any other college work or achievements , which you think says something about you
Journal Entry Guidelines:
You will complete three journal entries, one after each MCT observation and feedback.
You will reflect on the feedback from your MCT and comment on the various aspects of the MCT feedback report. You should discuss and compare any differences between your impression of the visit and the MCT’s comments. Your comments should include ideas on how to improve on constructive criticism from the MCT.
Choose a title for your entry that tells the reader what the entry is about.
You are also expected to comment on your classmates’ journals. Respond to your classmates’ posts and focus on outlining possible solutions to the problems discussed. You are encouraged to respond to a posting from a peer from another teaching placement.
Responses will be made on respective student’s sites with a blog entry and link to that person’s site made on your blog.
Lets have a look at the central feature of the portfolio
Documentation - Tell Show us what you are thinking
One of my biggest 'take-aways' from this round of teaching observations is the need to be explicit in the expectations of the lessons. One big difference between adult learners such as our students and younger students is that adult learners generally need to know just how the work is relevant to them. With younger learners, this is true as well and they always benefit from knowing the relevance of something, but the difference is that adults have control of their own destiny and so will either not do something if the relevance is not clear (for often very good reasons), or will edit and change it to suit their needs. Younger students, and especially primary students are a captive audience and will generally do as asked, even if the purposes are not clear. They don’t have the larger world view to consider when looking at their assignments.
One change that I am making is to demand of students even more documentation of their own activities than I have in the past. A big part of my portfolio approach is the need to document what we are learning. However, I can see from this past semester that we need to do even more, and provide time and opportunities for this activity.
Similar to the time span of discretion, most students do not see the need to do so until they have amassed a certain amount. Only when patterns emerge from the learning, that can 'float' above the actual content of the documents do students start to see the larger value of the documentation. Until this realization, they are too close to their own ideas. Reflection is not always a natural activity and there are better ways and worse ways, or more effective and less effective ways to do so.
This harnesses the cultural forces of artefacts and of expectations. I expect more artefacts from my student teachers. I cannot read their minds and I am not in their classrooms all the time so they need to make their thinking visible through artefacts, journals and details in all forms of documentation.
Documentation processes have been instrumental in allowing the students and us to see what everyone is thinking and they set benchmarks that allow us to see how we have moved forward. The documentation allows us to see not just their prior knowledge but their current thinking and gives a starting point. This allows us to then balance the time needed to set the stage for the content and then we can move forward with the activity as we are all clear on what each other is thinking and believing about our new content. We can then think critically about our own ideas because we can see them in the light of others’ ideas and see where we may have made assumptions or baseless claims.
Assessment & Opportunities
We really need to focus on the opportunities that we create for older students. In terms of seeing the relevance, the more clearly we can create opportunities for them to pursue activities that lead directly towards their own goals, the more successful will be the learning. Even with college students who we might think just need to complete their assignments, have a larger world view and need to see the assignments as contributing their actual lives, not just their academic lives.
We can negotiate with older students about many of the assessment details. In these cases, we then need to be explicit about what we need. For example, we need to tell them that we need a document in a certain form in order to show stakeholders that our students are meeting particular college outcomes, and that these expectations are beyond our control. Then they will be more accepting of an honest and real world view.
In most educational settings, thinking is regularly modeled, but the models are not always appropriate. Opportunities for visible thinking are present anywhere, but we need to work to make the opportunities happen. There are always pockets of opportunity dependent on the teacher’s awareness, pedagogy and interest to think outside of the box and try new things. The challenges are to make opportunities with the framework and culture of the wider educational environment.
Time is a consistent factor in any schedule. Staying around the college campus to talk and socially construct ideas takes time and there needs to be space for such activities to happen. We need to develop an awareness, understanding and acknowledgement of the culture of thinking. We need to focus on providing time and opportunities. For example, a reduction in the number of discrete assessments given to our students would allow a deeper understanding of each assessment. We would also be able to develop each assessment more thoroughly and thus provide a range of thinking models to allow for individual learning styles and needs, especially with older students. In this way, we can encourage people to take the time to think.
The thinking routines explored in the 'Making Thinking Visible' course allow us to embed thinking dispositions into our outcomes and provide a language to facilitate this activity. We can then move beyond the content and employ the content for various purposes. We now have a meta-language to use in our sandpit as we play with the ideas. This is a constructivist view in action that allows the students to think for themselves and feel empowered to actually do so. Their thoughts and views become more valuable because we can see them, share them and build upon them.
The routines are a leverage point for us to generate more critical thinking and extend their thinking beyond what we might normally do. The routines get them to go beyond just what is in their heads. We need to get the thinking out of their heads and on to paper so that others can see it – MTV!
We can position the content at the center of the activities and it creates a way of thinking and focuses our attention in the places that we deem necessary. The thinking routines give us a critical thinking model that spans from early childhood learners to adult learners.