theMolisticView

A new journey in education

Archive for the ‘Diversity’ tag

The click and drag problem

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Something which has been bothering me a lot in recent weeks is what I term the click and drag syndrome.

I currently have two senior multimedia classes, one of which is near the end. Both however have lead to make the following assumption, they cannot produce their own content because they cannot think for themselves. Broad assumption I know, my thoughts on how i reached this conclusion are way to long for a blog post.

I include as much subject material as possibly can be used in the restrictive three terms provided to us in the preliminary year. I do however concentrate on HTML, CSS for building websites, in recent years Flash and this year I have moved in to game making with Microsoft XNA Game Studio.

Now the four technologies listed above are all code intensive and require their user to have knowledge of the basic building blocks. Once you have this basic knowledge you can go forth and produce amazing things, your imagination and own personal knowledge are the only draw backs.

More so this year then last year the students struggle with the basic concepts of the underlying languages. Even when all they have to do is copy out what is provided to them they struggle. The easiest way to make a web page in my classroom is to use Adobe Fireworks. I provide my students with the print outs from the fireworks for der wiki I set up last year which demonstrates how to make a web page or site in this brilliant graphical editor. Only six students in my class could achieve this, the same ones who can write code as turns out.

Late last term we turned early and started on the game making, this was the thing more than any other section of the subject they all wanted to learn. To best start them off I thought some normal Windows programming would be best. Making simple Windows forms a web browser and a weather application, simple small introductory steps to a bigger picture. This is where I got the drag and drop phrase from. When you produce applications using Visual Studio you are presented with a canvas of a Windows application window. You drag and drop the visual elements (UI, user interface) on to the canvas, drag them to where they look best for your users, then you code the behind files as they are known to make the application come to life. The drag and droppers could not do it, simply to hard. They had to think about it, they had to write code from their own knowledge.  As soon as the drag and droppers hit an obstacle they stop as if they have run head on into a wall.

To keep pace I moved them on to XNA and game making, the discussions were excellent, idea generation etc. were all top notch. Again they were guided through the fundamentals shown examples and provided with reusable code (pieces for movement, detecting screen size and algorithms for collision detection). As soon as they had to work it out and produce their own they hit the wall. XNA and most game making software does not have a drag n drop interface. All the work is completed through code, hand writing code which you have to make.

Within a week we were back at the wall, attendance raised its head, work was not handed in and on the syndrome goes. I asked them to provide alternatives, everyone who brought something in brought in a cheesy drag and drop interface where the software did all the work, all the user had to do is drag and drop. I’m sorry but Scratch may be a handy tool to learn with, much like stickman is for animation but you cannot make a HSC assessable product with it.

They are all now 17. Do I have to hold their hand through the HSC?

How did it get this way? I have never taught copy and paste answers, do others? Do other teachers teach only the drag and drop?

I’m bumfuddled to say the least…

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August 6th, 2011 at 7:54 pm

PBL in Metalwork… continued

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Well today was the first real lesson this term of year 10 Metalwork, the class I started my PBL journey with last term. So time for a progress report.

I have set every group up with a folder containing all examples, project outline and other useful resources. Every student has their own folder with the project outline and KWL sheets for every lesson. They are expected to complete these every lesson and hand the folders back in so as to achieve weekly XP on top of the finished project XP.

To date each of the groups of around 8 students have had 2 to 3 in the group who have lead and collected all the information they need to make their final project. Unfortunately the other 5 or so students per group have not been so diligent in their work. This in a normal class would be a problem, though for this group of young men it is actually an improvement. I can have them engaged for close to 30 minutes which is 30 minutes longer then it has been previously. Along with this extra engagement, there has been an extreme reduction in whole class disturbances which previously were a real issue.

There are 2 boy’s who are loner’s, nerds if you will. They have no want to be in Metalwork, it was what was left available to them on subject selection night. I have to connect with these boy’s who sit quietly and work through improving their Minecraft worlds having finished the minimum work required. So today I quickly asked around those in the know on Minecraft to see if they could build a Blacksmith’s workshop inside their Minecraft worlds. It turns out they can, so in 2 weeks time that is what I will charge them with for their project.

Now no videos have been developed or produced, though 2 groups actually started looking at which camera to use for their project. So many would say it hasn’t worked, I would say progress is slow, many small milestones have been met and there are many more to come.  This class of disturbed boy’s from the western suburbs needs more time, time they don’t have. They have not been taught to learn, they have been taught to follow this, produce that and this your mark A, B, C, D, E. They just need more time.

I should reaffirm that I only have this class for one period out of their allocated four per two week cycle. I have zero control or influence over what happens in the weeks between. This also makes this particular lesson tougher.

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May 17th, 2011 at 4:44 am

My first Project Based Learning adventure – Part 1

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Before I go into the meat of my first venture in to Project Based Learning, I feel there is a need for some background to my choice.

Firstly my school like many in Western Sydney is a PBL school. Huh! I hear you say, “the school is already a PBL school, what is he on about?” Well this PBL actually means Positive Behaviour for Learning. This type of PBL is intended to focus on student’s behaviour and not actively on their engagement in learning.

Secondly and the real reason for trying this freaky new teaching method called Project Based Learning.

Last year during the ups and downs of the timetabling process, I had a choice of teaching out of faculty for two periods a cycle or taking two periods a cycle of Stage 5 Industrial Technology Metalwork across both years 9 and 10. So I choose wisely and stayed in faculty. The actual teacher of these classes around the same time chose to move to a four-day week. This then made an issue for my HT with the lines of the timetable, either I had to go out of faculty or go from Metalwork practical over each cycle to Metalwork theory.

He chose theory. This choice at the time was intended for me to influence other teachers in my faculty, not just the Metalwork teacher as a “technology leader”. With this choice the HT made it clear that I would only deliver the work set and not impact in anyway on the topics and assessable work set by the class’s teacher. I was more than fine with this, as I had embarked on a new path with my junior IST and Multimedia classes.

Read the rest of this entry »

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April 5th, 2011 at 11:57 am

Sir Ken Robinson

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Sir Ken Robinson, a leading thinker on education, creativity and innovation, who has advised various governments and major global corporations says that most education systems around the world including Australia’s, are still modelled on the needs of the industrial age, were already narrow and are getting narrower.

‘The 7.30 Report Australian Broadcasting Corporation Broadcast: 16/06/2009 Reporter: Kerry O’Brien’

On The 7.30 Report website [linked above] there are full interview transcripts and video of the interview by Kerry O’Brien for download.

Below is a TED talk given by Sir Ken Robinson which outlines a case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.

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July 5th, 2009 at 4:55 am

Our challenge

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A recent video by Greg Whitby, who shares his ideas on challenging norms within education and the need for schools to be places of innovation, diversity and creativity.

What are your thoughts??

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July 3rd, 2009 at 1:34 pm