Friday, February 28, 2014

Exploring the guts

I have been enjoying the pleasures and sorrows of the world wide web long enough to consider it decent to add some HTML basics to my usual user-oriented web scratching.

These two lovely websites got me started:
The first one doesn't require any registration, the second one does.

I browsed through the first one but actually did the second one. I like Codeacademy's:
  • integrated approach; read and code, no switching between apps is necessary,
  • insistence on completing quick practical tests before moving on to next topic (I tend to skip or do partially such stuff...),
  • feature showing the progress you make as you go along.
I really appreciate the magic of well-designed online courses - the way they not only save time taking you places but also make you feel good by showing you your progress and letting you know you have accomplished something.

A lesson for the teacher in me - improve the tracking of progress and accomplishments in your school Moodle.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Schema activation is essential for learning just a fancy way of saying learning is built on prior knowledge. :-)

I enjoyed Sinead's link to how this video could be explored in class.

Just a different way of thinking

The Good Life

I used to think that stupidity was the cause of people not being able to see things that were obvious to me. Today I realize it was not stupidity; it is just a different way of thinking. Dr.Temple Grandin
Dr. Grandin is autistic - a gift and a curse that gives  a more profound visual, pattern or verbal functioning at the expanse of social one. Through her gift of seeing differently, she can see what most fail to perceive, and has used this successfully, among other things, to make farming and slaughtering facilities somewhat less cruel to animals. The world needs all kind of minds, she shows in her TED talk, bringing autism closer to non-autistic population.

Her quote made me think how easily we tend to use the word stupidity for things, we don't understand - stupidity around us or within us?

...Hence my Week 4 Neuro homework:

EVO homework

Thursday, January 31, 2013

She's a long-distance runner

On the Run!
My Dan Pink sentence, finally. Because I like to think that journeys matter more than destinations, as does finding and following your pace of life.

I want you

Week 3 – attention. Needless to say, essential in efficient and focused learning. Or teaching. Or any other thing we want to do well. There's a battle going on in our brain for it all the time – and it is not completely in our power to choose the winner...
 Weapons Of Mass Distraction
So, what can I do to gain more control over my attention? In theory, reflecting should help, kind of what we are encouraged to do here; think about what sort of things I do, why I do them, how I do them, could I do them better, should I do them better, am I aware of my priorities, can I improve my juggling - or should I perhaps expect less of myself.
A large part of our behaviour is driven by our subconsciousness. Getting to know ourselves better should help us do things better.
How to Focus
How to Focus infographic

p.s. I'm still thinking what my Dan Pink sentence might be.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

I feel you

Ladybug in hand 
It's week 2 in my Neuro EVO and we are mostly uncovering the science behind emotions; how amygdala, dopamine, serotonin and prefrontal cortex can get to make us enjoy exploring the world around us as well as fight or freeze or want to flee - needless to say all processes which greatly impact our success in class.

Anamaria shared a TED talk I remember watching too - how our emotions are reflected in our body language - and surprisingly - how this works the other way around too.  Marineide followed up with a tip she had once received that seems to suggest an even  broader see-show-feel relationship; if  you dress up kids nice, they would naturally behave better. And the same is true for adults. I have to agree with this. I know that I like wearing what I feel comfortable in - and if I have to put on something else, this affects the way I feel.

The discovery I shared with the group is Technology-Enhanced Social-Emotional Activities - a website with practical activities to use in class adaptable for various ages. I'd already come across most of them at some point or other in my life, so I clicked the one that sounded least familiar - What's your sentence? The link takes you to Dan Pink's tip to discovering and nurturing our inner motivation. A simple answer to 2 questions:
  • What's my sentence? (the thing I want to be known for) and...
  • Was I better today than yesterday? 
...and suggestion how to use this in class. I'll work on mine after my badly needed beauty sleep.

I think we teachers have mostly come across such activities in terms of different sort of vocabulary (warm-up, getting-to-know each other activities, ice-breakers...) - so its kind of interesting to pull them together in this context - which basically tackles the same topic from the other end (activity leading to emotions vs. emotions leading to activity/non-activity).

Thursday, January 17, 2013

I see you

heart with smile
Our brain is a network of neurons that talk to each other – there are neurons over 1 m long in our body – as well as teeny-tiny little ones. They connect and branch out on the needs basis – the unnecessary connections wither away, the necessary ones grow stronger. And bigger. Our course of life is mother nature's co-designer. It gives and it takes. Except for the untouchables buried deep inside our reptile brains - the automation (heartbeat, breathing....) that keeps us going. No one messes with it.

Apart from that, it's "practice makes perfect". The more you do something, the better you get. The more you depend on something, the more you care about it. The more you care about it, the more you nurture it. The more you nurture it, the more it proliferates.

There are sections of our brain dedicated to performing different functions (planning, remembering, recognizing, counting, speaking) – and the obvious learning differences between us are usually written down to the differences between us in this respect; e.g. we may be described as either left- or right-brained, or as having a particular learning style (auditory, visual, kinaesthetic...). Carla's Neuromyths Test bluntly dismisses these as myths and, so like many others, I can't help but feel a little unhappy about it - I've internalised them ages ago!

Sarah Hilyard's enlightening Use it or Lose it nicely breaks the illusion of such oversimplifications:
"Let’s say I’m captivated by a painting in a museum. We would immediately conclude that what I’m doing here is visual. However, I am probably also feeling, thinking – not only creatively but also logically about what I’m seeing -, maybe even hearing sounds that come to me from the image. Therefore, I would not solely be relying on my visual domain." 

So true. So, she says, if we teachers...
"…offer a wide range of styles and use diverse teaching tools then we will be reaching all of our students. We can provide visual, auditory and kinaesthetic means simultaneously, we can supply concrete experiences, creative play and active learning opportunities. The best way to do this is in holistic ways using songs, dance, drama and art. By making it memorable and fun, we will grasp our students’ attention and interest, they will become involved and hence, they will learn."
Makes me think a bit about children and adults though. Little children are so open, so direct. They jump in with both feet – or shamelessly ignore you if you fail to attract their attention. They say what they think. As adults, on the other hand, we tend surround ourselves with protective walls – think politeness and decency, saving faces, keeping appearances… We tolerate things we hate. And are generally way more hesitant to open up our hearts - doorkeepers of our minds.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Braining up at EVO

Yep, it's that time of the year again. :-)

I'm taking Neuroscience in Education - I feel that as educator I really should know more about what biology has to say about learning. And I can't imagine a better way to do this than with my dearest online friends. 
Like always, there is a cool mixture of new and ancient participants - and there are 2 other Slovenian teachers - from Ajševica of all places!

My week 1 - checklist:

  1. joined the course spaces, dropped some comments, 
  2. haven't shared my story yet, plan to cheat and share my good old Becoming a Webhead ;-); checked some other lovely stories though,... Azhar's made me want to go to Egypt, 
  3. haven't shared my reflection space yet, plan to share this Cyberkitchen,... even though it tends to hybernate every now and then ;-),
  4. complete the remaining weekly tasks (eventually).

Sleeping Gerbils

Monday, April 18, 2011

SIRikt 2011

I was in Kranjska Gora again this year, but only for the last day of the SIRikt conference. Thanks to its dedicated organizers, the conference has grown into a major national educator's event with over 1200 participants this year and some truly amazing presenters. Like before, this year's events too have been recorded and are already available online.

It was wonderful to meet friends from the national Collaborative projects online community and hear examples of good practice shared by fellow teachers. Two dear colleagues of mine – Tatjana and Lorena are this year's well deserved winners of the national eTwinning Golden Cable award. Way to go!

After the early Saturday morning plenary I attended a most refreshing workshop led by Tim Rylands and an always useful one – How to make a good presentation by Dr. John Collick.
Tim and his partner-in-crime Sarah lit up our minds and hearts with their humour, passion, creativity and team spirit. They took the 20 and something lucky participants to a refreshing journey in the iPad wonderland – a most appreciated reminder of how invigorating it is to relax and let your imagination roam free and of how this can work fabulously constructively in a group context such as a class. We had a walk through a medieval town where I got a new husband and son, we created some weird sounding music, made and baked some pottery and carved a watermelon among other things.

Some presenting tips by Dr. Collick - in addition to those classical ones about not turning the ppt into a karaoke exercise by reading out loud, about theimportance of using only keywords on slides and of quality visual support and, of course, of practice, I found interesting the following exercises for voice and posture:

- 20 sec mouth stretching before giving a presentation
- A breathing exercise involving slowly inhaling and exhaling air with your hands spreading out and closing back in thus shaping an imaginary ball – from a tennis size one to a volleyball one. This should be done 3 times as slowly as possible without fainting.
- Step with your feet reflecting your shoulder length, turn your shoulders backwards and straighten up your head as if trying to touch with its top an imaginary thread hanging down the ceiling.

Another interesting piece of info new to me was the fact, that our brain reboots every 10 mins or so. That's why it makes sense to include breaks in presentations. And that we can generally only remember 3 things. So it makes sense to put no more than 3 points on our slides, if possible using no less than 6 words.

In the afternoon my 3 boys and I climbed up the way-too-many-to-count stairs to the top of the Planica jumping hill – a lovely and most useful after-conference exercise. ;-)
Planica ski jump
...which rewarded us with a spine-chilling view downwards.
Planica ski jump