Friday, 23 October 2015

CAS Cat 2 workshop at WUIS Day 1

   Paradigm shifts in understandings and implementations of CAS

A read through the new CAS guide for 2017 intrigued me a lot. It just made me reflect on  much the Diploma program is dynamic and informed by the latest developments and research in education. The new guide had so many areas that signified two main highlights...
1. How much collaboration is needed across the various disciplines of of DP
2. How much more more meaningful, contextual, engaged and relevant each CAS experience is meant to be.

The few areas that caught my attention were as follows:
1. The scaffolding of CAS strands having explicit meanings and the various approaches the school could embrace
2. The application of the CAS FRAMEWORK of Investigation, Preparation, Action, Reflection and Demonstration. A definite tool to determine the success of a CAS experience. 
3. Shifting the focus from getting CAS hours to achieving learning outcomes.
4. Guidelines to setting up meaningful reflection that shifts from narrative writing to deep rooted critical thinking and analysis.
5. The Research part of Service led so much into the curriculum integration. 

My AHA moment

We were given an activity on reviewing whether or not a CAS proposal would be accepted and approved or not. This opened up for so much of debate and conflicts amongst the participants and challenged our mindset and comfort zones. When we applied the given CAS frameworks no way we could reject any of them. However what came up as conversations amongst participants was how we get biased by our own experiences and prejudices and what affect that has on the approval of the proposals. 

Two interesting ones are mentioned here.
The second one was very special for me as I found myself supporting and justifying something my sons are immersed in. Playing online games in a collaborative platform. When we put this on the CAS framework and I tried to connect it with all that I see at home and hear from my sons.

We made our own analysis how the League of Lefends game could become a CAS proposal. The activity challenged our thinking and comfort zones.should we be open to other forms of creativity too?

See here for our justifications of accepting this proposal as we tied it to strands, learning outcomes, and learner profiles.

The entire CAS program now seems to gel with IB philosophy of creating internationally minded people with strong skills, ready for the 21st century.







Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Why should educators be connecting their students globally?



















This blog is being written as a part of the quadblogging concept where three educators including me are responding to the question "Why should educators be connecting their students globally?"


Let us first scaffold the meaning of connected learning

(Ito et al.) defines connected learning as " broadened access to learning that is socially embedded, interest-driven, and oriented toward educational, economic, or political opportunity. Connected learning is realized when a young person is able to pursue a personal interest or passion with the support of friends and caring adults, and is in turn able to link this learning and interest to academic achievement, career success or civic engagement."
Next why do we need to incorporate connected learning?

 In the report the school is visualized as one node in a broader network of learning available to young people, By building a learning community  we can call on the untapped capacity in more informal and interest-driven arenas to build more learning supports and opportunities. In an era when our existing educational pathways serve fewer young people, it is critical that we build capacity, opportunity, and new models of success, rather than orient our efforts solely on optimizing the playing field of existing opportunities.

What are the outcomes of connected learning?

This reference to the existing educational model which gives less access to learning is the key reason why we as educators should connect our students globally.Connected learning focuses attention on the spaces of integration and translation between divergent domains of knowledge, culture, and social practice.Connected learning is oriented to outcomes that are both individual and collective in nature. These include 21st Century skills, dispositions, and literacies such as systems thinking, information literacy, creativity, adaptability, conscientiousness, persistence, global awareness and self-regulation as well as the cultivation of interests, building of social capital, and a positive orientation to academic subjects. Because the connected learning model takes an ecological and networked approach, these individual outcomes are tied to societal outcomes that are collective in nature. These include building high quality forms of culture and knowledge, civically activated collectives, and diverse pathways for learning and recognition. In this way, the support and cultivation of individual capacity is part and parcel of a broader vision of an educational system that is vastly more effective, equitable and essential.

What are the approaches to learning in a connected learning model?

The approaaches to learning in the above model has:

  1. Equity
  2. Full participation
  3. Social connection:
  4. Peer-supported: 
  5. Interest-powered: 
  6. Academically oriented:


Ann Michaelsen, a teacher at Sandvika High School just outside Oslo, has been invited to Bett - the education world's biggest tech fair, held in London - to share her ideas with other technologically minded teachers.She mentions how connected learning on social platforms of twitter have helped her students gain access to a wider world.(Rice).

Let us look at some of the learning theories and compare this learning theory behind the connected learning model?

Behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism are the three broad learning theories most often utilized in the creation of instructional environments. These theories, however, were developed in a time when learning was not impacted through technology. Over the last twenty years, technology has reorganized how we live, how we communicate, and how we learn. Learning needs and theories that describe learning principles and processes, should be reflective of underlying social environments. Vaill emphasizes that “learning must be a way of being – an ongoing set of attitudes and actions by individuals and groups that they employ to try to keep abreast o the surprising, novel, messy, obtrusive, recurring events…” (1996, p.42).

Connectivism is the integration of principles explored by chaos, network, and complexity and self-organization theories. Learning is a process that occurs within nebulous environments of shifting core elements – not entirely under the control of the individual. Learning (defined as actionable knowledge) can reside outside of ourselves (within an organization or a database), is focused on connecting specialized information sets, and the connections that enable us to learn more are more important than our current state of knowing.

So why should educators be connecting their students globally?

Connectivism presents a model of learning that acknowledges the tectonic shifts in society where learning is no longer an internal, individualistic activity. How people work and function is altered when new tools are utilized. The field of education has been slow to recognize both the impact of new learning tools and the environmental changes in what it means to learn. Connectivism provides insight into learning skills and tasks needed for learners to flourish in a digital era.(Siemens)

How global collaboration helped me develop my identity and give an accelerated learning?

In my blogposts I have kept an ongoing record of all the transitions that happened. This post talks about how I connected to people in USA and started developing my own identiy , way back in 2012 from India. 

In this post of mine I share how I connect my present batches to previous ones to enhance learning.

The live feed ( as shown left ) from my blog develops a sense of achievement and motivation for further connection and sharing.















References:
  1. Ito, Mizoko et al. 'Connected Learning: An Agenda For Research And Design'. Connected Learning Research Network. N.p., 2013. Web. 20 Oct. 2015 . <http://clrn.dmlhub.net/publications/connected-learning-an-agenda-for-research-and-design>.
  2. Rice, Carolyn. 'Social Media Transforms The Textbook Lesson - BBC News'. BBC News. N.p., 2014. Web. 20 Oct. 2015 . <http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-25888737>.
  3. Siemens, George. 'Elearnspace. Connectivism: A Learning Theory For The Digital Age'. Elearnspace.org. N.p., 2004. Web. 20 Oct. 2015 . <http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm>.
  4. Basu, Rajashree. 'My Journey.....As An IB Educator: Global Collaboration'. Rajashreebasu.blogspot.com. N.p., 2012. Web. 20 Oct. 2015 . <http://rajashreebasu.blogspot.com/search/label/Global%20Collaboration>.


Monday, 5 October 2015

Crossing cultures in Education

What challenges does one face when one crosses cultures in the field of education? How difficult is it to transfer knowledge in a setup which is completely different from what you are used to?





Edchat,. Wider Horizons - Four Go To Kenya. 2013. Web. 5 Oct. 2015.

In response to the video shown above as a part of my ongoing PGCEi course from the University of Nottingham I am responding to the questions stated above.

The video shown here is very relevant in the context of my own experiences which have actually undergone a radical change since the time I became educated till the present scenario. I have been a part of  such didactic classroom setups in India myself as a student. Teacher was the centre of attaraction and copying and rote learning were the only mechanisms to score good marks, which was the method of assessment.

After my higher education, I taught as a teacher for seven years in a state board school with a static curriculum with little scope of application of information, but quite similar to what I had gained my education from. There was no chance of social interaction , let alone learning from them and neither were such theories valued in the school culture . I was asked to refrain from any kind of collaboration and learning from any of the international schools in the city as the school authorities felt that such connections would not benefit my teaching.

You are a good teacher if you can yourself memorize information and pass the same skills to students to help them achieve good marks. As shown in the video the concepts of teaching by the teachers from England were as allien to me as they were to the African teachers in the video. 

Teaching the international curriculum for the last 8 years of my career has seen a radical paradigm shift to my teaching pedagogy. I can relate more to the English teachers in the video who were actually looking for signs of learning in the classrooms. The method used by the Kenyan teachers would leave the children with very limited scope of engagement with the key concepts of the content , as mentioned by the English teacher that the process of investigation was important rather that the result. 

The teachers found it difficult to settle down in an atmosphere where students failed to comprehend the instructions given to them and hence generate suitable responses. In the context of China where I teach now , I am facing similar challenges and even to a larger extent. The students have very low language levels of English and hence fail to comprehend instructions. Thus it is difficult to generate the active and engaged learning atmosphere that one is looking for.The brain of the Chinese students is tuned to recieve knowledge imparted in a repititive manner, which makes them good scorers in Mathematics. However they fail to apply the same skills when it comes to critical analysis of content to a particular context as mentioned in the banking system of education by Friere (p.53).

However there exists a motivation for self achievement which needs to be tapped in for generating active involvement and engagement with classroom teaching and learning. 

Freire, P. (1996). Banking v Problem solving methods of education. Pedagogy of the oppressed, pp.52-57.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

PGCEi induction event at Shanghai Sept 2015

Reflecting on my takeaways




The last four days seemed to be the beginning of a transformation in my journey through the IB world. I am a very passionate IB educator and in my opinion IB is a very challenging academic programme whose success lies in its dynamism and mission.

As I got engaged with the modules , assignments and research ideas in the PGCEi induction at Shanghai, what came out to me more relevant was that how the course I had enrolled to from a top university and the IB programme I work with were both informed by the modern theories and practices of educationists. Being a physics teacher I always hold strong the values of rationalism, logical and augmented thinking and a justified conclusion supporting the predictions in a hypothesis. Hence going by  the discoveries of social scientists on how the mind works and devising the educational programme around it seems to be very scientific to me.

I came across learning theories, importance of language in international schools, plagiarism and academic honesty , methodology of academic writing by being critical at the same time, incorporating values in education and developing strong research and persuasive skills. All these areas had been known and covered to me to some extent as I took two IB schools in the last academic year through evaluation and authorisation. But the PGCEi course will give a new meaning of reflecting , analysing and researching all the above to my own teaching context within the IB programme.


I look forward to a more knowledgeable and confident educator to be coming out of the whole process who can benefit and contribute to the cause of shaping the future of students in a far more efficient manner.

PGCEi face to face day 2

Exploring learning theories

Day 2 of PGCEi was well spent in exploring the various learning theories. Though I had read some of them as a part of the IB documents , but had really never connected them to my own teaching practices to justify them. For the first time the IB documents and programme felt to be so dynamic as it was informed by what modern theorists had to say about learning. I could see so many paradigm shifts happening of other educators in the room as they kept on questioning and reflecting on their own practices. 

My takeaway from the day were many :
  1. How the zone of proximal development was further refined by Bruner and later by Woods and the concept of Contingent control in the classroom introduced.
  2. Also the Howard Gardener's multiple intelligence theory kind of challenged my prior understanding of the visual, audiometric and kinaesthetic learning , saying that all the intelligences need to be developed.
My own definition of learning

Behaviourism- 

Stimuli can be linked to produce response -- Pavlov

 

Language and Learning in International Contexts

In the second half what we were introduced was even more interesting as I had read all of that while framing and developing language policy of the IB schools in which I was a part from evaluation and authorization over the two years.However the contexts of all of that were made so relevant now.We were introduced to BICS and CALP (The acronyms BICS and CALP refer to a distinction introduced by Cummins (1979) between basic interpersonal communicative skills and cognitive academic language proficiency.)

My takeaway of the day:

Cummins quadrant -I kind of struggled to place my practices in the various quadrants. To achieve CALP it was mentioned that we had to have practices linked to quadrant C. 

ACTIVITY TIME:

We did some case study analysis and answered in group the following questions?
  1. What strategies you could use to support EAL in your class?
  2. What is the value of the home language?
  3. How can literacy skills of CALP be developed?
In the context of China and our school these questions are so valid and relevant and needed reflection and connection. I answered them to my own context.
 The day ended by learning how to write a piece of critical writing under crilical literacy.. It was a big insight to academic writing.



Friday, 25 September 2015

PGCEi face to face - Day 1: An Ideal Classroom

What kind of Education do you believe in?

All these days, being an educator for 15 years , I developed my own understanding of what it means to design a good education system and be a good educator. My beliefs and implementation have always been influenced majorly by IB programme and some educators who challenge the existing knowledge and  education system. But as a part of my PGCEi programme from the University of Nottingham, I am being introduced to theories about philosophies of education and how mine compares to them.

As a part of the ongoing activities of Day 1, we have been asked to think and create an assignment task " An Ideal Classroom in an Ideal school"


What challenged my thought process was a TED talk shown that talked about woman in Afghanistan , deprived of being in a school....Would'nt then an ideal school in that scenario  have values about the right to education.
So here in China , when I reflect sometimes how far I have drifted sometimes due to the firewall and lack of understanding on the benefits of technology integration, what could be retained and carried forward is what values do  I want to instill in the classroom?

Giving an access to International IB programme to our chinese students and then giving them opportunities to study abroad , in itself my first step to design the ideal classroom in the context of China. At the same time if I can empower them more with language capabilities and skills to be a part of the global classroom then I guess my further pathway to a dream classroom would be fulfilled.

More coming up...

Monday, 14 September 2015

Teaching Physics to ESL learners

All subject teachers are language teachers!


I had always heard and read about this in the IB documents , but implementing it to the core in the context of China. My recent experience of taking WUIS , China through their IB DP Authorization had suddenly thrown a different insight into unpacking the IB documents as compared to my stint with the evaluation phase in India. The Language policy and its implementation seems to be the prime focus in the school in relevance to China. Being a new school, it caters to chinese students from the national board who have very limited grasp over English as a language of instruction as compared to my previous students in India. Here what is suprising is that both Indians and Chinese are ESL students.

The manner in which teaching and learning is happening in the DP physics classroom here is so different from  the classrooms in India where I had native or near native english speakers. Just reflecting on how my first unit is being taught here , where the development of language is so very imortant.

Integration of language in Physics, is a four-step process:
1)    activating background knowledge
2)    scaffolding for new learning input
3)    acquisition of new learning through practice
4)    demonstrating proficiency.

Today's lesson was hinted on identifying , reading and analyzing graphs- a basic introduction. I used desmos platform, my all time favourite to act as a platform and tool to nurture critical thinking. 
Activity 1: Students where given a function , y=2x and ask to generate a graph and describe the same in groups. What came out from the oral exercise was that the student cohort was weak in basic science vocabalary and the same was identified and posted on the wall..
Words like origin, intersection, gradient, y-intercept were not known or used by the students in English. This activity helped in activating background knowledge.
Activity 2
Next more equations where given on desmos and students where asked to compare and contrast between: y=2x. y=5x, y=-5x and so on. As they compared and elaborated their descriptions in sets of five sentences, they started using the identified and highlighted vocabalary with use.This activity helped students to scaffold for new learning input.