“When you don’t learn the best, you will teach the worst.”
― Israelmore Ayivor
Standards to be Addressed
Standard 1: Learner Development
Standard 2: Learning Differences
Standard 3: Learning Environments
Description of the Learner
Principles of Teaching
What are the skills and abilities a person should develop if they want to become an effective teacher?
What skills, abilities, and dispositions should a teacher have in order to be most effective? Think of at least three, and explain each of them in 2-3 sentences. Try to avoid repeating what anyone else has already said.
Obviously, there is no single answer to this question! Effective teachers need to develop many different skills and proficiencies. If you type "What are the qualities of a good teacher?" into google, it is very interesting to browse the results. You'll see titles such as 6 Essential Soft Skills for K-12 Teachers to 100 qualities in a good teacher, as well as numerous other sites which focus on qualities, characteristics, and descriptors. Interestingly, while there is some overlap, if we combined all the adjectives into one list, I imagine it would be a very, very long one.
Now that we've thought about the qualities, characteristics and skills of a teacher, let's look at the job itself. Have you heard people asking others what they do for a living? You may have heard "I'm an architect" or maybe "I'm a firefighter". Follow up questions might be "Oh, where do you work?" or perhaps "how long have you been doing that?" Teachers, on the other hand, often respond to that same question with something along the lines of "I teach kindergarten" or "I teach middle school social studies". Even if the response is "I'm a teacher", the follow up question is usually something like "What grade level do you teach?" Somehow, everyone knows instinctively that who is teach is most important.
Thus, it makes sense that one of the most important hallmarks of effective teachers, according to an article entitled Effective Teaching, a publication from the Western Australia Department of Education and Training, is that they:
. . . develop productive relationships with their students – they get to know them and take a particular interest in their overall development and progress.2
In 2015, The American Psychological Association published a report entitled "Top 20 Principles From Psychology For Pre K–12 Teaching And Learning" These principles were grouped into five different areas of psychological functioning, with the first area focusing directly on the student.
Read through principles 1-8, then answer the following question:
What ideas in this section are new to you and especially interesting?
It's clear that the teacher needs to understand a great deal about the learner if she/he is to prepare effective learning materials. Fortunately, many researchers have studied learners, and have made their findings available to us. We are going to examine some of the resulting theories they have constructed to help us understand (or remember) more about how learners grow and develop, and what may or may not be appropriate at any given time period. Before we do, however, I am going to draw your attention to principle number 3: Students’ cognitive development and learning are not limited by general stages of development. Take a moment to reread that section before continuing.
How can teachers facilitate student reasoning? (Check all that apply)
Provide information just above the students' current level of knowledge
Use heterogenous grouping
Cultivate peer collaboration in the classroom
Allow gifted learners to work with other gifted learners
Determine content based on students ages
Spend time helping students think and question what they already know
Link unfamiliar topics to other unfamiliar topics
This principle may, at first, lead you to think that stage theories are to be tossed out. However, that is not quite what the authors are saying. Their view is that age alone should not dictate what we teach our students. Age is one aspect, true, but there are other important factors to consider such as prior knowledge, using the more knowledgeable other (MKO), appropriate instructional materials, multilevel grouping, and peer collaboration.
It is also true that we may be at different stages at any one time, depending on the topic. For example, Piaget would say that people move into formal operations at about 11-12 years of age. You may even have a picture in your head of a child waking up on their 12th birthday and suddenly start thinking at this new level. This is clearly not true ( spend half an hour in a middle school classroom to check that theory out!). In fact, we now believe that many people never really move into that stage at all.
Furthermore, stage theories are not like one-way races. According to the APA article, we may think formally when talking about a hobby or interest that we are passionate about, but we may drop back when learning something brand new. So, while we can't necessarily take stage theories at face value, they do give very useful information about how people progress, learn, and develop. Therefore, we need to learn about the theories without necessarily accepting them in a rigid manner.
That being said, let's start our learner examination with a review of their characteristics . To do this, we will revisit some of our favorite theorists, so feel free to pull out notes and texts from prior classes to help you.
Theorists and Theories
We'll begin with Piaget. He famously studied his three children to see how they developed over time, and he came up with some very important concepts and ideas which he united in his theory. The components of his theory are:
- Adaptation processes
- Stages of Cognitive Development
Schemas are units of knowledge. Some are large, others are very small. These schemas are used to make sense of the world around us. An example of a schema might be ordering food through a drive-through. We know what is required, and so our schema shifts into place whenever we approach that situation. If we are comfortable with our schema, it can be said that we are in "equilibrium". Now, imagine you are in a foreign country, and you decide to go through a drive through. You will almost certainly use the schema you have already developed and try to behave in the same ways. However, adjustments will need to be made, and this is called "assimilation". You are trying to make the new information fit into the old schema. Eventually, you may rethink your schema to allow it to accommodate the new data. This is called, you guessed it, "accommodation", and this is how learning occurs, according to Piaget. The third aspect of Piaget's theory revolves around stages of development, and these apply to children. Piaget himself did not ascribe ages to the stages, but you have probably seen them written out with ages attached.
1. Sensorimotor stage (birth to age 2)
2. Pre-operational stage (from age 2 to age 7)
3. Concrete operational stage (from age 7 to age 11)
4. Formal operational stage (age 11+ - adolescence and adulthood).
In summary, Piaget thought that children, naturally inquisitive, take an active role in the learning process as they try new things, watch carefully, and learn about the world. They learn in a social context, interacting with others as they continually add new knowledge (schemas), build upon existing knowledge (assimilation), and adapt previously held ideas to accommodate new information (accommodation).
Go to Simply Psychology for a very detailed and clear explanation of Piaget's theory, including the meanings of common terminology and a discussion of his theory within education.
Vygotsky and Piaget worked on their ideas at approximately the same time, but in very different geographical areas. (Piaget lived in Switzerland, while Vygotsky lived in former USSR.). Vygotsky also believed that children are curious and self-directed in their learning, but he put more emphasis on the social aspects of learning. He put forward the idea of the "More Knowledgeable Other" or "MKO". This is someone who can move in alongside a learner and help them move forward in their learning. Another idea, the Zone of Proximal Development, is often associated with Vygotsky as well. The ZPD is the level just above what a learner can do, but which is doable with help (the MKO). Above that level is the impossible level.
Go to https://www.simplypsychology.org/vygotsky.html for a review of Vygotsky.
Why is this important? We need to know our learners, What is within their reach, what is just beyond (ZPD), and what is beyond them. Only then can we develop instruction that will move them forward. We also need to be very aware of language and social interaction as critical aspects of learning.
Erik Erikson believed that our personalities develop in a particular order, and that if anything happened to interrupt development, we would become "stuck" on one level. That is why, although you will be dealing with school aged children, it is important to examine the stages all the way back to birth.
The stages are can be found on this page. Read them, paying particular attention to the stages children move through until they reach their mid twenties.
Why is this important? We need to manage our classroom environment and our instruction in such a way that students will be able to learn. We need to be able to identify, as much as possible, issues that might hinder learning and find ways to address those issues. A short, but interesting description of how this can be done can be found here.
Kohlberg worked in the area of ethics and morality. He was interested in finding out why people make the decisions they do, and he developed a 3 level theory with two stages within each level to describe how human beings develop in their moral or ethical decision making. Typically, elementary students are found in the first level, and middle schoolers begin to move into the second.
Go to https://www.simplypsychology.org/kohlberg.html to review Kohlberg's work.
Why is this important? Kohlberg's work focuses on ethical decision making, and because the 21st century learner is bombarded with information (Internet, phone, TV, etc..), teachers have a duty to help them learn how to use information. This would include teaching about plagiarism, cheating, copying, and copyright. This information may be better received by students if presented at their current level of thinking.
Robert Gagne is the most recent of our theorists thus far, having been born in 1916 and passing away in Tennessee in 2002. A psychologist, Gagne thought it was important to use his knowledge and understandings to improve the lot of human beings. His work influenced many aspects of human endeavor, including training methods and individual practices, and from the sixties on, his ideas began to impact upon education. He developed a theory of learning outcomes which incorporated three ideas:
1. The kinds of things a learner should know after instruction
Which of the following are Gagne's desired learning outcomes? (check all that apply}
Logical Reasoning Skills
Written Language Skills
2. The conditions that must be in place in order to achieve these outcomes.
3. The steps, in order, that should be taken to get to the achieving of these outcomes.
Place these events in order from beginning to end
Informing the Learner of the Objective
Providing Learning Guidance
Presenting the Stimulus
Stimulating Recall of Prior Learning
Enhancing Retention and Transfer:
Why is this important? The nine events of instruction are particularly useful for lesson planning, giving us some tangible criteria against which we as teachers can compare the planning and execution of instruction.
Jerome Bruner believed in discovery learning, and he postulated that there are three stages in cognitive development. The first stage, the enactive stage (0-3 years), is where children perceive the world solely through their own interactions with it. They describe things in terms of what they themselves could do with them. They cannot explain how a swing works, but they can explain what they can do with the swing. The second stage, the iconic stage (3-~8), is when children begin to develop their visual memory. Now, they can experience things vicariously through their imagination, and they can use mental pictures and icons. Their decisions are made, however, based on perception rather than through the use of language. The third stage, the symbolic stage (from about 8 years), sees children being able to use symbols and pictures to represent people and things. They can talk about things in abstract terms, understand concepts, mathematical principles, and symbolic idioms (e.g. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush).
Why is this important? Discovery Learning involves harnessing student curiosity, allowing them to to interact with the environment by exploring and manipulating objects, wrestling with questions and controversies, or performing experiments.
Abraham Maslow's work was not focused on learning per se; he was much more interested in human potential, and how we might reach that potential. Originally, he developed five levels to his hierarchy, but since then, three more levels have been added. Watch this videoclip for an introduction to his augmented theory.
We should never confuse self-actualization with actually reaching perfection. Instead, we need to think about it as a fluid state in which we experience the world fully, and we find meaning in life that fulfills us and allows us to realize our talents.
Critics of Maslow point out that life is much more complex and messy than a simple pyramid would depict, and that belongingness is the main drive of human beings; it is not the third level. Others point out that in the US, suicide is more prevalent in both rich, and white neighborhoods, and since Maslow would put this group of people at the upper levels of his hierarchy, this makes no sense. Still others point out that some of those who experience hunger, a lack of safety, or other deficits, may be able to address these internally, and thus become stronger. Perhaps those who have not experienced such problems miss out on an important aspect of development and thus become "bored, entitled, frustrated, despairing, and not necessarily seeking transcendence." (Enright, 2018, §5)
The 21st Century Learner (and Teacher)
The majority of those reading this textbook are 21st century human beings. While it is somewhat arbitrary to settle on one date to mark the beginning of the 21st century, it cannot be denied that the expectations society has for children today are different from those in the near past. With the rapid advances in technology, life today is very different from life in previous decades. Depending on the time in history that people live, they will need different skills, understandings, and attitudes in order to flourish wherever they live.
Imagine you are a small child in early North America. Perhaps you are in the Plymouth Colony. What kinds of skills and attitudes would you need in order to be a functioning member of that group? Think of 3-4 and discuss these with your peers.
Do you think you would be able to survive in Plymouth Colony? How about flourish there? If we flip the time travel aspect of this question, do you think a Plymouth Colony member would survive in America today? Flourish?
Now I would like to you find someone who was born before 1960 and ask them a little about their lives. You may want to start with questions such as these: What did they learn at school? What was play like in their childhood? What did they do for fun? Where did they get their information from when doing projects at school? What was school life like? Do they notice any differences between their childhood and yours?
Once you've talked with your mature person, discuss your findings. Think about these questions: Were there differences that surprised or interested you? Explain. Are there things we need to do in schools now that perhaps weren't necessary in the past (Hint: yes)? What might these be? Discuss with your peers.
When we look at human history over larger periods of time, it is easy to see the changes that have occurred. From the wheel to the robot, the charcoal lump to the pen, and from raw mammoth meat to Brandy Flamed Peppercorn Steak. It is considerably more difficult to make predictions about changes that might become prominent in the near future. Have you ever watched old science fiction movies, or read old science fiction books? Sometimes they seem to hit the nail on the head; other times we have to chuckle at what science fiction writers imagined for the future. If you have access to older science fiction videos, watch one just to see the kinds of things that were dreamed about (and perhaps have a chuckle or two!). Let's see what kinds of predictions we could make in the following scenario:
Imagine life where you are in 18 years time. Give a written picture of what you think it might look like. What will be different?
Why do an exercise like this? Well, think about it. If you are teaching a kindergartner today, in how many years will that child graduate high school? college? Grad school? Notice anything? That kindergartner will graduate in about 18 years time, taught by us, and hopefully ready to flourish in the future. Sure, many things will almost certainly be the same. I imagine that in 18 years, we'll still need people to be able to read, write, speak, listen, do math, have a general knowledge of the world etc... But, what skills and attitudes will they need in order to be able to cope with the changes that are certainly coming? And which skills will they absolutely not need?
The answer is simple. We don't really know. Many people have tried to come up with definitions and descriptors of "21st Century Skills", but there is no universally accepted list, which is what we might expect when planning for the future. Matthew Lynch, from the Edadvocate, has constructed a diagram which seems to overcome some of the difficulties associated with defining a 21st Century Learner:
His description avoids focusing on specific skills, and approaches the question in terms of broad ideas and concepts. Study the diagram carefully. Do you agree with this diagram? Are there any ideas you believe are missing? Can you identify the areas where technology can play a major part?
Do you think anything has been left out of the diagram? If so, what? In which areas might technology be used, and how?
So, while examining some of these lists, diagrams, and papers is definitely useful, I think the one big takeaway from this discussion is to realize that what YOU did at school may not be appropriate to teach to students today. Sometimes this is difficult to come to terms with, but throughout the decades, teachers have had to set aside their favorite topics, activities, and skills to make way for newer ones. This is important, because the world of 2038 is going to be very different from our world today.
Technology and the 21st Century Learner
Now that we have taken time to think about what a 21st century learner might look like, let's think about how we as teachers can address their needs through the use of technology. Of course, this entire textbook focuses on using technology in the classroom, but we're going to start by taking a general look.
The first thing to do is to read Technology Integration for the New 21st Century Learner (pages 8-11).
Blair informs us that the "3 Rs" have been replaced by the "4 Cs". Which of the following make up the "4 Cs"?
If our learners are changing, then we as teachers must also change. Blair points out that instead of teaching with technology, we must learn to teach through technology. Think about what this might mean. Have you planned lessons where you constructed and used a lovely PowerPoint, and maybe added in some questions from Kahoot? Have you shown video clips? Have you played audioclips of famous speeches? All these things are good, but they're by no means enough. We need to hand over control of more of this kind of technology to our students, allowing them to become the seekers of learning, rather than simply the receivers of it.
How do we do this? Well, we're going to need to switch tracks. We've been looking at our students (or future students) as our learners, but now we need to see OURSELVES as the learners. To do this, we'll start by examining the first ISTE standard. 1a.
Let us first look at pedagogy. In 2006, after five years of methodically studying teachers at all different grade levels to see how their classrooms operated, Mishra and Koehler published their seminal piece on the TPACK model. The simple, yet profound idea was that when a teacher uses technology in the classroom, it must be based both on content and pedagogical knowledge. Thus, the center of the model diagram illustrates someone who has a full understanding of how to teach with technology. How can we move to the center? Well, it's not quite as easy as mastering the separate components; it's something that builds on all aspects of teaching with technology. Can you swim? If you ever learned crawl (overarm), you would have learned how to kick, how to move your arms, and how to breathe. Typically, a learner begins by learning each skill by itself, Next, they practice two of these things together (e.g. kicking and breathing using a kick board). Finally, in order to be skilled at the entire stroke, learners must learn and practice everything together until they can fully coordinate the parts and demonstrate a well executed crawl stroke. You can think of the TPACK model in a similar way. We learn the components, then build on them. Take a look at the model below.
The diagram above might not make much sense to you, particularly if you're not sure of the terminology. so let's look at the vocabulary used. We've talked about what technology means, and how different groups have different definitions, but for the purpose of simplicity, let's assume technology is any product made by humans to make life easier. Content is easy to understand, being whatever topic or information that is being taught. That leaves us with pedagogy, a word you have probably heard in education classes. Basically, it means "teaching" or "the way of teaching". Now we must work inwards. Our first three overlaps describe knowing how to teach content, knowing how to teach technology, and knowing about technology.
Which section of the TPAK model in Fig 1.1.9. describes the way of teaching a particular content area such as science?
So what does this mean to us as teachers? We need to make sure that our teaching is informed and balanced. We have to have the knowledge of content, teaching, and technology first, then we need to make sure we are able to combine the different elements. For example, we may know all about apples: what types there are, where and when they grow, the vitamins and minerals contained within, the history of apple growing etc... and we may know many different ways of teaching this content: direct instruction, role-plays, inductive learning, deductive learning, Socratic method etc..., but if we are asked to use technology to teach this content, we'll need a whole new set of knowledge and skills. A teaching method will not always translate directly into technology; we will have to learn new technology-based teaching skills.
I want to insert a caveat here: it is important to state that although this is a course whereby we learn how to integrate technology into the classroom, it is not always the appropriate thing to do. Not all lessons are enhanced by technology, and too much of it may have negative effects. Take a look at the TPACK model again. Do you see an area of content knowledge colored pale blue? This is the area where content and technology do not overlap (neither do pedagogy and content). Keep this in mind as we work through this textbook.
Read this interesting page from Teacher Tool Kit and then join the discussion below:
What do you think are the problems that may be associated with too much technology use?
Local and Global Learning Networks
One way to keep tabs on new technology is to start your own professional learning network (PLN). A PLN can be set up in several ways, but we'll examine two. The first is a website that serves the purpose of housing all your networks: blogs, tweets, instagram posts, editorials, pinterest, facebook etc... Let's take a look at some:
2. The Current
These are all professional websites, and they aim to provide up-to-date information for educators. You can make a website too, and it's really not that difficult. Here's the non-professional PLN of the author of this text: http://stuffforteachers.weebly.com/ Notice how there are various "feeds" in this website. The author follows people using twitter, facebook, instagram, pinterest, and blogs, but routes all these to this one webpage where she is able to organize the information. Because these are feeds, they always stay up-to-date, so it is extremely convenient. It is easy to add, delete or modify feeds. It is also possible to send feeds from your own social media sites (such as pinterest) to your website. A one-stop shop!
Another type of PLN can be organized using RSS (Rich Site Summary, or Really Simple Syndication) aggregators. This is a little more limited, but much easier to set up. Here are some aggregators that are free:
2. G2 Reader
Choose one of these, or another of your choice, and select some feeds for this class. Make sure to bookmark your site so you can pull it up quickly.
Which feeds did you choose? Describe one thing you learned from doing this activity.
How would you feel if you walked into a 21st century geography class and the instructor pulled out a map that looked like this:
Is such a map useful? Well, yes, if you are studying the world in 1601! It's good to know w in the past, but this map is not particularly useful for modern times. Technology is similar, except that it has been changing much, much faster than our maps have. What we use today may be outdated in a year's time, and this makes the teaching of technology somewhat tricky. How can we overcome the problems of rapid change?
Is such a map useful? Well, yes, if you are studying the world in 1601! It's good to know what human beings knew about the world in the past, but this map is not particularly useful for modern times. Technology is similar, except that it has been changing much, much faster than our maps have. What we use today may be outdated in a year's time, and this makes the teaching of technology somewhat tricky. How can we overcome the problems of rapid change?
Happily, our PLN, if properly set up, will help us not only stay up-to-date with ideas, news, and thoughts about education, but can also help us keep up with current research. At Learning Sciences Research Institute there's a link to current research projects. Read about LSRI, paying special attention to which disciplines are involved with it, then pick a project . Find out about the project, then describe it (and its possibilities) to the class.
Name and describe the research project you chose. How is this research relevant to you?
We can also follow specific technology sites to keep up-to-date in technology. Much of the new technologies will not filter down into education for some time, so you'll be ahead of the curve. Try watching one of the videos at this link: Office of EdTech
Which video did you watch and what did you think of it? Can you think of a way it could eventually be used in education?
You can also sign up for newsletters from technology developers. Here are some suggestions:
Business Insider . (Choose "10 things in Tech You Need to Know")
(If you are concerned that your email might get full of newsletters, open a separate account solely for this purpose. It is also a good idea to have an account to use solely for shopping and another for work.)
There are also websites you can access to stay up-to-date with educational technology. Try the following:
Make Use Of - Awesome site with thousands of articles
By now, I imagine you'll have realized that there isn't a problem with finding information. The problem is sorting it out: which information is useful, which is not, which is very biased, which is not so biased, which is accurate, which is not. If you talk to your "mature person" again (the one born before 1960 that you interviewed earlier in the chapter), they will tell you that this wasn't a problem prior to the age of the Internet. The problem then was more likely to be finding the information. Sifting through information is one of those 21st Century issues that we must learn to do well or we'll be buried under a sea of data or perhaps worse, we'll simply settle for the first page of any google search we ever do.
In exactly 100 words, summarize what you learned from this chapter.
Notes and Sources
2 Department of Education and Training. n.d. Effective Teaching. p. 3. The Government of Western Australia
5 Fig. 1.4: Erik Erikson and Lifespan Development Story book.
6 Fig. 1.5: Source: YouTube Account. Used with permission.
10Fig. 1.9: Image courtesy of the publisher, © 2012 by tpack.org, by permission
12Fig 1.11: Source: YouTube Account