Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Chris Babowal's First Challenge

Learning and Assessment Tools (March 11, 2009)

1. What is learning? Assimilating information in a way that one can use it at a different time

2. Which learning methods and approaches should we use for our 21st century classroom? As many as possible, people assimilate information differently thus it is important to provide a wide range of approaches and methods.

3. What kind of learning cultures do we need to create or adapt for our 21st century classroom?
We need to provide a culture that allows teachers and students to express themselves, all are part of the teaching system, provide opportunities for exploration and except new ways, cultures, ideas, etc.

4. How to encourage and support creativity, productivity, and performance in our classrooms?
I feel that one way to encourage and support creativity, productivity, and performance is to allow students opportunities to express themselves, provide information, and produce outcomes. I used to use stations for each learning objective in my ESL classes for the day. We would start class with an introduction of each person promoting interact, then an introduction to each station. I would ask for volunteers to be the assistant for each station. I used more than one so each person had an opportunity to visit all the stations. I found that this was a way for the students read and follow directions, provide oral support, write about what happened and listen and respond to each other. It also gave me the opportunity to provide assistance to students who really needed help or who was tackling a new opportunity and needed support.

5. What is informal learning? And does it really work in the EFL classroom? How do we implement it?
I am not sure what others think informal learning is, but I feel it is learning something that is not really part of the learning objective. I feel that my answer to (4) four is a really good example of ways to allow informal learning to happen.

Some may feel that (4) four is informal learning, however, I did agree. There is a formal outline of what is to be learned, an outcome that is expected and a way of assessing what was learned. I know I have given just an over view but the system was developed to promote learner interactions and decrease teacher lectures.

6. How to assess informal learning or e learning in general?

Assessment is not as hard as you may think. It takes having learning goals and objectives that are easily translated into the learning standards used by your institution. So for instance, if you are teaching ESL to beginning level students you may want the students to learn the a particular percentage of the 2000 most commonly used words. You might also want them to be able to use present tense verbs with confidence and competence.
Using a portfolio system you can record student progress by checking off words from the 2000 most commonly used words. This then can be compared to other in the class or you can have a set amount of words a student should be able to use set in benchmarks. You can do the same for use of present tense verbs by listing the most commonly used present tense verbs and leaving a fill in area for listing verbs not on your list.

To do this you need to record or tape the class on a regular bases. You will also need to keep a log of all the work submitted. This takes time, but is the easiest way of recording ESL progression.

There are lots of other ways to assess learning, but this way is probably the least used as it is very time consuming, which is a shame as it is the most accurate way of assessing progression.

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