Friday, December 9, 2011

Differentiation - a lot of work but worth it....

I've been working with differentiating my Information Technology 11/12 class this year.  The class consist of 31 students in grade 11 and 12, at different levels of skills.  Some are in Grade 12 and have taken the course previously (there were 7 of them), for some  it's their first time but they have previous knowledge (6 of them), and some have started with no knowledge at all but have heard from friends that they liked the course.  

The course started with a basic lesson on plagiarism and copyright .  Every student needed to learn these rules since the course consist of taking pictures, editing them, and putting them online.  Then all students did a small unit in Adobe Photoshop.  But after that point students were allowed to choose the area they wished to follow as well as given the option that at any time they could change their mind and start something else (see below for choices).  With the ability to choose what they learn students took ownership of their learning with the premise that this would motivate them to work harder.  The premise was wrong in many ways.

This was an elective and as such some students chose to take it for an easy mark, a supposition that was wrong, my expectation was high, every day you needed to learn something new.

The intro (copyright and Photoshop) took one month to get through, the selection of choosing what they  wanted to learn was in October.  It took approximately until the end of October to the 1st week of November for students to understand expectations of the level of commitment that I wanted.  I expected students to work hard everyday.  My expectations of myself is very high and I expect the same work ethics from my students.  What I forgot is that sometimes the student doesn't want to work, they want down time, something that I very much understand, being one more week before the Winter Vacation.

I did however see that the students are enjoying what they chose to learn, that this took time for students to understand if they try, I was happy and they should be happy.  Instead of trying so hard to not work, when they did start working, they enjoyed what they did.   

At the end of every class I asked individual students "Did you learn something today? What?"  Sometimes I got the straight answer of "nothing" and sometimes it opened up a conversation of self-assessment that was wonderful, exactly what I wanted, a student that honestly said "This is what I learned, this is what I need to work on", and the best question "Can you teach me this ....?".  They wanted to learn.  What better reward for a teacher, a student who wants to learn.

Like any major change in the dynamic of introducing a new teaching method, it takes time to iron out the problems, to set the right expectations, but like life, both these factors change with the change of personalities that you have in the classroom.  It is only through repetition, of explaining in detail your expectation of the student and to follow though with these expectations, will the students understand what they need to do and what they are expected to do in your classroom.  

Diversifying the lessons, teaching 7 different subjects at the same time in a classroom within the hour is challenging, students still need to learn to ask each other before asking the teacher, to rely on peers and researching their own answers before relying on a teacher.  I continually remind them, I will not be there to give you answers forever.  You need to rely on yourself more then me.  

That's the best lesson I can teach them, "Rely on yourself".  As Frank Tyger, nationally published editorial cartoonist, columnist and humorist for the Trenton Times said "Your future depends on many things, but mostly on you."


video

This is an example of one of my student's flash christmas assignment.  From my class at Sullivan Heights Secondary High School in Surrey, British Columbia, to you at your school district, have a Merry Christmas.



11 Desktop Design
11 Web Photoshop
12 Advance
Programming Languages
Copy Write and Plagiarism
Copy Write and Plagiarism
Copy Write and Plagiarism
Copy Write and Plagiarism
Emailing
Emailing
Emailing
Emailing
Photoshop
Photoshop
Advance Photoshop
Fireworks
Principles of Design -
Principles of Design for Web Pages
Fireworks
Intro Flash
Color Unit
Color Unit
Color Unit
Color Unit
Illustrator
HTML
Illustrator Advance
JavaScript
Indesign
DreamWeaver
Advance Dreamweaver - CSS
Java

Flash
Flash

Final Project – Newspaper
Final Project Web Page for Teacher
Final Project – Starting a New Business
Final Project – Exam.

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