Monthly Archives: January 2014

I truly am a “social” butterfly.

I was very much amused that I have been reminded once again of what a social butterfly I am. To be completely honest, I had the feeling that I already knew what the results would be of the surveys that I took ( see http://www.learning-styles-online.com/inventory and http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/styles/learn_style_survey.html) prior to taking them.

Ever since I was young, I enjoyed the company of people. I love listening to what they have to say and likewise, I expect that they take the time to hear what I have to share. I’ve always believed that it is through these exchanges that I learn more about people, life in general and myself.

Hearing stories about their own experiences and situations allowed me to evaluate and reflect on my own life, how to better deal with difficulties and see the silver lining in most situations. Not all stories have happy endings, of course, as we may all imagine, and this is perhaps why I am thankful that I have people to learn those valuable life lessons from.

As a student of this course, I intend to make use of my own strength as a social learner to engage in meaningful dialogues or discussions since learning is and will always be a two- way street. Furthermore, I believe that it is through the combined efforts of individuals (myself, my peers and teacher) that will allow me to maximize my overall learning experience. I also would want to be open to other people’s learning methods and to deeply understand how and why they work for them so that I may then work on incorporating them to my own teaching strategies. This way, I may be able to use those methods to tailor-fit learning activities, programs or workshops that will help my future students learn most effectively.

Advertisements

Flashback

How have I myself (i.e., the teacher candidate) learned in school, and how
do I learn most effectively? Why do some people learn better than I and I better than others?

I actually find this a very interesting question. Looking back, I would say that I have had several ways of learning and, as strange as this may sound, I believe that my learning habits were dependent on who I was with during my days in school. As I recall, I had four different sets of cliques or “barkada” when I was in high school which means that I had one group for each year. When I was in my second year, I was drawn more to sleepovers and soirées. My studies, although still a priority, was not at the top of my list. I was alright with mediocrity and was content that I was able to submit requirements on time, but that’s about it. I didn’t give much effort to excel as opposed to when I was in my third year when I was most conscious about my grades. I suppose it was because the group I was with at that time was composed of achievers. I mean, we had in our group one of the smartest girls (if not the smartest) to lead our study sessions. We didn’t really assign her the task but somehow, we, members of the group, had an unspoken agreement that she was the best candidate to lead us all. Needless to say, I had good grades and felt confident as ever because I knew then that I was hanging out with the smart ones.

College was a similar story, or even better. I had a different motivation and that same motivation kept me really focused on the prize at hand…graduating. More than that, however, I did my best each and every semester because I had another goal and that was to sustain my academic scholarship which earned me extra money. Money that helped pay for extra stuff or materials for school projects and others. I felt more independent as I never had to trouble my parents with anything financial. That, gave me a sense of pride and freedom.

To sum it up, I believe that I learn effectively when 1) I create goals for me to achieve, 2) I surround myself with people who have the same interests in learning as I do, 3) I find a good source of motivation which normally is my family and the future that is ahead of me. All these may perhaps be the same reasons why I learn better than some people at times.

Now, as someone who aspires to be a teacher once again, my wish is that I may be able to encourage my students to do the same things that helped me become a good learner. I hope that I may INSPIRE them to always set goals for themselves because this will serve as their ultimate prize in the end and to find themselves a good source of motivation ( whether it be family, friends or teachers) who will provide them their source of strength and encouragement to never give up. As for choosing the people to be with, I can only enlighten their minds with regard to the benefits of surrounding one’s self with good people because, ultimately, the choice is theirs to make.

All About Learning

What events constitute learning and what events do not? As a learner yourself, what are your ideas about learning?

For me, learning is a conscious process of acquiring new or upgrading knowledge, beliefs, skills, values, behaviors and preferences. It is a process that takes time, produces change that are relatively permanent and is inspired by motivation.

I believe that everything we do and experience constitute learning. For example, when we want to improve ourself (serves as motivation), we acquire information or upgrade whatever existing knowledge, value, skill etc. we have of ourself and work on it in x amount of time that eventually result to change.

What is the difference between maturation and learning; what is its role in learning?

Maturation is the result of one’s biological growth. Meaning, changes in one’s capacity to think, act and develop are natural occurrences that happen within the person’s lifetime. People grow old and nothing can stop that. This is the first stage in human development.

Learning, on the other hand, is a process that helps one’s maturation through education, training and experience.

I read that 85% of brain development happens during the first 5 years of a child’s life and that playing is their first form of learning (see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/learning). As a child gets older and gets exposed to education/training/practice, his/ her level of thinking ( brain development) also matures, thus, allowing him/ her to understand more complex ideas and emotions, and allowing him/her to adapt or cope with different situations.

When we talk of maturation, we should also not limit it to brain development only since the rest of our body parts are equally important to learning. We must remember that it involves physical or hands-on training and experiences as well and having a complete and functioning body would allow us to achieve optimal learning.

Theory and practice. How can understanding learning theories refine (help improve) educational practice? (Describe the nature of learning theories and their role in guiding classroom practice.) Give specific examples to clarify your points.

Learning theories are conceptual frameworks that describe how information is absorbed, processed, and retained during learning (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning_theory_(education)). There are several varieties of these learning theories that will be mentioned below based on http://www.brookes.ac.uk/services/ocsld/resources/theories.html
as well as my attempt to give specific examples of each.

Sensory Stimulation theory- according to this theory, our senses, when stimulated play a vital role in learning. It also mentions that 75% of learning is done through seeing, about 13% through hearing and 12% for all other senses (Laird, 1985). This means that given the lack of one sensory organ, learning may still take place as in the case of Ms. Rachel Ambubuyog ( one of the speakers in a forum that I attended in Assumption, Antipolo) Ms. Ambubuyog lost her eyesight at a very young age but managed to excel and exceed everyone’s expectation despite her condition. She, herself, said that it was with the help of her other senses that allowed her to live a “normal” life. It is important to note too, that Ms. Ambubuyog preferred to be treated like any ordinary student in class and was not given special treatment that helped in her holistic development.

Reinforcement theory was developed by the behaviourist school of psychology, notably by B.F. Skinner earlier this century (Laird 1985, Burns 1995).

According to this theory, one can learn through positive reinforcement whether verbal or not. I actually believe that encouraging words or giving ‘rewards’ can lead to learning as it promotes a positive behavior as opposed to giving negative reinforcements or punishments. A good example of this is when I give encouraging feedback to my child. I feel that she develops her confidence and that she repeats the positive behavior that is learned.

Facilitation theory (the humanist approach).
Carl Rogers and others have developed the theory of facilitative learning. The basic premise of this theory is that learning will occur by the educator acting as a facilitator, that is by establishing an atmosphere in which learners feel comfortable to consider new ideas and are not threatened by external factors (Laird 1985.)

I concur with the idea of this theory that human beings have the natural eagerness to learn and that teachers, as facilitators of learning, have the role of listening to the learners’s feelings and not just focus on the course itself. I believe that it is only with a clear understanding of the learner that a teacher can be effective with his/her methods of teaching.

Do you agree with Huitt’s (2011) view that “teaching is not giving knowledge or skills to students”? Elaborate.

I find it difficult to agree with this statement 100%. How can teaching NOT be “giving knowledge”? I remember that when I would introduce a new topic to my grade one students back then, I would define the topic first and then give examples afterwards (no matter how basic the topic is) prior to giving them “guided opportunities” to give examples of their own. I would like to believe that the mere thought that I introduced something new to them should be considered as an “act of giving knowledge”.

How will teachers who share his view that “teaching is the process of providing guided opportunities for students“ do things differently from those who believe that teaching is “giving knowledge or skills to students”?

Personally, I agree that teaching is really a process of providing students guided opportunities to learn. However, I also believe that providing those guided opportunities should take a back seat to giving information or knowledge. My logic is quite simple. How can a student be expected to perform an activity without knowing what the activity is or how to do it? Even if say, we let our students experiment on something before introducing the topic, do we not explain first how they should do the experiment? When we give them those instruction, we are already giving them knowledge on how the activity should be performed.

Let it also be said that I am absolutely against “spoon-feeding” students. I simply recognize the importance of providing instructions clearly because these instructions help them carry on whatever discovery they may have of learning.

Self-regulation: I am my own Boss

Self-regulation in my humble opinion is like having your own business wherein you are your own boss. Like running a business empire, you decide on many different things like what product to sell, how much to sell it, when to meet with suppliers, whom to sell the product to and so on and so forth.

Based on the material I read (see http://www.gifted.uconn.edu/siegle/selfregulation/section2.html), ” the best learning occurs when one carefully observes and considers her own behaviors and acts upon what she has learned.” For me, this simply means that one’s learning strategy should be uniquely her own. Going back to my comparison, isn’t it true that in order for a business to succeed, the owner must know what works and does not work for her business and, if something does not work then strategies should be adjusted. The same goes for learning, if a strategy does not work for a specific situation, then one must not limit herself to just that option. Instead, to reach optimum results, one must be open- minded enough to make adjustments.

After having read the same material, I also learned the three aspects of academic learning. First, self-regulation of behavior. It means that a learner must learn how to control the various resources available to her like, time, learning environment as well as people (teachers and peers). Self- regulation of behavior for me is very important to us, distance learners, because we take control of when, where, how and who we study with or ask to for guidance. Like what I said earlier, I am my own boss. So, ultimately, it’s up to me as to how I would make use of my resources to succeed.

Second, self- regulation of motivation and affect. This controls and changes motivational beliefs such as self- efficacy and goal orientation. I suppose, to simply put this, it means that one’s success in learning will also depend on the motivation that she sets for herself and that one must learn to control her emotion especially when adapting to the demand of the course. For us distance learners, we should continuously ask ourselves, ” Why am I doing distance learning and what benefit(s) do I get from doing it.” From there, we can most likely set a goal for us to achieve and also get the motivation from the same goal.

Lastly, self- regulation of cognition. It means control of various strategies of learning. Like what was previously mentioned, one’s learning strategy does not work for all and that one strategy sometimes is not enough on all tasks or occasions. My take on this is that, we are all unique learners and that one’s learning practice and behavior is uniquely her own. So far, I believe that my learning strategies have worked well for me over the years but I would not want to limit myself to just those strategies. As I have learned now, there’s no guarantee that one learning style or strategy will work on all tasks each and every time. I would also want to believe that change is good when it is necessary.

Metacognition: It’s been there all along

After having watched the video and read materials about metacognition, I finally am able to associate the term with its actual meaning. The truth of the matter is, this has been the first time that I came across such a word. Surprisingly, what I learned about it made me support my belief that I was on the right track all along when it came to my own study habits.

Back in the day, I was the type of learner who would jot down notes while my teachers discuss the lessons and classmates simply stare at them throughout the entire session. At that time, I felt that they were luckier than I was, having no need to write down key elements about the topic. Then came our exams day and I suppose that my strategy had its merits too for I always had one of the top scores if not the highest in our class.

Engaging in Socratic Dialogues also helped a lot especially when topics became a little bit more challenging. I was not one who would simply nod when taught a new concept. I took it upon myself to understand the lesson and express my understanding of those lessons using my own words. I guess it was because I had always been against memorization as I found it to be my weakness.

Now that I am a parent, I have passed on the same practice to my child without really knowing what I should call it, until now. And since I’m back in “school”, my hope is that I can be a role model to my daughter as she sees the importance of doing advance preparation as well as following a schedule when it comes to learning.

It was my choice

This year, I promised myself that I will not succumb to the usual temptation of putting on hold a lot of things no matter how challenging they may become. What’s funny though is that the universe is throwing a great deal of tests my way this early in the game.

As a full- time mom, I’ve always enjoyed nurturing my only child, but I am more than grateful for the help that I get from our “angel”. And now that she has decided to stay in her province for good, I feel overwhelmed with the number of things that need to be accomplished on a daily basis. What great timing, too! My excitement to go back to school was cut short by fear of not being able to deliver the things that are expected of me.

However, with this reality comes a realization as well. I mean, it was my choice to enrich myself with good education this year. I was given the financial means to do so as well as the emotional support to be able to accomplish things so, there should not be any reason for me to give up. If anything, I should feel lucky to have been given this opportunity. So, whining about inconsequential things should be seen as an absolute waste of my time. Besides,  I am quite positive that for as long as I keep my priorities straight and learn to manage my time, I know for sure that I’ll survive.