February 15, 2005

Verbal Information; Intellectual Skills; Motor Skills; Attitudes; Cognitive Strategies; Metacognition; Subskills; Objectives: Audience, Behavior, Condition, Degree; Prior Knowledge; Personal Goals; Scaffolding; Chunking; Learning Event…

Just some of the terms in Chapter 3 and 4 that got me really thinking about how I would want to set up a learning event in a computer enhanced environment, if I had the chance. While teaching 7th and 8th grade English is Memphis, I got the “opportunity” to allow my students to “learn”/ “enhance” their English skills by completing a skills program. They had this glorious “opportunity” for 2 hours a day for a week during every 6 weeks because that was written into the school improvement plan, and they just “loved” it… I hope you can hear the sarcasm here…If not, let me enlighten you.

Instead of being a fun an enhancing experience, the computer became the bane of the students’ existence. They couldn’t wait to get back into the “real” classroom and start working on things that really mattered. “The computer was Stupid, annoying, and frustrating.” “Two hours in the lab were like having your tooth extracted without Novocain… It was painful for my students and me… And ever since I’ve taken my first IST class, I had hoped I could change that program and that learning experience for my students and the students that come after them.

The break down of the material in the chapters got me thinking about how chunked information that is attached to prior information with a strong dose of Metacognition on the part of the student thrown in for good measure could be used to make an English program more interactive. The main key would be to make the computer a walking Webster’s dictionary and thesaurus with style and grammar incorporated. One of the many drawbacks of the older computer programs is the fact that it couldn’t take into account the versatility of the English language. The fact that a word could be used as a verb in one sentence and an adjective in the next, really threw it for a loop. Also, the instructions were drawn out and boring. The students weren’t shown how to correct their mistakes. They were just told they were wrong and after the 3rd time I had to key in a password to allow them to move forward so they could make the same mistakes… I couldn’t see where they needed to go next nor could I see where they had made their mistakes, because the only one who had access to the computer data base was the computer teacher and she couldn’t access it as long as the students were still “logged” into the program, but she could get it to me next week, after they were done… Yep, that’s really going to help this situation.

Like I said, the idea of structuring a “working” English program that doesn’t just drill English concepts without instructions has been running through my head for a while, maybe by the end of my Masters, I’ll be able to snag some of these ideas, get them down on paper, and maybe on a web site… Chapter 3 and 4 got me thinking more and more about how I want to approach a working English environment that will build skills not tear them down because of the user’s frustrations…

Posted by spenc054 at 8:00 AM