Quote: "Being able to find Iraq on a map was not a what question to them, it was a where question, which could be answered quickly and in very detailed ways." I think that this quote really hits on one of the major transitions that is occurring in education and a significant hurdle new teachers face when dealing with seasoned teachers. It's always been the goal of education to have students understand how to solve problems. Before we had constant assess to the internet this meant that you had to memorize a significant amount of information. In the new information age the amount of knowledge that must be rote memorized has significantly shrunk however not all lessons and teachers have adjusted to this transition.
Question: What is the base level of information that a student must have memorized for the world today? I feel that there are some equations and information that people should know just in case. Everyone should know their Social Security Number since it's impractical to keep in on you. Everyone should understand basic multiplication and unit conversion since it's important for quickly calculating distance, length and travel time. A functional understanding of money and credit should be required knowledge. With the focus on the thousands of little standards that make up each subject I have seen students who have lacked a functional understanding of these core ideas.
Connection: I have repeatedly read in this program how students need to practice understanding. To often we start solving problems before we understand what they are asking. This chapter highlights this idea since it focuses on how students prioritize and evaluate problems. They have taken problems and re-contextualized them so that they are solvable within their framework. Students understand the tools they have available with the internet and they would be better served if we helped them to find better tools and understand what their tools are doing. I want students to understand how to solve problems not how to find solutions in the back of the book or on a webpage.
Epiphany/Aha: Agency and play were large Aha moments for me. I have repeatedly told people that the hardest part of planning is trying to find a way to create a lesson that will generate flow with 30 students. I find that flow occurs when the difficulty of a problem is such that I know I can solve it but that it will take work. When I have no idea were to start I get distracted and discouraged, when it's too easy I put it off, when it's boring it's probably one or both of these. I have solved plenty of problems that I didn't need to specifically because they looked difficult but solvable. Trying to design a lesson that will have that level of difficulty to solvability for 30 students is an ongoing struggle.
Ch: 8 - Hanging out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out
Quote: "When messing around, young people begin to take an interest in and focus on the workings and content of the technology and media themselves, tinkering, exploring, and extending their understanding." I feel that this is the level education should always be striving for. We should be trying to assist students in understanding technology and tools so that they can begin to utilize them to create and explore.
Question: What is the best way to assist with leading students towards geeking out about a subject? Students already geek out about subjects they are interested in. Something has previously hooked them into surfing/skating/videogames/etc and they are actively pursuing videos and information about those subjects. Finding material in that standard curriculum that can engage students is difficult.
Connection: I have found in my Business Math class I have been able to occasionally engaged some students at a deeper geeking out level. Ether the material connected with a plan or idea they had, or they saw a difficult problem they felt they could solve, I have had some students spend extra time working on problems trying to understand them at a deeper level. Trying to piece together why something works instead of just taking it for granted.
Epiphany/Aha: I feel that the discussion of messing around was insightful. I have previously described to people the ideal difficulty for problems that we should be giving students, however this chapter introduced the idea that it familiarity with tools and knowledge is also important. Students need to be truly comfortable with their knowledge before they can start experimenting with it in solving problems.
Ch: 9 - The New Culture of Learning For A World Of Constant Change
Quote: "As we have seen, tacit learning functions most effectively when students discover their own learning objectives. Games, which allow learners to play, explore, and experience, also allow them to discover what is important to them, what it is they actually want to learn - and that keeps them playing." The push for students centered self-learning has been a major one in my mathematical methods class. We have repeated touched on the importance of students creating meaning and knowledge. Lessons where students create connections stay in the students memorizes longer and can be built upon more readily. If we want students to see the connections between different problems they need to discover and construct solutions to the problems.
Question: What tools are currently available that assist with gamification of learning? I remember being drawn into simple early 90's educational computer games for reading and math however I'm not sure that I have seen a major growth in that area. I know that we have collected a lot of data on how students learn and I understand that the ALEKs software package has a strong understanding of how mathematical topics relate and build on each other. However I have yet to see an engaging and fun game built on these systems. I'm sure that some company is working on a method for achieving this goal, I just haven't heard about it yet.
Connection: I have played WoW on and off since it launched and have dipped my toe in most major MMO's made in the last 16 years. I can definitely see connections to the idea of building understanding and flow in these environments. I have spent time on the Elitist Jerks forum looking at data for priest specs. I have always wondered how deep this type of focus goes though. I enjoy the numbers and stats that we displayed however I know that some people only skimmed the articles and read the conclusion and followed the listed spec. There is a similar concept in Magic the Gathering where some players will dig deep into the game and examine synergies and combinations while others will just buy the cards that are listed and follow the directions. Even in groups made up of highly engaged and inquisitive individuals their are still members that are only looking for a solution or formula.
Epiphany/Aha: I think the realization that there is a connection between those people who will play a game but never really look into it and students who will follow formulas but never understand them was a major epiphany for me. I've been surprised at calculus and statistics students who can get through a class without understanding the material before. The have found a way to min/max math education. They understand that normal AP calculus and statistics only requires an understanding of the formulas. A quick google search will find enough example problems that it quickly becomes an exercise in pattern recognition. They are displaying intelligence in how they find and memorize standard solutions, they just aren't displaying the intelligence that we expect or were planning for.
Conclusion: Overall I really enjoyed this book. It had some insightful views on integration of technology into curriculum and reinforced some of my views about how students should be introduced to material and taught.