This post is going to take a slightly different route than previous posts. I am currently involved in a Professional Learning Community (PLC) that I joined through connections on Twitter. This PLC is focused on the text "Classroom Instruction That Works" by Robert Marzano. Our main purpose is to evaluate and investigate the best practices introduced in this book through the lens of 21st Century Learning and Educational Technology.
As part of our work on this chapter (and on future chapters), our lead facilitator Chris Miller led us out to a Pinterest board. For the first time, I signed up for a Pinterest account and am intrigued by the possibilities of resource sharing through this website.
The chapter we are working on this week focused on using Similarities and Differences as an instructional strategy. The chapter began with a great story about a stomach tumor. Based on the stomach tumor situation, very few people were able to determine a solution. However, when presented with a story about a general trying to storm a fortress, most were able to figure out a solution. This shows the power in being able to determine similarities and differences and find abstract relationships between things. This is what allows us to use all of our experiences in life to become better people, teachers, professionals, students, and so on!
When it comes to Educational Technology, I find the use of Similarities and Differences to be something I need to use more of. For instance, when using Microsoft Office products, I can have students classify the different applications according to their uses. Or, I can have students compare Office to the Google Docs suite. This would be a great strategy for students to deepen their understanding of these applications, determine the best tools to use, and be able to strengthen their transferable skills. In addition, when teaching specific skills in the different applications and tools, I can, as well as students, create metaphors and analogies. One I use often for Excel is that cells are the smallest living thing that make up an organism, while cells in Excel are the smallest things that make up a spreadsheet.
I am definitely excited to see where this study takes me. I recall reading this book in college, but the words are having a greater impact on me now that I am actually teaching and it is all more than just theory. I look forward to posting my thoughts and reflections on this blog moving forward. Hopefully the strategies I discuss and thoughts I put forward can help anybody who reads to improve their practice!