I asked my friend to let me observe her in her workspace and do a datasheet to document my visit. While visiting her space, I did wonder if the layout of the office was something she had designed of was it created by someone else. She said most of her office was created by the person before her and she is limited to the design based on space and computer connectivity. What’s interesting about her space is she hasn’t decorated the walls. She states that it’s because she just hasn’t had the time to prioritize making it her own. I wonder if it is a sense of ownership. I couldn’t help but think maybe she hasn’t decorated the walls because the layout doesn’t fit her style or personality.
I observed Educational Assessments this week to complete my Discover Datasheet assignment. In this learning environment, the students interacted with each other at tables in the classroom. The teacher regrouped them for the activity, pairing them with a student working on an assignment that addressed the same content area.
Their assignment for the day was to peer review the lesson plan of their paired partner. This lesson plan is one of their portfolio artifacts for the semester and they have been working on the assignment since the beginning of the semester.
The instructor started out with clear guidelines and protocols as to how they should function in their group. She reminded them to reference the rubric for the assignment when providing constructive feedback. During the class period, she circled the room and interjected her feedback too.
What did I learn from this experience? I learned that there is much more to consider when designing and activity as simple as peer review and feedback. The instruction for the activity is extremely important to provide clarity for the task.
How do you think experiences like this help build empathy and enhance the learning environments we design? I think this activity was very helpful because I found myself thinking about the learner. As an outside observer and not the instructor, I was able to think more creatively about what students might need to be more successful in a learning activity. I think this help put me in the chair of the student, relating more to the experience than the activity.
I am currently the customer and designer of my course, Tech 4 Admin, but I wanted the experience of interviewing, designing, and sharing a focus board. I ask the Coordinator of School Partnerships and Clinical Experiences at UCO if she would be interested in being my client for this activity, and she said yes.
My client is currently revising a three-hour seminar on the Oklahoma teacher certification pathway. She has a desire to move away from the “sit and get” workshop, to a model that is more experiential. The following is the focus board we generated during the meeting.
Her feedback regarding the process was wonderful. She was thrilled to get the opportunity to discuss, think, and align her goals for redesigning this project. She said it helped her articulate what she would like to see in the future seminar and how she might go about getting to that goal.
The focus board was a very helpful tool. It focused my thoughts on what skills and knowledge my students would need to complete the evidence for the course successfully.
Moving forward with the design of Technology for School Administrators, I think this tool will help me be more intentional about the learning environment activities and how they support the outcome.
Design and Facilitation Challenge
I teach Technology for School Administrators and have recently started the design process to develop it as an online course. I often use the instructional strategy, Think, Pair, Share & Pair Squared, in my face-to-face class because it allows students an opportunity to process their understand of a concept by communicating that information to others. It also allows for peer feedback and information during the sharing portion of the instructional activity.
I created a short media presentation using PowToon’s to describe how this strategy would work in an asynchronous online environment.
This past Monday night, October 10, I facilitated this design pattern in my face-to-face classroom. I had my students watch the video, I choose C, and then “pair, share” a reflection question regarding 21st-century learning and learners. After processing their thoughts with their paired partner, I had them pair square with two others in the room, and repeat the reflection and feedback process.
At the cumulation of this activity, I showed my class the LEM pattern and asked for feedback on how to enhance this activity and make it relevant in an online environment.
Here is the feedback from my class:
- Introduces several different viewpoints from your group, how to use other’s knowledge into your own answers. It provides a wealth of knowledge provided by the group as opposed to the singularity of an individual’s limited experience.
- Provides the opportunity for hearing other points of view. Gives students a chance to converse with someone that they might not normally choose.
- Expands our thoughts and gives us a different point of view in a safe environment.
- Students need to prompt each other with more questioning techniques, and engage each other back and forth. Have a tete a tete!
- Ask students to create ideas instead of just sharing opinions.
- Have students pose the questions of relevant interest.
- Make the students come up with the topics.
In my classroom, I use the following empathy techniques to gauge the learning, interactions, and interest of my students.
Post-It Note Reflections: At the end of each class, I ask the students to reflect on what they liked most about the class that evening and what they would change if we had
to do the class over. I call it their Groundhog Day moment of the night. The reflections are done anonymously, on a post-it note, and left on the window of the door as they leave. I get real, honest, feedback about how they feel, what they liked, loved, and even loathed. Based on their feedback, I work to change my instructional approach for the next class.
Active Listening and Observing: Not only do I listen to my students regarding their feedback about the class, but I like listening to their sidebar conversations and observing their interactions. During collaborative class activities, I often join a group so I can get a better understanding of their learning and opinions.
Relationship Building: I try to get to class at least 30-45 minutes early each night, so I can sit casually with those that come early and talk about their work day, their families, and their lives. I learn so much about who they are and what things they value.
These are just a few examples of the different techniques I have used to help me build empathy for my students.
“Listen” image by hindersights, is licensed under CC BY 2.0
For my learning environment modeling experience, I worked with other EDU-Innovators to conduct a diagnostic design for the course Technology for School Administration.
The process of working with others to design and develop the online course was very helpful, and I find it to be vital for creating a quality course.
Sherry and I share an office right now, and because of its size, it is not conducive to holding a meeting. If I were to hold a LEDx meeting, I would have it in our department conference room. As you can see in the picture, there is plenty of space in the room, chairs for flexibility, and areas on the walls to hang chart paper and post-it notes to start the LEDx process.
Here is my original design for an activity in my class. This activity helps students properly communicate their vision and purpose of school technology through storytelling.
After applying the LEDx Framework for diagnostic purposes, I discovered that my students needed more time to reflect on peer feedback before posting their thoughts/assignment on their class blog. I also determined that the instructor feedback would have more impact if placed later in the learning model.