A-W of Useful PBL Words

PBL is known for its open ended questions which can’t be easily answered. Cynically, some will say that PBL can’t be assessed “properly” because of it. Not true. In fact, one reason to become a PBL teacher is because you want to ask questions which demand focused and specific responses. Here is a quick start list of words to build questions and measurable tasks.

Useful objective words for PBL

adjust, alter, analyse, amend, answer, approve, assemble, assess, audit, build, calculate, call, carry out, categorise, check, cross, close, complete, decide, describe, develop, diagnose, divide, draft, draw, eliminate, explain, estimate, extract, file, find, fit, generate, hire, hold, identify, implement, inform, interview, justify, label, lift, list, locate, lower, make, mark, map, monitor, name, negotiate, obtain, operate, perform, pitch, prepare, place, plan, prove, question, read, recommend, remove, report, research, review, schedule, select, sell, solve, spend, state, supervise, spell, test, train, translate, turn, update, use, verify, weigh, write.

Astonishing Tweet that revealed how you learn.

Astonishing, Instant, Discover, Breakthrough, Critical, Unique, Urgent, First, Innovative, Incredible, Enhanced, Revealed, Revolutionary, Pioneering, Proven, Step-By-Step, Unforgettable, In-Depth, Shows, Invaluable, Powerful, Case-Study, Shocking, Spectacular, Unlimited, How-to, YOU, Strategy, Tactics, free, tricks, tips, enhance, fact, learn

Get me some of that old time convergent thinking to go please. Include these funky keywords in your slides and the world will be at your command.

5 way to make life easier for the audience

There are ton of things a true conference road-warrior needs in their bag, if they are to survive out there in time-lag conference venue land. So here’s a few tips on how to get fit.

1. Haz your own wifi!

First, get your own wifi via 3G. It doesn’t matter if you tether, get a personal hotspot or use 3G on your phone, you need it. Where people once brought a laptop to a conference, they now bring a laptop, a phone and an iPad, and most venues have not worked this out yet. Let’s assume you carry your own DVI to RGB converter, an audio line and a VGA cable. Look after these things, most of the fails are not about the computer or the projector, they are due to crap cables that result in frantic waggling buy young men in block polo-shirts. Tag your stuff, spend a few bucks on a plastic key-fob and then use thing electrician ties to fasten it to your stuff. Make sure you put your mobile and your social-media contacts on it, that way when you leave it behind, they can give it you back. Those mini-dv to RGBs are expensive and easy to forget after a presentation.

2. Make it easy to give yourself away

Get a QR code made up to a web-page that bounces everyone to your webbyness spaces. You can use something like LiveBinders for this. Regardless of what you are presenting – know this, you are dealing with a pack who want resources! – you can’t win anyone over with rhetoric. They want stuff, in fact there is a special breed of conference goer, who will not even bother to listen to your set, they roll in, swipe the resources and freebies, like teenagers raiding the pantry after the weekly shopping. So make sure you have something – a reward for them listening, something that you have not previously handed out online, but keep it online, so that in your LiveBinder they can grab it. Get yourself a large luggage tag, the encapsulated type, a nice durable one. Put your QR code inside and you can fix it to the inevitable conference lanyard, so people and scan it as they talk to you. It’s a great way of kicking off a conversation, and stops you looking for paper and a pen.

3. Have a ready to go back-channel

Consistently, I find that only a small percentage of teachers at ‘system driven’ conferences have Twitter. Most people spend less than 2 hours a week online in an effort to learn about technology. I know this because I poll the audience. So in your kit bag, use Today’s Meet, as it’s fast, simple and doesn’t require any sign-in or commitment to get onto social-networks. Prime it with a brief overview of why your talk matters and links to your own blog. Don’t hand out the presentation at the start! Figure out what your driving question is to the audience and ask them to reply to it on Todays Meet. Something that will take 2 minutes tops. Next create a poll, using something like poll-anywhere, so that even if they don’t want to write anything, they can give a response. I often ask about time online, simply as it gives me an instant view of who I’m talking to, and therefore what I’ll talk about. There is no point in talking about the need to spend 200 hours learning something, if your audience says they have 2, which actually means 1. At the end of your set, ask for feedback – and again allow them to use Todays Meet or a poll. It’s a handy way of finding out what you’re not so good at.

4. Play with new tools to present with

It often strikes me that those who talk about the ‘future’ have the most primitive delivery skills. PowerPoint, with pictures of games is still PowerPoint. Powerpoint talking about change, isn’t change. It falls to those that lecture to at least attempt new ways of doing it – as often their message is about ‘new’ yet presented in a rather conventional way.  Perhaps use an iPad, try out AirPlay to connect an AppleTV (which you can hook to the projector) and stream to it, or you go iPad to VGA and use Scribblar or other to turn your iPad into something more interesting.  There are so many new ways of presenting and making things interactive, yet often a keynote is little more than 30 slides of rhetoric.

5. Accept that the audience are not great at active listening

“If I always do what I’ve always done, I’ll always get what I’ve always gotten.” – Eric Hoffer

Research reported by Ralph Nichols, distinguished communication professor at the University of Minnesota, reports that listening is a learned skill. His research findings indicate that most people forget fifty percent of what is said in the first two minutes, and twenty-five percent after eight minutes, and can retain the rest of the information only for about a month. To retain more information participants need to use active listening skills, try to anticipate where the presenters’ lecture is going and get an opportunity to interact with the material. We retain only 10-25% of what we hear after a thirty –day period. The lower the interaction the lower the retention. This is part of the ‘change’ problem, the way we attempt to persuade is simply not effective. In an audience distracted by Twitter and the excitement of connecting with people at a conference, our brains are processing all sorts of ideas and intentions for the day. This is slightly different to a University lecture, where people are engaged in a routine that lasts months, not a single day. So, rather than quote references to evidence (something many people don’t bother to do), include the full paper or report in your Live Binder. This allows people to find it more easily.

Reflective Writing 1-2-3

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‘REFLECTION’ is a word closely associated with 21st Century Learning. I thought I’d write a post on how to improve critical literacy though a 3 step adjustment to read/write activities in the classroom.

Watson (1997) says “Reflection encourages students to – self examine, self-asses and evaluate their own practice. Without reflecting, the student is at risk of practicing in a manner if unquestioned routines, accepted directives and/or rote learning.”

This short observation highlights the need for students to question, not simply to recount or answer declarative questions with read/write tools. There is bountiful research that suggests talking about what they are doing, not just what they or others have done, encourages the conscious practice of discussing the consequences of their findings and actions.

We need to ensure that testing for prior knowledge is more than asking declarative questions at the beginning of a (lesson or tutorial) learning instance. The facilitator should be conscious of three stages of reflection and also consider selecting different tools to achieve this. For example: Use a combination of micro-blog, game and video. This also encourages students to explore a more diverse media landscape.

1. Reflecting before acting – preventing unnecessary errors. Making sure the student is aware of the outcomes being sought. Asking students to predict the activity, talk about their expectations and possible fears as the activity is revealed to them. What can they do already and show you? What skills are they missing that will help them? This can be though a series of microblog posts for example – as the teacher begins to reveal the activity though providing readings or given them mini-tasks to complete – not just delivering content.

2. Reflect during the activity – use methods to monitor their actions during the event in order to maintain contextually appropriate performance and effort. This is often though feedback from the software itself – such as sound, images, scores etc. In a game this is in-built, but in a MUVE it has to be designed. Teachers need to pay close attention to this phase, to ensure the learner is challenged but not frustrated by poor feedback, or not understanding the importance of it in the learning sequence/pattern – from the teacher or the software.

3. Critically review their actions and experience after. This last action is dependent on recall. Technology often allows recall to occur as events are recorded in some manner such as a blog post, or screen shot. Self and peer assessment to deconstruct the learning process should be combined with encouraging the student to record that event and use that evidence to support their critical reflection.

The outcome,  activity and the assessment should not be limited to a predicted performance. “I think they’ll be able to do it” or “I think I can teach using that”. Design the task so that the student can modify it (up or down), to negotiate their curriculum and perhaps explore incidental or peripheral ideas outside core curriculum content. This might mean making a video, interviewing people, performing a role pay together with text based activities.  Pacing the activity also helps, changing the emphasis from one activity to another to allow you to uncover more about the learner. Keep the tools VERY simple, look for ready-to-learn solutions, so that students learn to select their own tools to demonstrate their learning. Consider that when you first start using read/write media – you students will have little idea what to do and the social dynamics are all over the place. Most games will train you to operate effectively individually rather than in a group -which is much more complex. By default you have ‘groups’ of learners … but initially, this is a good way to learn more about them as individuals, which you can use later in wider approaches.


Ref: Watson S. (1997) ‘An analysis of concept experience”. Journal of Advanced Nursing, vol.16 pp 1117-1121.