The Commonplace Notebook

January – April 2017

Teachers need to take ownership of that which they need to learn but I can’t take a horse to water and make them drink. I need to make sure that we are promoting and we are not apologizing that we need to have 21st Century Learning in our classrooms. That technology is not an inconvenience or optional or block four on Friday. This is part of our everyday learning. ~ Teacher T from Catherine Sverko’s interview 

The whole idea of that was there were many different facets that that came together to cause this problem. I see the number one factor is we rely on this lovely excuse of “well I did not learn that in my teacher preparation courses, therefore I will never need to use this in the class” and we put everything on teacher preparation. I call that out because especially in the realm of Technology with the speed at which technology is changing there’s no possible way that we can expect it to be part of our teacher preparation courses. Because by the time you graduate it is no longer relevant. What’s more important is the technology pedagogy. Those big things we need to look at like digital citizenship. We need to look at a representation of learning. We need to look at technology thinking in all of those student teachers. The actual technology it is going to change, is going to change, is going to change… because that is the nature of technology. ~ Teacher T from Catherine Sverko’s interview

As teachers, we always want things to be organized and planned.  But this is not going to be perfect, and you just have to jump in.  We want our kids to take chances and be brave, so you have to take chances and be brave. ~ Brianna from Dana Bjornson’s interview


David Jonassen (2000) thinks of how learning with technologies provide “cognitive affordances.” He says, “I do not believe that students learn from computers or teachers-which has been a traditional assumption of most schooling.” He goes on to suggest that, ” [S]tudents learn from thinking in meaningful ways. Thinking is engaged by activities, which can be fostered by computers or teachers.” He believes that technology can support meaning making by students and that this happens when students learn with rather than from technology. ~ Samia Khan – Module B – Overview – Important Terms: Technology


One of the frustrations of teaching as an occupation and profession is its exten­sive individual and collective amnesia, the consistency with which the best crea­tions of its practitioners are lost to both contemporary and future peers. ~ L.S. Schulman, 1987, p.11 


But the key to distinguishing the knowledge base of teaching lies at the intersection of content and pedagogy, in the capacity of a teacher to transform the content knowledge he or she possesses into forms that are pedagogically power­ful and yet adaptive to the variations in ability and background presented by the students. ~ L.S. Schulman, 1987, p.15


In the learning-technology-by-design approach, emphasis is placed on learning by doing, and less so on overt lecturing and traditional teaching. Design is learned by becoming a practitioner, albeit for the duration of the course, not merely by learning about practice. Learning through design embodies a process that is present in the construction of artifacts (such as online courses, digital videos, and so on), which is often located in the interplay between theory and practice, between constraints and tradeoffs, between designer and materials, and between designer and audience. Learning technology by design affords students the opportunity to transcend the passive learner role and to take control of their learning. The move to design-based activities has implication for instructors as well. De- sign cannot be taught in conventional ways; design is experienced in activity, depends on recognition of design quality, entails a creative process, is understood in dialogue and action, and involves reflection in action. ~ P. Mishra & M. Koehler, 2006, p.1035


[S]tudents must learn to identify and define issues and problems on their own rather than simply respond to problems others have posed. ~ CTGV, 1992, p.66


[A] major goal of anchored instruction is to “help students understand why it is important to learn various subskills and when they are useful. ~ CTGV, 1992, p.73


If inquiry steps are too precise, resembling a recipe, then students will fail to engage in inquiry. If steps are too broad, then students will flounder and become distracted. Finding the right level of detail requires trial and refinement and, in some cases, customization to local conditions and knowledge. ~ Linn, Clark and Slotta, 2003, p.522


Online asynchronous discussions enable students to make their ideas visible and inspectable by their teachers and peers and give students sufficient time to reflect before making contributions. Hsi (1997) reports that under these circumstances, students warrant their assertions with two or more pieces of evidence and over ninety percent of the students participate. In contrast, Hsi observed that only about 15% of the students participate in a typical class discussion, and that few statements are warranted by evidence.  ~ Linn, Clark and Slotta, 2003, p. 533


[I]n guided scientific inquiry settings, students’ activities are addressing a problem with a known answer. Thus, the teacher must treat students’ results as though they are novel, even though the teacher has a clearly expected result given the experimental setup. Furthermore, if students come up with the answers the teacher is looking for, those answers may or may not be acknowledged depending upon their relevance to the ultimate answer at the end of the investigation.

~ E. M. Furtak, 2006, p.461


According to Schank (1982), reaching the limits of one’s knowledge has two effects. It creates a desire (motivation) to address the limitation by acquiring new knowledge, and it creates a context in memory for integrating new knowledge. The knowledge structures that are activated at the point that a learner recognizes the limits of his or her understanding provide the connection points for new knowledge. ~D. C. Edelson, 2001, p. 358


To create an intrinsic or authentic motivation to learn, the demand must be generated by a natural use of the knowledge. … Therefore, the first step in designing activities that create a natural demand for learning objectives is to identify tasks for which the knowledge is useful. ~ D. C. Edelson, 2001, p. 375


Because knowledge application requires meaningful, goal-directed tasks, the technologies that can support knowledge application are the technologies that will allow learners to conduct meaningful tasks. ~ D.C. Edelson, 2001, p.380


Of course, no- one’s knowledge of the world can be complete, and therefore everyone knows the world in a somewhat different way. But these differences in knowledge arise because everyone has a different set of experiences, not because there is no objective reality. ~ W. Winn, 2003, p. 12


Presence is the belief that you are “in” the arti- ficial environment, not in the laboratory or classroom interacting with a computer. … Presence varies with the extent to which attention is divided between the artificial and the real environment (Witmer & Singer, 1998). A high level of presence requires complete attention to the artificial environment, produces an almost complete immunity from distraction and allows total engagement with the artificial environment. Witmer and Singer also say that presence can be improved by a high level of enjoyment and by being immersed in the environment. ~ W. Winn, 2003, p. 14


Often, indeed, the distinctions we make, “tell us more about ourselves than about the world we are describing,” (Reyes & Zarama, 1998, p. 23). ~ W. Winn, 2003, p. 19


The problems that we encounter and the questions that we undertake are thus as much a part of us as they are part of the environment; they emerge from our interaction with it. We interpret events as issues to address; we see them as problems to solve. We are not acting on preexisting situations: our co-determination and continual interaction with/in the envi- ronment creates, enables and specifies the possible situations toward which to act. The problems that we solve are then implicitly relevant for us and are part of our structure, as we allow these to be problems for us while the environment “triggers” them in us. ~ J. Proulx, 2013, p. 315


By their entry into the tasks, students posed the tasks offered to them, making them algebraic, geometric, numerical, etc. Somehow, the path was laid down in walking. Their posing/solving of the tasks generated strategies for finding a good enough answer. Indeed, students have a background, developed through various mathematical experiences, prefer- ences, habits, last attempts and successes/failures, comprehensions, and so forth. It is with/in this structure, this complex history, that students interact with the environment in which they are structurally coupled and thus generate ways of solving (connected to the student and the environment that “triggered” it); ways of solving that in return make the environment, the task, evolve through this coupling. As Threlfall mentions,

The solution path followed by the individual then depends on which elements of what has been noticed chime with their knowledge of feasible steps in calculations, and which of the possibilities sits most easily with knowledge they are comfortable with. (Threlfall 2002, p. 41)

~ J. Proulx, 2013, p. 325


The major question appears to centre on the proper pedagogical point of departure, i.e. where to start. We suggest that educators should question the practice of treating mathematical systems as formal subjects from the outset and should instead seek ways of introducing these systems in contexts which allow them to be sustained by human daily sense. ~ T.N. Carraher, D.W. Carraher, and A.D. Schliemann, 1985, p. 28