Saturday, November 26, 2011

Week-9: "Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you; they're supposed to help you discover who you are." -- Bernice Johnson Reagon

Hello My Dear Journal,

The week that we are finishing now has probably been the most challenging one. We had to finish our Project Report and post it on Wiki page. I had it posted two days before the deadline. Thanks to my partner Avraham who read the updated version of the project and gave me his invaluable suggestions. I hope that it will be graded as “Pass”.
As soon as the Project work had been done there appeared so many articles to  read about Learning Styles. Before taking the course I had some knowledge about different learning styles, but I never thought about using technology to address a variety of learning styles in my classes. So, it was the right time for learning and the best place to start exploring.

 My situation proves John Morton Finney’s quotation:  “I never stop studying. There’s always lots to learn. When you stop learning, that's about  the end of you”.

Learning Styles Technology

Different people do things in different ways. They might see and acquire even the same things but differently.
So do the children. They go to the same school and have the same instructors but they learn in many different ways – "by seeing and hearing; reflecting and acting; reasoning logically and intuitively; memorizing and visualizing".

The teaching methods that we use may vary, too. Some instructors like to lecture, others prefer practicing. Some focus on rules, others on giving examples. In my opinion, the way of teaching very much depends on the instructor's personal learning style.
I think it is important to know what learning style you belong to. It can help to obtain more information about yourself and your personality type, about your likes and dislikes and preferences.
I decided to do the online test that we were offered and get the info about my learning style. I was a bit confused when I got the result. I am a mixture of learning styles. I have always thought that I was a kinesthetic learner.

How can the data about students' learning styles affect our teaching and their learning? How can we plan the lessons and activities if our students are mixed-learning styles personalities?

Some instructors may assume that effective learning will not take place in the classroom with students of different learning styles. "Teaching styles are made up of the methods and approaches with which the instructors feel most comfortable" (Richard M.Felder). The teachers might be puzzled by the situation on how to set the goals, plan, design, compile the activities and teach using different approaches for each style and moreover, be able to cover the syllabus.

The articles about learning and teaching styles and strategies by Richard M.Felder suggest some ideas and provide the list of instructions for teachers to use while teaching students with different learning styles. Besides, it explains how the learners can help themselves.

I added some ideas about using technology to each type of learners:
•   Active and Reflective Learners – are good at working in groups. So, use blogs and discussion forums, where the students can post their writing pieces, reflect on their learning and give comments on their peers posts;
•   Sensing and Intuitive Learners – good environment for implementing technology as they have patience, like variety of activities, are careful, quick but sometimes careless; use online quizzes, surveys and Web quests.
•   Visual and Verbal Learners – use PowerPoint presentations, video materials; make students do reading using Web resources and listen to the stories; use Voice thread and Voice boards; Live Chats.
•   Sequential and Global Learners – use case studies and problem solving activities while doing which the students will refer to their previous experience and knowledge.

Our main aim as teachers is to find the right balance between the teaching and learning styles. If there is a balance, all the students will have a chance to be taught in a manner they prefer, which can increase their motivation for learning. At the same time there is a chance for them to practice different ways of thinking and solving problems while experiencing a different style which may not be comfortable for the learners at the beginning, but which they will have to acquire in order to get the knowledge and new experience. I strongly believe that today’s education has two objectives “Education for living and educating for making a living”.

Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.
John Dewey

Some people may doubt whether exposure to different styles can give students better skills for their future careers and lives.

In my opinion, awareness of different styles can do a lot of good, it can give the students opportunities of adapting different ways to their learning context.
If we recall to our personal experience of being students we'll probably remember the teachers and their lessons. Some of them we liked and understood, the others' lessons didn't appeal much. It doesn't mean that the first ones were more professional than the others. I think they just taught us the way we wanted to be taught.

So, if our students are exposed to different styles they will gain more experience and knowledge which they will definitely use in their career development and future lives.

I think if people have opportunities to study and learn, they must use these chances. At the same time they can have preferences. They will be motivated to learn as much as possible about their major, and in this way they will become a highly-qualified specialists. They will do their work well regardless of the career they will choose. We have to remember that we teach our students not only for taking and passing tests and exams, but for Real Life.

I remember Martin Luther King's quote:
"If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well." 

“Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits”?

After reading and analyzing the article "Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits" by Benedict Carey I decided to reflect on my teaching experience and ask myself the questions that the author discusses. The first question that he raises is the matching of students' and new teacher's approaches. When there is no interrelation then the instructors find the fault with the students and assume that the child "isn't a good fit for school". But maybe we'll try to ask ourselves if we are doing everything right?

The author provides the research data about effectiveness of different approaches to learning and he points out the question that "matters most: how much a student learns from studying". Does it depend on their specific learning styles, that some are "visual learners" and others are auditory; some are" left-brain" students, others "right-brain"? Some psychologists didn't find any support for these ideas. They tend to speak not about the learning styles but about the teachers who "create a constructive learning atmosphere" and effective learning environment. Daniel T. Willingham discusses this issue in his book "Why Don't Students Like School?"

The research shows that students can study better when they feel comfortable with the tasks, and they can acquire the language much deeper "in a single sitting" (for example, learning vocabulary and developing reading and speaking skills) rather than concentrating only on one skill at a time.
At the same time we don't have to overload the students with too much information at a time. Most of the students quickly learn, they hold a new "load for a while" and then "most everything falls out". If we "pack" them carefully and gradually, they will hold everything for a long time. When students forget something, it can give them a chance to relearn the material and remember it till the next time they see it.

The cognitive scientists found practice tests and quizzes as "a powerful tool of learning". Dr.Roediger says: "Testing not only measures knowledge but changes it". His experiments show that when the students studied the same material twice they could do the test well, but after the test they started to forget what they had learned. What is the problem? Is it lack of intrinsic motivation? Or maybe it is high time WE changed our teaching approaches and make them "match" our students' needs and expectations? If we do so, then all the students will like school and do their best to succeed not only in their learning, but in their lives.

 And it would be great if we remember that there is a "difference between school and life. In school, you're taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you're given a test that teaches you a lesson”. (Tom Bodett).

My Dear Journal,
Here is all the news for today.
Next week we'll meet one more time.


  1. Hi Elmira:
    You have very nicely synthesized the needs of understanding students' learning styles and multiple intelligences as teachers. From the online test result you found yourself to be a mixture of different styles. I think that is the characteristic of a better teacher as you can practice multidimensional teaching instead of being a one-dimensional teacher.

    Nice reading your reflective comments.

  2. Hi Ziaul,

    Thank you for reading my post and your comment.
    We have learnt a lot and we are still learning. I think that the course gave us many tools that we will be able to use in our teaching and become better teachers.

    When I think that we are going to say "Good-bye" to all our classmates it makes me sad.
    I hope we'll keep in touch and continue our collaboration in different online projects.

    Good luck and keep up the good work!


  3. Hi Elmira,

    I agree with you that we should learn our own learning styles as you have mentioned that there is a tendency that we give more attention to that learning styles. Also, i believe it is important to learn the students learning styles and if there is a mixed style of students, them we can incorporate varieties of activities in our lessons.

    I also feel sad that this course is coming to an end but hope that we will keep in touch.


  4. Hi Roza,

    Thank you for your comment.

    Before the course I even didn't think about my students' learning styles. I just taught them the way that was appropriate for me to achieve the aims. Of course, from time to time I changed my style as there was demand for changes. I mean I altered it together with the "time".
    Now I am sure that for successful teaching and learning to take place we should know our students learning styles.

    Good luck to all of us!