ID: Prepare for Success

1. Analyze a learning context where initial needs assessment might be tricky. Is the performance gap clear? Is the reason for the gap related to instruction, knowledge and/or skills. Are there other factors that might need to be addressed before determining whether or not there is an instructional need?

At my site, we have a math blended learning program that all teachers are expected to use with their students twice weekly for a total of 90 minutes. The time is scheduled into the master schedule and is protected in terms of lab/mobile lab check out. Students are expected to master 3% of the content each week to be “ready” for standards-based assessments come this Spring. However, each year consistently Kindergarten and 5th meet this goal, while all other grades fall short. As a leadership team, we have strategized a lot about this issue. We have laid out expectations for teachers to facilitate and question students during this time. We have shared research and data findings with staff as to the track-record with this program. We have required that staff complete the online training to better facilitate this program. Coaching has been offered to teachers who struggle using the program with their students. I don’t think that there is an instructional need. I know that teachers have trained in the program, they feel that with so many other things on their plate, the time students are using the blended learning program is a time teachers can do things they normally have no time for. Often times I see teachers testing students (one-on-one testing for reading levels), answering emails, or grading papers. None of these are a bad use of time as they all need to happen. I don’t think there is an instructional need for teachers to learn the program, they have done this. I think teachers know how to use and facilitate the program, however, time and time management gets in the way. I think it would be powerful for admin to speak with teachers about their belief in the program, but also open up a dialogue for less scheduled meeting time so teachers can focus on their class and help them grow even during blended learning moments.

2. Compare a situation where instructional materials seem to meet the needs of the learners with one where they do not.  Are there clues that needs analysis is/is not part of the design? Do the materials provide formative assessment?

I will use an example from the ID Casebook as an example of instructional materials not meeting learners needs. In case 28, Natalie is tasked with  with presenting solutions to a broken manufacturing training program. The current system is so entirely lacking in structure that trainers aren’t holding trainees to the same standards. While formative assessments were thought to be in place, it is evident, as Natalie interviews managers and trainers that not everyone is upholding standards or even understands their importance. It is evident that a needs analysis had not been completed as the current “program” is flawed in many ways. The most glaring lack of analysis was that non-native English speaking trainees can only advance in certain areas if they speak Vietnamese or Spanish, as these are the languages spoken by the trainers. I am confident that this, along with all of the other obvious problems, will be resolved as Natalie was brought in as a consultant to develop an instructional design.

An example of instructional goals and materials meeting the needs of the learners can be taken from a recent PD at my site. We brought in a trainer for eduCanon (PlayPosit), as our district recently purchased licenses. I was able to pre-conference with the trainer to give her background about our teachers, our students and best fits or needs for the integrative video tool. I was able to meet with teachers to understand their needs and hopes for the program if they were to attend the PD. Overwhelming and not surprisingly, ahem Adult Learning Theory, teachers wanted to walk away with usable products they could implement later that same week. I also prepped the trainer to come with supports that program had for audio and visuals for our kinder teachers so they weren’t turned off by the program. Needless to say, the pre-work paid off. Teachers came with video links they were ready to manipulate and they were trained to work with their own content in a very real and usable way.  Formative assessments were used throughout the process as checks for teacher understanding were put into place. I am happy to report, from the admin dashboard, all teachers in attendance have gone on to create and implement – with students – additional video resources.

3. Describe  an instructional situation in which there are elements of behaviorism, cognitivism or constructivism in the instructional design or delivery.

As I work in a bilingual (Spanish/English model) school, while reflecting, I realized I am able to bring all three learning theories into focus. A major goal of our dual language program is bilingualism but also biliteracy, with this lens a lot of work needs to be done for students to reach this level of proficiency.  Behaviorism practices  can be seen in flashcard work or centers activities as student work with sight words, letters, and syllables. Teachers will prepare interactive sorts for the whiteboard that give positive feedback for correct input. An example of cognitivism is witnessed as students are charting and discussing cognates and false cognates as a connection for themselves between the languages. And constructivism can be experienced as students present their final PBL projects in both English and Spanish at unit’s end.

4. Explain how the emphasis of one or more of these theoretical approaches may impact learning.

It is important that designers and teachers understand these different theoretical approaches so that they are intentional in their lesson design and implementation. There is a time and place for behaviorism, as I think to our young student who need to practice and understand letters, letters sounds, and print concepts. These reading behaviors need to be practiced and mastered so that meaning can be applied as they attempt to participate in higher level thinking activities. These foundational skills are so important, but if learning continued in this way for everything, meaning and connections for that learner would never develop. The real “meat” to knowledge and learning comes with the connection building and meaning creation through higher level processes. The teacher or designer must embed these intentionally for a student to find joy and power in their learning. Again gravitating toward younger students, while a child may still be practicing their letters and sight words, this doesn’t mean they cannot participate in a book discussion or sequencing activity. It is important designers utilize all theories to best support their learners based on the goal or objective.

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