John Mahar's Blog

Education, Spanish, Travel, Poems, Bonnaroo reports, and more.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Alternatives worth a fight

Check out what's going on in Seattle in this news piece.
There are stories from around the country of school protests related to high-stakes standardized tests. Often we get stuck in a line of thinking that we can't get out of. We put our blinders on and forget we have choice. It does take a fight. It does take bravery. It involves great personal and financial risk. But these stories will hopefully inspire you to resist in creative ways.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

MOOC Takeover

"Risk-free learning online"?! I just read this short article I found at the NYTimes Education portal. It's a new twist on something I've been following a bit: MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course). So far, MOOCs have not carried any credit, but a few universities are now using them like a gateway drug to get students to pay for more courses. One guy in the article says that 72-84% of students in the for-credit MOOC took another class that they paid for. But how many of those students would have paid for the course and then taken another course? If some of the intro classes are offered online for free, I'm just taking those until I have to start paying. Maybe one or two free courses could draw students in to one university over another, I suppose. Aside: If it's still available when I have spare time, I'm going to take Cincinnati's design course! Question: will other universities follow suit? How much percentage of the tuition are universities giving up to the promotion company? Are they just further crippling themselves? It's not like they're known for their business savvy. I guess there's not much risk for the students, anyway! :)


Monday, January 14, 2013

Project-Based Learning with Habitatmap 1

My new post is here.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sample Question to Consider

Chapter 11 Motivation How might you enhance motivation and affect in your students using the theories of motivation? Here's a video that adds a lot to the conversation on motivation theory: So when I think about different theories of motivation, I think a lot about goals, but also how to structure those goals in terms of what students want. The book mentions a few types of goals, with mastery goals described as superior to performance goals (Ormrod 2011, p. 379). So if all students are motivated to do SOMETHING, I want to find a way to incorporate a desire or interest they have into my material in order to foster mastery goals. In Spanish class, this was easy. I noticed that many of my boys were interested in sports, so I did a unit on sports and sports vocabulary. In math, I tried to have answers to the question "when will we ever use this?" One, you're using it now. This is what we're doing. Two, you're learning problem-solving skills. Those are important. Three, sometimes I could specifically describe what use the material serves. When fostering mastery goals failed, I tried to be relatable. Relatedness is one of the fundamental human needs mentioned in Ormrod 2011 (p. 371). If I knew my students didn't care about the material, I would kind of ask them to do it "for me." This only worked with select students. But I built relationships with all my students, on purpose, partially in order to have that option on the table for motivation, but mainly cuz that's what I liked most about the job. In the video they talk about purpose and autonomy as big drivers of motivation. In my class I tried to help students understand the purpose of the course in relation to their goals. I tried as much as I could to incorporate student choice into my assignments, even if it was as simple as the option to choose one of two essays on a test. Another idea I have related to purpose is to tap into movements. These days a million and one movements are going on all the time. Eat more bacon, veganism, gay rights, gun-rights, PETA, nutrition movements, reading movements, and of course everything and anything that is happening in Brooklyn. :)


Monday, January 07, 2013

I Have Another Blog

Here it is.

What about all this technology?

From my other blog:


We're going to try out using blogs to help learn and reflect on educational psychology!