As I’ve learned more about VATK learning styles this term, I’ve become a better teacher of my own children.
Identifying numbers through rhyme:
Appealing to my older son’s auditory learning style
My three year old had been struggling a bit to identify numbers six through ten when they weren’t in order (part of the state academic standards for preschoolers).
We’d played games, tried flashcards — I’d even given him different media (rubber bands, pasta, etc.) and watched him create beautiful numbers on command. But he still didn’t identify the numbers when he’d see them out of order.
Finally after a weekend class meeting of my Adult Learning Strategies course — where we practiced applying Bloom’s taxonomy of objectives to different VATK learning styles — I thought of taking advantage of my older son’s auditory learning style to teach him number-related rhymes — like “a circle and a line, my name is nine.”
Within a day, he’d learned his numbers. He sings these number rhymes in the car and bathtub, and recites them to himself when we play number games. I’m really happy.
Gaining a love of books through touch + feel
reaching out to my younger son’s tactile/kinesthetic learning style
My one year old hadn’t been a big fan of books. While his big brother would sit patiently and listen to book after book as an infant, this baby had only wanted to play with the books. He’d had no interest in looking or listening.
Finally just this past weekend I came across some old touch + feel books that include textures with the illustrations. For example, a lion’s mane is made of fake fur, and a lizard’s skin is made of bumpy rubber.
I was excited to read them to the baby, and sure enough, my tactile/kinesthetic little guy sat calmly, petting the illustrations while I read!
I couldn’t believe it, and desperately wished I had tried this sooner. We have a lot of reading to catch up on.
A couple weeks ago I attending a nonprofit marketing training from the Nonprofit Association of Oregon. Today I submitted a critique of the event for my Adult Learning Strategies course.
The experience of being in a workshop as a learner and observer — observing the instructor — was interesting, but reflecting on the workshop for the paper was the best.
The purpose of the paper was to evaluate an adult learning event using criteria such as: instructional strategies with attention to the adult learning framework; perceptual-senses learning styles; cognitive, affective, and behavioral learning goals; Kolb’s learning styles; use of multiple instructional strategies; as well as effective practices such as attending to participants’s emotional and physical needs at all stages of the event.
The paper outlined a brief description of the event’s context, timing, purpose, content, and design; an overview of the instructor’s strategies; an assessment of learner involvement and participation, instructor’s style, learner-instructor rapport, appropriateness of instructional strategies given the content and audience; and suggestions for next time.
The process of staring hard at each component of the workshop has helped me solidify my grasp of all the reading I’ve done this term, and I think will contribute to my instructional design moving forward. I’ll upload the paper within the Teaching + Training section of this portfolio (it will be password protected).
This past weekend, when my grad school cohort met for our Instructional Strategies for Adult Learners course, our professor asked us to reflect on one of our best and one of our worst experiences as facilitator.
Interestingly, the good experiences I thought of often had a corresponding bad one.
For example, a social networking training I did for national service program staff worked well partly because I was very aware of who was in the room. I had done a survey ahead of time, and had a very clear sense of what kind of experiences my participants had had with online social networks, and a vivid picture of what they wanted to learn in the workshop.
However for another social networking workshop I offered, I didn’t send out a survey to participants ahead of time. The event organizer asked me to speak about how to use social networks to recruit new volunteers. Instead of doing a survey, I asked the event organizer whether I should focus my hour-long session on introducing the social network sites themselves — or whether I could focus entirely on volunteer recruitment through the sites.
She assured me that the crowd was young and that they all were digital natives. “Just focus on volunteer recruitment,” I was told.
So I prepared a workshop on recruiting volunteers using Facebook, Twitter, blogging, and Youtube — without planning presentation slides that showed the basics of each site. Big mistake. The participants were young-ish — most were under 30. But half did not use Facebook, and only two had ever used Twitter.
Fortunately, I could get online in the training room, and jump out of my presentation to walk participants through the basics of the sites themselves. But I still had to “dance” a bit — and felt flustered, time-crunched, and less effective than if I had just sent them a survey ahead of time and asked what they knew.