Saturday, December 10, 2011

Class 25: 11/29/11-Final Work Day

Dr. Petrosino was not present in class today, so Sara, one of our TAs, gave instructions on our activities for the day. First, students were given the opportunity to fill out a course instructor survey. After students completed their surveys, Sara informed the class that today was a work day for the class's final project.

Prior to giving students time to work on their projects, she answered a few questions about an upcoming test. She said that the format of the test would be similar to our previous exam, but would likely be shorter. Students would be given an hour and fifteen minutes to complete the exam, and that it would be administered online, likely via Blackboard. She encouraged students to email her if there were any uncertainties about the exam.

She also offered some advice on the written response questions. When answering a question, think about how it relates to the course and what the grader will be looking for when reading a response. If you can write about what you think the grader is looking for, you will likely have success on the question. She also pointed out that if you happen to running low on time, the graders would give credit for bullet points and stressed that listing your idea as a bullet point was better than not writing anything at all.

She took some time to also outline the format of presentations of our legacy cycles. Sara mentioned that each presentation should be approximately 10 minutes, walk your audience through the legacy cycle, and be prepared to show an anchor video. While it is not necessary for the final, she advised students to use a Powerpoint as a guide for the presentation. A rubric for grading the legacy cycle and presentation is on Blackboard.

The remainder of class time was dedicated to working on legacy cycles.

Each day in PBI a different student takes responsibility for blogging about what goes on in class. Today’s blog is brought to you by Andrew G­­­.

Class 24: 11/22/11-Legacy Cycle Workday

Today in class, we voted to take the day as a work day for our legacy cycle project rather than having a class discussion of the reading we were assigned for today. As a result, we worked in our groups on our final projects in hopes of making progress. Many of the groups in the class are in different stages of the planning process. Some groups were focused on scripting their anchor video, others were creating assessments and rubrics, and some are still hashing out ideas.

My group, for example, took the opportunity to chat with our teaching assistants about our ideas for our challenge. Our lesson is about graphing parabolas and the students are going to create a blueprint, for lack of a better word, of a human cannonball stunt. We are still working on expanding more things that we could do that are circus themed (as this is the theme of our lesson). Our TA was able to show us some really awesome resources that we might be able to use not only in the lesson, but for future lessons also.

Overall, it was a very active day in the classroom. There was a lot of talk on a variety of subjects happening all around the room. There was a variety of research happening both online and in high school text books. Class work days are extremely helpful for the students because if any groups get stuck with any particular idea or want input from others, there is a classroom full of students and instructors to foster new ideas and provide feedback.

Each day in PBI a different student takes responsibility for blogging about what goes on in class. Today’s blog is brought to you by ­­­Stephanie.

Class 23: 11/17/11-Kirschner Responds

Toward the beginning of the semester, our class was asked to participate in the UTeach Engineering research project, for which Dr. Petrosino is one of the primary researchers. Those who chose to participate spent the first thirty minutes of class filling out a post-survey. This survey was meant to see how pre-service teachers feel about PBI after they have experienced the majority of the course meant to teach PBI.

After completing the survey, our TA, Tara Craig, began a discussion over the article we read prior to class, “Why Minimally Guided Teaching Techniques Do Not Work: A Reply to Commentaries” by Sweller, Kirschner, and Clark. She began by showing us a Wordle created from the text in the article.

In the above "wordle," words that appear more often in the text are larger and those that appear less often are smaller. Tara reminded us that anyone can make wordles at “” and how wordles might be a useful tool for visualizing important themes in texts and for inspiring discussion in our future classrooms. She also reminded us about the presentation tool Prezi, found at “” and informed us that you can get more advanced options if you use an email address ending in “.edu”. We also very briefly discussed how students and ourselves could use this tool.

We then began a discussion centered on the arguments presented by Sweller, Kirschner, and Clark. One student mentioned that the article focused heavily on memory and cognitive load, arguing that with minimal guidance and heavy problem solving, students are using too much working memory, which impedes their long-term memory. Another student mentioned that the article stressed the methodology in the studies that showed PBL and IL as effective ways of learning, arguing that these were not well done because there were no control groups. At this point, students launched into a discussion about their experience in inquiry based classrooms at the University level. They argued that in these types of classrooms, they have learned more. Specifically, one student who is taking two physics classes simultaneously, one inquiry and one traditional, has found that she “understands” much more from the inquiry-based physics class than from the traditional class. She also pointed out that the traditional physics class follows the “work example” model argued to be effective in the article, and yet she does not find this helpful in class lectures.

Experiences with other types of inquiry-based classes sparked a discussion on the effectiveness of different levels of inquiry in a high school classroom. For example, students commented that in the “old-fashioned” sense, the “Moore Method” would not be an effective style of teaching in the high school classroom. Some students went on to state that if one wanted to use this method in the high school classroom, then major scaffolding would also need to be employed. Some students then commented that the authors Sweller, Kirschner, and Clark would argue that this method would take too long, and it would be faster and better to simply give students the information. Students also remarked that yet other experiences with for example, Dr. Marshall’s inquiry-based physics class have given students an idea of how PBI would look and be successful in the high school math or science classroom.

Next, the discussion veered toward an argument for PBL and Inquiry Learning. In another class, a student had heard a guest lecturer who brought up a good point: “Why do students need to come to class when they could simply watch the lecture online at home?” Supporters of PBL and IL would say that, unlike direct instruction, the student plays an active role in the class, participating and interacting with the teacher and other students. This, in turn, led into a discussion on the usefulness of direct instruction in certain cases.

One student offered a good experience with a high school calculus teacher who mainly or only used direct instruction, saying that she learned a lot in that class. Other students pointed out that direct instruction, when done well, or when utilized at the proper time, could be very effective. Now, with all of that said, a couple students made the comment that even though we have conceded that pure direct instruction can be effective, it is not fun for students and furthermore it may not be effective for all types of students in that “good students” will pay attention and take notes, but not all students are so disciplined. In essence, we should use direct instruction wisely.

This concluded our discussion for the day, and the last ten to fifteen minutes of class were spent working on our group Legacy Projects.

Each day in PBI a different student takes responsibility for blogging about what goes on in class. Today’s blog is brought to you by Rita­­­.

Class 22: 11/15/11-Work Day

Class was scheduled to be a work-day for our final project. We worked on these projects for the last 2/3rds of class, but first Dr. Petrosino took time to address a tragic circumstance currently affecting us as future educators.

Not even two weeks after the news of the Jerry Sandusky/Penn State scandal broke, the nation is still spinning from the shock of it all. Everyone has their own opinion, their own heartbreak concerning the issue. Dr. Petrosino took this awful situation and embraced an opportunity to discuss with us a risk that comes with being an educator – an adult who interacts with minors on a daily basis. While there are no doubt Jerry Sanduskys in the world, there are also times when educators might be falsely accused of wrongdoing. We often shy away from talking about the ways to avoid these unfortunate scenarios, just because the whole topic is detestable. But knowing how to protect ourselves from false accusations is important. Dr. Petrosino and our TAs (Sara and Tara) shared personal recommendations for avoiding and/or dealing with these situations: have documentation of your interactions with students, have other adults present, beware of informal interaction, and join a teacher’s union. Teacher Union Links:

After this discussion, each group filled out a checklist assessing progress on our Legacy Cycles. We then received the rest of the class to collaborate with group members and request advice from the instructors.

Each day in PBI a different student takes responsibility for blogging about what goes on in class. Today’s blog is brought to you by Holly­­­.