Monday, September 12, 2016

Active Learning in the Classroom

Reflecting on my personal learning experiences growing up vs. learning in the present classrooms, active learning was not really an option for teachers, whose classes I was in. I remember sitting in my elementary school rooms, with my pencil and paper(s), and writing endless amounts of notes, as fast as I could.  I did not like to miss any information, just in case it was on the test.  We would get handouts quite frequently too, and a highlighter was one of my best tools to use. The notes and handouts would be our main way to study for any quizzes or tests that we had.  I learned the same way in middle and high school, the traditional learning methods. It was just the way school worked, and if you missed information or did not write it down, you had to hope one of your friends or classmates caught it.  During my undergraduate coursework, I was exposed to more online resources and using the world wide web to research topics.  Graduate school was really when I was immersed into active learning, which was something new, but extremely relevant.

From my own experience with active learning and being a school based speech - language pathologist, I feel that keeping kids engaged and empowered in the classroom, really gives them the motivation to want to learn more.  They have the opportunity to be creative and use techniques that help them learn best.  
Image Source: Learning Styles
There are some reservations about letting students indulge in this type of learning at school.  (This can occur when students, who are working with peers or independently get off task, or when students just click on links or items, so that they appear to be working.) Parameters and structure need to be presented to students, so that they understand what they can and cannot do, when given the ability to use active learning tools in the classroom.  Overall, teachers utilizing active learning tools and incorporating those techniques in their lessons will not only heighten a students engagement level, but will also give the students more confidence and ownership in their work.  

The assignment given to us during our class, gave me more insight into how classroom teachers use active learning during their day.  It was helpful to see examples, from other teachers and their respective subject areas, and how the students took ownership of their work and gathered their own information and thoughts.  As we partnered up and were given blogs that reflected active learning as our assignment, it extended my knowledge of how others use it in their teachings.  Our Prezi presentation pulled various components from the blog/assignment.  The students were given a topic and utilized audioBoom and Pic Collage to demonstrate what they learned about the American Revolution.  

Image Source: Blog

Image Source: Blog

I found all of the blogs that were discussed very interesting!  How neat for students to have these opportunities in their classrooms now!  The   students demonstrated an increase in their independence, were able to communicate with their peers, and used their creativity to produce their projects.

Each week, as I learn more about technology and the tools that are out there, I often reflect on my teachings and the students I work with.  Having a variety of tools in your repertoire, when differentiating and working with students with special needs, helps keep the student engaged and also targets their learning styles.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Wheels are Turning

Where do I begin...  When people ask me to write (or talk) about myself, I often start to blush and never know what to say.  Which I have to say, is ironic because I am usually the opposite, just ask my seven year-old nephew, who tells me, "Zia Maria, you talk too much."

Here you go world -

I am the oldest of four children.  I have two sisters and one brother.  One of my sisters has a seven year-old son, named Jacob, which I love more than words can say.  My father was born in Italy, and came to the U.S. when he was nine years old.  My mom was born in the United States, but is Italian as well. I was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago.

When I was in third grade, and at least a head taller than everyone else in class, I started playing basketball. I played on school teams, traveling teams, recreational teams, you name it.  I just love the sport!  I was always the tallest person in school (students and teachers too), until I was a sophomore in high school.  That's when the boys finally passed me up!  I continued to play all through junior high, high school, and through my second year of college.

I went to Elmhurst College, where I received my Bachelor's degree in Communication Science and Disorders.  I then attended Saint Xavier University, where I graduated with my Masters (M.S.) in Communication Science and Disorders.   This is my tenth year (I cannot believe it!) as a speech - language pathologist, and I love my job!  I love working with children and their families, and collaborating with other professionals.

When I am not working, I enjoy going out, exploring new places, shopping, and hanging out with family and friends.  If it is a relaxing day, with nothing planned, I like to watch my t.v. shows (which are always recorded on my DVR) or to crochet, a new hobby I have been learning and loving for the past year. Life is good!

Here are a few of my crocheting projects that I have given as gifts -

Image source: Personal Collection
Image source: Personal Collection

Image source: Personal Collection

And yet I have so many more projects I would like to try.  Maybe this or this or maybe even this!  The possibilities are endless!!!