Monday, July 9, 2012

Taking an Andragogical Approach

Teacher educators have  been criticized by some of their  teacher candidates as "not practicing what they preach".  Student teachers  want their educators to adopt a more constructivist and collaborative approach  to teacher preparation  and model strategies  that they  are expected to implement/employ during  their Practical Teaching  exercise. While some educators concur,  they argue that courses are dense and teachers must demonstrate a certain degree of competence in the subject matter before they can  "teach". Although I agree with this view, we fail, however, to  ponder on the possible "truths" emanating from the litanies of disenchanted student teachers who have "come and  left teacher education classrooms".  What sense does it make to  produce teacher trainees with impeccable content knowledge but who  lack self direction and the appropriate pedagogy to facilitate learning in K-12 classrooms?     The issue that I wish  to give primacy to here is not one of "pedagogy" (how to teach children)  but one that  teacher educators need to consider when teaching these adult learners - student teachers.

Influenced by the principles of constructivism ,  a New Literacies Perspective, and the work of Malcolm Knowles (1968) I believe that educators need to step up and adopt  a different approach, that of Andragogy  in training future teachers (View video below for more information on Andragogy). We need to realize that good teaching and effective teacher preparation  not only require educators to deliver instruction in ways that allow teacher candidates to take greater ownership of their learning,  but  also to incorporate activities that will  foster self directed  and collaborative learning,  facilitate both immediate and future application of strategies taught.

Taking this andragogical  stance in  a  summer course   that I taught this year (Reading and Writing Across the Curriculum), helped to crystallize my  assumptions regarding this school of thought and enabled me to  truly put into practice one of my professional development goals. Students were provided with electronic articles related to each unit,  actively engaged in reading  articles in groups according to their areas of specialization, designed appropriate activities and presented their insightful ideas to the rest of the class.  For the first time in three (3) years,  my colleague and I  decided to allow students to apply the strategies in a more authentic environment - the "real classroom".  A departure from the usual superficial Micro teaching  exercise  did pose some challenges but this was indubitably the best thing we could have done for our students. For some, this was the very first time they worked and interacted with  learners. Furthermore, they were provided with another opportunity to extend their classroom learning  in online threaded discussions, one way of fortifying their new literacies. Take a look. I capitalized  on students' reservoir of knowledge and experiences as well as their multiliteracies in  creating a  stimulating and interactive environment.   Indeed, this was a rewarding experience - one worthy of replication.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Online Tutoring


I am currently teaching an online course as part of the Online Degree Program in Literacy Studies offered by the Open Campus of the University of the West Indies. Although I am no stranger to the virtual classroom, this is my first experience working with other e-tutors in delivering a course.

I look forward to working and interacting with the students.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Goals for 2011

There are several pedagogical practices that i have been experimenting with for the past two years as a way of ensuring both self and professional development. Some of these practices worthy of replication include online discussion boards, blogging, web quests, video clips of micro teaching lessons, Alpha box activity, double entry and reflective journals, PowerPoint presentations and videos/documentaries in instruction.

On a more professional level, one of my goals for 2011 is to publish my own research and a long term goal is to publish my own book on "Family Literacy in a Caribbean Context". Currently, I am working on my manuscript for submission to a regional and international teacher education journal. I hope that my work will meet the acceptable standard required for publication.

Another area of interest that i would like to explore relates to the manner in which facebook users utilize this site for social networking

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Amazing blogs

It is amazing how teacher education programs across the globe are making a pedagogical shift in response to the changing needs of education in the 21st century. Imagine lecturers who are not even assigned or qualified to teach the "technology in education" course are now required to infuse new technologies as part of the course modality. Research has consistently shown that 'stand alone' courses such as technology in education do not adequately prepare student teachers to effectively use technology in their classroom practice. So here I am.

In this Reading and Writing Across the Curriculum course that i am teaching this summer, student teachers are to expected to identify strategies for using technology to enhance content area literacy instruction. Rather than creating their personal blogs, students were encouraged to retrieve the blog they had maintained in their technology in education course. I used the work they had done to discuss possible ways that they can incorporate blogs in content area instruction. It was enlightening to see that students had already embedded videos that focused on relevant content they are expected to teach.

I also introduced them to another web 2.0 tool- the web quest. They looked at a few, however they need to continue their search to identify appropriate existing web quests that they can adapt/use in their lessons. Here is one web quest they found quite illuminating and appropriate (left).

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Exploring the Potential of Blogs in Effective Content Area Literacy Instruction

Incorporating Web 2.0 tools in teacher preparation programs has become an imperative for effectively preparing pre service and in service teachers for practice in today's digital world. The proliferation of a wide range of technological tools has made it possible for both teachers and students to collaborate on projects, share ideas and experiences and develop their analytical and critical literacy skills beyond the walls of the classroom.

This week I intend to help primary school student teachers develop greater familiarity with a few tools such as blogs, web quest, wikis etc and to explore the potential that these tools have in enhancing content area literacy at the elementary level. They have been participating in an online threaded discussion board, as seen in the link on the left

Today, they will be setting up their personal blogs and hopefully create their first post.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Web 2.0 Making its way into DTEEA

Teacher educators, teacher trainees as well as classroom teachers have demonstrated a keen interest in exploring the potential that blogging and the discussion board have in enhancing their pedagogical practices and student learning. This mounting interest in web 2.0 tools is imperative to teacher preparation programs such as ours at the Division of Teacher Education and successful classroom practice. Ultimately the goal is to equip both teachers and learners with the requisite skills needed for life in this ever changing digitized landscape.

Meanwhile some teacher educators are going the 'blended' way (incorporating both asynchronous and the traditional face to face teaching methodology). students in training are experimenting with the affordances provided by blogs to enhance their learners' traditional reading comprehension and writing skills and at the same time developing their digital literacy skills. The new literacies are gradually taking center stage at the Division of Teacher Education and in some of our primary and secondary schools.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Research Results

Well, the results are in and I obtained a creditably 80 for the dissertation that i carried out in the content area reading and writing methods course. I thought that was pretty ok. So this brings closure to the MA in New Literacies program. The skills and knowledge gained during these two years have been extremely beneficial to my practice.