This article is dedicated to:
#EVO Crafting The eperfect Text For Teachers.
Week four challenges us to accomplish missions that take us closer to our publishing goals.
Here’s a look at the agenda on the ePerfect textbook Wiki.
Here are overviews of collaborative work, inspiration and goals set in the previous three weeks broadcast from Google hangouts.
I think a lot about elearning design as I love to create digital materials and write.
Actually mapping out the characteristics of effective design is something else, but I’ve decided to just jot out a quick list of factors that may be significant for language learners.
Whether we are thinking about thinking, or thinking about text book design, it’s important to be aware of our own metacognition before developing critical awareness in our students. As an English teacher, I’ll focus on language today, although learning and cognition as a broad topic can help all subject teachers.
Understanding How We Think In Order To Make Our Students Think:
I recently took part in a Twitter chat organised by ELT Ireland on metacognition for students. It really made me think that teachers have to be self-aware before expecting students to tap into their own insights.
The Twitter chat itself raises questions about what kinds of tasks and exercises may cultivate learner autonomy and creativity in students. This is of great significance to teachers who create their own materials or ebooks, as we can control the whole syllabus while simultaneously deciding how much freedom to give our students within the overall framework.
Here’s a storified record of the #eltchinwag Twitter Chat :
Here are two important links I shared during the chat:
a) A teaching journal written by David Deubelbeiss that helps us to become more aware of ourselves as teachers.
A reflective journal for teachers.
b) Some articles by Larry Ferlazzo.
My best posts on metacognition.
c) Here is an article written by another prolific blogger in the field who has a special interest in metacognition.
A write-up on the chat by Lizzie Pinnard
Plan your Books To Set Your Students Free:
If we choose to create brain-friendly and user-friendly books for our students, we can open up potential for more exploration, healthy risk-taking, confidence-building, self-expression and playing with the visual arts through the target language.
Creating a student-centred experience through non-linear thinking strategies:
Just to be brief, I came up with 11 important objectives that I believe in:
( Teachers are designing all kinds of wonderful books in the #EVO etextbook community, so these are just my opinions and ideas that inspire me)
1) A new kind of relationship:
Students should be able to build up a relationship with their ePerfect textbook – because it is, after all, a dynamic, interactive and even socially-enabled publication.
2) Map The Plan:
It’s good to map out which interactive elements we need to make the book come alive without turning it into a messy labyrinth.
3) Web-based Creativity:
The book should do much more than simply impart information. It should challenge students to use the language and create their own communicative tasks through the wise use of simple web tools.
Here’s a sample idea from John Natterlab at our EVO community.
“This looks fun… get your students to make their own learning apps based on apps made by others or make one yourself! “
4) Designing environments for meaningful experiences:
Tasks should be designed to create unique learner experiences, which, in turn create unique learner environments, so that learners can use these experiences & environments to design their own learning.
The learner environment can be the actual book layout itself, companion web-based “learning management systems” – though I prefer prefer the term ” playroom”, what Shelly Terrell calls the “sandbox”, or any other fun, creative term.
5) Adapt & Build:
Students should be able to adapt and build upon the original etextbook, thereby creating their own mini-books and projects – this can be done naturally through focusing on the most practical tasks such as error correction, where student errors are corrected and then fed back into new stories, such as comic dialogues etc.
This means that nothing gets neglected and that nobody can dare complain that creativity wastes time;)
6) Use of Metaphor:
I’ve written about the power of metaphor before and was pleased to see that Donna Wilson from Edutopia in the article about the gift of metacognition incorporates metaphor into raising self-awareness in students.
Life is a story and learning is the story of our lives. The best stories are based on metaphor, described through metaphor , and speak to the intellect and emotions through the multiple contexts of metaphor.
Therefore, using metaphor in your book design, layout, lesson plans and missions can help students to put the spotlight on inner realities, feelings, motivation and personalised learning. For me, storytelling seems to be one of the most powerful and natural ways to help students become both consciously and unconsciously cognizant of their own learning patterns.
7) Simplify The Complex:
We all want our students to be confident, fluent, creative, tech-savvy explorers. Yet, the vast array of web tools at our disposal may encourage us to get trigger-happy with all kinds of links and start inventing all kinds interactive somersaults for our ebooks and students.
Yet, we also want them to focus, reflect, stay calm and remember. Who wants to write the book that made everyone seasick or take their kids on a field trip to Las Vegas and let them lose their minds forever?
I believe that “less is more”, when the technology you choose is powerful, yet simple. Simple to use, yet powerful in its endless applications and serendipitious results.
8) Show off & be colourful:
Of course, this all depends on the kinds of books you want to publish, but it’s good to entertain the notion of a fun, shiny look, especially for children, teens and general English courses.
Why not use a comic interface, fun dialogues, a magazine-style flip effect, or artistic storyboard theme?
9) Let your Personality & eclecticism design the book:
The big difference between self-publishing initiatives and the blander types of official publications is that big publishers tend to avoid personalisation. That’s why such books fail to engage world wide readerships.
However, when you take inspiration from your own passions and frame them in creative and open-ended contexts within lesson plans and ebook design, you’ll find all kinds of unique ideas emerging that will resonaate with students. For example, I enjoy creating lessons and writing because I use inspiration from psychology and the arts. Other teachers use ideas, metaphors, concepts and activities from cooking, music, and even fitness (think kinaesthesia).
Many of us are eclectic. This is important, because digging too deeply into “one way” of doing things could become too prescriptive, or narrrowly focused. It may also prevent students from taking their own initiative and letting their own personalities shine through.
10) Metacognition, anti-cognition & unconscious competence:
Speaking of personalisation and storytelling, there comes a time when teachers have to follow their instincts, let things flow and stop trying to consciously control student output.
While we know a certain amount about teaching, learning, peronality and motivation, our students are really mysteries to us and we are often mysteries to ourselves.
This is why the only true way to release knowledge is through indulging in creative linguistic activities. When students create, the unconscious mind does it’s work effortlessly and the result is surprising for teachers and students alike.
To see whether deep learning has taken place, we need to experience the satisfaction of allowing the emergent language of students to express itself. When this happens, we get the full impact of their unconscious competence – things they don’t even know that they know.
Testing only shows us the limiting scale of conscious incompetence leading up to conscious competence – memorisation, short-term memory work, swotting, struggle.
Creative activities give us a glimpse of the mysteries of their hearts and minds through the target language that they’ve internalised till it’s become part of themselves.
11) Reflect and then let go:
It’s good to reflect and it’s fun to reflect, but there comes a time when we have to let go. This is the exciting part of learning and teaching.
Sometimes our instincts know more that we do, and sometimes they don’t. There’s only one way to find out. This experimental stage can be part of the open-ended multi-media projects.
By allowing our students to feel their way into the language, we can help them to build up intuition as well as cognition. Metacognitive skills will give them intellectual confidence and strong life skills. Yet, our deeper ways of knowing when expressed through creativity can help them to develop a more personal sense of confidence that will influence all aspects of their lives.
Here’s a collection I’ve started with some articles on metacognition:
Metacognition & Anti-metacognition, by silversal
Here are some of my brain-friendly articles related to elearning ideas and designs.