Monday, 27 October 2014


I watched this great ted talks in the motivation forum, by Dan Pink called "the puzzle of motivation".

He talks about intrinsic  motivation and extrinsic motivation and how time and time again extrinsic motivation just doesn't work. A study done by the Federal Reserve bank says "As long as the task involved only mechanical skill, bonuses worked as they would be expected: the higher the pay, the better the performance". But once the task called for "even rudimentary cognitive skill," a larger reward "led to poorer performance". "in eight of the nine tasks we examined across the three experiments across the three experiments, higher incentives led to worse performance".

He says that the carrot and the string extrinsic motivation was great for 20th century but the 21st century desires "more right brain , conceptual thinking". He says the key to this is:

Autonomy-the urge to direct our own lives

Mastery-the desire to get better and better  at something that matters

Purpose-the service to do what we do for something larger than ourselves

Dan Pink says that management is great if your purpose is compliance, but for engagement self-direction works much better.

So remembering that he is talking about the world of business there are a few musts to make this work
-you must pay people adequately and  fairly, and get the topic of money off the table
-no schedules, people could work anywhere and anytime as long as they got there work done, the ideas of meeting were optional.

With these rules implied work satisfaction went up, productivity went up and turn over went down.

So how do I take all this information and turn it into something that will work for my classroom?

I come back to it time and time again "the flipped classroom" I believe will help my students feel a sense of autonomy. And offer self-direction  to my students as much as possible, and light that spark of intrinsic motivation and check in once in a while with self-assessments to make sure it's still there!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Where do good ideas come from?

I watched a very interesting Ted Talks by Steve Johnson about "Where do good ideas come from?". He starts his talk with a picture of the first coffee house in England from 1650. He says that the coffee house is what started the "Enlightenment Era". Which is actually pretty funny because apparently before coffee, people use to drink all day; so essentially most of the public was drunk all day! So it's no surprise that when people starting drinking coffee a stimulant that "things started to happen". 

Now the interesting part isn't just that they started drinking coffee all day but also where they were doing it. Coffee houses created the perfect place for collaboration, a "space of creativity, where ideas could have sex". This became what Steve calls "the liquid network" where people of different ideas with different background could come together and tousle ideas around. 

Steve says that typically a good idea starts with a hunch and when we "allow those hunch's to connect with other people's hunches thats when it all starts to happen", sometimes in a "eureka" moment. He believes that people should be "connecting versus protecting" meaning that for great ideas to happen we need to be collaborating with each other. Another win for group work!!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Group Work

I am finding group work to be so fascinating, there seems to be a real love hate relationship with it. Many students hate group work because of the anxiety of getting into the group and an unfair distribution work. They say there is always a "know it all", there is always a slacker or at least someone who doesn't pull there weight. Sometimes they just don't get along,or feel there is to much time wasted on irrelevant topics.

The questions is, as unpleasant as students find group work to be; reality is there are some great lessons to be learned from these experiences. Elisabeth G. Cohen says "when teachers give students a group task and allow them to make mistakes and struggle on their own, they have delegated authority. This is the key feature of group work". 

Students become active rather than passive learners by developing collaborative and co-operative skills. Students develop critical thinking skills as well as learn from and teach each other, which often leads to deeper learning. Group learning is student centred, social skills are improved as well as learning outcomes. Quiet students get the opportunity to be heard in smaller groups as well as students get the opportunity to work on larger projects that could not be achieved on there own. Group work also prepares students for the realities and diversity of the workplace.

I personally believe that the experience of these activities, far out ways any negative feelings received by students. My thoughts our that like so many things in life to much of a good thing is ….well not so good! The key is variety, especially with group projects. 

The power of the introvert

Apparently 1/3 to 1/2 of the population are introverts,they feel the most alive and most capable when they are in quieter more low key environments. Susan Cain believes the key to maximizing talents is to put our selves in the right zone of stimulation. Which is defiantly not group work.

Adam Grant goes on to say "that introverted leaders often deliver better outcomes than extroverts do because when they are managing proactive employees, they are much more likely to let them run with there ides. Where as an extrovert can get so excited they are putting there stamp on things".

Susan Cain also believes that solitude is a crucial ingredient in creativity. She says a lot of our great leaders are introverted such as Elenor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks and Ghandi. They do this not because they enjoy the spot light, but because they believed in something so strongly they had to share it with the world.

Susan cain proposes we stop the madness for constant group work and our given much more freedom, privacy and autonomy in our jobs.That it is important to teach our kids how to work on there own and that it is just as important for extroverted children because that is where deep thought comes from.

She believes we need to go into the wildness and have our own revelations. Just unplug and get inside our own heads a bit more often. And lastly figure out what it is we are truly passionate about.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

W.A.I.T Why am I talking?

W.A.I.T Why am I talking? Apparently one of my peers in 3250 took a course and the instructor had W.A.I.T on a sticky note on his laptop to help him remember- why am I talking?

When I went to Bumble and Bumble in New York one of the best things I learned there was "we have 2 ears and 1 mouth, so we should be listening twice as much as we are talking". After I left I really tried to incorporate this into my everyday life, but overtime my extravert personality has sorta squashed that. So reading about "wait" is a nice little reminder for me that's it's okay for me to be a little quieter!

Anyways back to W.A.I.T, why am I talking? It's funny because I just started reading "the skilled teacher" by Stephen Brookfield and he was talking about how he created these great questions to ask his students and he goes ahead and asks the first one and nobody answers him, so he counts off 15 seconds in his head before he moves on. The 15 second thing really stuck with me and made me think…..where did he get the idea to wait 15 seconds from? Then I read the questioning techniques forum and it all came together.

So research says for a less cognitive  question we should wait 3 seconds and obviously longer the more thoughtful the answer. So I guess me the bubbly hairdresser who always needs talking, is going to have to get comfortable with a bit of silence. While the students are processing there thoughts and ideas, and remember that a bit of silence is a good thing.

"If we were meant to talk more than listen, we would have two mouths and one ear" mark Twain

Monday, 29 September 2014

The Flipped Classroom

I managed to skim through some of the discussion forms last night on flipped classrooms. I love this idea, and think that this could work really well for my program. 

The idea behind the flipped classroom is that students watch video tutorials made by the teacher ahead of time so that when they are at school they can focus on the projects, group work or in my case hands on practice.

I think this is awesome for my classroom because I could easily make a video on roller sets for example, the students could watch them the night before and probably over and over again as they are trying to do a roller set on a mannequin head themselves. This frees me up a lot more to walk around and help students who are having troubles, and the students that finish early can move on to the next tutorial.

A couple problems with this concept would be that my students could easily take advantage of this new found opportunity to play with there iPhone and waste a lot of time playing on Facebook. I guess I would have to clearly lay out my expectations on not playing on Facebook and have some consequences in place. My other problem might be that not everyone has a mobile device that can play videos, perhaps team them up? Well lots to think about……

Cheers Danielle 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Keeping Oneself Engaged

Just as it is important to engage students, so is it important to get and keep ourselves engaged in our teaching, even after many years in the trenches (Barkley 2010 p.74). So true, how can I keep my students engaged if I am feeling uninspired myself?  Barkley proposes that the 3 conditions that help with student engagement could also work for us educators:

-Teachers who feel they are  members of a community committed to excellent teaching

-Teachers who are teaching classes at their optimal level

-Teachers who are involved holistically in their teaching

I am also proposing a 4th one for myself as I am teaching a real hands on skill, and know from past experience that taking industry based courses really gets me excited and inspired. 

The best teachers have this inner light that comes from the fact that we love our work and deeply respect the students (Lankford p.76). I propose that to be an engaged teacher you figure out how to keep your "inner light" burning, even after  "years in the trenches". That being a good teacher is a lot like a good marriage; you have to work at it!