I recently had the opportunity to travel to Penang to provide a three-day workshop to teachers (mostly secondary science teachers). The workshop focussed on demonstrating active learning methodologies using technology (the TEAL methodology) which would then be used by the teachers to enhance their pupils’ engagement, retention and grades. Having a small group of people made it much easier to ensure everyone had individual attention and didn’t feel left behind and by the end of the three days, we had built up quite a camaraderie.
This hands-on workshop demonstrated how active learning, coupled with technology, could be used effectively to enhance teaching and learning. We spent some time discussing what I refer to as the shampoo and meal methodologies and then identified how specific technologies could be used put these methodologies into practice. We also discussed how the use of technology was only truly effective when it was used to engage students’ learning at a higher level, moving from the lower-order thinking skills of Bloom’s Taxonomy to the higher-order thinking skills (HOTS).
Throughout the three days of the workshop, the teachers saw me using the technologies and the methodologies ‘in action’, practicing what I was preaching and giving them practical and working model which demonstrated the effectiveness and ease of which the skills they were learning could be put into everyday practice.
By the end of the three days, the teachers involved in the workshop had opportunities to reflect on how various programmes and websites could be used to enhance their teaching and their students’ learning. Although other websites and programmes were touched on, the bulk of the three-day workshop focussed on PollEverywhere, Biteable, and Plickers.
During my stay in Penang, I had the opportunity to observe one of the participants of the workshop a couple of days after the workshop had ended. She had already put some of the concepts into practice. She used PollEverywhere and Plickers not only to ensure her students understood the concepts, but also to challenge their thinking and provide responses which went beyond the traditional “What is the correct answer?”-type question. Her science lesson used TEAL methodologies very well to engage the children and it was delightful not only to see the teacher so enthusiastic about using technology to enhance her teaching but to also see the students to actively engaged and enthusiastic about their learning!
The teachers who attended the workshop have been keeping weekly diaries about their use of the methodologies and technologies discussed during the workshop. These diaries, along with specific research taking place in the fall which will focus on the students’ learning, will give us a better understanding of whether these specific methodologies and technologies have made a positive impact not only on teaching but also on the students engagement, retention of what they have learned and their summative grades.If you would like more information about this research, please contact:
Dr. T. Shirazi
Kingston University, London (UK)