I’ve decided that Wednesdays will be the short blog of the week. After working all day on Tuesdays for my day job, I’m back teaching at the University of Windsor with the Computer Studies teachable group at the Faculty of Education. It’s a three hour session and the body is running on fumes by the time things are done.
Thanks, Rachel A.K.
Last night was our first session and we had our first meeting awkwardness as I struggle to learn names – none of the names on my class list are “Hey, You” – and they get to learn each other.
Three hours is a lot of time for anything so it’s really important to keep changing the focus and activities. I’ve taught this course numerous times – never the same way – but I am always amazed at the backgrounds that the students have entering the course. I went the traditional route – bachelor degree in math/computer science – bachelor degree in education – got a job – went back for additional qualifications during the summer as I started my career.
These days, there are some that take that route but there are also people that are choosing teaching as a way to make a career change. In so doing, they bring a wealth of experience to our class and, hopefully, to their own in a year or two.
Regardless of the age or experience, it’s been a while since they were in Grade 10 or 11. One of my biggest focuses in the teaching of anything is to get people up and moving and engaged in hands-on activities. On the first night, I try to bring a sense of this with just a simple activity. 11 chairs, 10 people with cards numbered 0-9 and one expert. This expert’s task is to take the 10 people from an unordered arrangement to a sorted order. The only caveat is that only one person can be out of a chair at a time.
I’ve used this quite successfully when I taught Grade 11 to, first of all, have the students visualize how this might work and then to introduce a bubble sort, insertion sort, or sorting by selection. You can also do it with 20 chairs to show real inefficiency in storage concepts!
Image via Wikipedia
It never fails to bring a sense of reality to things. Once you’ve learned sorting algorithms in the real world, you have a library of code that you just access in your application and move along to the rest of the coding. But, could you go back to the basics? There’s the alarm with the wakeup bell!
Only one person had worked with a wiki before and our course is entirely centred on our class wiki for sharing and collaboration. So, we had some fun navigating through week 1 and part of their homework was to get in and do some editing before week two.
At the end of the day, I’m dragging it when I get home. But, it’s a good dragging. It’s personally motivating to be able to work with these folks. The best part of education is the human contact and we need to celebrate it at every opportunity. It’s the enthusiasm for the profession and the excitement of the prospects of them becoming teachers that is the overwhelming motivator for me.
In the meantime, I’m going to be dead dog tired on Wednesday mornings.
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