Friday, September 28, 2012

Sums and sentences - Adrian Blunt and the restaurant, wine and bar team

Yesterday, managed to get to two sessions of the CPIT literacy / numeracy month sessions.

First up, question and answer in the classroom - measurement calculations with Adrian Blunt, maths teacher.

Adrian introduced the use of mini white boards in conjunction with measurement and estimation. answers students put on to the mini white boards, reveal much to the tutor as every student needs to provide an answer. Students who are struggling, have misconceptions or who are reluctant to answer need to provide input. Generally, better to have two students to maximise peer learning effects.

When asking students to estimate measurements, provide benchmarks. For example a litre of milk or a kilo of sugar. Encouraging students to verbalize concepts means they have to either rationalise or challenge their original understanding or to adopt new ideas that have been discussed.

In the evening, the some of the award winning Restaurant, Wine and Bar team present on embedding literacy and numeracy as a team: how we work together mapping the demands. The team worked togehter to map the rwbs programme literacy demands so that everyone understood what was required of students by the programme.

Katy Fortescue in wine studies starts with what students already know and then provides opportunities to decode contextualised literacy - e.g. NZ and international wine labels, language used by wine reviewers to move on to wine technical specifications. Then, make connections to text using practical wine tasting sessions.

In restaurant studies, Francie Oberg-Nordt presents on applied learning strategies to help students identify learning styles and identity strategies students can use to assist with their own learning. tutors try to match teaching with identified learning styles, what they know and what works best for them.
eventually students critique their original learning styles orientation and also apply what they learnt via students participating in small teaching sessions amongst their peers.
in reading texts for practical purposes, contextualised readings are used to build literacy skills in predicting, scanning, skimming, IDkey works, identify tenses, increase / widen vocabulary, identifies prior knowledge and reading / writing issues. Reading activities include programme handboook, menus and recipes and Zest article on Rotherham's restaurant.

Katrina Fisher provided example of resources on Moodle to help students learn how to steam milk for coffee. A good example of using multimedia / multi-literacies to revise, affirm text literacies.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Google Scholar - alert, updates and my citations

I have been an avid user of Google Scholar. It is a good way to scope a topic before doing a more focused search for articles via out library database (proquest).  The advantage of Google is that it brings up books, journal articles and reports, so providing a quick way to find out who the fields’ most prolific researchers, which often equates to most cited articles / authors.
There is a video on youtube on using scholar,  providing a general introduction with some good tips on searching more efficiently.
One way to keep up with the ever increasing number of journal articles is to use scholar alert via your gmail account. Every couple of days, a list of about 6 – 10 articles and reports, arrives in my gmail inbox, relevant to the topics of workplace learning apprentic* and occupational identity. So far, a few interesting articles have arrived each week for further investigation.

Scholar alerts is now supplemented by scholar updates. Updates brings up articles that match your latest searches, alerts and the articles archived in scholar citations. So far, the articles updates have thrown up have been useful with about half a dozen articles arriving a week and at least one or two being relevant / useful.
I have now also set up my own citations page. I entered a few articles manually and after a couple of weeks, a few have now generated citations, which is all quite a worthwhile ego trip. Most of my article citations have come from work on mobile learning, but a few on apprenticeship learning now also creeping in. Plus you can also set up a scholar alert to new citations, adding excited anticipation everytime you check out your citations :)  All in, a good resource for researchers.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sums and sentences - learning practical maths

Yesterday evening, attended the session on practical maths for hospitality presented by Cheryl Stokes (bar skills tutor) and Neil McInnes (chef tutor). The sessions focused on strategies used by food and hospitality tutors to embed numeracy in practical work based teaching sessions.

In cookery maths concepts include weight, volume, length, fractions, cost/ price, addition and subtraction. In
cocktail making cost/ price, ratios, volume, fractions, addition and subtraction are required.

Previously maths was mostly simulated learning in theory sessions and there was a separation of theory and practical. For students maths anxiety was high.

In cooking,  maths sessions now completed in 3 hour practical classroom. Students are in chefs uniforms using normal kitchen equipment and real ingredients to work through maths concepts which are integrated into practical session workbooks. Icons or a logo (calculator by ingredients) identify the maths sections in handouts and workbooks and signal calculations are required. Activities include using real life examples like how to share customers tips between staff  - requiring the accurate calculation of percentages.

In cocktail making, there is the need to follow a base formula, add ingredients together and create a visual pie chart of the ratios of each component in the cocktail. Cocktail equation of spirit base plus modifier liqueur plus accents in the form of fruits, herbs food ingredients. Constructivist learning experience as students learn by trying, obtaining feedback, correcting mistakes.

Overall, good examples of how 'mundane maths' is used to provide examples of maths strategies for students and the move towards making greater use of situated learning to embed numeracy into pre-trade trainining.

Monday, September 17, 2012

sums and sentences - "I've read it but I don't get it"

Managed to get to the 'sums and sentences' session lunchtim on Friday. A presentation and participative workshop with Kirsten Riley, adult literacy tutor & advisor and Bruce Morrison, communications tutor and literacy advisor.  Their session summarised some of the strategies useful to help students come to grips with course readings.  Reading is made up of 50% decoding and 50% comprehension.

Learning activities and exercises important Before, during and After reading to work on comprehension. Issues students have with decoding require specialists assistance, so it is important to work out with students, where the difficult lies with reading. A range of activities are available on the NZ literacy/numeracy site and we worked through a few examples during the session.

Monday, September 10, 2012

September sums and sentences - cpit embedding literacy / numeracy month

Attended then first in a series of presentations for CPIT embedding literacy and numeracy on Thursday. The series runs across the month of September with about two or three lunch time of ealy evning sessions offering various glimpses of CPIT teaching practice through tutors work with mainly foundation and trades learners. I will report on sessions I manage to get to over the course of the month.

Lynette Winter presents the first session on how to make better use of the Assessment tool reports, using numeracy as examples. The Assessment tool results  should be a formative assessment tool although the Ministry of Education / Tertiary Education Commission also uses the results  to quantify outcomes by comparing before and after programme participation/completion literacy/numeracy progression levels.

The progression levels are now more simple to understand. Providing information on what learners know or are able to complete at different progression levels and these assist with better interpretation of learner reports. The profiles on Numeracy capability profiles web sites assist with judgement of levels so that tutors are able to ensure there is a better match between the specialist skills learners need to attain and how much scafolding is required

 Using the appropriate tools and information, it is important for tutors to understand how to use the data by reading the data as it is presented in the assessment tool reports and also reading between and beyond the data for each class group and each individual student.

For instance, what does being at a certain step in the progression tell us about the learner 's ability?
The compare group profile to the demands of the course and assess learning needs of the group.
Tutors then need to widen and deepen understanding by not just teaching to meet us outcomes but ensure students have enough understanding to apply these to other contexts.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

The meaning of body – book by Mark Johnson

While away last week facilitating workshops for vocational educators in the North Island, I managed to complete close reading of Professor Mark Johnson's book -
Johnson, M. (2007). The meaning of body: Aesthetics of human understanding. Chicago, Ill; London, UK: University of Chicago Press.
This book argues for the recognition of a more diverse perspective on how humans make meaning. The book wends through key philosophical questions like: what is meaning? Where does it come from? How do individuals, groups and societies make meaning? In particular, the focus is on the bodily sources of meaning making and contributions of forms of embodiment to how imagination and reasoning take place.
The book has 12 chapters organised into 3 sections with a preface introducing the precepts and rationale for the book’s argument. There is also an introductory chapter called ‘meaning is more than words and deeper than concepts’ which is very apt.

The introductory chapter argues that the historical (and westernised) philosophical of the divide between mind and body as being unproductive in bringing forward thinking and our attempts to understand how we actually make meaning. The mind body dualism needs to be surmounted and a concept of embodied mind adopted to encompass a holistic approach.

In section 1, bodily meaning and felt sense, 5 chapters discuss the ontogenetical origins of feeling and sensing and the contributions these make to how we see, hear, feel the world and make meaning from these senses. For instance, he uses metaphors as examples of how the body contributes to visualising something like ‘feelings of warmth to others’. Conceptual metaphors being one way we make sense of the world we live and interact in.

The second section, embodied meaning the and sciences of mind, provides 4 chapters to present, rationalise and discuss the corporeal roots of symbolic meaning, the brains role in making meaning and the interconnection between meaning and abstract thought. Examples sprinkled throughout to help make sense of the philosophical arguments underlying the need to bring both the mind and body together when studying how people learn.

The last section is more esoteric, discussing in 3 chapters, the concepts of embodied meaning, aesthetics and art. These chapters use art appreciation and the derivation of meaning from music as examples and application of the way in which the body attains meaning form these art forms.

The final chapter, the meaning of the body, closes the book by completing the argument for how human life can only be relevant and meaningful if grounded in the bodily dimensions of human meaning and value. Divorcing the body from the mind, does not lead to how humans become better people. Being is a holistic experience requiring the entire being to be involved as a concerted whole. Therefore, the implications for studying how people be what they are include understanding that the: mind and body are not two things; human beings are embodied; understanding and reasoning are also embodied; there is no absolute truth, but many human truths; human freedom is modest ; a person cannot survive the death of their body; embodied spiritually is possible as faith, hope, grace and love transcends the finite human experience; and philosophy is an on-going search for meaning.

The concepts discussed in the book are complex and profound and open to discussion and re-interpretation. There is a youtube video (recorded 2007) with Professor Johnson explaining some of the concepts in the book. The presentation is about 50 minutes long with questions taking the entire video up to 84 minutes. The presentation does provide an attempt to clarify the ideas proposed in the book, using philosophical argument techniques to show how each contention in the book is backed by strong reasoning. Probably best to watch the video after a skim read of the book and then after processing the concepts presented on the video, review the chapters of the book that have relevance to one’s own research.

I will re-read the book when I next have a sequence of days away from the office. Mainly to try to derive application for some of the principles introduced and argued through the book to inform my current understanding of learning trades skills.