Monday, January 30, 2012

GTC 1/24/12 Making Learning Accessible, Students with Disabilities

We read and then during our meeting discussed an
article about simulations of disabilities. We looked at the different frameworks that one could view disabilities in, from a lack or failing on an individuals part through ways that the interaction between the individual and their environment impedes productive engagement, to how society as a whole or in a particular context prevents or marginalizes the full engagement of people with disabilities.

In preparation for simulation of disabilities we talked about factors that could lead to more and less productive simulations. In particular we discussed some of the less visible realities of disabilities, such as the social stigma and ways people are treated, that can be difficult to experience in a simulation.

Several of us then voluntarily chose to wear a blindfold and participate as students in a mini lesson. Two people also volunteered for a simulation of a learning disability, ADHD, and listened to distracting noises and videos while the lesson was being taught. Lisa taught on the parts of a flower and the ABC model of flowers. During the discussion afterwards many interesting ideas came up. Not the lease of the which was how much the classroom is a social environment and the willingness to participate is moderated by how participatory other students are being. We came up with some interesting ways in which to universally design your classroom so that all students can participate.

The most striking thing that we noticed was that simply using more student engagement techniques, for example asking a lot of questions or using physical models along with drawings on the board, catered to students who have certain disabilities in addition to capturing different kinds of learners. Essentially, the more diversity that we have in teaching, the greater an audience we will be able to reach. Whether people learn better by handling a physical model, or actually need a model instead of a drawing because their sight is limited, using models, verbal descriptions, AND drawings simultaneously will reach a larger audience. Also, one participant in the ADHD simulation pointed out that she was able to pay attention when the instructor asked questions and actively engaged students in the learning process. Designing a classroom accessible to everyone seems to have much to do with engaging students and using diverse teaching and learning techniques.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Winter GTC Diversity Certificate Series

We kicked off our Winter GTC Diversity certificate series with a workshop on educational opportunities. The organizers, Lisa and Robert, introduced themselves and laid out the structure for the series. To earn a certificate attendance at seven of nine workshops required. Additionally each participant must lead or co-lead a workshop. Being responsible for a session involves creating publicity the week before so that it can be emailed out, facilitating a 20-30 minute activity and leading a discussion for the balance of time, and finally authoring a blog post about your week.

We discussed the many different types of diversity that show up in the class room to varying degrees, for a link to the list or to sign up, contact either Robert or Lisa. This lead directly into a discussion of Socio-Economic-Status, or SES. Many participants contributed to the discussion about what SES meant to them, and how it was as much a cultural expectation as it was the parties involved. The discussion around SES and educational opportunities tied into an activity about the educational trajectories that we took to arrive here in graduate school.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

GTC Winter Certificate Series and Time Change

GTC'er and Followers--

In the Winter quarter we are moving the GTC in a new direction. After much discussion amongst the organizers, and in conjunction with CETL we are moving the GTC in a new direction. We are still dedicated to the same mission of building a community of practice around teaching here at UC Davis but our methods have shifted slightly. We are now meeting on Tuesdays at noon in PES 2005. We welcome all our regulars and past participants to our brown bag lunch meetings.

This quarter we are focusing Diversity in all its many forms in the classroom. We are offering a certificate program for regular participants for which you may register. Our first meeting will be on Tuesday the 17th of January, where we exploring the myriad types of diversity in the classroom. We will cover the detailed requirements to earn a certificate; attendance at seven of nine meetings and facilitation of one meeting. Please come and explore diversity in the classroom.

A heads up for the coming weeks we have the following workshops coming up

  • Jan. 24:Enable Learning: Ensuring student disabilities are not limitations
  • Jan 31:Move your Mind! A workshop on kinesthetic learning styles.