Thursday, May 30, 2019

A Practical Experience Versus Textbook Learning

I recently stumbled across an interesting article, "Take STEM lessons outside of the box with these 3 approaches", by Lauren Barack of Education Dive, which talked about a few ways educators have become more creative in teaching practical skills to middle and high school students. Before I delve into some of my views and experiences of learning by "experience", here is a summary of the three approaches given in the article.

The first example asks for fourth graders to work in groups of eight to build a vertical freestanding ring with Pringles. During the class, some students finished before other students and ended up going around the classrooms helping other students. By the end of the class, all students were able to finish the project in the end but all with different methods. According to a teacher, a key lesson that students learn from this is that there are multiple ways of solving a problem in STEM. 

In the second example, an elementary school in Georgia asked their students to build a replica of Berlin, Germany, with a focus on the Cold War Era which included the Berlin Wall. Students were asked to incorporate mathematics in this replica by finding the volume of buildings. This project reinforces the lessons the students learned from both mathematics and the Cold War era.

In the final example, a K-8 public school in Ontario started a rock curling competition and a halfpipe competition. Students in the rock curling competition coded robots to throw rocks at a target. Their main goal was to get the rock closest to the center of the target. In the halfpipe competition, students applied their engineering skills to build ramps for robots to launch.

In my opinion, all these examples are fabulous ways educators have revolutionized learning because students simply remember experiences much better than words in a book. In the future, they will remember the cool project they made a few years ago that included the Berlin Wall and be able to recall what happened during the Cold War. Another way these projects are great is because it demonstrates that innovative and effective learning absolutely does not have to be expensive. The two examples with the Pringles and the replica of Berlin were certainly low-budget projects.

In addition, these projects evoke practical skills and experiences students will eventually need one day for a job. Problem-solving skills or the ability to communicate effectively with other group members are required skills in many jobs. Like training any muscle for a sport, these things also requires constant practice to improve.

The sad truth is that many schools nowadays are too focused on test results and hound their students with textbook after textbook. Even though having the textbook knowledge to any subject is essential, not having the practical skills such as problem-solving, leads to the inability to apply the material to real-world usages. Instead of chasing for the best school ranks, schools should attempt to prepare their students to be the most effective workers in the labor force. To do this, schools need to make the three examples listed above to be a norm, where we don't need to be reporting on these "special cases" because every school does it frequently. With this, I encourage educators to take their classes to the next level with more hands-on experiences and less lecturing. Even though this will be more work, I am quite certain your students will reap the benefits of more effective learning while at the same time enjoy school better. Remember, interactive and effective does not mean expensive!

Link to the article:

Monday, May 20, 2019

Preparing for the GED Online

The General Educational Development (GED), also known as the Graduate Equivalency Degree, is a series of tests from which one can earn a high school equivalency diploma. It is an alternative to taking four years of high school classes and legally carries about the same weight as a high school diploma. The GED tests are comprised of four subject tests: Maths, Science, Social Studies, and Language Arts, and people 16 years of age and above not currently enrolled in high school are eligible to take it with some eligibility regulations varying by location.

There are several resources available to prepare for the GED, including online courses. If it is difficult to attend scheduled classes in person due to other daily commitments such as a job, the online route can be the most convenient means of preparation. A great example of one of these resources is This website grants you access to classes, study materials, and tips for free. With digital materials or textbooks, you can study for the test at your own pace. It also provides information about the test itself and a means to schedule a test date. Additionally, there is a component of this site called GED live, if you would prefer a method that holds you more accountable. For $129, you can have a 90-day avenue to live online 60-90 minute GED classes taught by top-rated Kaplan instructors for all 4 subjects of the GED. These courses are recorded and available for review at any time, and you would have access to experts who can answer any additional questions you might have through email.

Although appealing to convenience, be cautious of offers to take the actual GED online. There is currently no accredited way to take this examination online, and any certificate you receive from doing so is not legitimate. You can complete all your preparation for the GED tests online, but the exam must be taken at a certified testing centre.

You can find official GED centres here:

Contribution by Chizbel Oham

Friday, May 10, 2019

Edmodo-Educator's Social Media

Often, teachers need help as well when it comes to finding educational material for their students and recently, I stumbled across an interesting free online educational tool called Edmodo that could potentially help with this. It's quite innovative because it meshes a classroom with social media for teachers. What Edmodo does that is special is that it connects educators with an easy to use social media platform. For example, if an English teacher was looking for material about Shakespeare, he/she could simply post a question regarding suggestions/advice needed.

Since Edmodo is already well-established among educators, there is a chance that similar questions may have already been previously asked and teachers are allowed to search through the questions of past posts and use useful feedback.

In addition to the feedback from other educators, there is also a dedicated "resources" tab in the search tool.

A scenario in which Edmodo can be very useful is if a teacher is new to the position and looking for resources, or is starting a new class within a school. For example, if an educator wanted to start a meteorology course then he/she would need to find completely new resources. In addition, meteorology isn't quite as prevalent as a common course such as algebra I and resources may be more scarce. Since a few high schools do offer such a course for their students, Edmodo can bring educators around the country that have also started a meteorology class together and allow easier sharing of resources nationally.

Edmodo is a fabulous example of how social media can bring people of all types together. More specifically, Edmodo brings the teaching community together and allows easier sharing of advice, experiences, and resources. Since Edmodo itself is simply a website, the teachers within the site are the most essential part of improving it. As a result, I encourage educators to put their hat in the ring and improve the learning experience of students nationally by sharing the valuable resources they have created.