Stress and Procrastination

I procrastinate.  There is no doubt in my mind.  It was a part of my life when I was a full-time student.  It is a part of my life now as an instructor, parent, house-owner, volunteer, and general go-about-life individual.  Somehow, though, things always get done and get done on time.  I do not like being late and lateness is not an option for me.  The idea of being late is stressful to me.  Just under the wire is, however, acceptable.  This is why I enjoyed this TED talk by Ted Urban so much.  It really encouraged me to reflect on this character trait.  Is it a flaw?!?  I think it serves some purpose.  When I get down to work, I am focused and determined.  If I have too much time I tend to dawdle and get distracted.  That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!!

I wonder if my students procrastinate?  My students come to class to learn how to communicate more effectively.  They want and need those skills in their lives.  I believe that most of the procrastination evident in my students happens before they commit to register for Speechreading.  That is not uncommon.  Research tells us that people typically wait 7-10 years from the time they first notice a problem with their hearing until they actually do something about it.  When they find the Speechreading course and learn how to understand and cope with their hearing loss, they bemoan taking so long to finally make the commitment to act earlier.  I’ll share the TED talk with them, but really, I’d like to share it with everyone who has not taken that step yet– so they learn the skills and improve their connection with others sooner!

If you want to see more from Ted Urban, take a look at his blog.  Here’s one of his posts that talks about the decisions we make of how to spend our time on a daily basis.


Cognitive Biases Abound!

One of the forum topics was confirmation bias.  I had been unfamiliar with the term, but this graphic sums it up:

confirmation bias


It’s important that we recognize our biases as we continue on the path as lifelong learners.  We must be able to critically evaluate the information that inundates us on a daily basis.  A quick search showed me that confirmation bias is not the only one we should be aware of!


Can we avoid all the potential landmines?  Maybe not, but awareness of how we approach (or avoid) topics, research options, and make decisions can only help us to avoid many of the pitfalls that prevent an unbiased resolution.


Digital Project Review: Jigsaw

Sidrah Ahmad’s digital project on the jigsaw method can be viewed here.

Jigsaw is an instructional strategy that demonstrates collaborative learning.  Effective for student-centered learning, team-based learning, and project-based learning.  Applicable and effective when used with a variety of subject areas.  The best topics for this activity are easy enough for the students to teach but complex enough to require discussion.  The topics should be able to divide into an appropriate number of groups, with equal numbers in each group.

The learner’s role is essential.  Students are responsible for teaching their topic; in preparing for this, they must choose an activity that will allow others to learn from them.  Students work together in small groups and decide on general knowledge on their given topic and discuss methods to teach this material to others.  These groups are known as expert groups.  These expert groups then break up into jigsaw groups.  Each jigsaw group has a student with expertise from each expert group.  The students then teach each other about their area of expertise.  After sharing their knowledge, students return to their expert groups to debrief and then participate in a full class discussion.

The instructor must come up with the list of topics and ensure the division of the material is clear.  Preparation for topics can be assigned as homework.  As a close to the activity, the instructor can give a quiz to the jigsaw groups and have the expert groups evaluate the quiz, which can become a study guide.

The class discussion is important; everyone should be involved in evaluating the teaching strategies for quality, effectiveness, and challenges.  Pre- and post-testing in the expert groups can ensure preparation.  Student input into potential topics can increase engagement.  Closure is essential and feedback from the instructor on participation and expectations ends the activity.

I first experienced this method through the Instructional Practice course, PIDP 3220.  I was fascinated and intrigued.  Sounds funny, but I really enjoyed the experience and saw the benefit of it as a teaching strategy.  One of the things I have always been aware of is that if I am not able to explain a concept or topic to someone, I simply don’t really understand it myself.  I like the collaborative component of this strategy.  I like that the students get some insight into the challenges and successes of teaching others.  I appreciate the evaluation component and think the class discussion at the end is an excellent way to share and benefit from the insights and reflections of others.

I will definitely keep this instructional strategy in my toolbox for the future.

Socratic Questioning and Critical Thinking

Socratic thinking was a new term for me and was on the course forums before I was involved.  I was curious, so I looked it up.

Socratic questioning is disciplined questioning that can be used to pursue thought in many directions and for many purposes, including: to explore complex ideas, to get to the truth of things, to open up issues and problems, to uncover assumptions, to analyze concepts, to distinguish what we know from what we don’t know, to follow out logical implications of thought or to control the discussion. The key to distinguishing Socratic questioning from questioning per se is that Socratic questioning is systematic, disciplined, deep and usually focuses on fundamental concepts, principles, theories, issues or problems.

These are excellent purposes and ones that I use quite frequently in the Speechreading class.

This site gave me an excellent cheat-sheet of the types and examples of Socratic questions:

1. Questions for clarification:
  • Why do you say that?
  • How does this relate to our discussion?
2. Questions that probe assumptions:
  • What could we assume instead?
  • How can you verify or disapprove that assumption?
3. Questions that probe reasons and evidence:
  • What would be an example?
  • What is….analogous to?
  • What do you think causes to happen…? Why?
4. Questions about Viewpoints and Perspectives:
  • What would be an alternative?
  • What is another way to look at it?
  • Would you explain why it is necessary or beneficial, and who benefits?
  • Why is the best?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of…?
  • How are…and …similar?
  • What is a counterargument for…?
5. Questions that probe implications and consequences:
  • What generalizations can you make?
  • What are the consequences of that assumption?
  • What are you implying?
  • How does…affect…?
  • How does…tie in with what we learned before?
6. Questions about the question:
  • What was the point of this question?
  • Why do you think I asked this question?
  • What does…mean?
  • How does…apply to everyday life?

As with SO MANY other topics in this course, these are concepts that I was already using.  However, learning more about the research and support, the finer nuances, and advantages and disadvantages of these various techniques allows me to fine-tune my skills and have a variety of fully-supported instructional strategies at my disposal.

I use questioning techniques often in the Speechreading course. The types of questions described above provide an excellent framework to delve into complicated issues, analyze solutions, and explore multiple perspectives on hearing loss and communication.  Sharing these categories with my students also provides them with support as they continue to be inundated with ‘research’ and promises of cures for hearing loss.  They will certainly need to become critical thinkers as they continue their lifelong journey in this area.

Digital Project Review: 3-2-1

Thea Brown’s piktochart infographic on the 3-2-1 instructional strategy was helpful in understanding this framework.

First of all, I loved the clean and clear message of the layout.  The icons matched the content and clarified the strategy.  It is not complicated to carry out, but the infographic provides an excellent reminder that all three of these steps are important: understanding, interest, and clarification.  It also addressed pros, cons, and best practices.

This approach to instruction encourages the student to reflect on their own learning, and this reflection is something that I have recently learned to embrace, as it enhances my own learning.  I want to encourage this in my students.  Essentially, each student should write:

  • 3 key concepts they have learned
  • 2 things they would like to know more about
  • 1 thing they are still unsure about

This provides an excellent way to assess how/if the students have processed the material.  The discussion component is important to clarify the concepts and address the uncertainties.  It gauges interest in additional areas, and identifies areas where teaching may need to be supplemented by additional or different approaches.

While this wouldn’t work for all the topics I address in the Speechreading course, I can see immediate application possibilities for several areas, such as how we hear, understanding the audiogram, and causes of hearing loss.  3-2-1 will definitely become a strategy utilized in Speechreading.


Appreciative Inquiry

It’s amazing what you can learn when you jump into a forum discussion in this course!

When I first joined the forum discussions, Ashley’s topic was appreciative inquiry.  I hadn’t heard of the term before, but the following information from Cooperrider caught my attention:

Problem Solving Appreciative inquiry
1. “Felt Need,” identification of Problem 1. Appreciating & Valuing the Best of “What Is”
2. Analysis of Causes 2. Envisioning “What Might Be”
3. Analysis & Possible Solutions 3. Dialoguing “What Should Be”
4. Action Planning (Treatment)
Basic Assumption: An Organization is a Problem to be Solved Basic Assumption: An Organization is a Mystery to be Embraced

Appreciative inquiry attempts ask questions and envision the future to foster positive relationships and build on the given potential of a person, organization or situation.

I came to use an appreciative inquiry activity in my class in a roundabout way.  I had attended an outdoor camp with my son last year when he was in Grade 6, and the closing activity was called: Rock, Stick, Leaf.  In quiet reflection (followed by sharing if they wanted), the kids were asked to think about three things they experienced over the 3-day camp: something they loved that ‘rocked’, a new thought or experience that they would try to keep up or make ‘stick’ once they returned home, and a thought or habit they were going to try to ‘leave’ behind.  The ideas they shared in the middle of the woods that day were insightful and genuine.

I mentioned this experience to a friend, and she replied that it sounded like “I like, I wish, I wonder”.  Intrigued, I did a google search and discovered this was actually an instructional strategy.  As an introductory activity on the first day of my Level 2 class, I had 3 post-it notes ready for each student, labeled: I like, I wish, and I wonder.  I asked them to focus on the Level one course they had just completed, hearing loss, or communication-related topics and gave them 5-10 minutes to complete the task.  They shared their ideas.

Without any real guidance, the students generally talked about what they appreciated most about the first-level course (like), their hopes for what skills they would come out of the Level 2 class having learned (wish), and about their dreams for future hearing loss research and the desire to eliminate communication difficulties due to hearing loss.  It was a very positive activity, and we all felt we were on the same page going forward into a new course.  I will continue to do this version of appreciative inquiry on the first day of future second level courses.

Another class activity we focus on is problem-solving various communication problems. Perhaps I can use appreciative inquiry here also.  Instead of focusing on the problem, we can, alternatively, focus on what is already working, and discuss how to expand on that. This positive philosophy is worth investigating.