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LetterRip
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In a prior discussion on education, it had been mentioned that teachers put significant time into creating lesson plans. My question is - why? The topics in general have changed almost not at all in the past 100 years, and teachers at every school have to teach the same stuff. So presumably there should exist a half dozen lesson plans for each subject and grade level that a teacher could just use. So why is any time involved?
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PSRT
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Because the students aren't the same from year to year, our understanding of how learning takes place has improved, the required content has changed, technology and available materials have changed, because we constantly seek to improve what has been done in the past, among many other reasons.
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LetterRip
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The student variations - that could result in a speed variation and hence dropping of an optional part to a general lesson plan to spend more time on core material, again this seems like a general well defined lesson plan could cover it for all teachers.

Our understanding of learning has almost no change in material and when it does, could be incorporated in one generic plan that all teachers of that material could draw from.

Required content - again a single plan for the state could accommodate any such changes, why would it be a teacher by teacher basis?

Technology for teaching is fairly static, and could again be centralized.

I'm still unclear why an individual teacher might need to spend time of any significance, as opposed to coordinated single source.

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threads
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I assume a lot of the effort involves making sure that they are 100% squared away with the material. It takes me a long time to prepare relatively short presentations for work. Preparing a 50 minute lesson (or longer) for every day would probably consume me.
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PSRT
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quote:
The student variations - that could result in a speed variation and hence dropping of an optional part to a general lesson plan to spend more time on core material, again this seems like a general well defined lesson plan could cover it for all teachers.
Student variation is more about how the students learn than about how fast they learn.

quote:
Our understanding of learning has almost no change in material and when it does, could be incorporated in one generic plan that all teachers of that material could draw from.
Its not about material. Its about cognition, and how our brains incorporate new material, or how our brains react when our preconceptions are challenged, what methods of delivery reach the most learners and how effectively.

quote:
Required content - again a single plan for the state could accommodate any such changes, why would it be a teacher by teacher basis?
Because not all districts present material in the same order, and so choosing the appropriate method of presenting new curriculum will be different from district to district. This is the only item, though, where a single master-lesson plan actually works.

quote:
Technology for teaching is fairly static,
This is a flat out ignorant statement.

quote:
I'm still unclear why an individual teacher might need to spend time of any significance, as opposed to coordinated single source.
Because all brains are different. Most learning doesn't take place in the presentation of material, it takes place in the interaction between the brain and the material. A single-source central plan does not have access to the brains in the classroom, the teacher does. And because the teacher is the only one who has the knowledge of the brains in the room, and the knowledge of the lessons to be learned, the teacher has to gear each lesson to the specific brains in the classroom.

I'm reminded of your response to the statement that different people find different things interesting... "But the fact that Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin isn't interesting!" You think everyone learns like you, and that simply isn't true.

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TomDavidson
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*nod* Almost every single one of your statements is false, LR.

Technology for teaching is not static; it is extremely fluid.

Children learn differently, and adapting teaching methods to the learning styles of the children in your classroom is one of the most important tasks of a teacher.

The curriculum, since it is set by elected officials and measured by regularly revised tests, changes annually.

Individuals teachers, as they are not robots, may also find that certain teaching methods work better for them than others do; perhaps one teacher is particularly ill-suited to lectern lecturing, whereas another has difficulty steering and guiding classroom discussions. As an individual teacher's skills improve and evolve, different methods may become more effective

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Chael
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I was thinking about this one, and it occurred to me that I don't have to guess how this idea would work out for me. I've actually tried something similar.

When I was in graduate school, I was teaching an undergraduate course in a subject which I knew reasonably well. This course was dropped in my lap the day before it started, in a 'please, please, please can you teach it' sort of way. There were powerpoint presentations available online from the textbook publisher, and under those circumstances, you can bet that I used them.

I found them helpful, but not nearly as helpful as the material I drew up for myself, in that course and in later courses. My primary use of lesson plans is what threads mentioned: they help me to think through the material and get myself in order. Imagine, if you will, giving an hour and twenty minute presentation twice a week from someone else's notes. (Though of course we don't just stand up there and lecture all day--that would be boring. For me, teaching is an enjoyable intersection between preparation and improvisation.)

Now, I tend to draw them up once per course and vary them from there as needed--coming up with supplementary ideas/exercises/discussion points as I get to know the students. So the expenditure of lesson-plan effort is for me primarily fulfilled in the month before a course begins, the first time I teach it.

The idea of not putting in this effort at all seems, to me, almost negligent. I'm sure other people are different--but if I don't put in the time making connections, I'm not worth very much.

[ September 04, 2012, 12:37 AM: Message edited by: Chael ]

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LetterRip
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First I think we might mean different things by 'new technology' - in my view it isn't new if I read about it 10 or 15 years ago, even if most teachers were never exposed to it.

Regarding learning differently and each brain is unique, the variation is quite small. It is like claiming we have to reinvent different driving mechanisms because of the huge variation in torso and limb length. The variations are trivial and the actual adjustments needed are not significant, ie plugiing in different metaphors etc. The number of signifificant differences are small and can readily be handled.

The actual circulum differences between schools are also quite small - isn't like one school decides to forgo teaching addition and another skips multiplication. I'm particularly curious in Evs case since he teaches physics - what major differneces are there year to year and school to school in a physics circulum.

Regarding individual differneces in teachers again the uniqueness is less than the sameness - there are probably a tiny handful of teaching styles that would matter in lesson plan development with likely 3 variations covering 99% of teachers.

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LetterRip
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Chael,

So primarily a one time investment per course the first time, which could be largely eliminated by using others materials if so inclined.

I suspect that you find your material more 'useful' because you likely invested 10 times the time in you new lesson plan as you spent on the preexisting slides. So mostly greater familiarity with your own material. I suspect that if you had invest a bit more time, but still much less than your from scratch you'd likely have similar feelings of usefulness.

Note that to me this sounds a great deal like programmers wanting to write everything from scratch (use a optimized hash function from a library? I'll just whip one up myself).

Or viewing someone else's code as messy and writing there own. Writing their own and debugging it they spend 10 hours. The original code they spent 5 minutes on trying to figure it out. The assymetric time investment is the cause of the the viewing the other code as messy, not anything inherently better about their new code or flaws in the original code.

I do see some value in writing lesson plans as a means of self review.

[ September 04, 2012, 01:32 AM: Message edited by: LetterRip ]

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seekingprometheus
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quote:
First I think we might mean different things by 'new technology' - in my view it isn't new if I read about it 10 or 15 years ago, even if most teachers were never exposed to it.
What would "read(ing) about it 10 or 15 years ago" have to do with the impact of technology on reworking lesson plans today?

Reading about proto-powerpoint 20 years ago doesn't get projector slides into an application, much less create new presentation points that exploit the dynamic superiority of a presentation format that can include moving images.

Reading about computer simulations 20 years ago doesn't help you transition from teaching kids how to use wires and papier mache to construct a moveable model of solar system, to teaching them how to use a computer program to conceptualize not just the structure of the solar system, but the dynamics of gravitational fields.

Reading about touchscreen tablets doesn't help you transition from work sheets to digital exercises that exploit the way a student can easily be guided to interact with applications in far, far, far more complex ways than by just scribbling pictures and words on a static printout.

Reading about virtual reality doesn't mean that teachers aren't going to have tons of preparation to do setting up complex, interactive plans with virtual objects, and figuring out how to exploit an environment where the limits of the structure of observable reality are bounded by imagination itself.

Eventually, I would suppose that digital formats and entirely pre-built plans will proliferate and become standards--but I doubt it really catches on before AI takes off. And even then, I suspect that unique human insights into fruitfully educational activity mean that human teachers won't be entirely pushed out the door, but will still have to prepare for novel types of interactions with students.

[ September 04, 2012, 01:51 AM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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Chael
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LetterRip,

1) Yes, primarily a one-time investment per course, with maybe 10%-worth of the original work altered per course. My material doesn't change very much. If I get very bored, I'll probably go in and overhaul, but for right now it works just fine.

2) No, using others' materials gives me substandard results, as previously mentioned. It is not a matter of inclination; it is a matter of efficacy.

If I plug in someone else's programming into my brain in a shallow way (a reading or three) and attempt to run it, I'll suffer from memory loss and shallow presentation, with a failure to make the connections in material I otherwise would have made.

If I spend the time to memorize the programming I have received, to the point that I could essay it on command, I will be more prepared but less flexible, and I will have spent a good portion of the valuable time that using someone else's lesson plans was supposed to have saved me. I will be less prepared for student questions, and I will be less able to take the class off in a different direction if fortune smiles and an important tangent presents itself. In other words, I will be one of those professors who considers derailments as a personal affront--because I'm not prepared for them. I'll also probably be boring. I won't be a /bad/ teacher, but I won't be a /good/ one, either, and that's a disservice to my students.

Perhaps other people are different. If they are, they should use other people's lesson plans; it'll save them some effort. Given how my brain works, however, I have a different choice--and I'd rather spend the metaphorical hour to write a tool that will do the job right, rather than have to go in once a week for five minutes and re-set some flags by hand. [Wink]

Edited to respond to LetterRip's edit: You'd be wrong about the extent of time allocation assymetry, by the way. I spent a /lot/ of time reading and modifying those slides. [Wink]

[ September 04, 2012, 02:07 AM: Message edited by: Chael ]

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LetterRip
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seeking,

I mean read about its usage - narrow versus broad circulation. Some schools were using the web and internet in early 90s, others are just starting. There were well wriiten programs for teaching all sorts of science that perhaps the teacher wasn't exposed to. There was software to examine and grade computer coding assignments forever ago, many teachers still do it by hand. AFAIK the interesting stuff was all quite some time ago.

Hmm I didn't think ev was claiming he was writing new programs and such, only using tech. Really they only recent change I've seen is instead of running locally a Java or c program in 1998 you can use the web to run the same type of stuff in webgl and JavaScript or download to your phone as an app. That isn't new educational technology.

Yes cheap portable touchscreens are becoming more available and make computers more accessible, certainly not a new tech but one that has reached a tipping point.

Pretty much carbon copies of the software were available on PC's forever but they are more convenient and touch is slightly easier than mouse or tablet.

Chael,

I think part of the issue is that the textbook accompanying materials aren't really designed for customization,

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seekingprometheus
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quote:
Really they only recent change I've seen is instead of running locally a Java or c program in 1998 you can use the web to run the same type of stuff in webgl and JavaScript or download to your phone as an app. That isn't new educational technology.

Yes cheap portable touchscreens are becoming more available and make computers more accessible, certainly not a new tech but one that has reached a tipping point.

Pretty much carbon copies of the software were available on PC's forever but they are more convenient and touch is slightly easier than mouse or tablet.

My examples were supposed to be chronologically sequential--as in, some years ago teachers started chucking projector slides and developing powerpoint presentations. Slightly more recently, terminals for every student have proliferated in schools, and some lessons that used to require papier mache now get done in digi-crafting. Tablets represent current technology now, which should start finding its way into the classrooms of adaptive teachers very soon to replace lesson plans built around worksheets/workbooks.

But even when tablets start becoming commonplace in classrooms (how many years you think til all 1st graders get their elementary school tab that will hold all their books, worksheets and homework assignments?) it will still require the time of dedicated innovative teachers to figure out how to incorporate new game apps and videos into lesson plans--to see what is more effective through basic trial and error and human intuition. The problem I see with automating the education process, is that the process itself relies on a human relationship component which is constantly completely unique and innovative by necessity...

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TomDavidson
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quote:
The variations are trivial and the actual adjustments needed are not significant, ie plugiing in different metaphors etc.
I think this profoundly underestimates the difficulty of, well, human interaction. It's like saying that management just involves figuring out what best motivates your employees and doing that thing until it stops motivating them, while making good business decisions.
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