Sunday, April 3, 2011

Comments for Teachers Summary 3

Kim Cofino
I was assigned to Ms. Kim Cofino’s blog, Always Learning. She is an international teacher, currently working in Japan. On March 11, Japan shook from a 9.0 earthquake followed by a devastating tsunami and radiation from a nuclear plant that was damaged from the natural disasters. She and her husband, also a teacher, are safe in Singapore after deciding to leave a few days after the quake. Therefore, I posted on “older” posts.

The first post “Not Your Grandma’s Conference” described a 1:1 conference she attended where 100 students and 100 teachers gathered to learn, collaborate and present together. Although there seems to still be some separation of the two groups, students working on a solution for “environment and challenges of urban living” and the teachers focusing on “a globally collaborative project they can implement in their schools,” all projects were shared and “judged” by all 200 attendees. She found the other great things about this conference to be: leadership, flexibility and approach. Nearly everyone who attended are in the classroom daily, therefore they have real world experience and not just hypothetical situations, and although it was well planned and booked, the planners, Julie and Vicki changed things as needed to allow as much collaboration and learning to take place as possible. She did feel that three things could be tweaked to make the conference better: more mixing of students and teachers, more time for the conference, and “structured planning for presenters.”

I found this conference very interesting. This is professional development (PD) beyond what I can envision happening here in Mobile, having attended one PD event where a very nice, well-informed and organized woman taught us about student’s emotional needs, but where I feel I learned almost nothing. I would love to see videos of the presentations to get a better idea of what happens at this “Flat Classroom event.”

The next post I chose was “Students as Teachers: 6th Grade Tutorial Designers.” I know I have often said I loved something this semester in EDM310, but I LOVED the ideas in this post! Kim is having her technology students make instructional videos on something that interests them (sounds a lot like our project 14!). She is also considering having them make a tutorial teaching student in 6th grade or lower something that other teachers could use in their classroom. She is quite detailed in how she is having her students go about this project, which is helpful for other teachers who might wish to do the same. Kim brought up several struggles her students had with this project, including the reason for the project that most seem to be unable to work without direct instruction. She suspects this is mostly due to the Japanese culture because they are constantly instructed on what to do, how to do it and when to do it, even to hold onto the rail for the escalator. She (and I) hopes this project will allow them to work on independent, self-directed learning abilities.

I told her how I have been reading about engaging students more in their learning experiences by giving them more control over what they learn. This project seems to be doing just that, plus the added bonus of breaking their students their comfort zone considering the cultural norm. Although I am sure the need for direct instruction is much greater in Japan, I have found that American high school students often need or want to be told exactly what to do as well. Of course, I think this is more conditioning by teachers than it is by American society. Kim mentioned posting all of the tutorials to a website for everyone to view, and I have subscribed to her blog in hopes of seeing how this project turns out when her school opens back up.

Picture from Kim Cofino's blog.


  1. Your blog looks nice, even so it would be far better if you’ll be able to use lighter colors too as a professional design. This will make sure that a lot more readers come to check it out.Informative post by the way!

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  2. @wiqaeyas

    Thank you. I tried using different colors on my last post. I guess I have to get out of the mindset that professional means black print on white paper. :) Thanks for visiting. May I ask how you came across my blog?