Dimensions Of Meaningful Learning Education Essay

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This essay will highlight a Cyberwellness issue relevant to my students through an interactive lesson that uses dimensions of meaningful learning.

My target learners are Secondary One students (13-year-olds); regardless of academic stream. Facing a transition in environment from primary to secondary school, they experience an increase in internalize and externalize pressures (Oesterreich L., 1995); ranging from self-identity, puberty, academics, peer relationships and inter-social activities.

These students will be learning more about themselves, their peers and education scope. They will struggle to cope with the new environment. From the beginning, close monitoring on their behavior or actions and establishing necessary rules and procedures are needed to start them off right. Thus, problems can be minimized in future.

I will be teaching Art to these students. The mantra for Art - as stated in the educational syllabus (2009, p.4-5) is "Seeing, Expressing and Appreciating". Through creating Art and talking about it; students will develop observational skills through 'Seeing' Art, communicative skills via 'Expressing' Art and critical thinking skills through 'Appreciating' Art. Other than learning about different art forms and techniques, students will view various artists' works, will be challenged to tackle concepts and generate ideas.

Their learning environment will be student-centered; designed to work in tandem with students' abilities, retrieving knowledge from experiences and addressing their strengths and weaknesses. Students are encouraged to learn and work independently; relying less on the teacher's instructions. Learning will be up-to-date; rationale of lessons and resources will be linked to students' social context. ICT tools are used intermittently to generate interest and connect with the world beyond their classroom. Learning will be interactive and fun; students are given equal opportunities to engage actively in the lesson and with others. Lessons will be energetic and at the end, students will receive satisfaction from their own learning. The goal for this environment is to promote a love for learning for its own sake and not just to achieve good grades.

The chosen Cyberwellness issue is Cyberbullying; it is "when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones." (http://www.stopcyberbullying.org/what_is_cyberbullying_exactly.html).

This "mean online activity" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyber-bullying) involves minors at both ends. It is distinguished from Cyberharrassment or Cyberstalking by age range; the latter two terms involve an adult instigating harm to another adult online. Cyberbullying is ethically wrong and comes in many forms. Depending on countries' legislature, it may or may not be punishable by law.

Cyberbullying causes hurt, depression, harassment, embarrassment, isolation and even murder and suicide to minors. Cyberbullying cases have gone up since the advent of interactive technologies. Thus, it is important to communicate the severity of Cyberbullying to students. I regard Cyberbullying relevant to my students due to the following factors.

Firstly, in this digital age, students can easily access different forms of information through mass media in school, at home or publicly. In fact, they experience using online media for school work, games, personal interests and social networking. If initiative enough, they can even self-teach on blogs or forums setup, games creation, editing photos and other digital media. They will be greatly exposed to an online environment that can be unhealthy for their individual development.

Secondly, these students are at an impressionable age. Due to hormonal changes, they become emotionally sensitive and even volatile. Being self-conscious, they become introverted and have low self-esteem. Relating more to friends, they struggle to maintain a high level of self-worth in front of their peers. In anger and frustration, students can get back at others easily through social networking sites. Feeling vindicated for some reason, students can start hate mails, post unsavory photos of friends and blog negatively about them. The egoistic boys could victimize other boys on forums and mean girls could do the same to other girls on blog chat boxes to demonstrate social status.

Lastly, students fall into a trap of 'not thinking before clicking'. They believe they are right to do as they want and nothing terrible will happen to them if they do so (http://www.pamf.org/teen/parents/health/growth-11-14.html). Students may not realize that Cyberbullying is a problem and what they post, upload, and comment may cause undesirable consequences. They may unknowingly spread the harm.

My lesson on Cyberbullying is integrated with Art. The objectives of learning are to enable the Sec 1 student to identify all the 5W1H in a Cyberbullying problem scenario on a concept map and develop at least 1 strategy to deal with it. The lesson plan is as followed:

Description of Instructional Strategies

Goal of Lesson: Students will learn to resist Cyberbullying.

Lesson Objectives:

Students will identify Cyberbullying and its implications through 5W1H framework (What, Who, When, Where, Why, How).

Students will develop at least 1 method to deal with Cyberbullying.

Students will present their findings on an online concept map and engage in peer teaching.

Students will reflect by creating a comic strip based on problem scenarios and share with their classmates.

Secondary 1 Express/ NA/ NT (4 periods, 120mins) at Art Room (with 8 Notebooks)

Time

Description of Activities

5 mins

Pre-lesson Procedures

Students to arrive and place their bags at the back of the room.

Teacher informs class to take out stationery only, get into groups of 5 (group format created by teacher) and stand at the desks that are already placed in a group-work setting. Once done Teacher greets class and students greet teacher. Teacher asks students to sit and turn on the Notebook meant for each group.

Time

Description of Activities

10 mins

Introduction: Lead-in Questions

Teacher flash a slide on projector from laptop, posing a question to the class - "The Internet is useful and makes me feel happy. Do you agree?" Teacher asks students to think about the question for a few minutes. Teacher then calls for volunteers to give some answers. The class will have a brief discussion. Teacher explains that sometimes users of Internet may face situations that won't make them happy. Teacher elaborates further about the situations and relates them to Cyberbullying.

30 mins

Development: Activity 1

Teacher hands out activity sheet to students and flash slide with 5W1H letters. Teacher to ask each group to select 1 letter. There can be more of 'H'. Teacher explains that the letter represents an inquiry method; for example 'W' for "Who". Teacher explains instructions for this activity. Students are to read the problem scenario of a Cyberbullying incident for 10-mins. Next, each group will brainstorm on their selected letter and formulate questions (at least 4-5) and infer answers with reference to the worksheet. Thereafter, students are to key in their findings on Mindmeister and create an online class conceptual map. Students already learnt how to use the website from previous lesson.

For example - questions for 'W'; Who is/are involved? Who is the victim? Who is the bully? Who can he/she/they approach for help? Who can help them?

Teacher asks students to click open Internet browser, go to Mindmeister website (http://www.mindmeister.com/), log in and proceed with the activity.

20 mins

Development: Sharing 1

Each group will nominate a representative to share their findings with one another (peer teaching). All components of 5W1H must be covered; especially on 'How' to deal with the problem. Teacher will assess students' quality of findings, suggest areas for improvements and clarifies further questions.

40 mins

Development: Activity 2

Teacher instructs students to share within their groups on personal experiences related to Cyberbullying for 10-mins. Thereafter, they are to select one example and portray it through a simple comic strip on drawing paper using color markers and color pencils. Materials will be given by Teacher. Students can reflect their opinions or devise strategies to tackle Cyberbullying with reference to the selected example.

10 mins

Development: Sharing 2

Teacher instructs students to put up their works around the classroom and ask students to walk around, view the works, digest and evaluate one another's work. Teacher rounds up the class and ends the lesson with a class voting on the best comic strip and elicits the reasons why it is the best. Teacher gives proper praise and recognition for group or class efforts and advises students to put up their works at their own class notice boards.

5 mins

Post-lesson Procedures

Teacher instructs students to log out and shut down the Notebooks, pack up their things and push in the chairs. Students greet teacher, pick up their bags and exit the classroom.

In my lesson plan, all dimensions for meaningful learning are covered. Firstly, real-world context is involved as the lesson is based on real problem scenarios of Cyberbullying taken from news or personal experiences from students. Secondly, students' prior knowledge is engaged as they draw from personal experiences to reflect on the problem scenario and devise strategies. Third, students learn by doing through Mindmeister, to breakdown the problem scenario according to 5W1H framework and create a virtual concept map. Fourth, collaborative learning occurs in forming the map as all groups tackled different areas of the problem scenario and shared their ideas through peer teaching. Finally, self-directed learning occurs in the second activity; students share opinions, reflect, develop strategies and designed a comic strip to present their work.

Some practical concerns are anticipated. Firstly, group dynamics; different classes have different dynamics in terms of students' cohesion and teamwork capabilities. This will influence small group activities and may not work for all classes. Misbehavior or other discipline issues could emerge and disrupt the flow of the lesson. Secondly, time management; students in a group setting may dawdle and not be on-task. Since the lesson involves collaborative learning, this will affect the completion of the problem scenario concept map and the second activity might get post-phoned. The whole class understanding and motivation will be negatively affected. Lastly, technical glitches such as internet server down or laggy could occur. This will affect students' concentration, mood and interest.

Word Count: 1,000

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