Posted in Miscellaneous

David Kolb’s Learning Styles

Recently I learned about David Kolb’s learning theory and learning styles and found them interesting and helpful. He separates learners into four distinct categories based on their approach and processes of learning. These four categories come from his 4-step cycle of learning:

  1. Concrete Experience
  2. Reflective Observation
  3. Abstract Conceptualization
  4. Active Experimentation

Kolb argues that each learner prefers some “steps” of learning over the others. He combines these into four learning styles:

  • Diverging (CE/RO)
  • Assimilating (AC/RO)
  • Converging (AC/AE)
  • Accommodating (CE/AE)

These styles are separated by being placed along two continuums. The first is the Perception Continuum, or how we think about things. The two ends of this spectrum are feeling (concrete experience) and thinking (abstract conceptualization). The second is the Processing Continuum, which is how we do things. The two ends of this spectrum are doing (active experimentation) and watching (reflective observation). The combination of answers from these two spectrums defines one’s learning style.

  • Diverging learners like experience and observation. They are good at perspective taking and they enjoy working with people and having group work. They are good at coming up with new ideas and usually do well in the arts.
  • Assimilating learners like abstract thinking and observation. They are logical, like explanations, and prefer ideas over group work. They tend to enjoy information and science-related topics.
  • Converging learners like abstract conceptualization and experimentation. They are practical, technical, and are good at problem solving. They excel in specialist and technology areas.
  • Accommodating learners like experience and experimentation.  They are hands-on, use tuition, like to implement plans, and enjoy group work. They often get information from others to make their own analysis and they do well in areas requiring initiative and implementation. This is a very prevalent learning style.

I think this theory is very interesting and can help teachers better understand their students. The theory does not explain everything but it can help give context and understanding as we try to help different types of learners and personalities. It can be both difficult and rewarding to work with students of all types, but keeping these ideas in mind can help us develop a teaching style that can relate to all types of learners.

For more detailed information on David Kolb’s learning styles, see here.

Posted in Miscellaneous

My Community Experience: Alcoholics Anonymous

I am taking El Ed 203: Multicultural Education right now. We were recently assigned to complete a community experience and write a paper about it, explaining how it will affect us as teachers. I attended an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting with about 65 other people in Orem, Utah. I had not previously recognized the effects that alcohol has on families and specifically, on a child’s life. As I looked around at the meeting, I saw men and women, old and young, some with tattoos, one spitting tobacco, many swearing, and most drinking coffee. My heart dropped when I looked in the corner and saw two little boys, probably ages 5 and 7, who were at the meeting with their mom who is an alcoholic. Through this community experience, my mind was opened to children who do not have a good family life because of addictions, especially alcoholism.

People abuse alcohol because they think it will take all of their problems away. While it does alter your perception of reality, it has awful effects and is extremely addictive. The people I met at the AA meeting I attended regretted their choice to drink alcohol. One man said, “I started drinking ten years ago and I have been trying to stop since the day I started.” I learned how addicting alcohol really is and how it is a gateway drug. People may abuse alcohol to escape from life problems (divorce, death of a family member, loss of a job, etc.) or to satisfy their addiction. Alcoholics may not realize the far-reaching effects of their drinking. It can affect one’s spouse, children, siblings, friends, schoolteachers, and more.  I learned how alcoholism and battling sobriety can overcome one’s life. One woman who was at the meeting said she is working and going to school full time, but she goes to AA meetings every single day. Alcoholism is a constant battle.

I grew up in a nice neighborhood where most of the kids I went to school with belonged to white, middle-class families. Until recently, I had not been exposed to people who are alcoholics. One woman at the AA meeting was so addicted to drugs and alcohol that her 9-year-old son had to live with her extended family. She has not been able to tuck her son into bed at night or walk him to the bus stop for 7 years because of her uncontrollable addictions. She talked about the other day when she got to spend a couple of hours with her son. She said, “I got to help him with his homework that I didn’t even understand, but I pushed through it.” I learned how harmful drugs and addictions are to families. I am so grateful that woman was at that meeting and I began to think about those children whose parents are not at those AA meetings, who are unable to be good parents because of their addictions and are not making an effort to overcome them.

Each person I met has a good heart and I knew this before, but I do not think I knew to the extent that I know now. The 9-year-old boy who hardly sees his mom wrote about how his mom is his hero for a homework assignment. These people are so good and they are trying to be better. I have been judgmental about people who have these addictions, but especially as a teacher, I cannot be. I need to love them no matter what.

This heart-wrenching experience taught me so much and made me realize how much children can suffer because of their parents’ addictions to alcohol. As a teacher, it would be so hard for me to see my students in these situations. I know how important parental support is in a classroom and it would be frustrating to deal with a parent who is battling addictions. Those kids I saw and heard about at the AA meeting are elementary school age. My students could be at those meetings with their parents on Saturdays (or more often than that) or watching them battle (or live with) their addictions. Through participating in this community experience, I have become even more committed to making my classroom a refuge and a safe-haven for my students. I would highly recommend having community experiences, such as this one, that help to open your mind to people and situations you will encounter as a teacher.

Posted in Miscellaneous

Thankful

“Happiness is a thankful heart.”

I grew up with that saying and have come to love and believe it wholeheartedly.  I find myself making mental lists of things I’m grateful for when I feel down.  In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’d like to share with you part of my ever-growing list.

  • dishwashers
  • chocolate (especially the kind I don’t have to buy because my friends love me and know what I “need”)
  • sweet potatoes (and a roommate who likes to cook and eat them with me)
  • my little sisters—the 19 year-old who makes me dinner sometimes when I have crazy days and the 2 year-old who gives the best hugs and says, “I love you three!” after I say, “I love you, too!”
  • my little brothers who insist on giving me triple hugs every time I say goodbye even though they know they’ll see me again within the week
  • my friends who always make me laugh and feel loved
  • evening walks that are just chilly enough to be perfect
  • the anticipation of Thanksgiving dinner
  • phone conversations with dear friends where you can pick up where you left off without skipping a beat even though it’s been awhile
  • knee socks (and clothes in general)
  • sunshine
  • pancakes, especially with chocolate chips (and, you know, food in general…)
  • school—despite the craziness, I still love studying what I love with people I love.  (How many people get to take all their classes with their best friends? There are serious perks of being in a tiny program.)
  • music!  Choral music, instrumental music, art music, folk music, radio music (sometimes), Christmas music, my little elementary schoolers singing Thanksgiving songs, the BYU choirs rehearsals and the way music soothes my soul
  • Jamba Juice reunions with my cousins
  • my cell phone
  • memories of places seen and lessons learned (specifically Jerusalem)
  • impromptu cleaning parties with myself  and…
  • the ensuing feeling of accomplishment as I revel in my sparkling apartment
  • prayer
  • truth and ways of learning it
  • times I get to talk with my mom
  • days when choir is my only class
  • random cheerful people who smile at me on campus
  • good books that make me think and leave me fulfilled

I could go on; we all could.  If you need a happiness boost amidst the sometimes hectic bustle of holiday cheer, take a minute to create and concrete your list.  In the words of Josh Groban, “And even though we all can still do more, there’s so much to be thankful for.”

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  (Emphasis on the happy. ; ))

Posted in Miscellaneous

Finding Joy

Even though I feel that I have learned a lot this semester, I have had a hard time thinking of a topic to write about. But when I thought about it, I realized I needed a little encouragement to push through the end of the semester because I feel that this portion of the semester drags on a bit. So I figured I would focus this post on some words of encouragement for the final stretch of school ahead of us.

“Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant.” -Horace

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.” -Albert Camus

“The greatest mistake a man can ever make is to be afraid of making one.” -Elbert Hubbard

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.” -Mahatma Gandhi

“Happiness depends upon ourselves.” -Aristotle

“Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.” -Guillaume Apollinaire

“The best way out is always through.” -Robert Frost

I love all of these quotations because they help me to be positive and see the good in the trials that come toward the end of the semester. Although I find these quotations extremely helpful, I find President Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s words from the October General Conference the best advice. The link to the talk is listed here: http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/10/of-regrets-and-resolutions?lang=eng

President Uchtdorf talks about regrets and about living with no regrets and being happy. The whole talk is very good but my favorite quote is:
“So often we get caught up in the illusion that there is something just beyond our reach that would bring us happiness: a better family situation, a better financial situation, or the end of a challenging trial.
The older we get, the more we look back and realize that external circumstances don’t really matter or determine our happiness.
We do matter. We determine our happiness.”

I think that in this time of the semester, it is easy to get down on ourselves and become overloaded with stress but these great quotations help us to remember what’s important and to find joy in the journey.