Contract Grade - Learning Styles- Beth Cramer : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread

Learning Styles - Beth Cramer

In November of 1998, I attended a workshop on learning styles. The workshop was prepared by Dr. John Fredrickson for the purpose of educating and enlightening the school board members. John also invited those interested from St. Thomas to join, hence my opportunity to attend.

Many important details were taken care of before the workshop began. As I walked through the door, I was given a blank name tag and most importantly a choice of 5 colors to use to record my name. The workshop agenda was located at the front of the room for all to see. It was very clear to all who attended what time we would begin and when we would end. Also, there would be a pie social ( ofcourse the pies were listed ) for those who stayed until the end.

The workshop began with the two key speakers introducing themselves. First, they went into great detail about their qualifications and backgrounds. They had a writing board at the front of the room that contained all the information they were presenting to us. We had no doubt that we were working with experienced professionals that had been working together for years.

With little preparation we were told to stand. We had one minute to shake as many hands as possible in the room and simultaneously introduce ourselves. We quickly moved about the room with grins on our faces shaking hands and introducing ourselves. I recognized many people in the room and the experience helped me to put names with the faces.

After the introduction, our speakers said that we would be spending a lot of time with experiential learning. Our first experience required us to count off by fours. Next, we gathered together with our own numbers. Our first instructions were to find the name of an animal most appropriate for our group and be ready to share. There were four woman in our group so we decided on a lion(we are woman hear us roar). Once we shared our animal name we then were told to decide on a sound or language that our animal makes. When are animal name was called we were to mimic the sound of our animal together as a group. This ofcourse was slightly embarrassing but our group managed just fine. Our next step was to move away from our group as everyone formed a big circle. The presenters asked us to close our eyes and when they said go we were to make our group sound and try to find our members by listening and keeping our eyes shut.

After completing this exercise we were to report how this experience affected us. Our group had very few problems finding each other. We could hear the roars above the other noises and we all were loud enough to hear one another. It was interesting how we hung on to each other once we connected. I did not know any of my group lions personally. Other groups reported confusion, fear of getting hurt, and disorientation. Many of the groups ended up separated from each other. This experiential exercise was a lesson in communication. In real life, although we speak the same language, we often communicate in a variety of ways. When we communicate we often end up confused, unsure and separated from the big group.

After this experience we were asked to take the Gregorc Style Delineator, a self-assessment instrument for Adults by Anthony F. Gregorc, Ph.D.. The style delineator is a research-based self-analysis instrument. It is designed to help reveal a special set of mental qualities and mediation channels available for handling the immediate demand of life. According to Gregorc, the in-depth study of style can aid you to understand aspects of your Self and the environment. This study may reduce naiveti, increase personal responsibility for thoughts and actions, and improve your relationships. The test contained ten problems. Each problem had four words and the test taker was required to rate them from a 4, a word that best describes the tester, down to a 1, a word that least describes the tester. After taking this test your numbers would categorize you as a CS, (concrete sequential), AS, (abstract sequential), AR (abstract random), or CR (concrete random). I fell into the category of concrete sequential.

Our presenters did not give us time to get bored; we continued the workshop with another experiential exercise. We were put into groups according to our self-assessment. I remember taking a good look at the other two groups ( there were no AS's in our workshop) and feeling that I was acutely different than those other groups. The first thing we were required to do was to list our strengths and weaknesses and share with the other groups. We listed our strengths as task oriented and practical and our weaknesses as too independent and slow to change. Next, we were to choose our group's hero and a slogan that would represent us. Our heroes ( to the amusement of other groups ) were Janet Reno and Christopher Reeve, and our slogan was Just see it "our way". We had no difficulty coming to these decisions and found ourselves waiting on the AR's who just could not come to a decision. It was fascinating how the heroes and slogans fit each learning style.

Our last experience involved working with our similar learning style group. Our assignment was to create a playground that the CR's would agree to fund. We had to come up with a description that the CR's could relate to. We had learned that CR's like color, creativity, open-ended situations, and a lot of variety. Therefore, our playground structure contained a variety of swings, slides, bridges and even a car- wash that could be transformed into a skating rink in the winter. It was very colorful and allowed for additional add-ons in the future. We named the playground after Robin Williams who was their choice of a hero earlier. The CR's were sold.

The presenters followed their agenda down to the last second. They explained that everything they did had a purpose. They tried to relate to each learning style throughout their presentation. Our name tags with many colors to choose from related to the CS's need for order and the CR's need for variety. AS's need to know the credentials of those speaking as well as the big picture of what they are presenting, hence the posted agenda. AR's do not like to have their movement restricted therefore we had many activities, the handshake and the animal experience, which they could relate to.

I came out of this workshop with a lot of ideas and better ways in which to deal with my working environment. Our presenters suggested that although we can not change our style we can adapt to others styles to create more cooperative experiences. I have a teacher at St. Thomas that I don't always get along with. If I was to guess her learning style I would say she is Abstract Random. She tends to be overly emotional, everything is personal to her, she retreats from uncomfortable situations and she ignores sequentials, which includes me. I feel now that I have a better relationship with this teacher because I understand where she is coming from. I try not to overreact when she says things that I normally would find offensive.

One of the techniques that the presenters taught was "the fist of five". Many people in the group agreed that they had difficult coming to a consensus when working in a group. The fist of five is a method that helps in reaching a group consensus. When voting on a decision each member in the group chooses one finger, two, three, four or a fist of five. One means you absolutely disagree. Two means it would not be your idea but it is OK. Three means you are OK with the decision. Four means that you're almost 100% for the idea and a fist means "Yes" this is a great idea. When voting, if there are any ones you have not reached a consensus. It is suggested that the fists talk to the ones, possibly compromise, and then revote. I like this idea and have used it with my Jr. High students. We have used the fist of five to make year book decisions ,as well as, class party decisions.

I have taken a few workshops on Learning styles and find them very beneficial. First, you gain a better understanding of who you are and how you think. Secondly, you learn to apply your learning style to a variety of situations. I agree with Gregorc, learning styles increase personal responsibility for what comes out of our mouths and most importantly improves our relationships with others.

-- Anonymous, January 30, 1999


Jill and I have been working on a Science Grant. When would it be appropriate to post this grant?

-- Anonymous, January 30, 1999

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