27 March 2013

The parable of theory: Teaching theory with play dough.

Can you teach critical thinking with play dough?
Can you teach critical thinking with play dough? YES!  If you can teach using analogies, you can use play dough to make the idea clear.

Here are some tips:

1. Lesson plan. Make sure you have a "story" and you stick to it as you "construct" the idea. While you are talking you need to construct the play dough to illustrate.

2. Labels on skewers. Make these the learning objectives or key things you want them to remember.

3. Hand outs with blanks. If they don't write it down, the students will think "geeez that's neat" and forget what you told them. Give them a 1 page hand out with blanks for each of the skewer/labels you wanted them to remembers.

4. Don't tell them what you are going to do. Do tell the students the learning objectives are the start of the lesson, but don't tell them WHY you have play dough in the lecture theatre. This builds excitement and engagement.

5. Involve students. You can't see it in the video but the students were all rolling out the play dough and while I was setting up. They ask lots of questions at this stage, make silly jokes, but again (tip 4) don't tell them what is about to happen.

6. Cookie cutters help speed the process of making the basic shapes for the ideas you want. You can be quite declarative about it - eg: when explaining consolidation and corporate grouping I say, "OK guys, every square shape is a company, and every triangle is a family trust". People get it.  

7. Invite the students to criticise your model. Scary stuff! Ask them to tell you why this is "stupid" or what is the limitations of the analogy. Ask them how it could be explained differently.

In this video I try to explain the aspects of logical argument using an analogy of a model house built out of play dough. Each part is analogous to each part of the model house.

Comments and criticisms are welcome.


Self Criticism:
The Hattie (2009) found that self-reporting of grades (ie: critical reflection) was one of the most effective learning tools. So in the interests of good learning and transparency in teaching, here is everything that I don't like about my own work.

Terminology: "parable", really?
I realise that it's probably more of an analogy than a "parable", but the idea is sufficiently clear.

Terminology: Can a parable be "logical"? 
Well, it can be logical in that it makes sense, but it is far from deductive proof. 

Hippocratic: Analogies are weak evidence, yet you teach with a weak tool. 
Yes. And I made that clear up front. And I am trading "strong" tools for "engaging" teaching tools. This opens me to criticism that I engage in edutainment. I have bloged on why edutainment mightn't be such a bad idea, although when I watch have to suffer Channel 10 News or Today Tonight there's certainly a problem with "infotainment". The problem is that it's the same problem.  

Technical production: White balance is wrong.
I know. 

Technical production:  Lighting is awful.
I know. It's a shoddy lecture theatre, not a sound stage. 

Technical production: focus is all wrong
I'm using a DSLR camera on a tripod. DSLRs are bad for video without a professional focus puller operator. If you leave the camera on autofocus you get these awful zzzzzit, zzzzit noises from the lens constantly adjusting, and these interfere with the audio. I have split the audio from the film in the past, but it's a hassle. I want a dedicated video camera, but that's money I personally don't have. 

-Tetracarbon out

Even little kids get subjected to my

Hattie, J. A. C. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of 800+ meta-analyses on achievement.

16 March 2013

Introduction to PSI and income splitting

Introduction to PSI and income splitting

I have just uploaded a new video on Personal Services Income and income splitting. Actually this video doesn't tell you how PSI works, but rather, WHY we have PSI rules in the first place.

Have a look and le me know what you think.

-Tetracarbon out.