My interest in the Pomodoro Technique dates back to about a week before this class started, before I even knew what it was. I started following @jgmac1106 on Twitter because he was dropping information about #EDU522. On several occasions he would add tomato emojis to his posts. It didn’t appear that the tomatoes we replacing words necessarily, rather something symbolic in relation to his daily tasks. I asked a wide spectrum of people in my professional and personal network (students, techies, students, etc.) if they knew what it meant. The most logical idea someone came up with was that maybe it was a rotten tomato reference.
I decided to let it go until a post from @jgmac1106 appeared in #EDU522 with the tomato. I had to know, so I asked. To my surprise, it was a reference to a tool called the Pomodoro Technique. This technique is used to help people stay task orientated, and manage time. The developer, Francesco Cirillo used a tomato shaped timer to establish intervals of work and break times to stay on task. He found this strategy so effective he titled it the Pomodoro (Italian word for tomato) Technique. Each Pomodoro includes 25 minutes on task, followed by a 5 minute break. After about 3 or 4 Pomodoros participants take a 15-20 minute break to recharge.
As someone who struggles immensely with staying focused and on task, I was intrigued by the concept. @jgmac1106 encouraged me to try it out for a week as an alternative to the “Digital Detox” project. I work with a lot of adult learners who struggle with staying on task, so not only was I interested in trying it for my own benefit, I hoped to share my experience with some of my students who might also benefit from this tool.
I made several attempts this week at utilizing the Pomodoro Technique. I’ve blogged about my individual experiences, but I will provide a general overview. To preface this, I will admit that my week was abnormal. I had intended on being in Cape Cod this week for a “semi” vacation. Over the last couple of years my husband has attended the Cape Cod Institute, which is a week long workshop series for mental health counselors. I opted to stay home this year in an attempt to not only focus on this class, but a couple of other projects I’m involved with. Among those projects, I needed to put in some office time as it related to student needs.
Not being in my traditional office setting already helped to limit my distractions. I work with quite a few colleagues who have turned into friends, which is a blessing, unless you need to work distraction free. These same people have been my biggest champions when it comes to tackling my MS of Education, so it’s unfair to pin all the distraction on them. I just had an opportunity this week to unplug; close windows, order delivery, turn appliances off; limit anything that would be a distraction. I took the opportunity to immerse myself in my projects. For this reason the Pomodoro Technique wasn’t as effective as it could have been in my traditional professional setting. I utilized the timer as task oriented time, but I found little value in taking breaks. When I was ready to break I needed more time to revamp.
I did learn that the Pomodoro Technique can be beneficial to people with ADHD. Professionals usually look to teach time management, and focus techniques to people with ADHD. I have found that many first year college students benefit from strategies that support time management. In reviewing testimonials I would agree that more times than not, people who have utilized this technique reap some benefits from it. Others argue that 25 minute time intervals are too specific, and can often discourage someone from starting a task if they have a <25 minute time frame. I am still on the fence, but I plan to continue to try this technique as I resume a more normal routine.
Just about every element of this class was a “Learn Something New” experience for me. From the moment “Week Zero” launched, I questioned whether I had the technological literacy to successfully navigate this class in 3 weeks. With week 1 approaching fast, I ultimately decided to purchase my WordPress subscription and dive head first into the launch videos. I was up and running at the start of week 1. I bookmarked my website, the slack feed, and the EDU522 Boot Camp website, so that at the very least the resources I needed would be at my fingertips.
My “Learn Something New” project wasn’t about the entire class, but specifically learning how to bring my website vision to life. On the first day of class I dipped my toes into designing my page. I added a photo, background color, and changed the font. Then, on the second day of class we launched Elementor, which brought our design capabilities to a whole new level. Despite the tutorial videos, and web support, having these (what felt like) limitless options created a hurdle for me. I felt nervous to play in the design sandbox, mostly because I was afraid that I would mess with too many things, and not be able to back myself out.
I basically stayed clear of Elementor, until we were asked to sketch out our ideal homepage design. I believe the feedback I received after uploading my design was something to the effect of “it’s a complicated design, but we’ll get you there”. That’s when I decided to take Elementor head on.
A key feature to Elementor that I learned about quickly was the “undo” area, that also keeps a history from the time you start editing, until you hit update. That was helpful when I went too far, except that on a few occasions I hit “update” instead of “undo”. There are also a ton of tutorial videos that are easily searchable. I bookmarked a few that I used, and thought others might be interested in. Still I’ve experienced hurdles that have been frustrating. The biggest is how my home screen displays across devices. For that I have pretty much come to the conclusion that I can’t use my header image If I want my site to be mobile and tablet visually appealing.
Nearing the end of this class, my website isn’t complete, but that was not my learning subjective for this project. What I wanted was to learn how to use Elementor to bring my vision to life, and that I feel I accomplished. I also really enjoyed exploring the various features. Actually, I had fun, and I tapped into a creative side I didn’t know existed. This was a great project for me because I could learn by doing. I plan to continue to play with my web page beyond the conclusion of EDU522.
The Pomodoro Technique is one of the more popular time management life hacks used today, here's how it can help you boost productivity and what the critics say.
Testimonials from others who have utilized the Pomodoro Technique.
How Open Pedagogy, Affinity Spaces, and Badges connect.
I found the order in which the modules were presented in this class really built on each other. Learning first about Open Pedagogy provided a foundation to help understand affinity spaces. Open Pedagogy is about sharing knowledge, and affinity space is where it happens. It is the perfect recipe for co-learning.
There are many examples of this concept. Twitter is a perfect example. I had the opportunity to connect with educators through twitter this week. I also read through a transcript of a live chat where so much co-learning was happening between educators. In true affinity space fashion, it was obvious that educators from all backgrounds and levels we welcome to join and contribute. It was amazing to see something that I had just learned about take place right in front of me.
The concepts of badges does not necessarily fit into all affinity spaces, but it does add an incentive for participants. Affinity spaces that allow participants to earn badges, gives members a tool to measure their own development. Take an app like “Untapped” which was created for the craft beer loving community. You can log beers, share about exclusives, search beers by venue, and earn badges. I am not an active participant, so I can’t speak to what the badges mean. That said, I have friends with over 1000 badges. If I had a strong desire to learn more about craft beer I would be able to easily identify someone who likely has a great deal of knowledge based on the badges they have earned. The same happens in the video game industry.
Overall I find it interesting to understand how these concepts connect with one another.
Earlier this week I was having a terrible time understanding how to design and build my webpage. I had a blog, and a home page, both of which I had barely scratched the surface of using Elementor. I decided to check out your page for a point of reference.
I was amazed at how much you had launched already. Aside from how well constructed it was, I was more impressed with the number of interactive tools you had used. In particular I found the carousel feature you used to be not only appealing, but appropriate for the content of your site.
In the short period of time I spent clicking around your page, I learned several things that became the inspiration for my own site. For example, I learned that I needed to create multiple pages that stem off of my home page. I learned that Elementor had a ton to offer that I hadn’t even begun to explore. Overall, you really inspired me to dive in. I think your 6th graders are going to enjoy what you have built.
For modules 1-4 we were asked to use specific styles or tools to illustrate content we learned from the readings. Note taking, annotating, and using charts are all great ways to organize content that you learn. I think as educators it’s important to expose learners to these various techniques.
My learning style is different. I learn and retain information by actively listening/reading. My notes are typically just words, page numbers, and/or drawings. They are triggers to jog my memory of the more specific content connected to them. They make very little sense to anyone else. The problem is that this type of learning, often gives off the illusion that the learner is disengaged or underprepared. I often go to meetings with a notebook just for appearance purposes. I am more inclined to use post-its than notepads.
I think it’s important to remember that there are students in our classrooms who might also learn this way. It can be difficult to decipher the difference between a disengaged learner, and someone who is simply retaining information differently. I cringe when I hear an instructor accuse a student of not listening because they aren’t taking notes.
So for module 5, I stuck to my comfort of learning.
In the article “When Learning and Assessment Diverge: Who and What are We Assessing?” Gee has given me a new prospective on assessments. Assessments have not been traditionally created to measure what a learner can achieve. In other words, learners who learn at a different pace are at a disadvantage when it comes to being evaluated with assessments. In EDU 521, we had a very engaging online discussion about assessments. Unfortunately, assessments are often the tools used to evaluate entire school districts, and can be the determine factor when it comes to funding. The problem is that there can be several factors that attribute to the inaccuracy of those assessments. The rate in which a student learns, and inadequate resources are among those issues. In addition, some of the assessments offer little to motivate a learner from doing their best.
That leads me into this idea of badges. To Colin Matthews point, a badge is only valuable to the place it came from. For example, I am doing my “Learn Something” project in EDU522 on effective use of Elementor to create my website pages. If I earn the L2 badge associated with that project, it doesn’t mean the CEO of Elementor will be recruiting me to work for the company. It does give me a sense of accomplishment, and satisfaction that I successfully completed the project.
Looking at this from the gaming prospective, especially as an affinity space, that space/game typically has meaning to the participant. Therefore, earning a badge in that affinity space has meaning. The problem there is that sometimes a badge for a game is designed to take a significant amount to time to earn. That’s when gamers can become obsessed over completing a particular mission.
So are badges and assessments helping or hurting learning? I don’t know, but I do feel strongly in this sentiment:
It is time, I think, for assessment and testing to move into the future (Gee)
The final countdown…
Mod 4 group project
Mod 5 assignments
Final reflection for Learn something
Final reflection for Pomodoro Project
Weekly Reflection # 3
Tighten up website pages
I hope to be complete by Saturday.