Sunday, October 6, 2013

Blog Post 7

Collaborative: Cameron Hall, Eric Merryman, and Ronald Griffon: In the Discovery Ed video Anthony Capp tells us about the tools it provides for both teachers and students. The most important tool he talks about is the many visual aides discovery ed has. Anthony and Dr. Strange both agree that visual aides help students retain information better because people remember far more of what they hear and even more of what they see. Anthony and Strange agree that students are watchers and will watch more than they read or write.

Dr. Strange and Anthony continue to discuss PBL, and reflect on some experiences Anthony has had with PBL.  Anthony starts off by talking about how PBL doesn't always go as planned.  He gave an example of a project were his students did a video of Afghan culture.  A student in his class had a father who served in Afghanistan and didn't want his child to learn about that specific culture.  Anthony had to then exhibit flexibility and assign another project for that student.  He said the alternative project turned out great for the student.  Anthony went on to say for the other students who did do the Afghan culture project, it turned out wonderfully.  He said the students presented the videos to about fifty parents and most of the parents were blown away with how great they were.  Anthony said one of the important features of the project was letting the students decide some of the intricate details of the project.  He said some chose Afghan food, some chose Afghan fashion, and some warfare.  This made the project extremely well rounded and was a big reason why the parents were so impressed.  Anthony stressed that by not controlling every aspect of the project it allowed the student to make decisions, and that helped keep the students motivated about the project.  He said it also created student satisfaction with their own work.  There are two major things that can be learned from this video.  The first is the ability of Anthony to be flexible with the project when the student's parents didn't want him to participate.  Being prepared and being able to successfully delegate an alternative assignment for the student is important.  Everything is not always going to go as planned.  The second thing is being able to create opportunities for students in projects and then letting them take over from there.  Doing this can lead to inspired work and eventually student satisfaction with their work.

It is important to give students a hook and to be content driven, so that they feel motivated and interested to get the work done and done well, while having met common core standards. Also, it is good for us to understand we must have constantly evolving ideas about project based learning lessons, and understand that project based learning is not a project we come up with to show what we learn, but something we do to help us learn. Never limit your students by telling them exactly what you want them to do and how to do their project based lesson, give them room to explore and grow, let them fiddle around and learn their potential, as a teacher, you may just be surprised on how creative students can be.

Discovery Ed provides text articles, pictures, videos and research tools for all subjects. Students can research things about upcoming content in classes using pictures and videos and this enriches their research experience. In Anthony's classroom he has his students create their own visual aides using audio and videos. He says their reaction is not choosing either or (reading/writing or audio/video), but that they associate reading and writing with the visual aides.

iCurio is also a technological tool that can be used in the classroom. It is an online tool that provides students with a search engine for educational use, including audio and video finds. Anthony tells us that iCurio has many advantages. It has a storage area which helps students draft virtually organized using folders. It is safe for students leaving and living up where they left off and helps filtering out appropriate and inappropriate material.

Eric: Additional Thoughts about Lessons: Anthony basically breaks down lesson planning into four parts: yearly lessons, unit based lessons, weekly lessons, and daily lessons. Each breaking down into a smaller and smaller planning method. Yearly lessons are lessons you want the students to have learned by the end of the school year. Unit based lessons are checkpoints for yearly lessons and are lessons based off categories or chapters you want to cover. Weekly based lessons are what you want to cover within a week to reach your unit based lesson, and daily based lessons are planned lessons every day that you want to cover to reach your weekly based lesson. As an aspiring mathematics teacher, the math book breaks up lesson plans quite well for me, weekly lessons can be by chapter and daily lessons can be segments within the chapter, such as 2.1 or 2.2, and weekly lessons would be 2.1 through 2.5 otherwise known as all of chapter 2. Unit based lessons would be planned as multiple chapters of the book such as chapters 1 through 3 can be a unit, and yearly lessons would be all the chapters of the book put together. It is also important to be flexible in lesson plans, if something may seem very difficult to plan accordingly and if something may seem very easy to plan accordingly. Lessons are easy to plan when broken down from yearly to unit, from unit to weekly, and from weekly to daily, which is why Anthony gave his additional thoughts about lesson plans and I agree wholeheartedly.

Cameron: Don't teach it Use it: Anthony also stress using technology in the classroom not teaching it. He says that technology is natural for kids and they enjoy every opportunity to use it. There should not be lists to teach technology. Instead teachers should design assignments using technology (discovery ed, imovie, etc) and they should scaffold or break up skills each week. Through scaffolding students can learn and use one tool at a time then combine that tool with the upcoming weeks tool. Teachers should not expect perfection when their students are using technology. Technology can be somewhat of a guess and check system; one where students can learn from their mistakes. Teachers should allow students to reflect on their mistakes so that they can understand why and how they can correct their mistake. Anthony also says that technology is also about sharing. Students should share how technology helped them,  if they are confused, and what they learned. He says one way he lets them show mastery is through the skills for the next week. He incorporates scaffolding in this as well.  Technology also helps teachers introduce technology smartly. Anthony says teachers need to do the technology assignments themselves first to ensure the assignment is understandable for students so they can do it. Technology teaches students to ask valuable questions which helps the teacher understand why the questions were asked. Summarily,  technology can promote any questions and problem solving and gives a platform for figuring out steps toward an answer.

Ronald:  The Anthony-Strange list of Tips for Teachers Part 1:  In this segment Dr. Strange and Anthony talk about things all teachers should be prepared to do in the classroom.  The first topic was teachers being learners themselves.  Dr. Strange made the point that good teachers will lead by example for their students and continue to learn throughout their career.  I believe this is a very valid point.  As a teacher, one of the best ways to become better in your teaching subject is to show mastery over that subject.  It seems the best way to gain mastery in a subject is to constantly learn more about that certain subject.
Anthony continued the list by saying teaching is hard work.  He said good teachers will continue to work on their craft after they put in their eight hours in the classroom.  He likened teaching to a hobby, because if one truly cares about their craft they will work on it in their free time.  I think this is a great point.  If one is truly passionate about something and they want to be the best at it, it takes hard work.  Think about professional golfers as an example.  Tiger Woods not only pounds balls on the range and works on his short game all day at the golf course, he also has a personal putting green in his own back yard.  In his free time he still works on his game.  This concept is the same with teachers.  If as a teacher, one wants to be the best they are going to have to put the extra work in to achieve that goal.
The next point made was being flexible.  Dr. Strange talked about how having a plan is a necessity, but being flexible with that plan is a must.  Things don’t always go as planned and as a teacher it is an important responsibility to have a viable backup plan in place.  An example in Anthony’s classroom was used for this point.  A lesson plan which required the use of technology was quickly thwarted by the loss of power.  Anthony had a backup plan that didn't require the use of electricity and the class was able to proceed and make good use of time in the classroom.  I think this is a very resourceful point.  It is definitely the responsibility of the teacher to make the best use of the time he or she has with students in the classroom.  Having a backup plan can be a great counter to unexpected happenings in the classroom.
The next two points were start with a goal and engage one hundred percent of the students in the classroom.  These two points go hand in hand.  Anthony pointed out starting with a goal serves as motivation and motivation is absolutely needed if one wants to have one hundred percent participation from students.  The real challenge lies in being able to motivate every single student.  I believe this  point goes back to bettering oneself as a teacher.  If one strives to be a better teacher each year than setting goals of having one hundred percent participation is a good thing.
The last point made was using projects and sharing those projects with an audience for better learning.  Dr. Strange and Anthony discussed the importance of getting feedback from an audience.  Getting constructive outside feedback, enables students to reflect on their work and ultimately revise it to a better end product.  The idea of outside feedback is a wonderful thought.  Sometimes receiving feedback from the same source over and over again can be taxing on a student, but introducing a fresh face into the equation can ignite heightened attention from students.
Overall, hard working flexible teachers who want to be learners and have a passion to engage all students can be an invaluable asset to any school.  The ability to incorporate project learning and then use feedback from outside sources to shape that learning adds to the quality of education.  It may be easier to stand in front of a class and read from the textbook, but applying the ideas from this conversation will elevate learning and produce a more well rounded student.   

1 comment:

  1. This applies to your personal part of this post.

    And....make sure that the ACCRS are met.

    Good work. Now execute it!