Samantha, Daniel,& Morgan
Brian Crosby’s presentation titled Back To The Future had us wanting to re-take the fourth grade all over again. His science class at Agnes Risley Elementary in Sparks, Nevada are doing project-based learning plans infused with technology. Mr. Crosby chooses to teach by the project-based method because his students were “disconnected” and he wanted to build passion in his classroom which consisted of mostly of at-risk students. Needless to say he had his work cut out for him. Mr. Crosby showed us two lessons. One was an experiment on air pressure where the students crushed a soda by just placing it in hot water. The second and biggest experiment the class, with the help of some local professors, built an hot-air balloon rigged with a parachute and cameras to document the entire project. Since no one in the Braque group are science majors, the technical terms and standards taught in these experiments will be spared. However, we do think what the class did post-experiment was the most important. Because the hot-air balloon experiment was well documented, the students were able to write about it. Not typed in an essay, not written with pencil and paper, but blogged about. Through this students were writing to clarify and share, and writing to tell a story in which they get feedback from an authentic audience. Sharing what they have learned in this way promotes creativity, inspiration, and therefore students are able to remember content better. Crosby’s class went further than just blogging. They made wiki pages, and skyped with other classrooms all around the world. Also, through the balloon project, they created “High Hopes,” which was a blog used to connect his class to other classes around the world in order to hear other students’ hopes and life goals. Brian Crosby uses this type of educating in an effort to “quit racing kids through school.” By this approach, maybe students will use the same tools to learn when they leave the classroom.
In the second video Mr. Paul Andersen showed us the blended learning cycle and how it works. We believe this could be the best way to teach your class. He combines the blended cycle which consist of online, mobile, and classroom time with the learning cycle which allows students to explore, explain, expand, and be more engaged. Together this makes an amazing combination. This cycle could give the students more opportunities to understand the information and give teachers more time to better explain things in the classroom. Mr. Andersen’s cycle starts with a question. As future teachers we want our students attention. If we start with a question that they really do not know the answer to; they will stay focused longer knowing at the end they will get their answer. The next part is investigate. This is a helpful section because this is when the students can get into groups and work up an hypothesis. After the students investigate there is the video section. Mr. Andersen makes podcasts for his students to view. We believe podcast are very helpful when it comes to time management. The students can watch the podcasts outside of class during down time. This gives them plenty of time in class to comment and share their thoughts and concerns on the topic. Next, the students have to elaborate on what they have learned. The students can make charts or diagrams on what they believe will happen. Next come reviewing in which we think is the best part of the whole cycle. As future teachers and current students, we understand the importance of individual or group work with the teacher. This gives one on one time to answer any last minute questions that the students may have as well as gets them get ready for the summary quiz. The summary quiz is the last part of information that can help them get ready for the big test. The blended learning cycle is something that we will incorporate into our classrooms. Mr. Andersen has created something that is both helpful for the teacher and to the students which is what makes a great learning environment.
The last video discussed Mark Church, Ron Richhart and Karin Morrison’s book titled: “Making Thinking Visible”. The video showed us what it means to truly make thinking ‘visible’. According to the authors mentioned in this book,it means to have students do something that shows progress. An example of this would be, to have students put the work they have completed into a portfolio ,and later reflect back on how much more has been learned over a period of time. In order to see how their thinking has changed about the topic being discussed. It can be astonishing to look back and see how much progress has been made after a long period of time, especially when reflecting on your own work. In other words, making thinking ‘visible’means, at least in the context of what this book is saying, means to be creative in your teaching strategies when teaching and let students create through being engaged in the learning process. The simplest way of doing this may be to have the students write down what something means to them now and then think back on the work later when the class comes back to it either in a project or a discussion about what should be changed about their original thought. In this video that is exactly what happened. A teacher told students to attach a thought as groups to a piece of paper, about a topic they were given to address and they would look back at it later on and think about what they think their thought should actually should be after some time of reflection. This is what Dr. Strange asks us to do with our work as students in EDM 310 and we believe this is a very important part of the learning process- reflection. Why is reflection so important? It not only helps students to improve but it also helps them to see how far they have come with their learning. We believe this is real authentic assessment and it shows much more of what was learned than a test can show. This is something that all educators in the 21st century must be ready to incorporate into their classrooms.