Sunday, November 2, 2014

Blog Post #11

What can we learn about teaching and learning from these teachers?

In Brian Crosby's Ted Talk, Back to the Future, Brian poses the question, "Why are kids so disconnected?" This video about his classroom and his students learning styles explores this question. The majority of his students are second language learners and students of poverty. When surveyed, nine out of twenty-five of his students knew which city they lived in. Half knew the state in which they live. Three knew the country, and seven knew their address. Brian wants to build passion in his students. His curriculum involves having the students set goals for themselves. They are not able to explore the world as some other children have been able to, so he does not want a narrow ciruclum. He wants his students to be able to build schemes for the world through imagination and creativity, which have been stunted for most of his children. His students have fun while they are leaning! His kids build learning networks with kids from all over the world. We have been learning about this since the beginning of the semester. I am honestly no longer surprised one bit when I see children doing such amazing things with technology, and when I see their passion to learn when they are enjoying it! Everything Brian does in his classroom helps to build up these second language learners. Just doing any type of project helps them build their language skills. You read and write to learn, write to clarify and share, wrtie to tell a story and be creative, get feedback, articulate orally, connect globally, gain global awareness, and have an authentic audience.
back to the future

I honestly had never thought about being placed in a school one day in which I will have second language learners. These students and Brian have shown me a lot when it comes to this topic. I very well may be teaching these types of students one day, but these students are no different from others. As long as I can inspire and engage them to be active learners, project based learning will continue to be an effective method. Those students may take some extra time, but I know that every little step in education will be worth it to my future students' lives. They may not realize it at the time, but I will. Brian says,  "We don't want to teach students how to be taught, but how to learn on their own through their 21st century skills." Lastly, one of Brian's comments really stuck with me. Education is the birthright of every child, and we have to go back to a notion of building schools that honor kids. This says so much about both teaching and learning. We as teachers need to focus on our students. Teaching trends may change, and the world will definitelity change. The world always changing. What doesn't change is the need for each child to receive an education in which they are the sole focus. Each student deserves to receive the attention and care that will provide them will the skills needed to live a successful life. Students need to also recognize that as learners, they at entitled to this type of education.

In the video, Blended Learning Cycle Paul Andersen discussed the power that the blended learning cycle can bring to a classroom. The Blended Learning Cycle combines the "Power of Question" and the "Power of Learning." The Power of Question is about exploration through directed inquiry. Blended Learning is learning using multiple online, mobile, and classroom sources to gain knowledge. The Learning Cycle involves fives E's: Engage, Explore, Explain, Expand, and Evaluate.
Put these three together, and you get the Blended Learning System!

the blended learning cycle
In his science classes, Paul enjoys using the mneumonic device QUIVERS:

Always begin with a good question.

Make inquiries and investigations.

This frees teacher to review with students instead of lecture.

More reading, diagrams, and explaining what is going on!

Meet with small group or individuals to make sure they have an understanding.

S-Summary Quiz
This ensure the kids know what they have done.

Paul says, "I don't think you've learned something until you can explain it to someone else." I have believed this since high school. I was always the tutor of my class, but I honestly didn't mind because when I taught, I learned. This is a wonderful form of both teaching and learning for students, because it is a combination of the two.

Our next video to watch was Making Thinking Visible by Mark Church. This video is a trailer related to Mark's book by the same title. The book is about connecting ideas, extending thinking, and facing puzzles or challenges. It also addresses how thinking changes overtime. When students do a project, the purpose should be so the students will grow. After a project is finished, the students should have some knew knowledge they have gained. This means that the end of a project should not be the end of that learning process! Because thinking changes overtime, we should lead our students back to their projects to see how their thinking has changed about them. I had also never thought about this method. I know personally that my thinking has changed overtime. I look back at some of my projects or papers from high school or previous college semesters, and I see how much better or different they could have been. Going back, I can see how my learning has changed and how much I have gained. I want to be able to give my students a chance to do this.

Sam Pane's Super Digital Citizen addresses how much power the internet gives us. Sam's goal is to educate his students on proper internet behavior. "With great power comes great responsibility" so says Spiderman and Sam. The internet gives us so much power. To harness this power, Sam gets his students to create online superheroes who are super digital citizen. His students then must make a story with their hero in it, combatting some form of digital crime. This exercise gives ownership to the students, making the project and responsibility of handling the internet correctly more meaningful. Students are going to be exposed to so many things online, so they must know the right choices to make. I love this superhero comic book project. It meets English Language Arts and Digital Standards, and as a future English teacher, I have been wondering how I would be able to incorporate projects into my students' learning. I have had some ideas, but this one spoke to me.

This video Project Based Learning by Dean Shareski combines the collaborative work of three teachers in one high school. These teachers worked together to combine their three subjects, History, Engish, and Information Processing, into one classroom. Research shows that integreated studies engage and provide deeper learning, and these teachers have seen this first hand. All PBL can produce road blocks. The biggest, most important part of this combination was time; however, these teachers put in the effort, found the time, and put together and effective, meaningful program in which they can teach more than just curriculum. The deeper, longer, and more feedback this combined class gives allows the students to take more ownership for their work. The teachers and students can both see that they are teaching and learning more than just the curriculum. They are teaching and learning skills that will help to build a furture. I would love to be able to work in this type of classroom setting one day, but the biggest thing I took away from this video is its emphasis on the necessity of time. It seems that most everyone today has no time for anything! Both teaching and learning take time, patience, and dedication.

Our last video was Roosevelt Elementary's PBL Program by Trish Reilly Taylor. This entire school works together to form one large, cohesive PBL program incorporating themtaic instruction. The largest part of this school's plan is Student Choice. Since each child has a different way of learning and their own form of self-motivation, student choice allows student to make their own decisions about independent and collaborative learning. Differentiating activities incorporates different intelligences and learning styles while building social skills in each student. Students are able to reflect on not just how they did but also on what they did. This school believes that PBL allows children to find the spark that will make them want to question and learn more about their world. PBL makes the school more cohesive. They know it's not easy, but the quality of the learning is worth it. How true this is. Both learning and teaching may not be easy, and more than likely they won't be easy; however, each and every child deserves the work.

"Learning really is messy."- Brian's Blog


  1. Great blog post Heather!! I also never thought about the possibility of teaching ESL students. However, From Mr. Crosby I've learned anything is possible and every child deserves to have the best education despite socioeconomic outcomes that they have no control over. Project based learning should be used as the catalyst to spark a love for learning within our future students. This will ensure they value education as being significant and see the wonderful opportunities school can provide for them.