Sunday, February 16, 2014

Blog Post #5

What did I learn from the video conversations with Anthony Capps?

This week we were given seven videos to watch, which all consisted of different questions and answers of how to view education and use the tools available to you. All the videos assigned were conversations between Dr. Strange and a current EDM 310 student who is now a third grade teacher in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

In the first two videos Project Based Learning: Part 1and Project Based Learning: Part 2, Capps talks about what Project Based Learning (PBL) actually is and how he uses it in the classroom. Capps believes that to have PBL actually work in the classroom you need to have an authentic audience, student interest, community involvement, and the project needs to be driven by content. Every time Capps comes up with a PBL project he asks himself, "What kind of project can I create to give my students an opportunity to need to know the content I want them to know?" I believe this is a great question to ask yourself as a teacher, this makes you create meaningful projects that your students will have fun doing and look forward to.
An example of a PBL project Capps had his third grade class do, was write a letter to congress on if women should serve front lines in the military. His students researched important women in history who served military equivalence to prove their point of whether women should or shouldn't serve front lines. As a class, student's selected eight letters that they believed were the best out of the group and had them sent to congress. This project was a perfect example of the four aspects of PBL.

  • He had the students involved by allowing them to chose any woman in history they believed best fit their argument.
  • The students had an active audience that they were writing to.
    Project Based Learning
  • All the students were involved in choosing the letters that they wanted to represent their classroom.
  • The project was driven by content since the students had what they were trying to argue for or against and had to do research to back up their argument.

    Capps believes it is important that there is Democracy in the classroom and that children are able to revise and reflect on work they have done. I think this is a good idea because it allows students to argue, in a respectful way, for their grades and why they chose the answer they did. If the student is able to back up their answer with a viable explanation, then Capps might change their grade or count that as a correct answer as well. This is a very important skill for students to use since it allows for reasoning, problem solving, and being able to verbalize effectively. Students are also given the opportunity to improve on their work and make their next project even better when they hear the viewpoints and ideas of other students. When the students have worked hard on what they are learning and it has been presented in a way that is enjoyable, students are excited and proud to share their work with others.

    In ICurio, I learned that it is actually a search engine that has been filtered so that students can safely search the web on. There is a storage feature on ICurio that allows students to put what they believe is valuable information into folders to practice organization. Student work is immediately stored in case the student has to drop what they are doing to go to another class. This program also offers a directory feature which allows students to find people in history just by typing key words into the search engine.

    Discovery Education covered yet another way that children might gain knowledge and learn in the classroom through audio visual learning. This means that students can look up a topic that they are researching and find a video or maybe a podcast on their topic. This brings people from outside the classroom in the classroom to present their ideas, be it video or audio. Capps used the example of his students researching different flowers. The students were able to look up botanist's research on these flowers and learn more from these online videos than they were able to learn from a book. Dr. Strange gave a great example to back this up by saying that children learn more from videos and audio than writing and reading.

    In Don't Teach Tech-Use It, I learned that there is no need to teach students how to use technology. Children are familiar with technology and it really does not take them long to figure out how to use different programs.
    Baby using computer
    So instead of teaching technology, you just need to ease them into it slowly and they really figure out the rest on their own. Capps believes that you do not need to teach the technology to students, but instead build upon it. You can start out with a simple project that allows your student to use a program that you are wanting them to be familiar with. Later you can add another program, or allow your students to farther explore the program from the week before. Once your students have mastered this, you can have them put both of these skills together to build a bigger project. You have to remember to not just throw your students into a big project that involves many programs they are not familiar with. Be sure to do these projects yourself so that you are somewhat familiar with them and might be able to answer questions that arise. Remember, you are not always going to have all the answers, but it is okay, you can work with your students to solve these problems that might come up.

    In The Anthony-Strange list of Tips for Teachers Part 1, Dr. strange and Anthony Capps give students advice for their future teaching careers.
  • The first tip is to be interested in learning yourself. If you think that learning is over when you are done with school you are dead wrong. Learning is a life-long experience and as an educator you are going to be learning from your students everyday.
  • The second word of advice was to learn how to make work (teaching) into something that you enjoy. Teaching does not need to be a job where you put in your eight hours a day and then you are done. It needs to be something that you are constantly working to improve and make more enjoyable for yourself and your students.
    Tip Jar
  • The third piece of advice was that you want to have 100% engagement in your classroom. Now this number might seem like a unabtainable percentage, but it really is not. If you have content and projects that your students care about and find interesting and fun, then you are going to have students who want to learn and be engaged in what is going on.
  • Tip number four, you need to be flexible, creative, and be able to adapt to change. We all know that things come up, and the classroom is no different. Programs might not work properly, students might have trouble with directions, really the possibilities are endless.
  • Tip number five is to reflect on the projects or assignments that were done and find ways to make them better. You can always improve something or add to it to make it even better or help students get more out of the project.
  • The sixth and final tip was to have competition, pride, etc. between students. This helps to keep students engaged and makes them thrive to do the best they can do in the class.

    The seventh and final video that Dr. Strange provided was entitled Additional Thoughts About Lessons. In this video I learned that you need to think of your lesson plans as stack-able parts. The first big piece will be what you are trying to have your students know for the whole year. How many chapters are you going to cover, and are you going to cover everything in each chapter? Second, what skills are you wanting your students to get from each unit. What kind of projects and assignments are you going to have to help them master the objectives that you want them to? The third piece is based on what is learned within each week. Are you going to cover a chapter a week, what do you need to have done on an everyday basis to accomplish this goal? The final piece would be your daily lessons. This is what you are going to cover that day and how you present it to your students. Capps says that these four pieces are really all you need to help you build a good lesson. Any less it does not work, any more it becomes too much.
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