Sunday, October 6, 2013

Blog Post #7

Learning Tools In the Classroom
- Nathalie McCarty, Carla Young, and Danya Croft

Words relating to Project-Based Learning
A student that is engaged, is a student that is learning. If this is true, what can we do to ensure active engagement with our students? Anthony Capps, a 3rd grade teacher at Gulf Shores Elementary, offers a few ideas in an interview produced by Dr. John Strange in Project Based Learning Part 1 and Project Based Learning Part 2. Capps discusses the benefits of Project Based Learning and how to incorporate it into ACCRS (Alabama Career and College Ready Standards). Capps explains that project-based learning is a way of teaching that can be used by teachers of all subjects. However, as Dr. Strange points out, it takes a lot of time and planning on behalf of the teacher. He also makes an excellent point that project-based learning should be about more than just showing that the students understand the material, but rather the means with which we teach the material throughout the week. Capps says, "The goal of a good project is one that has an authentic audience so that the kids are rewarded for the work that they do and that they are motivated to do good work, one that has student interest so that you can do something that is relevant to the kids’ lives, one that involves the community, and one that is driven by content." Teachers succeed with project-based learning when they find a subject that is appealing to the students and incorporates the necessary information that is important for the student to learn. Anthony gives educators a bit of advice, "With project-based learning, you're going to get more than you expect so never limit your students by giving them exactly what you want them to do. Create an opportunity for them to go beyond what you want them to do and they will." He also suggests that we can further engage the students in the learning process by allowing them to critique their own work as well as the work of their peers. Whenever they disagree with the work of one of their peers, Capps has the student write out a defense that backs up the reasoning for why he/she disagrees and what he/she would have done differently. When students are allowed to make choices in project-based learning, the students tend to have more ownership and pride about the work that they do thus making it more personal to them. Doing things like having the students peer edit, teach the students to be more independent in the learning process and gives them the confidence needed to participate effectively. It is better to give the students the chance to figure out the answer instead of just giving it to them.

iCurio Logo
In Anthony & iCurio, Capps explains that the main feature of iCurio is that it is an educational tool that students can use to safely search filtered websites, images, and videos that are centered around information needed to adhere to the standards set by ACCRS and other states as well. Another great feature of iCurio is that it has a storage area that teachers and students can use to store content that they find valuable; it helps teach virtual organization. This tool can particularly come in handy when a student needs to go back and elaborate more on the day’s lesson, or if they happen to miss a day, they can pull up what they missed and look at it. This will allow the students to avoid getting behind in the class. For the visual learners, they will be able to have the information right in front of them. Timelines, is another feature offered by iCurio that allows students the ability to research historical figures and events. The student can simply type, “1960’s, African-American male” in the search engine and Timelines will direct him/her to websites containing information associated with African-American males in the 1960’s. Capps believes that iCurio is a useful tool for all school-aged students.

Discovery Ed Logo
Capps states in Anthony & Discovery Ed, that Discovery Ed is a useful tool for project-based learning in that students retain more information when a text article is coupled with a visual aid. He says that Discovery Ed is the place to go when teachers want to support their assignments with some sort of illustration or video. Discovery Ed is also useful in that it brings experts into the classroom in the way of video which enriches the research experience and brings the texts to life. Capps proves that Project Based Learning can be a fun, rewarding, and constantly evolving process with which we can teach more effectively.

The Anthony-Strange List of Tips for Teachers
- Danya Croft

Anthony Capps and Dr. John Strange
In The Anthony-Strange Tips for Teachers, Dr. Strange comments that teachers need to be interested in the continuation of learning. As educators, it is important that we show students what it means to be constantly searching for knowledge so that our students can be exposed to and possibly mimic that behavior. Capps suggests that work and play are not mutually exclusive when it comes to being a teacher. In other words, Capps says that educators learn the craft of teaching in their free time so that they may better themselves and become more effective teachers. Another tip that Dr. Strange gives is that teachers must be flexible, creative, and willing to change plans at a moments notice. There will be times when problems will arise and we must be able to make adjustments to continue the forward progress of learning. As Capps says, “You should keep in mind the end goal, but if things don’t go as you plan, figure out what it will take to allow the class to get to that end-goal.” Another important tip that Capps suggests is that we should aim for 100% engagement among the students which is directly in line with No Child Left Behind. He says that it is easy to engage students when you make it about content that they care about, use a process that they enjoy, and give them an audience with which they can share. Reflection is an important aspect for the students to experience because it allows them an opportunity to consider how they could improve or revise their work in order to present it to an intended audience. Capps recommends that teachers should always ask themselves, “What can I do today to ensure I gain full participation from every student?” Another question that teachers should ask themselves is, “What can I do today to ensure that every student is learning?”

Don’t Teach Tech - Use It
- Carla Young

In the video Don’t Teach Tech - Use It, Anthony Capps explained the importance of technology in the classroom and the benefits that comes along with implementing the use of technology into our daily lesson plans. He makes a very good point that it is better to not teach technology to your students, but to use it instead. This idea goes hand in hand with PBL. Allowing a student to figure out something on their own is a much more rewarding lesson for the student. We, as educators and future educators, can stand up in front of a classroom and go over the instructions for creating a blog. However, the student is more likely to retain the skill and be able to use it again if they learn the skill hands on. This will be rewarding for the students as well. They will feel very accomplished and proud to have learned a new skill on their own. Capps mentions that it is important to build a “scaffold” with the technology; it is better for the students to learn and use one technology at at time and add another each week instead of all of them at once. This allows the student to learn and get comfortable with that particular type of technology and be able to incorporate it into the next one and put them all together. This way, the students are not getting overwhelmed with all of it at once. They are being able to slowly build their knowledge of technology and use them effectively together and also be able to use them in future lessons.

Additional Thought About Lessons
- Nathalie McCarty

Anthony Capps’ Additional Thought About Lessons is that a lesson plan should be narrowed down through a series of steps. It allows you to see the overall fit of the lesson and your content standards together. The main point one learns from this video is to make sure to have a set goal. In order to successfully fulfill that goal, one must evenly distribute those task throughout the weeks and even on a smaller scale to each individual day allowing yourself to have a starting point for the following day. Basically knowing what will allow you to teach every phase of that unit in those state standards and being able to break it down.

1 comment:

  1. This applies to your personal part of this post.
    Thorough, thoughtful, well written, well done!