By: Kaley McDonald, Jordan Neely, and Brooklyn Rowland
Back To The Future
Brian Crosby has been an upper elementary teacher for over thirty years. He is currently an elementary teacher at Agnes Risley Elementary School in Sparks, Nevada. He also facilitates Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education to teachers and administrators for six counties in northern Nevada. His students are known for their numerous service projects of which he is very zealous. He believes that students should actively learn through hands-on and minds-on experiences and projects while giving back to the world, community, and environment around them.
Brian's Back To The Future Video begins by explaining that his fourth grade students are poverty stricken and over 90% are second language learners, meaning they are students whose primary language is not English and they are learning English as their second language. A little background information about Brian's class: Class of one-to-one laptops, interactive white board, several digital cameras, and students have their own personal blogs. At the beginning of the school year he gave each student a survey with questions such as "What city do you live in?" and "What country do you live in?"
Brian generated the “High Hopes” High Altitude Balloon Project.
To begin the project, they started off reading and gathering information, like the layers of the atmosphere, in their Science textbooks, of which state standards requires. From the information gained by reading they then performed different activities and small experiments to show air elements like pressure change, hot air balloon effects, and more. They videoed each activity and embedded those videos into their blog along with a writing portion about what they did, how they did it, what happened as a result, and why. This type of learning goes beyond multiple choice quizzes and never ending reading curriculum.
Next, they began studying the history of balloons. Researching the world wide web discovering pictures, historical people, different types of balloons, several ways to assemble, lift, and fly them, whether to use hydrogen or helium, and so much more. Based on their research, they were required to collaborate and create a wiki webpage on specific topics about their project.
Students were then required to write a story about what the experience would be like to be the actual balloon on its journey through the atmosphere. They wrote about the whole trip from beginning to end from the perspective and point of view of the balloon. They have their own class Flickr account, which is an online photo management and sharing application. Using Flickr, the students illustrated their stories with pictures that they could take themselves or find online.
University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), the students were able to send the balloon up over 100,000 feet with a camera inside in order to have the means to observe the journey with Google Maps.
Bringing the project to an end, and keeping a goal oriented mindset, the students each made trading cards that they named "strato-cards," keeping the theme of drifting into the stratosphere. Each card was designed with free online software. It contained a picture of the student, any picture of the process of sending the balloon up or returning, and a writing segment stating “high hopes” for their school, community, and the world. They laminated these, were able to scan them to place on their blogs, and they also were allowed to keep them and take them home. Their blogs were soon read by students around the world and "high hopes" began to spread like wildfire. These students inspired other students to blog about their "high hopes" and it became a social networking ripple effect. Students also began commenting on their projects saying things like, "I want to do those kinds of projects in class, but my teacher doesn't know how!" To solve that problem, Brian and his class began skyping with other classes around the globe and the students were able to share their projects and explain how to do each one. By doing this, the students were reviewing the material and articulating their work.
Brian introduced the audience to a student of his, a girl named Celeste, who has leukemia and is not able to come to school on a daily basis. Through the use of technology, his students can effectively include Celeste in their classroom every day. The students created a five minute video project on the story of Celeste, how they interact with her, and how she learns in the process of inclusion.
We have learned from Brian Crosby that teachers can’t just keep racing kids through school, doing just enough to get them to the next level. It's not about a race or helping them to progress to the next achievement on the list, rather it's about empowering students to become learners. In order to empower students to become active learners we must use 21st century tools that are inspiring and motivating to help them connect, collaborate, and communicate. Narrowed curriculum and passive learning are dull, boring, out of date, and ineffective. It’s hard to inspire imagination and generate creativity with narrowed curriculum and if students don’t have imagination and creativity, it’s difficult to build passion. Teachers going beyond the comfort zone and thinking critically outside the box will result in their students doing the same and ultimately help them become active learners who are excited and passionate about education and life.
Mr. Paul Andersen, Blended Learning Cycle
Paul Andersen’s blog, Bozemanscience, was full of information that could be helpful to students who are taking AP or college level science courses. It is also helpful for teaching when needing an extra source to better explain a certain topic. Mr. Anderson has been teaching high school science for nineteen years and has been teaching science through YouTube the last three years. Currently, Mr. Andersen is a science teacher and technology specialist at Bozeman High School. On the homepage of his blog, he has different science classes listed, and when you click on the one of your choice, it shows each unit in that subject. You can choose which unit and topic you want to view and then there will be a video posted that is on that topic that he created. Also on his blog he has a “Journal” tab that contains videos and articles from different days.
In the video Blended Learning Cycle Paul Andersen starts his off by showing a picture, from around 1900, in France and they are predicting what a classroom will look like in the year 2000. Students are connected up to wires and books are being fed into a machine. “Blended learning” takes the concepts of mobile, online, and classroom learning and blends them together. Mr. Andersen also explains the “learning cycle” that is made up of the 5 E’s. The 5 E’s are engage, explore, explain, expand, and evaluate. By combining “Blended Learning” and the “Learning Cycle” the “Blended Learning Cycle” is created. The acronym that Mr. Andersen uses is "quiver".
I- Investigation/inquiry: Teacher would let the students experiment and investigate the activity. This is when the students explain the data. They record what they are actually doing with the activity.
V- Video: One example of a video would be giving direct instructions by using podcasts. You can also show YouTube videos that explain the topic of investigation and give more information about it.
E- Elaboration: This involves reading and diagrams on the topic. This is when you go into more depth about the topic and get a better understanding. They can use their textbooks and the teacher will tell them certain sections to look over and what points they should be grasping from it.
R- Review: The teacher will individually meet with students to check understanding. The teacher pulls certain students or groups aside and checks their understanding by asking specific questions. They will not be allowed to go on to the summary quiz until they prove they have an understanding of the unit. Mr. Andersen states that he doesn’t believe you have learned something until you can actually explain it to someone else.
S- Summary quiz: This step tests the students on the previous steps. It is a timed quiz and it gives the students a few chances to take the quiz. It allows the students to test themselves to see if they have a good understanding.
After these steps are completed, Mr. Andersen gives an old fashion paper pencil unit test to see what they really know. He stated that these steps help him to feel more involved in the classroom. He said it all goes back to starting with a really good question and then doing the research to figure it out.
Making Thinking Visible
Making Thinking Visible. The Amazon advertisement for this book is a short video of Mark Church in his 6th grade classroom. He is conducting an activity with his students where they are creating a headline that depicts what they have learned about the start of the human race. They will display this headline and in two weeks, when they have completed the unit they will revisit the headlines and see how the story has changed. Although we have not read the book, we think there is a lot to be learned from Mark Church simply based on this 3 minute video.
He starts the class by saying that he has had the students think. Then think about how they extended their thinking. This says a lot about his teaching style. Church not only has his students connect with an idea but he has them think about how they can extend that thought process. He then has then work in groups to figure out how to take it a step further and but that whole process into a sentence that they will display. He is literally making their thoughts and thought process visible. Which in turn helps the students think deeper. Helping our students to think deeper, helps them to open their minds to things they haven't previously considered. We want to encourage and help to develop a deeper understanding and deeper thinking process in our students so that they can have an open mind in all life's situations.
As teachers it is our responsibility to prepare students for all the situations they will face in and out of our classroom. Helping them to develop a process of deeper thinking prepares our students for any and everything life could throw at them. It helps them have an open mind towards opinions that may differ from their own, to solve problems they are not familiar with and have an overall better understanding of the world around them. This is definitely something you can learn from Mark Church, even in just that simple 3 minute Amazon advertisement.