What can we learn about teaching and learning from these teachers?
Authored by: Secoria Burks, Jo Davis, and Lindsay Stewart
1. Brian Crosby, Agnes Risley Elementary School, Sparks, Nevada, “Back To the Future”
In this video, Brian Crosby discusses how his class learns about hot air balloons, and how his students took learning to a higher level. Mr. Crosby discussed the entire project of his students building and learning about hot air balloons. The project was an eye opener in getting students to be involved in the entire learning process. First, research was performed, then testing, after this, the actual building of the hot air balloon was completed. In each step, Mr. Crosby’s students are blogging, making videos, collaborating, and connecting and sharing their learning with the entire world. So, what can we learn about teaching and learning from Mr. Crosby and his class? Mr. Crosby shows us that it’s not about a race through learning or a race to get good test scores. He teaches us that learning enrichment is part of everyday learning, and through enrichment and project based learning, students learn in their own way the things necessary to not only improve test scores but to also obtain a first rate education. Mr. Crosby gave an interesting quote from a David Coen on the way schools now handle teaching kids “the basics.” Many schools just drill basics and then move on to enrichment learning afterwards. Using Coen’s quote to support his thoughts, Mr. Crosby says it shouldn’t be this way. “The basics” can be taught more discreetly and the children learn better when taught through more meaningful experiences such as Mr. Crosby’s project. The students in this class thrived from the attention they received from comments and sharing around the world, and the video gave a clear picture of how students are more motivated to learn when technology and collaboration are part of the experience. Mr.Crosby does something in this video that I really admire. He addressed his students presumed handicaps, his students were impoverished, second language learners,who were largely disconnected from the environment they lived in. Making the point that if students don’t understand their role in the scheme of things, that it would be hard for them to find that spark needed to imagine, be creative, and to be passionate. My favorite project was “High Hopes.” This project directly targets the problem with the disconnect by asking the students to include their community and their passions. Another thing I learned from Mr.Crosby is that by building a large learning network students makes learning more interactive and more rewarding.
2. Mr. Paul Andersen, high school AP Biology teacher in Bozeman, Montana. “The Blended Learning Cycle”
Paul Anderson talks to us about the “Blended Learning Cycle” in this video. Mr. Anderson begins by showing us blended learning combines online, classroom, and mobile settings. He then presents the learning cycle with these steps: engage, explore, explain, expand, and evaluating at all points. Mr. Anderson combines the blended learning atmosphere with the learning cycle to illustrate the complete “Blended Learning Cycle.” In the complete cycle students will do the following steps concerning the science lesson/project: 1. Question 2. Investigate 3. Video 4. Elaborate 5. Review 6. Summary Quiz. He summarizes this process with the helpful acronym QuIVERS. In each of these steps the students explore in depth the lesson being presented through working hands on and learning via the web. Mr. Anderson gives examples of some of the questions he poses to his students and how they work through them using the “Blending Learning Cycle.” What can we learn from teaching and learning from Mr. Anderson? It is good to have a process to use on different lessons/projects, and a way to mark learning via the summary quiz. The “Blended Learning Cycle” is a tool that can be used in lesson planning to assure use of all resources available. Another thing we can learn from Mr.Anderson is that one really good way to start any lesson is to pose a question. Or that it really doesn’t have to be a question, it should just produce a conundrum for the students. One last thing we can learn from Mr. Anderson is actually how he started his video. He addresses the fact that he evaluated his teaching methods from the previous term and adjusted them according to his desires, values, and inspirations from other educators. The willingness to consider your own work and change it is an incredibly important thing to consider.
3. Mark Church, “Making Thinking Visible”
In this video Mr. Church challenges his students to create a headline for what the search and puzzle is of the question, “What is human origin all about?” The students are put into discussion groups to come up with headlines for the question, and then each group creates their headline. The headlines are displayed in the classroom, and then after learning about the search for human origin the headlines are reviewed a second time. This allows the students to see if they would change their headline after learning about the topic. What can we learn about teaching and learning from Mr. Church? We learn group work and collaboration brings out different points of view, and displaying the headlines helps to create a visual of the learning that is taking place. This collaborative thinking Mr. Church had his students do is fantastic exercise in critical thinking. Analyzing and thoughtfully discussing with others in this fashion is a great facilitator of learning. Mr. Church employed another great technique when he had the students go back and consider their headlines again to see how and if their thoughts/feelings/ideas had changed. These methods and thinking lead to more actively thinking students. This is a great example how allowing students to independently explore is a necessity. Mr. Church placed a fairly vague and open question. The students had to decide what was important to them, what they wanted to gain from this section. As they go throw this section they will attempt to answer the question, and the banner they made gives them a starting point.