After listening to and watching the videos of Dr. Strange's conversations with Anthony Capps, I learned a great deal of information. The first two videos I watched were Project Based Learning Part 1: Experiences of a 3rd Grade Teacher and Project Based Learning Part 2. After doing some research last week, I did know a little bit about project based learning but these videos helped me gain greater knowledge. I would say that the most important thing I learned about project based learning is that it engages students. They aren't trapped in worksheets and lectures that they see only as "busy work." Project based learning is a means of getting the students to learn something through the process rather than just focusing on the product. There are so many teachers out there that are only concerned with the outcome, instead of making sure that the students get the most out of what they are creating and learning. If we only focus on the outcome, then how can we truly learn through the process? As future educators, we have to remember that teachers are learners as well. Another important aspect of project based learning is that it doesn't limit the students. Teachers should never limit their students, but instead give them opportunities to go above and beyond what you thought possible. By doing so, you allow a lot of room for the students to chose. When the students are given the opportunity to present their project that they created, they demonstrate so much ownership and pride in their work because they were actively engaged. I really enjoyed Anthony's three main goals of project based learning, which included the following: it has an authentic audience so that the kids are rewarded for what they do, it has the students' interest so you can do something relevant to their lives, it involves the community in order to relate it to real world experiences, and it is driven by content. Project based learning is constantly evolving, which means there are so many different things you can do with it. The possibilities are endless!
There were also two online tools that I learned about in Anthony's conversations on YouTube, iCurio and Discovery Education. I found iCurio to be the most interesting tool that I have come across yet! For those of you that aren't familiar with iCurio (just as I wasn't before watching this video), it is an online tool that allows students to safely search websites that have been pulled and filtered from other online sites by teachers or other responsible adults for educational uses. I think this is an awesome tool to use in the classroom, especially since we live in a world that is so corrupt. It is so easy for students to go online and Google or search for something that seems harmless, but yet they end up getting terrible results. iCurio also has some neat features that come in handy, such as a storage capacity that allows students to store content they find valuable and a directory feature for historical figures. It also has a read-aloud feature that is great for accessibility. Through iCurio, the students aren't limited to text and teachers can create search results that are grade friendly and age appropiate. The second online tool is known as Discovery Education. Discovery Education is a science and social studies related tool that allows students to view pictures and videos in order to learn a lot more. They can combine their text articles with visual pictures or watch videos that actually brings the experts into the classroom. Discovery education is great for students because it helps enrich their research experience, while teachers can help bring the text to life. Both of these online tools are great for creating a fun, technology-centered classroom!
Since we've been doing so much talk about technology, it's important for teachers to remember to actually USE IT. In the video, Don't Teach Tech- Use It, Dr. Strange talks with Anthony Capps about actually using technology versus teaching it. We live in the 21st century, so it's no surprise that using technology is natural for kids or that that they enjoy it. Technology is clean, it's sharable, and it allows the students to create. Instead of just throwing the kids into a technologically savvy project, teachers should have them take it by steps so that they are learning by using. It's important for teachers to not expect perfection. Being able to make mistakes is the beauty of learning in the classroom. It gives the students the opportunity to ask valuable questions, then you can reflect on what they students did wrong and go from there on improving.
Just like teachers shouldn't throw their students into a new project, they also shouldn't throw themselves into teaching a new lesson without having a plan. In the video, Additional Thoughts About Lessons, Mr. Capps gives us 4 Components to Making a Lesson:
1. Think about each lesson in terms of a year: Cover all the content according to the ACCRS.
2. Think about each lesson in terms of unit size: Devise projects in a meaningful way that is stretched out over time to meet a goal.
3. Think about each lesson in terms of a week: Be able to complete everything that needs to be done each day.
4. Think about each lesson in terms of each day: Deliver the lesson to the students in a way that gets them involved and ready to learn.
I think that teaching is most effective when there is a plan, even if it is annoying to create a million lesson plans. These are 4 very helpful things to to think about when creating lessons.
Now we all know that creating lesson plans, using technology, developing projects, and just being a teacher isn't always easy, but don't panic because there are ways to prepare according to Dr. Strange and Anthony in their video, The Anthony-Stange List of Tips for Teachers Part 1. Although there was a list, there were three ways to prepare that stuck out in my mind as the most important. First, teachers should be interested in learning themselves. Teachers should always be open to learn new things, even if they are learning from their students. Learning new things to do and improve on each year is what makes each school year unique and exciting. Second, work shouldn't be separate from play. Being a teacher goes beyond the 8 hours a day that they spend in the classroom. It truly never ends, but being a teacher is so rewarding. Make it a fun experience! Lastly, teachers need to be prepared to be flexible and creative. There will always be surprises in the classroom, whether it is a fire-drill or simply a technical difficulty. Teachers have to be able to be creative in order to come up with alternative lesson plans and flexible since everything doesn't always go as planned. Some people say that teachers have the hardest job in the world, but even if it's difficult, I know it will be worth every minute.