Sunday, December 2, 2012

Blog Assignment #13

Back To the Future

Brian Crosby's class
In the video "Back To the Future," Brian Crosby discusses his methods of teaching and exactly what his classroom is all about. He teaches the same students from 4th through 6th grade, so he has the opportunity to truly get to know each and every one of his students. Close to 90% of his class speaks English as a second language, and many of them live in poverty and move around a lot. Mr. Crosby discusses the reason why many, if not the majority of, students in his class have a disconnect. He describes how the narrowed curriculum limits their experiences and inputs that help build their schema for the world. He made an eye-opening statement about what drives him to do the things he does in his classroom. He said, "It's hard to imagine what could be if you don't know anything about what is." His goal for his students is to build passion.

hot air balloon
In Mr. Crosby's classroom, his students have numerous opportunities to use all kinds of technology. Each of them use a laptop, and they are also able to utilize the classroom smartboard and digital cameras. Mr. Crosby describes how each student has a blog, and when they are not test-prepping, they are able to think outside the box. He also talks about some really cool projects his classes are able to do. They use concepts they've studied in their science books, but they are able to take them to a whole new level through their projects. One of the projects Mr. Crosby demonstrates is called "The High Hopes High Altitude Balloon Project." To first prepare for this big project, they do a lot of reading on the topic and perform a few mini projects which get them really fired up and excited for the main project. The students also studied the different layers of the atmosphere, so in the big project, they construct a hot air balloon. Each student puts his or her "high hopes" in the balloon, and when they release the balloon, they are able to watch it through a satellite and see how high it goes until it bursts and sends their "high hopes" into the highest layers of Earth's atmosphere. Instead of giving his students a test about the project, Mr. Crosby allows them to embed the video they made and blog about it. They have to discuss in detail what the project consisted of and why the things happened as they did. They also have a class wiki and Flickr page, so Mr. Crosby uses many ways to incorporate technology into the classroom. This project, along with several of his other projects, is one of the many ways Mr. Crosby's classroom is so innovative.

I really enjoyed watching this video about all of the awesome things Mr. Crosby is doing in his classroom. I especially enjoyed his descriptions of the hot air balloon project because this project allowed the students to learn so many things. Mr. Crosby still covers all of the state standards his class has to meet, but he does so in a much better way, rather than simply testing his students. He is definitely aiming to get rid of burp-back education, just like Dr. Strange. His projects allow the students to read and write to learn content, not just to get in and out of the class by simply passing. Through the projects, the students are able write creatively, receive feedback, connect globally, and have an authentic audience. I definitely hope to utilize many of Mr. Crosby's techniques in my future classroom!

A Vision of Students Today

A vision of students today
The video "A Vision of Students Today" was made by Michael Welch in collaboration with 200 students at Kansas State University. It is a short video summarizing some of the most important characteristics of students today: how they learn, what they need to learn, their goals, hopes, dreams, what their lives will be like, and what kinds of changes they will experience in their lifetime. The video also illuminates many of the struggles college students face. The following difficulties are included: large class sizes, professors who do not know the students' names, curriculum irrelevant to students' lives, spending money on textbooks they never use, and being over $20,000 in debt when they finish college. As a college student myself, I can relate to many of the struggles the Kansas State students are having difficulties with. Thankfully, now that I am out of my basic classes, the classes pertaining to my major are fairly small, so most, if not all, of my teachers know my name. I do find that the curriculum we study is not always relevant to our lives, so I can understand how some students struggle with spending money on textbooks they never use, especially if they aren't engaged in the material anyway. I think college, like many things in life, is all about attitude. If you go in to each class with an attitude of success, the classes will go a lot smoother.

Thinking about this video as a teacher was kind of difficult for me since I am still in college, but after pondering on it for a while, I was able to put my teacher hat on and try to understand what this video was really saying. As a future teacher, this video opens my eyes to the strong need for technology in the college classroom. Even in 2012, many teachers still don't utilize the available technology to its fullest. I believe this video helps present and future teachers understand why there is such a need for technology in students' academic lives. Many of the students in the video complained about how boring the classes are and how the professors rarely spoke to anything relevant to the students' lives. One major way we can change the boring, monotonous, and repetitive ways of many college classrooms is by offering more opportunities for online education and education aided by technology in the classroom. Technology is one of the most awesome tools that can engage anyone from toddlers to adults and every age in between. As teachers, we need to realize this need for more technology in the classroom, and we need to form material that actually relates to students' lives.

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