In one of my classes we have been discussing if, as teachers, we should be using videos in our classroom. Here are some of the things that I have reflected about over the last little while. I think that video can be really helpful for students in the classroom. There are a lot of things that students don’t have the schema to understand and a video can help to make sure all of the students are on the same page. As a teacher we can ask some critical thinking questions about the video that we showed. For instance, one of my reading groups was reading a book about Harry Houdini. I was asking the students critical thinking questions. The discussion wasn’t going how I wanted. I showed the students a couple of different videos about Houdini. I was amazed at the discussion that the students were able to have after the video. In our comparing/contrasting the two videos they discussed how one of the videos made them feel more nervous about Houdini because of the music they used and how there were close ups on the videos and pictures instead of just showing the video of the escape.
In another class that I took for my Masters we learned all about Utah Pioneer Library which is now called Utah’s Online Library. There is a resource in the library called eMedia. It has all sorts of pictures and videos available to use for our classrooms. I have found some great ones for math discussions, science work, and even language arts activities. It’s a free resource for teachers, so if you haven’t looked at it I would encourage you to see what is available.
I recently took a course on Project Based Learning. I learned a lot of things that I want to keep in mind in working on projects for my students. Here is my reflection:
When I started this course I wasn’t fully behind the idea of project based learning. I knew that my students loved to work on projects. Students were more engaged in the learning process when they were working on a project. I also knew that combining areas that I teach reinforced to the students what they should be learning. However, I wasn’t able to figure out how to do project based learning and really make sure that my students were ready for their end of year testing. I know that end of year testing scores shouldn’t be my only determining factor, but those scores are part of determining teacher pay in my district so they matter to me.
A couple of weeks into the class I had the realization that I could do both. I can do project based learning as well as paper and pencil activities to make sure that my students know the core for testing as well as for the future. It was a powerful moment to see how I can make project based learning work in my classroom. I like how PBLs natural lead to rubric scoring and self-assessment. I want my students to be able to really assess themselves honestly and I like that doing multiple projects will help my students to be more successful at assessing.
One of the concerns I had at the beginning of this class was the fact that in group work there are students who sit back and do nothing and that other students take the weight of the project on their own. I really liked the reading and video this week. It resolved that concern that I had. I loved that in the article it said that sometimes the teacher puts the students who do nothing together to see if they will step up and become more involved in the project. That one the students who are working hard on the project aren’t stuck with more work. In one of the videos I really liked the teacher had the students come up with their own group norms and that he even talked with the group about what was going to happen if someone didn’t do their assignment. I love the power that it gives students in making their group work for their personalities.
I have learned a lot about project based learning in this class. I have started looking over what things I still need to teach my class this year and if there is a project that would help them in their learning.
Six weeks ago I didn’t even know that this resource was available to me. I have been amazed at all the resources that are available on Pioneer Library. I already have had my students on Gale info bits and world book. I have used Thinkfinity to find and teach some lessons. I’ve also used eMedia for video segments to help my students with some concepts. It has become a resource that I go to when I first start working on a plan. There are other resources that I may use, but I just haven’t had enough time yet to really get into all of the resources that are available.
I’m interested in trying out the NGA Kids activities. My students this year are really interested in art projects are creating new things. It would be fun to see what they come up with. For instance this week in class we are reading a book about illustrators. Students would normally be grouped together to discuss an idea and then draw or create a picture. Using this NGA kids the students would be able to work together to create their picture online.
I’m also interested in looking at Vocaroo. To help my students increase their fluency I record their reading and have them listen to themselves read. We also record their Reader’s Theater stories to share with the parents that can’t come to the presentations. I’m always looking for the most user friendly tool to help my students be as successful as possible. I will try this in comparison to what I usually use.
I have found one of the most helpful things to build a network that challenges me is to listen to teachers who teach differently then I do or that are doing things in their classroom that I’m not. I write down some of the things that they say they are using or trying. Then I find information to read about what they are doing or trying. This way I can try to understand what they are doing. Sometimes I end up using their ideas. Sometimes I don’t think it’s the best practice for my classroom, but then I’m at least educated enough to understand the facts behind what they are doing.