Monday, April 21, 2014

Real v. Relevant

Brian Crosby's TEDx Talk was fantastic! Who wouldn't want to be a student in his class? It was by far my favorite of all the videos, and I had actually already partly watched it on my own the previous week because I have been commenting on his blog all semester.

Brian has so much enthusiasm and excitement for his job. That was the most impressionable part of his video for me. I also liked that he and his students collaborated with professionals and graduate students on projects. Graduate students - that's an untapped resource I hadn't thought of before! A few quotes that struck me... "We can't keep racing kids through school." "We have to go back to a notion of building schools that honor kids." In my opinion, Brian Crosby is a shining example of what all teachers should be doing in their classrooms!

Paul Anderson's Blended Learning Cycle wasn't as motivating for me. Maybe because I watched it immediately following Brian.

Because I was thinking about and connecting what I was viewing to what I've recently read in Teaching Digital Natives: Partnering for Real Learning, it struck me that Paul's lessons were relevant, but they weren't very real. I appreciated his method - QUIVERS, but I found it lacking. I would like to have seen students using technology to present and share what they learned with an authentic audience. The most impressive part of his video was the idea of "hooking" the students. Euler's disk was an amazing hook!

Sam Pane's Super Digital Citizen was an awesome lesson and watching the video lead to my discovery of TeachingChannel and Common Sense Media.

I noted that he had students have a "whisper level conversation" with their peers before answering the question to him. That gives everyone an opportunity to share their thoughts; not just the student who raises his/her hand. "Gallery walks" were also a great idea! I also noticed that he wasn't using the technology; the kids were. This lesson was both real and relevant!

The only drawback I could see was its lack of including the students' different passions. What if some of the kids weren't into comic books or super heroes? Maybe he could have somehow given them more choice in what character they chose to express good digital citizenship. Animal fans could have chosen a favorite animal. Music lovers could have chosen a favorite musician. It's just a thought.

photograph of a bald eagle in flight

"Students would have a hard time telling you what class they were taking," is my favorite quote from Dean Shareski's Project Based Learning. Wow! That's how it should be done! What these teachers were doing was also real and relevant.

I am a huge fan of combining subjects into one large class period. I like the idea of combining multiple teachers into the same classroom even better! Teachers from individual subject areas are collaborating together to bring meaningful lessons to the students. It's partnering on top of partnering! We need some major restructuring like this to take place in our local schools.

I also liked that students were changing their, "I'm done," to an, "I'm really proud of this." We've had those kids who put the minimal effort into the project just so they can say, "I'm done." It so much more rewarding to hear him/her say, "I'm really proud of this." It was also motivating to hear the teacher say, "We teach beyond the curriculum." The curriculum shouldn't be the ceiling. It should be the foundation that we help lay and build upon.

photograph of the foundation of a skyscraper

From Roosevelt Elementary's PBL Program, I saw how Project Based Learning could be implemented in the earliest of grades and that technology wasn't always a necessity for this approach to learning. I especially enjoyed the testimonies of the parents who were pleased with how and what their children were learning.


  1. Well done. Mr. Chamberlain turned me on to Brian Crosby. Fascinating teacher1 And class!