A New Kind of Learning

     My biggest takeaway from watching the Life Practice Model is to remember to challenge the gifted students in my classroom. The students at Turning Point Learning Center had a lot of resources like personal computers, but I believe the best resource they had was the challenging projects presented by the teacher. Often, gifted and talented students are overlooked, or only pulled out of classrooms for short periods of time. It is our job as educators to provide GT students with opportunities to learn at a higher level than their peers.

     I attended a private school for pre-school and kindergarten and then transferred to a public school after my family moved.  I don’t remember much about my first grade year, but I do distinctively remember being bored often; I was a head of every student in my class. I spent the majority of that year sorting papers, running errands for my teacher, and coloring. In this way, I can relate to those students who were not or are not being challenged in school. It can be extremely frustrating and could lead to students “giving up”; I never want my students to experience this feeling.

     After watching this video, I was reminded of some things that I can do as a teacher in the future. As mentioned, I think it is extremely important to provide challenges to every student. I really enjoyed learning about the projects they completed at Turning Point Learning Center. Loved the classroom design project, this showed the power of giving children a voice. I also loved the idea of creating and maintaining a garden, this teaches the children responsibility and opens their eyes to the connection we can have with food. This project based learning is so wonderful because it allows the students to use their heads and problem solve, it gives them responsibility for their learning. I also think that there is merit in giving each child as much one on one time as possible. Colby talked about the advantages of having a small classroom and getting a lot of time with his teacher. One of my future goals is to create a classroom environment that feels this way, despite the number of students I have.

 

 

On-The-Go Technology

      The most significant takeaway I had from watching Project Based Learning in Hand is to constantly be seeking out new and advanced ways to take old ideas and make them current. For example, Tony Vincent gave his students a pretty common idea for a project, but the way he had them execute completing the project was current and new. I also could literally feel his enthusiasm projecting from the video, and that spoke to me. It reminded me of something really important: when the teacher is willing to explore and learn new things and has an evident passion for it, their enthusiasm and drive becomes contagious among the students. In this way, the teacher is teaching the children how to get excited about learning.

      I can vividly remember the teachers and professors throughout my education that taught with passion. THEY STICK OUT. They are why I myself wanted to become a teacher. They have the fascinating ability to pull students in, and grow a love for the things they love in the hearts and minds of their students. It does not matter what the subject is, if the teacher presents the material in a way that is interesting, the students will learn to love it. For every child, learning is all about having confidence in their ability to feel comfortable with and use the material being presented; same goes with technology. The more students learn about it and feel confident in their ability to use it for things like projects, the more they will learn to love learning. I have always felt "self conscience" about using technology, especially in front of my peers because I came from a school where it was used very infrequently. If I had a passionate teacher who appropriatly and meaningfully incorperated the use of technology into my coursework, I would probably have a more advanced set of skills than I do currently.

      There is no way of knowing what my future classroom will look like. I could very well work in a school that is low income and is unable to access all of the latest technology. However, there is one thing that I do know-I will integrate technology into my teaching in any and every way possible. Furthermore, I will hold myself accountable to keeping up with the times, getting creative with the projects I assign, and deciding every day that I am going to be enthusiastic, positive, and motivating to my students. The bottom line is, when you understand the kids, you reach the kids, and this is my ultimate goal and what I have been inspired to do after watching this video.

 

Scratch Possibilities

My most significant take away from watching Teaching Kids To Think Using Scratch, is that computer programming can be useful to teach everyday life skills. Through learning about programs like Scratch, I am now convinced that combining creativity, technology, and learning is the best recipe to teach and reach children. So many children learn through being hands-on, through visuals, and through hearing music and sounds. Computer programs incorporate each of these and they make learning fun and enjoyable. Programs like Scratch keep the child’s attention, thus deepening and furthering the learning of the student; they allow for teaching that is neither explicit nor boring.

When in elementary and middle school, my hardest subject was math. It was extremely difficult for me to grasp concepts and compute numbers, but I believe a lot of my struggles stemmed from the way I was being taught. If my teacher used Scratch to show how the X and Y coordinates worked, I would have understood the concept much more fluidly, and with greater ease. I would have been able to visually see the concept being used for practical and logical purposes, which I think is a notion that is often overlooked by teachers.

I will absolutely use Scratch in my classroom. As I mentioned before, this program has incredible math teaching possibilities. I found it fascinating how Chris Betcher taught shapes and their angles. This is a simple lesson plan that I could see myself teaching. I also really liked the challenges he came up with and how he allowed his students to use problem solving skills to complete them. The children also were given the opportunity to create their own games. This is something that I want to include in my curriculum for two reasons: the students are putting into practice what they learn and understand the basis of game theory- how to make games harder or easier. As an educator, it is our goal to teach so that our students can then go and use their newfound knowledge to further their learning independently. I saw this modeled beautifully in this video and was inspired to not only use Scratch in my classroom, but to teach in the way that Mr. Betcher does.

 

Screencast

I really enjoyed learning how to use Screencast. This is a program that I can see myself using often during my teaching career. I think this would be an excellent tool to use for tutorials or class lectures for students to reference when at home. This was such a simple program to use. I love when sites have simple 123 steps and are free! I am going to definitely recommend this program to others.

I chose to make a tutorial explaining how to make a sprite appear and disappear using the Scratch program. I think Scratch is one of the hardest programs we used this semester, and hopefully if enough of the students in our class share what they learned through using it, our tutorials can be used for future students taking this course.

 

Scratch Final Project

       When we first started learning about Scratch, I was really intimidated. I came home and practiced by making two VERY simple videos that ended up taking me quite a bit of time, and to be honest, were kind of boring. For my final project, I wanted to create a video that was more advanced and utilized more of the controls.

       In order to make my final project more complex, I went on our class website and looked through all of the Scratch tutorial PDF files. I also went on the Scratch website and browsed through some videos until I found one that had sprites doing motions which I wanted to incorporate into my own video. I looked at the commands they used, and it allowed me to visually see an example of the commands, and then see how they looked in a final presentation. I was able to learn how to: create my own sprites and use clip art from other websites, move my sprites across the x and y axes, make my sprites appear and disappear, make my sprites change costumes, and how to make my backgrounds change. I also learned through trial and error. Putting the music to my video took a lot of time and patience. I just had to play with the wait times until they matched up to the correct sequence.

       I’m not sure I would ever use Scratch for personal reasons, but I think it could definitely be used in the classroom. You could use Scratch to introduce new concepts in subjects like grammar or math. By viewing a fun video instead of reading out of a text book, students would be more engaged in learning and they would most likely remember and understand the ideas better. I also think it would be fun to create games for the children to play using Scratch. This program could also be used in history to reinforce main ideas or to show a timeline of events.

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