Brian Crosby has a 4th grade class that will be enrolled in his class for the next three years (grades 4, 5, 6). Over 90 percent of his students are second language learners. At the beginning of the school year, Crosby took a survey of his students’ knowledge in his class. Most of the students weren’t able to give basic demographic information.
There is a disconnection between students and learning because of a narrow curriculum. However, students only know a narrow curriculum. They have only been taught in a lecture style. Students don’t have any experience or input to build schema for the world. It is hard for them to imagine if they don’t know how to do this. As teachers, if we don’t have imagination or creativity then where would the students passion stem from?
Crosby took a narrow curriculum and enhanced it to 21st century learning. A hands on activity that he and his students did with the hot air balloon covered standards that the students needed to know and gave them experience on how air pressure and other things work. After the activity was done, the students embedded videos and summaries about the activity and why the reaction was the way it was on their blog.
Crosby explains that active learning empowers students to learn own their own. It allows them to connect with others, collaborate with classmates, and include thoughts and ideas during activities. Brian Crosby changed his 4th grade class by doing things that attract their attention. His class went from not knowing their basic demographic information to illustrating science projects to other students in a different country. Crosby’s class is the perfect example of innovative learning.
Blended Learning Cycle
In this video, Paul Andersen who is a high school AP biology teacher, is explaining a system he uses within his class. Mr. Andersen uses a strategy known as the blended learning cycle. The strategy is combining mobile, online, and classroom learning. There are six parts to this learning cycle. The first one is a question. This is also known as the hook to get them interested in the topic. The next step is investigation/inquiry. Then they have a video of instruction. This frees up some of Mr. Andersen's time and the students are able to review the videos when they do not understand. The next step is elaboration which goes into the explanation of the answer to the question originally asked. Then he reviews with the students. He meets with the students individually or in small groups to ask them questions to check their understanding. This also gives the students the opportunity to ask him questions if they are having trouble understanding. The last step is a summary quiz which is about what they had just covered. He will not give them the quiz if he can tell that they do not have a good understanding of the subject. If they do not do well on the quiz then he makes them start the process over.
We think that this strategy is a great idea. We think the first step is extremely important because it gets the students interested in the topic. The investigation step is important because the students need to find the answer out for themselves. They are more likely to remember the information more if they find it out on their own. The video gives the students more insight about the topic at hand. The review stage is especially important because it gives the teacher the opportunity to evaluate if the students are ready to take the summary quiz. We think that it is good that he gives the students the chance to go back and learn the information again if they did not get it the first time.
Making Thinking Visible
In this video, Mark Church, co-author of the book Making Thinking Visible, describes a little bit about a lesson he does in his 6th grade classroom with this students. This lesson is the “headlines routine.” The students are going to work in groups to do a project on a video they had watched the day before in class on early human beginnings and the origins of society. He will have the students talk about the puzzles and video their groups and come up with a short headline to tell what it is really all about. He gave each group a long thick sheet of paper to write their headline on after their discussion. After every group had completed their headline they shared them in front of the class. The students needed to have just a little bit to back up why they chose this as their headline. After doing the same unit for two more weeks, Mr. Church will ask the students what is the headline now since they have learned a lot more and things have changed since the beginning to when they are doing their final projects.
We think this would be a great idea to use in the classroom. This would work especially well for long projects like the one in the video. This engages the students in thinking about what they already know, or what they think they know in the beginning. This also allows the students to stay interested in the assignment and continue to learn and change the headline as time goes on and they learn more about the specific unit.