Project-based learning & Inquiry-based learning

Project-based learning: High Tech High

Bryanna

Bryanna Riviera’s digital portfolio (DP) really grabbed my attention. It was aesthetically pleasing, as it was organized, colour themed, and overall, very attractive at first glance. I thoroughly enjoyed looking through her photography page that she completed in Grade 10 during a Chemistry unit. She included photos of people, animals, plants, and landscape, which was a great way to let us into how she perceives the world and how she chooses to share her vision through photos. I also enjoyed reading about her Marine Biology Intersession. She had the opportunity to search for sea urchins, visit an experimental aquarium, visit a fish collection library, tour a toxicology and oceanography lab, and so much more. I think this is a great way to get students to engage in hands-on activities and experiences to truly understand content material within the curriculum. Rather than learning through a textbook or other text material, Bryanna and her classmates were able to learn about marine biology in a memorable, fun, interactive, and engaging way. I genuinely enjoyed looking through her photos, wishing that my 11th grade teacher coordinated a similar trip for our class. I can imagine that this one-week program is something that would truly excite almost all students. Even if students are not particularly interested in marine biology, this trip is so much more than that. It is a chance to spend a week with friends, to experience something unique, and to get away from your everyday routine. These factors alone are enough to get students excited, and we all know that the fundamental aspect of learning to get students excited and motivated. Here is just a glimpse of her intersession:

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Bryanna also wrote a very interesting reflection after completing her freshman year. She emphasized what she learned from many of her teachers that year and why it was so applicable to her academic and personal life, particularly how it has prepared her for 10th grade. For instance, she said that her teacher, Brian, taught her how to “have a greater sense of tolerance; other people, other ways of thinking”. When I read this, I immediately made a connection to global education and how Brian successfully inspired students, such as Bryanna, to gain skills that allow them to be globally aware. She continued on about her teacher, Jake, and said that “… I have learned a lot from his class. Definitely math, but also problem solving strategies, and a better way to take notes”. I really like that she points out that she picked up skills that hold much more value and go beyond just simple fundamental math skills. It is so important that teachers are really focusing on the hidden curriculum, which some of Bryanna’s teachers seemed to have successfully done during her freshman year.

“I believe that we learn all this to basically learn “how to learn” (if that makes sense)”. She concluded her reflection with this comment, which really stood out to me. Although she indicates a handful of valuable life skills that she learned from Brian and Jake, she still concludes that her overall academic experience is about learning how to learn. As I, along with many of my peers, would agree with this statement, it is quite concerning that this is still the experience of many students today. As future educators, I believe that this is exactly what we must strive to challenge. How do we encourage students to be unique and different and to not be afraid to express that, without a fear of teachers marking it “wrong”?

Andrew

Andrew Naslund had a very informative DP. I especially enjoyed reading about his inquiry-based chemistry project, which required students to create “interactive exhibits that demonstrated a phenomenon.”

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I thought it was great that Andrew reported on the inquiry skills that they had to utilize and develop in order to successfully complete their project. We have discussed throughout the course, especially in the context of critical literacy, the importance of reflective teaching. I think that this list of inquiry skills demonstrates reflective learning, which I believe is key for student learning just as much as it is key for teacher development. Students, teachers, and most importantly, Andrew, can look back at this project and understand how it helped him develop essential skills that he can apply to his academic and personal life. He can also reflect on the challenges that he came across and how he overcame them.

Galileo: Educational Network 

Design Learning & Classroom Examples

Why Inquiry? 

Under ‘Design Learning”, there is an article entitled, ‘Why Inquiry?’ In almost all our classes we learn about the importance of integrating inquiry in our future classrooms. But as this article asks, why do we care so much about inquiry? This is a question that I always had, but never truly searched for an answer. Why did Andrew reflect on his inquiry skills that he used in his project and include it in his DP? This article helped me gain insight on the value of inquiry-based learning. After reading the article, I would now answer the question of “why is inquiry so important?” by saying that it is because we want to encourage students to create their own knowledge. Furthermore, we want them to do this by connecting their own lives to everything that they learn in the classroom. We want them to ask themselves, “how does this relate to my life?”, “how do my past experiences affect the way I learn and perceive different things?”, “how can I apply this to my own life?” This will help students deepen their learning and actually leave classrooms with knowledge that makes them think and not just memorize what they read in a textbook.

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This is a diagram that I pulled from the article because I think it is a great visual representation to understand the importance of inquiry in today’s classrooms.

To connect this to project-based learning, I would argue that inquiry is absolutely essential in any project-based activities/experiments. This is shown through Andrew’s list of inquiry skills that he utilized and developed during his inquiry-based chemistry project. 

Happy learning!

Nikki

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Social Media & Relationships

Hey all! This is a video that I recently came across that delivered very valuable messages to educators…

Rita Pierson, a very experienced educator, explains the importance of teachers creating real relationships with their students. Some of the comments she made really struck me, such as “no significant learning can occur without a significant relationship,” “kids don’t learn from people they don’t like,” and “everyone in this room has been affected by a teacher or an adult.” This reminded me that no matter how much time we take into understanding the curriculum, lesson planning, the policies and procedures that guide us in our teacher, and all the technicalities behind teaching, we must always prioritize building relationships with our students. Without building relationships, there will be minimal learning occurring within our classrooms. This also reminded me of a motivational speaker, Keith Hawkins, who used to always visit my high school and deliver empowering messages. He once said, “we often do not remember what happened, but we always remember how it made us felt.”  This has stuck with me over the years as it relates to just about everything, especially teaching. When I think back to all the teachers I have had, the best ones that come to mind are the ones who truly made me feel like what I brought into the class was valuable and meaningful. Rita and Keith remind us that above all else, we need to genuinely care about teaching our students in order for them to genuinely care about learning.

In this video, Rita Pierson also said, “you see, ‘-18’ sucks all the life outta ya, ‘+2’ says I ain’t all bad” when sharing a story about one of her students who only answered 2 out of 20 questions correctly on a quiz. I immediately thought that this is absolutely true. The way we speak, including the words we choose to use and the tone of our voices are incredibly influential on students. Something so simple as having a student look at what he/she did right, as opposed to only seeing what he/she did wrong, can have a profound effect on the student. Rita also discussed the effect of “seeking first to understand instead of waiting to be understood,” which I thought to be something so simple yet so valuable as an educator. I believe that if you walk into a classroom with the mindset that you can learn from students just as much as they can learn from you, you will not only create a bidirectional relationship with your students, but also create a successful and healthy learning environment.

Speaking of building relationships, I think social media is a create resource to facilitate positive relationships among the school community. In class, we have consistently been discussing the use of technology in today’s classrooms. The use of social media is particularly interesting to me, as I have never experienced learning in an elementary classroom where social media was used as a learning material. While researching for new, innovative ways that teachers are utilizing social media in their classroom, I came across a bunch of really cool websites. Here are just a few:

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 4.22.40 PM50 Ways to Use Twitter In the Classroom

I’ve learned through this website that Twitter can be a great way to relay information to your students, whether it be announcing updates to assignments, deadlines, expectations, further instructions, etc. It is also a great network for teachers, students, and even parents to have discussions. Parents can easily access important information about what is going on in their child(ren)’s classrooms. Teachers can also use Twitter to post other resources, such as videos, websites, etc that are useful and beneficial for their students to look through.

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This website explains excellent ways for teachers to use Facebook in their classroom. The class can create their own Facebook page where they can form an online community and share their ideas, questions, comments, and concerns with one another. Students can also use Facebook to create pages where they can conduct surveys, gather data, and make group chats. Additionally, students can make study groups where they can help one another out before tests, assignments, presentations, etc.

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 4.17.26 PMInstagram Classroom Student Activity Ideas

Instagram was one of the social media networks that I never really imagined to be useful inside a classroom. However, this website provided very creative ways to create activities that are instagram-based. Some of the activities suggested by the website are to take a picture of students recreating a famous piece of artwork, ask students to act as photojournalists at a school function, and ask students to express their thoughts and ideas through images. These are simple activities that I could imagine being very useful in today’s classroom, as children nowadays have the ability to creatively use technology in new and unique ways.

These were just a few of the many online resources out there that can help teachers incorporate social media into their classroom. I believe that social media can really help foster a community within each classroom, as it provides students with many different outlets to express, share, and communicate their creativity and ideas.

Happy learning!

Nikki

Welcome to my blog!

Hello to my fellow future educators and Professor Susan Drake! Blogging is completely new to me so I hope to learn more throughout this experience. As a future educator, I believe it is important to be consistently reflective about not only my teaching, but also about myself and how all the components of my life can be reflective into my teaching styles. After viewing many other wonderful teacher blogs, I truly believe that blogging can be an excellent way to help teachers be reflective, organized, and creative.

We were asked to find at least 3 active teacher blogs that we wish to follow throughout the semester. The 3 blogs that I have found to be the most interesting throughout my search are:

1.  http://mscassidysclass.edublogs.org

2.  http://mrsalbanesesclass.blogspot.ca/

3.  http://fun-in-first.blogspot.ca/

1. This first blog is by Ms. Cassidy and her 6 year old students in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada. Ms. Cassidy frequently blogs about the innovative and hands-on activities that take place within her classroom. The most interesting aspect of her blog is that she provides links that direct us to each and every one of her students’ very own blog. This is where each individual child shares their work and let’s us into their very own world of learning. I think this is an incredible way to encourage students to be self-aware, responsible, directly engaged in their work, confident, creative, and motivated. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you check out her blog, it has definitely inspired me!

2. This second blog is by Mrs. Albanese and her Jr. & Sr. Kindergarten class in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada. This classroom is very close to my home so it is very interesting to learn how classrooms have evolved in my neck of the woods! Mrs. Albanese provides us with pictures of her classroom to give us an idea of the environment that she works with on a daily basis. I think this is a great idea, as we learn that the milieu and physical environment is significantly influential on student development and achievement. Mrs. Albanese really lets you into her everyday world… a wonderful blog to check out!

3. Finally, this blog is by Mrs. Jodi Southard and her 1st Grade class in Indiana, U.S. I chose to follow Mrs. Southard’s blog because she emphasizes the need to constantly look for fun ways of learning, which is a fundamental factor for the primary level. She also uses her to blog to introduce and share with us her new products, such as her recent flipbook. Her blog seems to be a very resourceful and informative… excited to learn more about her products!

On a final note, I just wanted to touch on our Jigsaw Literacy Presentations that our class did last week. I found the PowerPoints, Prezi’s, Word documents, etc, to be extremely helpful for our understanding of the various literacies. After hearing the experts within my group present their assigned literacy and reviewing the presentations afterwards, I now have a better understanding going forward with writing my paper. Although I was aware that 21st Century teaching incorporated all types of literacies, I was surprised to learn about how many there were and how each one is comprised of unique, valuable, and relatable elements. I am excited to continue to learn about how to integrate each of these literacies into a classroom setting!

Happy learning!

Nikki