Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Blog Post #13

hot air balloons

Back to the Future

I just finished watching Brian Crosby's video, Back to the Future, and all I can say is WOW! This is a video of Brian presenting a project he did with his fourth grade class at Agnes Risley Elementary School in Sparks, Nevada. Most of his students are second language learners as well as at risk students. When asked some basic information at the beginning of the school year about where they live, the results were alarming. Out of 24 students, only 9 knew what city they live in, 12 what state, 3 what country, and 7 their address. Brian decided that his teaching would have to be extremely engaging to help these students out. So, he has the class keep blogs, make wikis, and use Skype. He incorporated all of this and more into the class's hot air balloon project. They learned about the science of hot air balloons through hands on experiments, and they also learned about the history of them. They then applied this knowledge to begin writing a story from the balloon's point of view about traveling through the atmosphere. Students reading the class's blogs wanted to get in on the action too, so the High Hope project was started. Students all over the world sent their high hopes, and they were all sent off into the atmosphere attached to a hot air balloon.

I was so impressed with Brian's determination to teach higher level thinking, not just facts for a test. If all students were taught this way, I think there would be much more excitement about school. Like Brian says, if students have an audience that they know is reading what they write, there is more motivation to do a good job. To me, this is a much better motivator than only writing in order to receive a grade. When academics are made to connect with students' lives like with the High Hope project, information starts sinking in and making more sense. Students are no longer just learning random facts. They are learning to make connections with and think critically about material. To me this form of learning is a lot more valuable in the long run than learning in order to pass a test.

A Vision of Students Today

A Vision of Students Today is a video about the realities of attending college in today's world. A group of 200 students were surveyed over a Google doc about their college experience, and the results are not surprising to me. Many students don't bother to read the expensive textbooks they pay for. Tons of papers and emails are written. Between eating, using cellphones, watching television, spending time on computers, sleeping, work, class, and homework, students often have to multitask just to complete everything. Class sizes are large, and teaching has become impersonal. They also presented the negative sides of using technology in education. For example, students reported bringing their laptops to class, but not doing anything related to the class on them. Many students report browsing Facebook throughout most of their classes. The video ends by presenting the idea that teaching with just a chalkboard will no longer be enough. Students should be taught through what they know best--technology.

I think many of the ideas presented in this video are very true. I used to see students doing anything and everything but school related things on their laptops when I was in 100 and 200 level courses. Maybe I am just not paying attention to what people around me are doing during class, but it seems to me as students progress to 300 and 400 level classes, they take school more seriously and cut down on not paying attention. Nevertheless, I still think it is a good idea to incorporate technology into education. Looking at things from the point of view of professors instead of students, technology can make classes run a lot smoother. Through the internet, teachers can post numerous resources for students to use and benefit from as well as assignments and tests. With so many great possibilities out there, I don't think educators should let students who misuse technology stop other students from enjoying the benefits of it. For example, I personally enjoy the fact that I can work on completing assignments for EDM 310 anywhere I have access to a computer and internet. This makes learning easier and more flexible to me. I can't imagine going through college without technology being utilized.

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