Ashley Waldrop

Instructional Technologies Blog

Project Based Learning #2

Title: Monarch Butterfly Project 

Author: Edutopia.org

Website: http://www.bie.org/videos/video/monarch_butterfly_project

Summary:  This video is a summary of a monarch butterfly project that students from Rockledge Elementary completed.  The project is designed to imitate the migration of the monarch butterflies.  Each child creates a butterfly and sends the butterfly to migrate and connects with the child who receives his or her butterfly.

Reflection: I think this is a very good project based learning project for students in the elementary grades.  The project is easy for children to relate to and is still a concrete concept for children to grasp.  I think this project is also very good in the fact that it causes children to connect and relate to each other through the process.  This is a real life project that could be carried across all subject areas as well.

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Project Based Learning #1

Title: Project Based Learning

Author: Common Craft

Website: http://www.commoncraft.com/video/project-based-learning

Summary:  This video is an explanation of project based learning.  The video focuses on the key point that project based learning is not facts or content memorization, but rather application of knowledge.  For example, the video gave an example of a high school science class that completed a project on the transfer of cold/flu viruses.  The class was divided into groups and given a challenge to figure out ways to prevent future transfers of this virus.  The video also emphasized that students need to be able to problem solve, collaborate, and communicate in today’s world and these skills need to be taught in the traditional classroom.

Reflection: I think this was a very well done video.  I have always been a fan of project based learning.  I can still remember the few projects I was able to complete using this style of learning in school.  I think that project based learning is very effective in that it challenges students to not only know the facts but apply this newly learning information.  For example, I remember when I was in fifth grade we were learning about angles and measurements.  Our project was to design a house by creating architectural plans that used angles and accurate measurements.  It was very difficult at the time because it required me to know the facts and also apply it to real world problems.  I would love to use more project based learning in my classroom, but I think with the age level that I teach it could be very difficult to create and implement effectively.

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Giving Up Control

  1. Title: Giving Up Control
  2. Author: J Bevacqua
  3. Website: http://figuringitouted.blogspot.com/2011/06/giving-up-control.html
  4. Summary:  This blog post is written by a high school principal/teacher. The teacher journaled about his exit assignment that he gave to students where they chose their own research question, research method, and presentation.  The teacher was prompted to create this assignment after spending time research project based learning.  The teacher found that when he gave up his control he found that students were much more motivated and eager to learn.
  5. Reflection: This summer I took two gifted and talented courses and a large portion of our curriculum focused on project based learning and creating autonomous learners.  I feel like this principal had been doing the same research that I did this past summer before he decided to do this project.  I am a big fan of project based learning.  I think it is more meaningful and the students enjoy learning through projects.  It is amazing to see the students become so engaged when you give them a project to complete, especially a project that you let them choose.  I think that the greatest difficulties in project based learning are: resources, lack of parental support at home, and the need for advanced planning.  I know that when I assign learning projects I have to plan far in advance in ensure that all the various pieces fit together.  I have also found that for my students (ages 6-7) it can be difficult if there is very little support or resources at home for the student to use.
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I Heard Them Say, Love Is The Way

Title: I Heard Them Say, Love Is The Way

Author: Miss Night

Website: http://missnightmutters.com/2011/03/i-heard-them-say-love-is-the-way.html

Summary:  This blog post is about a kindergarten class in Canada that has partnered with another class in Indonesia.  Each class created an “imaginary friend” that goes to school in other country.  The two classes have partnered together in order to compare how each “imaginary friend” has very different experiences.  The two classes use Twitter to communicate and “research” back and forth.  During this research experiment tsunamis were threatening the Indonesian coast.  The Canadian “kinders” became very worried about their Indonesia “kinder” friends and wanted them to come to Canada to stay safe.

Reflection: All I have to say is WOW!  When I read articles like this it A) reminds me how much I have to learn and how much more I could do, and B) technology, when used properly in the classroom is AWESOME!  While reading this article three major “ideas” popped into my head and I will elaborate on those below.

1. Twitter – I never in a million years would have thought to use Twitter as a research tool.  It had crossed my mind the educators could use Twitter as a professional discussion board, but never as a research tool.  I am sure that Twitter is probably blocked at my school, but I’m interested to see if I could have something like this approved?  Twitter is a great tool to use, especially in a younger-aged classroom.  The questions can be simple and cannot be long in length…perfect for our younger students!

2. Standards – This is PERFECT for first grade standards!!! Almost every single one of our social studies standards are based on families around the world.  This would be a MUCH better way to study families around the world vs. watching a “United Streaming” video made in the 80s about families around the world.  I left a comment for Miss Night to let me know how she started this.  My main question is how she found the school/children to tweet back and forth with.  Hopefully she will comment back to me!

3. Meaningful Learning – This inquiry based project brings a whole new meaning to meaningful, real-life learning.  These students were learning about children half-way around the world but felt like they truly knew these other kindergarten students.  I guarantee you this project will be remembered forever by those students.

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Through My Students’ Eyes

Title: Through My Students’ Eyes

Author: Cheryl Oakes

Website: http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2009/07/10/through-my-students-eyes/

Summary:  This blog post is about one student’s journey from Kindergarten to 12th Grade.  The writer takes on the point of view of the student and how he perceives his education with an emphasis on the technology used.  The article begins with the student in Kindergarten telling the reader about how his teacher used a flip camera to record the student’s learning.  The article continues by highlighting the various technologies used through Grade 8.  When the student enters high school, the teachers no longer teach with technology due to the need to teach content, but the student still finds ways to use technology.  The student is frustrated in high school that learning is no longer fun like it was in the lower grades, and he wants to go back.

Reflection: I thought this article was very well written.  I enjoyed being able to read the articles from the student’s perspective and not from the teacher’s.  I have to admit though, that after reading the article, I realize that I can and should be letting my students use more of the technology that I have in my classroom.  I think I am guilty of knowing how to “teach” with technology, but not how to let my students “explore and inquire” using the appropriate technology.

I was surprised by the part at the end of the article where the student discusses using proxies to get around the school’s internet blocks.  That students know how to do this is intimidating to me, even as a lower grade teacher.  I think if I were a high school teacher this would be even more intimidating.  On the other hand, I think as teachers we need to embrace and foster the knowledge that students have of technology, but make every effort to channel the use of their knowledge in a positive way, not to try to “cheat the system.”  This wasn’t part of the blog, but was in some of the attached links about using technology in the classroom, using the grade bands.  I discovered several neat blogs that I want to continue to watch, hopeful that I may use some of the same information and resources in my classroom.

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