Sunday, October 6, 2013

Blog Post #7

Conversations With Anthony Capps

Anthony Capps and Dr. Strange
Anthony Capps is a third grade teacher at Gulf Shores Elementary School and also a former lab professional in Dr. Strange's EDM310 class.

Collaborative Thoughts on "Project Based Learning Part 1"

To hear a former student of EDM310, who is also a new elementary school teacher, discuss how easily he implements project based learning in his third grade classroom was refreshing. In Dr. Strange's class, we learn so much about project based learning and how we should implement it in our future classrooms. Hearing how seamlessly Anthony uses PBL daily in his classroom is very encouraging to us as future educators. In "Project Based Learning Part One," Anthony says that project based learning is constantly evolving, as it should be. New technologies emerge every day, and we must educate ourselves on how to utilize these new tools in our classroom. Updating our teaching method in order to use theses tools in our classroom is vital.

Authors: Courtney Brown, Brylyn Cowling, and Stephanie Faison

Collaborative Thoughts on Part 2 of Project Based Learning

Something very informative Anthony mentions in Part 2 of Project Based Learning is when creating a project, never limit your students by giving them exactly what you want them to do. Instead, give them opportunities to go beyond what you want them to do. If you give your students a voice/choice in the project, it gives them a sense of power and ownership over their work. This also encourages students who may be withdrawn or shy. If they have total creative control over their work, they will really shine. Confidence is a valuable personality trait that Project Based Learning builds.

Anthony reflected on a day that many of his "bosses" were coming to visit his third grade class. He said that his class was working on a project, and the project took a quick turn for the worse, and he knew he had to quickly modify the project in order for it to be effective. This taught our group how important it is to be able to quickly think on our feet and modify/adjust a project if needed. It is important to keep a project engaging at all times, even if that means we (the teachers) have to quickly adjust/modify a project in the spur of the moment.

Authors: Courtney Brown, Brylyn Cowling, and Stephanie Faison

Collaborative Thoughts on "iCurio"

Something interesting we learned about iCurio from Anthony Capps is not not only does it allow teachers to save and store useful content, it allows students to do so as well. iCurio helps students get virtually organized, which is a skill students will practice throughout the rest of their lives. Another feature of iCurio we learned about through Anthony was the "read aloud" option for the sites on iCurio. So if a student is blind or has a learning disability of some sort, iCurio's read aloud option will will read the entire site to the student. Anthony really reinforced how important it is to use safe search engines, such as iCurio, because there is so much information on unprotected search engines that you do not want your students having access to. The most innocent search search on Google can turn up some rather disturbing results.

Authors: Courtney Brown, Brylyn Cowling, and Stephanie Faison

Collaborative Thoughts on Discovery Education

Anthony shared that Discovery Education really brings experts into the classroom via video, which our group found very interesting. Students have access to topics on video that were created by experts, which creates a very authentic learning experience for the student. We also learned that Discovery Education is a great way to enhance reading text. If the teacher can provide a video along with reading material, it creates a much more engaging learning experience. A fond collective memory of our group was walking into the classroom (in the days before YouTube), and seeing a television with a DVD or VHS player hooked up. Students get so excited about videos because they are a break from traditional classroom activities.

Authors: Courtney Brown, Brylyn Cowling, Stephanie Faison

"Additional Thoughts About Lessons"

Four Layers

After watching "Additional Thoughts About Lessons," I learned that planning a lesson takes a lot of thought. I learned that there are four layers to creating lessons: Year, unit, week, and day. The four layers are like a curriculum map of the year for the teacher to follow. I like to visualize the four layers as four tiers. The first layer, the year, includes what content standards have to be covered over the course of a school year. The next layer within the year, the unit, is typically a 6-8 week time period that the teacher has specific content that is stretched out over this time period, and once the unit is completed, students are expected to have mastered the content covered. The next layer within the year and unit, the week, is a weekly plan the teacher has in order to complete an entire unit. The last layer within year, unit, and week is day. Teachers must have daily plans in order to complete each weeks expected amount amount of work in order to complete a unit. Anthony's "Additional Thoughts About Lessons" gave me a great visual of how I will have to construct my lessons in my future classroom. Each lesson I construct will have to be relevant to each of the four layers in order to cover all material that is expected of me over the course of a school year.

Author: Brylyn Cowling

Strange Tips for Teachers

Prepare to Learn
I really enjoyed this segment because there was some fantastic advice mentioned. According to Anthony Capps and Dr. Strange, teaching is hard work, but it is rewarding. As an educator, you have to be a lifelong learner. The learning doesn't stop when you graduate. Just because you walk out of a school with a piece of paper does not mean you will be completely prepared for the road ahead. You always have to learn new things. Another tip, that not only applies to teaching, but to all walks of life, is to be flexible. Things do not always go according to plan, and successful people have learned how to roll with it. You're going to create a lesson plan, and some problem is going to come out of left field. Will you adapt? Or will you panic? Being able to think quickly, react appropriately, and fix the problem will benefit you far greater than freaking out about the issue at hand. Encouraging reflection is another teaching tip from Anthony. By having students create presentations and giving them an audience to present them to, students will be much more critical about their work. And that is a good thing! You want your students to go through that in-depth thought process of "What will this sound like? How can I get my point across?" Reflecting on your own work in order to improve it is a big deal in the real world. If your boss assigns you a project, and you bang something out without giving it much thought, and then turn it in, he is going to show you the door! You have to be able to step back, self-evaluate, and improve. Project Based Learning, and the presentations that often go along with it, are a wonderful way to teach that skill.

Author: Stephanie Faison

Don't Teach Tech-Use It

Don't Teach Tech Use It describes an effective way to learn about different technology tools. There is so much you can do with technology, teaching it would take an enormous amount of class time. Plus, the actual experience students get from navigating and making mistakes gets them more involved and comfortable. I know when I use technology tools, I learn more from what I call "playing around". Which is just clicking on different options and seeing what they do. Mr. Capps made a great point about only introducing students to one new tool at a time and then allowing time to review. Students learning multiple tools at once can be overwhelming and confusing, which may lead to students getting frustrated and interferes with the learning aspect. It is vital to have enough time to review because students may have missed or misunderstood some important parts of the tool. Review time allows teachers to get a better understanding of what students actually learned and the areas where help is needed. Once students have mastered a tool then a new technology tool can be introduced. Technology is advancing rapidly. Teachers getting students familiar with learning new tools on their own helps students develop a necessary skill needed to learn future technology tools.

Author: Courtney Brown


  1. Hey Brylyn! You did a great job writing your section of this post. Your writing was crystal clear and very organized. This post eloquently layered information in a way that I thought paralleled the overall "layering" point of lesson planning. It is refreshing to read information and not be uncertain of what the main point is. Great job!!

  2. This comment applies to your individual portion of the blog post.

    I really like how you made your own picture to show the four different layers! Also, you typed "amount" twice. Good post.