Monday, February 27, 2012

Problem Based Learning: Problem, or Solution?

I have heard of project (or problem) based learning before, but I have not had much experience on the student end of it.  In high school, the majority of my classes were in the format: receive information, study, take test, and repeat.  This is one of the reasons that I believe I was often turned off in certain classes.  Had there been project based learning that required involvement in the community or even just with other classmates to work towards a common goal, then I have no doubt I would have been more involved in my academics.

It has been very interesting to be on the teacher end of a project based learning assignment; to be able to design it for students.  It has been very eye opening to see how much planning is necessary and how many pieces come together to make an entire project.  Looking back to the few project based learning projects that I have been a part of, I now see how much work went into it behind the scenes, and how beneficial it was to myself and my classmates.

In the future, I plan to incorporate some project based learning activities because it will help my students gain more.  Not only in the knowledge department, but they will gain much more in becoming well rounded students and contributors to a greater good.

Take a look at my groups project that we completed!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Price Lab Visit: Free of Charge

Today my Classroom Computer Applications class took a field trip to the University of Northern Iowa Price Laboratory School.  On our visit, we spent some time in a high school science classroom to see how one to one computing affects students.  It appears that it did everything but hinder their education.  Each student having their own laptop allowed for every student to use the same computer software, and if they wanted to present their work, they could just plug their computer into the projector.  It was really cool to see one to one computing in this setting and how much it helped the students learn.

The second part of our visit was spent with Holly Hanna, who works at Price Lab and implements project based learning programs in her class.  She discussed the benefits of project based learning and how it worked in her classroom, as well as one or two projects that they have completed that were a success.  One thing that I thought was interesting was that in assessing her students, she assess every student individually; she does not grade according to any group work.  I'm not sure if I completely agree with this because since such a large part of project based learning is with a small or large group, then I think the students should be held accountable as a group for SOME parts of the project.  If one of the sole purposes of project based learning is collaboration and cooperation among group members, then I think some part of the grade should be how well the student worked with other students.  If I were to implement project based learning into my classroom, there is no doubt that I would grade my students on collaboration.  Not solely, but some part of their grade would come from how well they worked with others; one of the greatest tools a person can have.

Global Learning

Global learning is something that I did not do much of in my educational career, but its importance is increasing every day and must be incorporated into the classroom.  Allowing students the opportunity to learn about different places in the world; the people, products, resources, etc. will only help to increase their knowledge about these places as well as how they and their home fit in to the larger spectrum.  It would be a disservice to not allow students to learn about other places on the globe, and if possible, become connected with other students in a different country.

I found a statistic that says 5out of 8 children are not learning about major world events and problems at school.  This is shameful and should not be allowed in our schools.  Children and students need to know about what goes on in this world because eventually they are going to be thrown in it and no one will be there to hold their hand.  The more knowledge and experience that they gain while in the school setting, the better for when they are on their own.

Watch this video!!  How cool would it be if every school could do this?
The great this about the school in this video is that they teach students about different places on the globe in many different ways.  They have teachers from other countries, they do things such as origami and other cultural things, and they learn about many different continents.  This school is preparing their students the right way!