Are you always looking for new ways to create meaningful experiences for your students? Are you constantly trying to come up with lessons that involve students collaborating and thinking critically? These two styles of teaching, Project Based Learning (PBL) and Challenge Based Learning (CBL), are great for bringing your classroom into the 21st Century. Not only do these require students to work together they also require students to solve problems, communicate and learn about the same topics that you’ve been lecturing about for years. By the end of this blog article you’ll have the background and resources you need to go out and plan your own PBL or CBL lessons. PBL Project Based Learning doesn’t seem like something new, but in some ways it is. The idea of giving students a project to work on is something that teachers have been doing for years. However, in this style of teaching the project that is assigned is the method of teaching. Rather than the project as a culmination for the unit the project is used as the unit. According to the Buck Institute for Education “As Expeditionary Learning Director of Instruction Ron Berger puts it, in this kind of...
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Are you a teacher looking for a sure fire way to get students excited about learning? Have you tried music? To create good lessons using music you don’t need to be a great singer and you don’t even need to play an instrument. We all know that most students love to listen to popular music. Plus, most of our students have an ipod, a computer, or at the very least a radio. So that means most students are interested in music and as a teacher it’s very easy to access. When I was teaching 6th grade one of my students’ favorite units was when we used popular music lyrics to study mood, tone and figurative language. Each day I would share several songs and their lyrics so students could follow along as we listened. We would discuss mood and tone as well as the different types of figurative language. Of course I would choose songs carefully so that they were appropriate and contained figurative language. I tried to choose songs that they might know already, but also a mix of songs they weren’t familiar with. This was one of our favorite songs about Onomatopoeia by Todd Rundgren: After we listened...
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Are you looking for ways to connect your students to the world around them? Today it is easier than ever to break down the walls of your classroom and connect your students with others around the world. There are several sites that are safe and specifically designed for educators looking to connect around the world. ePals The first is ePals. This site is a variation on the classic idea of having a pen pal. However, instead of waiting for “snail mail” from your friend across the globe, now students can connect through email. Teachers create an account in ePals and can start in a variety of ways to connect to other classes. You can search for teachers to work with in specific countries or regions as well as by age level. You can look through posts from teachers looking to connect or even create your own post and wait for responses. ePals also has different projects that classes can work on together as they collaborate. These projects range from science topics like global warming and habitats to social studies and learning about different cultures. You can even have students work on a cyber bullying project. After teachers make their connection...
Consider this: When you search the internet for “online resources for teachers” there are 257 million possible results. Change the search terms to “best online resources for teachers” and now there are over 1 billion results. How can there be 1 billion “best” resources for teachers? The fact is that most teachers are overwhelmed by the possibilities that are out there for using technology in the classroom. Between grading papers, grade level meetings, parent meetings, committee meetings, and other duties, teachers don’t have time to search the web for tools to use in their classroom. As I have gone out to meet with and survey teachers one of the overwhelming responses I’ve received is that teachers just want to know what is out there that they could use. These are just a few of what the internet has to offer to teachers looking to integrate technology into their classroom. Thinkfinity This site claims to have over 10,000 free lesson plans, and I don’t doubt it. One of the best features of this site, sponsored by the Verizon Foundation, are the Student Interactives. These link to a wide variety of interactive sites that could be good for individual students to access...
So where am I going with this, you may ask. I want you to ponder and answer these questions: What does real learning look like? And what is the teacher’s responsibility in this? When you look at the history of public education, you find that it has its roots and design in the industrial revolution. School was deigned to create good workers who follow instructions, and then become good consumers. As an example, students sit in straight rows of desks, open to the page the teacher tells them, and then listens as the teacher shares their knowledge. This was fine when most of the jobs out there were industrial. Isn’t the picture of a worker on an assembly line similar?As a teacher, my classroom looked exactly like that for many years. I did as I had been taught. I began to question whether that was the best way to teach. Through today’s brain-based learning research scientists have found that our brains don’t really operate at maximum efficiency or even close in a setting like that. Now enter the 21st century, and everything has changed. Technology is all around us, and students are connecting and engaged on a daily basis in some...
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