Back to the Future
I think the way Brian Crosby helps his students to learn is phenomenal. The most inspiring thing that I heard him say was that students can't "understand what there can be if they don't know what there is". He said this in regards to many of his students, mostly those in poverty, who knew very little about the world around them. He has a fourth grade class, but many of them couldn't identify their phone number, address, city, or state. Mr. Crosby tried to create ways that they could connect with the world around them. My favorite was the balloon experiment. Using their own, and other kids around the world's 'high hopes', they created their own hot air balloon and sent it up in the sky, along with a video camera in the basket. They got to see the whole journey on film and then create their own story as if they were the balloon, and they had to describe their experience. They posted these stories on their blogs and received comments from many other students. This whole assignment allowed them to actually see the process, replay it in their own fashion, and then share it with everyone. Not only does it help them begin networking, but it also gives them a sense of diversity. They get to see where all the kids live that comment on their blogs in comparison to their own surroundings. Mr. Crosby had some great tools to help his class learn what the needed to know in the curriculum, and also about the world around them.
Blended Learning Cycle
Mr. Andersen uses a blended learning strategy called QUIVERS: question, investigate/inquire, video, elaborate, review, and summary quiz. The purpose of a question is to get the students' attention. By awakening their curiosity, he opens the door for investigation. Letting them explore the object(s) that they are questioning gives them a more realistic view. As he showed in the video, he let his students use forceps to move small beads and beans. He used this to show comparison to the beak of a finch. Further explanation is given with a video, in which Mr. Andersen can explain what's going on, while also giving a visual and real life example. Once students have a better idea of what is happening, they can begin to elaborate. An example was given in which he wrote down a list of section numbers and asked them to read and be able to understand certain aspects of the text. Once they get a visual of the process and how it connects to the world, he reviews with them to make sure they know the material well enough to answer probing questions that he has. The last step is a summary quiz. This allows the students to check themselves and go back to do more review if there are any areas that they still have problems with.
I think Mr. Andersen has a good strategy; it's something I'll have to try. I like how he gets the students curiosity and lets them explore the topic before he asks them to read about it in the book. I know for me personally, it is a lot easier to understand text if I already have some idea of what's going on. Sometimes reading text first can be confusing if you don't know how to relate to what you're reading. I also think it's very beneficial that he sits down with them to have review sessions and asks them questions that really test their understanding of the topic. He said that 'if you really learn something, you should be able to teach it' and I completely agree with that. Checking to make sure that his students can explain to him what they know ensures that they actually comprehend what they're saying, and aren't just spitting out answers. It's a solid learning process; I think most students would benefit from it!