What there is to learn from the "Conversations with Anthony Capps" Series
The traditional method of a lecture-based class with a project to serve as an indicator of the students’ acquired knowledge has become ineffective. The focus for the students on the project is merely to appease the teacher for a grade (if they even care that much) and not on acquiring knowledge. Project Based Learning requires the students to actively seek the knowledge, craftily incorporated by the clever teachers guiding them, that retains the Common Core standards and curriculum of the teacher. So what comprises a good project according to Anthony Capps? Primarily, the presenter must be able to rely on a good, attentive, knowledgeable audience--one that is not too timid to offer suggestions for revision and praise where it is due. Secondly, the project needs to be relevant to the students. If the students do not care about the project, it will certainly show throughout the process and in the final product. Anthony Capps also suggests that the project should involve the community. Flat Stanley is an exemplary project that sticks in my mind. Most kids in America have attempted it and it definitely requires an involvement in the community. The last, and probably most important, point Mr. Capps gives to create a good project is its ability to cover the common core content within the project. When the students actively seek information, they retain it more effectively and are able to pursue more complex and challenging ideas.
“With project based learning, you’re going to get more than you expect. So, never limit your students by giving them exactly what you want them to do. Create an opportunity for them to go beyond what you want them to do, and they will.” This excerpt summarizes the video rather eloquently. Anthony Capps wants us to learn how to avoid limiting our students to our standards in the classroom. He provides personal examples from his experience in the classroom. Mr. Capps emphasizes allowing the students to chose the specifics of their projects so that they are able to study a particular area of the general field that they are most interested in. This also instills a sense of pride within in the student as they complete his or her project. It seems most important that the students understand why the project is assigned in the first place. If the students do not understand why they must complete a project, and what knowledge they should gain, they will not fully enjoy the project and will most likely fail to retain information acquired from the project. Anthony Capps also suggests in this video that teachers reward critical thinking with an activity.
iCurio is rapidly becoming an essential search engine for students in the classroom. Anthony Capps tells, in his discussion with Dr. Strange, how his 3rd grade students use this tool in multiple project based learning assignments. His students were able to use iCurio to search for different historical figures based on the criteria they desired. For example, if the student wanted to research the first African-American pilot, the student would put in said criteria and multiple articles would be available. Capps also explains that iCurio doesn’t limit the student to textual information. When researching a person, place, or event multiple forms of information, such as videos, graphs, and images, are available for students. Students also learn how to organize online by filing their articles into folders. iCurio is an amazing tool that can be used by students of all ages.
Discovery Ed is a great tool for students to be able to see numerous videos on a variety of subjects. It allows teachers to bring visual learning to the lecture they have prepared for their students and in turn allow their students to retain what was being lectured on. As Anthony Capps stated: “[Discovery Ed] brings experts into the classroom via video.” It works as a reinforcement of the text and is even considered more engaging by some students.
“The Anthony-Strange Tips for Teachers”written by Laura Crawford
In this video, Dr. Strange and Anthony Capps composed a list of success tips for teachers. One could argue that some of these tips are applicable to much more than teaching--but to life itself. The first tip is to be interested in learning, yourself. If you aren’t interested in the topic you are presenting to your classes, how could you expect them to be interested? The most effective teachers are those that are always actively pursuing knowledge in their respective fields. This enables them to constantly kindle their passion for teaching knowledge that is not only new to their students, but new to themselves. The first tip can easily be extended into the second tip--work and play are not really separate if you are an educator. Teachers should always be learning more about the subjects they are teaching, and the good ones do so willingly.The third tip is to maintain a certain level of flexibility. It is wise to keep an end in mind, a driving goal which provides a clear direction, but do not become discouraged if your lesson plan doesn’t pan out exactly the way you wanted it to. We’re all human; we all make mistakes, and it is occasionally beneficial for our students to realize that as well. A more positive effect of flexibility is that it allows your students to exceed your expectations. As Anthony Capps eloquently stated in another video: “Create an opportunity for [students] to go beyond what you want them to do, and they will.” The fourth tip seems like an absolute asset to any teacher in any class: have your students 100% engaged in the learning process. Research has proven that anyone actively engaged in learning will better retain the information he or she is processing. It is important to keep in mind though that 100% engagement doesn’t necessarily mean 100% retainment. The fifth tip is to reflect periodically on your teaching methods and their effectiveness. Teachers are now highly encouraged to teach their students self-reflect; it follows that teachers must act accordingly.
"Don’t Teach Tech - Use it!"By Ashley Railey
In the video “Don’t Teach Tech - Use it!” Anthony Capps explains to Dr. Strange that in order to incorporate technology effectively in the classroom you should make it part of the curriculum. As educators, we shouldn’t look at technology as something that has to be done, but rather as a tool that should be used in various projects. By introducing a different technological tool once or twice a week, the students will become more familiar. Once students become more comfortable using things such as iCurio or Discovery Ed, they get excited about the projects assigned to them in class. Capps explains that teachers shouldn’t expect perfection from their students when learning how to use these tools. The more the students use the tools, the more they can reflect on their mistakes and develop problem solving skills. Allowing students to use these different forms technology in the classroom will better prepare them for the tools they will use in the future.
“Additional Thoughts About Lessons”by Caitlin Hinton
In this video Anthony Capps discusses lessons. I have never actually considered how much really goes into creating a lesson. Anthony points out that there are four components to creating a lesson. The first layer is the year. You have to consider how the lesson will fit in the year and if you will cover everything that is required of you. The second layer is a unit. You have to create your unit to fit into the year and to make sure again that you are covering everything that is needed and that all of the projects and activities fit in that unit accordingly. You should have a concept and make it so that it spans the entire unit as opposed to just cramming it into a few days. By the end of the unit your students should be able to master the task that was set before them at the start of the unit. The third layer is the week. At the start of the week you should have set goals that should be completed by the end of the week so that every week will fit into the unit. The fourth layer is the daily lesson. You must cover what needs to be covered on a daily basis so that the week is accomplished. When the weeks are accomplished the unit will be complete. As the units are completed the year will be complete.