Friday, March 22, 2013

CBL Across the District -Part 3/ Multimedia and Language Arts Common Core Standards

I have said in an earlier post that the Common Core K-5  is chalked full of standards that focus on strategies rather than specific content and incorporating them into a Challenge Based Learning (CBL) challenge is quite natural. Honestly there are a lot of programs and frameworks out there making these claims, which should leave us all with questions about how. Since which standards are covered in during the CBL process are based on the  activities chosen it is impossible effectively communicate about all of them that maybe covered within a challenge in just one blog post. For this post, I am going to focus in on using multimedia in the mist of student research or guiding activities.

 Like so many of our challenges, Discovery Education has played on huge role in our guiding activities and we found a ton of helpful videos and other resources. It can never be just quality of the information in each video, but what skills students can hone while interacting with that information that is important. Many of the same skills used in create Strategic Readers  and laid out The Common Core Language Arts Standards  should be considered when guiding students through using any multimedia content. 

With those principles in mind, I have chosen to explore and adapt many reading comprehension lessons and activities found in Strategies that Work by Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis, Comprehension and Collaboration: Inquiry Circles in Action  by Stephanie Harvey and Daniel Harvey and for me the most practical The Comprehension ToolKits . These thinking skills need to be explicitly taught and video is just another avenue. These lessons and/or activities might include; organizing information and taking notes using Fact Question Responses (FQR) Chart, determine importance and the use of many graphic organizers. 

 I am not trying to suggest that students shouldn’t be required to read. I am suggesting that the thinking behind some of the comprehension skills can be taught and honed through the use of multimedia. It is stated throughout much of the literature on reading comprehension that a readers job is to make meaning from that text, which relates as much to a students' thinking as it does to being able to read the words on the page. It is my opinion, that having students use these skills when interacting with multimedia can only strengthen our students' thinking. 

At the core of a CBL challenge is a real world problem and along with that comes an authentic solution that is generated from student research. With each lesson or guiding activity we move closer to fulfilling what is stated in the Key Design Considerations for Common Core English and Language Arts:

 ”To be ready for college, workforce training and life in technology society, students need the ability to gather, comprehend, evaluate, synthesize and report on information and ideas, to conduct original research in order to answer questions or solve problems, and nonprint texts in media forms old and new. “


Monday, March 11, 2013

My MineCraft Experience -Lesson 1

For about six months now, my students and I have been engaging in many conversations about MineCraft. Due to their interest, I thought it might fun to put myself in role of the learner and allow my students teach me how to learn MineCraft Pocket Edition (PE). Please note, that I am not what anyone would call a “Gamer” and my experiences with gaming really stops somewhere around Pac-Man.  So I was both nervous and excited for my first MineCraft Pocket Edition (PE) lesson last week. 

 As teachers, we do a lot of critical thinking before and during the process of teaching something to another. Which is why I chose to make myself vulnerable and allow students to be the teachers here.  A ton of critical thinking goes into deciding what, when, and how information will dispensed. Based on the nature of game and my abilities, my students discussions quickly became very focused on teaching me how to move around and build within MineCraft PE. When one student went to tell me about the hissing spiders and other aspects of the game, another politely reminded us that I need to remember to take one step at time. As he put it,"We don't want to freak her out or overwhelm her." Personally, I loved that at least one of them was reading my body language and the lost look on my face.

 After that, the conversation became more about what to practice building and why. More critical thinking appeared as they justifying each of their strategies for building to stay safe. Due to the things that come out at night we talked about adding height, putting in doors, and using fire. I do believe some of my students might be adjusting how they play based on that discussion. 

In reality, I am not expecting to be an expert at MineCraft PE, but that was never the real objective. However, let 's just not tell my students that quite yet.