Blog Post 13 (Part 2): Complete the Assignment!

In the first video, “World History Exploration PBL“, I learned a lot from the student who spoke about the project based learning she was currently a part of. She honestly sounded like she was very knowledgeable about the topic her project was focusing on, and I think this speaks volumes for PBL. It seems to be in great support of real learning, and not pretending to learn to pass a test.

In the next video, “Oil Spill Newscast Lesson, 4th Grade, Social Studies“, I learned about how outside involvement can help make a great PBL assignment! Seeing videos before engaging in a new topic seems to really help students get excited about learning something new. I would love to try this when I am a history teacher. Before we begin discussion on a new segment, I could present my class with a short film about it. This could give them a great overview about what we will be diving into. I also love how the projects at this particular school had great administrative support. I hope that I will be able to have that backing in the future to help my students feel that drive to do well! Additionally, I think accessing where each kid is on a subject before diving in could be very beneficial!

The following video I watched was “The Civil War Project Based Learning“. One thing that I thought was great about the implementation of PBL in this classroom was the display of the students work! I personally would think that students would try to do a better job when they know that many people will be looking at their work. Giving them the freedom to choose their own topic within a subject is also awesome! This is something I would definitely consider doing! In this classroom, students also created collaborative blogs to share information with the other students in the class. This is important because it allows them to not only give each other feedback, but also to learn from each others projects.

Next, I watched “PBL for History at Lady Bird Johnson Middle School“.  The creator of this video gives a break down of how to successfully use project based learning in the classroom. I really like the suggestion of the creation of driving questions. This can give the student a chance to really think about the subject and brainstorm. Ideally, this thought process would spark their curiosity. Again, I think that getting feedback from other students in essential. Often times, children are much more willing to listen to each other than to authoritative figures.

Finally, I read an article called “Constructing History in Our High School Project-Based Classroom” by Margaret Haviland. This is a hotbed of information, as well as tips and tools for history teachers and I highly recommend it to those going into this field! I love how she allows students to get insightful by having them pretend to take roles in historical events. Allowing them to use critical thinking by having them guess the ‘could haves’ and ‘would haves’ is very clever. I also believe that allowing students to find their own meaning instead of handing them all of the answers can truly prepare them for the real world. I plan to take much of her advice when I receive my own classroom.


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Blog Post 13 (Part 1): Creating an assignment!

What can we learn from these videos and writings about ways to implement Project Based Learning within a social studies/history classroom? Which of these ideas do you see yourself using in your own classroom?

Watch World History Exploration PBL (1:50)

Watch Oil Spill Newscast Lesson, 4th Grade, Social Studies (5:29)

Watch The Civil War Project Based Learning (6:14)

Watch PBL for History at Lady Bird Johnson Middle School (4:49)

Read Constructing History in Our High School Project-Based Classroom

Answer the question in a post that adheres to the standards found in the ACCRS and in Writing A Quality Blog Post.


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Blog Post 11: Learning From Current Teachers

1.) In Back to the Future, Brian Crosby teaches us that the possibilities of learning with technology are endless! He also teaches us how selfless teachers can be, and I feel that he is someone that all education students can learn from. He shows us how much children can learn by hiding facts within fun and educational projects and assignments.

2.) In the next video, Paul Andersen discusses the Blended Learning Cycle. I learned a lot from Mr. Andersen, as I had not yet heard of this concept. He teaches us that it is a combination of different steps and learning methods combined in the classroom to cover a topic thoroughly. He refers to this as “Quiver”. He teaches us that reviewing information in different ways can help to retain knowledge. One other thing I learned that I thought was interesting was the idea Mr. Andersen had to put student results into a graph to show the class. This teaches us how important it is for students to be able to compare their findings with others within the learning process.

3.) In Making Thinking Visible, Mark Church, an elementary school teacher, sheds light on the depth of student thinking and reasoning. The students in his class were able to use logic and other skills to come up with original ideas pertaining to their assignment. Here we are able to see children dive into deeper material, and handle it excellently. Mr. Church also shows us the importance of hindsight for students. By having them reflect on their past assignments and then re-do them when they are more educated on a topic is very clever! This can allow students to see that they are truly learning and feel a sense of accomplishment for getting better over time.

4.) The next video, Super Digital Citizen, showcased a project in Sam Pane’s elementary school classroom. Mr. Pane had his students invent experiences in relation to the topics he was currently discussing in the classroom. This is a great way for students to be able to take information and make it their own, which will only help them to internalize it in the long run. This reiterates the importance of making assignments fun and easy to relate to. I thought this one was very creative and clever! We are also able to see, as educators, how technology will be a very valuable teaching tool.

5.) The video Project Based Learning by Dean Shareski focuses on several teachers who collaborate together to teach one large, more lengthy class rooted in project based learning. The teachers show us that there are no limits to PBL. The opportunities that can stem from it are never ending. I would have never thought to combine two different subjects together in one classroom. It seemed that with this change, these students were learning much more than the average student in a traditional classroom. Students seemed to want to do projects more than most other things, and they were truly able to see the benefits of it.

6.) The teachers implementing Roosevelt Elementary’s PBL program are very inspiring! I am learning how important it will be to collaborate with my colleagues. The teachers here come together to create what is a very successful PBL environment. It is very inspiring that the parents are able to see the difference PBL makes in the classroom. This shows what an effect it can have not only on a student, but also their family, friends, and the environment.


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Blog Post 9: Project Based Learning

First, I read Seven Essentials for Project-Based Learning and watched the video Project-Based Learning for Teachers.

The article by John Larmer and John R. Mergendoller is the best explanation of PBL I feel that I have discovered to date. This article really breaks down the entire process of creating a project to implement in the classroom. This really taught me that creating the projects will take a lot of effort as a teacher, but it will be worth it for the students. I now see that there is nothing simple about this type of learning. However, if students are not retaining information, I am wasting my time as a teacher. Therefore, I want to take advantage of all of the ideas and resources that come available to me so that I can do the best job that I can.

One of my favorite things that Tony Vincent teaches us with this video is that by participating in PBL, “students learn Collaboration Skills, Communication Skills, Critical Thinking Skills, and Career and Life Skills”. Mr. Vincent teaches us that students will walk away from the classroom with actual skills by using PBL. Though tests are a very important tool for assessing knowledge, I believe that gaining life skills is so much more advantageous than this!

Next, I chose and watched three of the optional videos:

I feel that listening and watching students can help us learn a great deal about project based learning. When we know what motivates students, we can see better ways to design projects to continue to help to engage them and keep them motivated. Student reaction to this type of learning is a great indicator of whether it is going to be successful or not. In the video about the two students creating a new ketchup cap, we are taught how capable students can be when given the opportunity to have some freedom to learn on their own. This shows us that project based learning can bring out student potential like never before.

After watching the high school teachers at Sammamish High School, I have even more faith in project based learning. I feel that if so many teachers are working so hard to create a fully PBL curriculum, they must have witnessed an astounding result from their students during original implementation. Even though at times the teachers were having trouble creating projects for all of the material, they still did their best to take advantage of PBL whenever possible. This teaches me how important it will be to make sure students are prepared for college as much as possible. Hearing the student testimonies taught me that they truly appreciated the new way of learning. And not only are students learning more, they are feeling better about themselves and their work. What could be better than that?


One more insightful thing I learned during this assignment about project based learning was about how to come up with project ideas. A teacher in one of the videos explained that the projects should be related to what a professional would do in the particular subject field being discussed. I think this is brilliant, because it gives students a chance to build up skills for when they are a professional themselves.

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Learning From Mrs. Cassidy

Mrs. Cassidy has made technology a huge part of her classroom. I feel that her usage and implementation of technology has allowed her to create a whole new environment for her students to learn in. It is astounding to me how much learning has changed since I was in elementary school myself. This video is proof to me that adding technology into any classroom can be be beneficial, even if not to the same extent we see in Mrs. Cassidy’s classroom. And while adding technology to any class is important, I also think it is pertinent to make sure that it isn’t taken too far. Human interaction is also key to any child’s development. Mrs. Cassidy shows one way this can be avoided by allowing students to collaborate together on their technological ventures. I plan on doing many group projects such as these, which will help students better get to know each other and themselves! I will be sure to balance both traditional teaching techniques, technological tools, and peer collaboration while implementing project based learning to keep students engaged.

One thing that I thought was really great about her first grade students use of technology was that they were getting feedback to their work online. Children crave acceptance and I feel that it is very important for them to feel that their hard work matters. Feeling encouraged by others kind words could only want to make them work even harder.

I love how Mrs. Cassidy explains to her students the importance of being kind to others on the internet. This is a topic I would definitely cover in my own classroom. These days, it seems that so many people want to go on the internet and bash each other. I don’t feel that this is right, and perhaps if we began teaching children at a young age that it was wrong, people would learn to be kinder over time.

Overall, I think there is so much to learn from both Mrs. Cassidy and her students alike. They both show us the great potential available to us as future educators.


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Blog Post 8: An Undergraduates Thoughts On Randy Pausch’ “Last Lecture”

The story of Randy Pausch is a sad one, but filled with hope and perseverance. He sheds a great light on the differing choices that you can make during your life, and how important those choices are. During struggle and hardship, he never gave up and remained positive. He left a beautiful legacy for others and for his children that is extremely inspirational and life changing. There are many things that we can learn from his speech about both learning and teaching. I look forward to applying many of the principles in the video to my own life and career, as well as encouraging others to do the same.

First off, there is so much in the video that we can apply to our own learning. As Randy Pausch stated in the lecture, “Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want“.  Therefore, even if one fails, they have still gained. What an important statement! Failure, in so many regards, is a learning opportunity. You can learn about your weaknesses. You can see places within yourself that you need to improve upon. I believe that it would be life changing for students to realize that failure is not and never will be the end of a road.


If one thing doesn’t work out… there are always different avenues. However, there is so much knowledge that can be gained along the way. We can also learn to never rule anything out. We can prioritize what is truly important to each of us in our lives. We also learn when we succeed and when we discover our strengths.

Second, as a teacher, there is much we can learn from Randy Pausch to apply to our own teaching methods. For starters, he never gave up on any of his students. He viewed them all as capable people with great potential. He avoided putting a cap or a ceiling on his expectations from them. and made them feel good about the hard work they put into something. This is such an important lesson for educators to apply to their own classrooms.  I would never want a student to feel that I didn’t believe in them, especially when there are so many children out there who may not have anyone to believe in them at home or otherwise. You never know the impact you could be having in someones life. His belief in holding onto childhood dreams is something that educators can foster into their own classrooms. High school will of course be the last stop before college, and many students will likely be confused and scared about what the future may hold. Why not encourage them to achieve everything they truly want out of their lives or their educations?

Another quote I thought was very eye opening was when Randy Pausch said, “When you screw up and nobody is saying anything to you anymore, that means they gave up.” Wow. This can apply to both teaching and learning! This can teach us to accept well meaning criticisms in our own lives, as well as to dish out constructive criticisms to our students. Many people feel attacked when someone points something out about them in a less than positive light. I feel that if encouraging words were coupled with criticisms, they would be much more palatable.

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Encouraging Curiosity

In this post, I will be discussing how Bill Ferriter’s blog titled “Do Your Kids Think That Being Right Is More Important Than Being Curious?” ( has inspired me to change my behavior in the future for a university assignment. I am in no way affiliated with him or his blog, and do not in any way claim any of his work.

Reading this post has made me realize how important it will be to encourage students to be curious! As I have said before, I don’t want my students to learn to pass tests. I want them to really learn. Therefore, I feel that engaging their curiosity will be an extremely important factor here. It does not escape me that this task will often times be difficult, so I will need to create age/grade level appropriate ways to do so.

I feel that there are many types of assignments I could create that would encourage my students to exercise their curiosity. For example, I could discuss in class how time periods affected historical events. I could ask the students how they think historical events would have been different if they had happened during different time periods, and allow them to come up with different ideas on what exactly would have been different as well. If modern day technologies had been available in the past, it is likely that much of history would have to be rewritten.

Social media could also become a great tool here. In my opinion, it is extremely important to relate what happened in the past to what is happening now to interest students. I could assign students with a historical figure, and have them create a mock Facebook page for that person. The students would be required to research information to fill in the sections, and in the process they would learn a lot.

Ironically, I also see that I will have to use my own curiosity and creativity alike to come up with the actual assignments that will engage students in their own curiosity! However, I feel that as an educator this will be an important part of my job. Additionally, as the aforementioned blog post discusses, I want students to realize that sometimes there are no exact answers. In those moments we can think on our own in attempts to logically explain events and come up with our own ideas.


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