Creating High Performance Learning Environments

In a world with increasing amounts of technology and distractions for students, we need to up our game as teachers. We have to figure out ways to keep their attention while making sure that they learn the knowledge necessary to keep up with the world around them. Below I will analyze three videos that illustrate different teaching styles that attempt to address the skills that students need in order to develop.

 Roller Coaster Physics: STEM in Action

In each of the video clips the students were really engaged in the activity and demonstrated their complete understanding of Physics. This video represented the proper level of expectations for both academics and behavior as well as the norm and procedures that were put in place by the teacher. It was very refreshing to see how well the classroom operated especially with the difficulty level of the activities that involved high levels of thinking and transferring their skills to more hands on approaches. In each of the video sections, all students were completely engaged with the activity as well as one another.

Throughout the students’ discussions on potential and kinetic energy, they also consistently used 21st century skills to achieve their overall goal: create a roller coaster. Students collaborated as a team and let their skills determine what role they would play. They all worked together to problem solve the best strategies to create the roller coaster that they were working to build. Students also used ICT and Technology to help in creating their roller coasters and in creating a series of videos to film their final outcome.

The norms and procedures that were in place in this class were evident through the way the students addressed one another, spoke to the teacher, and stayed focused throughout their roller coaster lessons. At all times, students spoke about what they were aiming to accomplish and how they were planning to accomplish goals using terminology specific to the lesson, which leads me to believe that one of the teacher’s norms includes discussing a topic using terminology appropriate for the lesson.

3rd Grade Chinese–Math Class

It’s tricky to address the academic expectations in this video. The teacher uses engaging call and response techniques – especially inclusive of actions and singing – that clearly captures the students’ attention.

However, from the naked eye, it doesn’t seem that much precedence is being put on their independent thought. It appears that the majority of the math skills represented here are learned through rote memorization. After reading, Explainer: what makes Chinese maths lessons so good?, there seems to be a lot of pressure put on Chinese students specifically for the academic achievements in math (2014).

Though the students are learning mathematics through song, to me it seems that the focus is too heavily placed on math and memorizing facts. Students aren’t actually engaging with the content beyond repeating what is being said. There is something to say for it though, as Chinese students’ math scores blow American student’s math scores out of the water (Bidwell 2013). I think we would have to delve deeper into their instruction to know what is working for Chinese students. From this video and the article, it seems that pressure is the biggest element.

 Whole Brain Teaching Richwood High – The Basics

felt that this video addressed behavior expectations more thoroughly than academic. The teacher is consistently using call and response, and action and response techniques to engage students. When delving deeper into this idea of pedagogy, the teacher is attempting to stimulate different areas of the brain – specifically the hippo campus, the motor cortex, the frontal cortex – by gaining each student’s attention first through call and – response, then engaging the students’ motor cortex’s through motions and gestures.

By addressing all of these different elements of the brain while teaching content, the teacher attempts to associate feelings and motion to achieve deeper understanding. The argument is that words and concepts are associated with these feelings and leads to a better knowledge of what each different concept or word mean. We can see this in practice in Whole Brain Teaching Richwood High – The Basics, where students are chanting along page numbers, what they are meant to discuss on each page, as well as the speed reading techniques that are also accompanied by gestures.

 Summary

In my sixth to eighth grade classes, I hope to take different elements from the Physics and Whole Brain Teaching videos. I would much more like to incorporate the strategies used in the Roller Coaster Physics video. Students were able to have fun and take part in gaining knowledge through an activity that was interesting and informative.  For whole brain teaching completing activities while moving around and accessing different layers of the brain is an excellent way to get students out of their seats, having fun, and moving or dancing around.

 

Sources

Bidwell, A. (2013, December 3). American Students Fall in International Academic Tests, Chinese Lead the Pack. US News and World Report. Retrieved July 19, 2016 from http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/12/03/american-students-fall-in-international-academic-tests-chinese-lead-the-pack

Critical Practices for Anti-Bias Education. (2014) Teaching Tolerance. Retrieved from July 19, 2016 fromhttp://www.tolerance.org/sites/default/files/general/PDA%20Critical%20Practices_0.pdf

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