Sunday, October 6, 2013

Blog Post #7

What Can We Learn from These Conversations with Anthony Capps?

1.Project Based Learning Part 1: Experiences of a 3rd Grade Teacher

By: Heather Smith, Amanda Weller, Briann Smith, and Lisa Smith


Dr. Strange and Anthony Capps, a third grade teacher at Baldwin County Elementary School in Gulf Shores, Alabama, talk about Project Based Learning: How Anthony approaches being a PBL teacher, what it involves, how he gets ready for it, and what happens in his class as a result.

Capps says that his ideas about PBL are constantly evolving, as are Dr. Strange’s. Many people tend to think that projects are what you do at the end of a lesson plan to show the students have learned what they are supposed to have learned, but the goal of PBL is not only a MEANS to show students have ACHIEVED what you need them to have ACHIEVED, but it is a MEANS to get them to LEARN what you need them to LEARN. Get students excited and wanting to own their learning because they are creating something as they discover the knowledge. According to Capps, which I completely agree, the goal of a project:
  • uses an authentic audience,
  • keeps students interested,
  • involves the community,
  • and most importantly is driven by content.
Capps has also taught me that when you are thinking about PBL, you should think: What project could I create that will give students the opportunity to need to know the content that I need them to know? In other words, in order to complete a project, the student has to know the content in which state requires them to know.

He gives an excellent example of PBL he used in his own class. He had his students use iCurio to research female or minority historical figures that demonstrated success in a military capacity even when this was uncommon. They then had to decide whether they agreed with or opposed the decision for women to serve in open combat. They used the information obtained to support their opinion. They then wrote letters to their congressman addressing their view and giving support by example. Capps stated he had 28 students in his class, but through student reflection and selection, they chose 8 to mail to the congressman. They had no trouble choosing because all the students were invested and felt they were all represented. This PBL project had the students excited and interested; was content driven because it met the writing, reading, and social studies state standards; and was directed toward the community because it addressed an issue in a public form to a public official.

Capps has taught me that in order to efficiently approach and utilize PBL in the classroom, one must make sure that they create a project that will give students the opportunity to learn the content that they need them to know. I have also been taught that PBL is a democracy in grading and reflection. The key to PBL, actually the most crucial part of PBL, is to revise and reflect on the work done!

2.Project Based Learning Part 2: Experiences of a 3rd Grade Teacher

By: Heather Smith, Amanda Weller, Briann Smith, and Lisa Smith

Anthony Capps and Dr. Strange remain in collaboration in regards to Project Based Learning. Anthony shares pieces of his classroom with the viewer to give them an idea of what Project Base Learning consists of.  The project in Mr. Capps class was to research the culture of Afghanistan. One parent in the military did not want their child studying about Afghanistan. Mr. Capp had to make accommodations for this student. The student was given a science project to do while the other students in the classroom focused on the Afghanistan project.  The science project was a great asset to the classroom learning experience.
Student choice is a great aspect of Project Base Learning. Never limit your students with giving them exactly what you want them to do. Create an opportunity for them to go beyond what you want them to do.

When giving a project you must make sure that each part has meaning. It is like each part of the project feeds into the next part. The student gets rewarded by getting to advance to the next step of the project. By doing this order you give the student meaning to what they are set out to accomplish. I know that from experience if you are being respected as a student that your work will show it. This happens to be the same case with project base learning. You are given choices and it is up to you to complete them. If you do not do your part and are unwilling to buy into Project Base Learning then this type of learning experience may not work for those students.

By: Heather Smith,  Amanda Weller, Briann Smith, Lisa Smith

The iCurio Video with Anthony Capps and Dr.strange was really interesting to watch and it included valuable information about the site iCurio. In the video Anthony Capp and Dr. Strange shared their thoughts about iCurio and how they both used the site in their classrooms. Mr. Capps is a third grade teacher at the Gulf Shores Elementary School. He often incorporates the site iCurio in his classroom. In his words iCurio is an online tool that serves many purposes. iCurio is a curated search engine for students. This means that it allows students to safely search websites,images, and videos on subjects  that correlate with the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards and other state standards. The site also has a storage capacity for students and teachers. This aspect of iCurio allows students and teachers to store the content that they find valuable. This helps teachers and students to become more organized, especially in virtual organization. The students can create folders for different topics and videos and any other valuable information they find on the sites’ sources. This is excellent for the students because it is kid friendly and easy for them to use and  they can practice using Virtual organization and saving folders on the web. This feature also has the ability to save and this allows the students to continue from where they left off.

The iCuro site is also great for
Project Based Learning
projects and research topics. It has many safe sources and websites that are made available for the students. The site has a directory that makes it simple and fast to find the information needed on a certain topic. In the directory, the students can find information on people, places, and events that are from all over the world. For instance if a student needed to complete a project on a female figure that contributed to the Civil Rights Movement, they could type into the directory,female figure and Civil Rights Movement. The criteria that they typed into the directory would bring up sources on people such as Rosa Parks and other women.The directory tool allows the students to get access to reliable information in the safety of the iCurio site. iCurio also provides a large number of videos, graphs, graphics and texts that students can use in their projects. Mr. Capps believes that iCurio is for any teachers that feel comfortable letting their students search the web. iCurio has information and sources for all grades , all the way through high school. iCurio is also a great source for all students because of its accessibility. iCurio has read aloud features that are available for deaf and blind students and for students that have a learning disability. This was a great video on explaining the features of iCurio. The information that was provided was really helpful. I learned about several features that I did not even know about. It was also nice to hear examples from a teacher that actually uses iCurio in the classroom and how his students use iCurio as well. The video proved to be very interesting and helpful.

4.Discovery Education
By: Heather Smith

In Dr. Strange and Anthony Capp’s youtube video, Discovery Ed, Capps talks about this tool that is made available to teachers (at least in Baldwin County) that contributes to his classroom in that it allows students to: retain more knowledge through visual learning, have extensive group conversations, learn from experts through video, and have illustrations to support the text they are using. Discovery Ed brings many educational resources to just one site.

Dr. Strange adds that there has been research done that indicates people remember more of what they hear than what they have read. People remember far more than that when they see it. And even more shocking: people remember even more when they watch it in progress. He refers to students as “listener-watchers” because he says that students listen and watch far more than they read and write. The goal of a teacher is to convert people into not just consumers of products, but into users and producers of those products.

I think that Dr. Strange and Anthony Capps both give great points on Discovery Ed, though they could be a little more in depth about what it actually is. So, I researched Discovery Education myself, and this is what I came up with from their website:

  •  “Discovery Education transforms classrooms, empowers teachers and captivates students by leading the way in providing high quality, dynamic, digital content to school districts large and small, rural and suburban and everything in between.” 
  • “Discovery Education is committed to improving teaching and learning by transforming traditional classrooms into engaging digital learning environments. Discovery Education Techbook™, a series of dynamic all-digital textbooks in science, social studies, and math, brings learning alive.”
  •  “Engaging, standards-aligned rich media and interactive digital textbooks, coupled with professional development and assessment services, take students beyond the classroom.” 
  • “Discovery Education offers a breadth and depth of digital media content that is immersive, engaging and brings the world into the classroom to give every student a chance to experience fascinating people, places, and events. All content is aligned to state standards, can be aligned to custom curriculum, and supports classroom instruction regardless of the technology platform.” 
  • “Implementation of Discovery Education impacts the way an educator teaches, providing them the digital content and the professional development to transform classroom instruction into an immersive, experience that inspires a student's natural curiosity. Discovery Education impacts the way students learn, breaking down barriers and moving beyond static textbooks to a digital delivery they already embrace. However, accelerating student achievement is the ultimate result we all want to reach. Discovery Education has worked with school districts across all sizes and demographics and consistently delivers results.”
5.The Anthony-Strange List of Tips for Teachers Part 1
By: Lisa Smith and Briann Smith

The Anthony- Strange Tips for Teachers Part 1 video is a very informative and helpful video for future and current teachers. Anthony Capps and Dr. Strange shared their thoughts as to what teachers starting out should know upfront to be the best teacher they can be for their students. Together they came up with 6 different ideas that would help assist new teachers and put them on the right path.

First, you have to be a constant learner. You must be willing to learn all the time no matter if you are at school or not. Never stop learning because it will result in failure. Teachers must be interested in learning themselves, this helps the teacher but, also it helps the students. Teachers must be able to model effective learning behaviors for their students. Students learn by examples, if the teacher is constantly trying to learn new things, then the students pick up on this.

Second, teaching is hard work that is never ending but it is very rewarding. Just think about when we teach our students something and they are finally able to recall it. There is nothing that can beat that feeling of accomplishment for both the student and the teacher. It is hard work being a teacher and the work does not stop at the end of the day when school gets out, it continues on. Anthony said it best that, “teachers learn the craft of teaching in their free time.” An example of this includes reading books that provide valuable information that can help you in the classroom. Teaching involves hard work but, it can also be exciting and fulfilling.

Third, be flexible. If you already have children of your own you should already be aware of this. You can plan all you want but hiccups are going to happen so be prepared for “plan b”.

Fourth, start with a goal. If you start with a goal you will be able to see how much you have accomplished. It is important to remember if the lesson is not going as planned, figure out a way to still get what you need out of the process. We can’t do everything today but if we organize and prepare, it will run more smoothly.

Fifth, engage 100% of your students, 100% of the time, in 100% of their projects. This will keep the students aware that you are aware of their progress and will also allow for any feedback needed from both the student and teacher. It is important to provide the students with an environment that makes them feel comfortable to engage with each other and to share their thoughts . In the lesson plans, include interesting content and content that the students care about. As a teacher it is crucial to think about different ways to get the whole class involved and most importantly engaged.

Last, we need to learn to reflect, revise, and share work with an audience. We must learn to not be afraid of the work we have done. We must also learn to take constructive criticism. All of these things will make us stronger teachers in the long run and help our students to succeed and achieve more in the classroom.
6.Don't Teach Tech- Use It
By:Heather Smith

What Can We Learn From These Conversations with Anthony Capps?

We are all considered students of technology because we are all constantly learning and shifting our technological thinking to new directions. Children are natural with technology- regardless if they come from low or high income areas- they enjoy using technology to improve their learning. In Don't Teach Tech- Use It, Anthony Capps and Dr. Strange talk about using Technology in the classroom. Capps says that teachers should NOT teach technology, they should NOT have technology on their list of things they need to get done a given day. Teachers should, however, scaffold technology when designing projects and assignments. How does Capps suggest implementing technology into projects/ assignments?

  • Week One: Let students use ONE research tool, talk about the content and how technology either impeded or helped them.
  • Week Two: Couple that research tool with video tool. Now two skills are mastered.
  • Week Three: Have students do a research project that requires a movie component that combines the two skills- this is known as scaffolding. Students can now show they have mastered these two skills by sharing their work.
There is tons of technology available but it is crucial to focus on ONLY ONE at a time, review it, and continue using it in the learning environment.

What are some benefits of using technology in the classroom?
  • Students can express themselves.
  • Students can create for free.
  • There is not the demand to purchase more and more supplies.
  • It’s clean, mess-free!
  • It’s very shareable.
  • Gives students the tools they will be able to build on forever.
  • Gives students that ability to reflect on their mistakes in order to learn how to do something better for a more beneficial product in the future.
To Sum Up What We Can Learn From Anthony Capps, NEVER teach technology! Introduce it smartly. Don’t worry about spending a great deal of time teaching students to use technology, this comes natural to them, instead give them the opportunity. Do not expect perfection, either. There are two critical things educators in the 21st Century should teach their students beyond the content: how to ask valuable questions AND problem-solving skills. If a teacher does a project themselves, before assigning it to students, then they understand why the student is asking a particular question and they can figure out the answer together using problem-solving.

7.Additonal Thoughts About Lessons:
By: Amanda Weller

In Anthony Capps last youtube video discussion, he talks about his thoughts on lesson plans. He described lesson plans as being four layers thick and with each layer meaning something different. However, each layer has its own unique importance. The first layer of lesson plans is described as the “year layer”. In the “year layer”, you discuss how the lesson plan fits into that year and you go over all the content standards. The second layer is the “unit layer”. In the “unit layer”, you have to ask yourself if the unit projects are segregated in a way that is meaningful? These activities need to spread out over a brief period of time. You can not expect your students to complete these activities in a day or so. Anthony mentioned that it usually takes up to 6-8 weeks for the provider of the lesson and the students to comprehend the given material. The third layer is all about separating the projects so they can be done weekly. The last layer is the “daily lesson plan”. This calls for how you will be delivering the lesson or material to your students. The goal is to make sure that the students are actively engaged in the lesson. These four unique components come together to form the lesson plan.


  1. Hey Briann,

    The first thing I noticed about your Blog Post#7 was that you left out a few sections. This was a collaborative assignment, so you should have posted the sections that you did individually and the collaborative ones.

    Everything else looks wonderful!
    Amanda Weller

  2. Briann,

    Did you only contribute to the collaborative portions of the blog post or did you have your own video and response as well? I see that Heather Smith has two videos and responses on her own but do not see one for you. Please let us know if this is a mistake.