Who says that teaching stops when the bell rings? Josh Grizzelle, a 5th grade science teacher here in Birdville, is using Web 2.0 tools to take advantage of “teachable moments” whenever and wherever they occur. Among the tools Josh is using:
- WetPaint wiki–This serves as Josh’s class website and hub of student information. The wiki includes curriculum information, assignments, student video projects, external links, videos for reviewing concepts, class materials, discussion threads, and more.
- YouTube channel–One of the coolest things about the resources Josh has made available to his students is that most were created by either Josh himself or his students. On his YouTube channel, visitors can see examples where Josh took advantage of opportunities such as a lizard he encountered locally, a trip to Yellowstone, or an expedition to the Big Bend area of south Texas. Rather than letting such events pass by, he used a video camera to create a teaching tool, passing on knowledge to his students as he learned it.
- Student videos–Assessment is, of course, an ever-present reality. In our district, focuses on programs such as Continuous Improvement place even greater (excessive might be more accurate) emphasis on assessment. Students can grow numb to the repetitive pre-testing, formative testing, and post-testing. In Mr. Grizzelle’s classroom, students are given the opportunity to forego the paper-and-pencil drill each six weeks period. Rather, they create videos to demonstrate their understanding of key concepts. The videos are hosted on Josh’s YouTube channel and embedded into his class wiki.
Josh’s students are applying and gaining many critical, 21st century skills, including media literacy, creativity, collaboration, communication, initiative/self-direction, etc. They are also very likely to be much more motivated to create and use technology-rich, real-world products, as opposed to the resigned compliance so typical of many students being force-fed traditional curriculums, assignments, and assessments. The level of technical ability required to do the things Josh is doing is relatively small, by the way. The main commitment is the time it takes to do initial setup (of the wiki and YouTube channel), ongoing maintenance (similar to writing lesson plans, creating materials, etc.), and some time to edit/publish video projects. The payoffs include engaged, highly-achieving students and a wealth of resources available 24/7.