Creating High Performance Learning Environments Video Analysis

by James Green

I was very impressed with the Roller Coaster Physics video. In it Mrs. Migdol has the students in groups. Their assignment is to build a successful roller coaster. In watching the video and observing the step the students go through in order to do this you can tell it isn’t an easy task. There is a lot of planning and thought that goes into it. To me, the best part about this assignment is it is a “real life simulation”. Students learn to work together while each person in the group has a certain job such as a recorder and accountant. The students even have a budget they adhere too. They have money that they purchase materials with for their roller coaster. Mrs. Migdol holds her students to high performance expectations for this project. Everyone in the group is expected to participate and all the different jobs in the group are crucial to final product which is building a successful roller coaster. I like how each student is very invested in the project. A lot is expected but they all seem very willing to contribute. They look like they are having a really good time with it too. Behavior expectations are high as well. I noticed that her students seemed to be very well behaved. They all seemed very intent on contributing in the process of building the roller coaster. You could see the wheel s spinning in their heads as they were thinking about why something was working or not working. It seems like there is a good degree of positive peer pressure to as it results to student’s behavior. Seems like poor behavior wouldn’t be excepted as people are working together for a common goal. Norms and procedures I notices were that everyone had a certain job and everyone is expected to contribute in some way. Mrs. Migdol uses “Chiming”. This is where students give feedback to their group and solve problems based on this feedback. This is used as an assessment tool by the teacher.

The 3rd Grade Chinese Math video was somewhat confusing. I noticed that Chinese was spoken the whole time and that for some reason I think the students are American. I noticed that in general there was a high level of participation although some students in the back weren’t participating. The students seemed to be hanging on every word the teacher was saying and most were prepared to answer her. Clearly, expectations for the students in that class seem to be high. There is a lot of interaction with the teacher as she was teaching her lesson. It seemed like the lesson depended on constant interaction from the students. Because of this, behavior expectations seemed to high as well. This makes sense because, from a student’s perspective if you are expected to be giving a lot of feedback during class you better be paying close attention and not be distracted. It seems like norms and procedures used in this class are to be paying close attention and be very ready and willing to participate as far as giving answers.

The Whole Brain Teaching video was quite interesting. The teacher in it seems to have a pretty unique, yet very effective approach. You can tell it’s important that students pay careful attention in her class because they are expected to be vocal with their feedback. I noticed that the students take the teacher’s lead in using chanting and hand signals. Students gleefully chant the class rules and clearly follow them. Students in that class seemed to be having a lot of fun and really enjoying themselves. As with the other videos, I think academic expectations are high for these students. I noticed that at different points students are grouped together to learn concepts or to read in tandem. I like this idea. Students seem to be willing to feed off of each other in this class. They actually are pretty dependent on each other in a good way when they are reading together or trading off doing hand signals to represent the words and concepts they are learning. Again, I think behavior expectations are high but that doesn’t seem to be an issue as all of the students seem to be enjoying their time in the classroom. As in the 3rd grade Chinese Math video, students in this class are expected to give a lot of verbal feedback in class. Some norms and procedures that support high student performance are the frequent chanting in response to the teacher and fellow students. Clearly, students need to pay close attention in this class as well. This doesn’t seem to be a problem though as the students enjoy what they are doing.

Setting High Performance Expectations Among my Students

I will be teaching elementary school. Probably 1st to 4th grade. I think there are valuable things to be taken from all of these videos. A common theme I keep thinking of in response to these videos is how these teachers have made learning fun to the point where the students may not even realize they are learning because they are so involved and invested in what they are doing. Because of this I think that what they are learning is extra meaningful and long lasting. For example, the students building the roller coaster together will probably remember doing that for a very long time. I don’t think they will only remember what they learned about science and math. I think they will remember how they felt while they were working on that project. Especially, the interactions with their fellow group members. You can tell they are completely wrapped up in it and enjoying themselves thoroughly. I would like to have “Real World” activities for my students. I like the idea of grouping them and giving them a basic framework for an assignment. I want to keep in mind trying to do things that sparks my student’s interest. I think assignments like this tend to stick with them longer and are more meaningful. It brings me back to thinking about high expectations for each student. Another think I took from these videos is that every student was very involved. I think I’m safe in assuming that the students in these videos aren’t all learning at the same level. Clearly though, every student played a part in classroom interactions and felt included. I think the trick might be finding a way to have high expectations for your students but making learning fun so students aren’t even thinking about expectations.

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